New Mexico: The Best Mexico

Wow. I’m tired. So instead of something intelligible, I’m going to list, in roughly chronological, and hopefully coherent order, all of the good things that happened in the last few days. All of it in my favorite state: New Mexico.

1. Meeting the mayor of Santa Fe. We spent the day and night with Carol Oppenheimer and Morty Simon, two of my favorite people who were recently referred to (negatively) as a “power couple” in Santa Fe politics — they are labor educators and living wage advocates. With them we ran into the mayor, who is a longtime friend of theirs, since he came from the labor movement, and got to exchange a few words with the mayor of New Mexico’s capital city. He was looking dapper and relaxed, in a button-down green shirt and crisp khaki pants. But time is money, and he had to run. “I’m going to cruise the South Side,” he said. “But first I need an iced coffee.”


2. Coming upstairs this afternoon and finding Carol playing John Prine songs on guitar, with Cameron and Morty singing along. Love John Prine. I’m sorry I missed the rendition of Angel from Montgomery, but I’m glad my request for Blue Umbrella was granted.

3. Tinkertown. Wow. I could say a million words about Tinkertown, but they wouldn’t come close. Near Albaquerque, a man named Ross Ward, then employed as a carnival painter, began to create the world of Tinkertown. Hundreds and hundreds (if not thousands) of figurines and props were whittled from wood, painted, and arranged. Many of them are animatronic, and they move when you press a button. The scenes are from the Old West, and there is, I believe, an internal coherence to the “world” of Tinkertown, from the graveyard to the circus to the town square. The picture below is just one “scene” out of more than a score.


Ward began his career painting signs, and then moved on to painting sets for carnivals, before turning all of his energies to Tinkertown. And I’m so glad he did. It’s makes your heart throb to see someone put everything he has into a dream, and to do it so uniquely, so creatively. There were dozens of handwritten (or -sculpted) signs around the Town, with the sort of half-cliched inspirational phrases that one might normally forget immediately, but to know that they had come not from a Hallmark author but someone who had lived them… it gave them a real meaning. One that really moved me: “If you do what you’ve always done, you’ll get what you’ve always gotten.” Let it marinate.

In addition, there’s all kinds of other bizarre things. There was a fortune telling machine, like the kind from the movie Big, along with dozens of other ancient machines. The Fortune teller said to me: “The happiness I can foresee for you is beyond words. And why not. You are a very witty person [ahem ahem], gay [not really in either sense] and attractive [finally some recognition]. You are very popular [more than “very”] and are well liked by the opposite sex [see, I told you I’m not gay] . Your charm and your sense of humor is always a source of joy to those who surround you. You believe in the adage of live and let live, and fair play is your watch word.”

Tinkertown. When I die I’d like to be “reborn” as one of Ross Ward’s characters. Sort of like Beetlejuice, but much less sleazy.

4. Finally getting out of that hour.5 traffic jam in Nowhere, New Mexico.

5. Eating that last piece of deer jerky. It’s just good food, can’t believe I ever regretted buying almost a pound of it. Next time you watch Bambi or see a family of deer prancing around and stop and pull over and watch them and feel like a real naturalist, think of me and take a bite.

6. Listening to the recording of the Olivia Tremor Control concert we drove 1,500 miles to see in Athens, Georgia two years ago, the first show they’d played in over 5 years. Still shocked they haven’t released any new material.

Songs of the day: Pling!, by Shuggie Otis, was just about perfect with the sun slowly setting. (See sidebar.) And later on, late at night near Flagstaff Arizona, Racing in the Streets by Bruce Springsteen was epic in every sense of the word.

Published in: on July 2, 2007 at 8:51 am  Comments (1)  

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One CommentLeave a comment

  1. the subject of this post deeply offends me. I bite my thumb at you. viva!

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