Penny’s half pit-half-shit- house lies in ruins not far from our land.
“Burned out,” is what the pipeline to the mesa says.
Meet her once. Four years ago-the last time we came to our plot-five miles past the Gorge Bridge outside of Taos, NM. The same bridge appears in Oliver Stone’s Natural Born Killers.
Penny. 30-40. A face like a relief map. Paranoid and prickly – like the Cholla dotting the landscape. No surprise.
At first glance her structure – with the goat pen attached – looks made for the Duchampian approach the Hippy-Survivalist-Outlaw culture here employs.
Anything with a roof and walls of some sort qualifies. A broken school bus like Pine Ridge. Or something growing out of the ground – a mash up with debris its owner manages to scrounge.
Taos being Taos… a flexible personality is….helpful. Penny’s was a fail.
There’s no grid. Utilities. But justice is served. It’s harsh like the landscape. What can you do when The Social Contract is the law of the land?
The spirit on the Mesa or “Carson Estates,” as it’s also called – lines up with historical precedent.
In the past, Taos Pueblo – on the other side of the Gorge – sends their “bad hombres” into exile – to this same place.
No water to speak of – at least 800ft down. Little shade – a few pinons. The road rutted. Sunbaked like adobe.
A big sky, wild sage, volcanic rocks and the occasional tarantula round out the general conditions.
Penny’s ruins leave us a glimpse at her bare bones “vernacular” style. Using a Turkish-inspired approach she puts bottles – wine, beer, water- into her mortar. In this case the mud she mixes from the ground she walks on and applies it over the jerry-rigged framing – a collection of sticks and stones.
Haven’t seen this technique used by anyone for a while. Reminds me of Guerneville, CA and other Humboldt County stops in my hippy past.
.As Penny’s house slowly makes its way back to Earth….
Another Hippie artifact is a growing presence: the recycled School Bus.
Since our last trip a collection of them is taking root. In true hippie speak: they “serve the people.” With a side – a mad max/depression-era flavor.
Hot meals, sundries – even library services are offered
This is a population defining itself. After language…and a few other aspects…buying and selling is about as basic as it gets in this regard.
This car stands about a mile into the road. Says everything. New signage.
Almost medieval. Like a city state or town posting proclamations and expectations – helpful attitudes to hold.
We’ve been coming here over a 24 year period. Its nomadic culture’s doing what most hunter gather ones do. Settle.
Land loving, land grabbing, squatters….
Free –thinking –until they’re not – freedom- loving- would- be -artists with the terrain-assemble here.
A population in flux. People are digging in. Can running water and electricity be far behind? My guess is you hear everything you need to know at the school bus general store.