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May 18th, 2017 under West Texas Talk » West Texas Talk Highlight


I had a conversation today with a friend of mine in front of the Post Office. Imagine that. We talked about government and we distressed about the future. Imagine that. And I went on to say that we were either going down the tube or we were going to have to take a stand.

But then my wife and I went off to celebrate Mother’s Day and I began to count my blessings. I decided that maybe the best thing we should do is to relax, get some popcorn and enjoy the ride, because it could be worse. Imagine that.

Ken Whitley




Marfa’s mid-level robotics team (FIRST Tech Challenge team #10302) launched a fundraising campaign to help us attend the UIL State Robotics Championship in Austin this weekend.

I am overwhelmed with gratitude for the outpouring of support from the community! We exceeded our goal.

This will allow us to take a dozen students from 7th through 10th grades to Austin, plus allow us to pay registration fees for next year’s FTC competition.

Special thanks to Ann Marie Nafziger and the Marfa Education Foundation for working with our students to launch this fundraiser.

Go Robohorns!

Rob Crowley,

Marfa ISD Robotics



I thank Cine Marfa and El Cosmico for their recent support of the efforts of Two Rivers Camp and other local activist groups who fought long and hard against the Trans-Pecos pipeline.

I would especially like to thank Joe Cashiola, David Fenster, and David and Jennifer Hollander, not only for screening footage of the Trans Pecos Pipeline activism and hosting a panel discussion of members of The Two Rivers Camp, Toyahvale Camp, Big Bend Defense Coalition, Big Bend Conservation Alliance, and Society of Native Nations, but also for devoting much of the festival to the themes of resistance and activism.

I personally found Josh Fox’s “Awake, A Dream from Standing Rock” screening especially moving. Being surrounded by the sounds of rubber bullets and water cannons blasting, hearing the guttural shock of impact, penetrating the flesh of Standing Rock Water protectors as they held space peacefully in prayer to protect the sanctity of their waters was heartrending. The absurdity of the violence and injustice unleashed upon the native people, against the American people (people like you and me) by Energy Transfer Partners and tacitly condoned by the government in the name of “progress,” in the name of “profit’ brought tears of anger and sadness.

What happened to the laws that protect those who stand up and protect the rights of humanity, our democratic principles, and our environment? Long ago, perhaps they were based in fairness, equality. Today those with money and power slide through loopholes while many, especially the poor, the minorities, and those who oppose the status quo find themselves up against walls of oppression.

Why do our laws today not reflect that protest is vital to true progress, to democracy, to change that makes our society more civilized, more responsible, more respectful – laws that protect our world from humanity’s baser instincts of greed and dominion?

Let’s value and celebrate the power of protest as the key to a successful, thriving ever self-actualizing organism of democracy. Let’s learn from history, from the struggles and gains of the Women’s Movement and Civil Rights. Let’s choose people and a sustainable planet over profit.

The Trans-Pecos Pipeline opened the door for the oil and gas industry to waltz in and ravage our beautiful Big Bend country. We used to say, “they won’t come here because there’s no infrastructure.” Now there is. We are already seeing fracking near Balmorhea, drilling outside of Fort Davis, two drill permits for Presidio County, and there’s talk of an oil & gas refinery in Fort Stockton. What will that refinery and the Alpine High fracking do to our air? How many more earthquakes in Reeves County before they erupt in Brewster and Presidio counties? When will the fracked cracks underground open wide enough to contaminate our aquifers with “proprietary” fluids and what will become of the worlds best spring fed swimming pool?

The sanctity of our region is under attack. Not only our water, our air, our land, our health, but our rights as citizens of this country. We, the people, continue to need the strength of those willing to protect our communities and we continue to need to spread awareness, influence politics and change unjust laws, and help us transform a system that criminalizes good people for standing up for an equitable, just and sustainable future.

Lori Glover, Organizer

Two Rivers Camp and Big Bend Defense Coalition



The City of Presidio would like to request that Presidio County consider the initiation of clerk services in Presidio, available at the County Annex.

Currently all south county residents have an over 100-mile roundtrip to Marfa to conduct business with the County Clerk. With available technology, the transfer of documents to Presidio (for pick-up in an acceptable manner) could happen at a reduced rate, if the law allows for digital transmission. If not, we would be willing together with other interested parties as a committee to figure a way to make this happen.

I speak for the citizens of Presidio. You represent Presidio, Marfa, and all the other unincorporated areas in Presidio County. Let’s continue to work toward serving all county residents in a fair manner, especially those who are least able to access vital services.

Thank you very much for your and the commissioners’ consideration for this matter.


Mayor John Ferguson




Why build a wall to keep immigrants out when you can just poison them after they get here? I certainly hope that is not part of Trump’s master plan (assuming he even has one).

As reported by Mother Jones on Monday morning, last month Trump’s fox (Scott Pruitt) who is supposed to be guarding the Environmental Protection Agency gave the green light for a pesticide called chlorpyrifos which on May 5 poisoned at least 12 of some 50 farm workers in California who were exposed to it.

The rest of the story is what is most interesting: In December, Dow Chemical, parent company of Dow AgroScience, which makes chlorpyrifos, gave $1 million to Trump’s inaugural committee; Dow CEO Andrew Liveros is named chair of the American Manufacturing Council (whatever that is); and miracle of all miracles, Pruitt shortly thereafter proclaims chlorpyrifos safe.

You may ask why we should care about a bunch of farm workers in California if the president of the US, his appointed head of the EPA (and all the Republican senators who confirmed his appointment) and the CEO of a fortune 500 company clearly do not.  If you can’t answer that question maybe you should think about it the next time you go to church.

Fred Gossien




A few weeks back, my friend Lonn Taylor wrote about how Gustavo Arrellano claims in his column, “Ask a Mexican,” and in his book that the world’s best tamales come from some place in Arkansas. I agree with some people describing him as a “sabelotodo” and don’t agree with all his assertions about things Mexican. However, I replied in a personal note to Lonn, what I thought of Arrellano’s claims about tamales in general and about the best coming from Arkansas specifically.

Here is my note to him: I must politely object to Arrellano’s claim that the best tamales come from, horrors, Arkansas. And prepared by a Sicilian! Oh my, Dios nos bendiga. As he claims, other than his own home-style tamales, I feel my wife makes the best tamales of all. I would put them up to the challenge anytime, with her permission, of course.

Also, the history of Mexican style culinary practice in the United States goes back even further, in my opinion. “Gabachos” were invading Mexican territory via the war between the United States and Mexico of 1846-1848. During the occupation of New Mexico by commanders Kearney and Doniphan, their men were introduced to such Mexican delicacies as hand made, stone ground corn tortillas, red chili peppers prepared into a sauce served with other fare from their milpas, and I would assume with whatever type of meat available, probably mostly chicken or pork.

Thus, I would believe that they took this new type of simple fare, or the idea of it at least, back home with them. As my wife and I have traveled throughout the Midwest over the years, we have noted the many towns and villages that bear distinctly Mexican names. Cerro Gordo, Toluca, and El Paso in Illinois, Mexico, La Plata, Potosi in Missouri are but a few. The men who returned from that dubious war were undoubtedly influenced by their close encounter with the rich culture of the Mexican people they encountered and by whom they were graciously hosted in most cases. One has but to read their personal accounts to see this. My guess would be they even attempted to practice the exotic cuisine once back home, in some cases.

As for burritos, quien sabe. They have been around our culture since the tortilla was first tamped out by hand and cooked on a comal. The filling was and has always been whatever was on hand and not so much by design. The modern burrito then, owes its origins to those “tacos” of long ago. When it became the flour tortilla rolled variety I do not know, but I grew up with both versions. Oh what joy they bring!


Edmundo Balderrama

Fort Davis and Marfa



Re: border observations;

Cameron Dodd did his usual good work in his front-page headline article “…concerned about Trump…” He quotes H. Cowan, “a consultant who works primarily with Solitaire,” the company that builds manufactured homes and employs “a dozen people in Presidio and hundreds in Ojinaga.” Cowen said that proposed tariffs on Canadian lumber would raise homebuilding costs and become an “immediate problem” for homebuilders.

Immediate problems in lumber prices when examined in depth, are the product of decades of bad management policies by state and federal forest services. At the Redwood Regional Logging Conference in the mid-1990s, I met a logger who used two 1,100 pound mares to log in the most environmentally friendly manner possible. He was there to demonstrate horse logging to K-8 Humboldt County school children. I was there to demonstrate late 19th, early 20th century chopping, sawing, tree climbing and log rolling techniques used on river drives. We got a big kick out of the fact that we both worked alone at jobs we loved, and despite his providing a product and my providing a service, we grossed the same annual dollar amount and earned a decent living for our families.

Two years later he was out of business. He told me that the California State Department of Forestry had deliberately shortened the time allowed to finish logging contracts to eliminate horse logging and favor mechanized logging. That of course had to do with lobbying at Sacramento. California’s strict environmental laws easily accommodate corruption.

When I visited Creel, Mexico in 1992 or 1993, I learned that the lumber used in that area to build bed & breakfasts, etc. to meet the growing demands of the tourist industry, was imported from the USA, despite the Tarahumara sawmill that produced the same dimension lumber cut from the local Ponderosa pine forest, and despite shipping costs to that remote community being enormous. (I observed a Tarahumara Indian thinning the forest with an axe while wearing sandals.) US imports were cheaper, period. Had the president of Mexico imposed a tariff on US lumber, someone in Mexico occupying the same position as Cameron Dodd could have written the same article about how the tariff raised building costs, creating an immediate problem.

My question to the people who live within 100 miles of the Rio Grande/Bravo on either side, who according to historian Lonn Taylor are part of a culture that is not Mexico and not the United States, how many donations would the dirt-poor Tarahumara need now if their president had stood up for their industry then?

George “Rex” Redden

South Brewster County

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