October 27, 2013     Los Gallos Otra Vez

Carlos Medina y Los Gallos, Raton NM October 2013

As promised two weeks ago (below), we returned to Raton's Sands Restaurant Friday night for the return of Carlos Medina y Los Gallos, a great young mariachi band from Las Vegas, NM. Last time I used my iPhone camera but this time I took my Nikon with an ultrawide lens, setting down my Negra Modelo and shooting right from my seat.

Stevens Road, Raton autumn

It's been good like that all week. One evening when Christina wasn't coming home until late, I grilled my own dinner outside and from our deck took this iPhone photo to text to her at whatever meeting she was doing. Winter will be here soon enough, but right now autumn is idyllic at our house, making me want to invoke the great sage Mr. Rogers and proclaim, "It's a beautiful day in the neighborhood."




October 20, 2013     The Long Way

Sadie Renfro - The Long Way

Remarkably, Ranch & Reata has decided to portray "a contemporary West with younger (under 35) subjects," and they're so serious about it that, six months after commissioning the work and then accepting it, they've informed me that they're not going to publish "The Long Way," my profile of nonagenarian Long Canyon rancher Sadie Renfro, who is 55 years too old to fit the magazine's contemporary West. I've just posted the feature here while shopping it to other magazines.


P.S. days later: It only took a few days to land the feature elsewhere. RANGE Magazine will publish it in the Winter 2014 issue, due out early in the new year.


October 13, 2013     Mariachi! Roosters!

El Trio Los Gallos at Sands Restaurant in Raton

Months ago, Christina brought home a CD by a young Las Vegas mariachi band that she'd heard at Charlie's Spic & Span in Vegas. Friday night I got a chance to enjoy El Trio Los Gallos myself as they began a series of performances at Raton's own Sands Restaurant. They were such fun that we've marked our calendars to eat again at the Sands on Friday night, October 25. Mauricio's current plan is to bring the band to Raton every other Friday night, playing for diners at the Sands from 5 to 8 p.m.

El Trio Los Gallos at the Sands Restaurant in Raton

Christina and I were joined Friday night by her mom, Helen Boyce, who enjoyed the music as much as we did. My iPhone photo suggests that the musicians liked her, too. She was in the midst of buying their 3 CD albums and wanted a photo to share with her friends in Santa Fe and in Germany.

A suggestion: Go hear El Trio Los Gallos. Request "La Bomba." (No, not "La Bamba.") Or be at the Sands on the 25th when we request it ourselves.




October 3, 2013     Palisades Skateboard Team

Terry Keller skateboarding at Kenter Canyon Elementary School circa 1964

The Palisadian-Post in my hometown of Pacific Palisades, California, is publishing my history of the birth of the Palisades Skateboard Team and of skateboarding itself, the sport's first wave, in the Palisades from 1963 to about 1967. It will include three photos, including the one I took in 1964 of my brother Terry Keller, above. The article will direct readers here to link to Peter Burg's and Patty Burns's histories.

Tim Keller in Hawaii with Palisades Skateboard, August 1965

I'm planning to assemble Peter's, Patty's, and my materials on a dedicated page along with the Post feature, as soon as I receive the latter. Meantime, you can scroll down to my September 2 blog post below; Peter's and Patty's histories are already linked there. The photo at left shows me at the Honolulu Airport in August, 1965, holding my Brownie camera and my Palisades Skateboard, with which I had given an exhibition at the famed Outrigger Canoe Club during my four-week Hawaiian stay in which much of my time was spent surfing with my friend Johnny Mounts, who had moved there from the Palisades two years earlier, before skateboarding's birth.

Sunset Skateboarders, Pacific Palisades, California 1963-64

Peter's history recalls that I'd been in the Sunset Skateboarders prior to organizing the Palisades Skateboard Team. That reminded me that this business card is in my scrapbook (where it's labeled "1963-64"), but honestly I don't recall such a team. My best recollection is that it was a forerunner of the Palisades Skateboard Team, with no formal organization or activities. Why the card then? I had print shop in junior high school and we made lots of business cards.

Palisades Skateboard Team jacket patch, circa 1965

Once we got the Palisades Skateboard Team hooked up with a sponsor, my dad Jack Keller drew the jacket patch design. I posed for him on the liviing room floor, taking a position known to surfers as a "Paul Strauch stretch." We all wore the patches sewn to the back of our black and white nylon windbreaker jackets.

Click here for the whole detailed history.





September 21, 2013     All Work, No Play, Dull Boy


The primary way I held onto my sanity and fitness in a summer filled with work was to enjoy a couple hours at Lake Maloya several days a week, hiking six miles and wandering along the lake, always with my rambunctious 3-year-old border collie, Django. By summer's end, I had written and photographed ten features for three magazines while simultaneously producing a regular stream of newspaper features for The Chronicle-News. The magazine work took me to Red River four times and Hobbs three times. For the past several weeks I've been back to teaching full-time, off to a good year and still trying to get up to my lake and mountain hike on the weekends. Some days after school I manage to hike the three-mile Climax Canyon Nature Trail right in Raton.

border collie at Lake Maloya

The magazine articles have already starting seeing publication but will stretch out all the way to next June. With so much work stored up in the hopper, I've been enjoying a break, not hustling new work and taking just a few small projects as they come up. My Sugarite Canyon State Park summer hiking prepared me well for last weekend's work chasing and photographing the first Master of the Mountains (M.O.M.) adventure race. I'm feeling the first twitches of what I recognize will be a growing hunger to get back to work. With The Chronicle-News again showing a waning interest in Raton stories, that means I'll probably soon be pitching new ideas to the magazines. Meantime there's tomorrow, Sunday, when I'll be writing a travel featurette on Raton's balloon rally for New Mexico Magazine's July issue. Then Django and I will climb into the big truck and head to Lake Maloya for our six-mile hike. Before we finish, Django will be in the lake and I'll be enjoying watching him enjoying it.




September 11, 2013     'Memories are like reflections in rippled water'

Willard Louden shows petroglyphs to Dry Cimarron tour

Perhaps the grand landscapes of Willard Louden’s paintings first entered his blood on the way home.

Born in the Trinidad hospital on January 16, 1925, his parents struggled through a blizzard to get him home to the family ranch east of Branson, his father sometimes climbing out to walk ahead of the Model T and scout the dirt road.

“I think of myself as a landscape artist,” Willard says, surrounded by acrylic landscapes he’s painted, most from within a sixty-mile radius of that first ride in a Model T. Many feature big clouds and dramatic weather. They display his obvious love of the land. (Below is Willard's first painting.)

Willard Louden's first painting
“I’m interested in the flora and fauna of the area, and I have a lot of environmental concerns. I never considered myself a wildlife artist, but I got an invitation to join a show with the ‘big boys’. I couldn’t turn that down, so I painted one of my landscapes, then painted some antelope onto it. When I put deer into a landscape, sometimes you have to look pretty hard to find them.”

After attending a 2-student school near the ranch, Louden moved into Branson for eighth-grade through graduation from Branson HS. “I stayed with my grandmother here. She taught art in the WPA program, and she got me started,” he recalls. He made his first painting at age 14, a snow-covered lakeside cottage in moonlight. He still has it.

He went to TSJC, then the army. When he came home, A.R. Mitchell had arrived in Trinidad. Louden studied art under Mitchell for two formative years. Then he went off to the University of Missouri. Asked now what his major was, he laughs, “A lot of deans used to ask me that, too.” He explains, “I wanted an education, not a livelihood. I planned to come home and work the ranch.”

He studied art, archaeology, geology, psychology – lots of -ologies – and ended up serving in the first year of the Peace Corps, in Iran, where he became so enamored of the vistas that he hunted for pigments to mix with oils and make paintings. The return trip home took two years – he and friends bought a Land Rover and circled the world.Willard Louden portrait by Tim Keller

When Parkinson’s disease struck ten years ago, Louden and his wife, Mary Ann, left the ranch and bought a house in Branson. He built himself a spacious second-story painting studio. For the first time, he pursued painting in earnest. Since then, he’s created well over 200 paintings. Trinidad’s La Quinta Inn bought dozens of his paintings – they’re in every room and hallway. He shows at Studio C and the Mitchell Museum, which he co-founded.

 “I have a need to use my hands to create,” Louden says. “Painting is a way of recalling. Most memories are like reflections in rippled water. They’re transcendentally beautiful. They give me a sense of warmth.”


Willard Louden left us last week. My profile above was published alongside another of Mary Ann in The Chronicle-News, September 22, 2009. Steve Block's appreciation in the same paper was published September 9, 2013. Friends gather October 6 to remember Willard: Mitchell Museum, downtown Trinidad, from noon.

Goodnight, sweet prince, and flights of angels sing thee to thy rest.





September 2, 2013     Skateboarding: The First Wave

Tim Keller, Palisades Skateboard Team, 1966, Palisades-Malibu Jaycees Skateboard Tournament

This week I received a wonderful new article by Patty Burns, mother of Wendy and Danny Bearer, giving a rich history of the first wave of skateboarding that grew outward from Pacific Palisades, California, circa 1963-1967. The feature in the August 22, 2013, issue of my hometown paper, the Palisadian-Post, includes me and my brother Terry -- as the Keller brothers -- and our lifelong friend Peter Burg, along with our teammates on the Palisades Skateboard Team. (That's me on the trash can above, competing in the 1966 Palisades-Malibu Jaycees Skateboard Tournament at Palisades High School. As always, click any image to enlarge it.)

International Skateboard Championships, Anaheim, 1965

Three years ago, Peter Burg published a remarkably comprehensive history -- 3800 words! -- of his firsthand view of the birth of skateboarding. (For more on Peter and me together, check out Little Miracles where Peter played all the hot guitar parts and co-wrote several of the songs.)

Patty Burns's new article tells of the recent founding of the Skateboarding Hall of Fame and Skatelab Museum. Even in remote Raton, New Mexico, many of my high school students ride skateboards and a skatepark is in the planning stages. Each year, one of my students gets to do his or her term paper on the history of skateboarding. I've sent them to Peter's history, and now we'll be able to add Patty's history. (I've posted both above to help make the information as easily accessible as possible.) The first wave of skateboarding arrived fifty years ago in Pacific Palisades: it's exciting to see my New Mexico students and skateboarders studying those pioneering days now, a half-century later.


P.S. - In mid-October, I posted my own history, "Skateboarding's First Wave - A Palisades Story," alongside those of Peter and Patty.






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