bassy Fly by Night
Thursday, September 23 2004
I was in New England again today, but not even for quite an hour and only just a mile or two from the New York State line. I was fulfilling an arrangement with a radio station that really could use some renegotiation.
My father tells a story from back in the 1980s when he would lie awake in bed pondering the complexities of replacing the roof of our house. It was a makeshift roof, nearly square in shape but with a central axis nearly twice as steep as the sides. It's the sort of roof you get in Redneckistan when a house is added to over time. It tended to leak at lines where the angle of slope suddenly changed, and nothing was going to make it stop leaking short of a new roof. There were lots of difficulties involved in replacing it, including the logistical one of water supply. All potable water for that house is collected from rain upon the roof, and that couldn't be interrupted. The solution can be seen in photos of the house; a new straight rafter span was run from roof ridge to overhang and its slope was an average of the two original slopes. It has never leaked in the more than 20 years since it was installed. But even if a leak were to materialize, there's another intact roof to catch it. So it seems the late night logistical pondering was not in vain; the roof turned okay.
Similarly, I've found myself lying awake pondering my foundation repair and drainage project. There's are plenty of complexities and unknowns to consider or at least acknowledge. For example, exactly how much force is exerted by a mass of dampened clay against a wall of drystacked 12 inch thick SparfillTM blocks? I can see in the past that it was enough to open up an array of cracks, both horizontal and vertical. Will the cement and epoxy I used to repair these cracks give it the structural integrity it needs? Will the gutters keep the foundation clay sufficiently dry?
Meanwhile, there's the subterranean work I've been doing outside the foundation. I've repaired all the cracks on the outside, and now I've painted the wall with asphalt. The theory that I've come up with while in bed had me then putting a tidy sheet of plastic over the asphalt. Today, though, on the ground, in the chaotic messiness of the trench, I found a yawning morass between theory and practice. Getting that plastic to stick against the asphalt for more than about a minute was impossible, and arranging the plastic into a neat wrinkle-free surface was hopeless. And, in the insult added to injury department, I managed to get day-old asphalt all over me, including on the soles of my feet. Have you ever tried to clean up asphalt you've tracked across carpet? It's a nightmare. Even beyond the reach of the mosquito airforce you find yourself in existential anguish demanding of the ever-sadistic Creator, "Why did you lead me to this?"
But somehow I was clean well before a little dinner date Gretchen and I had with one another. We drove all the way into Uptown Kingston (five or six miles away) and were in a novelty shop about to purchase a $2.50 fake ruby ring when we suddenly realized that neither of us had wallets. We couldn't even find that amount of money in the car, which Gretchen had cleaned thoroughly in the aftermath of my Virginia trip. So we had to drive all the way back home.
We did what had once been our usual Thursday night routine a few weeks ago, back before the guy we'd usually run into turned out to be a pathological anti-semite. We ate dinner at Stellas (mostly for the salad) and then hit Back Stage Productions for their open mike event. We'd been encouraged to come by Gretchen's new friend Peter. He's a farmer, court-appointed attorney, former Chelsea socialite, and non-anti-semite. Indeed, he's actually Jewish. When we arrived he immediately accosted me and asked if I was registered to vote. He had stack of voter registration forms with him and he was doing his part to make New York even more of a blue state than it already is. Intermittently flirting with one of the regular BOP ladies, he told us about the days when he had a farming operation out in Andes (54 miles west of Kingston) and how isolated he felt there. Having walked the streets of Uptown and seen all the shops closed for Yom Kippur, I asked, "How many of the stores in Andes close for Yom Kippur?" "Oh! You have a sense of humor!" Peter shot back. I was sleepy and had been kind of quiet and poker-faced, so perhaps he thought I was one of those overly-serious people one runs into at court-appointed attorneys' conventions.
The Flying Dutchmen, our favorite BOP cover band, was in full effect tonight after what the MC told us had been something of a hiatus. They performed three Rush covers, but they always announced the song titles and artists beforehand as though there was a possibility we might instead hear a song that had not been written by Rush. The female bassist/vocalist, who is built sort of like the bomb dropped on Hiroshima, kept beseeching the guy at the mixer to boost her bass because she couldn't hear it. It seems anything the Flying Dutchmen want the Flying Dutchmen get, at least at BSP, because by the time they finished their set with "Fly by Night" the guitar was totally swamped by the bass. Mind you, she's a great bassist, but I think her problem could have been solved in the monitor, not the PA mix.
Out anti-semitic friend never showed up. I suggested to Gretchen that perhaps he had flown under cover of night and relocated to Argentina.
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