Wednesday, March 09, 2005

Cultural notes--hippie days in New Mexico

I don't care for Taos either, but I still like southern New Mexico,
which has always been more endangered by open pit mining than by
gentrification. Perhaps the former is what it takes to hold off the
latter. I remember about 4 years ago sitting one moonlit night in a
seedy little rock lined outdoor commercial hot spring somewhere in the
middle of absolute nowhere off the road from Deming to Silver City and
it was really beautiful and the water was terrific, several pools of
different temperatures, and all the people enjoying it were cowboys or
maybe unemployed miners plus some high school kids. You could rent a
bathing suit for a dollar or so, guaranteed by the proprietorship to be
freshly laundered, if you ran across this place by accident or came on
the spur of the moment. My wife and I were both renters. We were
cautioned to watch for rattlesnakes. It was great. Hopefully it is still
in business. Can you imagine what such a place would turn into if it
existed within a hundred miles of Taos or Santa Fe? There would be a
faux adobe building or maybe a real adobe building designed by a faux
architect next door with a conference room and an art gallery, and
spiritual retreats would be held there, and the experience of one night
under the stars would cost you half my social security check.

Back in the early 70s Kay and I once went up from El Paso where we
lived, to Taos, or a little town near Taos, I don't even remember the
name now, to visit Guilford Webb on his commune devoted to the
furtherance of the teachings of Herman, a guru from Brooklyn who I
believe was satirized briefly in one of Edward Abbey's books. We never
actually met Herman, but we were received with intense hostility by his
acolytes and indeed everyone with whom we were not previously and
personally acquainted, namely everyone but Guilford and a couple of others,
old Austin beatniks whom we had known from the early 60s. It
seemed to be the Taos style. As best I could tell, all the communes
were suspicious of each other, and of course the hispanics did not care
for the hippies at all, and the Indians did not like anyone, with good
reason I am sure, and the rich anglo newcomers in Santa Fe were
disliked by one and all, but had enough money not to notice. It was not
at all like Austin, or for that matter anyplace else I had ever been
which had a sizable hippie presence.

Kay got really mad at Guilford about this, who like most of the
permanent hippie residents of northern new mexico had money from home,
in his case a trust fund, to support his spiritual quest. When he came
to visit us in El Paso she chewed him out about the rudeness of his
fellow communards. He didn't know what we were talking about. He said
we should meditate more and we'd get over it. He pulled a cushion off a
couch and assumed a lotus position on the floor and closed his eyes and
began filling up our living room with loud resonant AUMMMS. Sure enough
Kay got over being angry.

1 comment:

natty bumpo indian scout said...

beeeautiful! I luv the nue you. I am downright jealous of your cyber travels. Just hit the road east dharmababee and come sea what u see. natty