Tomorrow night (Thursday, September 4) is the 84th annual burning of Zozobra, a grotesque 50 foot tall marionette also known as "Old Man Gloom". If you and I were in Santa Fe, we could follow the luminarias out of town, a frito pie in our hand and mezcal already in our stomach, and we could stand around the huge bonfire and be amazed at the spectacle: music, dancing, and art everywhere we could look. We would write our personal tales of woe on a piece of paper and drop it into the Gloom Box. At dusk, we would be edified that our problems would disappear into the orange ashes trailing up into the night sky.
I spent a wonderful afternoon Monday in Santa Fe with my mom and my ex. Yeah, my ex and I broke up three months ago, but we're still really close (perhaps *too* close). Isn't my mom adorable? And she's from the midwest, so she is amazingly kind and nice. She will cook you a "hot dish" even if you tell her not to. And my ex? He's still the hottest sexiest bear I've ever met. If we go into any bar, he's still the man I would want to bring home. Shame about the divorce, but it's for the best.
Driving back from my boardgame weekend in Albuquerque, we decided to stop for something to eat. Little did we know that there was a wonderful artist market in the Plaza, and Santa Fe's amazing shopping and restaurants sucked us in for five unplanned hours. My mom bought a braclet for herself and a necklace for her daughter-in-law. I bought a cookbook from Mark Miller's "Coyote Cafe". Then we all had lunch at the amazing "Pink Adobe" restuarant: tasty Gypsy Stew, but their chicken salad isn't as spectacular as it once was (http://www.thepinkadobe.com).
One thing I love about Santa Fe is that it is a genre all its own. I don't know how to describe it, but some cities have an amazing unique sense of place and style. For example, no town could out-New-Orleans New Orleans. The Big Easy is a perfect combination of fun, food, and history. Similarly, Santa Fe, while at times being a tacky tourist trap, still has a one of a kind vision of the Old West. All the adobe buildings, the scent of pinon and chile in the air.
It would be wonderful to be an artist in Santa Fe. ("Oh the light... the LIGHT!") You could be surrounded by such wonderful art at all times. There is tacky stuff next to the hottest contemporary art. Lowbrow Juxtapoz paintings next to stunning hispanic culture. Crafts and imports and site installations and photography and live performance, all in a funky sexy little town.
I had to check out the contemporary glass at the museum. I didn't have time to check out the seventh international biennial at my other favorite museum: SITE Sante Fe (http://www.sitesantafe.org). Maybe next time. But I did get to buy a piece of Nambe silver... a beautifully squashed bowl.
If someone from another country wanted to visit the US (and had an unlimited travel budget), I would try to pick the most interesting cities I could. New York city, definitely. New Orleans, as I mentioned, and maybe Las Vegas, just to blow their mind. I don't think I would recommended Minneapolis or Denver; as much as I love living in those cities, I don't think they have a flavor or feel that is completely unknown outside the USA. Maybe take my foreign friend into the mountains, or in LA or San Francisco or Seattle near the coast. But I would definitely tell them to stop by Santa Fe. It's cowboys and hucksters and space and dreams and love and art. And Zozobra.