The Best and Worst of the Summer of 2019

The Cow Dog unveiled its newest version of the Marfa Dog this summer. As everyone knows, Cow Dog is where the West Texas elite meet Alpine’s version of a Parisian outdoor restaurant with more than a dozen gourmet hotdogs to offer. The Marfa Dog is described as a dense tube of hyperbole and guff with a rich shellac of pretense, platinum-aluminum alloy truffle sauce, and crunchy nuggets of nothingness on a gently flambéed artisanal Styrofoam pretzel bun. Uniquely socio-economically insensitive: Little: $72,000 / Big: $283,052.13.

What do Paris, France and Terlingua, our legendary suburb to the south, have in common? They both reached 108 degrees Fahrenheit this summer. Actually, Terlingua is much cooler than Paris because of its famous Prickly Pear Margarita. My readers have heard me refer to our little fragment of the high Chihuahuan Desert as our prickly pear part of paradise. For my readers who are not local, the prickly pear is a cactus, the fruit of Opuntia engelmannii, otherwise known as cow’s tongue cactus or Texas prickly pear. For centuries it served as the lifeblood of indigenous cultures across the region, its water-rich ovate pads, or nopales, a salvation for many a parched tongue. Like most cactus, it has sharp thorns, but you can avoid all the pain and misery by ordering a prickly pear margarita at the Starlight Theatre Restaurant & Saloon. The beautiful and vivacious Lisa Ivey, proprietor, oversees the preparation of their famous prickly pear concoction.

The Russians are coming! Actually, the Russians have been here for some time. Russia likely targeted election systems in all 50 states during the last presidential election, the Senate Intelligence Committee has revealed, indicating that the problem is far wider than previously known. The U. S. House passed two pieces of legislation to combat Russian interference, and all were blocked by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, who now is referred to as Moscow Mitch throughout Washington, D.C. It appears old Moscow Mitch realizes his party cannot win in 2020 without Russian help, gerrymandering, and voter suppression. It is too bad his party has given up on democracy.

Bad news for small farmers. A new Environmental Working Group study confirms that the aid program Donald Trump’s team scurried to put in place after Trump’s trade fiasco closed Chinese markets to our farmers, has largely been given to large corporate megafarms. Small farms are only getting the scraps. According to the study, more than half of the aid provided by President Tweet’s “Market Facilitation Program” has gone to the top 10% of recipients. Eighty-two farms have gotten $500,000 or more; the largest farm has received $2.8 million. The bottom 80% of aid recipients? They got less than $5,000, on average.

In the world of the digital, a new group has been born. “E-girls” and “e-boys” are like the goth scene kids of the 1980s. They’re counterculture. They have grunge-y fashion taste. They wear thick eye makeup. Most distinctively, they make TikTok videos.

Even more frightening news in the digital world concerns Apple’s Siri. A subcontractor to Apple recently leaked the fact that Siri pays attention not only when you say the prescribed “Hey Siri,” but will begin recording when Siri hears a zipper unzipping or zipping. This may prove a problem for politicians and philandering husbands. No mention was made of the sound of velcro.

The hypocrite of the summer award goes to the addlepated, semi-sentient President Tweet. After the mass shootings in El Paso, he stated, “Mental illness and hatred pulls the trigger, not the gun.” It is rumored that his staff convinced him to drop “ … The gun and the bullets were just innocent bystanders.” He publicly stated he was for universal background checks on gun sales, and further stated that mental illness should receive more public support. President Tweet later backed off these statements because he realized that more support for mental health might wipe out half his voter base, and that universal background checks would prevent the other half of his voters from buying more guns.

George A. Covington has worked in the fields of law, education, journalism and disability rights. He considers himself retired from every one of them with the possible exception of journalism. He is a graduate of the University of Texas schools of Journalism and Law. He moved to West Texas – Alpine – in 1997 after a 20-year career in Washington, D.C. where he once served on the staff of the Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives (Democrat) and shortly thereafter served as Special Assistant to the Vice President of the United States (Republican) 1989 to 1993.