NOB HILL--So you must think it is easy to get white people to come to our fair state! Not so. Just ask Vendor Inc., the company tasked with coming up with an ad campaign for the Department of Tourism. Oh it is easy enough to snag dark-skinned Hispanics, Ethiopians, Indians, Pakistanis, Nepalese, Chinese, Japanese, and Turks. But those really light-skinned people seem to have Vendor Inc. worried stiff. Just how can we get more white people to visit New Mexico?
Frankly, I didn't have time to suggest anything while the issue was in the newspaper and on TV. The story seemed to disappear in less than 24 hours. The only story of interest to vanish quicker from the news was the revelation that the guy who registered his dog to vote was the husband of one of Heather Wilson's campaign staff. I thought his story ("My wife didn't know a thing about it.") still had a few unanswered questions. But it was gone quicker than a fart in the wind.
New Mexico Tourism Secretary Monique Jacobson stated that the caucasian and light-skinned Hispanic casting call was for tourists only, not natives. She said she wanted somebody that looked like they were from "Maine, Texas, Florida, and Washington." The story of just how it was decided we should specifically court the white tourist or just how appropriate that approach might be has not been discussed in the public press--the story disappeared too quickly. But that won't stop me from making a few suggestions about how to do it.
• Advertise in Texas. White Texans aren't afraid of anything. They invade our state periodically and we were only able to get rid of them once: at the Battle of Glorieta 150 years ago. They seem to have established several beachheads in eastern New Mexico since then and once established they are harder to get rid of than mustard weed. Still, I have the feeling that more Texans living in New Mexico would be welcomed by many.
• Hire a Texas Ad Agency. And we did! Vendor Inc is an Austin, Texas firm. They know what to look for, gueros with big RV's and Texas plates.
• Tunafish Enchiladas! Let's show some imagination in our restaurant offerings. How do we expect tourists to be excited over menu items that are 2000 years old? So before you roll up those tortillas and start dipping out the sauce, reach for that can of StarKist! We can rework some of the old favorites to be friendlier to our light-skinned brethren. Just stock up on cream of mushroom soup, Jello, and ranch dressing. New Mexican cuisine is about to be liberated!
• De-Saturate Those Landscape Photos. Nobody believes the light in New Mexico looks like this anyway. They think those advertising photos have been fixed. To restore our credibility I suggest we de-saturate and cool off our photos to match the polluted light of the rest of the country.
• Repeal the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo. After all, it guarantees that in New Mexico Spanish is on a legally equal footing with English. And there are some white tourists who don't like their waiters talking in a "foreign" language. You may remember the motel owner in Taos who renamed his hispanic employees with English-sounding names so his guests would feel more at home. Now that's the spirit we're talking about!