Friday, September 30, 2016

Tough to say goodbye

This is it, my last day at a place I've worked for going on 23 years. The packing never ends, but am glad to see good friends and be hanging out in my querencia. My son is moving here from Portland, Oregon next week.

Saturday, September 24, 2016

Not adios but hasta la vista

I’ve worked with hundreds of reporters and editors. I’ve interviewed thousands of artists (more than 1,200 of you have been Artists of the Week, not counting all the groups, spouses and parent-child duos) and I’ve shared fiestas, plays, concerts, and other special events and life-changing historical events with millions of you in the Borderlands and beyond.
I’ve been with the Las Cruces Sun-News since 1994, in old and new buildings at the corner of Alameda and Las Cruces Avenue, and in a hotel ballroom and temporary quarters on Idaho Street, after the 2011 fire.
My youngest current newsroom colleague was a little baby when then-editor Harold Cousland called me in Florida and suggested it was time to move back to New Mexico, this time to the Southern part of the state. Grandson Alexander the Great wasn’t even a gleam in the eyes of his parents, who had not yet met. He just turned 20 and now lives in the Pacific Northwest, but on Facebook, he still lists Las Cruces, where he spent many of his fun formative years, as his hometown.
I’ve known for a while, but it still hasn’t quite sunk in yet. As I pack up the art and artifacts, and photo discs and lots and lots of newspapers, I wonder how my little corner cubicle can hold so many memories. And so much stuff.
It could have been a lot worse. I salvaged what I could after the fire put an end to the old brick building and urban wildlife preserve that was my funky home base for so many years. Those vats and cartons are occupying a corner of my garage. I’m still hoping to find a suitable home for boxes of 35mm negatives of my first ten years, reporting on life in Las Cruces. I’d like to work with a local institution to do an artist of the week retrospective exhibit, or maybe even a book.
There are lots of plans in the works. I want to do a new edition of my first book, “Tenny Hale: American Prophet,” with some updates on the still-unfolding, remarkably accurate prognostications of the most extraordinary individual I’ve ever met. And maybe, work on a play or movie script based on the true life adventures of a skeptical, then-20-something newspaper city editor encountering a source who had predicted the Watergate scandals, by name, four decades before the actual break-ins changed our nation.
I have plans for two works of fiction I’ve written, too. And I’d like to find new ways to share tales of my querencia, Las Cruces. When my amigos, some of the most astute people on the planet, conferred back in the mid-1990s, the consensus was that, “Las Cruces is the place where the remnant, la raza cosmica, the great souls of the planet, have decided to gather, pitch their tents and make their last American stand.”
They were right, I believe. I’ve met and interviewed many of those great souls, including visitors, transplants and remarkable New Mexico natives.
I’ve been fortunate to see a lot of the world and live in many exotic places. I’ve never come close to finding any place I’ve loved as much as Las Cruces. There is sweetness, spirituality, artistic talent, judiciously applied brain power, and a spirit of adventure, caring, compassion, patience and creativity that can bring out the best in us all. Las Crucens know how to make dreams come true, sometimes with what seem like impossibly limited resources. We work hard and want the best for new generations.
There’s something very special about Las Cruces and its people. I wonder if its magic can be captured in a book, or a TV series. I’d like to try.
In the meantime, mil gracias to you for sharing so much with me: your stories, your fiestas, your history and culture, your visual and performing artistry, your paintings, sculptures, books, poems, plays, movies and visions, your triumphs and tragedies (and your triumphs over tragedy and adversity) and helping me tell the world about your creativity and your stainless steel souls.
I’ve made some of the best friends of my lifetime here, and the soulmates I came in with have come to love Las Cruces as much as I do.
Sept. 30 will be my last day at the Sun-News, at a job I’ve loved and held longer than any other in my life. It was time for what some call retirement, but I prefer to think of as a change of venue. I’m looking forward to volunteering to support some of my favorite causes, spending time with friends and family and sharing life lessons learned, strategies to help us be our best selves in what can be a tough and challenging world.  
God willing, we’ll have many more adventures here together.

S. Derrickson Moore may be reached at @derricksonmoore on Twitter and

Dead Day 101: Traditions we love

We think it was around 1995 and we think there were about six of us: Preciliana Sandoval, Irene Oliver-Lewis, Jean McDonnell, Debbie Pinkerton, Sherry Doil-Carter and me. We all stood on the Mesilla Plaza and decided it was time to have a Día de Los Muertos gathering there.
We were all influenced by a lot of what was going on. Lalo Natividad and the late Richard Weeks had formed El Grupo Cultural, bringing traditional borderland festivals and celebrations back to Mesilla. Phyllis Franzoy and Erlinda Portillo founded the Las Cruces International Mariachi Conference. Santiago and Zandra Santanova had Dead Day exhibits at their galleries. José Tena built traditional altars and hosted a posole party every year, first at the Branigan Cultural Center and later at Academia de Dolores Huerta. There are been many who have been in it from the beginning and have kept the spirit of Dead alive in Mesilla since: Peggy King, Barbara Shaffer and Blanca Araujo with the Calavera Coalition, the late Miguel Silva, and later, Kirstie Robles with the Backyard Bones Brigade. Denise Chavez had some Book Festival Dead Day events in Mesilla and Las Cruces. Galleries and museums throughout the Mesilla Valley started hosting Dia de los Muertos exhibits and special events. (Please forgive us for not mentioning all of you who’ve contributed to the rebirth and expansion of traditions. Archives have been lost and many of us are viejas and viejos now.)
Some of us believe los difuntos, our dear departed souls, encouraged us, too, to find more creative ways to honor their lives.

You all inspired me to assemble and share this little guide to Días de los Muertos, a tradition continuing one more time after my departure (from the Sun-News, but not the planet). Here it is.
Día de los Muertos has been called “a day when heaven and earth meet” and “a celebration of lives well-lived.” In Las Cruces, it has become a beloved tradition, a time when Borderland cultures blend, showcasing and sometimes creatively combining Spanish, Mexican, American Indian and Anglo customs and beliefs.
Día De Los Muertos “is not a morbid holiday but a festive remembrance of Los Angelitos (children) and all souls (Los Difuntos),” according to a statement from the Calavera Coalition of Mesilla. “This celebration originated with the indigenous people of the American continent, the Aztec, Mayan, Toltec and the Inca. Now, many of the festivities have been transformed from their original pre-Hispanic origins. It is still celebrated throughout North America among Native American tribes. The Spanish arrived and they altered the celebration to coincide with the Catholic celebrations of All Saints Day (Nov. 1) and All Souls Day (Nov. 2).”
Here is a guide to some important terms and concepts relating to Day of the Dead celebrations, collected during more than 20 years of commemorations here.
 alfeñique: Molded sugar figures used in altars for the dead.
 ancianos: Grandparents or elderly friends or relatives who have died; ancestors honored during the first (north) part of processions for Day of the Dead.
 angelitos: Literally “little angels,” refers to departed children and babies, traditionally honored during the first day of celebrations, Nov. 1, and the third (south) part of processions honoring the dead.
 anima sola: A lonely soul or spirit who died far from home or who is without amigos or relatives to take responsibility for its care.
 calascas: Handmade skeleton figurines which display an active and joyful afterlife, such as musicians or skeleton brides and grooms in wedding finery.
 calaveras: Skeletons, used in many ways for celebrations: bread and candies in the shape of skeletons are traditional, along with everything from small and large figures and decorations, skeleton head rattles, candles, masks, jewelry and T-shirts. It’s also the term for skull masks, often painted with bright colors and flowers and used in displays and worn in Day of the Dead processions.
 literary calaveras: Poetic tributes written for departed loved ones or things mourned and/or as mock epitaphs.
 Catrin and Catrina: Formally dressed couple, or bride and groom skeletons, popularized by renowned Mexican graphic artist and political cartoonist José Guadalupe Posada (1851-1913). In modern celebrations, Catrina is particularly popular and appears in many stylish outfits.
 copal: A fragrant resin from a Mexican tree used as incense, burned alone or mixed with sage in processions in honor of the dead.
 Días de los Muertos: Days of the Dead, usually celebrated on Oct. 31 through Nov. 2 (the official date for Day of the Dead) in conjunction with All Souls Days or Todos Santos, the Catholic Feast of All Saints. Various Borderland communities, including Las Cruces, have their own celebration schedules in October and November. Look for altars and art exhibits around the Mesilla Valley, and our largest area celebration Oct. 29 and 30 on the Mesilla Plaza, also the site of a procession beginning at dusk Nov. 2.
 Difunto: Deceased soul, corpse, cadaver.
 La Flaca: Nickname for the female death figure, also known as La Muerte.
 Frida Kahlo: Mexican artist who collected objects related to the Day of the Dead. Her photo often appears in Día de los Muertos shrines or retablos.
 Los Guerreros: Literally, “the warriors,” are dead fathers, husbands, brothers and sons honored in the final (east) stop in Día De Los Muertos processions.
 marigolds: In Mexico, marigolds or “cempasuchil” are officially known as the “flower of the dead.” The flowers are added to processional wreaths at each stop, with one blossom representing each departed soul being honored. Sometimes marigold pedals are strewn from the cemetery to a house. Their pungent fragrance is said to help the spirits find their way back home. Mums and paper flowers are also used.
 mariposas: Butterflies, and sometimes hummingbirds, appear with skeletons to symbolize the flight of the soul from the body to heaven.
 masks: Carried or worn during processions and other activities, masks can range from white face paint to simple molded plaster or papier-maché creations or elaborate painted or carved versions that become family heirlooms.
 Las Mujeres: The women who have died are honored during the second (west) stop of Day of the Dead processions. After names of dead mothers, daughters, sisters and friends are called and honored, it is traditional for the crowd to sing a song for the Virgin of Guadalupe.
 Náhuatl poetry: Traditional odes dedicated to the subject of death, dating back to the pre-Columbian era.
 ofrenda: Traditional altar where offerings such as flowers, clothing, food, photographs and objects loved by the departed are placed. The ofrenda may be constructed in the home, usually in the dining room, at a cemetery, or may be carried in a procession. The ofrenda base is often an arch made of bent reeds. It is ornamented with special decorations, sometimes with heirlooms collected by families, much like Christmas ornaments. Decorations may include skeleton figures, toys and musical instruments in addition to offerings for a specific loved one.
 pan de muertos: Literally, “bread of the dead.” It is traditionally baked in the shape of a skull, or calavera, and dusted with pink sugar. Here, local bakeries sometimes include red and green chile decorations.
 papel picado: Decorations made of colored paper cut in intricate patterns.
 Posada: José Guadalupe Posada, (1852-1913), the self-taught “printmaker to the people” and caricaturist was known for his whimsical calaveras, or skeletons, depicted wearing dapper clothes, playing instruments and otherwise nonchalantly conducting their everyday activities, sometimes riding on horse skeletons.
 veladores: Professional mourners who help in the grief process in several ways, including candlelight vigils, prayers and with dramatic weeping and wailing.
 Xolotlitzcuintle: Monster dog, sometimes depicted as a canine skeleton, sometimes as a Mexican hairless breed. Since pre-Columbian times, this Día de los Muertos doggy has, according to legend, been the departed’s friend, helping with the tests of the perilous crossing of the River Chiconauapan to Mictlan, the land of the dead.

S. Derrickson Moore may be reached @derricksonmoore on Twitter or Sandra Derrickson Moore on Facebook.

What's happening for Dia de los Muertos

– Special events and commemorations will bring new life to Day of the Dead celebrations this month, throughout the Mesilla Valley, which also hosts the region’s largest Día de los Muertos festival in late October and early November on the Mesilla Plaza.
The new additions will help you learn more about history and ancient Borderland traditions, honor loved ones at altars in Las Cruces’ historic Mesquite District, and even learn how to bake Day of the Dead bread.
First up will be “Día de los Muertos: Journey of Ancestral Remembrance,” part of the Latino Americans History Notes Lecture Series at 1 p.m. Oct. 13 at the Branigan Cultural Center, 501 N. Main St.
Irene-Oliver Lewis, who has been creating Day of the Dead altars (ofrendas) since 1981, will show examples of altars from throughout Mexico and New Mexico, explain the significance of the celebration and the artifacts and elements that are part of a traditional altar and discuss traditions that date back more than 3,000 years to the Aztecs. Oliver-Lewis is one of the founders of the current annual Día de los Muertos celebration in Mesilla. Last year she and her sister, Sylvia Camuñez, curated an exhibit at the Branigan Cultural Center that honored the ancestors of four founding families from the village of Doña Ana.
Also new this year, Las Esperanzas, Inc. will host a Día de los Muertos event from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Oct. 29, at Klein Park, on the corner of Mesquite and Griggs streets in Las Cruces.
“Dario Silva, the brother of former Las Cruces City Councillor Miguel Silva, who died in January, told me the the family would to like to build an altar in his memory under ‘Miguel’s Tree’ at Klein Park and also wanted to honor the memory of another beloved brother, the late Andres Silva, pastor of Living Word Family Church and former Mayor of Deming, who died from cancer in 2014. Silva’s brother in-law, Pastor Jeff Sutton, will open the event with a prayer,” said Dolores Archuleta, president of Las Esperanzas, Inc., a neighborhood organization based in Las Cruces’ historic Mesquite District.
“Momentum on the event has picked up by word of mouth and family members of deceased members of Las Esperanzas plan to build altars for Vivien Enriquez Wolfe, Stella Melendrez and Estella Sanchez. We also welcome relatives and friends who have lost children (Angelitos), especially those who died from abuse and neglect, to consider building altars for them with their pictures, flowers, candles, and favorite toys. Miguel, who took his own life, continues to bring family, friends together under Miguel’s tree, and the family invites the survivors of family members who committed suicide to participate in this event as well,” said Archuleta.
There is no fee to build an altar, but registration is required. Contact Archuleta at, 575 524-7873.
José Tena, internationally known folklorico dancer, teacher and historian, and his students will once again create an altar featuring traditional Day of the Dead items at La Academia de Dolores Huerta Middle School, 1480 N. Main St. The altar is constructed in October and features tributes to well-known and celebrity difuntos.
“This year, we’ll do tributes to the star John Sebastian, and for Juan Gabriel, a genius composer in many different styles (the singer songwriter sold more 100 million albums worldwide) and to Pepe Martinez, musical director of Mariachi Vargas, a great composer and wonderful musician who did so much for folklorico dancing and the Las Cruces Mariachi conference here,” Tena said.
The academy school will host an open house from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 29. For information, call the school at 575-526-2984.
Join Heritage Cooking instructor Dave Harkness and learn to make and bake sweet, rich, pan de muerto, in the shapes of bones and skulls, in an 1890s wood-burning cook stove, from 9 a.m. to noon Oct. 29 at the New Mexico Farm & Ranch Heritage Museum, 4100 Dripping Springs Road. The $5 fee (free for age 5 and under), in addition to regular museum admission fees, includes bread to take home with you. For information, call 575-522-4100
Creative altars honoring the dearly departed, a colorful marketplace with arts and crafts vendors, traditional food treats, face painting, live entertainment and a closing cemetery procession will all be part the region's largest Día de los Muertos celebration Oct. 28 through Nov. 2 on and around the Mesiila Plaza. It’s hosted by the Calavera Coalition, a nonprofit group founded in 1998 to present Día de los Muertos activities in Mesilla.
Tributes to difuntos (the departed)  traditionally include Day of the Dead bread, photos, sugar skulls, flowers and displays that represent favorite pastimes and items of loved ones. Those honored usually include relatives, celebrities, pets and special causes.
Altar building begins at 9 a.m. Friday morning Oct. 28 and continues throughout the weekend, according to members of the Calavera Coalition, which provides overnight security during the event. It’s free, but those building altars are asked to donate five cans of food which will be given to area food banks. Festival hours are noon to 7 p.m. Friday and Saturday, Oct. 28 and 29, and noon to 6 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 30.
The annual Day of the Dead procession gathers at 6 p.m. Nov. 2 and leaves at 6:15 p.m. from Mesilla Plaza, traveling along Calle de Guadalupe to San Albino Cemetery and returning to the plaza for beverages and pan de muerto. It’s traditional to wear black and white costumes or makeup that include skull masks or skeleton motifs. Those on the procession often carry candles and bring musical instruments, noisemakers, incense and flowers.
For information, or to volunteer to help with Calavera Coalition events and projects, email, or phone Peggy King at 575-639-1385.

Also in Mesilla, the Backyard Bones Brigade will feature additional displays and booths of Día de Los Muertos artisans and crafters on Calle de Guadalupe, the street that runs in front of the entrance to the Fountain Theatre and San Pasqual Hair & Body Shop, 2488 Calle de Guadalupe. The shop’s owner Kirstie Robles, founder of the brigade, said hours will be 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. Saturday and Sunday, Oct. 29 and 30. For information, call Robles at 575-527-1910. 

Tips for arts marketing

Sept. 18, 2016
LAS CRUCES – In the olden days, we called it mass media. For some time, the cool kids have been into multiplatform everything: marketing, promotion and communication in general.
I’ve been in the thick of it, one way or another, since the middle of the last century, and however the forms or venues change, it boils down to the same basic concept: get your story out and let people know what you do. This is true whether you’re a visual or performing artist, and if you’re also attempting to make a living with what you do, it can get a lot more complex.
Once you’ve got something to show, showcase it in the best, most professional way you can manage. A portfolio used to be enough for many in the arts. Now you need terrific photos of you and your work, a dynamic non-gibberistic artist’s statement, and maybe (or definitely for performance artists) a boffo video of you at work doing what you do, along with rave reviews from those respected in your field and a biography that’s as impressive as you can make it.
All that may help open some doors. Go through as many as you can. Visit art galleries and museums (many are surprised to discover that all our city and state museums feature art shows and exhibits) and check out private museums and school and municipal buildings which sometimes feature exhibits or would be amenable to trying something new. In our artsy state, hospitals, restaurants, hotels, offices (particularly physician’s offices), airports and even plumbing companies have art collections and exhibits.
And don’t forget special events, holiday celebrations and fiestas.
You may have to donate your services, or risk losing a piece on consignment, and only you can decide if it’s a risk worth taking.
We have lots of organizations for both visual and performing artists. Join as many as you can, especially here, where we have a remarkably supportive community willing to share tips on everything from technique to marketing, and many have their own shows or band together to organize group shows at top venues. ArtForms Artists Association of New Mexico has been especially generous in developing venues during February for the Love of Art Month.
There are lots of contests around, too. Do online searches and enter as many as possible, especially the free or low-entry fee competitions. You may be surprised at some of the contests and the quality of entries. Both the New Mexico State Fair and the Southern New Mexico State Fair have contests for photography and several categories and mediums of art. There are competitions and showcases for dancers, too, and playwrights, singers, poets, songwriters, storytellers and musicians.
Get out there. Especially if you’re a new artist or new in the territory. Sing and play or apply for a booth at the Las Cruces Farmers & Crafts Market. Start a blog and a website and consider strutting your stuff via Twitter, Snapchat, Facebook, Instagram, Etsy and whatever other vital forums that have popped up since I started this paragraph. Consider seeking professional help to develop and link your platforms.
While cybershowcases have an important place, I always remember artist and gallery owner Carolyn Bunch’s statement that it’s hard to see the hand of the artist online. I believe close encounters between artists and art lovers can be beneficial to everyone.
And you thought creating great art was the hard part.
We’d like to make it a little easier.
Once you’ve got something to show and a place to show it, help get the word out to the media. You’ll have the best shot if you send us clear concise information about the artist and the event: who, where, what, when, why (if there is a why: a benefit, special fiesta or occasion). Email clear, high-resolution photos (identify everybody, left to right) and links to short videos if available. Do all this as soon as possible and at least two weeks before you’d like the word to get out. If you feel overwhelmed by it all, look for and study the kind of print, online or broadcast stories you’d like to see about yourself or your group or event.
At the Sun-News, we’ve long held the philosophy that art can sometimes be big news in a city like ours with such a vibrant and creative arts community. The place for your story could be in breaking news, features, Pulse and Things to Do (print and online) and even our business section. A good place to start: submit items to or and be sure to include as much contact information as possible: name, organization, email and phone number.

Where to start at the Las Cruces Sun-News
Lucas Peerman, director of content,, 575-541-5446: Assigns online and print coverage of breaking news events, including photo and reporter assignments covering festivals, arts and cultural breaking news, etc.
Brenda Masengill, features editor,, 575-541-5439: Assigns in-depth feature coverage of arts, cultural, social trends, etc. for Friday and Sunday SunLife sections and Healthy U monthly magazine and Wednesday health features.
Lorena Sanchez, Pulse editor,, 575-541-5464: Advance arts & entertainment news and features, A & E profiles, restaurant reviews, etc.
Frances Silva, community editor, 575-541-5456: Print and online events calendars, community briefs, arts briefs
Jason Gibbs, business editor, 575-541-5451: Business news and features. (Galleries, artists, and A & E related programs are sometimes featured in the Sunday business magazine’s profile pieces, plus opening of new businesses in business briefs.

Plaza de Las Cruces: New corazon for City of Crosses

Sept. 11, 2016
LAS CRUCES – When I saw the Organ Mountains, I knew I was home. When I saw their mysterious, craggy peaks from the crumbling ruins of what was then the Downtown Mall, I wondered what I’d gotten into.
Even at high noon on a weekday, it could be a little scary to navigate the downtown urban blight. When I worked very early or very late, as I often did in the 1990s, I did my best to scoot in and out of the Sun-News parking lot as quickly as possible.
But even then, there were echoes of what was once the corazon of Las Cruces. Our heart, through broken, had potential. I loved the Las Cruces Farmers & Crafts Market and even spent a few months peddling my own strange creations there and getting to know the market venders and the Downtown Mall.
We shared ideas: painting the ugly arches adobe colors and festooning them with Mimbres or petroglyph designs, or painting all the old buildings adobe white to match the Branigan Cultural Center. Other exotic colors were discussed. Perhaps we could achieve fame as the only lapis blue or purple adobe mall in the world? We thought it would be cool with the yellow brick road, which most of us liked.
From my first Las Cruces Style column in 1994, I pitched renovation ideas. Several readers expressed enthusiasm for changes, and there were offers of government support. I heard from Steve Newby, the torch carrier through it all, and then-Mayor Rubén Smith suggested we meet with city planners. The Las Cruces Community Theatre offered a space for meetings. Artists, including the late, great Alice Peden, got involved.
It was tough going. There were studies and evaluations and blue ribbon committees. Things fizzled. Strides were made.
Street lights and architectural accents were added along with monuments: a skeletal homage to beloved St. Genevieve’s Church, Tony Pennock’s “La Entrada,” a beautiful historical piece with columns and murals. Both were eventually removed for the reconstruction of Main Street and the new plaza.
One of my Sun-News colleagues, whose name now escapes me, referred to our downtown as “the graveyard of high hopes.” Bob Diven came up with a design for a giant Billy the Kid downtown building, with a revolving restaurant in Billy’s sombrero and a kiva fireplace in the outlaw’s derriere.
Alice Peden kept sweetly but firmly bugging people about sprucing up our querencia. I wrote an April Fool’s Day fantasy column “reporting” that Ted Turner and his then-wife Jane Fonda had committed millions to transform the mall and Heather Pollard, who had left her post as head of the Doña Ana Arts Council, had decided to come out of retirement to save and beautify the mall. Ted and Jane never weighed in, but Heather did, in fact, decide to eschew retirement to lead the Las Cruces Downtown Partnership. Her efforts led to several transformative efforts, from renovation of the Rio Grande Theatre to several cooperative efforts like involvement in Project Main Street.
Rubén and subsequent mayors Bill Mattiace and Ken Miyagishima kept plugging. The street reopened. We drove down it and cheered. The farmers market got bigger and better and was named tops in the state and then the nation in online polls. The Downtown Ramble the first Friday of each month demonstrated what our city could be: a delight.
It dawned on us that we had pretty streets, three theaters staging entertaining productions, two lovely new museums, some fun galleries and restaurants, one of the best bookstores in the west, (in those early years, Coas was one of the few reasons many of us came downtown on non-market days) and other promising activities and enterprises.
And now, finally, we have what so many of us had been missing for so long, that central corazon that we loved in so many New Mexico communities from Taos and Santa Fe to Tularosa and Mesilla: Our very own plaza.

S. Derrickson Moore may be reached at 575-541-5450, or @derricksonmoore on Twitter.

Your thoughtful reactions to football/boxing protests

Gregory Smith
I suspect you will hear positive and negative feedback from today's article, but I for one appreciate your courage in writing it. Hopefully, it will give some of us pause as we go into another football season to yell, "Kill" or "Sack the quarterback!" or before we encourage our young men to participate in such sports.

Ms. Moore,
I just read your article in the SunLife section of today's newspaper.  I agree with you, and more.
I have been disgusted by violent sports since I was a teenager.  I witnessed an athlete from my high school get severely and permanently injured during a football game, after he had previously suffered two similar injuries in prior games (yes, they kept playing him after he had already been injured).  It sickened me to see him on the field with his body jerking uncontrollably.  He was a junior at the time.  That was 43 years ago and the image is still clear in my mind.

I think the interest in blood lust sports is a masculine thing.  There are plenty of athletic contests out there that don't require beating the other participants up in order to win, but for some reason football and boxing pull BIG money out of the fan base.  Money is the bottom line.

There are other violent sports that don't get as much attention for their cruelty, but the inhumanity of them is beyond the pale.  Rodeo, horse racing and all forms of horse competitions, dog fighting, cock fighting, bull fighting, etc.  These are all extremely cruel forms of entertainment where the whole intent is to entertain people who may think and believe these activities are normal to the animals' behavior.

I don't think the cruel, violent, inhumane sports will stop until people like you lead the outcry against them.  As more and more people join the outcry, there will eventually come a tipping point where its totally uncool to support the violence.  Changing the public attitude towards violent sports would be similar to how it used to be cool to smoke cigarettes and now it's not, or it used to be okay to refer to people of color using racist language and now it's not.

Your article was a brave first step.
Dolores DeMers
575-496-5342 mobile


I just finished your column in today's paper, and contrary to my habits, wanted to reach out and thank you so much for having the courage to speak truth to power about the negative and senseless acceptance, if not glorification of violence inherent in football and boxing.

All the best,


Flo Hosa Dougherty

Reply all|
Yesterday, 8:59 AM
Derrickson Moore, Sandra
Dear Derrickson,

In reference to your comment on violent sports:

For a long time I have referred to contact sports more aptly as COMBAT SPORTS as you proved ! 

Flo Hosa Dougherty      

Chickie Ferguson

Today, 9:04 AM
Derrickson Moore, Sandra
Congratulations to you for writing  “TIME TO TAKE A FRESH LOOK AT VIOLENT SPORTS”……………….

Know you will have folks who disagree with you, but more and more, I think people are taking an honest look at this subject.

Last night, the Notre Dame vs UT game was a perfect example of how brutal football games are becoming.  And these are our young men, who are NOT getting paid BIG bucks, and having their young lives messed up before they even reach the “golden years”.   This was the first game of the season, and it involved bad sportsmanship during the game and a list of injuries.

I always enjoy your column.  Keep writing!

Marie Ferguson
A Las Cruces Sun subscriber and an ex-employee of  The Sun newspaper (in San Bernardino, CA)
      Kay L Lincoln

Reply all|
Today, 3:03 PM
Derrickson Moore, Sandra

I just wanted to thank you for your Las Cruces Style column of Sunday, Sept. 4th about taking a fresh look at violent sports.  It is so counter to our so-called social norms that I suspect it may not win you any popularity votes. 

But I am so relieved that you gave voice to some deep feelings I have about sports.  I was beginning to think I was “weird” for thinking modern sports seem to be just a continuation of the gladiator fight to the death or the lions eating the Christians in the Roman Forum (which we consider and label barbaric). 

The only sport I have enjoyed watching is baseball because of the cooperative strategy and skill it requires.  However, I get no pleasure now because of the millions of dollars that get invested in baseball salaries and the enormous stadiums, not to mention the violent reactions fans have that result in injury and possible death to fans of opposing teams.  Even in the seemingly less violent sport of baseball, players endure irreparable damage to their bodies and will undergo numerous reparative surgeries in order to keep playing as long as they possibly can and we certainly want them to.

In the more violent sports you mention, football and boxing, there is even more spillover of violence and even more bodily damage to players. 

Instead of modeling the cooperative, collaborative nature of indigenous societies, we are perpetuating the competitive, victory/defeat society of the Roman Forum.   

And to think of all those millions we spend on our lust for competition, victory or defeat, and violence in sports, and how much could be done toward humanitarian needs if we spent that money on meeting those needs!  Yes, we should be ashamed of ourselves. 

In gratitude,

'We pay millions for things they'd be arrested or doing outside the football stadium or boxing ring'

LAS CRUCES – It’s not that I’m a sore loser.
My high school, though brand new, had a mostly winning football team that made it to the state finals. When I was in college, our team went to the Rose Bowl, and some of the guys went on to legendary pro careers. I was fortunate to get to know a couple of them. They were great guys.
They weren’t sore losers either, but I still remember, decades later, that they were often very sore winners. With all that padding and training and muscle mass, those healthy young men, in their late teens and 20s, sometimes moved like my elderly grandfather after a major operation.
And I remember a legendary defensive end, a very bright, funny and yes, gentle soul, who hated it when the crowd made a famous chant of his friendly two-syllable name, with “Kill!” on both sides of a vicious cheer sandwich. Let’s call him “Buddy.”
What I’m about to criticize are cherished American pastimes more beloved that apple pie, so I’m not going to use real names. I can’t ask Buddy’s permission. He’s a contemporary of mine who died many years ago. He was diagnosed with CTE, a neurological condition related to concussions and head trauma.
“Kill, Buddy, Kill!”
This is a column I’ve been planning to write for a very long time, an Emperor-has-no-clothes cry of the heart that I’ve wanted to shout since I saw my first football game, followed quickly by my first boxing match in a childhood that starred what some consider the greatest of all time, a boxing icon we lost not long ago.
Recently, a wise Las Cruces friend (we’ll call her Molly) sighed and said, ”Why do we pay people millions of dollars for doing things they’d be arrested for doing anywhere but a football field or a boxing ring?”
And why are we so surprised when there is a spillover of violence, carryover behaviors that result in child and spouse abuse and battery outside the arenas or playing fields (occasionally by a pro athlete, and all too frequently by super-charged spectators)?
And what does it say about those of us who are fans? Just how are we different from the ancients we call barbarians, who enjoyed watching gladiators fight to the death, or were entertained by lions consuming Christians?
I have heard all the lines about form and beauty and brilliant strategies. And there are many sports that are all that and more, that, beyond a doubt, build fit bodies, discipline, endurance, and all sorts of virtues. Hooray for all that.
But however you sugar-coat it, the goal of boxing is to hurt your opponent. Prohibiting striking below the belt is a gentlemanly gesture but a cop out, when it’s just fine to strike above the neck and cause permanent brain damage. Why were we so shocked when a champ bit off a part of his opponent’s ear when we would have applauded him for a first-round knock-out?
And football. Is the goal to maneuver the ball to the goal through brilliant strategy, great skills and brotherly teamwork? Or is it to knock down, hurt, punish, hit hard and stop-at-any-cost? Are we watching it for the strategy and camaraderie, the form and art? Or for the violence? If not for the latter, why don’t we evolve into touch football?
There are other sports that are gory and potentially lethal, usually involving other devices: guns, racing cars, canyon-leaping motorcycles. And there are undeniable risks, hazards and even possible serious injury or death in almost any sport (and even artsy enterprises like ballet or movie stunts).
But boxing and football are one on one, and a major (if not the major) goal is to hurt, to do things, as “Molly” accurately said, that we would arrest and punish and jail people for deliberately doing any place else in civilized society.
Boxing is not a gentlemanly sport and football is not worth the death or maiming of a single little boy. And the millions of dollars we pay our champions are not fair compensation for their premature disability and death. If we really think about it all, well, we should be ashamed of ourselves.
“Kill, Buddy, Kill.”

I wish, all these years later, I’d yelled “Quit, Buddy, Quit!” Or, find another sport, another way to share your wonderful talents. That we hadn’t run out of time to say, “Live, Buddy, Live.”

Remembering my friend Alexis

Death of wine guru resonates worldwide

Las Cruces Sun-News (NM) - Friday, April 28, 2006
Author/Byline: S. Derrickson Moore, Las Cruces Sun-News
Section: A Section
Page: 1A
Sun-News reporter

The death of renowned wine expert and writer Alexis Bespaloff of Las Cruces has generated an "overwhelming and touching" international response, his widow Cecilia Lewis said Thursday.

Articles and tributes have appeared in The New York Times, The London Times and other newspapers and publications around the world following his death April 22 at MountainView Regional Medical Center after a long battle with cancer.

He was 71.

"I've had over 400 phone calls from all over the world, with an outpouring of love from his friends," Lewis said. "People are breaking down and crying over the phone.

Writers from The Los Angeles Times and magazines from England and France and Italy have called and are planning pieces, too."

Deemed "the dean of wine writers" by Arthur "The Food Maven" Schwartz, Bespaloff authored some of the best-selling wine guides of all time With millions of copies of his works in print, he ranked as one of the world's most-read wine experts.

From 1972 to 1996, as New York Magazine's celebrated wine columnist, he educated and influenced the tastes of American's largest and most sophisticated city of connoisseurs.

"The Signet Book of Wine" became a bestseller, going through 17 printings. He went on to write several more books, including "Alexis Bespaloff's Complete Guide to Wine" and "Alexis Bespaloff's Guide to Inexpensive Wines." He revised Frank Schoonmaker's classic "Encyclopedia of Wines" and researched and edited "The Fireside Book of Wine," an anthology of poems, essays and quotes from famous wine lovers.

He wrote columns for Elle, The Wine Enthusiast and Appellation/Wine Country Living and numerous magazine articles on wine and wine regions for Travel & Leisure, Food & Wine, Harper's Bazaar and House Beautiful. A special publication, his "Family Circle Guide to Wine," sold more than 500,000 copies.

In a piece in Monday's New York Times, Frank J. Prial quoted from a 2004 Sun-News interview in which Bespaloff opined that he lived in the "best of times" for wine lovers: "It's not unusual for connoisseurs to look back with regret at having missed the golden age of their particular interest the Elizabethan age for poetry, perhaps, the 17th century for Dutch painting, or the heyday of Bach or Mozart when quality, variety and innovation combined to produce exciting and remarkable works. For enophiles, this is the golden age, and there's every reason to predict that the next millennium will enable this specialized world to shine even more brightly," Bespaloff said.

Writers in The New York Times and The London Times recalled a now-famous Bespaloff telephone-answering machine message: "I cannot take your call right now, but if it's an emergency, white with fish and red with meat."

Bespaloff and his wife moved to Las Cruces in 1995.

At private memorial services Thursday, friends talked about Bespaloff's wit and kindness.

"He was a kind, wonderful man," said Heather Pollard, who hosted the memorial with her husband, Warren, as a tribute, she said, "to a life well lived; Alexis had so many friends here who loved him."

Lewis said her late husband "was absolutely unique. He was a modest man and he knew he had a lot of old and loyal friends, but I think he would have been amazed by this outpouring. There was not a drop of malice in him. He had an acerbic wit, which he could have put to unkind use, but he was always kind and affectionate and people loved him."

Lewis said she was especially touched by an article by London writer Jancis Robinson who called Bespaloff "one of the most cosmopolitan Americans with a detailed knowledge of many of the arts and particularly who was who in the worlds of food and wine ... In his written work, most notably the frequently updated Signet Book of Wine, he was punctilious in his fact-checking, but in conversation, the wry smile, vaguely reminiscent of Harpo Marx, was paramount. His favorite bit of wine advice was 'try not to let your lips touch the brown paper bag.' And when still in New York he'd say, 'Whenever someone says they wonder what this wine will be like in 10 years' time, I say, just let me keep it in my apartment for a couple of days.'"

Robinson is an adviser to Queen Elizabeth, Lewis said, "and she chose the wines for the wedding of Charles and Camilla. She knows her stuff. I've been so touched by people who have let me know how much they cared about Alexis."

Bespaloff was born in Bucharest, Romania, in 1934. His family moved to Belgium, then Brazil and settled in New York City on the eve of World War II. He graduated from Amherst College and attended Harvard University Business School. Before beginning his best-selling writing career, he worked as representative for a wine importer and as a publicist for Simon & Schuster, handling promotions for "Catch 22" author Joseph Heller and other noted writers.

In a 2004 Sun-News interview, Bespaloff shared advice on what to serve with chile and Mexican and Southwestern cuisine: "With spicy foods in general, you're better off with cold beer. You might try a crisp, light white wine, but it's silly to have expensive wine with really spicy food when you can't really taste it. What's important here is the tactile experience and temperature, like the cold bubbles in beer and champagne."

As a English literature major at Amherst College, he said, "it never occurred to me that I would end up as a professional wino."

S. Derrickson Moore can be reached at

Alexis Bespaloff (1934-2006)

Bespaloff highlights

* Born: 1934 in Bucharest, Romania

* Married: Photographer, China scholar and former Mary Quant and Revlon model Cecilia Lewis. After moving to Las Cruces in 1995, the pair traveled together on magazine assignments to the Napa Valley, northern Portugal, the Tokay vineyards of Hungary, Bordeaux, the Loire and Brittany in France.

* New York Magazine Wine Columnist: 1972 to 1996

* Wine columnist for: Elle, The Wine Enthusiast, Appellation/Wine Country Living and Penthouse Magazine

* Contributing writer: Travel & Leisure, Food & Wine, Harper's Bazaar and House Beautiful

Mug of Bespaloff

Books by Bespaloff

"Signet Book of Wine" (Signet)

"Family Circle Guide to Wine"

"Alexis Bespaloff's New Signet Book of Wine" (Signet)

"Alexis Bespaloff's Complete Guide to Wine" (Signet)

"Alexis Bespaloff's Guide to Inexpensive Wines" (Simon & Schuster)

"Alexis Bespaloff's Guide to Inexpensive Wines, Revised" (Fireside)

"Alexis Bespaloff's Guide to Inexpensive Wines" (Pocket Book)

"The Fireside Book of Wine: An Anthology for Wine Drinkers" (Fireside)

"The New Frank Schoonmaker Encyclopedia of Wine/Completely Revised by Alexis Bespaloff" (William Morrow & Co.)

In New Mexico: He hosted a wine tasting and wine country photo exhibit at Glenn Cutter Gallery in Las Cruces and served as a moderator at a champagne seminar at the Santa Fe Wine & Chile Festival.
Record Number: lcs30227902
Copyright (c) Las Cruces Sun-News. All rights reserved. Reproduced with the permission of Gannett Co., Inc. by NewsBank, inc.

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Close encounters of the critter kind

Aug. 28, 2016
Aug. 28, 2016
LAS CRUCES – Just about any human being’s day can be improved by a CECK (Close Encounter of the Critter Kind).
A recent week included colleagues and sources being felled by a virulent stomach flu, and three –yep, count’ em: three!- concussions. Two amigos were rear-ended while driving in northern New Mexico and Sun-News Anayssa Vasquez was knocked out and concussed while shooting a local football practice.
By comparison, a long hot wait in a sizzling asphalt parking lot, was nothing much to complain about. Still, by the time La Luz de la Luna, my vintage Sonata, was on the road again, I was addled and crabby. I managed to screw up perfectly clear instructions and drive by the clear-as-day lane of blooming desert willows and Rockin’ Horse Ranch pillars not once but twice.
I was not a happy camper, but I was amazed how quickly my attitude changed when I met up with the ranch’s therapy horses and enjoyed a quick series of CECKs. I was greeted by a friendly dog named Zippy, which instantly transported me to a happy place of memories of my grandfather’s Brittany Spaniel with the same name.
From my overheated car, I salvaged a bag of still-cool carrots just large enough to establish profound bonds with horses Coco, Karma, Bear and Rio.
I paused for a gracias a Dios moment, grateful for a job that involves CECKs with dogs and horses. (The humans were terrific, too. Check out their inspired plans to bring healing horse experiences to kids, vets with PTSD, and assault victims at )
It continued to be a long, hot, tough week, full of strange, weird, disconcerting and sometimes downright bad news for the world in general and many of those close to me in particular.
Still, after meeting the horses and the people they’ve helped, I was more aware of the CECKS that brighten my life every week.
A group of crows often greet me early in the morning at the back door of the Sun-News. Most of my downtown CECKs are a little less wild. Usually, brown-and-white Arrow is wagging his tail and expecting a cookie bone when I start my rounds at the Las Cruces Farmers & Crafts Market, and there are a lot more wagging tails to be rewarded. The market’s CECK doggy parade is a big perk for getting out of bed early on a Saturday, I feel. In addition to regulars like Arrow and macho golden doodle Tex at Patina Home, market CHEK ops always include a vast and diverse group of loveable canines, from adoptable puppies to beloved old pampered pooches getting rides in strollers. There are Chihuahuas, St. Bernards, greyhounds, poodles, corgis, afghans, pit bulls, several sorts of hounds, terriers, pointers, retrievers and spaniels and many, many heretofore barely imaginable combinations of all of the above.
I know secret gathering places of cats looking for good homes in Mesilla and where big birds of prey hang out at NMSU, T or C, and quiet neighborhoods.
In fact, for some of my favorite CECKs, there’s no place like home. I’ve watched two comely kitties grow into cats next door, and on the other side, chocolate lab Porter is always ready to jump high or go long for a cookie bone.
My own tiny premises are surprisingly rich in wildlife. I’ve found big turtles, tiny bunnies and humungous jackrabbits, and a bevy of bats, taking a break between my front porch and the juniper bushes. On the back patio, I watch ravens and an amazing variety of bird species perched in the pine trees, the neighborhood roadrunner making his rounds and often,  an eagle or two circling overhead.
This time of year, with the neighborhood cats confined to inside quarters, I usually see a few kinds of lizards, too. Right about now, I’m expecting a CECK with a gecko.

S. Derrickson Moore may be reached at 575-541-5450, or @derricksonmoore on Twitter.

Dancing in the desert rain

Aug. 21, 2016

LAS CRUCES – This is the time of year when our thoughts turn to rain in all its glorious forms.
It seems like everywhere I go, people are talking about it.
Rie Palkovic, a recent artist of the week, who now in Moses Lake, Washington, told me how much she was looking forward to some desert monsoon thunderstorms when she returns to her former home for her August one-woman show at Unsettled Gallery in Las Cruces.

As an erstwhile Oregonian, I could sympathize. People have visions of lush Pacific Northwest rainforests, but as veterans of the real deal, Rie and I shared stories about arid high desert landscapes in both Washington and Oregon, and the demoralizing quality of the gray skies and long drizzly seasons, with no redeeming celestial pyrotechnics, on the coastal sides of both states.
“I do miss those Las Cruces rainstorms and the smell of the desert after rain. I lived downtown on Court Street and I used to go out and sit on front porch and the lightning was so spectacular,” Rie said.
Maybe we should have names for all the kinds of rain in our lives, like that fragrant, vaguely spicy and flowery rain in the desert after a long drought. If gratitude has an aroma, that could be it, I’ve often thought. So let’s call it gratitude rain.
Though it was a little off this year, most of the quarter of a century I’ve lived in New Mexico, we could count on dramatic rainstorms on the Fourth of July, with thunder and lightning special effects that out-class the most spectacular human fireworks displays. Let’s call that Mother Nature’s fireworks rain.
Less dramatic, and sometimes downright irritating, is what I’ve christened polka-dot rain, when those barely discernible droplets of moisture, in cahoots with dust storms, leave dirty little spots all over our cars and windows and patios.
“I call that adobe rain,” Annette Tombaugh Sitze told me recently. We reminisced about adobe mud, which I got stuck in several times during my first rainy summer in Santa Fe, before the rain discussions took a cosmic turn.
Annette and I discussed the 2015 arrival of the New Horizons probe at Pluto, carrying the ashes of the dwarf planet’s discoverer, her dad, Clyde Tombaugh, who spent most of his remarkable life in Las Cruces.
 “The New Horizons downloads show there is so much interesting geology on Pluto … frozen nitrogen fields and high ice mountains. Certainly, it’s helping us rethink how things behave in various types of environments,” Annette said.
Will we discover a substance we could think of as Pluto rain?
Meanwhile, back in our corner of planet Earth, sometimes, in any season, some just-right, refreshing showers can inspire and rejuvenate us, showing up as a surprise blessing that seems to spring out of a clear blue sky. Other times, the soul-quenching showers come after a long, teasing siege of cloudy days and oppressive humidity that renders our swamp coolers ineffectual and our tempers sticky and strained.
What such showers have in common is that they lift our spirits and make us feel like singing and dancing. Let’s name this Nacio Herb Brown rain, after the composer of “Singing in the Rain.”
It delighted, but did not surprise me, when I moved here and learned that Brown was a native of nearby Deming, New Mexico.
In our high desert territory, I’ve actually seen people sing and dance when long-awaited rains arrive. I’ve done it myself and I’ll bet most of you have, too.
If we find ourselves in Nacio Herb Brown rain (and we know it when we see it), may I have the pleasure of this dance?
S. Derrickson Moore may be reached at  575-5450, or @derricksonmoore on Twitter.

We were glampers, ahead of our time

Aug. 14, 2016
LAS CRUCES – I didn’t appreciate it at the time, but I realize now that my parents were ahead-of-their-time glampers.
I’ve never been shy about sharing my aversion to camping. Though I was a pretty cheerful child otherwise, I grumbled from earliest memory through late adolescence about having to go camping with the family nearly every weekend that weather permitted (and many with weather that would have driven any sane soul to sturdier shelter). I was sadly outnumbered and outvoted in my family of five, or six, if you counted our Brittany spaniel, who loved camping as much as my parents and brother and sister.
It could have been a lot worse.
Now, with the benefit of hindsight and research for today’s glamping feature, I realize that my relatives, especially mom, tried their best to glamp, adding glamorous touches to wilderness life and camping experiences, long before it was a “thing.”
Mom had the breeding for it. Her dad was a retired physician who seemed happiest at the stern of a canoe or the end of a fly-fishing rod. Grandma, on the other hand, was a sophisticated urbanite who never let her subscription to VOGUE lapse.
They were a devoted couple who loved each other deeply. When Grandpa decided to retire early and, with his physician brother, create a rustic resort with log cabins in northern Michigan, Grandma reluctantly agreed. But she and Grandpa lived in what was more a lodge of the manor than a cabin, with a deep-carpeted great room big enough for Mom’s baby grand piano and cabinets for Grandma’s good crystal, china and silver, easily accessible for dinner parties and everyday use.
Dad and Mom started with a tent on state park campgrounds, but quickly began to add creature comforts. My aircraft engineer father managed to rig up barrels with fresh water for drinking and showers. Later, when they acquired 15 acres of their own prime campgrounds on the middle branch of Michigan’s Pere Marquette River, he constructed a pump, a water system and eventually an electric generator. There were always apologies from Dad about disturbing the peace of nature, when he fired up that generator, but we all appreciated electricity and hot water.
“Doris, you’re taking the whole house with us,” Dad would complain on camping weekends, as Mom rushed back for just one more down pillow, or few pretty dishes and a vase for wildflowers, to stash in  the back of the station wagon.
They acquired a little trailer and later, a large mobile home with three bedrooms and (hooray!) indoor bathroom facilities. My mom, who was an art and American history teacher, chose an Early American theme for the décor, with warm earth tones, samplers and interesting artifacts. Though she was normally very casual about housekeeping, she was adamant about keeping everything neat and in its place in her wilderness abode, which eventually became much nicer than our city home.
By that time, I was away at college, so I missed most of the glamping-before-its-time phase of our family wilderness adventures.
But when I think of what I loved most about our family time in the great outdoors, my memory is unclouded by nostalgia.
Those long walks in the pine and birch forest, those kayak voyages and and floats in an icy river were all made more wonderful by a nearby hot bath or shower afterwards.
A breakfast of just-caught rainbow trout was okay, cooked in a cast-iron flying pan over a campfire in a muddy campground. It was downright delicious served in at an Ethan Allen dining table in Mom’s pretty kitchen with modern appliances and artfully arranged Early American accoutrements.  

S. Derrickson Moore may be reached at 575-541-5450, or @derricksonmoore on Twitter.

Pondering the future of museums

Aug. 7, 2016
LAS CRUCES – Lately, I’ve been thinking about museums. And not just in the line of journalistic duty, on the arts and entertainment beat.
Recently, I was one of several locals asked to meet with consultants for a brainstorming session about a new permanent exhibit for the Branigan Cultural Center. Our spirited discussion tackled everything from the role of museums in a community, to educational and entertainment expectations of visitors. We digressed into a critique of museum websites (which most of us liked and found helpful) and local government and university websites, which garnered less-than- stellar reviews.
I kept thinking about museums, and all the museums I’ve covered and visited, and all the consultant panels and groups I’ve been part of over the last several decades.
The pondering didn’t stop during my vacation, which turned into a busman’s holiday. In addition to the regulars on Museum Hill in Santa Fe, we hit some of our favorite public and private museums in and around the Santa Fe Plaza.
Dr. Roger had been reading about the Manhattan Project and decided we should also go visit the Bradbury Museum in Los Alamos. He went off to check out some exhibits focusing on the scientists who’d lived a few blocks from the museum and changed all our lives by developing the first atomic bomb.
Maybe I shouldn’t have been surprised when I felt arms grasping me and leading me off in another direction. I’d been chosen, friendly voices informed me, to test some new interactive exhibits.
I protested that I was on vacation, and am known to generations of long-suffering Information Technology (IT) guys as someone who had an unerring instinct for screwing up their most carefully plotted, best-laid and allegedly user- friendly plans.
They were delighted. And amazingly, their delight grew as we went through panel after interactive panel, and I tapped when I was expected to swipe (and vice versa) and found many new and exciting ways to misconstrue and misinterpret what they’d thought were crystal clear instructions.
I was delighted too, to finally find an appreciate audience. I’ve always felt my ability to think outside the box, make unexpected choices (and creatively confound computer design guys’ ideas about “logical” and “intuitive” human behaviors) was a talent that should be harnessed for the good of mankind.
“Hey, look what she did here,” the nice Bradbury team tester exclaimed, encouraging her colleagues to make note. “That was surprising! Gee, none of us expected anyone to do THAT!” (Hear that, IT guys? Not “wrong,” not “frustrating,” but “surprising” and “unexpected.”)
We had fun, and I hope I didn’t create a monster, or an otherwise imaginative, educational and entertaining interactive game/exhibit that no one but me can figure out how to play.
I’m convinced they were on the right track, however. And I’m confident that I do know what people like and want after years as a consumer myself, making endless museum runs with colleagues, friends, and multiple generations of kids and grandkids. I’ve also had the inside track as someone with friends, and a former spouse, who’ve designed interactive museum exhibits.
And I’ve covered museums, and fiestas and special events at museums that range from the monthly downtown Ramble to music, science and arts extravaganzas and city-wide, multicultural celebrations, as well as the brand new, multimedia darling of Millennials, Meow Wolf in Santa Fe.
I’ll always treasure the opportunity to spend an hour or two quietly savoring miracles and milestones of art, science, history and even pop culture in a thoughtfully designed, special environment. But I’m also convinced that to thrive and survive in the future, most museums will have to find their own fusions of significant content and fiesta ambience through interactive and online exhibits and special events.
S. Derrickson Moore may be reached at 575-541-5450, or @derricksonmoore on Twitter.