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Hello, my name is Judas Gutenberg and this is my blaag (pronounced as you would the vomit noise "hyroop-bleuach").


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   Rhinecliff near a wedding
Saturday, July 31 2010
Down in Old Hurley at Ray and Nancy's new house, Ray was off at work but Nancy was entertaining guests: her sister Linda and Linda's husband Adam. Ray, Nancy, Linda, and Adam have been frequent houseguests in our basement, but they all have their own place in Hurley to go now. Meanwhile Gretchen was in Woodstock at an obligatory poetry function, so when Nancy called to invite us to dinner, it was just me who could go. At first I thought maybe they were having a barbecue, but it turned out that they just wanted to go to the China Rose in Rhinecliff. The China Rose is one of my favorite restaurants, so I said sure I'd come.
It turned out today was the day that Bill Clinton's daughter Chelsea was getting married, and that marriage was happening in Rhinebeck at just about the time we crossed the Hudson Fjord to the New England side. I'd thought we could avoid everything by going to Rhinecliff instead of Rhinebeck, but no, we were heading directly into the teeth of the wedding.
Normally once one crosses over the Hudson, one takes an immediate right on River Road, which leads to Rhinecliff. But due to the wedding, River Road was closed south of Astor Drive. There were a bunch of State Police cars parked there and we were forced to detour toward downtown Rhinebeck. As we left the vicinity of River Road, we could see through the trees to the grounds of one of the fancy estates and on one of these we could see tents, caterers, various tuxedoed gentlemen, and what looked like a chamber orchestra. That must have been where the reception would be taking place.
In Rhinebeck we resumed our progress towards Rhinecliff by turning right (west) at Market Street and the Beekman Arms, where the wedding itself was taking place. The press were crowded at that intersection with all their fancy photography gear all set up on stands and tripods. Linda recognized one of the press gaggle who turned out to be a friend of hers.
It seems I'd never been to the China Rose in warm weather before, because this was the first time I'd ever eaten in their outdoor area, a pleasant roofed-over place with a gorgeous view of the Hudson. A half dozen police boats of various kinds zoomed back and forth along the shoreline, rendering any amphibious landings by paparazzi or North Koreans completely impossible. Supposedly local airspace had been closed down too. I knew that there were probably some very famous people at Chelsea's wedding, but this enormous security presence seemed like overkill. It also seemed like perfect conditions for pulling off a major crime about thirty miles away.
For some reason, dinner conversation focused heavily on various regionalisms I'd learned while growing up in Appalachia. These included the expression "done ready done did it" and "all ya'all." I also treated my dinner companions to "Jesus Loves Me" sung in Mandarin Chinese, which I'd learned osmotically from my mother as a kid (she'd learned it during her childhood at a Protestant Sunday School). But because my mother has a distinct New England accent and a tendency to butcher foreign languages (think Kennedy at the Berlin Wall), the version I know has changed considerably from anything that could be understood by a native Mandarin speaker. My version goes like so:

Yeh su eye wah wah din jer
Bing bang wah wah squareroot sir
A habbala kae wah skoo yet zoo...
[at that point my memory of the song ends]

For some reason we had a lot of fun at the expense of my memory of that song. Linda and Nancy kept wanting to hear it again. I'd also told them about the time Ray and I stayed up late drinking cheap Evan Williams bourbon, and they kept wanting me to remind them of its name, which they'd remember as Russell Ingram or Samuel Campbell (or something similarly trashy-but-WASPy).

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