All posts by rexmerritt

People Will Talk

Which is tougher? The anticipation of arrival in Tucson? Or the melancholy brought on when leaving that Southern Arizona city?

Before relocating to Las Vegas from New York, I could only expect visiting Tucson once every two years. Now, proximity gets me there twice a year. Just this past Thanksgiving Weekend I again enjoyed the Desert Margaritaville.

After New York, I gladly would’ve reestablished a new home in Arizona. However, financial incentives made Las Vegas the undisputed choice.

Coming when I did in 2013, this part of the Mojave still bowing beneath the Recession, meant real estate sat at rock-bottom prices. I didn’t know then what I’d do to support myself. Nonetheless I understood given Sin City’s nature I’d find a position quick. The region’s transient population and employers in a hurry for bodies to fill vacancies stood in contrast to Arizona’s deliberation towards jobseekers.

Besides, relative to Arizona, living was cheaper in Nevada. To live comfortably I didn’t have to be too picky.

Cold hard facts of adult reckoning aside, I much would’ve preferred living in Southern Arizona. During university there, a bloc of my most intense years and informative experiences were spent among an eclectic group of contacts. A good many of whom I’ve retained close associations.

Unfortunately, the same cannot be said about those friends I spent my New York boyhood and teen years in Quarropas. That cohort created throughout the first 18 or so years of life, give or take a year or two, long ago disbanded. Dispersal into the outside world gave us new vision. Refined our tastes. Intimate until 18, then estrangement afterwards turned us into different yet vaguely familiar people at class reunions.

Or so I surmise. I have yet to attend one.

Over the last four decades, a decent number of us who met and merged at Arizona have maintained in touch. Some have lived vicariously through those who’ve bonded with that special someone – uh, in certain cases at least for a while and found another and maybe another after that – and established families. Others haven’t yet … much to the envy of any feeling burdened or hemmed in by fidelity and responsibility.

Although I belong to the latter group, the grass on the other side of the fence sure looks inviting. What man my age wouldn’t enjoy being Ward Cleaver?

However, every so often I hear how fortunate we who haven’t jumped the broom or smashed the glass are. Deep in the throes of being spouses and parents they must imagine our unfettered freedom; that it’s party every night – or maybe it should be, dammit!; no need to provide solutions and accountable to no one but ourselves.

Only knowing one side of the puzzle, I have no answer.

Anyway, our respective designs for living have functioned so far. Perhaps being intrigued by our friends’ lives keeps us in their orbits and them in ours. We benefit from gravitational attractions rather than face the thrust of objects with the same polarity.

If answers await, surely they may divulge themselves after a lifetime.

Together, we replay favorite past incidences. Everybody knows the stories, knowingly awaits what comes next. Yet we laugh just as loud at the codas. These phenomena are akin to watching I Love Lucy or The Honeymooners episodes.

For Millennials the above are classic black and white television comedy shows. For us cool kids in the know, “Vitameatavegamin” and “Bang-zoom, Alice! To the moon!”

Strange thing, our repeats elide into living now. And life today doesn’t always end merrily. After negotiating the unavoidable now, we gradually retreat into vestiges of our less encumbered beings. Are ours coping mechanisms? Once we’ve fulfilled the necessary sober discourse today requires may we then retreat again into the relief of our simpler selves?

Such weighty contemplation as the above came on the return drive to the Big Mayberry.

While I could’ve easily flown round-trip to Tucson, really, is so short a trip worthy of today’s airport nonsense? Speed aside, the gate’s security theater nuisance negates any benefits. Moreover, rolling along asphalt lends appreciative travelers views of how the Mojave Desert transitions into the Sonora.

Northwest to southeast aridity gives way to vegetation that could sustain a greater variety of hardy life. Unrelenting landscape grudgingly yields to green. Descending from high desert the slopes’ Joshua trees lose their crooked backs and straighten into saguaro cactus.

The highway between Las Vegas and Phoenix is lightly traveled. Habitation is sparse. Those few towns traversed or reached via cross roads emerge as surprises. Or riddles. Who’d voluntarily live in this solitude? What have these residents found here?

Terrestrial radio provides hints of the communities. The commercials and PSAs.

Christian stations must either be prevalent or share the same strong transmitters as the Mexican broadcasters. There are few Mexicans residing on these plateaus to support Spanish language programing and can there be that many Christers nestled among the crags?

At least the ceaseless streams of country and western offerings complement the surroundings.

Satellite radio can spoil motorists. Signals beam uninterrupted. Programs can be dedicated. If done wrong listening to satellite radio may be the white noise accompanying white-line fever.

An afternoon into evening ride from Las Vegas to Tucson, well, the Nevada to Phoenix leg goes faster when the tuner seeks then settles upon stations featuring music heard during the driver’s own youthquake days and nights. Nonetheless it’s jarring hearing the soundtrack to the bossest part of one’s life presented as “oldies.”

Dusk strengthens radio reception. The party-heartiest Sin City broadcasters clearly intrude upon Kingman and Flagstaff bandwidths before all fade in the Joshua Tree Parkway trough.

Until distance and obstructions banish them, the music played revives a carefree and irresponsible Tucson compared against now. We didn’t live indifferently then. We just learned through escapades that awarded us experiences, our touchstones for today.

Will it ever fail astounding how particular pop tunes can restore those who’ve now become unrecognizably mature into their earlier incarnations? Nothing renews vitality, invulnerability, daring better than time-exact, incident-specific lyrics and instrument solos. And right now my Boomer segment comprises advertisers desired target audience.

So more New Wave/Alternative/New Romantic beats at the Summer of Love’s and disco’s expenses.

By the time the mauve hours have blackened into night, Phoenix stations jam the dial. Searching becomes selecting. Clear channels and music blocs hasten the journey.

Las Vegas is incapable of developing the same connective depths shaped in Tucson as well to a lesser extent my hometown of Quarropas. As I’ve written elsewhere in other posts, Sin City’s transience impoverishes close associations. No sooner than one fashions an acquaintance that new “friend” has split.

A further hurdle to substantial friendships in Las Vegas is residents habitually being indiscreet. No need for torture or threat thereof. Blabbermouths, they’ll spill everything without prompting. Since they thoughtlessly spout their own embarrassments, what’s to think they’ll practice any reserve with what others have told them?

Las Vegans are gumball machines, the kind that vend their treats minus any coin being inserted into the slot or knob twisted. Basic prudence alone keep my lips tight around them.

Whether good or bad, we Arizona acquaintances are self-compartmentalized by a protective silence. It assures harmony. Figures comprising our band likely know awkward or potentially hurtful items about individuals within it. Certainly we’re at ages where we’ve all led lives worthy of examination.

Yet if my own observations are correct, if they may serve for the whole, knowledge of these matters are partitioned. Rather, while a few are confidants of this and that topic the issue remains knotted among those privileged. And among them this stays until the focus chooses extending the confidence to the complete circle.

Whether the chatter occurs in a bar, a living room, or clustered before a chiminea on a Thanksgiving night, we award ourselves the liberty of speaking freely. Or not.

Shades from the Eleventh Hour

A few weeks ago while rummaging through the Mojave, dumb luck delivered me to an odd spot. Somewhere amid the desert’s Joshua trees rather than near habitation I saw a simple cross stark against the sky upon a granite outcropping. This was a World War I monument. Continue reading Shades from the Eleventh Hour

Little Terrors Solved

Why are children considered so precious? Human beings, after all, are animals. Higher evolved, yes, or so we’ve come to believe, but animals nonetheless.

While we have turned copulation into pleasure, the ultimate reason behind our mating is to reproduce. To continue and expand our genetic lineage. Same primal directive as every other species inhabiting this planet.

That we derive joy from procreation leaves simpler animals unencumbered with the plentitude of human dramas associated with sex. After they rut, it’s over. The male goes his way, the female hers.

Whenever human males try following that instinct there’s a hell to pay no animal can conceive. Continue reading Little Terrors Solved

Modern Horrors

Could the sharing economy produce a new line of horror stories? After all, its basis tosses to the wind every caution under which older sensible Americans were raised.

Don’t get into strangers’ cars. Don’t let just anybody into your home.

So what are the two attractions best fueling the quasi-barter economy? Gig drivers and homeowners turning into hostel keepers. Continue reading Modern Horrors

Old Game. Same Rules. Modern Players.

“Sacrilege” is a word which shouldn’t be spoken lightly. But it would be a sacrilege if some present-day filmmaker were to remake Rules of the Game.

There have been rumors which threaten what might result in this likely desecration. Thankfully for good sense and lack of financing, that possible nightmare still exists as a demented dream.

Revising it, though? Updating the story for us and our era? Perhaps a palatable possibility. Continue reading Old Game. Same Rules. Modern Players.

Not Ready to Make Nice

One terrific result produced by the Donald Trump klepto- and kakacracy – no need to bother with restraint when any aspect of his crime organization administration is the subject.

Throughout the eight years of Barack Obama’s presidency, the right never let the facts interrupt its false narrative. Right-wingers’ perversion of the story suited the narrow-minded, the flat-out bigoted, and ignorant continually inbreeding in less dynamic America. Continue reading Not Ready to Make Nice

The Mohicans

Vernon is dying. He is a cousin who inquired about Edna Long three years ago. She was an unknown figure who appeared in one of our family branch’s turn-of-the-century census tracts. Turn of the 20th century.

The people who may’ve known about her, remembered her, they’ve been all good and dead way before curiosity aroused his present-day fascination with this stranger who’ll remain a mystery. Continue reading The Mohicans

Old Paint Was a Lemon

Old Paint was wheezing harder than usual. After all the part swapping, repairs, and just general babying of that car, what finally forced my hand was a check engine light. Sure. It could’ve been a fouled sensor. Or maybe it might’ve been the first sign of the head gasket preparing to crack.

In any case, I read the yellow dashboard light as a clear warning from the gearhead gods. It became the straw which broke my camel’s back. Continue reading Old Paint Was a Lemon

Distressing Displacements

Was the summer heat so relentless in Southern Arizona, in the Sonoran Desert, as it is in a Las Vegas set amidst the Mojave? Just as likely. Possibly even more so. The Sonora sits at a lower altitude. Its desert classification aside, it’s also a less arid ecosystem than the Mojave.

Youth, accompanied by more involved living, frequent insobriety, and greater disregard of nuisances like heat and lack of sleep, probably registered those Arizona Augusts on some lower discomfort scale. The escapades immersed in then must’ve somewhat negated the arduous climate.

Almost five years living in Las Vegas and I’ve learned to evade a trap that snares too many willing natives and long-time residents. I’ve managed to look through the transients, deadbeats, and bums littering the street corners and raised medians. Continue reading Distressing Displacements