Every year El Paso gets its underwear pulled up it's butt and shoved into a locker by the fans of the teams coming to play in the Sun Bowl. And every year El Pasoans take offense to the treatment and respond by validating the criticism of the city by listing what they think is cool to do in El Paso. This year is no different.
In response to yet another well-deserved knock on the city by a USC fan, the El Paso Times put together a list of things to do and it's about as disconnected from the rest of the planet as you would expect it to be. You can suffer through it HERE.
The crux of the author's argument is simple - a famous rock star complimented the Plaza Theatre, so El Paso must be the greatest undiscovered destination on earth. It's kind of hard to make that leap considering the relative size of the theatre compared to the entire city, but the El Paso Times gladly makes that leap so they can go on to completely embarrass themselves in print - again.
I will take their bullet points in the order they presented them.
Plaza Theatre- It's kind of neat, but it's really only as cool as the entertainment on the stage. Looking at the ceiling of an empty, quiet theatre gets old after about 15 seconds. Almost every medium-sized or larger city in the country has the same exact thing with the same back story. History took place in more places than just downtown in El Paso. I truly hate to break that to all of you.
And let's be honest, telling people who are coming for the Sun Bowl game that the Plaza Theatre is a "destination" in El Paso would be kind of useless. The last show starts and ends on December 18, 2012 and the place doesn't have another event until January 15, 2013 (calendar HERE). USC fans, as of right now, can only meander around the outside of the building wondering what all the fuss is about.
And in the spirit of honesty, I do have to relate something that has been said a million times by musicians and sound techs about the place - the acoustics are terrible. Everybody prefers the Abraham Chavez Theatre to the Plaza Theatre for musical events. The community foundation has forced everything into the Plaza Theatre because they want everyone to love their project and it has come at the expense of the quality of the musical performances. However, if they didn't have the terrible sounding music events at the Plaza, there'd be stretches of months without anything going on there at all. Makes you wonder if the investment was worth it.
Find a list of nearly 100 other "historic theatres" in Texas HERE.
Night Life- El Paso doesn't really have a "night life." There are places that serve alcohol at a great price where you can get stabbed for free. Cincinnati Street was cool four years ago and has since turned into a place where young men go to get drunk and fight. The downtown depot district is a similar story with the added annoyance of the tens of thousands of teenagers who are just "hanging out" drinking water and smoking.
On top of all that, there are no cabs in El Paso. Having one too many means either breaking the law by driving back to your hotel, or walking five miles back to your hotel - either way, not conducive of a good "night life."
There are a few factors that contribute to the bars being terrible in El Paso, but I won't get into them here. Just know that anyone from somewhere else will be appalled at what you call "night life." They may ask if you meant to say "knife life."
Just to put this in perspective - I lived in El Paso for years and my favorite bar was my back porch. In Arlington, Virginia I don't even drink at home because I have too many places that I love to choose from and they are all walking distance away. And the only fights they have are two people arguing over who's the most sorry for bumping into the other.
El Paso Museum of Art- Nobody wants to see the museum of art in a mid-size West Texas city. As the article states "it's not the Getty." Enough said. It's not a top notch art gallery for many reasons and most of them are out of El Paso's control.
People don't go to art galleries. Most of us don't care. In DC the emptiest museums are the National Gallery of Art and the National Portrait Gallery. I walk by the portrait gallery almost daily and wouldn't go in unless it was hailing burning bowling balls. I know exactly one person who has been in there and their story about their visit is the best sleep aide I've ever come across.
Wyler Aerial Tramway - Besides being prohibitively expensive for something you'd have more fun walking to, it's plainly not fun. I can't tell you how many times I have taken people up there than they've asked/remarked "so... this is it?" The tourist shop is the most laughable thing I've ever seen with the crappiest, most idiotic merchandise the world outside of El Paso has ever seen. It's 5,600 feet in the air, not 10,000. It's not that novel.
However, I think it's funny to feed out-of-towners a Roscoe burger or Chico's before you go up the the tramway so at least there's some drama on that four minute ride up to the top.
Sunland Park Race Track and Casino - There's an old saying among El Pasoans when people talk about how bad El Paso is to visit - "if your guests think El Paso is the shittiest place they've ever been banished to, take'em to Sunland Park for a spell..." The smoke filled casino that features only slots, and not enough of them, is not something you want anybody you want to impress experiencing. Well, unless they're from Kentucky and that kind of thing excites them.
The place is a shithole of the highest order and to be avoided anyone not seeking lung cancer. The food is mass produced from the worst of all pre-processed food providers ensuring that not only might you get a case of black lung while visiting, your kidneys and liver might shut down out of protest as well.
Casino Crown in Juarez- Pretty much all people need to know when it comes to why you shouldn't got to this place is the proper noun "Juarez." Not only is it stupid for the El Paso Times to suggest people go to that country for "fun," it's DANGEROUS! There are travel warnings from the U.S. Department of State in reference to Juarez that say, "You should defer non-essential travel to the state of Chihuahua. The situation in the state of Chihuahua, specifically Ciudad Juarez and Chihuahua City, is of special concern." Read them HERE.
Why not suggest people head to a foreign country mired in a cartel war? And let's double down on the stupid and tell them to go to a gambling hall/club where muggers will be lying in wait for dumb Americans carrying large amounts of cash. Shit - why not suggest USC fans go on adventure vacation and try to steal a load of dope from a drug lord for fun?
The rest of what the El Paso Times posted was silly and proof of their inability to see themselves from a different perspective. The last part about the Juarez sports book was just dumb. Make all the arguments that the violence has not spilled over and we can talk. However, nobody is dumb enough to argue that Juarez isn't a very dangerous place to be. It's even more dangerous for folks from nowhere near the border who have no idea what the place is all about and how to survive there. The El Paso Times will feel pretty shitty if some tourist get murdered in Juarez holding a copy of their article on "things to do" during their visit to El Paso for the Sun Bowl.
Bottom line - the article reads as a checklist for young people as to why they should leave town. I read that and cried for a bit after I stopped laughing. It's sad that people in El Paso think that the real attraction to the city is anything on that list. It's also an example of why El Paso can not properly market itself.
I think the El Paso Times hurt the city's image more than the original article posted by some blogger (and idiot like me) on a site that gets moderate traffic did. The El Paso Times' response to the article played right into the blogger's hands. Typical... so typical.