Our Experience of Silver City, New Mexico

We’ve got a fire about 15 miles out, and no wind… so our little valley is smoky. Ordinarily things like this don’t bother me, but there’s something burning that doesn’t agree with my sinuses. I gots me a fully functional get that shit out of my face reaction going on.

Amethyst and I once thought we might like to live in/near Silver City, New Mexico. We were down there a couple of years ago right after the place had a big freakin’ fire. There’s the tie-in. It’s weak, but it’s what I’ve got.

We took a vacation rental for a month right smack in the middle of historic downtown. I guess every town that’s more than a hundred years old has a historic downtown. Maybe some famous person once saw it on a map or some shit, and that’s what makes it historical. Or maybe it’s just that stuff that’s even older than antique is historical. Elephino. Billy The Kid was from Silver City, more or less kinda sorta. It’s where his life of crime began, anyway, with a prank involving some laundry and a daring jailbreak afterward. He once came to Dinkytown, too. The hotel in our historic downtown still has the guest register he signed. Anyway, we quickly came to the conclusion that Silver City is comprised of five primary cliques: Retired/semi-retired white yuppies, white mine workers, Hispanics (who may or may not be yuppies or mine workers), college kids, and the homeless. The homeless like it there because the weather won’t kill them the way it threatens to down on the desert floor. The five cliques don’t talk to each other, and look on each other with suspicion and disdain, or worse. That’s really not our kind of town.

Amethyst and I, we’d gone back to the demon tobacco just because it was more convenient when traveling than the e-cigarettes we’d switched over to, and since we were not allowed to smoke anywhere on the vacation rental property we’d go down the street and get out of the way to where our evil second hand smoke would not threaten anyone’s health. The homeless people avoided us because they thought we were yuppies, and the yuppies avoided us because they thought we were homeless. My best guess is that it was my appearance that set the yupsters off.

Did I say that the yuppies avoided us? Yes, by golly, I did. Most of them did just that, giving us wide berth and changing their carriage to indicate that they were not to be approached. They’d turn their heads away as they passed. Some, though, were less civil. They’d glare and say things like Get a job! Go back wherever it is you came from! We’re sick of you people here! Uh, okay. Only I don’t really want a job, thank you very much. The worst by far, and most numerous of those who were vocal, were the yuppie women. They’d raise their voices to make sure we’d hear and know it was us they were talking about, and announce their opinions to their friends. The yuppie women were the worst of their bunch, and Amethyst was the worst of us. She’s always been more aggressive than I, even since mellowing out. She’d raise her voice and talk to me, saying things like “I wonder if that cunt wants to bet a thousand dollars on which of us has the greater income”.

I guess my dear wife was just not in the mood to be trifled with after all we’d recently been through. Me, I figured I’d end up squaring off with some whipped yupster husband of a cunt who wanted to defend the cunt’s honor, as if she had any in the first place. Just so it’s said: I’m just going with that term now because it’s the one Amethyst used. I don’t use that word.

More than once or twice per hour. Though it might peak at higher levels because I do sleep for six or eight hours, leaving me twelve to sixteen utterances to spare each day.

It was really strange. I’ve been a hippie for most of my life, though for a time I did keep my hair short and work a professional wage slave gig which was untenable because I could not bring myself to even consider selling my integrity. I never really dug the whole poser hippie thing, dressing and acting the part just to smoke other people’s dope and maybe get into (or be) some casual pussy. They “didn’t sell out, man, bought in” as soon as the Vietnam war ended, or, a little later for us Generation Jonesers, as soon as money was preferable to other people’s dope. (Meaning when mommy and daddy would no longer pay them allowance.) Being in Dinkytown I wasn’t around where and when the poser hippies started retiring, so Silver City was my first encounter with them. And there they were, with their cute little four inch ponytails, tie-dye, sandals, and conservation cause stickers on their Prius cars. But I wasn’t a candidate to be their only brother, get together, and try to love one another right now. They were too busy looking down their holier than the whole fucking lot of you noses at the world they’d already done their part to save by buying the right shit to look the part.

As if patterns of ostentatious consumption are going to save anything.

Oh! The folks who didn’t know we weren’t poor and who didn’t look down their noses at us were the folks selling veggies at the farmer’s market. It was pretty nice going there, seeing that recognition in their eyes that we were kindred. But at the health food co-op it was just like on the street:ย People avoided us and looked at us like if we’d just fallen out of their dog’s ass they’d rush him to the vet and hire illegal immigrants to get us out of their personal spaces.

There were some volunteers in the area working on a scenic spot south of town, doing trail maintenance and so on. Some locals apparently assumed that the volunteers’ camp was a homeless camp:


Well isn’t that just special? I snapped that photo just so it wouldn’t be unbelievable later when I spoke of it.

We decided that it was time to return to Dinkytown. We’d paid for a month in the vacation rental but were there only two weeks. The woman who owned the joint said that she was surprised we were leaving, and that she’d thought we’d really fit in really well there. The thing was that she, herself, knew we weren’t poor. The downtown merchants knew it, too. Everyone who knew that we had money to spend was downright friendly and eager to tell us how friendly their town was.ย But the common yuppies on the street hadn’t had an opportunity to gauge our social class, so they made assumptions and made it as clear as possible that we were not welcome. If we’d hung around and they’d decided that we were worth knowing our “friends” would be people who could treat others so horribly as we were treated. No, thanks. The other cliques wouldn’t even talk to us to tell us we were shit.

So we came back to Dinkytown, which was what we were comparing everything we saw against anyway. Worse, we were finding everything we saw coming up wanting by comparison. People here were happy to see us back, wanted to know what we’d been up to and if we were back to stay, and eager to catch us up on all the happenings from the four years we were gone. The hippie and the witch, just as welcome as if we were ultra-conservative tea partying evangelical thumpers. We weren’t here four hours before we had a lease on the house we’re in now, and Amethyst landed a job a few days later.

Okay, the job sucked and cost us an old friend-like person. But she bagged another shortly after leaving that one, with better compensation and no BS to eat. She’s still in that gig.

The funny thing? Silver City folks make noise about how friendly and inviting their town is, while Dinkytown folks make noise about how if your grandparents weren’t born here you won’t be accepted, ever. I got here in ’99, succeeded in my evil plan to get Amethyst here in ’03… that means we won’t be accepted, ever, I guess. The folks here are real good at hiding that fact from us. ๐Ÿ™‚


10 thoughts on “Our Experience of Silver City, New Mexico

  1. promisesunshine

    i was just talking the other day about how much i value being anomos. i think it’s a universal thing: the more you talk about how nice/friendly/etc you are, the less you actually are. darn. just lost an opportunity to use the phrase “inversely proportional”. and now i feel like saying “hi, hoe (from) silver (city)”. i’ll do us all a favor and get another cuppa.

    1. happierheathen Post author

      I think you’re onto something there with that inverse proportionality of niceness vs. announcement thereof. I once lived in a place called Niceville and found it to be an unusually hostile place. Then again, it might not have been unusually hostile for the rural South.

  2. ordinarybutloud

    Okay, first, I got really distracted from your funny and informative social commentary by your mention of Billy the Kid. I don’t know where Silver City is, I don’t think, but on our drive here to Telluride we cruised through some kind of tiny town which had a Billy the Kid museum in it, along with Billy the Kid’s gravesite, some other Billy the Kid miscellanea and a whole Billy the Kid ethos. I’ll admit, I don’t know a lot about the Kid, but it seems weird to celebrate the life of someone who was…what…a wild west, six-shooting outlaw?? I don’t know. I don’t get it.

    About your social commentary: what is it about you, do you think, that attracts so much yuppie attention? I find that I’m nearly invisible most places I go, by design, I suppose. The first time I came to Telluride I noticed a yuppie/local divide, but I don’t know that you can avoid such a thing in a town that survives mostly on tourism.

    As for being a poser hippie and smoking other people’s dope, it’s a personal dream of mine. I’m not much for tie-die and sandals and Priuses, mainly because it seems like a lot of effort to adopt a whole costume just to score some dope, but I love to leave my Podville culture behind for a few months out of the year and tour another point of view. I can’t afford to be a real hippy, what with the kids and the responsibilities and all and I’m too far into this life to change my whole schtick. But I get where you’re coming from. I’m sorry yuppie cunts are such bitches. I know lots of them.

    1. happierheathen Post author

      The Billy The Kid museum you encountered was in Fort Sumner, a good ways from Silver City. Silver City is in the mountains north of Deming and Lordsburg over in the western region of the state. It’s where Billy’s mother is buried, though no one really knows for sure where because the cemetery and all of its residents were moved. The uncertainty about where she’s buried is what makes it impossible to compare the DNA of whoever’s under Billy’s headstone against his mother’s to prove it’s really him — it might not be her under her headstone.

      Billy The Kid was an outlaw only because the victors write the history. ๐Ÿ˜‰ The Lincoln County War was rooted in competing business interests, with a former monopoly seeking to drive out their upstart competition by force. An illegal posse, headed by the county sheriff, was sent by the former monopoly to attack the upstart and they murdered the guy who was what we’d call the chief executive of the upstart competitor. It being the county sheriff who headed the posse that committed the murder, and the later looting of the competitor’s store, the Regulators were legally deputized and with lawful warrants in hand sought to bring the members of the illegal posse to justice. Then the territorial governor sided with the monopoly, and that’s what made the Regulators outlaws.

      Hmm… Imagine the character of Jeff “The Dude” Lebowski but with hair down to his waist, wearing jeans, a solid color t-shirt, and sneakers, loitering around Podville next door to the Podvillians’ favorite yuppie coffee house, across the street from their favorite restaurant. But put a concentration of homeless people in residence just behind that restaurant.

      Switch the flip, and put the same guy in their computer data center. ๐Ÿ˜‰


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