Your leaking thatched hut during the restoration of a pre-Enlightenment state.


Hello, my name is Judas Gutenberg and this is my blaag (pronounced as you would the vomit noise "hyroop-bleuach").


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Like my brownhouse:
   flock of child counter demonstrators
Sunday, February 2 2003

Suddenly the weather was warm, 40 degrees Fahrenheit, a thaw - and it felt so good that I would have been content for this to be our summer. Ours was a far more pleasant house to live in with the boiler no longer continuously straining to provide us warmth.

Today on a whim, Gretchen drove Sarah the Korean (who is still not Korean) and me out into the Catskills down Route 28. We went all the way to Margaretville, drank some booze in a little bar there, and turned around and came home. Along the way we stopped at a restaurant in Phoenicia for brunch. The views throughout were spectacular. Though not an especially tall mountain range, the Catskills definitely hold their own when it comes to beauty. Part of their charm is the result of their long history as a tourist destination. Since most of the hotels and roadside restaurants date from many decades ago, they lack the shoddy concrete blockiness of modern architecture and don't usually detract much from the scenery. The beauty actually began as early in our trip as the Ashokan Reservoir, which on this day wouldn't have looked out of place in Iceland (aside, perhaps, from the presence of trees). Sarah was blown away, exclaiming repeatedly how beautiful everything was.

The Catskills above Phoenicia, with Sarah (near) and Gretchen (far).

More of the Catskills above Phoenicia.
Some asshole forgot to fly his flag at half staff for the dead astronauts.

On the way home Gretchen raced to get Sarah back to Kingston in time for the 5:30 bus to the City. For some reason I found Gretchen's driving especially frightening on this leg, mostly because of her occasional tendency to tailgate. I've never really understood what people gain by tailgating, but it's obviously something because lots of people seem to enjoy doing it. In exchange for distant views and generous reaction times, they get the luxury of reading the copyright notice on someone's bumpersticker. Actually, though, I think the problem was mostly in my head. I've become more of a worrier as I've aged, and I tend to worry about little things if there's nothing big to worry about instead. Lately, as I've already written, in the aftermath of the brownstone closing I've been desperately seeking something new to worry about.

Staunton, the rural Virginia town outside of which I grew up, is not the most progressive town in the world. Indeed, it's probably about a half dozen rainbow flags short of reasonable. But underneath the calm waters of good ole boy conformity is a growing undercurrent of genuine progressive lust. It might only be gentrification (the kind that ultimately results in a dreary corner Starbucks) or perhaps it's just townish festiveness, summed up simply by a single good restaurant somewhere. But something new is there. Hoagie (my mother) sees it manifesting in the downtown art co-op she helped found. I saw it manifesting in the form of an incredibly talented teenage emo band (The Union of a Man and a Woman) that came to Charlottesville and blew it away. And now, Hoagie tells me, there are even anti-war demonstrations in front of the county courthouse. They're small and usually are drowned out by counter-demonstrators, but this is nonetheless surprising to someone like me whose soul was aged by the stifling conservatism of the place. Tonight my father (who happens to be a veteran of World War II) sent me the following email:

Hoagie doesn't seem to be concerned about the following, but I am. While she was demonstrating against the war in Iraq on Sat., several armored vehicles (likely national guard) pulled up on the sidewalk and parked, in violation of police guidelines for the demo. They then disgorged a flock of child counter demonstrators! Isn't this what repressive governments do, as in South America - or North Korea? It was probably in violation of military regs as well. I also really resent Bush regularly posing with military brass. Possibly this is all a residue of my service as a private in the real war!


I told him to take pictures of the military-organized "child counter-demonstrators" at the next demonstration. If I get some pictures of this shit happening, I'll put together a press release. I'm sure I won't have much trouble finding someone willing to publish evidence of such creepy behavior in the hinterland. People might suck military dick in the Shenandoah Valley, but I don't think the use of armored vehicles to transport children to counter-demonstrations looks good in most other parts of the country.

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