Arthur Kopecky author of New Buffalo: Journals from a Taos Commune
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Humor from Buffalo

Humorous excerpts from New Buffalo Journals
by Art Kopecky 5-05 © all rights reserved.

Here I am, at the moment, alone with five naked ladies. Torg, who we met the first day we arrived at Kate’s, shaved his beard and cut his hair and went off in search of a job today.  Uh-oh! Last night, just at sunset, sheriff and local cop named Scoop drove up and ripped off Torg for sales of marijuana. They came up the hill and called for our brother sweetly, and he comes out smiling and laughing, gets

Mixing Mud at New Buffalo

in their car and off he goes not to sleep under the stars tonight. We just looked on, andwhat can we do, momentarily, we soldiers of peace? Instant karma. See, one of our numbers cuts his long hair, starts to look straight and tries to find a job. Bam! He’s busted.--Pg. 9.
• ‘Thank you” to my brother John, who was driving somebody else’s California VW bus to the East Coast—people’s bus service. No heat, but John had fashioned a pair of boots out of foam and tape, and they were very good for keeping the feet warm.
-- Pg. 19

• Five connections later I was meeting my Mom. She drives fast like all these other New York crazies, smokes cigarettes, and curses anyone on the street who doesn’t get out of her way. My little mother, quite a terror: sometimes threatening to choke me. But she is now reassured that I am still a nice guy.

• At New Buffalo: “The kitchen sink is repaired. For a while, we carried all the dirty water to the door and threw it out, creating a skating rink in the parking lot. Slip and slide your way to the outhouse!--Pg. 22  

• ”Today Tahiti gave New Buffalo a donkey….. We picked him up in the Mind Machine.  We’ve had goats in our converted bread truck, but never a donkey.”--Pg. 22 

• “Tahiti finishing his munitions belt—makes his own bullets. He’s a good cook too; garlic and barley for breakfast is his specialty.”--Pg. 27 

• In the midst of a friendly neighborhood police raid a policeman says: “What’s this?” “This is the spice shelf for cooking.” “This is smoking mixture.” “No, it’s oregano.” Girls serving coffee to some of the police, over 60 people here. “Can I feed the chickens?” Trooper says, “OK.” --Pg.32  

• Finally boosted the Mind Machine with a jump from Heavy’s car. She started right up. Driving around, honking the horn, the Mind Machine is back in operation! It has lights too. Needs a blinker and has no dashboard. So the problem was not enough juice. All the nonsense about the starter was unnecessary. Like the time we took out the fuel pump, undoing the lines and getting at some bad bolts when the problem was, we were out of gas.--Pg.47  

• Yesterday Pepe was only down to the hot springs four times. “What, you just watch your brothers work?” says Max. “No, I don’t have the time to watch them, with all the chicks around here.”--Pg. 48  

• In the morning Chuck and I took out the garbage to the public dump. We couldn’t get the truck out over a hill, so we hitched home, got all kinds of chains and bailing wire to improvise a set of chains. Max and Neil came to help, got the truck almost out but broke a brake line; the truck shot back down the hill. We then went to town and back to Buffalo and got a thing to repair a hole and make a splice. We found another hole, went to Questa and bought a new line.  As the sun set, Chuck and I put in the new line, bled the brakes, put on the new gigantic chain that Max scored and drove home. Had some rabbit that Chuck shot, lemon meringue pie that Susie baked and smoked some homegrown. Moon is out, shining lots of light these nights on the white landscape. Do we know how to have fun or what? --Pg. 85    

• Jan made us an offer. She and Kemal came down from Colorado in a Chevy; it’s transmission gave out. The truck is now at the band’s house, and she’ll give us it’s papers and all for a ride up to Gardner Colorado, carrying a horse. Here’s the engine for our Banana truck.  So, I will go. Into the flatbed truck, a goat, some chickens, and a bit of furniture joined the horse, and we were off.--Pg. 88  

• Just before I arrived, a hog had been slaughtered, an elk shot, and a horse accidentally strangled; that made about 1,500 pounds of the best sausage you’ll ever smell on a cold Colorado morning.

• Coming back, we rode through a blizzard, a complete white-out. For a while, I had Bill walk in front of the truck to the right so I didn’t drive off the road. Peter and Dale from the farm were riding in the back! We made it home just in time for fudge, ice cream, and a lot of rosy, smiling faces around the stove. Dale and Peter thawing out nicely in the corner.--Pg. 90  

• Neil and Bill brought back four bales containing over 100 of these fantastic quilts that have been made by the Ladies Lutheran Aid Organization. Oh thank you Lutheran Ladies. I got a couple for my bed.--Pg 92  

Pg. 94   The tree started to get decorated with paper snowflakes, popcorn and rosehip strings, a few ornaments, and one candy cane that Jason very much wants to eat. His eyes are huge, as he gazes up in awe at that tantalizing prize. With his Dutch-cut blond hair, he has a Dennis the Menace mischievous smile, but it’s hard to steal the only candy cane. We’ll have to get some more.

• The kitchen is somewhat dark. A lot of people talking. Pea soup on the stove started by Carol. In the dim light, in walks Margy—gets out cookbook and is mixing up batter for coffee cake for us. The very best this gal. She also spent twenty minutes taking water out of the soup on seeing that there really wasn’t such a crowd.--Pg. 101  

• The world is luminescent because of the snow clouds hanging over us. Today we broke the treasury on the wood run. The last forty cents went for lemons.--Pg 106  

• Someone, right in the middle of breakfast, combined the four-pound stash of salt with the five-pound stash of sugar leaving us only Tamari sauce to put on our oatmeal and rice.--Pg. 133  

• A bunch of us made off for the movies and ice cream. We couldn’t eat enough banana splits after so many beans.

• Shawna weeded a row of beets; trouble is, she forgot to leave the beets! She comes about once a week. Then someone weeded out our onion sprouts! The frost killed the kohlrabi and broccoli. Start again.

• Tam, perhaps at the invitation of Sky, decides he lives here. He had acquired the old abandoned Rambler, with headlights smashed out, no battery, no clutch, and not a single tread on any of the half inflated tires. And here George was towing it up our driveway! In a quick and heated exchange, in which Kemal and I tried to be sociable with George while being direct with Tam, we settled the matter. We accepted the chickens and George, willingly enough, towed the Rambler to the other side of the Hondo. Tam came up and apologized later saying he didn’t expect to be freaking us out.--Pg. 142  

• Busiest time of the year now, planting and harvesting, and we have little experience and lots to do. For planting we have a plow that we’ve never used and a tractor still incomplete and no seeds. For harvesting we have five sickles, one scythe, and we’re behind. We still have a chance to come through very well.--Pg. 145  

• Larry on the plow and me on the tractor, we started plowing today! The fellow riding the old two-bottom plow has to lift the plows out of the earth at the end of the run, and then drop them in again when we turn around. If you hit a big rock it can throw you right off, so you have to keep your eyes open. By about 4:00 after many changes, including putting the distributor wires on the right way, we got the machine running with lots of power. --Pg. 146   

• In an attempt to divert attention from Nixon’s Watergate troubles, a local man, Eddie was accused  (bogus) of an assassination plot. “With helicopters and many police in the area, the sheriff was up here, of course. They were pretty friendly and courteous to us. On Kemal’s request, one deputy put his machine gun back in the car. Kemal showed them around. Fellow from the D.A. said he’d been meaning to come up to visit and Kemal invited him to do so.-- Pg. 148   

• Isabel and Randa made a showing for us at the co-op meeting. Carl made storage shelves while we picked apples. Very coordinated. John hitched home with Toltec the goat.--Pg. 156  

• Kemal, Lama Billy, and everyone got Rupert the mule out of Buffalo. We had to knock him unconscious with drugs, pick him up and put him in the truck. Recently Rupert kicked Kemal squarely in the chest, sending him airborne against the corral fence. So we had to get resourceful. Is seven people carrying a mule resourceful? Anyhow we got the job done. --Pg. 163  

• (Winter) This is the hardest time when we need the best diet. But goat John just loves our steer Bobo, so we have refrained from butchering. Kemal and Kim went out hunting deer. Our men are hardy; but yet, no success. Tomorrow we hunt up at the barn. --Pg. 168  

• Some of the scenes around here have been rough. I hear tell where Indio, our revolutionary Chicano brother, once took some shots at the pueblo for some wild-eyed reason. Once a visiting hippie here, completely naked, ran down into a neighbor’s house and destroyed their television while they were watching. They took a few shots at Buffalo too. But now, with our friendly attitude, Sandy’s five- year-old Jason sometimes watches TV at their house after school. --Pg.178  

• Today Carl, Kemal, Pots, and I got the truck stuck at Carlos Trujillo’s. With a heavy load of manure we sank right into his new little causeway. Carl had to go get the eight-ton jack. We threw off three-quarters of the load and drove right out after only six hours of pretty tough effort.  Our tire on the tractor is low. Our pressure gauge is broken. Our air pump was given away a year ago. We do have a hand pump. It is hard to say what will go wrong next.--Pg. 181  

• Today in town I went for broke, buying 150 pounds wheat seed and forty pounds of pea seeds, gasoline, gloves, antifreeze, and a few snickers bars.--Pg. 184  

• Here’s a new reverse; state trooper brought a young lady up here.--Pg.190  

ª Actor James Coburn was up here and told us they’d be hiring extras. Some of the girls were all a flutter, and Carol mischievously pulled up Marianne’s shirt, exposing breasts, and asked Coburn if they would do!--Pg. 191  

• All of a sudden we are home free. The corn can go without another irrigation—the squash too. The wheat is turning yellow and the kernels are full. The oat fields look uniform. The alfalfa looks fresh, over a foot tall. We live in abundance. A bunch of poor people, we are still able to scrape up what we need to patch and glue this scene together.--Pg. 200  

• Kay got jealous of Pepe chasing the girls. She thought she could rope him in. No, I don’t think so. Then she comes onto handsome Kim for revenge and Pepe gets mad and throws some punches at him. Who writes this stuff? And Kim is so important to us. He’s young, bright, with big strong arms. And he is mellow, hard working, thoughtful, and he’s the farming type!--Pg. 204  

• Mike has been working hard on what was Max’s, then Janet’s, then Kim’s room. Janet is up at the pit house with Carl. Carl no longer sleeping alone at the barn. Romance in the Pinons. Everyone’s got a room—no vacancies—no one in the milk room now. This room is for food only.--Pg. 206  

• Nine guys in the Bird truck went to the mountains, and with backpacks marched up to 11,000 feet, packed up the entire elk and brought it down. We reached our base camp just as it was getting very difficult to see. This is a real boon for us. Bird truck took us home. I proudly drove.--Pg. 208  

• This converted bread truck, also called the Mind Machine, I have driven in thirty states. It has been to see the rolling Stones in Altamont, California; it has been to Johnson’s pastures in Vermont, and I felt good then and I sure feel good now.

• The new kitchen door has weather stripping and with some work closes well. This is the first time since I came here that we got it to shut and stay closed. It only took three years. --Pg. 211      

• I did some work on the road below. We’ve come a long way from the swamp that passed for our driveway two years ago. The road did to cars what flypaper does to insects.

• Chickens are up to three dozen on Christmas day. Someone put a wreath on their door. We’re hoping to sell five dozen a week at least.--Pg. 217  

• I switched over to irrigation. I replaced Larry who was out there alone. Kemal replaced me while I took a break. Later on, we got several people out there. At one point I saw only a pair of boots out in the field; Kim got so stuck in the mud, he left the boots and came in barefoot.--Pg. 243  

• I took the wrong road up to Leo’s field and almost turned over the tractor. The front wheels came off the ground. Instinctively I gave it full throttle, the tractor lurched forward, I changed direction a little and made it to the top, shaking a bit. That tractor doesn’t steer worth a damn with the front wheels off the ground. --Pg. 250  

• We used Manuel’s ancient combine to harvest the wheat. Rattling along with belts turning and trays shaking, it looks like it could come apart in a thousand pieces at any moment. But it doesn’t.--Pg. 254 

• This is the first season that New Buffalo’s cultivated land is all in some crop: pasture, alfalfa, and winter grain. It was a big chore. I love to cross the fields where I’ve spent so many hours and see all the life

Kiva and Kemal

where a few years ago, we had a regular moonscape. (Do prairie dogs live on the moon?) Their 500 holes gave the crater effect.-Pg. 259  

• Our friend Eric is going to trade us two yearling Hereford heifers for our Wonder bread truck. We’re jumping at the chance. The poor thing has taken us around so many curves, up so many hills, with goats and pigs and sometimes twenty people. Pepe and I have slept in it beneath the stars in Washington. Nancy and I shared some blissful moments parked in Manhattan. We were in it at Granny’s Turkey Farm in Kansas, at Johnson’s pastures in Vermont. She’s made a thousand trips for the family here in New Mexico, and now she serves us one more time. Good old Mind Machine. We had a lot of adventures with our palace on wheels. --Pg. 274  
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