creamy nougat center
Saturday, April 5 2014
The annual Woodstock Writers' Festival was happening in nearby Woodstock, and though Gretchen had no role this year organizing events, she was nevertheless involved because of her work at the bookstore. She'd managed to get me a ticket to attend this afternoon's appearance by James Howard Kunstler, the critic of unsustainable suburbia. As you know, I'm a big fan of Kunstler's podcast (I've listened to all of them) and have actually read one of his books (The Geography of Nowhere). So early this afternoon, I grabbed my somewhat-battered copy of The Geography of Nowhere, filled my travel mug with white wine, and drove to Woodstock. There were so many people in the village today that I had to park in that relatively-unknown lot (42.041457N, 74.119418W) at the end of Old Forge Road (near the Garden Café). The venue was the Kleinert, and it was good to see that Kunstler had managed to pack the place. The demographic was typical for Woodstock: somewhat older than me, entirely white, and mostly wearing sensible black winter coats.
James Howard Kunstler was introduced by Catherine Sebastian, wife of local celebrity musician John Sebastian. Kunstler is a nondescript bald Boomer with a mustache. Having heard all his podcasts, I know about all his health problems and what he's done to address them. I know what he eats and what he tries to grow in his garden. And of course I also know all his verbal crutches and tics, and there were few things I heard today that I hadn't heard before, including references to "the cheap-oil fiesta," the prediction that some day people will be salvaging of materials from suburbs (even though they're "mostly just glue & vinyl"), Kunstler's "allergy to conspiracy theories," and his dismissal of "the notion that the Earth has a creamy nougat center of oil" (the absurd hypothesis of abiotic oil). There were a few new things in there as well, including his explanation of why it was that the suburbs were built in the first place (someone had asked if it was because of "greed"). It wasn't anything so malevolent, he said, just "It seemed like a good idea at the time." Kunstler is a funny, often profane man, and he managed to get the crowd laughing heartily numerous times.
After it was all over, I saw Gretchen over at the table in the back, and just by standing there talking to her I wound up first in the book signing line.
On the drive home, I happened to notice some nice pieces of Red Oak cut up by the DEP on the side of Dike Road between the Reservoir Inn and the Reservoir, so of course I stopped and wrestled them into the car. This easily satisfied my firewood-gathering quota for the day, though later I also went out in the woods with the backpack and battery chainsaw to get dry oak for immediate use. I've committed myself to collecting a daily load to sock away in the woodshed in addition to whatever still needs to be burned in what remains of the heating season.
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