|Antoinette Nora Claypoole
|Jukebox at Taos Junction
All I know for certain is that there is an Allsup's at the entry way to the Pueblo. And a hotel built in the1950's called the Kachina Lodge. Some people don't like going there because of the name. A corporation bought the place a few years back--the hotel, not the Pueblo--a place where children are raised, young men go into Kiva, and the casino calls middle aged woman from cayonlands of Utah who wonder if they will get lucky out there.
I want to set up a fortune teller's booth along route 68 and soothsay their destiny. If they are white and trust fund women, "Yes. You'll get lucky." Any Indian man they meet is usually bound by Taos tradition to take the woman home. Some people call this "buying an Indian." Some of us just say "Yes, those white women got lucky and they didn't even have to slam the slots." Just talk a lot, take the cigarette out of a Tewa man's mouth. At the moment he is about to drag on an American Spirit. Like a USA today article about yet another attack on Iraq. Tewa man drags on this spirit and remembers where he came from. Woman. She'll take the smoke, put it out in an ashtray which may or not start a fire and ask the guy if wants to be her wild ember.
Here the Taos mountain wants to protect everyone from the lightning strike of thunderheads rumbling within the BMW's cruising the Paseo del Pueblo Norte during any Wednesday and Saturday. Like an old Crosby, Stills, and Nash song. There are suites for blue eyes, any Judies and something inside that's telling me that he's got her secret.
The Tewa, the "Red Willow People" hold Taos like a legend of Billy the Kid written into the soundtrack of a movie. Some of their prayers sculpt the air breathed in this high desert mountain town. The long hair of their men is braided into the psyche of visitors who dare imagine life before Walmart. And still the most intoxicating thing about this town is not the songs left unsung but rather the persistence of Tewa women in keeping their men. Tewa women know how to claim their link to roads home before the four lanes came. By dancing into the psyche of a song not yet written. These brave mothers daughters sisters hold their men together. Even when some random woman might arrive in town trying to collect Indian guys. Like silver charms we used to wear on bracelets way back in the old days.
Once Taos was Tewa. Hippies came later as part of what some Hopi believe was the tribe of White People come to make amends for their forefather's sins and such. Before all that, Native people had been living a "dream" some White people seem to glamorize. Categorize, eulogize, or down right romanticize. Alot happened before the Spanish conquest, before the Tewa Revolt of 1680, before Iroquois Nation helped those Europeans write a Declaration of Independence, before little houses on the prairie, lone star states or condominiums in Durango. Before Spanish land grants, youth hostels, Easy Rider filmed at the Hot Springs of Hondo, before Dennis Hopper bought buildings and pink cadillacs near the plaza, even before Tewa Elders said "amen" at the end of a Christian prayer spoken in their own language.
Some Hopi and Tibetan Buddhists insist it is women who will save our planet from demise, from the armageddoned gates of hell which press up against our minds, eyes, like a midday autumn spell in an R.C. Gorman print. It will be women living in an old Woodstock song. Played on a jukebox so many years later. Who will save the planet. Women who live on the land, come to town and save their men from a sloppy slow dance to those stray cat blues. Women who lure their men away from blondes or revloned brunettes, "saving" their men from silver toned sweeties and buzz cut crankies who flaunt "I AM your opportunity. Take me." It is women unafraid to be representatives of life without greed. Planting seeds of hybrid function for future generations to sing about. While quarters fall through our pockets randomly. And jukeboxes beg for our attention.
Still, not every Tewa is a guy looking for a grand ride to the islands. And much to the despair of some, not every Tewa is a rare Robert Mirabald. Not every blonde is a dyed Gidget gone Hawaiian. Not every long haired man is an Indian. But we all have something in common: Seeking a place of refuge in a world threatening itself with extinction. But I am no Taos expert.
Taos might be the place where all nations come to heal. It might sell itself to the wealthiest art dealer from L.A. It might be the place older women pull the hair ties from an Indian mans' braid, rustling him in a Texan accent "Hey just give a white girl a thrill!" Taos might be where memorial services for gurus flourish, or it just might be where 40,000 years of prayers to Blue Lake protect the human race.
All I know for certain is that at least one jukebox outside of town still has old 45's inside--"odd looking C.D.'s" some young girls from Colorado call them. A quarter still buys a johnny angelled song which reminds some of us that maybe the dance is all that is left. It's the place we go back to. Visiting where we came from so we can get to where we imagine we are going. Which is not, I sense, anywhere we have yet to name. Taos?? The Spanish word for Tewa. Red Willow People.
There are many names for one place. Many places that make words obsolete.
This is just one story of a place which might be an anecdote. Might be a mother's lament. My sense?? Like fresh cement, carve your name and date into whatever place you find along this tight wired walk. Notice where you are. Write a story of its glory. Like Dorothy and Auntie Em, like Toto and red shoes, there is a backyard, some land, some sky, a rainbow and the witches. Yes. The women. Remember it is us--not them embodying the colonizer men--us life bringer wild ones who are the sorcerers of harmonies in this story.
And in this town of many stories somethings cannot be named. Except maybe the flowers of late summer. The hollyhocks. Adorning Highway 64 and onward. Where, unlike the bridge to nowhere spanning the Rio Grande Gorge ravaged by photographers and lookey loos, temples to a goddess are still waiting to be built.
All I know for certain is that I play the jukebox alot around here, wondering why I like to dance so much.