I’ve been flitting in and out of time warps ever since I got back from vacation a couple of weeks ago. I know the one I want to inhabit, but the world’s present realities and the time warps they represent have distracted me. It’s hard to escape them. They seem to be omnipresent.
In some cases the old time warps manage to survive. But, most often the old time warps are overtaken by newer versions.
Nancy and I saw this quite clearly when we were on our way home from vacation. We had some time to spare and decided to spend a few hours in Taos, New Mexico. We’d been there a few times over our years together and had found it to be a unique experience. The Taos pueblo, the new age crystal and candle shops, the tie-dye shirts, or the starving writers’ book stores have always left us with fond memories. The Taos we knew was a time warp, for sure, but, it was a pleasant time warp. This is what we were expecting as we made our way north from Santa Fe. What we actually got was a rude awakening. The Taos of today is a conglomeration of fast food restaurants, a mega Wal-Mart, a home improvement center, and a Walgreen’s pharmacy. The old time warp is gone. Over 30% of the town’s small businesses have been shuttered and tourism is in decline. Taos is now a man-made time warp constructed in the name of progress.
We decided there was no reason to stop and moved north through the Sangre de Christo mountains instead. After all, we know what the Wal-Mart in Emporia looks like. We’ve even been inside. We’ve also got a Walgreen’s and we now have a CVS. If the developers have anything to say about it, we’ll have a home improvement super store and few more chain restaurants offering microwaved food within a few years. Emporia’s movers and shakers call it progress. They’re promising us the proverbial pot of gold at the end of the rainbow, but it looks like a low wage, high poverty time warp to me. Zero-sum time warps tend to be like that.
We spent our last night of vacation at the St. James hotel in Cimarron, New Mexico. What an incredible time warp. There was no in-room TV, spotty internet service, and old bullet holes in the ceiling of the bar. The innkeeper told us that many a cowhand or lawman had stayed there, including Bat Masterson, Pat Garret, Doc Holliday, Belle Starr, Buffalo Bill, and more outlaws than you can shake a stick at.
A few days after we got home, I made the mistake of attending a public meeting about the proposed 24th Avenue development. I should have known that the 4-1 vote was a foregone conclusion. The developer romanced the rubes like a 42nd Street three-card monte dealer for over an hour. The mayor and three of his cohorts fell for it. To paraphrase Bob Dylan, they were “crawlin’ over cut glass to make the deal.” The day after the meeting the Gazette published the photograph evidence of the crime – the commissioners in all their glory. The yes voters looked a lot like the time warp mug shots I’d seen at the St. James. Commissioner Mlynar is a dead ringer for Belle Starr and, if he were to grow a mustache, Commissioner Geitz might bear an uncanny resemblance to Doc Holliday. As for the resemblances of the other “yes” voters, I’ll leave that to your imagination.
The time warps are everywhere. According to John Kerry, for example, Vladimir Putin is living in a nineteenth century time warp.
Like so many things our government does these days, the response about Russia was off by a century or two. Vladimir Putin isn’t thinking nineteenth century. He’s thinking of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries and the handiwork of Peter the Great and his successor, Catherine.
It’s no wonder we’re having so much trouble ruling the world. We can’t even get our time warps straight. A hundred years or so might not seem like much, but in the world of diplomacy, a miss of a hundred years is as good as a millennium.
It sort of begs a couple of questions. First, what time warp is John Kerry living in? The “I’m gonna’ give you a good talking to” time warp? The “Let’s play nice” time warp? And second, does he have any clue about what time warp the Chinese, Iranians, Syrians, North Koreans, Libyans, Egyptians, or Hassan Nasrallah are living in?
I’m as much a man of my times as any other guy, but I don’t think I like the current crop of time warps. I’m looking for an escape hatch, a worm hole somewhere in our galaxy, or a bucket to retch in. I’ll fill you in on the results of my search in a couple of weeks.