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Archive for the ‘American West’ Category

“The final chapter has been written for the lone bookstore on the streets of Laredo (Texas).

“With a population of nearly a quarter-million people, this city could soon be the largest in the nation without a single bookseller.

“The situation is so grim that schoolchildren have pleaded for a reprieve from next month’s planned shutdown of the B. Dalton bookstore. After that, the nearest store will be 150 miles away in San Antonio.

“The B. Dalton store was never a community destination with comfy couches and an espresso bar, but its closing will create a literary void in a city with a high illiteracy rate. Industry analysts and book associations could not name a larger American city without a single bookseller.” (cont’d @ NY Times)

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Mustard“What kind of a man eats his hamburger without ketchup? That was the big question yesterday on talk radio, after President Obama visited an Arlington, Virginia, hamburger place on Tuesday and ordered his burger with spicy mustard.”

Apparently Texans and Republicans also prefer mustard to ketchup as their condiment of choice:

In Texas:

“Texans traditionally eat hamburgers with mustard or with mayonnaise (or with both), but without ketchup. This is simply called a ‘hamburger’ in Texas, but is sometimes called a ‘Cowboy Burger’ or a ‘Texas Burger’ outside of Texas. 

“A hamburger with ketchup is sometimes called a ‘Yankee Burger.’ A hamburger with mayonnaise is sometimes called a ‘Sissy Burger.'” . . .

As for the GOP:

“A 2000 survey of members of Congress by the National Hot Dog Council found that 73% of Republican lawmakers preferred mustard to ketchup, as opposed to 47% of Democratic lawmakers.”

(via New Majority.com)

Related: The Ketchup Conundrum

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clinton_impeach1Andrew Sullivan on what we remember most about Bill Clinton and George W. Bush . . . and the consequences:

bushliar“It occurs to me that the two most famous statements of the last two presidents will be ‘I did not have sexual relations with that woman,’ and ‘We do not torture.’ And both were lies in plain English, were understood to be lies by the two men involved, and yet both were subject to mental and legal asterisks that could give both men some kind of formal, if absurd, deniability.

“For one statement, we impeached. For another, we kept on walking.

“Sometimes history is not tragedy repeated as farce; it’s farce repeated as tragedy.” (via The Daily Dish)

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05_Flatbed_1 - APRIL“Mexico is protesting what it says is a whopper of an insult.

An advertisement for Burger King‘s Texican Whopper burger that has run in Europe shows a small wrestler dressed in a cape resembling a Mexican flag. The wrestler teams up with a lanky American cowboy almost twice his height to illustrate the cross-border blend of flavors.

“‘The taste of Texas with a little spicy Mexican,’ a narrator’s voice says.

“The taller cowboy boosts the wrestler up to reach high shelves and helps clean tall windows, while the Mexican helps the cowboy open a jar.

“Mexico’s ambassador to Spain said Monday he has written a letter to Burger King’s offices in that nation objecting to the ad and asking that it be removed. Jorge Zermeno told Radio Formula that the ads ‘improperly use the stereotyped image of a Mexican.'” (more @ NY Daily News)

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roy-rogersAn anonymous bidder acquired the ‘King of Cowboys’ Roy Rogers‘ OM-45 Deluxe Martin guitar at Christie’s on April 3. One of the rarest and considered among many collectors the most coveted Martin guitar, the 1930 instrument was put up for auction by the Roy Rogers-Dale Evans Museum in Branson, Mo., and attracted a winning bid of $554,500.” (cont’d @ Antiques & the Arts)

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neurotic-states[Living part-time in Brooklyn, New York and part-time in Northampton, a college town in western Massachusetts, I am unsurprised by the findings that the northeastern states are among the most neurotic, as well as among the most open, “openness” reflected by “curiosity, intellect, and creativity at the individual level.”]

From “The Geography of Personality”:

Neuroticism is characterized by ‘anxiety, stress, impulsivity, and emotional instability and is related to antisocial behavior, poor coping, and poor health.’ Unsurprisingly, the study found that highly neurotic states had lower rates of exercise, higher rates of disease, and a shorter life expectancy. In these states, people are less likely to join clubs and spend time with friends. The geographic clustering of neuroticism is strong: it’s prevalent in the Northeast and much of Appalachia, and, for some reason, in the states of the lower Mississippi Valley. The West is decidedly less neurotic than the East, you may be unsurprised to hear.

(More @ The Map Scroll, including maps charting the geographical variations of  the big five” personality traits: Extraversion, Agreeableness, Conscientiousness, Neuroticism, and Openness.)

Related: A Theory of the Emergence, Persistence, and Expression of Geographic Variation in Psychological Characteristics

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“Over the last four decades, Powell’s Books has swelled into the largest bookstore in North America — a capacious monument to reading that occupies a full square block of this often-drizzly city [Portland, Oregon]. But this year, growth has given way to anxiety.

“Michael Powell, the store’s owner, recently dropped plans for a $5 million expansion. An architect had already prepared the drawings. His bankers had signaled that financing was available. But the project no longer looked prudent, Mr. Powell concluded — not with sales down nearly 5 percent, stock markets extinguishing savings, home prices plunging and jobs disappearing.

“‘It’s going to take a period of time to recover,’ Mr. Powell said. ‘Whether it’s 2 years or 10 years I don’t know, but I don’t think it’s going to be quick. People are nervous.'” (more @ NY Times)

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chcuk-norris“On Glenn Beck’s radio show last week, I quipped in response to our wayward federal government, ‘I may run for president of Texas.’

“That need may be a reality sooner than we think. If not me, someone someday may again be running for president of the Lone Star state, if the state of the union continues to turn into the enemy of the state. . . .

“Anyone who has been around Texas for any length of time knows exactly what we’d do if the going got rough in America. Let there be no doubt about that. As Sam Houston once said, ‘Texas has yet to learn submission to any oppression, come from what source it may.'” (more @ WorldNetDaily)

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texasborderbadge“In a controversial program aimed at enhancing border security, Texas sheriffs have erected a series of surveillance cameras along the Rio Grande and connected them to the Internet.

“Thousands of people are now virtual Border Patrol agents — and they’re on the lookout for drug smugglers and illegal immigrants.

“Robert Fahrenkamp, a truck driver in South Texas, is one of them.

“After a long haul behind the wheel of a Peterbilt tractor-trailer, he comes home, sets his 6-foot-6-inch, 250-pound frame in front of his computer, pops a Red Bull, turns on some Black Sabbath or Steppenwolf, logs in to www.blueservo.net — and starts protecting his country.

“‘This gives me a little edge feeling,’ Fahrenkamp says, ‘like I’m doing something for law enforcement as well as for our own country.'” (more @ NPR)

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Looking west. Railroad crossing, Marathon, Texas, June, 2006 (Full photo)

RelatedWelcome to Marathon, Texas

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ca-rr-posterFour San Francisco-based institutions — the California Historical Society; the Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgender Historical Society; the San Francisco Public Library; and the Society of California Pioneers — have received a Mellon Foundation grant of nearly $250,000 to help create the California Ephemera Project, a searchable, online catalogue featuring the ephemera of all four collections.

“The collections to be catalogued are comprised of materials that were created to be short-lived or discarded, such as brochures, catalogs, menus, billheads, mining certificates, theater programs, bylaws, political flyers, travel guides, wine labels, and more, but whose content and graphic richness are a historical and cultural resource for researchers. There is overlap in topics between the collections of the four institutions, yet many of the items themselves are unique. Often the only existing documentation for some topics, the material is relevant for research into 19th- and 20th-century California history.”

(via SFPL Online)

(Railroad Poster via California State Railroad Museum)

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While the completion of the final 670-mile stretch of security fence along the U.S.-Mexico border continues to be slowed by political and engineering issues, across the more than 600 miles of fence already completed (“a hodge-podge of metal panels, wire mesh and steel posts”) “drug smugglers . . . continue to breach the fencing that is up, forcing Border Patrol agents and contractors to return again and again for repairs. The smugglers build ramps to drive over fencing, dig tunnels under it, or use blow torches to slice through. They cut down metal posts used as vehicle barriers and replace them with dummy posts, made from cardboard.”

Teddy Cruz, reporting for “The Nation,” writes that “no matter how high and long the post-9/11 border wall becomes, it will never stop the migrating populations and the relentless flows of goods and services back and forth across the formidable barrier that seeks to exclude them.” Yet from the southward flow of materials something remarkable is being created – “while human flow mobilizes northbound in search of dollars, the urban waste of San Diego moves in the opposite direction . . . The leftover parts of San Diego’s older subdivisions — standard framing, joists, connectors, plywood, aluminum windows, garage doors — are being disassembled and recombined just across the border. A few miles south, in Tijuana, new informal suburbs — some call them slums — spring up from one day to another. This river of urban waste flows across the Tijuana-San Diego [sic] to make something dramatically new.”

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Marfa, Texas, long a tourist destination for devotees of paranormal phenomena who journey to this remote desert outpost for a chance to experience the Marfa Lights, is still in many ways a typical small Texas town where languorous locals are animated by talk of high school football. But when I visited Marfa two years ago while en route to Odessa, Texas for a reunion of my wife’s family, the entire town seemed like a mirage: there, deep in the heart of George Bush country, were art and photography galleries, a public radio station serving “Far West Texas,” and a coffee shop, The Brown Recluse, providing customers with reading copies of such un-Bush publications as  “The Nation” and “The New York Review of Books” while serving some of the best fresh roasted coffee (organic and free trade) on either side of the Rio Grande. Marfa owes its current status as an art destination to the American painter and minimalist sculptor Donald Judd who moved to town in 1971 with hopes of realizing his art on a “grand scale.”

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