Thursday, February 4, 2016


Driving up Paseo del Pueblo Norte this Wednesday afternoon, dodging crater-sized potholes, trying to avoid the mud spewed up from the car ahead, slush and grey/brown snow everywhere, the tallest  
mountain in New Mexico majestically looms ahead covered in blue white mist. It materializes four miles ahead seeming from another dimension, refusing to be a part of our petty small town woes.

Dear sad town you were once the meeting place of 70’s counter culture, old Bohemia, more than one artistic revival, farmers seeded from the Middle Ages, fur trappers and bootleggers, and the mystic mountain’s children in their timeless mud palace. Movie stars, ex-cons who quoted Khalil Gibran and made their own boots, artists and wannabe mountain men living back to earth on the sagebrush mesa, all of them gems unmined by the mainstream embedded artfully into the Taos soul. Hollywood seekers met peyote and posole here, prime anthropological flavor-blends for a cosmic stew.

There once were those I termed the Taos Walkers. Usually, eccentric each with a documentary worthy life story,  Everett, Pauli, Rosemary, Lou, David, Pago, and Tony and some I never knew by name, all gone now along with the old men from the Pueblo who daily walked into town with their iconic braids and pale blue blankets to watch the  human spectacle stream by. And what happened to the Taos hum? 

It was normal to see the folks in town outfitted in their soul suits. For some it was leather and Spanish hats, or cowboy boots with spurs. Ladies dressed in broomstick skirts and silver concho belts. It was not unusual to see both men and women loaded with turquoise and silver. Even though this town is poor, none would stoop to wear costume jewelry.   

Taos where are you now? Too many galleries selling things only tourists buy. Repetitive but masterfully crafted pictures of the way things used to be for their expensive living rooms.  Has Taos become just a romantic memory collecting dust and mud splatters?  A ghost of the American Shangri La that was once   a welcoming paradise for hungry misfit souls escaping the stultifying blah of mainstream America?

Taos, there are layers of gunk and dust drabbing your glow. We have almost forgotten who you really are. Please awaken and remind us. Does anyone still sit in the great room of the Taos Inn to write in their journals, (not even on an iPad) or sketch the passersby?  There used to be a regular spontaneous meeting there, and we all knew each other.

The old timers and newbies used to mingle in the few coffee shops where old timers could tell the stories every newbie needed to know in order to be initiated into Taos membership.  Maybe I just don’t get out enough anymore to know where your life blood is now coursing. 

Back when, I used to look forward to the coffee shop in the morning with more anticipation than I now wait for the next episode of Downton Abbey.  Maybe it’s just me but on those rare occasions when we go out, there is nothing to remember, and we seldom encounter old friends, nor do we make those serendipitous encounters with interesting strangers that used to be so common. Have we become a population of crabs that occasionally pop out of our holes for the post office, grocery store and Walmart?

Or is this a temporary stage, possibly an intermission between acts?