Monday, December 2 2019
About six inches of snow had fallen last night, and I'd already decided to "work" remotely. In the late morning, while Gretchen was appearing remotely in a college classroom via some sort of internet streaming service, I shoveled out the entire driveway, allowing both of our cars to come and go. I kept thinking I would stop and leave it unfinished, since the immediate goal was just that Gretchen be able to get out in the Subaru. But snow shoveling is a lot like dishwashing in that, once started, it's hard to stop with the job incomplete, no matter how much work is involved. This might not be true of everyone, but it is true of me.
We were running low on indoor firewood, so at some point this afternoon, I made a firewood salvaging forray down the Stick Trail to collect and bring home already-cut wood from that smallish chestnut oak I'd felled yesterday.
The plan for this evening was for Ray and me to drive to Woodstock to see Thurston Moore (formerly of Sonic Youth) and his band performing at the Colony Café. Initially it seemed like the snow had dwindled away and we were good to go, but not long after dark descended, the snow started up again in earnest. It was coming down pretty hard by the time I began my slow drive down into Old Hurley, though at that point it was affecting visibility more than it was traction. Gretchen was teaching her prison class tonight and had taken the Subaru, leaving me with the two-wheel-drive Prius. As for Ray, he has two Subarus, but his driveway had yet to be plowed, so it was looking like we'd have to drive through the snow in the worst car (with regard to winter driving) of the four we both have access to. The alternative was to bail on the show, but Ray had already bought the non-refundable tickets, which had cost $30/each. So I just took it slowly, never going faster than 30 miles per hour. I was careful to ease to a stop well before traffic lights, particularly when approaching them from uphill. Driving this way, the worst that could happen was someone else running into us or a minor fender-bender against a guard rail. But the car managed to maintain a generally-straight trajectory, and we made it to the Colony without mishap. Initially we thought maybe the Colony was closed, but that would've meant refunding everyone's money, so of course they were open.
The weather had spooked a good fraction of those who might otherwise have come, meaning we walked into a surprisingly-empty space, particularly given that someone as famous as Thurston Moore would be performing. Unfortunately, at the time we entered, the Colony was ablare with the cacophonous stylings of Devin Brahja Waldman, an avante-garde saxophonist, tonight's opening act. Much of what came out of his instrument was chaotic noises, though he managed to make a few interesting sounds on occasion. As he played, he squirmed and wrapped one leg around the other as if he had to go pee pee really really badly. For his last "composition," he wandered off stage in the barren plain in front of the stage, almost colliding with a few people as he kept producing tuneless squawks from his saxophone. Most of the others present seemed to have more openness to this sort of thing than I did, and a few even recorded his performance. And one woman who (as Ray pointed out) smelled really good got up and briefly danced when there was a short passage of recognizable rhythm. In all fairness to Waldman, his music made more sense the more one heard of it, and by the time his performance was over, Ray was saying good things about it.
Thurston Moore's band consisted of him playing an electric twelve string guitar, another male guitarist playing nearly identical passages on another 12 string guitar, a woman guitarist playing a six string electric guitar, a guy playing drums, and a seated gentleman twiddling knobs on a small rack of equipment and occasionally poking away at an iPad running at least two different apps. Nobody had microphones, so there were no vocals (or even any banter from the musicians), so the music sounded rather like instrumental Sonic Youth. It was perhaps a bit more post-rock than that, though, with songs tending to stretch on for longer and a tendency to dwell in either chaotic noise or single roaring (and often dissonant) chords. Near the end, everyone held their guitars against the amplifiers and let the feedback go wherever it wanted to go. There were too few people present to justify any sort of encore. Thurston Moore himself is a tall gentleman who communicates with his fellow musicians in nods and glances. He carried himself rather like a wealthy housewife of a certain age.
Over the course of the evening, Ray bought me a couple Little Sumpin' Sumpin' Ales, which I drank in addition to the light beer Ray had given me in the car. As for Ray, he drank about twice that many beers, taking full advantage of the fact that I would be tonight's designated driver. I hadn't had a proper meal tonight, so at some point I went to the kitchen in the back of the Colony and placed and order for fries. I ended up eating these in front of the stage only a few feet away from the iPadist, swaying to the music as I crammed food into my face. It's common to see people standing and drinking in front of a stage, though I don't think I've ever seen anyone standing and eating in front of a band. I should say that the serving size of the fries was surprisingly large, though they weren't anywhere close to my idea of the ideal fry. I prefer my fries to be stiffened by a thin exoskeleton of crispiness, but these were rubbery and and had a bit too much surface greasiness.
The snow had mostly stopped falling by the time I started driving us home. This made for much better driving conditions, since visibility was much improved (I could, for example, use high beams without being blinded by nearby snowflakes). And on US 209, I was actually able to drive a little over 40 miles per hour in places. After dropping Ray off at his house in Old Hurley, though, I began to encounter road conditions of deteriorating quality. There were two or three inches of snow on Hurley Mountain Road and Dug Hill Road, though if I kept my tires inside existing tracks, I was able to climb a fairly steep grade. However, my luck ran out just above the downhill neighbors' driveway less than 300 feet from my own. My forward progress effectively ended somewhere in the uphill bend in the road. I got out of the car and shoveled snow from in front of my tires, thinking that if I could get a little runway, I would have enough inertia to make it home. But that was just theory, and in practice I achieved nothing. I ended up driving into the downhill neighbors' driveway and abandoning the Prius in their circular driveway in front of the garage. I didn't bother to leave a note or tell them anything, since it was after 10:00pm and I intended to retrieve the car first thing tomorrow. Despite that minor setback, it was good to know that mobility is not impossible in a snowstorm even in a car with two-wheel drive. Ray and I were also in agreement that seeing a rock 'n' roll celebrity in a situation certain to scare off most of the audience was a rare and beautiful thing, something we were lucky to have been in a position to take advantage of.
Snow on the stone wall today.
A male cardinal eating seeds from a sunflower in our garden. You can see snowflakes falling.
Devin Brahja Waldman, the saxophonist who opened for Thurston Moore.
Thurston Moore's band. Moore is the guitarist furthest to the right.
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