BRAWL Ball 2009
Friday, December 18 2009
I've been making a point of gathering firewood every day until the needle bearings arrive (which will allow me to use the gas chainsaw once more). The idea here it to keep my lack of a gas chainsaw from becoming an excuse to procrastinate on this essential winter chore. This mostly limits me to gathering small dead trees from the along Farm Road, though there were also some other long narrow pieces left over from recent bucking of downed White Ash that I could drag from where the Stick Trail crosses the Chamomile (which has been running strongly for months).
Once the needle bearings arrived in the post today, I had my chainsaw back in the game and I was out in the snow with it bucking up that big downed oak 70 feet below the Chamomile crossing. But already the chain on my saw seemed to have gone dull. The snow had formed a hard crust that was difficult to break through with a normal step, so I found myself stomping heavily with each step. Otherwise it was like walking on a skating rink that had been tilted 20 or 30 degrees (and it wouldn't have taken much to send me on a several-hundred-foot slide.
This evening Gretchen had mapped out a complicated night that was to begin at the Kingston Indian restaurant with two of our three favorite Woodstock vegan couples. We were the first to arrive, and the guys at the restaurant (and it's always the same three guys) went about the business of putting together three tables to make sufficient room for seven people. At first Gretchen and I sat together but then we decided it would be best if we sat as far apart as possible, since we have plenty of opportunities outside social situations to be all up in each others' business.
So then they arrived, first the Zena Road posse and then the Chris and Brian (Crazy-Sexy) posse, which today included a third individual, a gentleman who seemed to be Brian's bro from back in the day. These days the bro does computer work (including "leveraging geographic cost savings" in India), though he stops by Woodstock now and then to pursue Buddhist spirtual goals.
Gretchen has been proudly telling everyone about my brownhouse (it's a great story because it's initially shocking but, on reflection, makes perfect sense). Brian (of Chris and Brian) is particularly enamored, and his wife Chris (who is really into "cleanses," among other things), is also excited, though upon interrogating me and learning that one could actually see the accumulated feces through the toilet seat, she seemed a little skeeved out. "You could just drop sawdust down there," I said, and that seemed to revive her interest somewhat.
In the past Gretchen and I had been completely content with drinking water with our Indian food, but this crowd wanted wine. So a Brian and his bro drove out to the nearby shopping center (the one with Herzog's and Hannaford) to buy three bottles at the wine store. It ended up being the first time I'd ever seen anyone drinking alcohol in the Kingston Indian Restaurant. Though probably Muslim, the staff seemed fully-prepared for bring-your-own alcohol, even keeping a wine corker on hand.
As usual, I ended up eating far more Indian food than I should have. That wouldn't have been a big deal had the night been about to end in front of the teevee, but it was really only just beginning. Next destination: the BRAWL Ball at Keegan Ales (also in Uptown). BRAWL is the regional women's arm-wrestling league, and anything they do is a reliably good time to be had, though I've only ever been to their events when the cartilage between my ribs wasn't slowly tearing from the pressure of Indian food.
When we arrived, the place was packed with the usual BRAWL scene -- ladies in various costumes, gentleman standing around gawking, and lots of beer was being drunk. Keegan Ales had even added a seasonal brew to their usual three-product lineup, an extra-hoppy concoction called "Super Kitty," which was being dispensed in smaller-than-normal plastic cups.
Today's event was largely celebratory, with a mixture of raffling events and ad hoc wrestling matches, usually between non-BRAWL women and various BRAWL legends. A BRAWL calendar was auctioned off (won by one of our friends and immediately gifted to Gretchen), as were a pair of small locally-distilled bottles of whiskey which somehow went for $100. A slow dance with Magenta, the elegantly-dressed wife of the referee, went for $30, at which point the DJ cued up Madonna's "Crazy for You" and then everyone slow danced: the winner with Magenta, Gretchen with me, etc., etc. The great thing about BRAWL events is that you never really know what's going to happen next, and even the corniest things seem really legitmately wonderful.
Meanwhile, our various vegan friends from Woodstock seemed to be surprised by how much fun they were having. Usually the only events they go to are in Woodstock, and it's easy for them to think of non-Woodstock places as being a barren cultural wasteland (at least as far down to Manhattan's Upper West Side). To be surrounded by so many great people and having such fun in Uptown Kingston made them realize that there is a lot more to Upstate living than the tired old Woodstock artsy-lefty party circuit, where the same 60 year old single guys with bad 70s haircuts keep turning up like so many bad pennies.
As much fun as we were having, at a certain point Gretchen wanted to go over to a nearby Broadway bar called "the Basement" (the only other time we went there, it had another name and had a decidedly hipster scene). Gretchen's guitar teacher, yet another guy named Chris, would be playing in a newly-formed band called the Homemade Rockets, and she wanted to see them play. Chris also happens to be a bartender at the Basement (as well as a roadie for Mercury Rev, some members of which showed up for tonight's performance.)
So there we were at the Basement. The scene was completely different from that of BRAWL. Most of the people there were in their 20s and wearing various dark-hued hipster rock and roll fashions. Some sort of emo-type band was playing, and it felt good to be at a live show of that sort of music (I don't see much live rock and roll these days).
Next the Homemade Rockets took the stage. Their singer was an incredibly tall guy with what looked like a tattoo of a scar made by a Grizzly Bear across his eye. The music was competent and danceable, though the band wasn't especially tight and the mix was a little off. Still, the front man, though his voice was a little off-putting, had plenty of that essential rock charisma. Me, the oldest person in the audience, was the only one dancing except for the girl to my right, who might have been the lead singer's girlfriend. This was one of those hipster crowds that was too cool for dancing. Hey, cool kids, you're in the Rust Belt, not the East Village, try to have a little fun while you still can!
After the Bottle Rockets, we returned to Keegan Ales briefly. There were still plenty of people there, and most of them were dancing and allowing themselves to have more fun than the hipster rock and rollers at the Basement.
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