Published Non-Fiction

by G.E. Nordell

busy writing away...

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Published 2011
The New Mensican [publication of New Mexico Mensa]
June-July 2011 issue, pages 12-13

A Brief Biography of Charles Lummis, Journalist and Writer
        Charles Fletcher Lummis was born in Lynn, Massachusetts on 1 March 1859. He attended Harvard, where he became friends with Teddy Roosevelt; he left before graduating, and took a job as editor of the Scioto Gazette newspaper north of Columbus, Ohio. He married Dorothea Rhodes in 1880.
        When Col. Harrison Gray Otis offered a job as city editor of the new Los Angeles Daily Times in California in 1884, Lummis chose to trek across America on foot – the 3,500-mile trip from Cincinnati took 143 days. Lummis's weekly dispatches caused a national sensation, and he arrived on the West Coast as a literary star. He covered local political battles, and was dispatched to Fort Bowie, Arizona in 1886 to cover the (expected) capture of Geronimo.
        In 1887, Lummis became partially paralyzed from a stroke, likely because of on-thejob stress. On advice of Teddy Roosevelt, he traveled to New Mexico to recover. He lived for a time with the Chavez family in remote, forested San Mateo, and rode horseback across the Western landscape and studied the Pueblo Indians, and wrote of his experiences. An exposι article about local corruption garnered death threats, so he moved to Isleta Pueblo, southward on the Rio Grande River. The offended bosses up in San Mateo sent an assassin to kill Lummis in Isleta; though hit by shotgun pellets, Lummis survived. During this time, he divorced his first wife and married Eva Douglas, the sister-in-law of a local trader. Lummis learned photography in order to document the culture of Native Americans, and took 10,000 photographs (mostly in the years between 1888 & 1900).
        Lummis regained use of his left side in 1893 and spent ten months in Peru with the famous (and crotchety) anthropologist Adolph Bandelier [1840-1914]. Lummis returned to Los Angeles in 1894; he was broke and out of work, with a wife and baby – his daughter (Dorothea) Turbesι. At the end of 1894, he found the perfect job: editor of the regional magazine Land of Sunshine, which was renamed Out West in 1901. During his 11 years as full-time editor, he wrote a monthly column and published articles and stories by pioneer conservationist John Muir, painter Maynard Dixon, authors Jack London & Mary Hunter Austin, Sharlot M. Hall, Joaquin Miller, and other literary heavyweights of the time.
        In 1896, Lummis helped found the Landmarks Club to restore the California missions; in 1901, he founded the Sequoya League to protect America's native people; in 1903, he co-founded the Southwest Society which helped found the Southwest Museum in 1907; the museum moved to its present location on Mt. Washington in 1914.
        From 1896 to 1910, he hand-built a home in the Arroyo Seco (between Los Angeles and Pasadena), and called it 'El Alisal' (the sycamore); the home, made from river stones & hand-hewn timbers, is being restored and is now the headquarters of the Historical Society of Southern California [est. 1883].
        Lummis's illegitimate daughter Bertha Bell Page (born in 1879) was told about her father at 21; she wrote to him and they met in Boston, becoming very close. His daughter Turbesι wrote a biography of her father, incomplete at her death in 1968; her brother Keith (1904-1991) finished the book, which was published in 1975. Other offspring include Amado Bandelier (1894-1900), and Jordan aka Quimu (b. 1900).
        Lummis quit Out West in 1904 to head the Los Angeles Library. His second wife divorced him for infidelity in 1910; the library job ended in 1911; he (supposedly) went temporarily blind from a jungle fever, and stopped writing. He married for a third time, to Gertrude Redit, in 1915. By 1918, he was destitute.
        Life improved for Lummis for a while in the 1920s, and he returned to writing and to Indian rights activism. His adoring daughter Bertha cared for him during his final illness; Charles Fletcher Lummis died of brain cancer on 24 November 1928 at the age of 69.
        He had published 16 books and numerous articles & essays in his lifetime, and had been a key figure in preserving much of then-vanishing Southwest culture, from California missions & old adobe buildings to Pueblo Indian traditions & artifacts.
        See for listings of his works.

[copyright 2011 by Gary Edward Nordell, all rights reserved]

WMail Philosophy Newsletter

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Vol. 1 [2000]    •    Vol. 2 [2001]    •    Vol. 3 [2002]
Vol. 4 [2003]    •    Vol. 5 [2004]    •    Vol. 6 [2005]
Vol. 7 [2006]    •    Vol. 8 [2007]

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The WMail philosophy ezine was halted at Issue 72 in November 2007, and the mission continues by posting further essays and news factoids and selected quotations on the Dateline Chamesa blog, with later posting to the Working Minds website as before.

Published 2007
The New Mensican [publication of New Mexico Mensa]
Oct-Nov 2007 & Dec 2007-Jan 2008 issues

New Mexico’s Legendary Billy The Kid
        Whatever the historical truth, the Legend of Billy The Kid is the essential American story: the lone individual, a man with a perhaps disreputable past, who takes on the self-righteous gangs of corrupt conspirators who forever seek to conquer honest folk by the use of political stealth, surface piety, blatant thievery, and overt force.
        Michael Henry McCarty was born on 20 November 1859 in New York City to Ireland-born Catherine McCarty. Her sometimes-partner Edward McCarty was a fruit peddlar who was married and had another family. By age 14, Billy was a juvenile delinquent, and was 'bound' out West by the city – a common practice during the post-Civil War Era. Billy and his older brother Joe and their unmarried mother traveled via Wichita, Kansas and Denver, Colorado to Santa Fe, New Mexico where she married William Antrim (1873).
        The new family set out southward for Silver City, in Grant County. Still into mischief and petty theft, young Henry stole a tub of butter off a buckboard and was caught by the sheriff. Not wanting to jail the teenager, the sheriff spanked him in front of a crowd – an insult that Henry/Billy never forgot. Henry's mother died of tuberculosis in September 1874, and Henry made a meager living working at a hotel.
        On 23 September 1875, Henry and an older accomplice stole a large hamper of finished laundry from a Chinese (perhaps a prank), and Henry was again caught by the sheriff, who this time threw the young man into jail. Henry did not squeal on his accomplice, who managed to bust Henry out of the pokey. Henry fled to New York City, taking the name William Antrim.
        Soon after turning 16, Billy had a job and regular friends (boys and girls) in New York. One night Billy got into a fight with an 18-year-old who had been drinking; the brawl ended with the older gang member stabbed to death. Billy once more needed to flee town; Billy's birth father paid for his fare back to New Mexico.
        Billy passed thru Silver City on his way to the lawless settlement of Camp Grant in Arizona. Billy had few other skills, but he was talented at gambling, as well as with the ladies – Billy was often described as charming – which combination bred jealousy with other men of the camp. On 17 August 1877, Billy was called out by Frank 'Windy' Cahill, a 32-year-old Irish immigrant, in the dirt street in front of the blacksmith shop. Cahill called Billy a pimp, Billy called Cahill an S.O.B.; Cahill attacked Billy, and in the ensuing scuffle Billy drew a pistol from his belt and shot Cahill in the belly. Billy was put in jail but escaped and fled once more.
        Apaches captured Billy's horse, and he trudged many miles until he was taken in by the Jones family; Mrs. Jones nursed Billy back to health, and gave him a horse when he left. Billy continued on to Mesilla, a town just south of Las Cruces, New Mexico. He took on a new name, William Bonney, derived from his mother's family background. Now 18 years old, William H. 'Billy' Bonney soon met and charmed the head bandit of the area, John Kinney, and gained full membership in the gang; he rode with the gang for most of 1877. Billy heard of work to the north, and rode into Lincoln County.
        The promise of $500 made to Billy was not for his skills as a cowpuncher, but for his willingness to break the law. The town and county of Lincoln in central New Mexico were a-boil with tension, as the leaders of the town were battling the ranchers. John Tunstall, merchant and banker, was partner with Alexander McSween, a rancher; allied with them was wealthy cattle baron John Chisum. Billy hired on as a cattle guard for Tunstall, about whom Billy later said, "He was the only man that ever treated me like I was a free-born and white."
        The other faction – called 'The House' – was led by merchants James Dolan, Lawrence Murphy and John H. Riley. On 18 February 1878, three men ambushed and killed unarmed Tunstall out on the range, purportedly on the orders of Dolan. At Tunstall's funeral, Billy swore, "I'll get every son-of-a-bitch who helped kill John if it's the last thing I do." Billy joined The Regulators, a vigilante outfit supported by McSween. The Regulators hunted down and captured, then killed, two of the men who shot Tunstall. A few weeks later, suspicious of old buffalo hunter Buckshot Roberts, the Regulators tracked him down, and in the ensuing gunfight, both Roberts and the Regulators leader Dick Brewer died. Billy became the leader of the Regulators, and he is credited with masterminding the brazen daylight ambush and murder of Lincoln's Sheriff William Brady and his deputy George Hindman (both aligned with the House faction), on the streets of Lincoln on 1 April 1878.
        Billy and other Regulators were indicted for the killings, and went into hiding. On 15 July 1878, they were cornered at McSween's house in Lincoln; a five-day siege by 'The Enforcers' ended when they set the house on fire. Billy and the others fled; Billy killed an Enforcer named Bob Beckwith. McSween was shot leaving his home; Billy fled to Texas.
        In late 1878, retired Union general Lew Wallace became governor of New Mexico Territory. In the interest of peace, he announced an amnesty for all particpants in the Lincoln County Cattle War not then under indictment. By March of 1879, Billy had returned to Lincoln, and there met with Gov. Wallace to discuss terms. Billy agreed to testify in return for amnesty; he was paraded to jail for show. Even though Billy's lengthy June 1879 testimony helped to indict Dolan, the district attorney returned Billy to jail, in defiance of the governor's deal. Billy slipped his handcuffs and escaped.

——  split here between the two issues  ——
        Billy hung around Fort Sumner, in east-central New Mexico, surviving on gambling and cattle rustling. In January 1880, Billy shot and killed one Joe Grant in a Fort Sumner saloon; some say Grant was sent to kill Billy. In November of 1880, Billy and his gang were surrounded by a posse at the ranchhouse of James Greathouse, a friend. Under a flag of truce, the posse sent James Carlyle into the house to negotiate a surrender of the gang, with Greathouse sent out as hostage for the posse. Late that night, a sudden gunshot outside alarmed Carlyle, and he jumped thru a window into the snow. The posse thought this was an escaping outlaw, and they shot and killed Carlyle. When the posse realized what they had done, they gave up and left, and Billy's gang slipped away.
        During this time, Billy developed a friendship with a local bartender and saloonkeeper and former buffalo hunter, tall Alabama-born Patrick Garrett. In November 1880, the ambitious Garrett was appointed Sheriff of Lincoln County. Gov. Wallace had recently placed a $500 bounty on the head of young Bonney, now generally known as 'Billy the Kid'. Garrett formed a posse and set out on Billy's trail. Billy escaped a midnight ambush in Fort Sumner on 19 December; gang member Tom O'Folliard was shot and killed by Garrett. Billy and his gang holed up in a stone building at remote Stinking Springs. While the outlaws slept, Garrett's posse surrounded the cabin. When cattle rustler Charlie Bowdre stepped outside at dawn to feed his horse, he was mistaken for Billy and shot dead by the posse. Garrett later shot the horse, blocking the only exit from the cabin. The posse began cooking breakfast, and Garrett and Billy exchanged banter and insults. The outlaws realized that they had no chance of escape and were getting hungry; they surrendered and joined in the meal.
        Billy was put in the Mesilla jail to await a trial set for April 1881. The now-famous 'Kid' gave many newspaper interviews; his letters to Gov. Wallace seeking clemency were ignored. The one-day trial resulted in Billy's conviction for the murder of Sheriff Brady (the single conviction against any participant, on either side, in the Lincoln County War). On 13 April, Judge Bristol sentenced Billy to hang one month hence. Billy was sent to the Lincoln Courthouse jail under guard of two of Garrett's deputies. On 28 April, Billy shot both deputies and escaped. Many details are uncertain, but Billy killed Deputy Bell with a pistol, then grabbed a ten-gauge shotgun and waited for Deputy Ollinger to return from across the street. Billy shot the second deputy, then cut the chain of his leg irons with an axe, and rode out of the terrified town at a leisurely pace.
        Billy's freedom lasted barely three months. On the night of 14 July 1881, Billy was staying with Celsa Gutierrez in a former Fort Sumner barracks building owned by Pete Maxwell. Garrett had heard that Billy was still in the area, and he and two deputies stopped to question Maxwell, a known friend of Billy. Near midnight, Billy entered Celsa's rooms and took off his hat, gunbelt and boots, then lay on the bed to read a newspaper. He asked Celsa to fix something to eat; she replied that she had little in the house, that Pete had a side of beef hanging on his porch, and if Billy'd cut a piece, she would cook it. Billy grabbed a small butcher knife and walked in stocking feet thru the dark over to Maxwell's porch-fronted adobe house. As Billy approached the porch, he saw two men leaning against the porch rails, assuming that they were Mexican workers. Billy stepped on the porch and asked in Spanish who the men were; when they did not answer, he realized that they were not Mexicans. He moved to the doorway of Maxwell's bedroom, asking Pete who the two men were. Garrett recognized Billy's voice, and fired two rounds from his revolver. The first bullet hit Billy in the side (he was turning away), and passed thru his heart; the second bullet struck two inches from the door jamb.
        Both Garrett and Maxwell panicked, not knowing that Billy died instantly; they ran out of the room, over Billy's body and into the street. It was some time before they, backed by a mob of curious townspeople, ventured to return to Maxwell's bedroom, where they found the lifeless body of William H. 'Billy the Kid' Bonney – dead at the age of 21 years. Billy was buried the next day in the Fort Sumner Cemetery. A year after Billy was killed, Sheriff Garrett auctioned Billy's saddle and revolver; the winning bid was $13.50. (Pinkerton detective Charlie Siringo quit at $12 because he thought the items were not worth more than that.)
        Pat Garrett milked his fame for all it was worth, publishing a book with the help of a ghost-writer, Ash Upton. Garrett's later years were spotty: he won and lost elections for sheriff in towns across New Mexico & Texas; he led a contingent of Texas Rangers; he was appointed customs inspector in El Paso; he attempted many other business ventures, including cattle ranching. By February 1908, he was deeply in debt. On February 28, Garrett rode to meet with one of his debtors, W.W. Cox, in Las Cruces, New Mexico, and was shot dead by two of Cox's men. The killer confessed, but was nonetheless acquitted – Garrett was shot in the back of the head; the killer claimed self-defense.
        Billy's tombstone was stolen in 1950, and not recovered until 1976, so the gravesite is now secured by a cage of heavy steel bars. In 2003, three Texas sheriffs got the support of New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson in attempting to exhume the remains of both Billy and his mother, for the purpose of using DNA testing to disprove theories that Billy survived his killing and lived to be an old man – just as similar tales were constructed about Jesse James and Butch Cassidy. The people of Lincoln and Silver City successfully prevented the exhumation.
[copyright 2007 by Gary Edward Nordell, all rights reserved]

Published 2000
L.A. Mentary [publication of Los Angeles Mensa]
August 2000
Features & Disquisitions [page 19]

Urgently Objectivist
        In reference to Ayn Rand and her statements about Mankind's Highest Value being that of Survival, I am, I guess, quite cynical in that I believe that Mankind is on its way to non-survival: that is, that Mankind [currently Homo sapiens] will soon die out, like the dinosaurs and the species Homo erectus that preceded us. The growing ozone hole; square miles of Alaskan tundra thawing each day; the poisons in our oceans and rivers and bodies; the poisons in our society; the burning of the 'lungs of the Earth', the Amazon rain-forest; the death of coral reefs around the planet; the freaky weather – all are demonstrations that the current path of Mankind is leading to an unconscious self-destruction. The Culture Structure that is supposed to ensure our survival is instead pointed directly to species suicide.
        I say that the very survival of this species that you and I belong to requires of us all an extraordinary effort that is not now being generated, at least not inside the Culture Structure. This species must bring into use the 90% of the human brain that lies fallow in unconsciousness; the species must direct major effort toward overcoming the existing mess – ecologically, economically, ontologically; increasing numbers of members of Mankind must develop new personal skills to prevent our predictable future, which is non-survival.
        There is Something inherent in the unused and unfulfilled potential of this species, possibly to take shape as a new species [which I designate Homo cogitus: Reasoning Man], and we must bring forth that Something or else the cetaceans will be left as rulers of the planet.
        The intention of my book "Working Minds: A Philosophy of Empowerment" is to reach and enroll one reader at a time into individual and active concern for the terrible urgency of the modern situation, so that eventually folks with developing and mature Working Minds will find themselves working in concert, working together as individuals to generate Empowerment, to fulfill each individual's potential, so that Mankind can fulfill its dormant potential – without which Mankind will not indeed survive.
        Said another way, Mankind will not survive by attempting half-heartedly the survival of our present institutions; Mankind must fulfill its potential – great numbers of individuals must do so, in many and various forms – or Mankind will simply die out.
        And you the reader – and you members of We The Living and other Objectivist groups – must take this on, and pass the urgency on to others, or Mankind has no future.
[copyright 1999 by Gary Edward Nordell, all rights reserved]

Published 1997
Bizarro syndicated cartoon by Dan Piraro
Monday 23 February 1997
[published in L.A. Times among others]

I sent in an idea that Dan used, and he put my name below his in the cartoon itself; he also was very kind in sending me the original artwork, signed.

'Will Work For Fools' cartoon by Dan Piraro

Published 1996
Daily Breeze newspaper
Tuesday 17 September 1996
Life/Arts Section / '15 Minutes' column [page A-10]

"Is Television Necessary?"
by G.E. Nordell

        Surveys give differing statistics on the amount of time that we spend watching the tube. The consensus is that the average American adult watches six to eight hours daily. How? Breakfast news shows and daytime soaps and midday talk shows, thru prime time to the "Late Show Tonight". And don't forget the weekends.
        Cocaine is said to be Nature's way of telling you that you have too much money; television is Nature's way of telling you that you have too much empty time on your hands.
        At 52 [in 1996], it is an accomplishment to be able to say that I have never owned a television set. Nor do I feel deprived. There are so many books; there are so many activities that require intellectual participation. There is so much to do.
        As a writer, I naturally observe the ebb and flow of cultural 'tube speak' and witness the insidious influence of television in society, yet I am not required to succumb. The print media keep me well-informed about the current TV season: the shows, the personalities, the scandals and petty feuds. It is difficult to remember any recent conversation that did not include multiple references, TV-derived buzz words, or sound-bite quotations, all automatically ingrained in the TV addict's speech.
        Yes, addict. The TV addict's behavior is entirely automatic and unthinking. The couch potato ignores one-on-one interaction with family and friends in favor of passively basking in the artificial shenanigans on the sitcoms and voyeuristic intrusion into the private lives of strangers, and mindlessly parrots the televised opinions of pundits who cannot parse a sentence. Thinking is a lost skill.
        Am I being harsh? Not even! Civilization trundles off to hell in a hand-basket while John Tesh and Geraldo Rivera and Pamela Anderson Lee make millions. The ancient Roman curse of 'bread and circuses' has been replaced in modern America by 'fast food and cable', as this once-generative culture devolves into fear-driven lemmings hiding behind barred doors and windows and security alarms, mesmerized by the flickering images on the tube. Mesmerized and asleep at the wheel.
        You say that television is necessary? Not addictive? And certainly not in your case? Well, here we get to the proof of the matter: If TV is not addictive, then you will be able to cease your consumption. So here's the bet: Your addiction will prevent you from unplugging every TV set in your home for two weeks time. The addict cannot do this.
        Resist the temptation to act the automaton, stand alone as a sentient being, cut the cord and meet the people in your life face-to-face for a change. Watch the sunset, play cribbage or toss a ball with the kids, clean the garage or the attic, renew your marriage.
        The strong, the awake, the still-alive will stash the devices of unconsciousness in the garage or attic permanently and stand up for real life. No 12-step program is required, just unplug the idiot machines. Remember: Garbage in, garbage out.
        Reject the cultural addiction to the vast wasteland, the great time-waster. You have only one life to live, so live it! It might even be fun participating in your own life.

Published 1995
Lynx Eye magazine
Winter 1995

"Press Release"
by G.E. Nordell

        World-famous Mercenary Pictures of Hollywood, California, proudly announces the following bounty of feature motion pictures which are confirmed for start of principal photography within the next 12 months.

VIVA LAUGHLIN — The rough-and-ready gambling mecca on the Colorado River is musically invaded by El Vez.
THE TWO JERKS — Steve Martin and Ernest Worrell get mixed up in 1940's real estate. To be directed by Jack Nicholson.
TWELVE ANGRY STOOGES — Larry, Moe, and Curly are ordered to report for jury duty. Courthouse capers ensue.
BEST LITTLE WHOREHOUSE IN MANHATTAN — The successful Broadway musical is brought to the screen by auteur Woody Allen, with Mia Farrow starring as 'society madam' Sydney Biddle Barrows.
UNBEARABLE BRIGHTNESS OF THE LIGHTS OF THE BIG CITY — Lina Wertmuller's meditation on the drug problem in Italy. Giancarlo Giannini stars as a dying crime lord turning over his business to his seven beautiful daughters.
SPARTACUS II — In this near-modern remake, Michael Douglas stars as a GS-10 accountant who sparks a revolt among the wage-slaves of Imperial Washington, DC. Guest appearance by Ronald Reagan.
THE SOPHOMORE — This time Matthew Broderick rescues Francis the Mule (played by Meryl Streep).
POSTCARDS FROM THE LIVING DEAD — Shirley Maclaine takes a vacation in the Pocono Mountains with her adult daughter, where they are besieged by legions of undead: every ex-husband from all of Shirley's past lives.
STASH WARS — Cheech & Chong, piloting a jalopy spacecraft loaded with Earthian drugs, are pulled over and boarded by the crew of the spaceship Enterprise. When a fire breaks out in the cargo hold, even Spock smiles. High-jinks ensue.
AMITY HOUSE — The sex-kitten sweeties of Phi Omega Chi purchase a new sorority house, unaware that it is a money pit and is also haunted by strange spirits, including the toga-wearing ghost of John Belushi.
MY OWN PRIVATE ROCKET MAN — Peter Pan decides to grow up. He marries and gets a job as a stunt man in British films.
NEW KIDS IN SPACE — A spaceship of tone-deaf teenage aliens kidnap New Kids On The Block and force them to teach the aliens how to perform rap music. Rhythmic antics ensue.
PUMP UP THE OVERHEAD — The true story behind the Buchwald vs. Paramount court case, from the point of view of a star-struck mail clerk (played by Eddie Murphy).
PLANET OF THE NEW YORK DOLLS — Charlton Heston and Roddy McDowell star as retired astronauts who crash land and are captured by fierce heavy-metal feminists. Heston leads a revolt and fathers a child so that there can be a sequel.

busy writing away...

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