walking dogs and viewing photos in Woodstock
Friday, October 13 2006
Gretchen and I went out tonight see an opening at a gallery in Woodstock showing photographs taken by Dennis St0ck, the "boyfriend" (I put that in quotes because he's a 78 year old "boy") of Susan R., one of Gretchen's newest friends. (Gretchen actually played an indirect role in them getting together.) We brought the dogs with us and ran them around first on the Cameau Property, the lovely collection of pristine fields and forest along the north bank of the Sawkill a little southwest of the center of the Village of Woodstock. We actually ventured into a part of the property we'd never been to, a set of dramatic cataracks over which the Sawkill plunges on its way to Woodstock. Just outside the property, on the south bank of the creek, there are a number of spectacular mansions, several of them admirably integrated into landscape.
After we'd parked the car at the parking lot on Rock City Road there was still a little time to kill before being too unfashionably early, so we took the dogs for another walk in a nearby graveyard. I saw these two guys a couple hundred feet away with identical poofy white purebred dogs and could tell just by the way they were interacting that they were trouble and that we probably shouldn't allow Eleanor and her boundless extrovertism near them. "I can smell the leash aggression," I told Gretchen. Sure enough, one of those guys started hollering at us to call our dogs long before he was anywhere near them, then lecturing us from a distance about how there was a leash law and that this graveyard was private property. Gretchen said something kind of lippy in response and the guy came marching over. He looked a little too white collar to be dangerous, so I just started shouting "Fuck you!" at him and displaying all the middle fingers at my disposal and, when that didn't seem to be working quite well enough, I started pumping them in the air and doing a goofy little munchkin dance. The guy was about fifty feet away and I could see his face clearly. "What are you gonna do?" I asked, as menacingly as a guy like me can be. He turned around and headed back towards his poofy white dogs, and we continued back into the fields and forest beyond, where we found a pond and a little shack the size of a car made of weathered wooden planks. "The Junk Brothers could do amazing things with this," Gretchen said.
We left our dogs in our car before going into the gallery. It was a little place on the village green, filled with photographs of classic American celebrities from the 1950s and 60s: Marilyn Monroe, James Dean, Katherine Hepburn, etc. In his youth Dennis St0ck was photographer-to-the-stars. Included in this exhibit was perhaps the most famous picture ever taken of James Dean: him in an overcoat smoking a cigarette and walking down a rainy Manhattan avenue. The average price of the signed prints available for purchase today was $3000.
The recent issue of the Woodstock Times that mentioned my solar energy collection efforts also, in that same article, talked about a guy who had built a forty foot observation tower on the south side of the Ashokan Reservoir. Both that guy and I are friends with Andrea S., our neighbor and Woodstock Times editor/photographer, and she'd done what reporters always do: she'd had a deadline and thought, "I have interesting friends; I'll just interview them!" (Andrea also knows Denis St0ck and share responsibility with Gretchen in getting him together with our friend Susan R.) Anyway, the guy who'd built the tower was also at the opening tonight and I ended up talking with for a rather long time about esoteric matters of structural engineering, such as the load bearing capabilities of a 3/4 inch steel bolt.
People gradually accumulated in the space until it was rather crowded. They drank wine from small transparent plastic cups while a couple flies flew in from the cold and crawled across the cubes of cheese.
At a certain point Gretchen and I sat out on the stoop and the cool of the October sunset and watched the punks and dark-clad Film Festivalistas mill about (this opening had been scheduled during the festival). A random older middle aged guy came up to us and chatted with us for awhile and took our pictures with is tiny digital camera. This good-natured exchange allowed him to gain access to the opening, though it was an exclusive one, in other words, not actually one "open to the public." I used to do stuff like this all the time back when I was young and poor, but this guy seemed to be a wealthy man on the prowl in Woodstock. At some point it came out that he hailed from Mark Foley's West Palm Beach district in Florida.
After the opening Gretchen and I joined Susan, Dennis, the owner of the gallery, his wife, and her sister across the street at a new expensive restaurant. Again Gretchen and I had the experience where we didn't really see anything on the menu we liked and we considered heading out somewhere else on our own, but the others encouraged us not to.
Gretchen was explaining herself to some of the others, talking about her poetry I suppose, when Dennis offered that he likes some "rap music." I have a predictable reaction when I can tell someone is offering up something vaguely insincere in an effort to connect, and that is to agree, but with sardonic extremity. "I only like gangsta rap." I declared. But Dennis was smart enough to know what I was doing and old enough not to have any inhibitions on calling me out on it. "You always do that!" he observed, though this was only the second time he'd socialized with me. "It's your way of saying 'fuck you'!" Flabbergasted and embarrassed, I apologized.
Later in the meal Gretchen discreetly accused me of having crossed the line into drunkenness. Usually she calls such things correctly, but this time I felt she was wrong.
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