Sunday, February 23, 2014

The Good Cutter

My friend Juma Archuleta said goodbye late last year.  He was a larger than life character whose barber shop was a bastion of manly men, irreverent commentary and of neatly stacked magazines of, ahem, educational value.

I wanted to document the waning days of Juma’s shop aka Raoul’s Brotherhood of Love and floated the idea several times without success. Because he had been given a terminal cancer diagnosis he worried that the story would really be about his decline and imminent demise so he demurred and I didn't press.  It was to be about the shop and the end of an era but how actually would I separate the two. Probably couldn't.

Juma, full name Emiliano Juma Archuleta also known as Raoul, chose to be a barber right out of high school in Animas, Colorado and pursued that dream in Denver in the early sixties.  He would have been 72 next month.  He told me several times that he'd fold his tent when he had completed fifty years of barbering. He wanted to retire on his own terms with plenty of living left to do but the disease didn't accommodate the dream.

He was a bon vivant, a raconteur, a patron of the arts, an astute observer of the political world, and one dapper dude.  Why did guy with his intellect and erudition chose to be a barber? I wish I had asked.
Whenever I was away from Taos for more than a couple of weeks one of my rituals was an early morning visit to Juma’s for a cut and, more importantly, the latest on the murky world of Taos politics. Juma always knew who did what to whom and why weeks before made the Taos News. I swear he could predict the future.
And, credit where credit is due, he was one hell of a barber. He told me that right out of barber school he went to work for a barber in a Denver hotel, maybe The Ambassador, and that he “was lucky” because his boss in the shop was “ a good cutter.” Gotta love the lingo.
Juma was a really good cutter.


Sunday, February 16, 2014

Furrowed Brown

I made three overnight treks to the McCullough potato empire last year, one for planting, another when the vines began to sprout and again to photograph the harvest. On the last occasion I got down to soil level to capture the diagonal lines in the tilled earth.
Massive combines dig the rich San Luis Valley earth, tear the meaty russets from their vines and feed them into giant hoppers that deliver them to warehouses spread all over Monte Vista.  The giant machines are refueled in the field so the process never has to stop.  Combines pick, trucks gather and workers sort the potatoes for size and quality from sunset to sundown for about a month of eighty hour weeks. 1.2 million hundred weight of bakers takes monumental effort and serious choreography.

Sunday, February 09, 2014

Kiss me you fool

Don’t know about you but I think Llamas are just about the cutest things on four legs. Sorry dogs. The impish creatures are bemused, ironic, haughty and, may I say, coquettish in some absurdist way. The llamas shown here are a couple of Stuart Wilde’s Wild Earth herd from up Questa way.  And they’re rescue llamas. Who knew there was such a thing?

Saturday, February 01, 2014

Stop and look

This was taken a couple of years ago almost to the day when the valley floor was drizzly and raw while snow fell above 9,000 feet and the Sangre de Cristos were shrouded in windblown clouds.