common difficulty with protein
Saturday, February 19 2005
Last night four friends came up from the city to stay with us for the long President's Day holiday. This evening we all went out for dinner and, well, bowling across the Hudson in Red Hook, which is proving to be our favorite village on the east side of the river. Dinner in Red Hook invariably means Luna 61 these days, but bowling on that side of the river was a novelty. We went to a place called Ro-Lin. It's a smaller, human-scale set of lanes with older lane equipment and you have to count the pins and score yourself, though you do use a computer terminal to enter the data. Whenever you key in a strike or a spare (something I didn't do very often), the computer displays a grainy late-80s-style animation involving various goofy animals, one of whom obtains and proudly displays either a box with a slash (a spare) or one with an X (a strike). On the monitors for lanes not being used there's a continuous slide show of completely random pictures, including one of a kitten, one of a tractor trailer, and even a pair of Masked Boobies from the Galapagos.
While we played, a large subset of our contingent suffered from identical afflictions of silent-but-deadly flatulence. By identical, I mean that the gas constantly displacing the atmosphere invariably had the same foul fragrance, though each time (based on the pardons requested) the author was a different person. The odor was acrid and sulfurous, indicating a common difficulty with protein digestion.
Originally there had been a plan to go to a party over on Lapla Road, but by the end of our bowling nobody had the energy. Instead we all went back to the house and hung out in front of the fire. The men among us smoked pot and then everybody but me started dancing to the Fame soundtrack, which Gretchen has on vinyl. (Gretchen later accused me of being a "poopyhead" for seeming not to have that much fun during this phase of the evening, adding that it's what always happens to me when I smoke pot.)
But no, though I couldn't relate to the goofy energy in the room, I was actually enjoying myself in a low-key kind of way. I was reading the latest issue of The Woodstock Times, which (from my pot-altered viewpoint) seemed to be chock full of fascinating articles. There was one about a curmudgeonly guy who spray painting a swastika on an old camper in the woods behind his house in an effort, so he claimed, to provoke a debate about Isræl. From the interview the guy gave to a reporter, he sounded like your usual Woodstock weirdo. He came across more as a shit stirrer crying out for attention than as an anti-semite. In any case, the issue sounds like it's been receding into history ever since individuals unknown (perhaps the landowner himself) painted over the swastika and replaced it with a constellation of Stars of David and various slogans indicating typical unfocused, unthreatening Woodstock looniness. One must always be vigilant against it "happening here" but I think it is unlikely to begin in Woodstock.
The main article that interested me was the one about the recent shooting at the Hudson Valley Mall. It had been a big news story when it happened, with the cable news channels (particularly the notoriously Fair and Balanced Fox) jumping on it and reporting wild stories of multiple shooters, fatalities, and injuries. When it was all said and done, there had been only one shooter, a young white man from the small village of Glasgo. He'd walked into Best Buy and focused his gunfire at inanimate objects, hopefully big-screened HDTVs and Hewlett Packard laptops. When it was all over he'd managed to shoot one person in the knee (an Army recruiter - these days you can't throw a stick at a mall without hitting somebody having this thankless job) and injure another with flying glass. Considering he'd fired more than sixty rounds, obviously he didn't have it in himself to be a killer. We're told that he was heavily influenced by the Columbine shooters, but he didn't attempt suicide when he was done. One interesting final tidbit is that his assault rifle had been purchased shortly after the federal weapons ban expired.
After reading these articles I wondered if maybe I'd be better plugged into the community if our household had a subscription to The Woodstock Times.
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