Three Of A Kind Trump A Wall Every Time

tucson sunset


Three things.

First: The number three has some serious mojo.

No idea why, but that’s just the way it is. Omne Trium Perfectum Amigo.

Three on a match. Three dog nights. Three Stooges. Three of a perfect pair. And so on.

Second: While it’s true border walls separate people and disrupt the interconnectivity of cultures, commerce and nature, they also have the uncanny ability to act as strange attractors for those who envision a better world.

Third: This may take a bit to weave but hang in there, I think I can make it work.

Since founding SoniCanta back in 2006, I’ve been very fortunate to meet some incredible people whose energy and ideas are inspiring.

Recently, three of those people --- Margaret Randall, Marcello DiCinto and Robert Neustadt --- have had their creative arcs overlap in a hat-trick of projects that all involve The Great Border Wall of Nogales.

I’ll start with Margaret.

Margaret’s talents and achievements are many, and for the sake of three I’ll limit her description to just poet, photographer and activist.

I met Margaret roughly three years ago at a conference put on by The University of Oklahoma. Over the years we stayed in touch via email and occasional visits.

About two years ago when Margaret and her partner Barbara were in Tucson for a poetry festival, we decided to take a road trip down to The Border Wall to try and transform it a bit with words and music.


That journey inspired Margaret to write Offended Turf, a beautiful poem which vividly and emotionally encapsulates our travels through the Arizona Militarized Zone, from Nogales to Sasabe.

I’ll be meeting up with Margaret again at The Albuquerque Cultural Conference, September 28-30, for a panel discussion titled: Crossing Borders of Our Own.

Now, before going further, this is a good time to introduce Marcello.

Marcello is a Canadian writer, wrestler, educator  --- again a person of many talents of which I’ll mention only three ---  who contacted me a few years back regarding a book he wanted to write about border walls.

Not just the walls along the United States and Mexico border, but also the numerous border walls which fracture landscapes and people around the world. 

Marcello’s country is in the process of being walled off by the United States in a similar fashion to what is happening along the border with Mexico, and he was interested in seeing what The Nogales Border Wall looked and sounded like.

Two years later Marcello's journeys are complete and his book --- Walls: Travels Along The Barricades ---  has just been published.

walls: travels along the barricades


I’ve not yet had an opportunity to read Walls, but based on Marcello’s other writings, selections from the book and from what I know of him as a person, I am confident his work will not only be a compelling read, but will hopefully shed some new light on this global pandemic of wall building.

During the time Marcello was in Tucson roughly two years ago, we met up one cold and blustery November day and took a road trip to Nogales.

It just so happened that on that very same day Robert (Bob) --- professor, musician, world traveler (again, many more talents but limited to three) --- was to meet with me in Nogales as well.

I first met Bob back in 2006 when The Anta Project was released. Bob heard a story on NPR about what I was doing and invited me up to speak at Northern Arizona University where he teaches.

The idea of transforming the border wall with sound and action was an idea he thought would resonate with his students.

Over the years we stayed in touch and met again when he brought some students to the borderlands on a field trip where they met with migrants, Border Patrol agents, activists and myself.

Marcello met Bob that day and then we engaged in a performance which may have set a record for the largest number of people playing a border wall at any one time.

However, the intertwining overlap of three did not end there.

Roughly a year later Bob decided to take the idea of transforming the borderlands with sound further, and with the help of Chuck Cheesman and countless others hatched a plan to produce a CD which would benefit  No More Deaths, a humanitarian organization doing lifesaving work in the borderlands.

Eventually the CD grew into a limited edition, double CD set which is slated to be available in October and features a stellar group of musicians and poets ranging from --- and I’m going to break my rule of three here --- Denise Chávez to Pete Seeger to Raul Zurita to Calexico to Charles Bowden to Sweet Honey In The Rock to Michael Franti and Spearhead to Giant Sand plus many more.

border songs

I’ll have all the details about this double disc set next month as soon as it is officially released, but for those in Arizona and nearby, here is what you need to know about the CD launch concert and other events.

Also on the cd is a track which features a studio duet between Margaret and myself, with Margaret reading her poem Offended Turf mixed with an excerpt of my immersive Sonoran Desert opus : Droneland Security.

Now here is the point where everything comes full circle: All three of these people --- Margaret, Bob and Marcello --- were drawn to Southern Arizona through the strange attractor that is The Border Wall.

And each was emotionally impacted enough by this structure and all of the baggage and metaphor and pathos and injustice it radiates, to create works that transform and challenge it’s very existence through words, music and positive action.

Chalk it up to the power of three.

Till again, stay tuned and listen deep,


 soy legal