September 6, 2023 917 PM
Marfa Lights Festival 2023 has now come and gone. As I have done on occasion during my 45 years in Marfa, I decided to go out and photograph some of the people and vendors. This year I found, as expected, the native Marfa locals would smile, greet me and pose for a photograph at their booths. I found that did not apply to everyone. One food vendor I was going to photograph told me, with a frown on his face, “No pictures.” Even though I had the legal right to photograph the vendor being in a public place, I honored his request, walking away fearing the larger man might try to smash my irreplaceable 43-year-old camera. Walking around the area, I would smile and greet strangers and the response would be the same –– silence. I can walk into the post office or other location and greet so-called “locals” and receive the same silent treatment. In years past, everyone would greet their neighbor. Sadly, that good ole, small-town friendly atmosphere is fading away. It seems compassion and kindness are becoming lost on humanity. We read about angry mobs storming the Capitol, disruptions on airlines, teachers attacked in the classroom, the list goes on. I always felt in Marfa one could still feel that compassion and kindness, and for the most part, you can. In these troubled times, a simple smile and a friendly greeting to one’s neighbor can go a long way in making a person’s day. So, for all you “locals,” I will continue to smile and greet you, and you can frown if you want. After all, it is a free country and the choice for kindness and compassion, or not, is yours.
P.S. If that food vendor is reading this letter, I had already taken your photograph the previous day. So “smile,” and have a good day!