One of my biggest clients is a book publisher out of Atlanta who specializes in coffee-table sized books about American cities. For these fine folk, I spend much of my time researching and writing photo captions. Sometimes I travel to these cities. When I don't, I have to be extra meticulous in my work – thoroughly researching via the Internet, local and regional publications, and interviews, whatever city I happen to be working on. I also have to keep thorough track of all my sources, so that when Bob our Copy Editing God sends me a WTF? email, I can back my shit up.
So if lil' ol' me can get my facts straight, why can't a Big Ass Writer for the Washington Post do it? Just read this utter stupidity!
Okay, so if you don't want to take the 1.5 seconds it takes to register with the Washington Post to read the article (although, it's free and I highly recommend you do so), let me summarize for you:
The article is called "The Next Best Path: Warming to Limelight, Dismissed U.S. Attorney David Iglesias Forges a New Future" and it's written by Washington Post staff writer, Sridhar Pappu.
For those of you who don't know, David Iglesias is one of nine U.S. attorneys forced from their posts by the Bush administration for allegedly resisting pressure from two of our state's highest elected officials (Ol' Man Republication Pete Domenici is allegedly one of them) to speed up the indictment of some allegedly misbehaving democrats – in other words, in time for last fall's elections. On a recent appearance on Bill Maher's Real Time, Iglesias defended his resistance and subsequent outing of said Republications by boldly stating, "I took an oath to support and defend the constitution, not the Republican Party of New Mexico." Way to go, Dave.
Pappu begins his piece, like all good journalists, in media res (for all y'all non writer types, that means in the middle of things), placing Iglesias, a trail runner, out in the foothills of our fair city, effectively illustrating how the man uses his time on the trails to contemplate his actions and the over-all meaning of his work in government.
But then Pappu goes all purple prose on us, choosing to describe one of our nation's most culturally, socially, and ecologically diverse cities as some kind of Wild West outpost:
At 9 a.m. on the very edge of the dusty, desolate collection of adobe homes and Vietnamese restaurants that seem to form this city, David Iglesias begins his run through the foothills of the Sandia Mountains. This is not easy terrain. The footing is terribly uneven. The altitude can be unbearable. At certain times one can hear the grumbling of mountain lions and the feasting of coyotes.
Wow. Albuquerque is nothing more than Vietnamese restaurants and dusty homes? Hmmm. Guess it was all a dream, my entire life spent eating at sushi bars, Italian restaurants, award-winning steakhouses, and the dozens and dozens of restaurants featuring our distinctive native New Mexican cuisine. I guess it means nothing that we are home to a world class university, an air force base, and cutting edge business enterprises like Eclipse Aviation.
As for those homes he calls dusty and desolate? Obviously, Pappu knows nothing of the fact that Albuquerque is renowned for its eclectic blend of architecture, from Victorian to Georgian to Pueblo Deco to WPA to the whack modernist residences of native son Bart Prince. Those dusty, desolate adobes he mentions? Well, Iglesias runs at the edge of High Desert, one of our city's toniest subdivisions, built exclusively and according to the precepts of Frank Lloyd Wright, to blend in with the environment, not in opposition to it. Something Pappu, who hails from the cluster fuck that is life in Washington D.C., most likely knows nothing about. Talk about Wild West stereotypes . . . I'm surprised he didn't mistake the trails for actual dirt roads and the fenced markers for hitching posts.
Furthermore, when the hell was the last time you heard a mountain lion grumble or coyotes feasting? Yes, mountain lions exist in the Sandia Mountains. Thank God. But these creatures are the stealth fighters of the cat world. You don't hear 'em and you don't see 'em. Not until they're right on top of you. I have spent half my life hiking and running the trails on both sides of the mountains and the only evidence of mountain lion I've ever spotted is a paw print or two. And they don't grumble. They fucking roar. If you're close enough to hear that, well, kiss your spandex-ed ass goodbye – you're mountain lion lunch.
As for coyotes feasting, two things: One, you get close enough to hear coyotes munching away on some poor rabbit, you're close enough to see them, too. Two, after killing their prey coyotes almost always take it back to their den to share. They don't tend to feast in the field.
The rest of the article goes on to talk more in depth about the political hullabaloo surrounding Iglesias and his fellow U.S. attorneys. But with such a misguided start to the article, it's difficult to take anything else within it seriously.
Pappu, dude, you never had me at "hello."