Ty deals with the Signpost
The final perk
—BARB AND TY BELKNAP
The Taos Solar Music Festival may have been our final perk as
owners of the Signpost. We were trying our darndest to celebrate,
but it just wasn’t working. Barb and I were too stressed-out
over our business-sale negotiations and the uncertainty of our
Selling the Signpost? Yes, it’s true. We’ve
had a good run, but fifteen years is long enough—twice as
long as either of us had ever previously held down a job. No matter
how much time off we had, the Signpost was always there,
impending like a term paper or final exam. But mostly it was very,
very good to us. Our thanks to this fine community and to everyone
who helped to make it rewarding and fun.
Just before driving to the Taos festival, we met with our friend
George— now our attorney, as well. Barb and I, along with
Lowell and Katie Williams, had hired attornies. Neither party
was happy about the legal expense, but we needed to hammer out
the details of what we were selling and what they were buying.
It was more complicated than any of us thought, and the deal was
scheduled for closing on the Monday following the festival. It
was a weekend for us to think.
We pulled into the festival campground late Friday afternoon
to set up a car camp in a defunct motor home park just off the
road to Taos Ski Valley. Beneath magnificent Wheeler Peak, the
park was beautiful in a run-down pastoral way, even though dominated
by broken-down trailer hookups and a gopher colony.
I don’t remember who was playing on stage when the shuttle
dropped us at the festival. We found lawyer George in “beer
jail,” so we had an informal consultation on the impending
sale. Beer jails are a fenced-off curiosity of modern music festivals,
designed to reduce the liability of the drunken frivolity. It
was full of fully-clothed old hippies, a gray shadow of their
wilder days. (Could we possibly look that old?)
A bunch of our friends were clustered near the stage. The BoDeans
played songs I remember from a CD that’s been gathering
dust for the past ten years. Good songs. I just wish they’d
skip the part where the band gets so worked up that they jump
up and down in unison. The lead singer used to be our neighbor
in Placitas—a hairy, rock star-looking guy who used to stroll
into our homeowners’ association meetings in black leather
and chains, his blonde bombshell wife on his arm. The concert
was over by ten, so we took a breather in the courtyard of our
friends’ posh B&B, and then retired to the campground.
The campground roosters started crowing at 3:30 a.m., so I read
until they stopped near dawn—as if we needed something besides
inner demons to keep us awake!
Back at the festival the next day, carrying the added burden
of sleep deprivation, we watched a good reggae band that played
a little too long. It always pisses me off when they start badgering
the crowd with that old refrain of “Are you having a good
time?” Obviously, we weren’t. Obviously, it was time
for another shuttle ride back to camp and a nice nap.
We returned somewhat refreshed, hoping to rock ‘n’
roll to the “heavy guitar riffs, infectious melodies, and
tasteful pop-influenced arrangements along with a mesmerizing
and flashy live show” by Collective Soul. More jumping up
and down, tossing guitars, and shouts of “Are you having
a good time?” Maybe it was our preoccupation with the biggest
decision we’d had to make in the last fifteen years, but
the whole show just wasn’t doing it for us. We decided to
skip the Sunday performance and go home even before Steve Earle
and Susan Tedeschi put a foot on the stage.
I used to reference every life-changing event to a verse from
rock and roll. How’d that song go? ”Seasons change
and so did I. You need not wonder why . . .” It is time
for us to move on.
Next day, we packed up camp and headed out of town. First, though,
we had to stop and tell this guy “Phil Bob” that I
would not be rafting the Taos Box in his ten-foot paddle raft,
as planned. As it turned out, Phil Bob had already shuttled a
truck to the take-out at Pilar and desperately needed a fourth
paddler. Okay, so finally a chance to get out of my head—at
least for a while. That meant Barb had to hang around in Taos
and shop with friends. She was not amused when I reminded her
of her imminent fixed income.
So anyway, the deal went through, and now we are teaching Katie
and Lowell everything we know about desktop publishing over the
next six months. It is a seamless transition, and they plan no
major changes in the Signpost approach to community news.
They’ll do the reporting and editing, the bookkeeping and
ad sales, the paper route, layout, and data processing. Bunny
will continue helping with ad designs and do the website. Rudi
will do his beloved cartoons. Charlie will watch out for the dark
skies. Keiko will write exceptional community and artist profiles
and news. Things are left in good hands.
And by the way, do you remember how the Signpost got
its name? Back in 1988, it was a time in Placitas when many of
the electrical poles were still above ground and covered with
stapled flyers for business services, community meetings, lost
pets, items for sale, announcements, neighborhood get-togethers,
and news—they were signposts. Candy Frizzell saw the need
for a local newspaper and so dubbed the name.
So, keep those letters coming to the Gauntlet to continue
the community dialogue, and keep Katie and Lowell abreast with
story ideas. We’ll probably stay on for a while as editors-at-large,
and sometimes report on our Time Off.