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New Mexico plays for the nation

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By Jay Miller

SANTA FE — The New Mexico State University and University of New Mexico men’s basketball teams made New Mexicans proud this past weekend playing in the NCAA tournament.

Both were out of the tourney by the time the weekend was over, but they fought hard and received favorable recognition for their efforts and fan support.

One CBS announcer noted that the campus of Montana University, UNM’s first opponent, had been declared by Rolling Stone as the nation’s most scenic. The other announcer noted that the sun setting on the Sandias was quite a sight too. The same can be said of the Organs overlooking Las Cruces.

My vote for the most scenic campus goes to Pepperdine University in the steep hills overlooking Malibu Beach, Calif. It occasionally has some decent men’s or women’s basketball teams also.

UNM received some extra recognition for coach Steve Alford being one of four finalists for national coach of the year and for celebrities in the San Jose, Calif., crowd such as Gov. Bill Richardson and former New Mexicans Colleen and Gavin Maloof.

It appeared the NMSU Aggies were going to get no respect in their game against Michigan State in Spokane, Wash. No celebrities showed up. The announcers seemed only able to talk about State, which to them meant Michigan State, even though the NMSU players had “State” on the front of their jerseys.  

But by the time the Aggies staged their comeback from a 14-point deficit to a lead, the announcers and crowd became very excited about them.

President Barack Obama’s bracket choices of the New Mexico teams not to survive the first weekend drew some consternation in the state, but he was correct. And he did well in his picks last year.

Maybe a president isn’t too wise, however, to pick NCAA brackets. There are 65 teams in the tournament, 64 of which he has to pick to lose at some point. He can pick only one winner.

 u u u

Have you ever heard “Tucumcari Tonite?” It is the New Mexico community’s slogan on billboards along I-40. It also is a song title, as in “Tucumcari

Tonight.”

Other song titles include “Two Gun Harry from Tucumcari,” “There’s Nothing to Eat in Tucumcari” and “Two Miles Out of Tucumcari.”

In fact, there are so many songs with Tucumcari in the title or lyrics that Bob Beaulieu, executive director of the Tucumcari/Quay County Chamber of Commerce, had trouble narrowing the field to

14 selections for a CD project called “Songs of Tucumcari.”

Who would have guessed Tucumcari would be so popular? Is it because Tucumcari has more than 1,200 motel rooms, many attractions, or that it is the biggest community between Albuquerque and Amarillo?

Possibly. But the main reason could be that it is an interesting-sounding name that works nicely into attention-grabbing music or films.

Some sources claim that Tucumcari is in the lyrics of “Route 66” but it’s not in any of the versions I’ve heard. Bobby Troup likely would have included it between Amarillo and Gallup since he was pretty faithful in listing Route 66 cities and towns in order heading west to Los Angeles.

The CD is “an ingenious and clever way to spread the word,” said Michael Cerletti, secretary of the state Tourism Department.

“I don’t believe many communities our size can boast having their own CD,” Beaulieu said. “And I don’t imagine that many communities of 6,000 are mentioned as often as Tucumcari is in music and films.”

For now, at least, it appears the only place the CDs will be available for purchase is from the local chamber of commerce. You can reach the Chamber at 575-461-1694 or chamber@tucumcarinm.com.

New Mexico now has a Music Commission, created and appointed by Gov. Bill Richardson to promote New Mexico music and musicians. This would seem to be a great project in which it should become involved.

E-mail Jay Miller at

insidethecapitol@hotmail.com.