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Today's Opinions

  • Is romantic, exotic “Land of Enchantment” overlay useful today?

    With her energy, money and international company of luminaries, Mabel Dodge Luhan helped create New Mexico as a romantic ”Land of Enchantment.” By the time Luhan and others wrote in New Mexico Quarterly, Summer 1951, she had been in Taos for 33 years. It is likely her leadership time had passed. Luhan died in 1962.
    (My complete notes from the New Mexico Quarterly are posted at capitolreportnm.blogspot.com.)
    Drawn by romance and exoticness, pilgrims continue to come. In 1980 I met an aspiring poet who couldn’t spell.
    I mock the pilgrims occasionally for their mantra, “I came to New Mexico, saw the sun set over the mountain and found God.”
    Such folks are prone to overlooking the details of paying the bills. Unless, like Luhan, they bring money, such details catch them. Then they return to New York or wherever, mumbling about stupid New Mexicans. Very annoying.
    The sixties brought hippies and communes. In 2013, New Mexico Magazine said that by the late 1960s, the state had 25 communes, “according to one count.” The reception was mixed. One view shows in an essay, “Taos: Hippies, Hopper and Hispanic Anger,” in “Telling New Mexico A New History.” Other perspectives appear in “Scrapbook of a Taos Hippie,” by Iris Keltz, published in 2000.

  • What’s your bedroom worth on Airbnb?

    It’s called the sharing economy, and it’s dismantling our economic models.
    Need a ride? Text Uber to have a driver show up and take you there in his or her own vehicle. Need a vacation rental? Go to Airbnb.com to book everything from a castle to a couch directly from the owner. Need tools, sports gear, photo equipment, garden space? Somebody will rent them to you for a few bucks.
    Last week the city of Santa Fe and the town of Taos reached an agreement with Airbnb to collect lodgers’ taxes from Airbnb hosts, beginning August 1.
    Until now, people renting their homes or mother-in-law quarters or bedrooms have been invisible to the tax man, but traditional hotels, motels, and bed and breakfast inns pay lodgers’ taxes to promote their areas. This, in fact, was a complaint during legislative Jobs Council hearings last year.
    Santa Fe has an estimated 1,000 short-term rentals operating, even though the local ordinance allowed just 350. The City Different estimated it was losing up to $2.1 million in lodgers’ taxes each year, along with uncollected gross receipts taxes, and hoteliers complained the underground rentals were unfairly competing. Santa Fe now allows 1,000 and requires a permit; violations can mean stiff fines. Santa Fe and Taos city officials look forward to new revenues to help balance the budget.

  • Luhan brought artists, romantics, intelligentsia and radicals to Taos

    Maybe Mabel Dodge Luhan didn’t do everything required to create a romantic overlay on Taos and northern New Mexico. But she did a lot.
    An excellent show at the Harwood Museum of Art (harwoodmuseum.org) in Taos, running through September 11, tells Mabel’s tale without quite making the leap to one significant result.
    An article in the Summer 2016 issue of the Museum of New Mexico’s “El Palacio” (elpalacio.org) magazine, “A ‘Creator of Creators,’” parallels the exhibit. The author, Lois Rudnick, now retired to Santa Fe, apparently is the expert on all things Mabel.
    I brought to the exhibit general knowledge that Luhan lived in Taos a long time and famous people such as D.H. Lawrence visited. At the exhibit, a page from the New Mexico Quarterly, summer 1951 issue, was open to view. It said, “For the world Taos has become a living symbol…” This symbol creation appears something that happened as a layer on top of the locals who weren’t especially involved.
    In late 1917, Luhan was summoned to New Mexico. Husband three, Maurice Stern, wrote her from Santa Fe, “Save the Indians, their art—culture—reveal it to the world!”
    Save the Indians! They are objects, artifacts.

  • Early voting may involve a long drive

    The map of New Mexico is a vivid reminder of what starkly different worlds we New Mexicans live in – one tight clump in the center of the state and enormous open spaces dotted with small towns.
    The map, in this case, was provided by the Secretary of State’s office, showing the polling sites for early voting and Election Day voting for the recent primary. It is online at polling.sks.com. Save this link for the general election.
    We can’t tell from the data how much early voting influenced our recent primary election.  What we can tell is how much the early voting option was utilized.
    The numbers indicate that early voting was much more heavily used in Bernalillo County and other metro areas than in our sparsely populated rural counties.  
    The early voting period this year was May 21 to June 4. By law, each county was required to make early voting available at the county clerk’s office.  Counties could also set up additional early voting sites.
    Several rural counties used only the clerk’s office. Others had an additional location at a fire station or other public building. Most tribes had a site location at a tribal community center, but not all. Voters from little Picuris Pueblo would have to go to the Peñasco community center.

  • The tragedy of the commons, part two

    BY GEORGE CHANDLER
    Guest Columnist, Los Alamos

  • State doesn’t take its own advice to buy local

    BY LORETTA HALL
    Guest Columnist

  • Woodworking business gets startup help

    BY METTA SMITH
    Vice President, Lending and Client Services, Accion

  • Yes! We have no bananas

    “Bananas –59¢/lb.” Bananas are rich metaphors for the untold oddities that lurk deep in nature and in humans.  
    People see different things in a banana plantation. You hear them called banana “plants;” others call them “trees.” Botanically, bananas grow on a plant whose “trunks” of tightly-woven leaves look to all the world like trees. Say what you will.
    Equally strange, the heavy bunches of bananas grow upwards from their stem-end, which looks upside down to our eyes. Nor is that surprise the last.  
    In the early 1800s, sailors returning from trips to the tropical Americas would earn a little extra profit by loading on board the mostly unknown long, yellow fruit. In 1866, one Carl B. Frank began the first planned importing of bananas from northern Panama to New York City.
    That same decade saw the birth of banana republics, a name coined in a 1904 book of short stories by O. Henry.  
    Bananas are now as common as fish, but the exotic fruit is still popular in today’s markets. Nothing grows a tougher wrapper that makes peeling and eating so easy. Nothing else has a bite-size cross section that neatly reseals the end where it is bitten or cut.