Tuesday, January 31, 2012

At the Aztec

Downtown Subscription was in many ways my favorite Santa Fe cafe in the summertime since I could sprawl out in an Adirondack in their beautiful garden. Sometimes it was like a visit to Mt. Rushmore, surrounded by the stone faces of the moneyed Acequia Madrefuckers. Aztec Cafe was a nice alternative when the weather turned, with an atmosphere and clientele reminiscent of my old pre-Japan boho days, a time when cafes were for tucking into books or passing hours in deep chit-chat. Sad now that most people today are apt to sit alone, with their noses pressed close to a glowing piece of fruit.

It was at the Aztec where I was introduced to many of Santa Fe's characters, though I never learned their names, nor even spoke to them. Behind the safety of my book, I'd sit and listen to their tales and woes, learning a side of the city I rarely saw while kowtowing to the moneyed elite to earn my bread and butter. And I'd see these guys around town: the small guy with the limp; the homeless king with his bicycle and dog; the mustacheo'd 'Zapatista' with his ever present cane. One day I lingered in the toilet of the Aztec in order to eavesdrop on a Tarot reading. Another memory also revolves around the toilet, when I got involved in a rather elaborate game of tug of war with the bathroom door with a woman apparently deep into Alzheimer's. Time seemed to stop, and when the door was finally opened, we stood there looking at one another, caught up in the now.

Yesterday, I intended to drink my final Santa Fe coffee at the Aztec, but arrived to find that it had closed down in early January. I wonder where the truly interesting characters will go now, in a city where eccentricity seems contrived, frustratingly bound to market value.

On the turntable: Soundgarden, "Soundgarden"

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