Blue Wave Hoedown in Bisbee
Bisbee, Arizona November 10th, 2018
It’s very dark in the desert at night. You can’t read road signs. The sun has faded them to illegibility. On county highways and rocky dirt roads thick with Ocotillo cactus, the usual “where the fuck is that road” desperation takes on increased urgency. Stepping outside my car to gather my wits, it’s cold, and darker. I imagine the hundreds of migrants pausing to sleep for a few hours somewhere in this epic desert, scrunching deeper into hooded sweatshirts and thin jackets to keep out the cold. Hundreds more trudging through the rocks and prickles, navigating by the sounds of my car. Or so deported migrants told me in Nogales, Mexico at the shelter there, girding their courage, and gathering their cans of tuna, for another crossing.
I’m back on the road to reunite with some of the people whose stories are featured in my new show BORDER PEOPLE. Among them are misfit survivalist goat ranchers digging out a new shack further back in the foothills of the desolate Huachaca mountains. Deported Veterans in Ciudad Juarez, former American soldiers exiled to Mexico, often for PTSD-induced drug crimes committed after their service. I’ll be commemorating Veteran’s Day with them. And then onto South Texas, where thousands of current American soldiers are massing in another one of Trump’s reality TV show publicity stunts become American policy.
I had stopped off in the kitch-tastic “western-themed” Tombstone, AZ, another limp exercise in misplaced nostalgia. Bikers in leather, tourists in freshly-copped Cowboy gear, snapping photos in front of memorials to centuries-old gun fights. What exactly are they nostalgic for? Lawlessness? For whom? ’Cause isn’t that lawlessness what Trump is thundering against in all his anti-caravan speeches?
When I finally did find the right road, and made it to Bisbee, Arizona, a deserted mining town come hippie art colony, the avocado-saturated BLT was vital succor. Add of course there happened to be a rollicking music festival booming from every 19th century hotel and rooftop, freaks and longhairs and dreads and WWI era worksuits, and lo, it seems tasteful face-paint is making a comeback among adults? The harmonic stoner grime metal band exploding in my ear was apt accompaniment to the sprouted rye bread disintegrating in my hands under the deluge of avocado and green goddess dressing. Add in the fact that this Southeast corner of Arizona flipped back to blue last week, and that Arizona might send its first Democrat to the Senate in decades, and it felt like a good ole blue wave hoedown in the unlikeliest and hippiest of locations, this rural town miles from the border with Mexico.