more maddening than 555
Saturday, August 7 2004
At around 6pm Gretchen and I went into Kingston for the monthly art opening walk. We started out down on the Strand in the Rondout. The second annual Latino festival was happening and parking was difficult to find. We ended up all the way down in the northeast end of strand, where restaurants and museums give way to sewage treatment plants and junkyards. The smell down there was horrible despite an "odor abatement program" heavily touted on several signs. Just to the southwest of this fragrant region was the Strand's newest restaurant, which appeared to be very expensive establishment. We stopped there briefly so Gretchen could examine the menu and be horrified by the diversity of dishes containing veal.
We haven't had much of a chance to use our Spanish since taking that course back in June, but the Latino festival was proof positive that we'd have plenty of opportunities to speak Spanish in Kingston if our circle of friends was, say, somewhat more diverse. It was a crowded scene, despite the cool weather and threatening rain. On the stage some musicians performed while a pair of dancers executed choreographed moves. Concessions featured those Malta Goya beverages I always see for sale in the Hispanic aisle in Hannaford. Printed material on the signs and concessions was primarily in Spanish.
As usual, there isn't much of note to be said about the art or the food that came with it. As usual, the Coffey Gallery in Uptown had the best wine, though I think at this opening it actually had the least interesting art.
The plan for tonight was to see the remake of the Manchurian Candidate at the mall cinema, but since that wouldn't be until ten, we had time to kill even before we went to dinner. We walked around the Dutch Reformed church in Uptown and looked again at the ancient gravestones, the originals dating from the 1600s and 1700s. Most of these featured surprisingly cheesy stylized angels engraved at the top with a misspelling-rich sentence describing the deceased. There are so few relics of written words from that time that even the font used, though only subtly different from Times Roman, has a certain alien quality about it. I wondered about the technology used to do the engraving - was it done entirely by chisel?
We had dinner at La Florintina, the Italian restaurant on Ulster Avenue that specializes in unique pizzas fired in a brick oven.
Our dinner conversation lingered for a time on the subject of ecological stewardship in the Middle East. I said that I didn't think much of environmental teachings of any of the Middle East's religions given the fact that the people living there had succeeded in converting it from the Fertile Crescent into desert. Gretchen begged to differ and tried to enlighten me about ancient Jewish teachings about environmental stewardship, but I remained unconvinced. I pointed out that if the people of one religion are in competition with the people of another religion, and one of those religions allows for the raping of the land for short-term gain, chances are that the people of both religions will find their respective theological justifications for the raping of the land so that they won't be left out during the brief period of "good times" that result whenever people are living in an unsustainable manner. Gretchen was aggravated that I was doing what appeared to her to be "talking out of [my] ass" without knowledge of actual Jewish teachings. "Have you ever read Leviticus?" Gretchen demanded. But my argument didn't require any knowledge of Jewish writings. My reasoning was sociological and built on a basic understanding of economics coupled with the fact of what actually happened in the Middle East. The forests of Lebanon are no more, and all the lions are tigers and hippos that used to live there are gone. If it wasn't for the oil, the Middle East would be about as strategic as central Greenland or Western Australia.
After dinner we drove to the mall and snuck into the Manchurian Candidate without difficulty. I found it to be a poorly-organized hack of a movie, barely interesting enough to keep me awake. I wish the script writer had worked out the specifics of the reality he was trying to present before handing it off to the director. Help me here, were minds of the brainwashed soldiers being principally controlled by hypnosis or was it really mostly about the microchips? And as for the dreams, I almost always hate dream sequences in movies. They make for particularly infuriating and unsubstantial plot devices. Finally, a movie about politics that tries to cloak the specifics of the politics involved so as to appear non-partisan is actually even more maddening than the widespread use in movies of the "555" telephone exchange.
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