October 24 Letters to the Editor

Dear Editor,

The Marfa Open Art Festival concluded our 4th year on Saturday, October 19, and we have Marfa to thank for being the light-filled canvas (among other materials) we need to express ourselves. Heart-felt support from the professional community and the public is what inspires us to continue and reach higher to achieve our objectives of artful beauty, experimentation, fun and inclusion.

Jared Menane did a fantastic job curating most of the 2019 three weeks of experimental art adventure in Marfa. Jason McHenry made his great team of artists, designers, carpenters and friends available for our every need to help us get all the installs/deinstalls finished on time. JD Garcia organized a show of Marfans at Marfa Open House, complete with engaging artworks, music, and Convenience West and Salsa Puedes food. Special thanks to Tyler Spurgin for helping us add beauty to a powerful art show in Building 98 by including his planter sculptures along with post-apocalyptic sculptures by Mery Godigna Collet (still on view).

Generosity comes in many useful forms, and when consistency is part of the process, we feel particularly blessed. Jake McHargue and his team (Rob and Mo) are thankfully, and hopefully always by our side: a fine collaboration in an exquisite, endemic location. May the gods protect Jakes’s OLDRUINS for our future artful adventures. Sara Goodleaf was also very generous, letting us use her NEWRUINS for the project (from Geometric Primitive) that received our Marfa Open 2019 Artist of the Year recognition and prize.

The Sentinel provided us with good, meaningful photo documentation, published our event information, and calendar inclusion. Their inclusion was particularly meaningful to us, as was their beautiful workspace which allowed us to publicly create and organize in a co-working space that is open and inspiring.

Supporters like Topo Chico and Los Magos always make a big difference and play a big role in the enjoyment of our events. But, it’s the artists that make and bring the work whom we are most grateful for: Sarah Turner, Denise Prince, Charles Deluga and Anneka Goss of Geometric Primitive, JD Garcia, Maggie McCutcheon, Tyler Spurgin, Natalie Melendez, Adrian Bernal, Kamikaze Rabbit, Daisy Stackpole, Tina Rivera, Wes Thompson, Linn Phyllis Seeger, Castle Sharon, Oil Company, Helio Leon, Maya Meissner, Tina Stanley, Paul Oglesby, Mery Godigna Collet, and Emily Esperanza.

Marfa Open art events were very special for us in 2019. We found a new home for art installations in Venice, Italy and plan to expand our events there for 3 weeks in June 2020. We will continue to provide an opportunity for Marfa artists and international artists to collaborate in Marfa and at other wonderful, worthy locations in the world.

Thank you, Marfa, for your support of experimental, alternative art works.


Seph Itz

Director of Marfa Open Art Festival

Marfa, TX


Dear Editor,

I read with interest the letter from Amit Rangra (BBS 10/17/19). I think he is very much on point in his critique.

Like most government entities, TXDOT seems mainly interested in doing its thing. Hearings are mandatory, but listening is not. They don’t seem interested, except in having more highway miles, more equipment, a bigger budget and more employees under their control. The environment and quality of life are secondary.

Wouldn’t rail freight be a cheaper, less disruptive, and environmentally friendly alternative? The State of Texas-owned South Orient rail line to Presidio was used to transport the heavy pipe used to lay the natural gas pipeline through our area. I don’t recall hearing about any accidents or damage due to the trains. I believe the roadbed is not sufficient for heavy freight traffic at this time, but a $7 million federal grant to rehabilitate 72 miles of the South Orient rail line from the new rail bridge at Ojinaga- Presidio northward was announced by congressman Hurd in 2018. The per mile cost of rail line construction is ¼ the cost of a highway lane, less if highway right of way must be purchased. The organization that runs the trains on that line, Texas Pacifico, has grown its haulage from an average of 2000 freight cars per year in 2009 to 43,000 in 2017. The bulk is frac sand, which means that the line from Ft. Stockton to Coleman (200 miles+-) is heavy freight-ready.

Online information reveals that: the average freight train of 100 cars carries the tonnage of at least 400 trucks. A modern train is efficient, moving 1 ton of freight 11.5 times as far as a truck on the same amount of fuel. (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Energy_efficiency_in_transport#cite_note-109) So in effect, rail releases 8.7% of the greenhouse gas per ton of freight as does a truck. A 100-car train is 6000 ft. long. Moving trucks hauling the same load would be at least 40,000 ft. (7.6 miles) long. At an intersection where a truck stops for 30 seconds, it would take 3 h 20 min to pass 400 trucks. At 20 mph a 6000 ft. train passes a crossing in 3.4 minutes

The South Orient line traffic joins the Union Pacific rail line near Paisano Pass and leaves it in West Alpine. There are only two crossings in Alpine city limits. The first is on Highway 67/90 and then on Del Rio St. The line also crosses Highway 118 N near the Alpine Municipal airport. I don’t believe there are height restrictions that would prevent stacked containers or prefab houses.

Trucks do provide more flexibility in routing smaller loads to rural and smaller cities and towns. Widespread use of custom-packed containers has made it convenient to ship by rail to central locations and then use trucks for “local” distribution. This system greatly reduces environmental impact and heavy truck traffic.

Information on railroad procedures, history and capacities can be found at: http://www.quorumcorp.net/Downloads/Papers/RailwayCapacityOverview.pdf

Mitch Smith

Alpine, TX


Dear Editor,

America’s Kurdish Genocide

13,000+ lies and corruption define Trump’s presidency. “The guardrails are off, he’s becoming ever more incorrigible.”
Unilaterally withdrawing American forces in Northern Syria commenced Turkey’s slaughter of Kurdish allies. 6 years, lives lost, billions spent and U.S. reliability squandered to fly ISIS’s flag again. Trump stonewalls House subpoenas and crazy-rants at Democrat leadership. Appointees contradict themselves and each other. He writes a pathetic letter to Turkey’s president. That’s just his last two weeks!
Two-thirds of House Republicans found a spine after 1,000 days, supporting a Democrat resolution condemning Trump’s unilateral action. Characteristically, Moscow Mitch refused a Senate vote on it.
Trump’s candidacy began by castigating Mexicans, Islam and immigrants. Reprehensible words and revelations of financial and sexual misdeeds followed. “Zero Tolerance” cruelty and permitting Turkey’s blood-lust is Trumpism’s legacy!
Some Evangelicals are angry. 700 Club’s Pat Robertson’s unequivocal language rebuked Trump.
Where was the religious right’s “family-values” from the onset of political Trump? Aren’t leaders’ morals and character supposed to count for something? Shamefully, that was shelved for “pro-life” judicial appointments.
Kurds have families and values too! Now, their blood’s been shed!
Come Judgment Day, justify to our Maker complicity in America’s Kurdish genocide while claiming a “pro-life” theology. Iniquity and want of integrity is that sort of guiding light, not deeply held theological convictions! The contradiction is self-evident.

Sincerely yours,
Rev. Barry Abraham Zavah
Alpine, TX