Saturday, March 15, 2008
Guess who's coming to dinner!
You see, Peter was described to us as a kind of Ted Kaczynski -- without the violence. Kaczynski, as you may remember, was better known as the Unabomber for targeting universities and airlines with his homemade explosives in a kind of rant against technology and the world it had created.
(What follows is the obligatory disclaimer. Anyone familiar with the early anti-Iraq-war advocates will remember the incessant need they felt to say, "Of course, we all know what a horrific person Sadam Hussein was" as they proceeded to denounce the war against him and his nation.)
Disclaimer: While I've never advocated wreaking harm against people and destruction of property to exclaim one's philosophy, one has to wonder if the Unabomber wasn't perhaps just more awake, more lucid, than most Americans, and it manifested in some sort of perverse way. End of disclaimer.
That aside, I was curious to meet this Peter fellow who had been presented to us in this vein--sans the violence, of course.
As it turned out, Peter is an American originally from the upper midwest. Peter reminded me a lot of Tom Hanks, the way Hanks would have turned out were he more handsome. Peter teaches college here in El Paso. But he lives over the border in Juarez, Mexico. The reasons are multi-faceted we were told: The $100/mo. rent he pays saves him several hundreds of dollars he would otherwise pay on this side of the border; being submerged in the culture of Mexico, it's much easier for him to maintain his Spanish language skills; and without a car he gets much exercise walking across the border while dodging crossfires in the ongoing Juarez drug war gun battles.
Peter doesn't own a car. Doesn't want one. As a result, his day begins very early as he crosses the international bridge on foot where he catches often unreliable El Paso buses known to break down regularly. His commute allows for such disruptions in his daily itinerary.
It was an interesting evening. We talked of many things. One of those things being movies. Having no cable or satellite connections in Juarez, Peter was surprisingly up on the most current of movies. That's because he can buy pirated copies of them from street vendors there for a buck something.
It turned out we enjoy many of the same type movies, especially those filmed in the area depicting border life and issues. Among them, "No Country for Old Men" and "There Will Be Blood" were discussed, without much of the fanfare of the critics. Other notable movies from the area mentioned included "Giant" (1956) and "The Three Burials of Melquiades Estrada" (2005).
And so, with spring break coming up in a week, where does a person who had been compared to the technological society hating Unabomber want to go? Not Palm Springs or Fort Lauderdale. Not even Padre Island, TX. No, Peter is heading out for ten days to the U.S. - Mexico border area of Big Bend, Texas. To get away. To recharge his sanity. It's right on the border with Mexico where the aforementioned movies were made.
Any seasoned reader of Dada's Dally is familiar with my repeated claim El Paso is as far east as I wish to go in Texas. Whenever getting out of town for a few days, my inclination has always been to go north (to New Mexico) or west (as in the Pacific Northwest). But now I'm having second thoughts. I thinking far west Texas might be an area worthy of exploration.
It's probably about as remote as one can get from everything in the state of Texas. And you never know, as isolated as it is, while walking the streets of Marfa you might run into Tommy Lee Jones, Daniel Day-Lewis or James Dean. Or perhaps, even more exciting, a Unabomber type character on spring break from university. "Without the violence, of course."