Sam Shepard died.
So I remember Taos. Remember the desert sky, the horses in dusty corrals, curs snapping their yellow teeth at pickup trucks. Cowboys jangled into the diner out on North 64, guns loose in holsters slung round their hips. They hated us, the film festival directors and screenwriters clotting the town with pretense, unable to hold our liquor. Our fake swaggers. But Shepard was the real thing. He bred horses, roped steers, feared flying except on the lean backs of thoroughbreds, down back roads in pickups, on typewriters. He wrote like no one else.
I was sitting in a Taos movie theater, waiting for Sam Shepard: Stalking Himself to start. A petite elderly woman sat down next to me. We talked a half-hour about Shepard's plays. I'd read most all of them; she'd seen them all. After the film ended, the lights came up. Audience members skulked over and said sycophantic things to the woman. I didn't know what film critic Pauline Kael looked like, which is why we'd had our nice comfortable talk about Sam Shepard's writing.
Kael died just three years later. Now Shepard's dead, too. I hear the stars over the Taos desert shine pretty much as they always have.
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