Woodstock release party
Saturday, May 11 2013
location: rural Hurley Township, Ulster County, New York
Rain fell for much of the day as Gretchen geared up for tonight, when we'd be having the local (Woodstock) version of the release party for her animal-rights-related poetry collection entitled Kind. Last night, we were supposed to meet up with Doug and Felicia, our friends from Philadelphia, who had come to Woodstock just for Gretchen's party, but they'd flaked out on meeting us at the music show we'd gone to and didn't get back in touch with us until today. They were staying at a tiny two-unit "eco" bed and breakfast in Woodstock, and though it was pleasant, this afternoon they came over to our place and hung out for a few hours. It was enough of a visit for Gretchen and me to launch a mini cleaning jihad before they arrived. They brought a bottle of rosé wine, which we immediately split. It was cold enough in our living room for me to try to start a fire, but not so cold that I made sure the fire became self-sustaining.
A little before 6:00pm, Gretchen and I loaded the car with the many things we'd need for the party (including a hundred locally-baked chocolate chip cookies, numerous packages of crackers from Trader Joe's, and a bunch of delicious locally-produced vegan cheeses (these cheeses were donated by our friend Michæl, but not KMOCA Michæl).
After parking illegally in Gretchen's favorite parking spot (there is no parking enforcement in Woodstock), we moved all of our stuff into the Kleinert gallery. The Kleinert is a busy place, and the event happening before Gretchen's book party was an opening for hundreds of vintage snapshots harvested from the internet and sorted according to content (on one wall, it was 70s-era kids watching television, on another, it was 70s-era fathers with things on their heads). Unfortunately, no refreshments had been provided for that opening, and so it was natural for the lingerers to gravitate towards our food & wine table like vultures, where they had to be rudely shooed away. Gretchen's party was being partially-sponsored by the Golden Notebook, which provided the wine and the Kleinert rental, though our always-generous neighbor Andrea had bought all the non-alcoholic refreshments.
Before long, the Kleinert was crowded with people, most of them familiar. Unlike the party at Jivamukti, there was plenty of wine, which made the necessary smalltalk much easier for me. I got to meet some people I'd only been hearing, including a famous elderly poet whom Gretchen has been occasionally working for. He was so excited to finally meet me that he actually kissed me on the cheek with his 87 year old lips.
Gretchen's friend and poet Celia gave a long, glowing intro, then Gretchen took the stage and did her thing. As always, it was a great performance. But I didn't find it quite as engaging as what she'd done at Jivamukti; the Kleinert is a noticeably bigger space, and something about the heavy bass of the PA system made it all much less intimate.
Still, Gretchen was much happier with her performance and the reception of the crowd than she had been with herself at Jivamukti. After her reading, she sat down at a table and signed books until no more were being bought. She ended up selling more than thirty copies of Kind, as well as a few other things.
As the event was winding down, our houseguest intern showed up (he'd been at he farm animal sanctuary in Willow) and helped me load some things back in the car. This was to be his last weekend at our house and I tried to encourage him to come with us to Joshua's upstairs, but his Aspergers was kicking in and the prospect of yucking it up with drunken people who speak only in punchlines didn't appeal to him (so I surmised), so he headed back to our place.
About eleven of us ended up at Joshua's, where we ordered lots of french fries, pita, hummus, and numerous Asian "hot pots." I split a big 22 ounce IPA with Doug (of Jenny and Doug) and then when KMOCA Michæl wanted another one, I split one with him too.
There were, of course, two Dougs at our table, and at one point I asked the one who had come from Philadelphia with Felicia if people still smoked in Philadelphian restaurants. He answered no, but added that people can still smoke in restaurants out in the suburbs. I pointed out that legalized gay marriage seemed to follow inevitably on the heels of smoking bans, and I asked Doug how soon it would be before gay marriage came to Pennsylvania. Apropos of nothing, he rhetorically asked if perhaps gay marriage had already been legalized, adding, "I know you can marry yourself." This led to a general discussion on the subject of self-marriage, though nobody was getting to the most salient thing about it. So I said, "I've already consummated that marriage."
Gretchen doing her thing at the Kleinert tonight. Photo by KMOCA Deborah.
At Joshua's upstairs tonight. Behind the flowers is Tricia, and then right of that is KMOCA Michæl and then Gretchen.
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