I love the expressions on their faces. The image was captured, in July 09 by Susan, a tourist, an artist, a vibrant and an empathic woman. I had watched this photographer in tears, focused on blind Bonnie Hearn on stage, no longer able to perform with her husband. As her heart was touched, so was mine, we talked, we became friends and she mailed me these images, my favorite among her many wonderful photos. (Susan graciously gave me permission to share these images with the public.)
Sunday morning September 6th, Christopher Rose was found lying face down along the Santa Fe River at the DeVargas Park, a victim of a violent, crime.
It is disconcerting that he may have been there for a while, somewhat hidden in the brush, along a route I take all the time, so I may have passed him unknowingly. This is also the place from where I watched him steal a few roses from the Santuario de Guadalupe in bright day light only about 6 weeks ago. I chastised him for it. I figured someone ought to speak out and tell him what is not right. Defensively he mumbled that the flowers were his, and he was Christ, and he needed them to sweet talk the ladies in to dancing! I did not respond too kindly. It was obvious that he was excited and in a hurry to get to the plaza where the music and dancing was happening in full force. I had seen him there before and here Susan captured him with his grin that clearly shows his pleasure. It reminds me how music and dance can bring out the best in us and bring us together and almost bridge gaps of social rank, age, and at least for moments unite the fringe elements of society with the establishment.
"George R. wrote: I knew Chris as a friendly guy who never harmed anyone, always had a smile, who sometimes went a little overboard in his remarks to people. He was boisterous, but mostly in a fun way. He carried a guitar and was always ready to belt out a tune whether he could play it or not. He knew more pop songs than I have forgotten.Vaya con Dios, Chris"
Sara commented in the New Mexican: "He was a sweet man. He came to Santa Fe for rehab and it didn't work. Rest his soul."
August 2. I was hanging out with my buddy at the fountain on Water Street involved in intense listening to his concerns about work. Chris came stumbling along, almost falling over my pups who, uncharacteristically, barked at him. In no time some tough looking and acting biker duds took offense to Chris and it looked threatening enough for me to insist to call the cops. As usual by the time of their arrival the tension had dispersed and the guys had moved on, no harm done.
Afterwards one young street kid came up to us and apologized for Chris, saying something like that he did not know how to hold his liquor. We got in to an exchange of alcoholism, family problems, willpower and seeking help with AA. On our leave my buddy expressed surprise that Chris had not been harmed yet by anybody, as he seemed to manage to offend others rather easily. This was said only a bit over 1 month prior to Chris' demise!
My heart goes out to all those that suffer violence, addiction and mental illness. As a community we have a responsibility to provide adequate care to the fringe elements of our society. Some readers of the news jumped to premature conclusions, condemning the police, condemning the day workers that hang out in the area where Chris' body was found, condemning the illegals and the transients and the local and the national figures in politics. I sure wish we were less quick to condemn and more readily available to empathize and to seek working solutions for ongoing problems, that are not just local, but world wide. This homicide was Santa Fe's fourth for 2009.