strategic marketing on the Rondout
Sunday, June 26 2005
The assemblage of cairns in the woods along the Stick Trail a couple hundred feet behind the house has now reached a stage where additional, non-stone landscaping is necessary. In the context of this particular forest, this usually involves things related to trees and downed limbs, since there is almost nothing here except stone and trees. To make some of the cairns more visible from the trail, I decided to break away all the dead lower limbs of some hemlocks and knock down a few spindly dead trees. As I was rocking one such tree back and forth hoping to wrest it free from its clutch to some high hemlock boughs, a sharp pain materialized atop my right "ring" toe. A Yellow Jacket had stung me. One can never predict where their nests will be, but they can theoretically be anywhere among the voids in the loosely-packed talus adjacent to the Stick Trail, which in this area is running along a narrow terrace below a steep escarpment.
The swelling and discomfort from that sting lasted much of the day, though it was only intense during the walk back to the house, where I treated it with hydrocortisone, my favorite topical remedy.
Of all the methods of death, the one I fear the most is lightning. This is because it comes randomly, without warning, and you are helpless. There aren't many occasions when people get to feel like ants on a sidewalk, but a thunderstorm is pretty close. Unfortunately for my phobia, the place where I live is near the top of a hill, and during thunderstorms lightning strikes are often close. During one such storm two summers ago the DirecTV box was destroyed by a lightning-driven surge.
Now that I have a metal antenna pole rising above the roofline only four feet from where I sit at my computer, my fear of lightning, even the kind that doesn't kill humans, has increased. So today I finally got around to grounding that antenna pole, hoping that any currents generated by nearby or direct strikes are quickly dissipated.
I also got around to putting in proper steps leading from the house into the garage, replacing the stack of concrete blocks that had served as steps since the house was built back in 1994.
This evening Gretchen and I went to the annual Rondout July 4th fireworks display, which for some reason usually happens a week before Independence Day. Just barely squeezing into a space, Gretchen parked the car on an affluent sidestreet of large well-maintained Victorian houses overlooking the Rondout. Then we descended the bank and waded into the crowd. Demographically, it largely consisted of teenagers and twenty somethings. It was a sea of miniskirts, meathead haircuts, corporate-branded teeshirts, and spaghetti straps. Typical of Kingston, many if not most of the baby carriages pushed by young white mothers contained mixed-race children. There goes the racial purity of the neighborhood. Progressive as it is, it will be decades before you see such sights in Charlottesville, Virginia.
Searching the many booths and weiner stands for a simple beer and a handful of vegetarian food proved to be a fool's errand. Understandably, beer was being tightly regulated and all the food fell into two categories: meat on a stick or fried dough. So we opted for a sit-down restaurant meal in a place where we could watch the fireworks. There aren't many places where this is possible, but one of them is Rosita's. Gretchen had dined there once before and found the food so submediocre that she vowed never to return. But today was a special case. As we walked in through the door we were talking about what mattered: "location, location, location."
The fireworks were going to be launched off the 9W bridge across the Rondout, but our view of that bridge from our table in the outside patio area was blocked by a tree. So we temporarily relocated to a different place for the duration of the fireworks. Most of the other people in the patio area were down on the adjacent docks.
This was our second experience with a Rondout fireworks display, and it played out like the first. It's an unusually long display, with what seem like several grand finales, after each of which there's always a wave of tepid applause as people fail to realize it's not yet over. But when it really is over the clapping is joined by the tinny horns of the boats on the Rondout. As we sat there sipping our drinks and cringing at the explosions, a light snow of fireworks debris fell around us.
When it was all done, a group of thin young blond women came through the patio area giving out free Coors Lite tee shirts, and we were the only people who refused them. This must have been an example of strategic marketing, where people considered "influential" (the kind who can afford to sit at an overpriced restaurant through a fireworks display) get their torsos upholstered in advertising so that when released into the sweaty sheeplike crowd others will see them and think, "Hey, Johnny N. Fluenthal advocates Coors Lite, perhaps I should give up Bud Lite (so 2003 and suspiciously non-heterosexual!) and drink Coors Lite instead!"
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