eclipse over the Rosendale Theatre
Saturday, November 8 2003
I went to my dentist today, the one out near the Thruway overpass on Hurley Avenue, and he examined my teeth to see what might be causing my recent rash (and it does seem like a rash) of toothaches. The dentist could find nothing wrong with my teeth except for the badly-misconfigured bite. He seemed to agree with my layman's hypothesis about tooth-clench pain aggravation, including the part where Unisom saved the day. He suggested that we replace one of the silver West LA fillings (one that burrows down nearly to a nerve) with a plastic composite and fix the bite at the same time. I set up a date to return to have this work done in a little over a week. In the meantime, my teeth feel as comfortable as they did before this crisis began.
This evening Gretchen and I went to see the movie Mystic River at the Rosendale Theatre in ceaselessly-19th Century Rosendale. On the way there I noticed that there was a circular-shaped chunk of the moon missing, but it didn't look like a normal gibbous. It must have been a lunar eclipse in progress, something soon confirmed by somebody standing in line who told the ticket taker she might want to come out again to take a picture of it.
Gretchen told me that the Rosendale Theatre was the only place in Ulster County where Mystic River would be shown, and since the film has been receiving rave reviews, scads of people were converging on the Rosendale Theatre. Gretchen and I sat in the second row from the front and at one point she told me to turn around and see how many people had come. I turned around and the theatre - a big one-screen theatre leftover from the days before the invention of the multiplex - was completely full. I joked to Gretchen that now would be a good time to break into houses in Rosendale, although many of these people (like us) had come from elsewhere. Having seen a movie from the second row in the Rosendale Theatre, I can now attest that it is one of the few theatres where seeing a movie at such a range is possible. It seems to have something to do with the presence of a broad stage in front of the screen, pushing even the front row a considerable distance back.
Mystic River was something of an old-fashioned whodoneit having aspects of Greek tragedy and nuanced modern notions of good and evil and the spectrum between the two. The director for this movie is Clint Eastwood, and it shows the gradual maturation of his treatment of evil, starting with the simplistic vigilante notions of Dirty Harry (from Eastwood's early mid-career) and passing through such inflection points as the western the Unforgiven, where the villains show glimmers of humanity and the heroes cast shadows of evil. In Mystic River, good and evil have gone through a blender and emerged as a complicated flavor having notes of Osama bin Castro and a finish of Mother Theresa. Evil underlies everything, no matter how rosy the scene, in the way the bizarre underlies such scenes in a David Lynch film. It pops up like mushrooms within society, infects people's personalities, and propagates like a virus. Embedded in a person's soul, it becomes a tool like any other and comes to be used in the service of good, vengeance, and love, further propagating its poison. It was a gripping movie, with little padding and few dull moments. Typical of movies with this trait, the plot seemed to advance faster than I wanted it to, with developments happening before I could fully assimilate the ones that had just transpired. Mystic River is a great movie, but it isn't exactly paradigm-shattering.
On the way out of the movie, we randomly ran into the wife and daughter of our mutual Stone Ridge client (who is currently kayaking the Altiplano). We hurried to the Rosendale Café for a dinner of tempeh reubens, but the Café had a rather serious bluegrass performance underway and they were charging a $12 cover at the door. I would have paid $12 had the atmosphere been good, but everybody inside (a mostly 60 and over crowd) looked to be sitting in stony silence, trying to experience their money's worth. Lacking other good options in Rosendale, we drove into Uptown Kingston, but all the restaurants there (including the Ugly Gus Café and Stella's, the Italian place with the delicious salad) stopped serving dinner at 10pm. We ended up at the Hurley Mountain Inn, but we weren't in the mood for our usual pizza and fries, so we ordered a plate a vegetarian nachos instead. They were utterly devoid of flavor and seemed to be a sort of afterthought. Where were the beans? How about some salsa? Ever heard of guacamole?
It seems we'd never been to the Hurley Mountain Inn on a Saturday night, because the place was gearing up for a weekly event we didn't even know they did. The floor in the south third of the dining room had been cleared of tables, someone had set up a light show, and a DJ was spinning dance music. It started out with a few hip hop tunes, but quickly moved on to the sort of electronica played at all night dance parties (also known as raves) frequented by the fans of the drug MDMA (also known as e). The event was being produced by a Kiss FM, a local Clear Channel franchise. There was something clearly wrong with playing dance music and running light shows in a place decorated with an accidentally-tacky family-friendly hunting lodge theme. The Hurley Mountain Inn features license plates, animal trophies, and beer posters on its walls, but the music suggested black ceilings, velvet drapery, and illumination by blacklight.
More interesting than the contradictions of the setup were the people who showed up to partake in this Clear Channel production. It wasn't the typical mix of families and middle aged white guys. At first the scene was mostly comprised of young men who seemed to have adopted the baseball cap as their uniform. Some had the brim pointed forward, others had it draping their neck. Later some women materialized. Like the men, these all appeared to be single. Though none of them would be considered hot, it was obvious that a few of them thought they looked pretty good. This led Gretchen to bring up one of her theories about the way women regard themselves. According to her, it doesn't matter how good a woman looks objectively, but if she thinks she is looking as good as she can, then she struts around like she's the hottest firecracker at the Fourth of July. Obviously, if a woman thinks she's looking especially bad (say, it's the day after she got her chemical peel) she doesn't bother going out at all.
One woman there appeared to have made a number of fashion decisions that were anything but flattering. For starters, she had the figure of an eggplant, but she had chosen to wear a shirt featuring zillions of narrow horizontal lines that seemed to draw attention to the size of the cross sections that would have resulted had she had the misfortune to fall headfirst into an automated vegetable slicer. Then there was the matter of her pants. She'd made the mistake of wearing a pair of fashionable low-riders, but her ass was so large that it leapt up out of it even when she was sitting on a bar stool. Let me just tell you, that ass could have given me nightmares had I been any closer to it. Hollywood perfection has left us insufficiently prepared for the lumpy monstrosity that a dumpy woman's ass can sometimes be.
The racial composition of the Saturday night ravers was a little more black than usual for the Hurley Mountain Inn, especially if one were to include the whiggers under that rubric. It was, however, a whiter crowd than the music would have led you to expect.
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