Mariachis stand in front of the Thunderbird Bar in Placitas in the 1970s.
Coffee with Joe Gonzales
Joe is having his morning cup at the Pinon Café. He sits down at my outdoor table, where I am having a breakfast burrito and a cup myself.
I ask about his daughter Jillian, who is moving back to Placitas from New York. Jillian and her husband, Brian, and two-month-old daughter, Annamaria Juanita Butcher, will be here in the fall. I tell him we were just in New York, as well as Boston and Great Barrington, Massachusetts, and Kennebunk, Maine. We both agree life on the East Coast is highly intense and interesting, especially New York City. I tell him about our day at the Metropolitan Museum in Manhattan where we saw the Velazquez-Manet show, which we found amazing.
Joe recently retired from the UNM College of Education’s Multicultural Library Center, which he established and directed. He is currently working on a journal based on his early life in San Antonio which he is dedicating to his daughter Jillian. He says he needs to keep going back to get the stories right, and he hasn’t been back to San Antonio for a while, though he still has relatives there. We talk about the old days of Placitas, when it was small, and everyone knew everybody else. It was friendlier, and there were fewer monied interests. Joe says he refuses to pay for parking. I agree. I tell him there are ways of getting to the hiking trails without going to the “fee areas.”
Then we start speaking Spanish, which Joe finds relaxing. I tell him my spouse and I spend part of the winter in San Miguel de Allende, in Mexico. He says the place enchants him, and says he might be going down to San Miguel this next winter. The winters in Placitas, he says, have been mild lately. Not like in the past when big snows covered Placitas. He says he couldn’t afford to buy his own place these days, what with the price of homes. “The village is not like it was,” Joe says again. I ask about various folks who used to live in The Village. Many have moved, he says. Deaths of old friends in the past several years come to mind: Lee Conner, Mary Ann, André, John Morgan.
Old days that run the gamut. How the myriad conversations came and went, the goodwill exchanged in language. The strange creatures that appeared here, the wild days at the old Thunderbird Bar of Placitas. Joe reminds me that the Thunderbird was our center, our forum, our symposium— where ideas were explored, where stories were told, and where laughter surged from friendly voices and passed beyond us. The camaraderie of those days, what we did with our energies, our affections, our vehemence. Lived out a youth, a Volks camper, a bad war, a skyrocketing high, a refugee’s sense of distance. Closer now, Placitas has become a developed world. But our hearts affirm a fresh, developing world, trying to find a renewed path, a rendezvous with the eternal in man. We have lived in this place a long time, and we know its mountainous contours, the brightness of its sky, the wind kicking up in early summer.
Good to see you again, Joe; we’ll have to do this again sometime. Better than the newspaper, a sense of news heard directly from the human voice, on a warm windy morning, summer, 2003, in Placitas, New Mexico.
Bill Pearlman is a poet, actor, and archetypal dramatist. He is currently developing a Web-based magazine of ideas, Rough Road Review, in collaboration with Dick Hopkins. Pearlman lives in Placitas. See Sandoval Arts in this Signpost for his September archetypal-improvisation workshop schedule.
Dr. Walker named to Republican honor roll
National Republican Congressional Committee Chairman Tom Reynolds has announced that Dr. William Walker, a Bernalillo businessman, has been named to the 2003 Republican Chairman’s Honor Roll.
Dr. Walker serves as cochairman of the committee’s business advisory council and is being recognized for his service and support in keeping the White House and Congress under Republican control. His name will be displayed at the Republican Headquarters building in Washington, D.C. As a member of the honor roll, Walker also qualifies to receive the committee’s highest honor, the prestigious Republican Gold Medal, to be presented at a special awards ceremony in the nation’s capital. Honorees will be announced later this year.