“my self-imposed exile”
By Coz. T Shroom
I live in a cabin in the woods, on a mountain, at around 7,000 feet above sea level. It is no small stretch to say that my self-imposed exile from Austin, Texas, has changed me a lot. Not that I’ve ever strayed far from it, but being here has certainly got me back to nature.
I live about three miles from the Mescalero Apache Reservation, near Lincoln National Forest. The Mountain I live on is called Moon Mountain with a peak of 7,182 feet. Even before I left Austin I spent a lot of time outdoors barefoot. Today I hike in the wilderness barefoot, foraging for herbs, edible plants and mushrooms.
I have given up television in favor of conversation and entertainment via computer, I have not had a live band for several years, instead filling my need to perform at the local karaoke bar.
I’ve become accustomed to fabricating, finding, or inventing my own resources over the consumer opportunities available in city life. My head no longer suffers the clutter of meaningless chatter and contrived fears. In a word, I’ve become a mountaineer.
A few years ago I met a man from New York who moved out here to recover from PTSD triggered by the events of 9/11. He had an impressive history as a musician and I found him pretty fascinating. It was through him, about a year ago, that I learned of Otero Mesa and its plight.
Otero Mesa is a small plateau or a large mesa south of Alamogordo, not far from the Texas border. It was once part of the traditional lands of the Mescalero people, and they consider it a sacred place. It is a pristine grassland which is home to a number of unique plants and animals, and it is peppered with countless petroglyphs and Apache artifacts. Underneath the Mesa is the state’s largest untapped aquifer, a source of 18 million gallons of potable water.
Over the years this land has been under assault by oil and natural gas drilling, although those interests have since dropped their efforts, and now, more seriously, rare earth mining. Call it open pit mining, strip mining, or what you will. It spells disaster for the wildlife, desecration to the subjugated natives, and the contamination of a source of water within a state that is struggling with water issues.
Of the more profitable uses for rare earths, is the manufacture of cell phones, whose novel gimmicks feed into the rampant consumerism of today’s shallow, materialistic culture and promise big returns for anyone cynical enough to exploit people’s ignorance of the issue, offer bribes to politicians, and paint the defenders of Otero Mesa as Hollywood dilettantes.
Well people who hike barefoot, eat local foliage, and spend hard mountain winters chopping wood and trying to make ends meet are far from dilettantes, so I offered to help in any way I can.
Thus I began a year of helping assemble newspaper articles, doing animation for a documentary that was never made, assembling and mailing booklets, and whatever legwork I could do for the man who spearheaded this thing.
Our ultimate goal is to get this place declared a national monument so that it could be protected from ever being despoiled, and to help revive the economy through eco-tourism, which already enriches the state coffers thanks to White Sands National Monument and other great wilderness areas.
It has been frustrating seeing so little response to our efforts, and when I proposed a musical collaboration with the gentleman from New York, I came to realize that I was putting too much stock in one person’s vision.
After a personal falling out with this man, I decided to take on the musical project myself. I got a local entertainer, Pete Davis, to donate studio time and his drum skills, I got my next door neighbor, who happens to be a fairly well known metal guitarist in Australia to add a few licks, and went on to produce my own furious, no holds barred, snarling, angry video to raise awareness on this issue.
We also put up an online petition at change.org and we hope that lots of people will watch the video and sign the petition.
The video is called “the Land of Disenchantment” which refers to New Mexico’s state nickname “the Land of Enchantment.”
The link to sign our petition can be found in the description of the video.