Thursday, October 20, 2011

Music In The Air

I apologize  that there are no photos in this post. I did not have a camera with me this morning. I may go back later and get some art, but I wanted to post this while all was  fresh.

I walk down Broadway and the morning sun is bright, the air crisp and cool. Broadway is the main drag through Truth or Consequences. I pass by the Red Bone, a store that has been closed for months, and I hear music—the cheerful wail of an early morning trumpet. I know the source.

Though the Red Bone has been closed, the store is not empty. Inside, several folks who need places to live have set up housekeeping, with the owner's permission, dividing the back of the store into sleeping areas and fashioning a kitchen. The front of the store, visible from the outside, looks like furniture store with chairs and tables and couches.

One of those staying there is Garland, former trumpeter in the Marine Corps Band and horn man for many groups in the 1960s, '70s and '80s when brass was big in rock.  He is older and grayer now with a huge  mane of hair and a white Santa Claus beard that makes him look like what an aging Jerry Garcia might have looked like had he lived as long. I don't have to go around to the back to go in to know the sound spilling out under the door and onto the sidewalk is coming from a man sitting in a chair, eyes closes, fingering the worn brass valve stops, lost in thought and  music. I go on

Ten minutes later I am walking back down Broadway on the opposite side of the street. Again I hear music. But this time it is coming from an open door a few yards in front of me. I approach and peek inside. I see Ruth, the owner/artist doing a dance around the bright Jackson Pollack style paintings she is working on spread out on the cement floor. Paint and high spirits are splattered everywhere, including a pooling puddle of school bus orange beside a half done canvas.

And  Ruth, in the middle of it all, dancing, eyes bright, looking at her paintings. The music finishes just as I enter. She stops with a grin and a bow, beaming.

I hadn't been in her gallery in a week or so but I notice a change. The price tags she had been putting up beside her works on the walls have all been taken down. I mention it.

"You know, I had to. Once I start thinking in dollars and cents something goes out of me. I have to paint for pure joy and expression."

We hug. There isn't much more to say.

There is music in the air.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

The Open Road and the Open Sea — Junkyard Art

It's warm again, and the evening sun is bathing Truth or Consequences in a peaceful glow. I picked up my bus from Tunie, the mechanic, on Tuesday. It seems to be running fine. Now it, too, is sitting bathed in evening sun with a faraway look in its headlights that seems to say—Hey, I'm all well again. Can we go someplace? I nod in agreement.

Meanwhile I'm waiting to hear from SwankieWheels, who may be passing through TorC on her way to Arizona in the next day or so. Or maybe not. It is after all the migratory season.

Since mankind began farming and we tied ourselves to the soil, we've given up for the most part our migratory ways. But there was a time—and it's rooted deep in our souls—and maybe that's why it feels so right especially at this time of year to take our few possession and set off to go somewhere. The stars are out, the moon is high. Let's go 100, no make that 200 miles. Tires hum, wind blows. And for a tire-humming, wind-blowing moment we  are immortal. Maybe we are. The road rolls out behind us like a past life and stretches forward toward a new existence.

Tunie's art. Click to enlarge.
The  old cars in front of Tunie's shop to me are works of art. They tell stories.They lie in a peaceful state of decomposition having have escaped the crusher—the auto world equivalent of cremation. It is better to let things go their natural way including our automobiles and our flesh. There is something unnatural about the high temperatures at which we sear our bodies to ash and the high pressures we use to crush our cars to tiny blocks of metal.

The is a kinship between ourselves and our vehicles unlike any we have with other objects. We remember them all, just as we remember our loves. And like a lover our cars take us to places that we can never go to alone.

So now I'm talking to my bus. Putting things away in her. She says we've been in town too long. We're a little like sailors, those of us who travel and live on the road. A port of call looks inviting, and we tell ourselves we will stay for a while. But after a while it gets strangely confining and even lonely. There is a camaraderie on the road not found elsewhere. And there is closeness and connection in the parks and mountains, seashores and starry skies.

Home is the open road, the open sea.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Fear and Hope in Heartland America

Still no word on my bus, on my home on wheels. I'm to call Tunie, my mechanic, tomorrow. It will be three weeks. Now I remember why I always did the work myself.

Meanwhile, news from the heartland.

We were sitting around the table at the Black Cat book store here in Truth or Consequences Friday morning when the topic turned to Survivalism.  There were about eight of us.

"Sue, what are you doing to survive?" one of the company was asked as she sat down. This was not about earning one's daily bread. No. More like about stashing away 50 pounds of dried beans and having enough water purification tablets to last when we have to start going down to the river for water. In short, the breakdown of civilization as we know it.

Not everyone was sure the end was near. At the other end of the spectrum there was upbeat enthusiasm. "I'm not worried," someone said. "Whatever I need will always just appear. It always does."
The beautiful post office building built in 1939
during another period of not-so-good times.

There seem to be two currents of thought running through America these days—that the world is coming to an end—or that the world is coming to a new beginning.

Those who see hard times ahead see a breakdown of the electric grid, the transportation networks, outbreaks of famine and disease, riots and social upheavals in the cities, and so on.

Those who see the world changing for the better believe the seeds are already in the ground for a new crop of consciousness to rise up. Cooperation and harmony will flourish, we will live better with less, environmental damage will cease and the planet will begin to heal, the corporate state will wither away, mankind be reborn in a spiritual awakening —all somehow linked to realignment of the planets and stars on or around December 21, 2012, at the end of the 13th and beginning of the 14th baktun of the Mayan calendar.

The two seemingly opposed views flourished in discussion and began to gain common ground.

"Maybe we are talking about the same thing," said one gentleman. "The breakdown of the old order which gives rise to fear is necessary for the birth of the new which gives rise to hope."

Sidewalk markers from ....
....  earlier times in TorC.
What about what's going in now? The Occupation of Wall Street? asked another.

"Their hearts are in the right place but it won't be by changing institutions that we get there from here," said a man in a baseball cap. "The change, as Gandhi said, has to come from within.  You have to become the change you wish to see."

By now the coffee was getting cold,  the scones had been eaten, and the cafe owner was not selling a lot of books.

Outside the sun was shining on sidewalks laid down in a different era of hard times, the Depression, by the Federal Emergency Relief Administration (FERA) and later the Works Progress Administration (WPA). The sidewalks are still around more than 70 years later.

"The main thing," a woman  said as we exited the door into the bright daylight, "is that life goes on. It always does and always will."

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Turtleback Mountain

Folks who live in Truth or Consequences refer to the mountain across the Rio Grande as Turtleback Mountain. There is a song about TorC that begins, "(u)nder the shadow of Turtleback Mountain ... "

But it is not always clear why the big slab of rock across the way bears the name until the setting sun hits at just the right angle, creating lights and shadows showing a giant tortuga splayed upon the summit.

Turtleback Mountain by day
Turtleback Mountain in evening sun.