Santa Fe Journal - Day 1

Monday, July 8, 2002

Originally written July 4, 2002.

It’s too bad I can’t blog from out here. How awesome if this town had a wireless network spanning it, allowing geeks from all over to read Metafilter from the comfort of their backyards…

Actually, Santa Fe isn’t a Metafilter kind of town. Santa Fe works like a giant municipal meditation center, with nothing but low-level, adobe building scattered about, some curvy roads, and a slew of art galleries offering various forms of airy, southwestern art. Like summer camp, with bungalows tucked between the trees around a central mess hall that happens to have a state capitol building built into it. It’s about 7,200 feet high (according to our host Kathy) and is intensely quiet. I sit outside right now — it’s about 7:30 mountain standard time — looking out from the grounds right in front of our adobe home, up into the cloudy grey sky with premonitions of rain hovering along the ridge of the mountains on the horizon — and it’s almost perfectly quiet. I hear the faint pulse of a Method Man CD coming from Loveless’ part of the house, and a tinny DJ Shadow CD echoes faintly from Kathy’s side, but even those down quiet break the peace out here. I understand why this seems to be both a meditation/yoga mecca and a popular spot for vacation homes for the weathly and fabulous. Val Kilmer lives here (according to Joe), Woody Harrelson has a home here (according to Kathy), and Julia Robert has something big going on just north of town that could be a wedding or might just be a large party but either way involves a bunch of big white tents (according to the newspaper, The New Mexican — “The Oldest Newspaper in the West”).

You probably don’t know who any of these people are — Kathy, Joe, and Loveless. Let’s start from the top.

A couple weeks ago Joe started planning to come out the Santa Fe to visit his old friend Kathy, who has been beggin him to come visit her again. He invited me along to provide a little balance, and at the last minute invited another friend, Julietta (hoo-lee-etta), to come out with us as well. Joe’s a young would-be filmmaker who has his fingers all throughout Austin’s indy film scene, volunteering with the Austin Film Society, working on small film project with local folks, and just generally schmoozing the hell out of anyone tied to the film scene starting in Austin and spreading across the southwest to Hollywood. Joe also brought me along with him to an AFS party out at Richard “Slacker/Dazed et Confused/Waking Life” Linklater a couple(? — yeah, I guess it’s been just two) weeks ago out at Rick’s Bastrop property. If you’d like to know more about that, let me know — I just haven’t had the chance to write anything up about it. So, that’s Joe, I guess. Hate to sum up a person by their work, but — well — we’ll just have to make do for now. Julietta is a friend of his who came from Medallin, Columbia to study Public Relations at the U of T. She’s a cute girl with a thickly slurred south-american accent — I don’t remember how they came to be friends.

So Joe got these plans together and we agreed on it. Originally we would have left Austin at about 10AM Wednesday — yesterday — morning. Then I decided to be two hours late getting ready (had to clean the truck, clean the house, pack some clothes…). Then we had to hunt down a shower curtain to act as a waterproof tarp to hold our luggage down in the bed of my pickup as we drove through currently rainy west Texas. Then we got Julietta at about 1:30 from her condo down on Riverside and as we were driving up the ramp connecting I-35 to 183, going to Kim Phung to pick up the order we made — the clutch snapped on my truck and I found myself totally unable to get the truck into gear. Crap.

Two minutes after this happened, as we’re sitting cramped up in my truck, while I’m on the phone with AAA, a white pickup truck slows down and stops ahead of us. I looks kind of like mine, but larger. So it stops and starts backing up towards us. What the hell’s this? If you don’t know where we are, exactly, I can be more precise: If you are dirving north on I-35 and are interested in continuing your journey north on 183, you exit and take that ramp that goes waaay up into the air and deposits you into 183. We broke down right at the top of that, like six stories up. And now this guy backs up in his pickup, and unfolds a towing rig out of the bed in which it had been hidden. We figure out that he’s a repo man, on his way to pay his rent for the month (three days late), and he’ll tow us off the ramp for $10. Cool. We do it. He takes us to some service station on the 183 frontage road. Would he be willing to tow us all the way back to my parent’s house for $20 (I ask Joe to ask him)? Yeah, sure. But we have to ride in the cab of his truck with him (all three of us). Fine. This gives the guy and Joe a chance to talk. The dude repossessed cars for a living. $100 per vehicle. He did three or four per night. Was missing a tooth. Said he’d been threatened with guns and all sorts of violence from guys not willing to return the cars they’d stopped making payments on. Had all sorts of stories. Fascinated Joe who decided he’d like to write a script about a repo man dad showing his son the repo ropes.

So — I don’t really know how much more detail about our misadventures getting out of Ausitn you need to hear, but we got to my house (where I showed them around), Joe rollerbladed to his place to get his car to transport us to Julietta’s to get her car while I called AAA (again), got the truck towed to the Casis Texaco, got that all worked out, and waited in conversation with Julietta while Joe came back. Then Julietta and I got her car, repacked, got dinner at Kim Phung, and got out of town at about 7 — nine hours after our original scheduled departure. Thanks to good Jeebus that clutch didn’t bust an hour outside of Abeline…

So anyway. We hit the road.

What can you really say about roadtripping? The pattern’s the same: you rotate CDs, rotate drivers, act all giddy about the first stage of your trip, and just go. Stop at a few gas stations. Take a few pisses when you need to. Sleep when you can (if you’re travelling overnight like we did), and before you know it you’re waking up to your destination. Easy as pie. We didn’t have many difficulties getting to Santa Fe (once we left Austin). We did stop at the last Borders before leaving Austin to pick “Road to Perdition,” the graphic novel soon to be presented on the silver screen as a feature starring Tom Hanks, up for Joe — while waiting at my house he started flipping through my dad’s copy and discovered that it takes place in the Quad Cities (which I forget, but two are in Iowa and tow in Illinois, on opposite banks of the Mississippi river) since Joe grew up in a couple of the Quad Cities and hadn’t ever heard of a movie taking place in those towns.

So — in my own medandering narrative style — I’ve worked us up to Santa Fe. We got into town at about 7AM (mountain standard), tried to follow Kathy’s directions to get to her place, failed to find her place, and instead ended up at the town square where July 4th festivities we going strong. A marching band played Battle Hymn fo the Republic, God Bless America, and other festival favorites while we worked our way through the tight crowds, eventually finding our way into three free tickets good for a plateful of pancakes, juice, milk, ham (or veggie sausage), and syrupy apple wedges. A $5 value. Ours for free. Good good. Saved some money on that; I’m trying to keep my budget at about $15 a day.

So we ate sitting down and walked around that part of town for a few minutes before wandering back to Julietta’s car and trying our luck finding Kathy’s plaec a second time. And we did. I’ll spare you the details of that, too, because they’re complex. But they do involve Joe and Julietta somehow misspelling egregiously almost every street name in Kathy’s directions. Pafeo street? No, Paseo del Pasado. Oh. Bollento road? No, Barrento. Oh. I found it funny. That’s what matters.

So we got to Kathy’s at, like 10AM this morning (though it’s been a super-long day and that almost feels like yesterday already). We got here just in time to meet Loveless cooking some bacon and eggs of Kathy and Claire. Apprently, Loveless (yeah — that’s his first name) is a movie producter of some variety. Joe claims he works with the Farrelly brothers (who made “About a Boy” and “American PIe,” amongst other flicks) but now he’s working on getting some new dating show on television. Don’t really know the details. Loveless doesn’t talk a whole lot. He enjoys playing hip-hop on his pumpin’ stereo (he had it going during breakfast, and has had it going since he got back a few hours ago). And he plays a mean NBA 2K1 on his Dreamcast and wide television set. He looks to be about thirty-five and is a stocky-ish black guy. He owns the property and is letting Kathy rent out one of the guest buildings from him. Claire’s a gorgeous blond girl who seems kind of mellow-halfway-stoned all the time. Doesn’t say much, either, but sort of hovers around talking quietly and reading magazines. Not clear what the relationship is, but Joe and I have decided that — whatever else he may be — Loveless is a player. He plays the game. And with the fat house in Santa Fe stocked with cute girl, he’s playing a good game.

So anyway. We three weary travellers figured our shit out in Kathy’s part of the house while Kathy and Claire at their food and Loveless did whatever. Having travelled overnight, we were all experiencing varying degrees of exhaustion, but we managed to get up the energy to let Kathy drive us around town a bit —

Kathy had been asleep when I started writing this, but now she’s back up and about, wandering around in varying degrees of dress. She’s cute.

So. I’m having a difficult time remember what all we did today. We went to the Aztec coffeeshop first. Seems like a sort of smaller, adobe Mojo’s Daily Grind, with punk-rock servers, and a small sunny outside area full with people chattering — all of whom seemed to know each other or at least be cool with talking to new people about stuff and stuff. Joe and I had Yerba MatÚs — a drink I describe as a lightly caffeinated tea-sort-of drink that tastes like grass clippings, but in a good way. Yerba MatÚ (or just “matÚ,” as seems to be the vernacular) has made it’s way out to Austin from the west coast (and there from central america — the exact origin being Guatamala or Venezuela or Ecuador depending on who you’re talking to) within the past year and is pretty good drinking. Like I said, it tastes like grass clippings. Most people have a “yuk” reaction on first sip. If you stick with it, it’s actually quite good. I daresay it’s a totally new realm of taste. It’s not sweet. Not bitter. Not sour. Not salty… Grassy. But in a good way.

Enough of that. We had matÚ. Wanted: Young writer capable of generating hundreds of words on any of the four million minute experiences of his life. $10K/mo + benefits. So… Had our drinks, talked about film stuff with Joe while Kathy chattered along with nearly everyone there. Someone brought their kid and she played with him. Talk talk talk all of us and then off to drop Joe and I off at some bookstore-coffeeshop combo while the girls went shopping.

Right now, it’s getting darker. Some girl just arrived for the party we’re having tonight. The darly textured grey clouds loom close overhead. It’s a mix of gloomy and cozy out here. It’s like summer camp.

Sounds like there’s a total ban on fireworks this year due to the overwhelming fire hazards that obviously exist. So it goes.

So Joe and I poked around this arty bookshop and flipped through some magazines at the coffeeshop (which had a —

Starting to rain! More later…