Sunday, November 23 2003
Some freak looked up my phone number using directory assistance this morning and called me to congratulate me about a wire photo of me that went out on the AP News wire months ago (it was that picture where I'm standing in the Luvuvhu River shirtless; it had been taken by Gretchen's childhood friend Dina, who is an AP reporter in South Africa). The caller wanted to know my address, so I gave him a bogus one. Gretchen had been the one who answered the call, and it creeped her out. I did a Star-69 (which works long distance these days, something that hadn't been the case last time I tried it) and found the caller was from Lodi, California. For me, weird stalker people usually come as an inevitable side effect of posting my life online, but in this case it seemed the incident had happened entirely without the assistance of the internet.
Continuing a recent binge of live music experiences, today Gretchen and I drove up to Saugerties this afternoon to see Barbara S. (Katie's mother) perform several pieces for solo piano. Before that, though, we stopped in to visit our new clients/friends who live in the big stone house down on Hurley Mountain Road. I've decided to call them "the Stone House People." A few days ago Ms. Stone House's pregnancy terminated successfully and they now have a healthy baby, whom they have named Paloma. Every time we hang out with the Stone House People, we find they're a little more fun than we'd thought the time before. This time, for example, we were there a good twenty minutes before they said anything at all about their new baby, which was sleeping quietly in her mother's arms. They also told us a number of amusing stories, the sort that can only happen to people with their kind of connections. They told about a friend who had once visited them in New Mexico, and the guy was carrying several semi-stolen chunks of Einstein's brain with him at the time. The guy was rather sloppy with his stuff, and the jar just sat on the floor while everybody went out for dinner. As reported, they'd been lucky the dog (their black Chow mix, still alive but now ancient) hadn't gotten into it. We didn't have a story to match that one, but we did tell about our recent experience at the Lynrd Skynrd concert. Gretchen and I were all dressed up for the concert, with me wearing nearly the same outfit I'd worn for Lynrd Skynrd.
Huck, one of the Stone House People's four large mongrel dogs, kept turning around in my lap, trying to get comfortable, leaving behind horse manure and hundreds of pus-colored hairs. Eventually he also dropped the tennis ball out of his mouth onto my leg. It was black with filth. The Stone House People kept trying to get him to get off me, but I insisted it was alright.
On the way out of town, we stopped in at Tony's place near the Hurley Mountain Inn. He'd said he wanted to come to the piano concert, so he followed us all the way up to Saugerties. Gretchen was making things hard on him, running two yellow lights, the latter in front of one of Saugerties's finest, notorious for their take-no-prisoners law enforcement technique. ("Take-no-prisoners" has never seemed more ridiculous as an adjective.)
The concert was being presented as part of Saugerties Pro Musica. Unfortunately, it was taking place in a dreary Methodist Church, the kind of venue whose most mind-altering refreshment is decaffeinated coffee. On top of that, the pews were unpadded and uncomfortable. The audience was a bunch of old timers, from whom a steady din of coughing emanated. Barbara had been given a beat-up old out of tune piano to play, and she did the best she could with it. I didn't particularly like the program of music, not being a fan of either Rachmaninoff or Ravel. I will say this, however, Barbara S. is a virtuoso. She played two long suites completely from memory, and executed all sorts of crazy keyboard gymnastics, particularly in the Toccata of Ravel's Le Tombeau de Couperin. During two shorter pieces, she had to resort to sheet music, but even when it collapsed all over her keyboard, she recovered in less than a second.
After the concert, all of (including Tony) reconvened at Katie's house. After awhile Katie's sister Becka showed up with some strange guy and finally Barbara the pianist arrived. We had a dinner of lasagna, salad, and a surprising amount of red wine. Dinner conversation was fairly ghoulish, starting with Michæl Jackson and continuing on through Jefferey Dahmer and the Green River Killer. This led me to tell the story about the time my buddy Josh Furr lived in a house in which a body had been entombed.
Earlier I'd been looking through the copy of the latest Newsweek, whose cover title reads "Bush's 87 Billion Dollar Mess." Inside was a story about Britney Spears that I couldn't help but read. It presented an amusing portrait of how sheltered and vapid a pop superstar can be. In discussing some South-Asian sounds in one of the songs on her latest album (In the Zone), she said she has been "been into a lot of Indian spiritual religions." When asked if one of those was Hinduism, she asked, "What's that - is it like Kabbalah?" A: Britney spends entirely too much time with Madonna. B: She might be even more stupid (though perhaps somewhat less-incurious) than our President.
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