Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Thoreau, New Mexico: Got Hope?

See the Thoreau video here

Is there a place for a hopeless place in an election about hope?

That's Thoreau, New Mexico, fittingly spelled like the philosopher, but spoken like the preposition. Surrounded by other worldly natural beauty, but also a place that one is far more likely to pass through, than to stay.

Thoreau has a quiet violence to it. The locals we spoke to called the town, split between a Navajo reservation and a neighborhood of Angelos and Latinos, quiet. And indeed it misses all the noise of urban live tucked miles from nowhere with no signs of industry or pollution.

But our brief stay was colored by stern warnings of afterhours muggings. Somehow gangs from LA have infiltrated Thoreau's calm rural life. With a few notable exceptions the people we meet appear 20 years older than the ages we request at the end of interview. The teens we speak to range from airy agitated and red-eyed rebels to entirely furious nihilists. Surely this is not the whole town, we found serious gentlemen, too.

And stats we saw contradict some of our observations (a median income up more than 100% since 2000.) But unmistakable signs of a very cruel poverty mark the main drag, especially on the reservation: abandoned cars, houses and people. The decay is so severe in parts, it's tough to fathom that this place is a long days drive from the seductive second homes of Frisco or the credited excesses of Vegas.

No matter how much hope and change is offered, it's depressingly tough to see a president, any president, accomplishing enough to make an impact in Thoreau. No slogan can save this place.

See the Thoreau video here

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