Fascinating courtly intrigue and bloody power games set on a generation ship full of secrets―Medusa Uploaded is an imaginative, intense mystery about family dramas and ancient technologies whose influence reverberates across the stars. Disturbing, exciting, and frankly kind of mind-blowing.” ―Annalee Newitz, author of Autonomous

Monday, September 7, 2020

New Mexico Thrift Shopping in Plague Times

Economists have various indexes they like to use to gauge the health of the economy, but I'm a working-class gal, and I've got one that tells me more than any graph could: the Thrift Store Index. Basically, it's a measure of how many cute pairs of pants you can find in a group of thrift stores in any given year. It's a also a measure of how many of those thrift stores can continue to stay in business from one year to the next. Right now, that index isn't looking too good in New Mexico.

I'm a fiend for thrift store clothes, probably because I'm greedy. Why have a sensible, skinny closet that only contains what you need when you can have a fat, overstuffed closet that requires serious excavation in order to actually get at the clothing entombed therein? Is there any thrill that equals driving home with a trunk full of pretty new finds (for which you may have to buy new hangers)? All of this becomes even more silly when you reach the point in your life where you don't have as many places to actually wear that wonderful, hip stuff you just scored. I mean hell, once you're getting close to retirement, do you even need to change out of your sweat pants? 

All of that is beside the point, however, because despite common sense, the heart wants what it wants, and this is the case even during a plague-induced recession -- possibly even more so when trends that you may have been seeing for several years in a row are clarified. In New Mexico, I've seen a steady decline in the economy for at least five years, while Arizona's economy has improved. Even the delightful Pie Town is losing customers.

Arizona and New Mexico are next-door neighbors, but they're different in a few critical ways. Arizona has larger cities, including growing communities of tech workers lured away from California. Chunks of New Mexico are controlled by the Federal Government for very good and top-secret reasons, (even without Area 51), and those jobs pay pretty well, but most other people in New Mexico work service jobs or have small farms. The mining industry has pretty much left the state, and New Mexico's other claim to fame, it's art community, is struggling in the new century. Younger people don't tend to collect art, and older people are at the point in their lives where they're downsizing their households and trying to sell off the art and Indian jewelry they once collected with such enthusiasm. There are casinos in New Mexico, but they support various Indigenous communities and are dependent on traffic, which has slowed a lot in recent years. And the minimum wage in New Mexico is currently $7.50 an hour. It's due to go up starting in 2021, and that may help working-class people in New Mexico -- it certainly has in Arizona. But I suspect the art crowd has decided New Mexico is old news. They're the ones who were most likely to get tired of their pretty, expensive, hip clothing and donate it to thrift stores. That's how that trickles down, and that spigot is going dry. 

That leaves New Mexico with plenty of what it already had: tradition, culture, Indigenous communities, national and state parks, amazing geology, fabulous food, and serious tenacity. If the fat cats abandon the place, it has a chance to rediscover itself. I'll keep going there at least once a year. That says something. 

As for the thrift stores, New Mexico still has 'em, and you should still look for them. Also used book stores, little art galleries, amazing restaurants, and the Very Large Array of radio telescopes near Socorro. 

Reruns is in Grants. I got the cute pants in the photo at the top of this post from the Habitat for Humanity thrift store in Espanola. The pretty horse and the shot of the gorgeous front door came from The Inn at the Delta in Espanola, and the yummy pies can be found at The Gatherin' Place Cafe in Pie Town. The book store is in Santa Fe, Books of Interest

The photo of my mom and me was taken on the outdoor patio of Los Potrillos Restaurant. We celebrated her 99th birthday there. And the bull pictured below is from our delightful hotel in Santa Fe, the Silver Saddle Motel.


Michael Levy News: New Collaboration!

Michael Levy has kept busy during this semi-plague and has new connections with interesting entities. Read his announcements below and follow the links.

New Collaboration with the Ancient History Encyclopedia & a 'Latter-Day Miracle' from Brazil's First Temple of Antinous!

Dear Loyal Lyre Fans, 

Firstly, I am delighted to announce the official start of my collaboration with the Ancient History Encyclopedia - whom I have given permission to feature my ancient-themed lyre music in each and any of their audio presentations, podcasts & video productions, in perpetuity - the nearest I can get, to a record company, for getting my music out to the 'potentially receptive, niche global target audience'!

Here is a list of some of the Ancient History Encyclopedia podcasts and YouTube videos recently produced, which feature my music:

Daily Life in Ancient Mesopotamia

Dogs in the Ancient World


Greek Mythology

The Life and Death of Ancient Cities - Interview with Author Greg Woolf 


The Minoans: A Civilization of Bronze Age Crete

The Mycenaeans: A Civilization of Bronze Age Greece

Secondly - I finally have some actual video footage from the premiere of Rufus Wainwright's epic second opera, "Hadrian" -  featuring his arrangement of my ancient tyre theme, "Hymn to Zeus"  in Act II Scene IV!

How I finally managed to acquire this video footage was almost like divine intervention from Antinous himself! After learning the awful truth, that my laptop screen capture app miserably failed to record the one-off "Watch Party" livestream of the premiere on 10th August & after pleading on Twitter, if anyone else out there had recorded it, I was contacted by an actual latter-day Priest from Brazil's First Temple of Antinous...who finally enabled me to see the opera; almost 2 years after the premiere in Toronto!!! The best things in life, are certainly those worth waiting for...

My Lyre Theme - in Rufus Wainwright's HADRIAN

Wishing you all health, happiniess...and the continuation of sanity, during these troubled times (towards this goal, please enjoy the meditative mood of your free bonus track, "The Scented Gardens of Alcinous" - track 1 from my 2020 album of the same tiitle; actually recorded, produced & released during the peak of the pandemic here in the UK). Thanks once more, for your continued & invaluable support in my musical quest.