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").


decay & ruin
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Like my brownhouse:
   shrimp and poetry
Monday, March 3 2003
Today was the day of Gretchen's poetry reading. The place where it was to happen was the Co-Art Gallery in downtown Staunton, an entity which my mother Hoagie helped to found. The reading was to coincide with the opening of an art show that would feature, among other things, a series of woodcuts made by Hoagie. Hoagie had put together a lavish array of food and beverages for today's festivities, and she left early to set things up. The reading was to be at a rather strange time, in the early afternoon on a Monday, which meant that most of the people able to attend would be of retirement age.
Several dozen people turned out and took their seats in one of the gallery's rooms. Then a genuine poet, an English professor from Mary Baldwin College actually, gave Gretchen an unexpectedly grand-sounding introduction. Actually, though, it's not hard to give a grand introduction when the person being introduced is published in the Paris Review. Too bad that particular issue has yet to come out, even after a year and a half of anticipation.
Gretchen gave what in my completely-unbiased opinion seemed like an amazing reading. She read poems that had befuddled me in the past and now suddenly they were as comprehensible as the lyrics of late-period Michæl Stipe. It helped that Gretchen gave little intros to certain poems so that we weren't approaching them cold. For the culture-starved patrons of Co-Art, Gretchen's performance was akin to the existence of the new Blackfriars Theatre: an inkling of Renaissance in the heart of a geographical Dark Age. Indeed, one of the poems Gretchen read was entitled "Renaissance Sally" and was about our dog, who happened to be in attendance.
At the end of Gretchen's reading, everyone applauded. I was holding Sally's leash at the time, and she responded to the celebration with a single very well-received "Woof!" This quickly appeared as a headline in the tight rotation of the CNN-like news service that Hoagie can at times be.
Meanwhile I was drinking wine and snacking heavily on shrimp. My mother had really outdid herself in the nosh department. It being early on a Monday, it seemed I might have been the only one there who was actually drinking. Not one person drank any of the cans of Budweiser available in a cooler. Perhaps they thought it wasn't in keeping with the lofty nature of the entertainment.

I spent much of the evening up in the Honey House (an outbuilding my mother once used for bee-farming tasks but which has since become an, er, repository for unsorted possessions). I was looking for things that might prove useful in my new life up in Hurley. Now that I have a huge laboratory and have stopped moving around, I can embrace possessions once more, no matter how marginal. Since I'm into digital electronics again these days, particularly as applied to the artful display of blinkenlights, I was especially interested in getting my old dumpster-dived oscilloscope and various old-technology computer displays (particularly those with composite or MDA inputs). As I found things, I stacked them up outside my truck.
As we were coming home from the poetry reading, we happened to run across Mike Jones, my father's old environmentalist buddy from Waynesboro. Back in the day they used to do lots of activist-type work together, but recently, since my father turned to the more contemplative and solitary work of cataloging biodiversity in the mountains, the two have fallen somewhat out of touch. So Mike came back to the house for a second time and hung out with me for awhile. Gretchen was there for too and was obviously impressed with Mike. Part of Mike's allure is the unexpected disconnect between his strong Waynesboro accent and his well-reasoned-but-hilarious take on the world. Nonetheless, there are also aspects of Mike's personality that seem to deeply adhere to his Waynesboro origins, particularly his fondness for conspiracy theories and his personal interest in the freedoms afforded by the Second Amendment. He was telling Gretchen about his sympathies with the American Indian Movement, and he made a classic Mike Jonesism, "Everybody's always telling the Indians, 'all that stuff [the ethnic cleansing of America] happened a long time ago.' Well that's true, and I want you to stop talking about Jesus!" Gretchen absolutely loved that statement.
Later Gretchen went off to take a nap and, over leftover Budweisers from the opening, Mike was telling me about his recent interest in motorcycles and the work he's been doing on a house he quasi-inherited from his grandmother. His discussion of household repair meshed perfectly with my recent interests, of course.

Later in the evening Gretchen wanted to go to Maharaja, the one Indian restaurant in Staunton (located in a dreary low-rent building on Greenville Avenue that has served as the incubator for all of Staunton's marginal non-steak-serving restaurants). At first I didn't want to go, but then I got to thinking - we should take advantage of the presence of good Indian food while we're in the area. We love the Catskills, but it's impossible to find good Indian food up there.
Since we were blocked in by my mother [REDACTED] we were forced to borrow my father's old 1969 Chevy pickup. [REDACTED]

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