Monday, February 29, 2016


Here's a rare chance to learn from one of the BORDERLAND NOIR contributors and a living expert on all things Pancho Villa:


One hundred years ago, on March 9, 1916, Mexican revolutionary leader General Francisco “Pancho” Villa led an incursion across the border and attacked the sleeping hamlet of Columbus, New Mexico. It was, prior to September 11, 2001, the most significant terrorist attack on U.S. soil.

Local historian, writer and musician Jim Cornelius and The Anvil Blasters will mark that historic centennial with an evening of borderland history and border ballads at Paulina Springs Books in Sisters on Wednesday, March 9, starting at 6:30 p.m.

Cornelius will read from his essay “Pancho Villa: Fourth Horseman of the Mexican Apocalypse,” published in the crime anthology “Borderland Noir,” edited by Craig McDonald and published by Betimes Books. Then the band will dig into some border-themed music — originals, traditional songs and songs from writers such as Tom Russell and Bob Dylan.

“I’ve been obsessed with the Mexican Revolution for years,” Cornelius said. “It was an earth-shaking event. Most folks north of the border don’t know much about it; we recognize Pancho Villa and that’s about it. The Revolution was going on at the same time as World War I, and the impact is still being felt today. About a million Mexicans died and millions more were displaced. It caused the first big wave of Mexican migration into the United States.

“It’s just a wildly fascinating chunk of history. Talk about your game of thrones — every single major leader of the Revolution died violently. In this case, it wasn’t just you win or you die, it was you win AND you die.”

The Anvil Blasters’ music has always been scorched by the hot desert wind of the borderlands, and Jim, along with Lynn Woodward,  Mike Biggers and Jeff Wester will focus on that part of their repertoire — tales of outlaws, watchful black crows, good tequila and bad women, and compadres in the Sierra Madre — all flavored with some hot chili peppers in the blistering sun.

“We’re going to have a good time,” said Cornelius, “but it’s important to remember that the occasion we’re marking was a terrible one. The attack on Columbus was an act of terrorism that killed 18 American civilians and soldiers and sparked an invasion of Mexico. We’ll explore what that was all about — and who Pancho Villa really was, the good, the bad and the ugly.

Then we’ll turn the book store into a cantina and sing about it.” 
Columbus, New Mexico, on fire after the attack.

"Borderland Noir" will be available at the event and Jim will sign copies on request.

Paulina Springs Books is located at 252 W. Hood Ave. in Sisters. For more information call 541-549-0866 or contact Jim Cornelius at 541-390-6973.

To put you in the mood and entice you this terrific literary and musical event, a Borderland Noir tune from another of the book's contributors, Mr. Tom Russell (with the great Thad Beckman), also performed at an Oregon bookstore, as it happens: