The Hundredth Meridianrnby Chilton Williamson, JrrnHome and AbroadrnThe stock market is over 10,000, MichaelrnKinsley exhorted Pat Buchanan recently,rnand so America can do as it likes internationallyrnin the exercise of the U.S. megamilitaryrnmachine that Madeleine Albrightrnhas been slavering, throughout herrnFogg)’ Bottom years, to activate. America,rnaccording to journalistic convention,rnis fat, happy, and content, having arrivedrnfinally after half a millennium at El Dorado,rnthe Seven Cities of Cibola, and thernFountain of Youth, gathered together inrnone immense, Disneyesque theme park.rnThat leaves me and a few forlornrnfriends—so it seems, anyway—hunkeredrndown away from the crowd, kickingrnagainst the pricks. Either they’re crazy,rnor we are. From our point of view, thernstream of bad news is unrelenting, fromrnKoppel to Kosovo; but, as the works ofrnGibbon, Robert Conquest, and a few othersrnsuggest, times have been bad before.rnAmerican exceptionalism, though, doesrnseem to be shot: growing tyranny, European-rnstyle, at home masked by appeals tornaccustomed tyranny of the bureaucraticrnvariety in the European countries, not tornmention elsewhere. (We used to think ofrnEurope as the Bad Old World, the Americanrnnemesis: Today our New Worldrnpoliticians prod us along the trail of arnsmothering progressivism blazed by Europeanrnpredecessors.)rnWith these and other melancholyrnthoughts in mind, I commenced my annualrnspring ramble across the AmericanrnWest, driving north from Las Cruces,rnNew Mexico, toward a rendezvous witirrnDick Mcllhenny and Bill James in Antonito,rnColorado, 394 miles north. BeforernI reached Soccoro, New Mexico, onlyrn130 miles upriver on the Rio Grande,rnNational Parrot Radio was announcingrnnew bombing raids against Yugoslavia,rnand the exodus of another 100,000 or sornrefugees from Kosovo province. We arernin fact the World’s Cop now —and arnbought one into the bargain. Talk aboutrndestroying the village in order to save it.rnNo one expects Bill Clinton to haverna cultural memory, but what about arnpersonal one? Is this Alzheimer’s orrnhypocrisy? Maybe just syphilitic dementia.rnSevent}-three percent of the Americanrnpublic approves of the Yugoslav war,rnaccording to the polls: interestingly, thernsame number pollsters said supportedrnClinton in his battle against the 13 Housernmanagers. Wliat do these figures mean?rnI personally don’t know anyone who believesrnthe President ought to have beenrnacquitted by the Senate, or supports aggressionrnagainst the Yugoslavs, though Irndid read recently about a newspaperrncolumnist and clitorista who swore she’drnbe happy to get down on her knees andrnservice Bill Clinton herself in gratitudernfor his determination to keep abortionrnlegal —rather an extreme gesture, itrnseemed to me, for even a Friend of Bill tornmake. But feminism, like the law, is “arnass,” though not necessarily the kindrnDickens had in miird.rnThe snow was gone from the uplandsrnof northern New Mexico and San AntoniornMoimtain, and the thermometer registeredrnin the 70’s as I drove into Antonitornat the southern end of the San LuisrnValley in southwestern Colorado, wherernDick and Bill had arrived a couple ofrnhours before from Denver. We had arnbeer and drove to the Coirejos Countyrnsheriffs office looking for Joe Taylor, a semi-rnretired deputy who has witnessed numerousrnphenomena in the line of duty,rnincluding what he believes to be therntracks of a Bigfoot on the bluff above thernConejos River. Mr. Taylor was off dut)’rnthat evening, but he instructed the dispatcherrnto direct us to his home on arndusty side street not far from the oldrnCatholic church in Antonito. His son,rnJoe Jr., a full-time deputy, had the videornof the tracks, so his father described for usrnthe bizarre lights in the sky over the SanrnLuis Valley—meeting searchlights thatrnseemed to open a window in the sky atrnnight and glowing spherical objects thernsize of a Softball that skim several feetrnabove the surface of the ground—whilernwe waited for the younger man to showrnup. (The year before. Bill James hadrnheard similar stories from the tow manrnwho rescued his motorcycle from a backrnroad in the mountains above the AlamosarnRiver.) When Joe Jr. arrived he mentioned,rngood-naturedly, the ribbing he receivedrnfrom some several of hisrncolleagues, then rolled the tape, whichrnthe Taylors believe show the tracks of anrnimmature Bigfoot beside those of anrnadult one in the snow. While Dick, Bill,rnand I were not entirely persuaded of thernpresence of two creatures, the printsrnthemselves looked entirely natural andrnconvincing. Joe Sr.’s ladyfriend put inrnthat, about the time the tracks were discovered,rnthe neighborhood dogs werernstrangely aroused and one was foundrncrushed to death, its throat punctured byrnfangmarks. Noting that alleged Bigfootrnsightings often coincide with appearancesrnof the unexplained lights, she suggestedrnthe two are related in some wayrnand that both are of extraterrestrial origin.rnOther residents of the so-called MysteriousrnValley believe the lights, anyway,rnhave a more proximate explanation. Nobody,rnin any case, trusts the federal government,rnits explanations or its silences.rnWhether Bigfoot is a reality or not. Bighandrnand Longarm are felt, demonstrablernentities.rnWe spent three days camped with thernrecording equipment along the Conejosrnat 9,600 feet of elevation in the San JuanrnMountains, the steep valleys funnelingrnthe winds at 60 and 65 miles an hourrnwhile we tramped uphill along the LakernFork trail—past the beaver pond belowrnthe slide where Keith Hawkins and hisrnboys had been fishing when they heardrnthe threatening roars five summers ago tornBig Lake, only a mile and a half or hvornmiles below our campsite the previousrnyear—until the cloud ceiling lowered ontornthe dark, silent ridges and we turnedrnback at last through flights of shrikes,rnbluebirds, robins, and jays jinking abovernthe brittlebrush to establish their territories,rnunconcerned by the approacliingrnspring storm. About tiiree the next morning,rnthe raging wind dropped suspiciously,rnand at first light six inches of snow hadrnfallen in camp; by the time wc pulled outrnJULY 1999/49rnrnrn