January 2020

Behind the Scene

by Randy Limbird
Editor & Publisher, El Paso Scene


No photographer has chronicled El Paso and the surrounding region more extensively than Mark Paulda. His first photographic compilation of the borderland, “Celebrate El Paso,” came out over 10 years ago. “No one guessed but the book went on to be a best seller and the fastest selling book for my publisher, TCU Press,” Paulda said.
But after a decade of changes — in which landmarks like City Hall and the ASARCO smokestacks were razed,
others like San Jacinto Plaza were restored and new ones were created, like the red “X” rising above Juárez — it was time for a new edition.
The result is “Sí El Paso,” a larger version of the older book, with over 250 color photographs of El Paso, Juárez and Southern New Mexico. And while his first book was nothing but photographs, “Sí El Paso” includes memories and stories written by a range of El Pasoans. To make the book even more accessible to our community, the text is provided in both English and Spanish.
Mark, whose photographs have appeared in El Paso Scene several times over the past dozen years, approached me about doing something with the new book, so I offered to put it on the January cover. It was a joy leafing through the book, but hard to pick out just a few images out of so many.
The main picture featured on this month’s cover jumped out at me. It
s a winter scene familiar to my mind’s eye but one that I had never seen portrayed as well as Mark had done in his photograph of winter storm clouds draped over the Franklins. The vibrant colors of the Juárez mercado and the subtle gold shades on the Cortez Building also caught my attention. The long-exposure shot of freeway traffic amid a the foreground of desert plants and the background of Union Depot is Mark Paulda’s signature image, similar to the one that graces the book’s cover.
Hopefully Mark — and El Paso Scene — will be around long enough for his next decade’s installment of photography!
* * *
Around the time that Mark’s first book was published, El Paso Scene came out with its first-ever Gecko Awards. Our news editor, Lisa Tate, came up with the idea as a local version of Texas Monthly’s Bum Steer Awards and Esquire Magazine’s Dubious Achievement Awards.
In 2019, local and national news converged on El Paso. We became Ground Zero of the refugee crisis and a major player in the Border Wall controversy. We even had a native son emerge briefly as a top-ranked presidential candidate (and sink to the bottom of the polls just as quickly). Worst of all, El Paso became the biggest story in the country, if not the world, on Aug. 3, when a deranged racist drove across Texas to gun down Hispanics at an Eastside Walmart.
We decided there was nothing about the Walmart shootings that belonged in our annual compilation of “the goofy, the bad and the weird” news” because the wounds of that tragedy remain too raw and too deep.
The refugee and other immigration-related crises are also quite serious topics, but nevertheless they also brought out plenty of goofy and weird behavior to warrant gecko status. And of course, the borderland always has its share of dumb criminals, shady politicians and other mischief-makers to provide grist for the gecko mill. This year’s antic almanac begins on Page 19.

Here's the Ticket
Program Notes
On Stage
Southwest Art Scene
At the Museum
History Lessons
Film Scene
Keep on Bookin'
Becoming Bicultural
Liner Notes
Stage Talk
Gallery Talk
Better Parenting


Copyright 2020 by Cristo Rey Communications.