El Farols

El Farols
Caleb J. Clark_/ Let me tell you about my favorite bar in America:

A brothel, a restaurant, a gambling house, a bar, a house, all five. This is the 300 year history of El Farols rambling adobe building in Santa Fe, NM. Now it’s a restaurant/bar/live music club. It’s up Canyon road where the town starts to meld into the mountains. Up here the streets are narrow alleys walled with adobe houses. Behind these small fronts, the houses often mushroom into the mansions of refugees from LA.

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I stopped in this fine full moon Monday night to have drink. Three guys were jammin’ on guitar, they have live music every night. Two young-uns were playing with an old man. The old man had a fuzzy warm jacket, faded Ranglers, and tennis shoes. A black Stetson grew on his head as part of his growing gray hair and beard. He sang, “Bobby thumbed a diesel down” and looked like he’d done the thummin’, driven a diesel, and been Bobby. “Killed a man in Reno just to watch him die” and he looked like he’d done that too, but it was in his youth and he was sorry about it. A woman I’d seen in a very hot female band in the bar years ago, stopped by and sang with him. She’d been in LA and he kidded her about it.

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El Farols serves tapas, little dishes of food to munch. They’re pricey but some of the best in country. Black log beams, called vegas in this part of the country, support it’s low ceiling. Paintings of the west before the pilgrims are painted directly on the adobe walls inside. Several small rooms appear of one meanders back from the main bar through the adobe tunnels that land on springy wooden floors. The band has a corner in the main bar with a small dance floor in front. When it gets hot and undulating, you can bump up against a band member while dancing, and return to your table only to meet new people who have joined you.

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The crowd’s foundation is older diehards, 30 to 60. It’s a heavy drinking, smoking bar that’s been known to attract stars and rock stars, and blurbs in the Wall Street Journal. Once, long ago, while moving to California, my buddy Fred and I spent several daze out of 10 at the main bar. Fred fell in love with a waitress and I two. We arrived in California $400 poorer then we planned. I figure it was my Aunt and Uncles fault for living within walking distance of El Farols.

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Tonight I just sat alone and relaxed. I watched the strange Santa Fe crowd, listened in on a few dramas, found out there’s a Flamingo show Wednesday, had a smoke. Going home in the truck I took the back roads where cops never bother and floated and skittered across the washboards of the dirt road up to my temporary home in the mountains.

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Earlier in the week I funked out with a friend at El Farols until early Sunday morning. Once home, I stepped out of the truck into a fresh snow. Looking around I saw snow resting on the low Chamisa and Ponderosa pines and low clouds insanely illuminated with the glow of a full moon. It was bright! Like daytime with a blue filter on the sun. The light hit every snow flake it could find and made it so bright you could have gone hiking ’till dawn.

Caleb out.

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