“You don’t become someone who is agitating, advocating and outspoken and get hit by a car! He paid attention to what was going on and had opinions.” Anonymous.
A couple of weeks ago, Taos Vortex – a collaborative effort between the Town of Taos and Meow Wolf in Santa Fe, arrived in Kit Carson Park with an entourage of paying guests and happy campers who tripped in and trashed the park, so garbage was still visible a week later, blown by monsoon winds into hidden corners and underneath the trees lining the fences.
US Bank’s Plaza branch had their atm and computer system blown out by the power outage caused by the “festival”, a bank employee told me, and the World Cup Cafe’s espresso machine stopped working.
The Bank and the World Cup Cafe were put out of business by a weekend’s worth of concerts!
The Friends of Kit Carson Park must be elated. Now they have a real platform.
“Some old timers think Satanic energy was unleashed at that event,” a friend remarked. “They were shocked by the behaviour of some of the attendees,” she explained, referencing the nudity on display.
It’s easy to forget that we still live in a predominantly Catholic community and a Mestizo version to boot! Where ritual and myth have collided like Manifest Destiny in the Western Hemisphere, in these Americas. Whether one aligns oneself with that concept or not, one thing is clear, the Bank and the ‘Cup should be compensated by the Town of Taos and Meow Wolf. And please keep the Vortex out of our park in future. Maybe Taos Mesa Brewing’s Mothership is a better venue? I was writing about this yesterday when a friend came by.
She couldn’t stay long because she was on a mission. To find Patrick Larkin. Patrick was the enigmatic, well-read (and informed), dry and dour proprietor of the World Cup Cafe. He also loved the outdoors and the mountains – he was a great skier – and stood on the right side of history in his progressive politics and pragmatic point of view.
His business (which he began with his then partner, Molly Hayfield, as Black Diamond Coffee in Taos Ski Valley), in a cart on Bent Street, before occupying its current, corner spot on the Plaza, remains the true visitor’s center in Taos. Everyone who comes here passes through the World Cup Cafe. Here important contacts are made and deals are done.
About 10 years ago, Patrick met his current partner and wife, Andrea Meyer (formerly both the executive chef at the Love Apple and the Manager of Taos Farmers Market.) Andrea moved here from the Northwest and together they have a beautiful 6 year old daughter, Oona. Andrea’s literary background proved the perfect match for Patrick’s curious and considerable intellect, and many of us watched his dour facade give way to more smiles in the past few years.
When I got there, the cafe was filled with flowers and mourners. On the counter, with the flowers (brought by Anais Rumfelt) and a couple of candles, a photograph of Patrick leaned against one of the vases: “Our fearless leader”, written on it. He was gone.
Of course we’ll be fed a tale or two. Concocted to appease those in the know. But one thing is clear; foul play is front and center in this mystery. What I know is hearsay; second-hand, at that, gleaned from overheard snippets of conversation and information delivered by well-meaning friends.
On Tuesday morning during the wee hours, the bleating of one of his goats, drew Patrick outside to investigate the animal’s discomfort (one friend speculates it was a ruse – goat was tortured precisely to lure him into a trap.)
Reported missing that afternoon by his wife, Andrea, flyers were posted around town and yesterday morning, a friend called for a search by local citizens, along the ditches in Patrick’s ‘hood, south of town.
Rumours were rife; a mountain lion on the loose, a disgruntled squatter on his land, a contentious neighbor on meth, bullet shots in the dark… the list grew as the sun rose higher in the sky.
The goat was found dead in its pen. Head caught in a fence. Around noon, Patrick’s body was found a mile or so away, in a ditch. I’ve been told it was in bad shape, as if dragged, possibly by a car. Someone heard the police are saying it was a hit and run. None of us should settle for that pat response. Patrick and his family deserve so much more.
It’s a sad day in Taos. An iconic figure gone- the man who brought not only great (world-class), coffee to our little town, but also, and more importantly, coffee/cafe culture. Authentic, Bohemian and provocative; the International currency and political (Left) signage that papered the walls, let people know immediately that this was a safe place to gather and share thoughts, ideas and opinions. And as tiny as it is, they did and do. On the stools inside, on the benches outside, and often, standing room only as a line snakes out the door and into the street.
“Resist Mediocrity” the World Cup’s motto, asks that we resist easy answers at this time. Patrick and the life he lived, were not mediocre, nor should his death be treated as such. In a sense, Patrick Larkin went down like a classic Western hero, which in actuality he was and will be remembered as one – iconic and iconoclastic – a man who epitomized In many ways, the Modern (Wild) West – Frontier spirit still intact – independent, resourceful and committed to excellence and community.
My daughter Genevieve worked for Patrick (and Molly), at the World Cup for a decade. Her standards in her own businesses are set high because of what she learned from him. Her heart is broken. She was one of those holding vigil at the ‘Cup when I arrived yesterday, together with Anais, Suki Dalury and others come to pay their respects, along with Renata who kept the coffee coming. My other daughter Angelica and I talked last evening; she remembered that last Wednesday after the Vortex blowout, when Patrick got his machine up and running, he was the one making our coffee when we went in. ” He made our last coffee,” she noted sadly. “And it was so good.” She also expressed regret that she’d not spoken to him. I reminded her that the cafe was slammed and he was not in a talkative mood.
As I walked to my car after leaving the cafe, I ran into my old friend, Ziad Khweis, the owner of Pueblo Collections on the Plaza. Ziad was born on the Mount of Olives, he’s Palestinian and has had some issues in the past with Immigration. He told me how Patrick had helped him with petitions and signatures and more. Raising both money and awareness that enabled him to stay here, in Taos with his family.
“He was a good man.” Ziad recalled. “A decent, kind man.”
He was, and may his ending be honored with the truth, and may it serve as a reminder that we live in a very troubled and unsafe world, and although it might look like paradise outside our doors, the violence, corruption and spiritual bankruptcy of the greater society, fast encroaches, and in some respects, reemerges from dark, hidden places, where secrets are kept, and dysfunction is nurtured.
“There’s a crack in everything,” the poet wrote, “that’s how the light gets in.”
May Patrick Larkin’s life and death shine a light on the things that remain unresolved and swept under rugs ad infinitum.
And may his memory be blessed.
Editor’s Note: I’ve updated the blog with clarification regarding my source for the Vortex causing the blowout. The Taos Vortex event did not in fact cause the blowout at either the bank or the World Cup Cafe. Please see my response to Mitch (Miller), in the Comment section, below this post.
Update: Rumour has it that someone has been arrested. This is please note, only a rumour. For more on this breaking case, please see the Taos News linked below. I will not continue to update this blog post.
All photographs by Bill Curry (except for top image of Patrick and Oona taken by Zoe Zimmerman.
*Anthem lyrics © Sony/ATV Music Publishing LLC/ Songwriters: Leonard Cohen