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People 3

My first morning in Taos, I sat on the back patio of Cafe Tazza, a coffee shop. My plan was to continue reading Studs Terkel's Working, but I was distracted by the conversation next to me. A tan lady with short gray hair, blue plaid shirt, and jeans, had come from the back entrance and spotted a friend, and began to talk to her. She looked rather normal, not homeless or crazy at all. I took the best notes I could:

"Did you have a good July 4th? Good. I just read the Dharma Bums and I felt like Jack Kerouac, so I went into the woods on July 4th and took off all my clothes to let the mosquitoes eat me. I've been reading about myself in Nostradamus, there's a prophecy about how I'm going to conquer the West. I'm still thinking about that, I need to think out loud, you know? Thanks for listening. I thought I'd go to an American-Indian ceremony, but they're all commercial these days. I just want to experience some authenticity, something real. I was at a Japanese Tea Ceremony recently, they're authentic. I think I belong in the Orient, they are focused authenticity, like me. I just want to live on a rice paddy in Japan, especially a brown rice paddy. That's the most harmonizing grain, it's my favorite. I don't want to be famous, I don't want this prophecy, I just want to live anonymously on a rice paddy. Kennedy said 'Ask not what your country can do for you, but what you can do for her.' He was right, but I've got to think of myself. You know, the prophecy was saying I'm the Christ, and I thought, you know, I do remember the spikes in my hands when I was on the cross. But you know what, I'd rather be the anti-christ, we all would. That's just more fun. I'm sorry for going on about this, I just need to think out loud, I just don't know what to do. I didn't ask for this responsibility, I just want to live on a rice paddy. That's all. Andy Warhol said 'It would be very glamorous to be reincarnated as a great big ring on Liz Taylor's finger.' I have to be the Christ. You know, speaking of Warhol, I saw Search for Signs of Intelligent Life on Broadway. The play is soup, the audience is art. I have the last line memorized, but I can never say it without crying. [Starts to walk away, comes back. Pauses for tears.] 'I like to think of them out there in the dark, ...... watching us. Sometimes we'll ..... do something and they'll laugh. Sometimes we'll do something ..... and they'll cry. And ....... maybe one day we'll do something so magnificent, everyone in the universe will get goose bumps.' ........ I saw that with a friend who later died from AIDS. Do you understand, though, that we're going to be ok. We're all going to make it back, we're going to ride the course and be ok, understand that."

After apologizing for going on and on to her friend, she goes inside and plays the piano for half an hour, then wanders out. She was in the shop the next day, sitting by the barista, reading a magazine.



( 9 comments — Leave a comment )
Jul. 25th, 2006 05:17 pm (UTC)
This is amazing. Overhearing interesting weird conversations is my favorite thing in the world.
As I started reading this I was about to say that your trip is making you start to sound like Jack Kerouac and then he was mentioned in the woman's monologue. I was amused.
Jul. 25th, 2006 05:23 pm (UTC)
Ha. My sister and I used to quote Kerouac all the time while we were in college. Everytime I drive across Kansas toward Colorado, I think about what he wrote about the drive. Did you know he lived with his mom in Northern Florida?
Jul. 25th, 2006 06:46 pm (UTC)
I took a 60's literature course and read On the Road...I got annoyed by his writing style. I'm an forever considered uncool by my friend Nick because of this.
Jul. 25th, 2006 07:53 pm (UTC)
Even though I don't know you, I must confide that I too am considered uncool by some of my friends for disliking Kerouac.

I think it was Capote who said it best (re: how Kerouac composed On the Road): "That's not writing--that's typing"

Jul. 25th, 2006 07:37 pm (UTC)
I did not know he lived with his mom in Florida. I know very little of his actual life.
Jul. 25th, 2006 08:44 pm (UTC)
It's just funny because, well, he's Jack Kerouac.
Jul. 25th, 2006 09:37 pm (UTC)
Did you read his book, he lived in all kinds of shitty places. He was a very losery kind of guy, writing his manuscripts all cracked out in his mom's house.
Jul. 25th, 2006 09:43 pm (UTC)
Of course I read his book. But he was part of a movement that redefined cool for a generation. To think, one of the founders of the Beats lived with his mom.
Jul. 25th, 2006 05:38 pm (UTC)
( 9 comments — Leave a comment )


Garrett Palm

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