Sunday, April 14, 2013

Marfa, Texas, "Capital of Quirkiness," According to 60 Minutes

In a segment that aired on Sunday, "60 Minutes" calls Marfa, Texas "The Capital of Quirkiness." The sweetly artsy spirit of this remote small town of far West Texas was precisely what appealed to me when I first came across it more than a decade ago-- and what drew me to start writing a book and podcasting about it back in January 2012. But as I delved in, reading and traveling and interviewing a wide variety of artists, scientists, business people and others, I soon realized that there's a far larger, more complex story, or rather, stories, to tell about the Big Bend region. Start with the fact that the Spaniards called it the Despoblado (Empty Quarter), and on pre-20th century maps it appears only vaguely as "La Apachería..." It's one of the earth's "Thin Places," to steal an Irish term-- and with a frightening history, a starkly beautiful swirl of landscape, border country. . . Watch "The Three Burials of Melquiades Estrada" for an idea of what it looks like.

So far, of the projected 24, I've posted 11 podcasts about the region. A few favorites:

Cowboy Songs by Cowboys

A Visit to Swan House

Mary Baxter, Painting the Big Bend

We Have Seen the Lights

Charles Angell in the Big Bend

Listen in to all the podcasts anytime at

Next podcast: an in-depth interview with Dallas Baxter, founder of Cenizo Journal.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Boquillas is Big News for the Big Bend

After much rumor and anticipation, the Boquillas border crossing into Mexico from far West Texas's Rio Grande Village in Big Bend National Park has just-- today-- thanks for the tip, Charlie Angell-- reopened for the first time since 9-11. This is one of the most remote places in the Lower 48, and in northern Mexico's state of Coahuila, and though the number of people crossing was always a mere trickle, the border's closing after 9-11 had devastated the Mexican town of Boquillas (which means "little mouths").

>Read more in the San Antonio Express-News

I'll have a lot to say about these remote areas of the US-Mexico border in my "Marfa Mondays" podcasts and in my work-in-progress about far West Texas. Recently I visited the remains of the  long demolished informal bridge over the Rio Grande at Candelaria. The river there was maybe 15 -20 feet across as I recollect, and I saw paw prints in the mud on both sides, going down from Mexico and coming up into Texas: a coyote, I mean canine, had crossed.

I'm also working on a podcast and an essay about the Big Bend National Park-- one of the most geologically varied and starkly beautiful places I have ever seen. Stay tuned.