Sacked by the "downturn", an unemployed architect touring the country in a bus...

I used to live in New York City. I designed homes for the tycoons of Wall Street; Park Avenue, Scarsdale, Greenwich. It was great fun. And, after years of saving up for a down payment, I was just about to buy my own little place in Fleetwood, half an hour north of the city, when the economy fell apart. Architects are like canaries in a coal mine when the economy slows, and true to form, there were massive layoffs in firms all over the country. Devastation of the profession. So, I decided to try to find something else to do for a while. I bought a 23' school bus and I'm on the road to see if I can figure out what that might be.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Crestone, Part 3

"I like your hat!" I had exclaimed, when I saw her get off the bus in the parking lot, near Guadalupe Church, in Taos.  I was bringing Lindsey and Heather to my parked bus, to give them the ride they wanted back to Talpa Gardens.  They had come to hear me play my vibes on a corner near Taos Plaza, where I had told them I'd be busking, and so I was feeling pretty good, and when I spotted Jodi, I just said what came into my head.  "Thanks," was her natural reply and she beamed an enormous grin.  I was lock eyed goofy while I asked whatever,..  "Know what this is?" I provoked, gesturing to the triangular "gurney" I was wheeling with little effort, and I followed quickly with, "The largest xylophone you have ever seen, called a vibraphone, ...very mellow, or vibes."  "Ohhhh...!", came out of her perma-grin.  "Where are you from?" popped out of mine.  "Crestone."  "Crestone!  I'm heading there in a day or so!"  "Well, I won't be back 'till Saturday.  I have a woofing farm."  "I know what woofing is, I'm at one now.  I'm giving them a ride back..."  I mugged and mimed a little about wanting to play vibes for her right then and there, and having to fulfill my promise to Lindsey and Heather, who were waiting patiently 50 yards away at the bus, and we laughed.  I said "Can I look you up then?"   She gave me two cards, one for Dreamweavers, her weaving company, and one for Grassrootscaregivers, her healing retreat business, both with the same number and e-mail address.  "See you then."  "Ok."  Smile.  Smile.

From Crestone, Part 1

I love Crestone.  I was 5 in 1960, when my parents, artists, moved us to a charming brick and stone Tudor house in a 200 year old village on Long Island.  I remember the excitement and optimism of the move, and in the years that followed, the excitement of the times, my parents love and admiration for the Kennedys, the Smothers Brothers gentle but clever,poking political wit...  Our house was full of painting, music, puppets, drums, and I bonded to the make-the-world-better zeitgeist of the Beatles, Simon and Garfunkel, The Mommas and the Poppas, over the nihilism of the The Rolling Stones and the Doors.  In '65 my father, possibly influenced by the free-love atmosphere, got involved with my best friend's mom, and his marriage to my mom, his true love, went downhill from there, raging on in fits and spurts for the next thirty years or so.  But one enduring legacy I have, possibly heightened by contrast with the chaos in my life that followed, is a soft spot for the idealism of the '60s and Hippies, and even the naive spiritualists.

And so I love Crestone because I love the reverberations of ancient long lost longings it stirred for me, and I stayed there, entranced, for what I can now hardly believe was only two and a half weeks.

From: Roy
To: Sandy
Sent: Wed, June 2, 2010 4:30:25 AM

Subject: Hi!!!!!!!

Hi Sandy,

Getting a chance to talk with you has been impossible here.  My phone works not at all, and internet access is very, very sketchy.  It seems to be working now, a bit, it’s 4:30 am Wednesday.  I miss you!  Hope you are well.  I’ll keep trying to borrow a phone that works.

Here is a preview of a blog post I’m working on, don’t miss the part about the “debate”!

>     I have had no phone reception since Wednesday.  I’m in Crestone, Co.  It’s an adorable hippie town at the foot hills of the Rockies.  I went to a Full Moon drum circle a few nights ago.  It was great, about 20 people playing hand drums around a fire into the night.  Pot, dancing hippies, and I have enough drumming chops to have made an impression.

I played vibraphone for the town’s Saturday Farmer’s Market.  Made $35, woohoo! 

I’m staying now at Jodi’s farm here in Crestone.  I met her in Taos.  She’s really cute, sort of Julie Christie looking, 40’s I think.  The farm is sort of a religious commune; hippie, Indian, Buddhist, Gayan etc.  We did an authentic Indian ritual cleansing prayer sweat lodge the first morning, Sunday.  It’s sort of a Yurt completely covered in several layers of blankets, with a fire pit in the middle into which the leader, a local guy who knows the ways of the elders, used elk antler pitchforks to place 12 rocks heated to a red glow, after which the door is sealed, water is occasionally poured over the rocks for steam, and in total darkness the 10 participants sitting around the perimeter listen to the leader’s Hopi prayers, and they chant, sing and sweat for a few hours, the hot rocks and steam being replenished periodically.   It’s Hot!  I heard 120 to 150.  Actually, it was quite moving.  The participants pray and sing and speak too, and I heard the woman next to me crying in the darkness.  At my turn, I told the story of Mike H whom I befriended at the Mississippi Katrina Relief place where I worked for 3 months this winter, who at 10 years of age saw his dad murdered, saw his wife blown to bits in an explosion at their warehouse in '92, lost everything to Katrina, including all of his front teeth, now has severe diabetes, and yet in all, remains cheerful, generous, and funny.  I made no religious reference, just expressed my well wishes for my friend.

After the sweat, two attendees, nationally known experts in Hopi prophesy, debated their views for an hour or so, including what will happen to this sacred land when Halliburton gets permission to steal the water beneath it, (apocalyptic volcanic eruption of the Rockies to put Mount Saint Helen to shame), how the CIA has continuity of government shelters built into the sides of the Taos Gorge, unreachable except by their stealth helicopters which only enter at night unseen and in silence, disappearing herds of cows and the 10,000 cow mutilations discovered in the last few decades (the remains of UFO experiments), what the Obama’s think of the info one of them sent them and their appreciative private reply and why they are maintaining public silence, Henry Kissinger’s secret survivalist retreat in the mountains just “over there”, how quantum physics explains the prophesies, what one of them wrote to Obama about what he should tell Netanyahu (“We know you did 9/11), how the gov’t is keeping the friendly UFO’s away and is keeping the bad UFO’s a secret, what Obama should do about the UFO’s, how the couple who crashed the Obama’s party last year were really the CIA telling Obama that they could get to him at any time, like JFK, how Obama’s down fall is predicted by the prophesies in one of the multidimensional history timelines we are on, Obama’s lack of a birth certificate and how the Hopi prophesies predict when his Islamic fundamentalist programming will kick into action, despite his being bought and paid for by BP and Halliburton…

One of the listeners, a healer from Taos, kept saying, “That’s exactly right!” and “The same thing happened to me!”

I’m looking forward to levitation lessons  ;-)  But first, some Mystic Mango.  It’s a Synergy drink.

Were building a green house, so far we are making it out of matter.

(end of draft post)

Sandy, now an Adonis of a mountain climber has shown up.  Great personality, interesting, nice guy, gorgeous.  I hate him, he’s foiling any hope of my crush on Jodi coming to anything.  It’s revolting to watch her going ga-ga.  I hope the Rockies do erupt.

I think I’m leaving on Friday.

I’ll try to borrow a phone.  Hope this e-mail connects…  Write back.

A few days later...

I had made made my feelings known to Jodi a couple of days after I arrived, but it was way too soon, awkward, because I knew she would be leaving at the end of the week, and so I made a little pass and was rebuffed laughingly, but with out more flirting... Then I fumed over Adonis, I mean Andy, but despite my worst paranoia, nothing happened between them (such a Victorian phrase, "nothing happened"..)  Since then, I photoed Jodi and her kids and the farm house (click here), did some hanging around, and even went to a hot spring with her and the kids (no clothes), after which, we actually had a great conversation about our feelings, plans, and so forth...

The fever has passed... sigh, but probably a good thing, a narrow escape from what seems a very difficult situation (single mom, 3 kids, almost no money, starting a farm ["medicinal"], religious retreat, creative center)  We're so different, and yet the thunder clap hit hard.... she is a very sensitive creature, and the scene is so romantic....

I hope we will stay in touch, I'll digest this a while longer, still not completely settled... thunder claps are rare.


Meanwhile I have come to some conclusions about what I want; a creative workshop.  I don't want a job, I want to make things and sell them; furniture, lamps, birdhouses, puppets, I almost don't care or know what it will be, I am inspired by what I have seen people in Taos and Crestone start from nothing.

First step: proof of concept, build Table 1, which I have designed, and sell it.  I visited three woodworkers in Crestone, but none of them nor their shops are up to the job I need.  Perhaps I can borrow shop space or commission what I need near San Francisco, sell it, and then with proof of concept, look for land I can afford, 3 hours north, and over time, build my creative workshop.

A plan.  First time in a long time.


  1. Ah, Roy. Interesting, I've never really considered the possibility of being compared to a greek god. I'm betting Adonis was not half as foul or cynical a bastard as I am, and if it makes you feel better, it does me no good at all here in the cold mountains of New England. Thank God I can get pleasure out of fucking my own good looking hand! For what it 's worth, though, I never had any interest in breaking up whatever you were hoping for with Jodi, but you should be happy it happened the way it did. Chicks are a pain in the ass.

  2. Hi Andy!

    I’m glad to hear from you. I hope you know my sour graping was entirely good natured.. I do think you’re a great guy and have, and had, no ill will whatsoever. Ok, yeah a bit ‘o jealousy for the attention at the time. The lamenting e-mail to my friend Sandy was real, but there’s some artistic license in the story as I told it. Anyway, I had plenty of face time and I was certainly free to stay around as long as I wanted if I thought there was a real possibility of something coming of it.

    Hey, I hope things are going well for you and your flame. Don’t tell me your single and lonely up north after all!!?

    Hope you had a great time with your son and scaled all sorts of mountains. I thought of you frequently in Zion and Bryce. If you’ve not been, you’re gonna love them, especially Zion, Angel’s Landing… I’m sure you won’t take the tourist trail!

    I’m glad you checked out my blog :-) If you have a chance, read about Jerome, AZ. I learned a lot in Taos and Crestone about people inventing their lives and building something on a shoe string, and it encouraged me to make a plan, which I found (but lost) in Jerome, but am seeking to fulfill here in Northern Cali, or if all else fails, back in Lexington Mass again… so we could be on the same coast again.

    Anyway, “You’ve got to have a dream, if you don’t have a dream, how’er you gonna have your dream come true?”



  3. Hey Roy,

    Hah! Of course I realized the sour graping was all for the beauty of the story. And, of course, we have all had our loves and dreams of love callously ground under heel by some silly person who had no idea just how important or beautiful it was, and there is usually the anti-hero in such stories. I totally took it in good nature, though, and actually thought you told the story quite well. Although, egotistical prick though I may be, I still think that I've got a way to go until I reach any sort of God-like status.
    I actually did read your story of Jerome. Sounds like an absolutely ridiculous display. I guess needless beaurocracy exists everywhere, not just in good 'ol New England. It was too bad that it happened that way, though, because your joy was certainly shining through the post beforehand. I'm sorry you encountered that snag, but as we are all consistently told (and get quite tired of hearing, thank you) everything happens for a reason, so lets just hope for something better around the corner!
    My son and I had an absolutely incredible time! We traveled the heights in Rocky Mountain National Park, ate lunch among Goddesses in Boulder, spent an enchanting week in Cabondale at a wonderful (and free) campsite, and even managed to make it to the sand dunes! We then spent that week in Taos touring the hot springs that I said I would have. Then, sadly, we bid farewell to the west and made the death march across I-40 to South Carolina. I spent 2 weeks with my parents, then came back to something that somewhat resembles home, although it doesn't quite feel that way yet. To be honest, I think I fell in love with Taos, and am currently devising a plan to run away and live as a castaway in a large teepee on the Arroyo Hondo. Something about the mix of tall mountains, desert, and the Rio Grande Gorge really struck a chord with me, not to mention the interesting group of young locals and fantastic amount of pretty girls without sticks up their asses! Who knows what the future will bring, but for now it's my fantasy and I'm reveling in it!
    As far as my flame here, it is nice and comfortable, but I think we are both, perhaps, too recently damaged by the demise of long relationships, and perhaps feeling a bit like experiencing life without requirements put upon ourselves by others. We are enjoying each other, and who knows where these things may go, but she is currently fantasizing about winter surfing in Bali, and I am dreaming of my little girl and myself being bohemians in the desert.
    Well, Roy, I wish you the best and hope it works out for you in CA. Are you spending time with your friend out there? You should know that in all of my stories of Crestone I like to emphasize how nice it was to have a kindred easterner there, just to even out that "alien" influence a bit. You also have the honor of being one of only 3 people I felt deserved to be photographically documented along the way.

    By the way, did you ever hear if the greenhouse was finished? Perhaps, some evening as you gaze at stars, you may happen to see it fully assembled and flying through the air, with Jim Storrey at the helm, a la "chitty chitty bang bang"

    Happy Trails,

  4. Hi Andy,

    HA! Yeah, Starrey's idea of the lift over the green house, writ large... not bloody likely! I know what you mean about Taos. If it weren't for the snow, I'd be there. Great, great place. Nothing like it in all my travels, except for Crestone, but Taos has the magic, plus enough people to be a real town. Maybe someday I'll get over my aversion to cold weather. Funny, I'm actually considering going back to New England, so go figure.

    I'm certain things happen for no reason what so ever, but as it turns out, the west coast is fabulous for what I'm doing. Fort Bragg has a world famous woodworking school and so the whole region has the best woodworkers in the world scattered throughout. I'm sharing a shop for the month of Ausust in Oakland Cali (see recent posts) and have made several contacts with high end craftsmen up in Mendocino county. I don't know where this is leading me, but it's great.

    If you do run away to Taos or elsewhere, I suggest getting a mini school bus!