Taos: Excerpts, Updates, and Adaptation

By: Bill Whaley
4 May, 2018


“Let’s kill all the lawyers” (Shakespeare, Henry VI, Part 2, Act IV, Scene 2. “

La Jicarita’s indefatigable KAY MATTHEWS observed the latest Abeyta meeting on Tuesday in Taos. Here’s an excerpt.

“Implementation of the Abeyta Settlement continues to limp along, which doesn’t bother its critics who see it as a financial and bureaucratic burden they’ll gladly put off as long as possible. At last Tuesday’s meeting in Taos it was apparent that little headway has been made in addressing the inadequacy of the hydrology model used as a basis for development of the deep wells stipulated in the settlement, nor in bringing acequias and mutual domestic water associations (MDWCA) on board as operators of those wells. The agency hired to provide cost estimates for the mitigation wells, Denver Technical Services Center, had no presentation ready at the meeting.

“This is going to be a long, arduous implementation that will cost taxpayers many millions of dollars and grave concern over the feasibility of this complex system of wells dependent upon deep aquifer water. It may be limping along but it’s keeping a lot of lawyers on a roll.”

Strong at Heart Alert

“A powerful class of itinerant professional vandals is now pillaging the country and laying it waste. Their vandalism is not called by that name because of its enormous profitability (to some) and the grandeur of its scale.”-–Wendell Berry, “Higher Education and Home Defense” in Home Economics (1987)

Caving in” (From the Taos News)

“Ironically, the last meeting really was kind of a breakdown,” Bellis said. “It really sort of caved in.”

“Some community members who had not yet been heavily involved in the process vocalized their displeasure with Strong at Heart and were extremely vocal about the changes they feared coming to Taos.

“Many showed doubt in the leadership and expressed confusion as to where Strong at Heart organizers were leading the town. The discussion turned from a planning meeting into a grilling session for Anderson and members of the community supporting Strong at Heart.

(Editor’s Note: Clark Anderson, above, of Community Builders, a leader of the Strong at Heart group, is one of Wendell’s “Itinerant Professionals” mentioned above…like Rick Bellis, Taos Town Manager.)

“From the start I think the intent was to provide the community with tools to build consensus, but I think that was met with a surprising level of suspicion, and there has been a lot of reluctance to run with that,” said Rich (a member of the Citizen’s Advisory Committee).

“There is this deep wound that nobody wants to talk about,” said advisory committee member Polly Raye later, “and it’s very painful.”

Editor’s Note: the pithy and predictable reaction below sums up the attitude of some Taosenos, who are victims of the current cultural exploitation wherein: “no locals need apply.”

“`Leave Taos alone. Families have lived here for many years. Nothing needs to change. If you don’t like the way we do things, there’s the door,’ one comment read.”

Dreams Revisited? Or Nightmares?

A long piece in the Taos News, titled: “`Taos 2010’ dreams revisited” was as confusing in substance as the headline indicated. Local spokesmen lament (as their predecessors have for the fifty years I’ve been here) about the need for jobs that would replace dependence on tourism and the decline of agriculture. Their anxiety is as predictable as it is insoluble.

Under an “An economy in flux” the local Howler mentioned that “In 1989, The Taos News interviewed Dave Nesbit, who was then only 22-years-old. “I drive home every day, and I look out across those fields at the mountain and think, ‘I’m a lucky son-of-a-bitch to live here,'” he said at the time.” I have no doubt Dave said the above but my old friend (RIP) was not 22 in 1989, nor, I believe even in 1969 when I first met him, considering that he and Jim Wagner were high school buddies.

Similarly, the Taos News reports that in “The Call of the Subaru” one “Barbara Paul, who taught English literature at Taos High School from 2000 to 2016, remarked in 1989 that she moved to Taos from Santa Fe because she liked the rustic Taos lifestyle.” Maybe in Babs’ journey from Pittsburgh she stopped off in Santa Fe but the “ambiguous style” of the Snooze implies that she arrived in 1989 although I knew her as a Taos resident in the 70s.

The reporter did catch a truism about adapting to life in Taos from Barbara: “We all have Subarus now. There are like five Subarus on my road,” she said, adding that these cars were mostly in the same shade of blue. “I don’t know what that says.”

Older Anglo émigrés have adapted to poor roads and expensive gas by buying the trusty and solid Subarus. Newer Anglos go to meetings because they are “Strong at Heart.”

Editor’s Note: A local cook and waiter, David Bachrach, St. Bernard and Whitey’s, began smuggling used Subarus into Taos from Pittsburgh in the early 80s to supplement his income. He retired from the hard life to easy pickings with the San Diego Padres but still makes the occasional visit.

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