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By The Rogue Poet
Never Surrender
September 2002

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A MESSAGE IN A BOTTLE,
FROM THE ISLE OF ROSWELL

This has been a long time coming. I've been meaning to take more photos of the town and do more interviews…but the old, college "cub reporter" in me is slow to resurrect himself…and the tame, programmer/poet, which is what I pretend to be during the day, is a difficult role to shake off after eight-hours of coding.

The following are brief vignettes of Roswell:

There are over 100 churches and about 9 bars in Roswell. With over 100 churches, you'd think that some of those parishioners would help provide some free day-care services for the single mothers in town, but you'd be wrong. There are more important things to serving the will of God than helping poor, single mothers with day care costs.

Roswell was elected as one of the top ten "All American Cities" in the United States. For some reason, banality, prejudice, homophobia, and bible-beating are the only things that officials like to claim as being All American.

As with most of the places I've lived, I have a love/hate relationship with the town. Little things about this place piss me off: the town won't allow adult movies to be sold or rented (just another way for the religious right to shove their beliefs down everybody's throat). The mention of a topless club would cause rioting in the streets. To overhear otherwise decent-looking people cracking "queer" jokes is not uncommon. There is only one decent coffee house in town, which is nice but it's frequented by business-types, so the fun meter is always set on low. The place that would appear to serve the best Mexican food sells the absolute worst. And there's a jerk on main street who runs a gasoline store that fools people into paying over $2.00 a gallon at the full-service pump; since they're usually tourists passing through, he gets away with his legalized act of petty theft.

There's a lot of money in this town which seems to be concentrated in only a few people's hands, which is another distinctly "All American" trait.

I can't help but feel that most of the people living here are being robbed blind. I can't help but feel that this town could be a hell of a lot more beautiful (and economically successful) than it is if only there were some way to wrest power from the wrinkled hands of some stingy old codgers, coots, and crones.

One side of town is mostly affluent, while the other side of town is mostly poor (All American!).

One side of Rich Town is very rich with huge houses circling a dreary, wrought-iron-fenced golf course, while the other side of Rich Town is really nothing more than varying gradients of fairly humble, middle-class domiciles.

One side of Poor Town is rather quaint, and there seem to be many people working hard to make the best of things, while the other side of Poor Town is gang-bang city, tatter-and-rags rentals, the obligatory and fast-footed crack houses, and just general despair. It kills me when I see little kids, usually Mexican, playing amidst the garbage and decay of poor Poor Town.

Most of the people here, even the lower-incomed, are apparently Republican (which proves that propaganda works).

Race relations between the Mexicans and the whites are cool to put it mildly. Won't go into it now…. Aside from those two races, there are a handful of Black and Asian folk in the population of 50,000. Of course, there are many variations on the theme of white, Mexican, black, and Asian.

There is an airport on the south end of town that has at least 100 carcasses of old passenger jet planes lined up neatly between the fences, buildings and runways. The German and Canadian military, among others, do some air training there, perhaps because the terrain is so similar to that of Afghanistan's, perhaps just because the airport is so big and little-used.

It's an ugly town in many ways, with little patches of beauty. But Roswell shouldn't feel too bad about that, because the same could be said for most American towns of similar size.

One thing capitalism has put a meager value on is beauty. Either beauty just doesn't pay, or achieving it is too expensive to make the effort, or maybe people who know how to make money just don't know how to make beauty. Hence, most of the city is an eyesore of parking lots, vacant strip malls (with brand new strip malls being built in other parts of the town), little loan-shark shops where fools can get payday and car title loans, more car dealerships than I can count, fast food joints with dilapidated signage, liquor stores, billboards, gas stations, etc.

Huge areas on 'the bad side' of town are going to rot, yet instead of investing any money in those areas, the city just keeps pushing at the boundaries of town, out into the prairie to make more gaudy strip malls, more dull suburbs, more bland office space, more baking parking lots….

And…that's about it for this episode.

Keep your eyes open and your heart pure.

This is the Rogue Poet signing off.

(09/11/02)