The Good Taoseno/Taosena laughs to keep from crying!

By: Bill Whaley
7 August, 2018

On a Personal Note

So, Jules Sanchez, my landlady, who, along with her husband, Gene, gave me shelter from the storm these last four years, died on Sunday at 6:20 pm in her sister’s house down in Albuquerque. Diagnosed with the Big “C” in January, she worried first about her husband Gene and sister Lee, the effects of her sickness on the living. Until she ran out of energy, she cooked for Gene and tended to the cat and dogs who tended to her. She made the TV run on time for Gene. A voice of moderation, Jules never took mine and Gene’s conversations about local politics too seriously. She laughed with us at our foolishness.

Jules spent her formative years as a first generation Polish Catholic, part of the eastern European enclave, whose various ethnic groups filled alternating blocks in Joliet, Illinois (her sister Lee worked at the prison made famous in the opening scene about Joliet Jake in The Blues Brothers, 1980). An early career in show biz (she was in “Hair” on Broadway) gave Jules a kind of joie de vivre and je ne sais quoi (joy of life and an “intangible so what?”) attitude that segued nicely with the vagaries of northern New Mexico.

When I think of Gene and Jules I also think of Gene’s parents, Mary and Joe, longtime Taosenos, active in arts and politics, the twin organizing principles of high culture in Taos. At Gallery A and the Town Council, Gene and Jules carried on the legacy, the publication of the Gene Kloss book and kept the files of the twisted paper trail that is the Town of Taos.

We waited, me, Molly the Cat, Ollie and Roxy, the Boston Terrier-Pomeranian pups. Though her spirit is present in every crevice of the house and yard, Jules this time isn’t coming home. And we shall miss her dearly.

“Third World” Conditions?

What with this or that headline in Taos, it’s difficult to laugh when crying seems more appropriate. Eleven children, living in third world conditions, rescued: you can read about Taos County/Amalia and the Red River Sheriff of TCSO from sea to shining sea on the front pages of major newspapers, hear the news on NPR, catch a comment on national TV. But, why, locals ask, make an exception for these children marooned in Amalia, when so many children live similarly out by Two Peaks west of the Bridge? You could say the Amalia orphans (despite allegations of parents present) “are not from here.” West of the Gorge “third world” conditions have been historically present for lo’ these many decades.

The Bomb!

The legacy of Los Alamos National Lab keeps on giving, pits, jobs, and money to make the Washington and New Mexico world of politics safe for the careers of liberals and conservatives alike i.e. Sen. Heinrich, Sen. Udall, Rep. Lujan-Grisham, Lujan, and Pearce. Read Greg Mello’s Las Alamos Study Group newsletter or google Kay Matthews story in the current issue of La Jicarita, “Pit Production at LANL? A Delusion or Doomsday.”

Cycles of Cure and Kill

If the cure doesn’t kill with chemo and radiation, then the cancer carried by the downwind poisoned-air, thanks to the residual effects of Plutonium Pits and depleted uranium exposed by fires on the Parajito Plateau, visits Taosenos. When I succumbed to the charms of Taos I knew neither that the pristine breeze carried invisible shards of uranium nor that “tolerance” for individual eccentricity meant children should suffer hunger and abuse or that New Mexico would always be last in terms of humane American standards of living. Similarly I did not know that the medical-industrial complex keeps the current cycle of dialectical capitalism alive with transfer payments to the neo-liberal upper classes as the system vacuums up depleted savings accounts from the sick with depleted uranium.

How many of your friends and mine have died from an unnatural life due to “fall-out” whether social or physical aqui en Taos? There’s something perverse about living in Taos.

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