Archive

April 2020

Browsing

This article about “Sí El Paso” first appeared in The City Magazine El Paso.  The article is written by Austin North.

“El Paso is a feeling,” said photographer Mark Paulda.  His new photo book “Sí El Paso”, the third in a series showcasing El Paso, exemplifies that feeling – it features a plethora of gorgeous photos of the city and its surrounding landscape, supplemented with excerpts of many individual El Pasoans’ experiences of the culture.  Mark initially released his book titled “Celebrating El Paso” ten years ago – it was a huge success, quickly becoming a best seller and selling out with three months.  Mark said, “with the first book, “Celebrating El Paso,” I was actually still learning – quite honestly I had no business doing a book at that time.  Lo and behold, it became the fastest selling book for my publisher, TCU Press.”

Mark is humble about his beginnings, stressing that he was still learning throughout these past ten years.  He went to exceptional lengths to study photography – Mark said of the inception of the first book, “I had just returned from London where I had learned from some of the best photographers in Europe.  I had to come back to El Paso, but I was still learning and finding my way.”  He reached out to acclaimed European photographers and studied under three of them – “one is a very accomplished Israeli photographer, one was a photographer for Vogue magazine and one has shot some of the most iconic, classic album covers …It was through them that I recognized that I could turn this into a viable business,” he said.

He has used this training to further his skills and career in photography, and his newest book, “Sí El Paso” is a prime example.  Featuring stunning photographs of our city, Mark said of the book, “The way that I view the city though a camera, and then recognize the really important parts that make up our city – I think you that in the new book.  Not only have I matured as a photographer, but the city has matured as well.”  He’s right emphasizing the revitalization of downtown especially.  He believed ten years ago that El Paso deserved a photography book, after not having found one throughout his travels.  The landscape and architecture photography especially are such a unique talking point within the city and Mark felt that El Pasoans would be proud to be able to show off their hometown through these books.

“Photos are nice, but I think the stories  make the new book,” Mark said of “Sí El Paso”.  Within the pages, you’ll find countless passages and stories from El Pasoans – both native and those who have moved here – describing their experience of the city.  It’s a well-known concept that El Paso, despite being a large city, has a small-town mentality and feel.  This can be observed throughout the book – look through it and you’re sure to find names you recognize in the stories.  “What I wanted to do with the stories is give people a good sense of what El Paso really is and who we are.”  The people who contributed the stories give their personal accounts of their experiences growing up in or moving to El Paso and the stories they share are genuinely insightful and often moving.  Mark explained that the bilingual culture is something that he focuses on and appreciates, and as such, many of the stories in the book are in Spanish as well.  He said, “It being bilingual is important because the city is that way.  Some of the writing is even in Spanglish, like we hear regularly here.”

In terms of success, Mark has found plenty both in and out of El Paso.  His previous two books were sent to household names who, “bought a whole bunch of books to send to their friends outside El Paso.  They wanted people to know who and what we were.”  Another demographic that he has found success  in is people who had moved away but still want a piece of El Paso.  “They want to be able to look at something and say that we’re just as worthy of a book as anywhere else.”  Ultimately, Mark wants to answer the question of “Why El Paso?”  Whether it’s out of town football teams at the Sun Bowl or uninformed politicians and celebrities, people always ask why.  “This is sort of an answer to that question.  To show that we really are a special place.”

World Book Day is tomorrow as it is every 23 April.  Commit yourself to reach back to the classics, then begin reading.  Some book titles included in this list are expected, though there are a handful of surprises.  And, if you’re thinking what to read during a general free time on the sofa, or by a pool or an ocean, I’ve got you covered.  

A well-read gentleman is also a good conversationalist.  It’s the perfect excuse to get lost in a good book.  

Self-Control: Its Kingship and Majesty by William George Jordan

The turn of the 20th century was the golden age of personal development books. In contrast to the self-help books of today, which are filled with flattering, empty, cliche platitudes, they’re direct, masterfully written, and full of profound and challenging insights that centre on the development of good character. Even in this golden age, one author stands supreme: William George Jordan. His Self-Control is full of beautifully written wisdom on self-reliance, calmness, gratitude, and more.

Self Control It's Kinship and Majesty William Gordge Jordan

 
How to Be A Gentleman: A Timely Guide to Timeless Manners by John Bridges

Being a gentleman isn’t just being a nice guy, or a considerate guy or the type of guy someone might take home to meet their mother.  A gentleman realizes that he has the unique opportunity to distinguish himself from the rest of the crowd. He knows when an email is appropriate, and when nothing less than a handwritten note will do. He knows how to dress on the golf course, in church, and at a party. He knows how to breeze through an airport without the slightest fumble of his carry-on or boarding pass.  And those conversational icebreakers―“Where do I know you from?” A gentleman knows better.  Gentlemanliness is all in the details, and John Bridges is reclaiming the idea that men―gentlemen―can be extraordinary in every facet of their lives.

How To Be A Gentleman A Timely Guide to Timeless Manners John Bridges

 

A Confederacy of Dunces by John Kennedy Toole

A Confederacy of Dunces is one of my favourite books of all time.  This New Orleans-based novel won author John Kennedy Toole the Pulitzer Prize. Its perfect comedy of errors is centred around the character of Ignatius J. Reilly, a lazy and socially ignorant, but very intelligent man, who still lives with his mother at the age of 30. A Confederacy of Dunces serves as a guide for what a man ought not to be while providing sound entertainment all the while.

A Confederacy of Dunces John Kennedy Toole

 

Lord of the Barnyard: Killing the Fatted Calf and Arming the Aware in the Cornbelt by Tristan Egolf

A literary sensation published to outstanding accolades in America and around the world, Lord of the Barnyard was one of the most auspicious fiction debuts of recent years. Now available in paperback, Tristan Egolf’s manic, inventive, and painfully funny debut novel is the story of a town’s dirty laundry — and a garbagemen’s strike that lets it all hang out. Lord of the Barnyard begins with the death of a woolly mammoth in the last Ice Age and concludes with a greased-pig chase at a funeral in the modern-day Midwest. In the interim there are two hydroelectric dam disasters, fourteen tavern brawls, one shoot-out in the hills, three cases of probable arson, a riot in the town hall, and a lone tornado, as well as appearances by a coven of Methodist crones, an encampment of Appalachian crop thieves, six renegade coal-truck operators, an outraged mob of factory rats, a dysfunctional poultry plant, and one autodidact goat-roping farm boy by the name of John Kaltenbrunner. Lord of the Barnyard is a brilliantly comic tapestry of a Middle America still populated by river rats and assembly-line poultry killers, measuring into shot glasses the fruits of years of quiet desperation on the factory floor. Unforgettable and linguistically dizzying, it goes much farther than postal.

Lord of the Barnyard Tristan Egolf

 
Treasure Island by Robert Louis Stevenson

I saw the theatre production of Treasure Island at the National Theatre not once, not twice, but three times.  Then, I read the book again with much delight.  Pretty much everything we think of when we think of pirates comes not from the pages of history but from this book: treasure maps with “X” marking the spot, deserted islands, peg legs, parrots, and more. Published as a children’s tale (and a rather adult one at that), American novelist Henry James praised it as “perfect as a well-played boy’s game.”

Treasure Island Robert Louis Stevenson

 
The Federalist Papers by Alexander Hamilton

Read Hamilton’s Federalist Papers, then read the Constitution.  Composed of 85 articles, The Federalist Papers served to explain and encourage the ratification of the U.S. Constitution. The majority of the essays were penned by Alexander Hamilton and originally published in The Independent Journal and The New York Packet. While the Constitution lays out the laws of the land, these essays provide the 18th-century version of the ballot/blue books we get the mail around election time, explaining the laws that are being proposed. It is essential reading for any civically minded American.  Forget the theatre production.

The Federalist Papers Alexander Hamilton

 
Your Car’s Owner’s Manual

Yep, that dusty book in your glove compartment. Come on, bring it out and get to know your car better. So, it’s not exactly “literature” but it’ll teach you something that will come in handy.  Guaranteed.  By the way, I was shocked to learn the battery in my Mercedes is located under the driver’s seat.

The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith

The fundamental work on free-market policies: “It is not from the benevolence of the butcher, the brewer or the baker, that we expect our dinner, but from their regard to their own self-interest. We address ourselves, not to their humanity but to their self-love, and never talk to them of our own necessities but of their advantages.” Want an education in economics?  This book is a great start.

The Wealth of Nations Adam Smith

 
How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie

The granddad of books about people skills, the advice found in How to Win Friends and Influence People is still sound and applicable 80 years later. Carnegie writes about skills like making people feel valued and appreciated, ensuring you don’t come across as manipulative (which happens unintentionally more than we think!), and essentially, “winning” people to your viewpoints and ideas. While it can sound a little disingenuous in its description, these are true skills that people use every day, and this book is a great resource for boning up your social game.

How To Win Friends and Influence People Dale Carnegie

 
The Republic by Plato

The Republic is a Socratic dialogue, written by Plato around 380 BC, concerning the definition of justice and how a just city-state should be ordered and characterized. It is the great philosopher’s best-known work and has proven to be one of history’s most influential works of philosophy and political theory. In it, Socrates and other various interlocutors discuss the meaning of justice and examine whether or not the just man is happier than the unjust man, as well as the theory of Forms, the immortality of the soul, and the role of the philosopher in society.

The Republic Plato

 
For Whom the Bell Tolls by Ernest Hemingway

Robert Jordan is a young dynamiter in the Spanish Civil War. He’s an American who’s volunteered to fight against Franco’s fascists and is sent behind enemy lines to take out an important bridge to impede enemy forces from advancing. He lives in a rudimentary camp with anti-fascist Spanish guerillas and comes to embrace their hearty way of life and love. And of course, there are some incredible battle scenes, which were informed by Hemingway’s own time as a correspondent in the Spanish Civil War.

For Whom the Bell Tolls Ernest Hemingway

 
On the Road by Jack Kerouac

A defining novel of the Beat generation, On the Road, is fictional, but a semi-autobiographical account of two friends’ road trips across America, against the backdrop of a counter-culture of jazz, poetry, drug use, and the drunken revelry of back-alley bars. Along with their travels, they’re searching for what many young men are: freedom, ambition, hope, and authenticity.  

On the Road Jack Kerouac

 
Travels With Charley In Search of America by John Steinbeck

To hear the speech of the real America, to smell the grass and the trees, to see the colours and the light—these were John Steinbeck’s goals as he set out, at the age of fifty-eight, to rediscover the country he had been writing about for so many years.  With Charley, his French poodle, Steinbeck drives the interstates and the country roads, dines with truckers, encounters bears at Yellowstone and old friends in San Francisco. Along the way, he reflects on the American character, racial hostility, the particular form of American loneliness he finds almost everywhere, and the unexpected kindness of strangers. 

Travels With Charley In Search of America John Steinbeck

 
A Moveable Feast by Ernest Hemingway

Ernest Hemingway’s classic memoir of Paris in the 1920s.  A Moveable Feast brilliantly evokes the exuberant mood of Paris after World War I and the unbridled creativity and unquenchable enthusiasm that Hemingway himself epitomized.

A Moveable Feast Ernest Hemingway

 
Swiss Family Robinson by Johann David Wyss

After a terrible storm, the Swiss family Robinson becomes shipwrecked on a deserted island. With teamwork, ingenuity, and a bit of luck, the group strives to overcome nature’s obstacles and create some semblance of community and civility within their new environs. A truly classic survival and adventure tale.

The Swiss Family Robinson Johann David Wyss

 
Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand

While there’s plenty of political, moral, and economic philosophy in this book, it’s coated in an action thriller of a story. Set in the near future, our protagonists are Dagny Taggart, heir to a transcontinental railroad empire, and Hank Rearden, the head of a steel company who’s invented a revolutionary new alloy. Together, they battle against evil government bureaucrats and socialists to hold civilization together, while all the while powerful industrialists are mysteriously disappearing, leaving behind only the cryptic phrase “Who is John Galt?” Though this book is associated with passionate libertarianism, the story is an interesting one to ponder no matter one’s political persuasions.

Atlas Shrugged Ayn Rand

 
The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexander Dumas

The ultimate tale of betrayal and revenge. Edmund Dantes, days before marrying his beloved Mercedes, is brutally betrayed, arrested for treason, and consequently taken to a prison on an island off the French coast. The story goes on to tell of his escape from prison (don’t worry, it’s early in the novel and doesn’t ruin anything) and his becoming wealthy and re-entering society as an educated and sophisticated Count. He plots his revenge, eyes reclaiming his love, and ultimately…well, you’ll just have to read it.

The Count of Monte Cristo Alexandre Dumas

 
Self-Reliance & Other Essays by Ralph Waldo Emerson

Self-Reliance” contains the most prominent of Ralph Waldo Emerson’s philosophies: the need for each individual to avoid conformity and personal inconsistencies, and to follow their own instincts and ideas. You’re to rely on your own self versus going with the ebbs and flows of culture at large. Other essays in the collection focus on friendship, history, experience, and more.  Is it just me, or is this Self Reliance a necessity in today’s world?  I’m anything except a conformist.Self Reliance Ralph Waldo Emerson

 
The Master and Margarita by Mikhail Bulgakov

There is nothing more manly than a bout with the Devil. Mikhail Bulgakov wrote this entertaining commentary on the social bureaucracy in Moscow during the height of Stalin’s reign. Lucifer himself pays the atheistic city a visit to make light of the people’s scepticism regarding the spiritual realm. The novel also visits ancient Jerusalem under Pontius Pilate’s rule. Even for the non-religious, this book will provide plenty of food for thought.

The Master and Margarita Mikhail Bulgakov

 
Cyrano de Bergerac by Edmond Rostand

This 1897 play follows French cadet Cyrano de Bergerac. He’s a poet, musician, and expert swordsman — a true Renaissance Man. Unfortunately, Cyrano has a tragically large nose, which hinders his confidence to the point that he’s unable to profess his feelings to Roxane and feels he isn’t worthy of anyone’s love. What is a man to do in such a situation? Read and find out.

Cyrano De Bergerac Edmond Rostand 
Don Quixote by Miguel de Cervantes

It’s all well and good to be a dreamer, but a man must also be grounded in reality. It’s a lesson that Don Quixote comes to learn in the 17th-century eponymous book, which is widely considered to be the world’s first novel. Quixote, along with his squire Sancho Panza, travels the world in search of grand adventures and heroic deeds which would earn him the title of Knight. He continues against all odds, and in some cases, against all common sense. It’s funny, surprisingly easy to read given the fact that it’s over 400 years old, and can provide a man many lessons on the aspirations of heroism.

Don Quixote Cervantes

 
Frankenstein by Mary Shelley

This short, but ever-popular tale is a young woman’s take on humanity and horror. Mary Shelley was just 21 when Frankenstein was first published in 1818, and the book is widely regarded as the first popular science fiction/horror novel. While you surely know the monster and the story of mad scientist Victor Frankenstein bringing him to life, it’s a much darker and more philosophical book than what pop culture has made it out to be. You learn about science, ego, pride, and ultimately, what it means to be human.Frankenstein Mary Shelley

 
A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens

Dickens should be a part of every man’s reading life, and A Tale of Two Cities is a good starter. It’s set in London and Paris during the French Revolution and depicts the plight of the French peasantry, their turn to violence towards the aristocrats who marginalized them, and the parallels to London society during the same period.A Tale of Two Cities Charles Dickens

 
The Great Railway Bazaar by Paul Theroux

In this travelogue, Paul Theroux recounts his 4-month journey through Europe, the Middle East, India, and Southeast Asia on the continent’s fabled trains: the Orient Express, the Golden Arrow to Kuala Lumpur, the Mandalay Express and the Trans-Siberian Express. His well-documented and entertaining adventures have come to be considered a classic in the travel literature genre. This journal satisfies the vicarious traveller and inspires the adventurous man.The Great Railway Bazaar Paul Theroux

 
The Iliad & The Odyssey by Homer

These epic poems are some of the world’s oldest pieces of literature. They’ve been read, enjoyed, and studied for thousands of years, and for good reason. They are not only beautiful to the ear, but contain lessons that every man can learn about heroism, courage, and manliness. The Iliad takes place during a few weeks of the final year of the Trojan War and details the heroic deeds of both Achilles and Hector, as well as a variety of other legends and stories. The Odyssey, a sequel of sorts, is about the great warrior Odysseus’ voyage home after the Trojan War. He faces various obstacles in his return to Greece, and we also see how his family back home dealt with his assumed death.The Iliad and The Odyssey Homer

 
The Sun Also Rises by Ernest Hemingway

The novel that catapulted Hemingway to worldwide fame and success. The Sun Also Rises follows Jake Barnes and a group of ex-patriot friends through Spain and France, with plenty of wine-drinking and bull-fighting. The novel is a bit semi-autobiographical in that the main character is trying to deal with his war wounds — both physical and emotional — and escape to the supposed romanticism of travelling and eating and drinking to your heart’s content. Does Jake find happiness? You’ll have to read to find out.The Sun Also Rises Ernest Hemingway

 
The Brothers Karamazov by Fyodor Dostoevsky

While the book’s plot centres on an ageing, disinterested father and his three adult children, the substance found within goes much beyond that. Dostoevsky’s final and greatest novel, this book also involves spiritual and moral dramas and debates regarding God, free will, ethics, morality, judgment, doubt, reason, and more. It’s a philosophical work clothed as a novel — which of course makes Dostoevsky’s weighty ideas easier to digest. The McDuff translation gets rave reviews.The Brothers Karamazov Fyodor Dostoyevsky

 
The Prince by Niccolo Machiavelli

Written in the early 1500s, this is the classic guide on how to acquire and maintain political power (even if those methods are sometimes unsavoury) — a so-called “primer for princes.” Its precepts are direct, if not disturbingly cold in their formulaic pragmatism. It asks the classic question: “Do the ends justify the means?” A worthy read for any man wishing to better understand the motivations and actions that tend to rule modern politics.The Prince Niccolo Machiavelli

 
The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald

Set among New York City elites in the roaring ‘20s, this book is considered one of America’s great literary products for a reason. Narrator Nick Carraway is befriended by his mysterious millionaire neighbour, Jay Gatsby, and proves to be a crucial link in Jay’s quixotic obsession with Nick’s cousin, Daisy. The metaphors, the beautiful writing, and the lessons one can garner about reliving the past all make The Great Gatsby worth reading, again and again. Our interview with NPR’s Maureen Corrigan is worth a listen. She is the author of So We Read On: How To Great Gatsby Came To Be and Why It Endures. We discussed her research into why a novel was written about Jazz Age New York that resonates with Americans nearly a century later.The Great Gatsby F Scott Fitzgerald

 
1984 – George Orwell

Read 1984, then go delete your Facebook account.  Perhaps the most essential to re-read today, 1984 sets stage in an oppressive futuristic society monitored by the ever-watching Big Brother. Protagonist Winston Smith goes to work every day at the Ministry of Truth, where he rewrites and distorts history. However, Smith decided to begin a diary — an action punishable by death. Amid modern-day data mining, the fall of Net Neutrality, and lunatic leaders, we cannot forget the toll of tyranny and totalitarianism.1984 George Orwell

 
Of Mice and Men – John Steinbeck

Another assigned high school read you probably didn’t appreciate when you were sixteen, it’s time to revisit the ambling of George Milton and Lennie Small, migrant workers who search for jobs throughout California amid The Great Depression. And with all great novels, it’s been banned time and again for its mention of violence, swearing, racism, sexism, the works, but it’s an essential commentary on the nature of The American Dream, the dichotomy of strength and weakness, and the loneliness of isolation.Of Mice and Men John Steinbeck

 
The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn – Mark Twain

Often called “the greatest American novel,” The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn proceeds Twain’s The Adventures of Tom Sawyer and is renowned for its use of written vernacular in imitation of southern antebellum society. The story follows teenager Huck Finn and his friend Tom Sawyer as they navigate themes of race and identity. So, yeah, you should re-read that one today, especially given that the original novel has been the subject of censorship in schools for years.The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn Mark Twain

 
The Poetry of Pablo Neruda

If you need an “excuse” to read some of the best love poems ever written about oceans and women and the earth, say you’re brushing up on your dating one-liners. But the words by Chilean poet, diplomat, and politician Pablo Neruda are so much more than kindling. They are pure fire and combustion. This book will wake up your soul. It also mends broken hearts.The Poetry of Pablo Neruda

 
The Stranger – Albert Camus

An ordinary man finds himself on trial after committing a murder in one of the greatest novellas of the 20th century. A dissection of morality and the philosophy of the absurd, The Stranger is particularly relevant today as we face a world of heightened sensitivity and, perhaps, a society that makes no sense to us.The Stranger Albert Camus

 
The Call of the Wild – Jack London

Try this: Take the novel on a long, boring, or otherwise dreaded journey. Close the last page a changed man (it’s that phenomenal) with a new outlook on struggle and bonds. Set in Yukon, Canada, during the 1890s Klondike Gold Rush, London writes of Buck, a dog that is abducted and forced into the chaos and brutality of frontier life. In a word: rugged.  Secretly: a tear-jerker.The Call of the Wild Jack London

 
Lord of the Flies – William Golding

A band of British boys are shipwrecked on an island and try to maintain order and normalcy the way governments do. As you might guess, it all goes terribly, terribly wrong. Lord of the Flies, the first novel from Golding, is a perfect glimpse at the nature of savage inclination. It’s a short read but it’s a damn good one.Lord of the Flies William Golding

 
Catcher In The Rye – J.D. Salinger

We’ll bet you first glimpsed the vibrant red cover of Catcher in the Rye some time in high school. But don’t let your memory fool you into thinking it’s a kids book. Possibly the best coming-of-age tale in all of literature, Salinger writes of the young and relatable protagonist Holden Caulfield and his first-person commentary on the world as he struggles between embracing adulthood and hiding in his childhood memories.The Catcher in the Rye J D Salinger

 

How To Be A Gentleman

Have you seen movies where a person looks through a keyhole? On the viewer’s side, the side where the person looking through the keyhole, the scene is dark and perhaps ominous? Through the keyhole might be a mysterious scene or even something magical?

As viewers of the movie, we are taken into a scene and we feel as if we’re part of the action. Not only is the actor in the movie looking through the keyhole, but we are as well. We see what the actor sees at the very same time. We feel the suspense, angst, shock, horror, joy, enchantment – whatever emotion the moviemaker wants us to feel, we feel it, too.

This is an effective method in moviemaking and cinematography as we become part of the action. This is also an effective method in photography.

As photographers it is important to draw the viewers of your photographs into your image. Your photograph is the keyhole, so to speak, that allows viewers to experience or view what you have seen and captured with your camera. If your viewers can be drawn into your photo, then they will feel the emotion or feeling that you’re trying to convey. And, if you can draw viewers in and make them feel a certain way, then you my friend, are not a picture taker but instead a photographer.

How do you draw people into your photographs? You begin by mastering photo composition. You master photo composition by practicing all key elements until they become second nature to you. Becoming a great photographer really is that simple tho’ it is a lot of work.

One suggestion regarding photo composition is to challenge yourself. One way to challenge yourself is to change the camera you use. For example, if you typically shoot with a digital camera of any sort or a mobile phone, let’s say, then switch to a film camera for a day or even a week.

You can pick up inexpensive film cameras at ebay. And yes, you can still purchase film and have it professionally developed.

I have a variety of film cameras but for this blog post I chose the Fisheye camera from Lomography. I also chose black and white film. Better still, I chose London as my backdrop.

The cool thing about Lomo’s Fisheye camera is the captured image is actually a circle with a pronounced black border. Basically, the result is like looking through a keyhole – at least that’s how I see it.

I’ve included a variety of images I captured over a week’s time. The shots are entirely random tho’ you’ll recognise some of the scenes. Have a look at the photos. Are they the best images of London you’ve ever seen? No. They are not the best images I’ve seen either. The better question is – have you seen London portrayed this way before? Unless you’ve practiced this same photo exercise, your answer is undoubtedly a no.

Photographing a familiar scene in a new way with a new perspective and with a camera you’re not entirely familiar with will allow you the freedom to explore and test your creativity.

It is easy to be comfortable. It’s easy to always surround yourself with the familiar. The easy way is not the best way to improve your photography skills.

You will grow by challenging yourself. You’ll reach new levels of achievement by stepping away from your comfort zone.

It’s safe to say you’ll surprise even yourself by creating a masterful composition that draws your viewer into your vision. And in the end, involving the viewers of your photographs is exactly what you want.

The following is an exerpt from “Alice Through the Looking Glass”.
Notice how Alice first envisions what life might be if she and kitty could go through the looking-glass house. In an instant, Alice does go through the looking glass and she takes us with her when she does. This is exactly what you want to do with the viewers of your photographs.

“But this is taking us away from Alice’s speech to the kitten. ‘Let’s pretend that you’re the Red Queen, Kitty! Do you know, I think if you sat up and folded your arms, you’d look exactly like her. Now do try, there’s a dear!’ And Alice got the Red Queen off the table, and set it up before the kitten as a model for it to imitate: however, the thing didn’t succeed, principally, Alice said, because the kitten wouldn’t fold its arms properly. So, to punish it, she held it up to the Looking-glass, that it might see how sulky it was—‘and if you’re not good directly,’ she added, ‘I’ll put you through into Looking-glass House. How would you like that?’

‘Now, if you’ll only attend, Kitty, and not talk so much, I’ll tell you all my ideas about Looking-glass House. First, there’s the room you can see through the glass—that’s just the same as our drawing room, only the things go the other way. I can see all of it when I get upon a chair—all but the bit behind the fireplace. Oh! I do so wish I could see that bit! I want so much to know whether they’ve a fire in the winter: you never can tell, you know, unless our fire smokes, and then smoke comes up in that room too—but that may be only pretence, just to make it look as if they had a fire. Well then, the books are something like our books, only the words go the wrong way; I know that, because I’ve held up one of our books to the glass, and then they hold up one in the other room.

‘How would you like to live in Looking-glass House, Kitty? I wonder if they’d give you milk in there? Perhaps Looking-glass milk isn’t good to drink—But oh, Kitty! now we come to the passage. You can just see a little peep of the passage in Looking-glass House, if you leave the door of our drawing-room wide open: and it’s very like our passage as far as you can see, only you know it may be quite different on beyond. Oh, Kitty! how nice it would be if we could only get through into Looking-glass House! I’m sure it’s got, oh! such beautiful things in it! Let’s pretend there’s a way of getting through into it, somehow, Kitty. Let’s pretend the glass has got all soft like gauze, so that we can get through. Why, it’s turning into a sort of mist now, I declare! It’ll be easy enough to get through—’ She was up on the chimney-piece while she said this, though she hardly knew how she had got there. And certainly the glass was beginning to melt away, just like a bright silvery mist.

In another moment Alice was through the glass, and had jumped lightly down into the Looking-glass room. The very first thing she did was to look whether there was a fire in the fireplace, and she was quite pleased to find that there was a real one, blazing away as brightly as the one she had left behind. ‘So I shall be as warm here as I was in the old room,’ thought Alice: ‘warmer, in fact, because there’ll be no one here to scold me away from the fire. Oh, what fun it’ll be, when they see me through the glass in here, and can’t get at me!’

Then she began looking about, and noticed that what could be seen from the old room was quite common and uninteresting, but that all the rest was as different as possible. For instance, the pictures on the wall next the fire seemed to be all alive, and the very clock on the chimney-piece (you know you can only see the back of it in the Looking-glass) had got the face of a little old man, and grinned at her.”

If there is a single road that leads to a view unsurpassed by few others in the southwest, then surely Transmountain Road cutting through the Franklin Mountains would be it.  The winding and ascending journey along Transmountain will take one to 5120ft, which is where I stop one brisk January pre-dawn morning to watch the sun rise above the far horizon.

The temper of the mountain is calm at this hour, almost in a slumber in the brisk morning air.  No giant pine trees soften the winter wind whispering in my ear.  No singing birds or running deer to take my eye off the sky. Only high-elevation cacti and desert brush crawl along the rocks and boulders often jutting out like nature’s high rises descending in to the valleys on either side of the Franklins.

Looking west I see the near full moon sinking below the horizon.  Seconds later, I turn to the east marveling at a fiery ball nudging above the desert floor, and the royal blue sky rapidly transforms with bursts of splendid golden hues as if Mother Nature’s paintbrush splatters across the heavens. In an instant natural fireworks fill the sky as the moon sets and sun rises instantaneously as I watch in awe.  A moment passes and the sun’s rays stretch across East El Paso tickling the sides of the Franklin Mountains waking her for another day.

Gradually the glow of the rising sun ascends from the base of the mountain to its top as one slowly opens their eyes after a good night’s sleep.  A perfect mixture of burning red, glistening yellow, royal purple, and flaming orange sweep upward in a near swift motion as the sun reflects off of the quartzites, sands, limestones and marbles composing the mountain.  There is a sparkle in the Franklin’s “eye” as it resumes its role as the jewel of El Paso.

Overlooking the Rio Grande River, with broad fortitude, the Franklin Mountains are the northern ramparts of the Paso del Norte (Pass of the North), leading from Mexico into the United States.  The mountain range dominates the skyline of the city of El Paso beginning within the city limits in the south extending northward across the New Mexico border for a distance of about 15 miles (24km).  The Franklins are the southernmost extension of roughly continuous north-south ranges extending nearly 99 miles (160 km).  Today, Franklin Mountains State Park, established in 1979, is the largest urban park in the United States covering approximately 37 square miles and 24,247 acres, all within the city limits of El Paso.  The Franklin’s presence are an unmistakable beauty and vigor giving the city its natural character.

The advancing day with the blazing sun high above changes the mood of the mountains as they tower above the area, showing the strength of a wise old man (12,000 years and counting) El Pasoans respectfully know and love. Looking at its aged face, I can see its character lines and crevices showing thousands of years of life and experience.  From native Americans to gold- seekers to Spanish conquistadors on their mission to conquer and colonize the Puebloan villages in present-day New Mexico, the mountain range has indeed proven its endurance and resilience.  There is no doubt the Franklin’s are the physical strength of El Paso.

As the earth revolves once again with the sun descending in the western sky I can not resist watching the mountain relax almost as if it is letting out a deep breath after a long day’s work.  The face of the Franklin’s softens, often offering a reassuring smile with the changing light.  A chorus of golden amber and lush scarlet dance in unison, together with clouds catching the waning sun’s flare spilling even more color across the sky. Again, the rocks and boulders of the Franklin’s glimmer glorious red, purple and luxurious gold tones from the waning light from the setting sun , each winking at me as if to say goodnight.  Another dramatic end to a day. Another day in the life of El Paso’s Franklin Mountains.

Mont Saint Michel is a small rocky islet, roughly one kilometer from the north coast of France at the mouth of the Couesnon River, near Avranches in Normandy, close to the border of Brittany. It is home to the unusual Benedictine Abbey Church (built between the 11th and 16th centuries) which occupies most of the one kilometer diameter clump of rocks jutting out of the ocean.

It is connected to the mainland via a thin natural land bridge, which before modernization was covered at high tide, and revealed at low tide. Thus, Mont Saint Michel gained a mystical quality, being an island half the time, and being attached to land the other : a tidal island.

In 708 the Archangel Michael appeared to Aubert, Bishop of Avranches, and commanded him to build a chapel on the top of Mont Tombe, a rocky island in the middle of an immense bay. Overawed by this apparition, Aubert obeyed and built a sanctuary to the glory of God and Archangel Michael.

Throughout its long history, Mont Saint Michel has had many roles. First a religious sanctuary with its monastic communities, it became a place of worship with its immense pilgrimages, a centre of intense academic activity with its production of manuscripts and illuminations, a symbol of national resistance with the glorious feats of arms of its knights and a formidable prison when the priests were ousted in the French Revolution of 1789, putting an end to the religious vocation of Mont Saint Michel.

In 1870 Mont Saint Michel ceased to be a prison. It became a historic monument which gradually became a tourist centre.

The religious vocation of Mont Saint Michel was re-established in 1965 with the arrival of monastic communities from Jerusalem perpetuating Mont Saint Michel’s thousand- year old spiritual heritage.

In 1972 UNESCO classified Mont Saint-Michel as a “natural and cultural World Heritage Site”. Mont Saint Michel is also called one of the “wonder of the Occident”.