During this year’s NCAA basketball tournament, known as March Madness, Mary Johnson noticed a curious item in her hometown Albuquerque Journal. Reporters at a news conference asked Baylor University guard Ishmail Wainwright what he knew about the team’s next opponent, the New Mexico State Aggies. Wainwright mentioned that he had some familiarity with the state, as he has relatives in Albuquerque. The only problem? “Albuquerque”somehow got mangled into “Abu Dhabi.” We suppose that while the player may very well have family in the capital of the United Arab Emirates, whether your kinfolk live near the Persian Gulf seems irrelevant when you’re playing a team from Las Cruces.
The Aggies made more international headlines during the tournament. A story from Canada’s CBC detailed NMSU’s history of recruiting players from north of the border—11 over the past decade. The piece included a confession from Aggie sophomore Matt Taylor, from Ontario. Discussing his recruitment, Taylor told a reporter: “I actually had no idea where New Mexico was. I thought it was in Mexico, to be honest.” NMSU lost in the first round of the tournament, which gave Taylor more free time to learn about his adopted state. His Canadian head coach, Paul Weir, sure is: After the season he jumped north from NMSU to UNM.
Truth or Consequences made a recent appearance in an episode of Doctor Who, the long-running BBC sci-fi series. But Albuquerque reader Douglas Mapel noticed an odd discrepancy while watching the time-traveling hero investigate an alien invasion in New Mexico. A nefarious alien, posing as a local sheriff, almost looked the part and even had a Zia symbol on her sleeve. On the front of her shirt, however, she wore what appeared to be the flag of Italy. “One would think that super-intelligent beings able to travel through time and space would know that New Mexico is part of the United States,” Mapel says.
LOST IN SPACE (AND TIME)
Reader John Karon was preparing for a recent trip to Baja California by boning up on the history of the region. In Loreto, Baja California: First Mission and Capital of Spanish California, he read that, in the 17th and 18th centuries, “Spain had explored and claimed the present Alta California, Nevada, Utah, Arizona, part of Colorado and Wyoming, all of Texas and Florida.” Karon wonders: “Were we already missing 300 years ago?”
WHAT’S UP, DOC?
It’s common knowledge that doctors spend years attaining life-saving educations. Unfortunately, that massive amount of training doesn’t cover basic geography. Lydia Muñoz Torres knows this well. Originally from Santa Clara, New Mexico, she now lives in California. At Stanford University Medical Center, a doctor asked Torres whether she spoke Spanish. When she told the doctor that she did, he asked where she was from. New Mexico, she said. The physician then asked where New Mexico is located in Mexico. Luckily, Torres was able to explain and even get an apology—but only after drawing a map for the doctor and pointing out the large space between Arizona and Texas.
A CREW’D LIKENESS
Preppy clothing retailer J.Crew has raised the hackles of many a New Mexican with one of its latest T-shirts, which depicts a, shall we say, unique map of the state. Inside a roughly accurate outline of our borders, things get a little mixed up. The Río Grande seems to run about 100 miles east of its last known location, and starts somewhere around Ratón. A Route 66 road sign hovers above the Gila National Forest, a hot-air balloon soars over Lordsburg, and Ship Rock has been transplanted to Roswell. We’re not too touchy about these geographic goofs, though. It is a T-shirt, after all, not a map. What really fries our frijoles is the fact that a massive saguaro cactus covers Santa Fe, despite the fact that the iconic plant grows only in Arizona and Mexico. To top it off, the gray cotton shirt costs a whopping $40, putting us in the “no sale” category.
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