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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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   the white people of Milford
Friday, September 23 2022

location: rural Hurley Township, Ulster County, NY

Gretchen has a number of musical acts she likes that were scheduled to perform at this year's first annual Sound on Sound music festival, which would be happening this weekend in Bridgeport, Connecticut (a mid-sized sea-side rust-belt city just northeast of New York City). The plan today was just to drive to our motel in Milford, Connecticut. Normally I don't take a day off for such travel, since I can simulate working easily enough from the road. But then Gretchen sometimes gets upset with me by not giving enough attention to our travels or whatever. So I'd taken the day off. Before we could leave, though, Gretchen had an appointment to take the dogs to the vet to get better understanding for why they seem to reluctant to exercise, something that has been going on for nearly a year now. When she came back, Gretchen reported that both of our dogs are suffering from joint issues. Ramona has developed hip dysplasia and Neville now has arthritis in both of his knees, the ones that were augmented with expensive metal implants back in late 2017. There may be no cure for these things, but there is treatment for the pain, which is the source of the resistance to exercise. This will involve lots of anti-inflammatory medication.
Since we wouldn't be bringing the dogs, Gretchen had arranged for Powerful to drive down from his new place in Albany to housesit during our absence. But he'd be doing that this evening after he got off work, so the dogs had the place to themselves for hours.
Not knowing exactly how we'd be getting back and forth between our motel and the festival, Gretchen suggested we bring our electric bicycles. This idea had me removing the front wheels from both bikes and them trying to fit them in to the back of the Chevy Bolt (having first folded the rear seats down). I tried a few things and couldn't get both bikes to fit without having the rear wheel of one stick a little out under the back hatch, which I secured in place as best as I could with a bungee cord.
Gretchen had planned our drive to Milford to minimize driving on big four lane roads. There was a stretch of driving on the Taconic Parkway from Bulls Head Road, but mostly we went down little two lane roads through countryside full of what looked like expensive houses and gorgeous countryside. At one point we passed what must've been a high-end private school in a rural setting. It was the end of the school day, so there was a huge traffic jam in the parking area and front of the school as parents waited in a line in their huge (and very very very safe) SUVs to pick up their progeny. Until I saw this nightmarish scene, I hadn't even thought of the transportation implications of private schools. Because there can be no way to have a bus system for such a school, and because no American parent since the 1970s would trust their child to his or her own two feet to cover a distance of more than fifty feet unsupervised, such traffic jams are a necessary evil of upper-middle-class parenting.
Other scenes along the way included gasoline costing only $3.19/gallon (a few months ago it had been over $5/gallon) and what might've been the world's ugliest mosque.
Gretchen's research had informed her that there would be free electricity for our Bolt at the Milford Public Library. But when we arrived there, we couldn't immediately find any chargers. The problem was that a Oktoberfest was happening on the land behind the library, and the EV charging lot was subsumed in the madness of that. While a terrible cover band slashed and screeched their way through such classic hard rock hits as "Whole Lotta Love," I noted that their actual audience appeared to be a single person in a wheelchair waving his or her arms enthusiastically. I decided to walk around the library building (an especially ugly structure covered with some sort of red-brick-colored tile) until I found the signs pointing the way to the EV chargers. One of them was taken, but the other was empty, the only empty space in a vast area, all the others having been taken by Oktoberfest meatheads.
Gretchen and I then walked around Milford trying to find a place where we might have dinner. As we did so, we were struck by how White (as in Caucasian) Milford is. Was this a Milford thing or was it a Connecticut thing? As for suitable restaurants, we couldn't immediately find one, so Gretchen consulted her phone. We looked in the window of a Thai restaurant that Gretchen thought looked "pretty grim," so we ended up at a large pizza restaurant with the vague (and somewhat misleading) name Colony Grill. When we entered, we were told there would be a fifteen minute wait, so we dicked around with the other people waiting in the front entrance. But eventually we were shown back to our table in a massive dining room. It reminded me a little of the Cheesecake Factory, though the decor was mostly a celebration of military veterans. And the menu was the opposite of the Cheesecake Factory's in terms of complexity. The whole thing fit on one side of a piece of paper the size of a standard first class envelope and consisted entirely of pizzas and toppings. There were only one size of pizza and pizzas came in only two varieties: the one that could have different toppings from the toppings list (with either gluten-free or regular crust and either vegan or regular cheese) or a salad pizza. The "salad pizza" was clearly an invention designed to address the issue of people wanting to order salad while also being a pizza, thereby keeping the menu focused entirely on that one kind of food. Gretchen was intrigued by the salad pizza, so she ordered one of those and one regular pizza with vegan cheese, onions, and olives for herself and one with "cheery peppers," fresh mushrooms, and vegan cheese for me. She also ordered herself a Miller Lite, the first beer I've seen her attempt to drink in months. (For my part I ended up drinking two double IPAs.) The pizzas were good if a bit greasy, and the crust was very thin, which is much thinner than Gretchen prefers. As usual, we'd over-ordered and had lots of leftovers to take back to our motel. As we ate, we surveyed the crowd of other diners and made out a few people who might've been southern European or perhaps Persian or Armenian, but nobody looked to have many (if any) sub-Saharan African features.

The Milford Motel Six is a fairly run-down place whose semi-outdoor stairways had that third-world-concrete quality I remember from Staunton's Howard Johnson by Wyndham.
As we were checking in, an older woman in the lobby asked us if we were going to Sound on Sound tomorrow and, if so, could she get a ride? Gretchen considered the matter, weighing in the fact that we had two heavy electric bikes in the back of our small electric car, and as she did so, the woman pleaded with us with the most pleaing word there is, "Please!" "It isn't about 'please!" Gretchen replied with annoyance. But the woman had an ace up her sleeve. She'd paid for parking that we could use, since her soon-to-be-divorced husband would have the car and wouldn't be going to the festival on Saturday. Gretchen and I quickly decided we could unload the bikes and leave them at the motel, opening up the backseat for the lady. Her name was Joanna and we exchanged information and also arranged to meet in the lobby at a specific time in the late morning tomorrow. As we were riding the elevator to the fourth floor, Gretchen said she'd initially been hesistant to do anything with Joanna because she had a "crazy vibe." "Maybe it's just that she's a little desperate," I offered. "Maybe," Gretchen agreed.
Our room was nice enough but smelled of cigarettes. So Gretchen called down to the desk to ask if we could get a different room. But the motel was so full from people attending Sound on Sound that this was, they said, impossible. [REDACTED]


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