Friday, April 18, 2008

viva las vegas, the other one

How lucky are we? 

Thanks to our good friend Larry Harris from the Orange Show, we have a new pal in Las Vegas, New Mexico.   
Margaret is a great fan of folk art, and even purchased (she showed us the receipt) our book a while back, which we happily signed for her at the grand old Plaza Hotel in Las Vegas.  The Plaza was a favorite of Teddy Roosevelt's, was used by Tom Mix in some of his movies and now reputed to be a wee bit haunted.  Our stay was low-key and quite pleasant, with no ghosts to be seen at all.

The morning low did drop to twenty two degrees, sunny and crisp, as we followed/chased Margaret to one of the places she'd found for us to investigate.  It's called the Casa de Colores, which despite what Don said doesn't mean "house of calories."  The "colors" are the creation of Casey Marquez, a 78 year old who's been living in it for twenty years or more, painting both outside and in because "it makes me happy."  Casey worked in auto body repair, which may or may not explain his fascination with spray paint.  He's fond of smoking, loves his dog Spot, and  he plays a little harmonica too. Kudos are also in order for his home health care worker Yvonne, who helps him get out to work on the place and makes him stay off ladders.

Margaret's next tip took us a few blocks south of the Plaza to a homemade theme park in Bobby Valdez's yard. Concrete's the name of the game in this one--cartoon rodents, tweety birds, spiders, dinosaurs and anatomically correct caveman, not to mention an elaborate  indoor swimming pool.  The artist wasn't home but his neighbor Manuel spoke glowingly about the work Bobby has done, even though he "hadn't lifted even one little rock to help him."    He did however lift the Big Ball for a moment, just long enough to let out a quick "Jesus Christ" and put it back down.  Another satisfied customer!

Manuel also talked about more of the movies filmed around Las Vegas, from "Easy Rider" to "Red Dawn" to "No Country For Old Men"-- motivation to get out and see some more of the Land of Enchantment ourselves.  We headed out on scenic, shoulderless Highway 3, sharing space with a large cow at one point.  The road winds through the Pecos River valley and into some beautiful terrain.  Eventually we landed in Chilili, or just outside it at a small cemetery full of Horace McAfee's handiwork.  Over the years, Horace embellished the graves of family members and other folks from this small rural community, using metal and tin, much of it punched out with a nail.  It's simple and touching, and would only have been better if we'd been able to find Horace's grave too.  

Music In the Van-- Fiona Apple "Extraordinary Machine", Warren Zevon's Greatest Hits, Starbucks "From the Coffeehouse" Compilation

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