El Paso?s greatest charm is also its curse. El Paso is America?s most isolated large city.
The desert, the mountains, the Rio Grande, the Hispanic culture and the sharing of the border with Mexico and New Mexico make for a unique American environment. We are several hours drive from Albuquerque and Tucson. It?s even farther to Phoenix and Los Angeles to the west, and Dallas, San Antonio and Houston to the east. Our isolation gives us room to breathe and creates a bond among our citizens. But isolation has its downside.
We seem to have more in common with New or Old Mexico than our own state. We don?t even share a time zone with the rest of Texas. You don?t fly the Texas flag as much.
Blue Bell ice cream made its way from the heart of Texas to El Paso, but not much else. I wish we had HEB grocery stores, or Whole Foods. We got a West Side Schlotzsky?s, which is Austin-based.
I grew up in the Texas Panhandle town of Dalhart. When I went to college in Nacogdoches, 650 miles away in deep East Texas, people knew my town because it?s often the coldest in Texas. Mention Dalhart around El Paso, and few have heard of it.
When I go to a UTEP basketball game I enjoy watching the cheerleaders and Golddiggers perform. I?m confident they are all native El Pasoans. I love that other than the athletes, our university is comprised almost exclusively of our own. The downside is that UTEP is very homogenized. There aren?t students from throughout the state that you would find on a typical college campus.
Our isolation creates a bond, but doesn?t allow for much diversity. That?s why it?s of paramount importance that El Paso?s media sources provide news from Texas and the surrounding region.
Last Sunday morning I opened the El Paso Times sports section anxious to find out which Texas high school football teams had advanced to the state championship games would be attending at Cowboys Stadium this weekend. El Paso?s high school teams always lose early in the playoffs to powerful out-of-town schools. I like seeing how the teams that beat us do against other teams. It?s an important measuring stick to judge how our teams rate versus the very best in the state. Well, the Times didn?t have the scores of any of the state semi-final games. I?m confident every other daily newspaper in the state did. KVIA.com didn?t have the scores either. I?ve since done my part by adding the playoff pairings to our website.
Isolation has its benefits. But we need to know what?s happening elsewhere around the state.