EL PASO – Before the computer, before the television, there was… the radio. Individuals would sit around the radio and listen as the news, sport events and other entertainment were broadcast through the analog airwaves. The radio was an extremely popular medium that broke new ground long before television and the Internet. “I can remember back in the 70’s, we would sit and listen to the radio a lot,” recalls Dennis Woo, Operations Director of KTEP, a non-commercial radio station broadcasting from the Communication Department at the University of Texas at El Paso. “Summer afternoons, cutting the lawn with my dad and we would listen to ball games, and all kinds of stuff, and so news magazines became like the norm in the 1970’s, and so we tried to teach that here at KTEP.”
Woo explained that in the late 70’s KTEP was required curriculum for electronic media.
EL PASO – This border city is well known for being charitable, especially when the holidays roll around, but El Paso has been hit hard by the weakened national economy, which means that community volunteering and donations are on a decline even though there is a greater need than ever. Nonprofit organizations such as the West Texas Food Bank, the Rescue Mission of El Paso and the Salvation Army need plenty of donations and volunteers year round, not only during the holiday season. Nick Maskill, a driver at the Rescue Mission of El Paso told Borderzine that many people donate during the holidays. “Everybody wants to give to somebody,” he said. Yet at other times, these nonprofit organizations have a hard time keeping up with the need in this growing city.
EL PASO – Can any holiday measure up to our expectations of it? As in any city, our appreciation of it probably depends on which streets we travel, what we do there, and with whom. Holidays come in all sorts of packages, some so large we cannot avoid, like the proverbial elephant in the room, and some so small we barely notice they have come and gone. Holidays emerge from some collective sense about the specialness of an event and a belief that it ought to be remembered, honored. These events emerge primarily out of religious traditions (Easter, Passover, Ramadan), nationalism (4th of July, President’s Day), and the recognition of relationships (Valentine’s Day, Mother’s Day). Among certain population groups, celestial events are also celebrated, such as the Chinese Moon Festival.
EL PASO – Ubicado en el mero centro de El Paso, con una historia de casi 100 años, el Café Central es una de esas raras y afortunadas excepciones donde la calidad en lugar de disminuir, mejora con el tiempo, como los buenos vinos…
La historia de este clásico fronterizo empieza en 1918, del otro lado, en Juárez, durante la turbulenta época de la Prohibición, al terminar, el restaurante se muda a El Paso, pero con otro nombre: “Miguel’s Café”, mucho tiempo después, en 1998, con el cambio de dueño regresa a su nombre original hasta la fecha, 93 años después… El Café Central es un restaurante elegante, donde se ofrece un servicio impecable, orientado al detalle, con una decoración que le da un aire distinguido, que de alguna manera te hace sentir que cambiaste de tiempo y espacio; aunque parece pequeño, hay un área de comedor, un bar con pantallas y una barra bellísima, dos salones privados y una pequeña zona al aire libre cubierta con toldos y chimeneas para aquellos que gustan pedir del humidor y fumarse un puro de calidad mundial. El menú es variado y estacional, aunque siempre mantiene algunas de sus recetas de autor, que han hecho este bello espacio tan famoso como para ser mencionado en magazines y periódicos de fama mundial: su deliciosa crema de chile poblano, el róbalo chileno (Chilean Sea Bass) y las croquetas de cangrejo son infaltables. La oferta actual en el menú abarca desde un tiradito de pulpo, un ceviche verde con varios tipos de pescado, hasta una pechuga de pato cubierta de nuez de la India, gnocchi de trufas con cangrejo, sin faltar los cortes especiales de carne y las chuletas de cordero. Uno se imaginaría que el Chef Ejecutivo de un lugar así es un señor de mediana edad de mejillas sonrosadas y mirada condescendiente, de origen anglosajón, sin embargo, el Chef Armando Pomales es joven y latino, de madre mexicana y padre puertorriqueño, sin aires pretenciosos, que no duda un momento para decir que se considera un producto de El Paso, nacido y criado aquí.
EL PASO – A sense of adventure, a camera and a little bit of luck marked the beginning of a young photographer’s career, tools that paid off nearly 50 years later for Mike Mitchell. At the age of 18, Mitchell was living in Washington, D.C, and starting his career as a photojournalist. Having already developed a love for photography in his early teens, he set off to do what naturally comes next –find a way to get paid for doing what he loved. In 1964 he began an internship at the Washington Star newspaper and also did freelance photography for magazines and other publications. That year also saw the first Beatles U.S. concert tour.
EL PASO – TV reporters covering the U.S.-Mexico border require passion, strong investigative skills and survival skills on a beat that has claimed thousands of lives in a ruthless drug war. Angela Kocherga and her cameraman Hugo Perez, who have covered the violent border for the Belo Border Bureau for the past six years, won the 9th Annual Lone Star Emmy Awards Crime-News Single Story category for their story on Juárez paramedics. Working for the Belo Corporation, one of the largest television companies in the nation, which operates 20 television stations, the Kocherga-Perez team covers stories on drug war violence, immigration and cross border health issues and how all this affects people on both sides of the border. Their featured stories are aired in various stations throughout Texas. The award-winning story revealed the everyday risks the paramedics of Ciudad Juárez face while trying to save lives.
EL PASO – No teniendo experiencia alguna dentro del ámbito de la fotografía, mi interés sobre el curso que el profesor David Smith-Soto daba en la Universidad de Texas en El Paso era como el de otro curso cualquiera. Conforme pasó el tiempo, me fui dando cuenta de que cada imagen tiene su propia historia y contiene decenas de aspectos detrás de ella. Smith-Soto no tardó más de tres semanas en hacerme cambiar la perspectiva que tenía acerca del curso. Primero decidí comprar una cámara que fuera más apta para el curso, y así es como decidí comprar mi Nikon d5000. Una cámara que tiene un sin fin de funciones específicas que acapararon mi atención.
ELPASO – As the holidays approach, stores around the world compete to attract the most customers, but merchants in U.S. border cities have the advantage that many Mexican customers cross the border to do their Christmas shopping here. According to study presented by the El Paso branch of the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas, Mexican nationals spend approximately $1.4 billion a year in El Paso. The study conducted by economist Roberto Coronado released in June 2011 shows the huge impact of cross-border retail activity on El Paso’s economy. Adrian Mijares has managed the J.C. Penney store in downtown El Paso for more than two years. Like many downtown merchants, his store’s success is directly linked to shoppers from Mexico.
EL PASO – When she was running for the position of El Paso County judge Veronica Escobar listed her top three accomplishments in public service this way: lowering the cost of government, protecting the taxpayer and improving access to health care. In a recent interview, she cited her interest in the redevelopment of downtown El Paso as an example of her dedication to economic growth. “The downtown renovation project isn’t happening fast enough. I am a huge supporter.”
Escobar said she wants to see downtown renovation bring El Paso back to the thriving city it was in the 1950’s until bad leadership brought it down in the 70’s, 80’s and 90’s. To her, downtown renovation means two things – the recreation of a wonderful community and the encouragement of economic activity.
EL PASO – Seré honesta: no es algo de lo que me sienta orgullosa pero yo soy de esas que disfrutan, de vez en cuando, el placer vicario de espiar al otro en mi buscador. Póngamoslo de esta manera: usted está en una conversación y se habla de una persona a quien no conoce, su nombre se repite y se repite, se dice esto y lo otro de dicha persona y usted permanece completamente perdido. ¿Qué hace? Si usted es listo y se siente en confianza preguntará quién es esa persona, indagará detalles, tal vez lo conozca y no lo sabe. Yo me voy por el camino fácil.
WESTMORLAND, Calif.–About 40 miles north of the Mexican border in southeastern California is a large, salt-water lake known to the world as the Salton Sea. It is the largest inland sea in the world, and the saltiest. Originally a small piece of ancient Lake Cahuilla, the Salton Basin is about 380 square miles and ranges in depth to a maximum of 51 feet. In 1905, dams used to diverge the Colorado River failed, flooding the basin without stopping until 1907. Since then the sea has been fed by natural runoff from surrounding mountains and agricultural irrigation. Throughout the last 100 years, the sea has had periods of shrinking and expanding shorelines along with large die-offs of fish and fowl, creating a reputation for the lake as a “dead sea” in the public’s eye. Part of the blame lies with rising salinity in the water, which is currently 10 times saltier than the Pacific Ocean. Along the shoreline is the Sonny Bono Salton Sea National Wildlife Refuge–2,200 acres of freshwater marshlands and home to more than 460 species of birds. The Salton Sea’s salty waters are the refuge’s habitat. Dozens of proposals over the last 20 years to “fix” the Salton Sea have gone no where.
EL PASO – Oscar Lozoya, a blind graduate student at the University of Texas at El Paso, says he realized early in his life that the attitude toward disabled people in Mexico where he grew up is generally very negative, forcing many to hide their disabilities. “The feeling most people in our [Mexican] society have towards disabled people is that of pity, not of deep human compassion, but one of negative feelings,” Lozoya said. “In Mexico, it is hard to get a true count of how many disabled people there are, because disabled people and their families will hide it, so they won’t have to live with that stigma.”
Four international students at the University of Texas at El Paso shared their experiences of living with a disability in their country of origin at a meeting entitled “Global perspectives on access for people with diverse abilities.” The panel discussion examined how persons with disabilities are treated in different cultures, by governments and because of their social standing. Afraid of being stigmatized, Lozoya, who is engaged in interdisciplinary studies at UTEP, did not seek out government or social help for his blindness. While special education is available in the Mexican education system, Lozoya said he believes it harms the students more than it helps them.
EL PASO – Old people say that the older you get, the faster time goes. Agreeing with them probably means I have joined their ranks. It is hard to get a grip on time as an objective phenomenon because we experience it so differently at different times in our lives. We have measurements for time smaller than nanoseconds and longer than centuries, and we have all manner of time keeping devices to keep us all on the same page, so to speak, in mixed metaphors. Time has been measured by the ethereal shadows of the sun, by phases of the moon, by water and by sand, by movements of planets and stars, by candles and by incense, by pendulums, and in relation to special or cataclysmic events.
EL PASO – As the drug war continues in Ciudad Juárez, one of the world’s deadliest cities just cross the border from the University of Texas at El Paso, the work of international students here has shown the effect drug-related violence has had on their everyday lives. “In the past few years, violence and conflict have become a constant threat to the lives of many students on the U.S.-Mexico border,” said Alfredo Urzua, assistant professor of languages and linguistics at UTEP. “These students that are directly or indirectly exposed to violent events must find a way to balance their educational goals while living in an unstable and unsafe environment.”
Many of the students at the university come from or have close ties to Juarez. The impact the drug violence has had on the university can be seen since the start of the war. UTEP students have protested against the violence and helped families that have been affected.
En menos de una semana la reputación de un político mexicano se vino abajo (aunque tampoco es que la tuviera muy alta). Y todo por un asunto literario. El precandidato a la Presidencia en México, Enrique Peña Nieto, asistió a la Feria Internacional del Libro en Guadalajara para presentar su libro México la Gran Esperanza una obra con la cual Peña Nieto pretende expresar: “hacia dónde creo que podemos transitar en los próximos años. Una obra que aborda los que, a título personal, considero los mayores desafíos, retos y oportunidades de México”. Pero el mayor desafío durante este evento ocurrió al final de la presentación.
EL CENTRO, Calif.—Only fragments of history were left on the floor of Cathy Dobson’s antique store here following the April 2010 7.2-magnitude earthquake. Dobson said she was in shock to see that fine china, glass bookcases, and $300 lamps, among other beloved treasures, had become mere scraps of debris to be fed to the dumpster. Business owners in the historic downtown district suffered losses in the hundreds of thousands to damaged merchandise, store closures, and mandatory moving expenses. But the earthquake was only the latest in a series of jolts to rock the 100-year-old downtown area as competition from online retail and a new regional shopping mall wooed away the local customer base. And, then the recession hit. “For about a year, between the earthquake and the economy, business was terrible,” said Dobson, who owns Dobson’s Antiques on Main St. in downtown El Centro. “There’s a lot of empty buildings and there’s more so now than there was before the earthquake.”
Dobson is one of about 10,000 independent small business owners in the Imperial Valley and one in nearly 28 million nationwide struggling to win back the loyalty of local consumers. But, even a national push to send consumers to Main Street America’s independently owned businesses has not paid off locally.
EL CENTRO, Calif. – Sitting among the hundred or so people in the large hall at Christ Community Church’s Kitchen with a Mission, Wade Hensley, 45, and Eva Morales, 32, wait at a round table littered with half-full plastic cups of red-colored punch, with their 6-month-old daughter cradled in Eva’s arms and their three other kids playing in a room next door. This is a typical Friday evening for Hensley and Morales, a common-law couple of seven years, who were once homeless for six months, then lived in an RV for almost two years before renting an apartment just down the street from the church that they frequent every week because feeding a family of six on food stamps isn’t enough. “We run out of food sometimes,” said Hensley who is disabled with a herniated disc in his back. “We just have to budget for it.”
Friday meals, weekly hot lunches and holiday dinners are among the services utilized by 21,000 Imperial Valley residents who are hungry. However, the Imperial Valley Food Bank estimates that local food insecurity affects about 50,000 people, roughly 31 percent of the county’s population; and the numbers have nearly tripled since 2008.
EL PASO – Dogs, cats, birds, and even snakes can make nice house pets, but Corrie Simpson chose a miniature pot bellied pig. Corrie fell in love with Porky the moment she saw him on a friend’s ranch, knew instantly that it was meant to be and she had to have him. When Corrie first got Porky he was only about a month old and they both bonded instantly. She could carry him in her arms but that soon changed as Porky quickly ate his way up to over 50lbs. Porky will eat everything and anything is sight.
EL PASO – El Paso District 2 Representative Susie Byrd cast a vote on June 14 along with three other City Council members that restored health care benefits to gay and unmarried partners of city employees reversing an initiative approved by voters last year. Byrd stands by that vote, which sparked a recall effort against her, Mayor John Cooke and Representative Steve Ortega. “This is less about me and more about my community. Our community has been tainted by religious leadership that seems very intent on tearing down our gay and lesbian community rather than building it.”
Byrd said that at stake is an issue of discrimination that the city needs to combat and something that the community has to repudiate for the rest of the world to see. “We are a very generous welcoming hopeful community and we embrace people of all backgrounds.”
She sees herself as a confident individual who above all cares about her community and says that her accomplishments are nothing more than her duty to the citizens she represents. She says her strengths are getting into the weave of policies and projects, working through ideas and implementing them.
EL PASO – The cold morning breeze of October blurs the historical Plaza of San Jacinto where a handful of people occupy the plaza in an act of solidarity, adopting a cause originated by one national feeling: inconformity. Occupy Together is undoubtedly the most important movement of the decade, spreading all across the country and some important cities around the world; and although Occupy El Paso is not as massive as in New York, or as aggressive as the Oakland (Cal.) movement, it is still a symbol that conveys the same message. For the past three weeks, San Jacinto plaza has witnessed how both workers and jobless rally against the unfair distribution of wealth in the U.S. From students drowning in a sea of debt to veterans from all the 20th and 21st century wars, the diversity of the crowd is vast. “I’m here because I truly believe that we actually can do something,” said Claudia, an Iraq War veteran who encountered a jobless country after the war. Like Claudia, I had experienced some of the same problems that started this movement; however, sincerely speaking I remain a little bit skeptical about the honesty of our petitions.
EL PASO – As editor-in-chief of The Prospector and Minero Magazine, reporter for Borderzine and the occasional freelance journalism work I have been able to take around El Paso, I find hard to believe the image many have of this city. As the drug-related violence continues in our sister city, Ciudad Juárez, the borderland has been in the national spotlight with various media outlets focusing on the drug-war. Even though El Paso was ranked as one of the safest cities in the U.S. by CQ press in 2010, the city is still perceived as a dangerous city due to its proximity to Juárez. When I went on an internship at the Houston Chronicle in 2010, once people found out I was from El Paso they all would ask the same questions: how dangerous is El Paso? Is it true that the violence has spilled over to El Paso?
EL PASO – Desde que se entra al Akari, el nuevo restaurante japonés en el oeste de El Paso, se empieza a sentir uno importante, el anfitrión lo recibe muy bien, con una sonrisa y le pregunta en dónde prefiere sentarse, lo cual permite revisar las tres áreas principales, una más propia para grupos, otra pequeña con mostrador de vidrio para pedir ahí mismo, y la tercera, con una barra muy elegante y moderna, complementada con mesas acomodadas para parejas o grupos más pequeños. La iluminación es indirecta y cálida, la decoración tiene mucha madera oscura y colores tierra para complementar el ambiente. La atención de los meseros y meseras es inmejorable, están al pendiente sin abrumar a los comensales, lo cual es una experiencia poco común en nuestra linda ciudad. La zona donde está el bar es muy bonita, con iluminación en la barra, es un espacio aparte, al igual que las otras dos áreas, donde quizá se puede ir con un grupo de amigos o en pareja, a disfrutar alguno de los muchísimos tipos de cocteles que ofrecen, acompañarlo con un entremés y disfrutar de un ambiente distinto al de los bares tradicionales. Entrevisto al gerente y socio mayoritario, Mario (nombre ficticio) quien prefiere permanecer en el anonimato para dar un aire de misterio (y que no quiere robar atención a los otros inversionistas…), que me platica que comenzó a trabajar en este concepto desde 1997, pero la consolidación llegó a partir del 2004.
EL PASO – La sangre, las armas y las drogas son elementos de un “género” literario que ha tomado mayor ímpetu en los últimos años – la narco-literatura. Este tipo de escritura trata temas relacionados con el tráfico de drogas, la violencia que lo acompaña, y la dinámica en la que se da. El término comparte su origen con las palabras “narco-corrido” y “narco-cultura”. En este extracto de la novela La Bicicleta de Alquiler por el periodista paseño Alberto Ponce de León, se ve el estilo de la obra: “La cajuela eléctrica se abrió del automóvil y los dos hombres se encaminaron para bajar un bulto en peso. La tragedia ya había sido consumada.
EL PASO – En los tiempos de antes, cuando el conjunto Los Tríos andaban de moda, Belia Saucedo recuerda cuando su abuelito se sentaba a comer naranjas y todos convivían alrededor de ellos. También recuerda los tiempos cuando bailaban rock-n-roll y en el pueblo había pocos habitantes. Tiempos que ella jamás olvidará porque siempre traerá a su abuelito en su corazón. “Sus ventanas tan chiquitas la cocina con su cafetera de peltre sobre la estufa de leña con su aromático café, ¡qué delicioso sabor! Nos servíamos en jarros de barro, cómo lo disfrutábamos,” escribió Belia en un cuento.
EL PASO – There is a lag between a dynamic city’s ever-evolving culture and the art on display in its galleries, especially in a city permeated with tradition like El Paso, but Martha Arzabala plan’s to change that with her new art gallery, Agave Rosa. One of the goals of Agave Rosa is to create a home for new artists, who may otherwise not have a place to show their work. “Agave Rosa is going to focus on Hispanic artists, because they are the ones that really don’t have support here. You see, the El Paso Art Association is [mostly] Anglo.”
Arzabala joined the El Paso Art Association in 2008. She volunteered to become the secretary and in one short year was elected vice-president.
EL PASO – Local artist Carlos Rodriguez has been painting for decades, but up until late October he had never placed his art on sale in a weekly market. With the inception of the El Paso Downtown Art Market, hosted by the City of El Paso Museums and Cultural Affairs Department (MCAD), artists can now display and sell their handcrafted art in a large exhibit area. The art market started Oct. 29 and is currently open every Saturday from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the Union Plaza District in downtown El Paso. The market was requested by the City Council based on similar art markets in Los Angeles and Las Cruces.
EL PASO – Atrapado en la confusión de un suceso que parecía no tener salida, una víctima del VIH/SIDA que gozaba de una vida plena se refugió en la Fe de Dios para salir adelante. “Para mí esto empezó en el 2000, empecé a sentirme débil”, dijo en anonimato el hombre de 51 años que vestía una chamarra oscura. “Me quedaba dormido, en ese entonces yo me atendía en Juárez, y un doctor de allá me dijo que probablemente yo tenía (VIH)”. Para él este camino no fue fácil, aún con temor de que la prueba saliera positiva fue a enfrentar la realidad y salir de dudas ese día que para él fue de luto. “El día negro para mí, en ese momento yo lo tomé como una prueba de Dios,” dijo este hombre apesadumbrado.
I drove up to Albuquerque for Thanksgiving. My college roommate, Suz, was flying in from Portland, Oregon, and we were both staying with our friend Nancy who we had known for forty years. Nancy loves to give parties, extravagant ones, so between sighs and giggles over our youthful memories, we handled a lot of food, plates, silverware, and glasses. After all 20 guests had left and the dishes cleared, leftovers put away, we sat, just us’ns, and watched the Playing for Change video, Stand By Me, in our pajamas. Then we blew out the candles that took so long to set up and went to bed. There aren’t many things better than old friends, maybe a room full of cousins. Nothing begs an explanation or an apology.
EL PASO – The number of Latina housewives infected with HIV is increasing in El Paso and the perpetrators are “machos enmascarados,” usually their own husbands. “I had never seen the increase in that type of vulnerable heterosexual family-oriented woman, as I am seeing it now,” said Jorge Salazar, health services administrator of the Centro de Salud Familiar La Fe. “La Fe is focusing on the very difficult topic of educating and empowering our women.”
Women are finding out to their dismay that their prince charming is experimenting with his sexuality in what is called MSM (men having sex with men), contracting HIV/AIDS and passing it on to them, according to Salazar. December 1 is World AIDS Day, and Salazar said that he hopes that a new awareness of this new face of HIV in the Latino community will erase the image of what a person with HIV/AIDS may look like and start affected people on a journey of hope, peace and help. Women in El Paso are becoming more vulnerable to this situation and the numbers have been rising.