Memoirs and ghosts

I have worked on a couple of books that have originated with friends that have passed away. While I am working on them I feel the presence of the person, not only through the papers and note we made while they were living, but I hear their voices as I read the words and compile all the steps it takes to get the manuscript through all of its phases.

memiorsI’ve had Tally Richard’s memoirs for ages – not the ultra limited edition printing she did a few years before she died, but the original manuscript. There is no end to the wisdom she had about the town and people.

Each time I delve into them, it is as if I can smell her cigarettes and the instant Nescafe she used to drink. Dear Tally, you are loved and missed. You were so fun to be around in those days. How wonderfully you took me under your wing.

In this journal entry, she is talking about Dennis Hopper and Tony Price.

From Tally’s Memoirs
October 5, 1970
(46 years ago)

It’s difficult to understand why in a brief meeting, one can feel such warmth and goodwill towards some and a coolness and reserve towards others. I suppose if one could figure that out and control it all wars would cease and man would discover the true meaning of brotherhood.

I also enclosed a catalog on Tony Price’s work. Though obviously not the most saleable work I’ve come across, it’s undoubtedly the most original. I’ve been racking my brain trying to think of someone who will buy his sound sculptures, made from discarded parts from Los Alamos, or a place that would be right for them.

With 80 speakers atop Tony’s Piano Box, it seems the perfect place would be the natural echo amphitheater belonging to the government and north of Albuquerque – or is it south of Cibola? I think that Tony would even trade the piece for an isolated place to work – his sounds are drifting down the Rio Grande causing a little concern to some of the residents along the river banks.

Dennis Hopper has Tony’s Atomic Reject – an enormous thing that looks like a thirty-piece orchestra without men. It’s under Dennis’s grape arbor in his front yard.

I spent a very weird evening at Dennis’s house, which is still called the “Mabel Dodge Lujan House.” I find him very magnetic and feel lucky that his girlfriend, Michelle, arrived the next day. Gordon and Virginia Wagner took me over and Dennis seated me at the head of the table next to him! I was so embarrassed and felt so conspicuous. Later he took me outside and “played” Tony’s Atomic Reject, which made strange, mysterious sounds in the night. I suggested he borrow the Santa Fe Opera stage for a performance. I can see it all now Saki and I have made up and broken up a couple of times lately. He was in his glory in September with the D. H. Lawrence Festival since he has so many of Lawrence’s paintings. He didn’t even charge admission to his office to see them.

– Tally Richards

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