Sunday, November 4, 2018

Alamogordo Si Senor Big Ed First Visit To Modern America In 16 Years Interview

The few who read this blog have read mention made of the fact that in October Big Ed returned to Modern America for the first time in 16 years.

That journey to Modern America began four Sundays ago.

For 16 years Big Ed has only been in Texas, with the one exception being a short excursion into Oklahoma.

Big Ed's last look at Modern America was a two week stay in Seattle, way back in 2002.

Big Ed has been to areas of Texas which are sort of like Modern America. Such as Austin, and Southlake and a couple other Dallas/Fort Worth suburbs. But most of those 16 years of exile from Modern America have been spent in Fort Worth, which most definitely is a town that bears little resemblance to Modern America.

An overnight stay in Alamogordo, New Mexico, on the way back to Texas, found Big Ed and me in a New Mexico Mexican restaurant called CJ's Si Senor. The motel manager recommended Si Senor whilst I was checking in. Years ago one of the best New Mexico Mexican restaurant experiences ever happened in Taos, at a restaurant called Fred's, which was recommended by that motel's manager whilst checking in.

Si Senor was good, but it was no Fred's.

At Si Senor I had the Chile Relleno platter, whilst Big Ed had the Mucha Macho Grande Platter. That may not be the precise name.

While waiting for the delivery of the Chile Relleno platter and the Mucha Macho platter I interviewed Big Ed about his impressions of his first trip to Modern America in 16 years.

What follows is the edited transcript of that interview....

Me: So, what did you think about seeing Modern America for the first time in 16 years?

Big Ed: I think I may have been experiencing culture shock.

Me: How so?

Big Ed: Well, No matter where we went I saw no litter. I do not think I saw a single piece of litter the entire time I was out of Texas.

Me: Yeah, I've previously made note of the same thing. I remember thinking such when driving back, solo, to Washington, and when I got to Colorado thinking everything looked new, clean and litter free.

Big Ed: On the drive to Arizona, somewhere west of Paducah, Texas, on Highway 70 we were behind a pickup which had litter blowing out of its bed. How many times have I joked that this is the Texas litter disposal method? I can't imagine someone doing such a thing in what you call Modern America.

Me: Well, I did see some litter floating in Elliot Bay, by the aquarium, the last time I walked the Seattle waterfront.

Big Ed: Probably was dropped by a visiting Texan.

Me: Does the word "landscaping" cause you to have anything to say.

Big Ed: I'd forgotten how Modern America cares about how their town's look. You don't see abandoned buildings in a rundown condition, like I see in Texas in towns like Fort Worth and Wichita Falls. And the streets are landscaped. With sidewalks. The freeways are landscaped. The overall look makes it like you're in some sort of park. Sidewalks on both sides of wide boulevards, with wide landscaped medians between the sidewalks and roads. Can you imagine an Arizona freeway exit to a tourist attraction being a littered weed covered mess like the freeway exits to the Fort Worth Stockyards? No, that just would not happen in Modern America.

Me: You are forgetting when my brother drove us to see that Copper Mine by Superior and the rundown borderline ghost towns along the road there and beyond.

Big Ed: Yeah, but there was a reason. Those towns were well past their heyday. They were not big cities, like Fort Worth, or even Wichita Falls, towns with multiple abandoned building eyesores of the sort towns in Modern America do not tolerate.

Me: Well, you know, Texas is all about freedom. You can not tell someone to tear down their abandoned eyesore building. Or to pick up their litter.

Big Ed: Yeah, the concept of freedom in Texas, well, with way too many Texans, is way too restrictive. Arizona was the first time I experienced liquor sold in grocery stores since the last time I was in California. And now such is pretty universal on the west coast, I think. I've not been there, but I've heard reports. That and marijuana is legal. Unlike Texas. Freedom in Texas has a lot of restrictions.

Me: I don't remember if I pointed out any of the Arizona medicinal marijuana dispensaries when we were in Arizona. Washington now has pot stores, like little Starbucks kiosks. You've not seen that either. You really need to return to Modern America more often. It broadens your thinking as to what is possible.

Big Ed: Correct me if I am wrong. But were you not a bit appalled at what you saw your most recent visit to the Washington version of Modern America.

Me: That is true. The growth in the Puget Sound zone has created traffic woes of the likes I never previously experienced. Five hours to get from Tacoma to Birch Bay by the Canadian border. The homeless camps along the freeway as you drive through Seattle. All the construction cranes in Seattle. Seeing a skyline greatly altered from the last time I saw it in 2008. The skyline of sleepy Fort Worth has pretty much not changed the entire time I have looked at it. Stuck in neutral all of this century.

Big Ed: You forget, they did build that weird looking convention center hotel.

Me: Yeah, that did add greatly to the stunning skyline of downtown Fort Worth. What other culture shock type reactions did you have being back in Modern America?

Big Ed: Well, you made mention of it and I thought you were exaggerating. But, after spending so many years seeing so many BIG Texans it really does look like someone has let the air out of people when you see most people not being plus sized.

Me: I remember the first time I had that reaction. It was flying back to Washington. I got picked up at the airport and brought to downtown Seattle before being brought to where I was staying in Kent. We went to a gallery in Pioneer Square to deliver some goods. The streets were teeming with people. And I remarked to the gallery owner that it looked like someone had let the air out of the people.

Big Ed: And in a similar vein, in Arizona I don't recollect seeing any people dressed like those in those "People of Walmart" photos you see on Facebook. And way fewer tattoos and weird body piercing. It's like the hinterland misinterprets what's trendy on the coasts and goes overboard with it.

Me: I have had a similar reaction each time I am back in Arizona, and particularly when I am back in Washington. Like the last time, August of 2017, David, Theo and Ruby picked me up at Sea-Tac and to wait out the I-5 traffic we went to a restaurant as Southcenter, then walked the mall. Pretty much everyone I saw looked stylish, non-slobbish.

Big Ed: It is probably in bad taste to make such observations.

Me: Yeah, but it is true, so what you gonna do? Pretend your eyes don't see what they see?

Big Ed: Another thing which I found interesting was how the urban planning in the Phoenix area is ahead of development. Time and time again we came upon developments being readied for new homes or apartments, with the infrastructure in place, the roads, the utilities, the sidewalks, the landscaping.

Me: Well, it helps that they have a nice flat desert to work with.

Big Ed: And Chandler, where we spent most of our time. Population around a quarter million, compared to Fort Worth's population of almost a million. Chandler's boulevards and parks and shopping areas were all efficiently planned and good looking. Chandler has what? Six public swimming  pools, of the big waterpark sort? Fort Worth closed all its public pools. And all the Chandler parks we went to were so well designed. And all with modern facilities.  Unlike the outhouse norm of Fort Worth. And all the paved trails all over the towns of the Phoenix area, some along side canals, with lighting for after dark biking or running.

Me: It does seems odd that areas of America can be so different.

Big Ed: The massive Intel complex was another eye opener. I remember when Fort Worth tried to land that, using all sorts of incentives, including building a new overpass over I-35 to connect to the land Intel might build on. This was across the street from where I was located at the time, in Haslet. Seeing Chandler, how could any sane person in Fort Worth think any corporation would choose to locate to Fort Worth when a town like Chandler was an option? And now, all these years later, that land where Intel was gonna build in Fort Worth is filled in with hundreds, maybe thousands of houses, all built without upgrading the road system to handle the traffic increase. Totally the opposite of how Arizona and Modern America seems to operate. And all that un-mitigated development, without proper drainage is one of the causes for massive flooding in creeks downstream in towns like Haltom City.

Me: That Intel development caused Chandler to boom, attracting other high tech stuff to locate alongside Intel on Dobson Boulevard. And massive residential developments built as a result of Intel coming to town. I don't get why Fort Worth thinks it can ever attract any big deal unless the town cleans itself up and modernizes. Don't see that happening. Too corrupt, too backwards. And then there is Chandler's neighbor, Tempe, which in recent years has seen multiple corporations relocate their headquarters to that booming college town.

Big Ed: Tempe was cool. I wouldn't mind living there. And another thing, about Chandler. so many water features for a town in the desert. So many beautiful grotto-like lakes and canals with homes and apartment complexes on the waterfronts. And so many waterfalls, all over Chandler. City planners in Wichita Falls need to visit Chandler and get inspired to install waterfalls all over Wichita Falls of the sort you see in Chandler.

Me: Wichita Falls city planners, and maybe Fort Worth's, if such exist, would get some good ideas by visiting the towns which make up the Phoenix metro area. Like historic downtown Gilbert. Wichita Falls could emulate downtown Gilbert in the Wichita Falls downtown, making for a vibrant place people would wanna hang out in.

Big Ed: Don't see that happening. Wichita Falls, and Fort Worth, and much of Texas suffers from, I dunno how to say it other than say it suffers from too much of a Republican mentality. Backwards, non-progressive and lacking in imagination.

Me: Here comes dinner. Time to shut up and eat....

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