Well this post is a little off the wall but hang in there and you’ll get where I’m going…
During the mid-80’s, I managed Lach for a while, but truthfully, we managed one another. That’s how it was with most of the artists I worked with, from H.R.,(Bad Brains fame) Peter Missing (Missing Foundation) to Cindy Lee Berryhill, we were all doing it together. A lot of what Lach and I did together happened over endless cups of coffee in various cafes and regular coffee shops in the Village. What we were doing is exactly what I’m doing here; we were getting the word out about our cool little scene.
Word’s out. Taos is way cool and Lach has a BBC Radio Show and his first book of poetry published, but how do I begin to tie Lach and his book to Taos?
I’ve mentioned him before in my first post and really want to introduce him to you properly, but this is a Taoscentric blog. There is the little maybe regarding the publisher’s name Desert Hearts, which has a distinct Taos ring to it, but no, I don’t think that’ll cut it. Ah an idea. Coffee. I can read The Thin Book Of Poems by Lach at The World Cup Cafe and that will make it Taos enough!
The World Cup Cafe or the Cup as we call it here, is the hippest and best coffee shop in a thousand mile radius, maybe more. I say that having sipped coffees all over America and the first thing I want when I get back to Taos, is a cup from the Cup. Of course, I was yet to learn about coffee franchises from Just Love, but that’s beside the point.
This tiny, hole in the wall cafe is everything a cafe should be. The walls are covered in interesting ephemera, International currency donated by traveling Taoseno’s or visitors from afar, political cartoons and a bit of commentary. Magazines and a few books are piled and stacked on a shelf in a corner next to the window. Owner Patrick Larkin understands the roots of cafe culture and has created one of the liveliest social, artistic and intellectual hubs in Taos.
In the early morning, the few seats inside are filled with interesting people, there’s always a buzz (in several languages) and it’s the place to get the inside scoop on everything. Besides the truly good coffee, there are organic home-baked yummy goodies and bars of serious chocolate for those moments when nothing else will do.The outside benches are nestled into the sunniest corner in town and are usually packed.
The Cup sells their fantastic organic espresso beans by the pound along with a few other things, but it’s all about the coffee they make here and don’t expect smiley Starbucks service either.
Thank goodness these baristas and baristos are not chatty so I can read this book in peace. In the afternoons, it’s sometimes quiet enough to do that.
Half way through the poesy, I’m interrupted by my daughter Genevieve who’s come in for a cup. She was born here and worked at the Cup for something like 10 years. She’s known Lach forever. I think that’s definitely Taos enough.
“Oh how’s Lach?” She inquires with a smile when she sees what I’m reading.
“He’s fine,” I say, “he’s been busy.”
“Can I read that when you’re done?” she checks out the book. “Say hello for me,” she says as she breezes out.
I go back to the book. It’s good, I like it. Lach is the king of pithy one-liners but he is also a bit of a mystic with a deep and soulful side. He’s a native New Yorker living in Edinburgh at the moment, but he’d fit in here without much effort.
Back in the 80’s he galvanized a burgeoning scene that was forming in dives around the Lower East Side. ABC No Rio and Sophie’s Bar where Lach held his early Anti-Hoots, were two of those places. Anti-Folk grew into a mini-movement with its roots tangled in Punk Rock and Americana.
Cindy Lee Berryhill, another force on that scene actually moved to Taos with me initially, before traveling on to Southern California where she is from. She’ll be coming out this summer. Roger Manning who has played in Taos several times was there and is still.
Michelle Shocked also hung out back then and once gave Lach $100.00 toward a ticket to England to open for her first tour there. He didn’t go and probably used the money to pay rent. Beck came out of Anti-Folk as well, as did Taos’ own Big Swing Theory’s Conrad Cooper.
The poem I’m reading captures that moment between Punk and Gentrification, just before NYC’s Lower East Side lost its Bohemian soul to Real Estate vultures and hipster wannabes.
I take a sip of my Cafe Americano. It’s perfect.
…In 82, I was less than zero
in the bright lights of the big city
In 82, I wore black pointy shoes, tight black
pants and a white T-shirt with the word FOLK
circled in red with a slash through it
In 82, I spied strange cartoon chalk stories
in subway while tagging cars with my name
A year later Keith Haring ate fame
In 82, I was gonna make it anysecondnow
from The Thin Book Of Poems by Lach,
Published by Fortified Publishing In Association with Desert Hearts.
To read more or buy the book, click on the links below
To listen to Lach’s BBC Show
The World Cup Cafe is open 7 days a week from 7 to 7.
Located on the corner of Taos Plaza and Paseo Del Pueblo Norte in Taos.
Photographs of Cassie, Corinna, and Genevieve at the Cup by Bill Curry
Photograph of Lach c/o the poet