2005 not so shabby for New Mexico

By Ned Cantwell: State Columnist

A year ends. A year begins. About the only thing that will change by this time next year are your memories. And the most important thing for you to remember right this moment is that you have the power to shape those memories.

Is that heavy, or what? Isn’t that just provocative enough to make George Will bat his beady little intellectual eyes?

Someone at a holiday party asked if I had ever had a single, solitary serious thought in my life. Well, yes, and that was it. I’ve been carrying it around for years. It’s hard for a little mind to harbor such weighty matters, kind of like a first-grader strapped with a backpack full of rocks.

Having thus unburdened myself, let me tell you there was a lot of fun in New Mexico last year, and unless the state Legislature goes on strike, you can count on a lot more to come.

News has its lighter moments, and it doesn’t get much lighter than Lt. Gov. Diane Denish ripping through a red light in Albuquerque and getting busted by one of those traffic cameras. Diane was no doubt on her way to record one of those interminable Richardson administration public service ads. It could be she was going to warn us about the dangers of reckless driving.

Looking back, it was not a great year for outstanding comments, although the culinary critique creativity of the head jailer at Curry County landed him in my “best quotes” file.

It seems the Curry County jailers decided to punish misbehaving inmates by serving them a special meal they call prison loaf, a concoction, suffice to say, that isn’t going to make it to Grandma’s family dinner table.

Jail boss Don Burdine tasted the loaf before giving it to prisoners. His response? “It wasn’t all that bad. It kind of tasted like a carrot loaf with fish in it.” Would you like Tums with that, sir?

One quote that will take its place among the great moments of law enforcement response was recorded in Ruidoso. There, police were diligently searching for a young Texas guy who had allegedly murdered his parents, so nefarious he earned a spot on “America’s Most Wanted.”

After learning the bad guy might be in Ruidoso, officer Dave Pino earnestly took up the hunt. Spying the suspect’s 1999 tan Suburban at a rental cabin, Dave exclaimed, “Oh, s – – t. there it is!”

The sickest quote of the year, no contest, was that of the lawyer defending the idiot Army sergeant ringleader in the Abu Ghraib prison abuse scandal where, among other atrocities, naked prisoners were piled in pyramids as a supposedly valid form of prisoner control. “Don’t cheerleaders all over America form pyramids six to eight times a year. Is that torture?” argued the attorney.

The award for best quote of the year, hands down, goes to the New Mexico legislator who suggested this state slogan: “Thank God for Mississippi.”

This column has long been searching for a slogan to adequately capture the charm and challenges of the Land of Enchantment. It turns out the slogan has been nesting in the mind of an Albuquerque Journal headline writer whose front page banner said this: “Not So Shabby, New Mexico.”
Nothing shabby about that.

Ned Cantwell writes a weekly column published in 14 New Mexico newspapers. Contact him at: ncantwell@charter.net