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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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   Ramona jumps out a window
Saturday, July 27 2013
Today Gretchen had plans for us to do a few things in the greater Woodstock area. Originally we weren't going to take our dogs, but asshole was monotonously shooting a gun down at the bus turnaround, so at the last minute we told the dogs that indeed they would get to come. Though it's a pain to bring the dogs, this is ameliorated to some extent by how happy they get when they realize they're not going to be stuck at home.
It was a gorgeous not-too-hot day and the streets and sidewalks of Woodstock were crowded with people who had come for the Library Fair (our first destination). We'd taken the shortcut past the center of the village using Millstream and Tannery Brook Road, joining up with Tinker Street at the corner with Joshua's. As we were stopped at the stop sign there, Ramona saw some dog she wanted to meet on the sidewalk and simply leaped out of the window of our car, astonishing and horrifying all onlookers. All she wanted to do was say hello, and it was a simple matter to load her back into the car. But now that's an additional thing I have to worry about her doing. Hopefully she's smart enough not to attempt a stunt like that at highway speeds.
The Libary Festival cost $2 each to enter, and once there, we immediately went to the book sale area. We had the dogs with us on leashes and occasionally I'd just let them go wander, though of course Ramona can be a bit too friendly when interacting with strangers. She has a habit I hope she eventually loses of taking someone's entire arm into her mouth. And when she's not doing that, she's putting her head up some woman's skirt or sticking it into someone's asshole, all, mind you, for the most honorable of reasons. Still, I was being a bit too lax for Gretchen, who wanted me to hold onto their leashes and not be so casual. This was, for us, an unusual reversal of who had the most anxiety about something.
After randomly running across several people whom we know, we bought out books (which, for me, included a gorgeous collection of drawings and paintings by Albrecht Dürer), and then went out into the festival itself. There was a stage where fully-amplified kids (graduates of a "School of Rock" type program) were performing a number of rock 'n' roll classics such as Led Zepplin's Heartbreaker. We went directly to a tent where the publisher of Gretchen's book Kind was holding forth, and there wasn't much for me to do as they talked shop. I turned around, though, and found that directly behind me was Yum Yum's beer vending table, so I bought a plastic cup of Brooklyn Summer Ale, the closest thing to my sort of beer they had. Eventually I plopped down in the grass nearby and kept the dogs with me so Gretchen could go off and enjoy some of the festival without worrying about them. For entertainment, I had my Albrecht Dürer book.
Some young women walked by on the outside of the festival barricade and made some friendly noises at Ramona, who I let go up to the barricade to say hello. But of course, then she slipped underneath it to get her stranger love on and I had to retrieve her. Oh, Ramona!
Eventually Gretchen and I left the library festival and went over to Joshua's, where we met up briefly with Nancy and her sister Linda, who had just come back from the beauty shop with fancy new nails and somewhat anachronistic hairdos. (This was part of their preparations for the wedding we'd all be going to tomorrow.)
While in Woodstock, Gretchen had us go to the Golden Notebook to so her occasional coworkers there could meet Ramona and Eleanor. It turns out that one of the people working there, Quentin (the subject of this New Yorker story), had lived in Harkness (my co-op at Oberlin College) a few years after I quit hanging out there and remembers some of the graffiti I'd left behind. We had a good chuckle about the absurdities and joys of that place. Unfortunately for Quentin, he'd lived there during a relatively dull time when it was dominated by drum circle types and a pair of dove-raising "quasi-goths" who claimed to be "married," a revelation that caused him to burst into unappreciated laughter during the year's initial meet & greet.
Our next destination was Lake Hill, some five miles to the west. Deborah and Michæl from KMOCA, in concert with some guys from the local free tabloid Chronogram, had identified an unusual sculptural installation in Lake Hill, created as a labor of love over 20 years by a couple. They'd decided to have an opening there complete with free beer and wine, though (and, even as a socialist, this puzzled me) there was no business model of any sort, not even in the form of a "contribute to KMOCA" bucket.
We parked at the nearby firestation and walked to the place with the sculptures, a couple driveways away. Once there, we found Deborah out in front telling cars please not to park there, that they were supposed to now park at the firestation. But an enormously fat woman in an enormous SUV was insistent that she be allowed to park there, that she had bad knees but would be able to find herself a spot. After a few exchanges and a bold attempt by the SUV woman to barrel past Deborah, she pleaded, "Can you please just do what I ask you? This isn't my place and I'm trying to do this for the people whose place this is."
The sculptural installation (42.074208N, 74.200193W) was actually more architectural than anything else. It was a series of curved walls, each more than ten feet high (with one special pinnacle rising over twenty feet high). They were made mostly of mortared field stone (the round kind, not stackable flags of bluestone) with insets of brick, reliefs, figurines, and even some handmade mosaics (including one of a skeleton seated in front of a CRT-era computer). Neither Gretchen nor I are big fans of the mortared fieldstone look. Indeed, rounded fieldstones are æsthetically dull and difficult to stack. (When I need large smooth stones, I tend to take them not from rivers like the Esopus but from small creeks, where they are more angular.) But in the wide valley west of Cooper Lake, the only rocks available are field stones dropped by the glaciers. There was one large dry-stacked wall made with the squarest field stones that could be found, and I actually rather liked it.
Though impressive as an undertaking, I wouldn't say the assemblage of walls merited quite as much attention as they were getting today. But, hell, I'm all for any excuse people have for giving out free beer.
Before long we encountered Jane the Cellist (as ubiquitous as the Esopus), complete (this time) with her cello. She was in the shaded inside of one of the curved walls in front of a fountain and would occasionally play her instrument briefly, but she kept being interrupted by various people coming through and wanting to talk. The ground around her was covered with uniform quartzite pebbles, and this was unsuited to the dogs, so I ended up sitting with them on the grass in the shade of another wall, just out of sight of Jane and her cello. Ramona was being her usual extroverted self, mouthing people and occasionally rearing up on people who happened by, most of whom were delighted by her. Usually Ramona's size and curiosity keep the little kids away, but one little girl decided Ramona was the best dog ever. And, as she has demonstrated in the past, Ramona responded by dialing down her craziness to a level that didn't terrify either the little girl or her mother.
I pretty much stayed in one place while various other people came through. Gretchen wasn't with me initially, and then she came over, and then Carrie, and then Jane the Cellist, and then Michæl spelled Deborah at the thankless job of traffic direction. When he returned either he or Deborah asked me what I thought of the place and I answered honestly, "It's impressive, but it's not really my æsthetic." I saw their faces drop; unbeknownst to me one of the artists was standing behind me at the time. They should know better than to ask me a question like that when I don't know the artist is around.
Eventually the event wound to a close and Gretchen and I decided to have dinner at Catskill Mountain Pizza in Woodstock with Michæl and Carrie. This time we left he dogs in the car, though we ate our pizzas outside. As always when having dinner at Catskill Mountain Pizza, we began with a round of fries and (for Michæl and me) a round of Little Sumpin' Sumpin' Ale from the tap (CMP has great beers). Carrie is sort of wheat-intolerant (or thinks she is), so one of the pizzas, the smaller one, was made with spelt flour and topped with "female-friendly" toppings (or so Gretchen thought): olives, banana peppers, maybe artichokes. The other, larger pizza was topped with "male-friendly" toppings: onions, mushrooms, green & jalapeño peppers. As we ate, the usual Woodstock spectacles played out, mostly in the form of various gutterpunks walking to and fro to the gas station to get their smokes. One such couple had both a dog and a cat (the cat riding on the female gutterpunk's shoulders).


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