Author Archives | Wally Gordon

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Wally Gordon

Wally Gordon, who was for 12 years owner and editor of The Independent in Edgewood, began his career with three summer jobs at The New York Times while he was a student at Brown University. He spent a decade with the Baltimore Sun, including stints as national investigative reporter and Washington Bureau manager. He has freelanced or been a staff writer and editor for dozens of newspapers and magazines all over the United States.

Extensive travels have taken him to all 50 states and more than 60 foreign countries. He wrote a novel in Spain, edited a newspaper in American Samoa, served in the U.S. Army in Iran and taught for two years at a university in West Africa.

He is the author of A Reporter's World: Passions, Places and People. The new nonfiction book is a collection of essays, columns, and magazine and newspaper stories published during his journalistic career spanning more than half a century. Many of the pieces were first published in The Independent or in other New Mexico newspapers and magazines. The book includes profiles of the famous, the infamous and the anonymous, travel and adventure yarns, and essays on the major issues and emotions of our times.

A native of Atlanta, he has lived in New Mexico since 1978 and in the East Mountains since 1990. He has been married for 28 years to Thelma Bowles, a native New Mexican who is a photographer and French teacher. They have one son, Sergei.


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Wildfire: Private Rights vs. Public Safety

09. May 2015

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By Wally Gordon

With two wildfires in the past couple of weeks, the East Mountain Area has already entered the heart of the long fire season. It will not end until the onset of the summer monsoon rains, usually in early July.

The early fires, at the Doc Long Picnic Area on the lower mountain and near Placitas on the west side, were both in the Sandias, both small and both quickly brought under control.  But even such minor events were enough to frighten residents and firefighters alike. The U.S. Forest Service says the Sandias have not had a major wildfire in a century and has a buildup of vegetation that could ignite at any time...

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Where the Top Soil is Thin

01. May 2015

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By Wally Gordon

The top soil on my land in the Manzanita Mountains is thin. It is so thin that when I dig up the roots of a dead tree, they are more rock than fiber.  The tentacles that feed growth are desperately wrapped around stones in their striving to find nourishment. The top soil is so shallow that when the high winds of spring whistle through the forest, roots pull from the ground and big trees, some of them a century or two old, topple to the earth.

When I moved to the East Mountains many a moon ago, it took me a few months to understand how thin the top soil was. But it’s taken all these years for me to discover how thin my own top soil is...

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When Women are Overwhelmed

20. April 2015

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By Wally Gordon

Two new Albuquerque theater productions, Mother Road's The Penelopiad and Fusion's The New Electric Ballroom, share a common theme: women who are overwhelmed because they are unable to cope with the demands that society and they themselves impose on their lives. What is more, the demands, and the failures, are due to the fact that they are women.

Aside from this theme, the two productions are about as different as is imaginable, once again reflecting the startling diversity of our small regional theater companies...

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Nicaragua, Part 4: Safe places are the most dangerous

04. April 2015

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By Wally Gordon

A quarter century ago, my wife and I were winding up our travel through a clutch of West African countries with a visit to Cameroon, my favorite of the dozen African countries I’ve seen. At that time (much has changed since, but alas, the president remains the same) it was lush and green, relatively prosperous and sophisticated, at peace with the world and itself. Feeling good about our successful journey in a difficult part of the world, my wife and I relaxed, wanting only to melt into the local scene and recover our energy for the trip back to our base in Niger...

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Nicaragua, Part 3:  Blessed and cursed by geography

28. March 2015

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By Wally Gordon

During our trip to Nicaragua, we spent a night on Las Brasiles, a narrow 5-mile-long barrier island off the northern Pacific coast. The island is entirely owned by its only inhabitant, an eco-hostel called Surfing Turtle whose mission is to help endangered turtles survive.

Employees aided by volunteers and guests rescue, feed and protect baby turtles and then set them free en masse on the beach for their march to the ocean. It is a trip for people and turtles alike. We had to help steer the tiny babies toward the ocean when they periodically lost their direction and wandered in circles...

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Exploring Nicaragua, Part Two: Emerging from a brutal past

20. March 2015

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By Wally Gordon

On a volcanic island in vast Lake Nicaragua, a team of oxen slowly trudges along a dirt road pulling a cart laden with large logs. Driving the cart is a young man with only part of his mind on his task. The rest of his attention is devoted to his conversation on a cell phone.

Hundreds of kilometers and a week later, a heavily set, elderly woman makes her way slowly and painfully through the cloud forest and up a dirt track in Parque Arenal high in the mountains in northern Nicaragua. She, too, is talking on a cell phone.

In the second largest hotel in the small city of Somoto, gateway to what is sometimes called the Grand Canyon of Central America, I am awakened before dawn by a rhythmic pounding...

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Exploring Nicaragua, Part 1: A convoluted history

08. March 2015

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By Wally Gordon

Few countries have been linked to the United Sates as long, as intimately and as painfully as Nicaragua. The relationship has always been complex, defying any generalities, and the odds are it is soon going to get a lot more complex.

As my wife and I are getting ready to depart for our first trip to Nicaragua, about which I will be writing on our return next month, I want to set the scene by discussing the peculiar, even unique, way the relationship between the countries has played out over the past century and a half...

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Home Part 2: Where the body is

28. February 2015

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By Wally Gordon

This is the second of two columns on the idea of home.

Home, it is said, is where the heart is, but it is also where the body is. During my childhood, my body was at an address I still remember—1624 Peachtree Street in Atlanta, Ga.—while just about all of my subsequent addresses have totally disappeared from my memory.

That early home was on the northern fringes of a small, relatively isolated town that was not yet a metropolitan area and mostly lacked suburbs. The house had been constructed and expanded in bits and pieces, like many an old house built when times were hard during the Great Depression...

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Home, Part One: Ties that bind

21. February 2015

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By Wally Gordon

Later this month, I will be traveling far from home. My wife and I will be exploring Nicaragua, a country we have been trying to visit for 25 years but year after year kept putting it on the deferred list. Now, however, we are pulled by opportunity and pushed by two realizations: now in our 60s and 70s, we are unlikely to get any younger; and Nicaragua itself is moving toward a point of crisis with totally unpredictable results.

But while I am preparing to be far from home, I find myself thinking almost obsessively of home—what it means to have and not have it, to find and lose it, to leave and return, or not...

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Publicity from Hell

13. February 2015

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By Wally Gordon

This year the state Department of Tourism is spending $8.6 million on ads, but some publicity is so valuable it can’t be bought at any price. Such is the case with the New Yorker’s just over 1 million subscribers and Rolling Stone’s nearly 1.5 million. However, without the Martinez administration spending a single cent, New Mexico just scored major feature articles (totaling some 15,000 words) in both magazines in the same week...

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