Feb 22, 2010 | Santa Fe, NM
Feb 22, 2010

We were like five foreign sailors stuck in the snow, making the most of port life for the two or three months before our ships head back to sea.

Every sailor has a different way of conducting himself in a port town, and some sailors change from town to town, consuming personas like dark and stormies in a cycle that's equally intoxicating and just as addictive.

But the longer you travel, the more you start to understand what works for you, and then you start to stick with one persona more and more, because it's less turbulent that way, and people learn to leave you alone unless they've got what you need, which is less and less all the time.

We were seasoned sailors, so we each did our thing there in the street, waiting for the show to start.

Cécile smoked a cigarette and her big brown hair filled up with snow. Watching the Santa Feans filter in, she said, "Wow! Cool! Wow!" sharply nodding her head with the hyperactive enthusiasm that only seems to come from a high metabolism, an addiction to nicotine, and a French passport. As she pecked and plucked her head with each new syllable, she looked like a nervous chicken, but really she looked like Cate Blanchett playing Bob Dylan on methamphetamines, which made me like her more.

Pierre can't smoke anymore, but he loves the smell of cigarettes, and whenever Cécile smokes he stands nearby, so he can breath it in and remember. He is writing an opera, and he has been collecting lyrics from his time in America. In Arizona last week a man shouted to Cécile, "I love your hair!" so Pierre decided to write an aria called "I Love Your Hair."

Eric is a minimalist painter from Scotland by way of Berlin, and he is very sweet and shy and solitary, which seems to be the right way for a minimalist painter to behave, and he was standing away from us, off in the street.

Hoyun is a performance artist from South Korea who follows people and makes subjective maps of where they go, and she has been having trouble breathing — she thinks because of the altitude, but I think because of the cigarettes, and later she told me because of her bra.

We sat together and watched the Yes Men screen their movie. They play clever activist pranks on large corporations, and the Santa Fe audience was hooting and hollering and cheering all through the movie. The girl behind me was particularly vocal, shouting out, "Yeah! That's what I'm talking about!" and "Oh yeah!" and "Woooo-hoo!" every few minutes.

In the question and answer session after the movie, most of the questions were about how corporations are evil, in one way or another, and one person asked, "Instead of satire, why not just shoot the CEOs?" and everyone cheered.

As I listened to this, I thought how these new-age, spiritual, open-minded liberal artist types of Santa Fe were just as lopsided in their worldview as the bankers and politicians I met a few weeks ago at Davos. Both groups seem to see the world in very simple terms — good or bad, right or wrong, markets or socialism, companies or art, etc.

I was squirming in my seat and wanting to get back out into the snow, which was swirling and diving through the dark sky and into the streetlights. The snow was hard to understand and terribly complex, and felt truer than anything I'd seen at Davos, anything I saw tonight in the movie, or anything any person was likely to tell me, no matter how many port towns or personas they knew.