On July 6 Mayor Tim Keller announced that his administration is “revisiting” its policies on how it addresses homeless encampments that are an increasing problem throughout the city. Keller wants to initiate major changes by the end of July on how to deal legally with homeless encampments. Keller’s announcement came about a month after a fourth murder in the last two years occurred at Coronado Park, located at third and Interstate 40. Over the last 10 years, Coronado Park has become the “de facto” city sanctioned homeless encampment where upwards of 70 to 80 homeless tents can be found at any given time.
Keller’s announcement also came after tremendous public outcry and objections to the City Council enacting legislation to create 18 city sanctioned homeless encampment known as “safe outdoor spaces”, with two encampments in each of the 9 city council districts. A city council resolution has now been introduced repealing the “safe outdoor spaces” authorization.
Writer and commentator Rudolpho Carrillo, who was a news editor at the Weekly Alibi where he used the pen name “August March” to write about Albuquerque culture, history and politics, submitted the following guest column for publication in www.PeteDinelli.com:
DISCLAIMER: The opinions expressed in this guest column written by Rudolfo Carrillo are those of Mr. Carrillo and do not necessarily reflect those of the www.petedinelli.com blog. Mr. Carillo has not been paid any compensation to publish the guest column and has given his consent to publish on www.PeteDinelli.com. The postscript to this blog article contains more on Mr. Carillo.
THE MYTH OF THE FUTURE OR SHELTER FROM THE STORM
By Rudolfo Carrillo
TOIL AND BLOOD
When it suddenly dawned on the inhabitants of Northeast Heights, New Mexico that there were literally thousands of humans without homes wandering the periphery of their humble desert outpost, living off the fat of the land, smoking stuff and further, carrying on in plastic tents and under tarps while bereft of toilets and other hygienic machinery, a cry rose up through that land.
And the cry was one of horror and of shame, and it told those disenfranchised masses to go to hell, to stay away from the green lawns and Pueblo Revival architecture, the award-winning schools and the clean grocery stores that were stuffed full of fresh fruit and bread and meat and beer.
Somewhere near the real action, on the edge of all things, in a small public green space named after a hyper-violent soldier of Charles IV and the Holy Church—a conquistador whose other notable engagements included murderous sieges at Zuni and Acoma—a motley collection of campsites arose and grew and a city within the city erupted from the mud after a long-needed rain drenched Albuquerque.
Much as Coronado the Conquistador might have imagined it, as his glory would have wanted it, there was indeed much frothy human intercourse taking place on that half-acre that bore his name. And that stuff, born upon human backs and twisted by human hands was of the same material as occurrences happening on a larger scale in this city or that city, anywhere on the globe. Here was just another place where the hairless apes lived in all their glory, accompanied by angels, drowning in their own filth.
For some reason unknown to mystics and scientists alike, the people of the Northeast Heights thought themselves to be better, to be composed of a different substance than their fellows out there wandering the Earth, sleeping under the stars, eating from a dumpster, in need of adequate healthcare and perhaps pondering the downfall of the human conscience in the face of hyper capitalism, in the age of the spectacle, where celebrity status or its simulacra meant much more than hunger or frailty.
A WORLD OF STEEL-EYED DEATH
Meanwhile, the state of affairs on the planet supporting all of this selfish nonsense was nearing a crisis point. It was a hot summer alright, and a brutal war was still being waged in Europe. All sorts of thousands of humans and the constructs of their culture were being destroyed in the name of nationalism. Don’t even ask about the animals or the paintings.
And it came to pass that summer that the forces of the patriarchy rose from the sepulcher built by your grandparents to last 1000 years. They were as dark as anything Saruman could muster and wanted control of the flesh, especially over those tingling forms that were not theirs.
After all this and the pandemic too, our hearts did not grow larger. In fact, we put that part of the flesh away in a pretty, bejeweled box a long time ago, maybe on that very morning Trump’s minions stormed the capitol building while we helplessly watched it go down on our big-screen, streaming teevees. That vasty space we have encountered this week—on television, at the City Council meeting, on our favorite news sites—is our own emptiness.
Formless and infinite, the thing we’ve poisoned ourselves with is everywhere and nowhere at once. Allatonceness, formerly a vaporous cultural characteristic bound to save us from postmodernism, has instead rendered us faithless and immobile in the face of a growing number of existential threats.
A WALL BETWEEN US
If the homeless have no place to go—except away from our vision of what a community of humans really looks like—then what’s next?
If the traitorous are allowed to disperse themselves peacefully into the body politic, what then?
If those who seek control of the minds and bodies of free citizens come to power, how will we survive?
At home, the prices of gasoline and milk climb exorbitantly and the divide between rich and poor grows geometrically while the settlers circle the wagons and the family you know from church or work or shopping intervals had to give up their apartment for the luxury of a 1997 Chevy Suburban that was always on the road, trundling toward an unknown and unacceptable fate.
Meanwhile some member of some neighborhood association in Northeast Heights, New Mexico is going on and on, nearly screaming at their government representative about the crime, the drugs … the feces. The feces. And the councilwoman is listening because the thing she fears most is not institutional racism, is not endemic poverty, is not the empty bellies of her children, is not the end of the world or even unflushed human sewage, but rather the next election day in her district.
My only advice on how to escape from the dangerously ridiculous situation we’ve engendered and thereby save the planet Earth comes from the internetz, from the imaginary world of movies, from a fictional speech given by a mythically fictional newsman. It’s a perfect way to end this column, given the absurdity we’ve descended into. If language got us where we are now, maybe it can get us out.
HOWARD BEALE REVISITED
“I don’t have to tell you things are bad. Everybody knows things are bad. It’s a depression. Everybody’s out of work or scared of losing their job. The dollar buys a nickel’s worth; banks are going bust; shopkeepers keep a gun under the counter; punks are running wild in the street, and there’s nobody anywhere who seems to know what to do, and there’s no end to it.
We know the air is unfit to breathe and our food is unfit to eat. And we sit watching our TVs while some local newscaster tells us that today we had 15 homicides and 63 violent crimes, as if that’s the way it’s supposed to be!
We all know things are bad—worse than bad—they’re crazy.
It’s like everything everywhere is going crazy, so we don’t go out anymore. We sit in the house, and slowly the world we’re living in is getting smaller, and all we say is, ‘Please, at least leave us alone in our living rooms. Let me have my toaster and my TV and my steel-belted radials, and I won’t say anything. Just leave us alone.’
Well, I’m not going to leave you alone.
I want you to get mad!
I don’t want you to protest. I don’t want you to riot. I don’t want you to write to your congressman, because I wouldn’t know what to tell you to write. I don’t know what to do about the depression and the inflation and the Russians and the crime in the street.
All I know is that first, you’ve got to get mad.
You’ve gotta say, ‘I’m a human being, goddammit! My life has value!’
So, I want you to get up now. I want all of you to get up out of your chairs. I want you to get up right now and go to the window, open it, and stick your head out and yell,
‘I’m as mad as hell, and I’m not going to take this anymore!’”
BOUND TO CROSS THE LINE
In that sunny, summery and only occasionally rainy interregnum that follows that suggested outburst and upon the relief of your very soul, if you all have any ideas about this year’s world series—saying we do make it through early November before Putin deploys the RS-28 Sarmat missile—email me here. I’ll tell you right now as I take my exit, though: I’m a big Dodgers fan and will always believe in miracles.
That about says it, and I’d wish all you humans the best of luck with the coming global crisis we’ve created through our own mismanagement and greed, but I’ll be right there with you the whole time, so I’m sure we’ll talk again, right? Why, maybe my tent will be next to yours! Be careful and keep your distance for now, though: the poodle bites.
Rudolfo Carrillo is a native New Mexican and was the news and music editor at Weekly Alibi from August 2015 until March 2020, where he used the pen name “August March” to write about Albuquerque culture, history and politics. He is a graduate of the University of New Mexico’s fine arts program. As well as being an award-winning writer, Carrillo is a painter and sculptor. His recent work was currently on exhibit at Six O Six Gallery at 606 Broadway Blvd. SW. Carrillo’s award-winning writing and analysis have been featured at international academic conferences and in notable literary journals as well as local media outlets like the Albuquerque Journal. In late February he will present work written for this site at the 43rd convocation of the Southwest Popular/American Culture Association. His latest creative writing can be read at Infinity Report with the link here: http://infinityreport.blogspot.com