Your leaking thatched hut during the restoration of a pre-Enlightenment state.


Hello, my name is Judas Gutenberg and this is my blaag (pronounced as you would the vomit noise "hyroop-bleuach").


decay & ruin
Biosphere II
dead malls
Irving housing

got that wrong

appropriate tech
Arduino μcontrollers
Backwoods Home
Fractal antenna

fun social media stuff

(nobody does!)

Like my brownhouse:
   book tour: Bethesda
Monday, January 7 2008

setting: rural Hurley Township, Ulster County, New York

Yesterday's reading in Woodstock was just the beginning of what amounted to a little book tour for Gretchen. Today we packed up the dogs, the Baby, and a box of chapbooks and drove down to Maryland. We stopped first at Gretchen's parents' house in Silver Spring, where we would be spending the night. The parents were away, either in Tanzania or Florida, though their place had been taken by a dog sitter named Daniel (evidence of both his latest Ebay obsession — old wind-up clocks — and his meat-rich diet were quickly discovered). After setting up the cat and dogs and doing a little laundry, we drove to Bethesda, where we met a group of people at Meiwah, a sleek modern Chinese restaurant in the second floor of one of Bethesda's many impersonal downtown buildings.
Tonight Gretchen would be reading and signing books for a group called Café Muse. Looking over some of the poetry written by Katherine Yoυng, one of Café Muse's curators, Gretchen noticed one named "Staunton" and had been curious. When asked about her connection to Staunton, Katherine said she is the neice of a dairy farmer with a farm on Old Greenville road near Staunton, just south of the horrible Spring Lakes development. It turned out this farmer was named Charles Varner, a man who back in 1985 sold my parents a seven acre parcel of land we named Horizon Field. (I personally planted hundreds of White Pines on that field and now it is thickly forested with 22 year old trees.)
Others at the table included Kurt O1sson, the other poet who would be reading and signing books tonight, as well as a number of people who would be rocking the unfiltered open mike. Shortly into the meal we were joined by our friend Gilley, who works as a lobbyist for fishes in DC. For those who are curious, the food (and all I ate was the vegan stuff) was excellent. Being in the remote corner of a large L-shaped booth, all my food and my one Tsing Tau beer came via lazy Tsu Tsin.
Another room full of people, another reading. This one was attended by some of Gretchen's parents friends who had come partly to see what sort of woman little Gretchen had grown into. Also there were Chris and Kirsty, our photogenic vegan friends who are normally found in Woodstock, NY. (Chris works for the Humane Society and has a temporary residence in Bethesda.)
Charles Bai1ey, one of Gretchen's old childhood friends with whom she'd been corresponding, showed up just as she finished reading. She'd remembered him as a skinny, nerdy black kid (the kind she always roots for on Jeopardy). But he'd grown into a towering hulk of a man, and now works as a commander for the Montgomery County Fire Department. After the reading he joined Chris, Kirsty, Gilley, Gretchen and me for a round of drinks at a local bar decorated with half-scale race cars. Most of the drink conversation was with Charles, mostly about politics. He admitted that he'd voted for George W. Bush twice and even has a framed picture of Dubya compassionately cracking up at one of his jokes in New Orleans soon after Katrina (though his friends look at it and think it's a Photoshop splice). Despite his politics (or the politics he once had), Charles seemed like an open-minded searcher. He wasn't the least bit put off by our liberalism and even veganism, and the wryness of his humor made him seem more like one of us than one of them. Also, he loves Kurt Vonnegut, the Cowboy Junkies, and Radiohead. In the end he paid for all our drinks too because that's how he rolls.

A quick note about the weather: it had been mild when we left Hurley this morning, but still somewhat within the realm of plausible. By this evening in Bethesda it felt positively balmy, as if the season had suddenly advanced to May or June.

Gretchen at her book reading/signing at Café Muse in Bethesda, Maryland.

Me at that event.

Our friends Chris and Gilley at the reading. Chris is one half of a couple known as the "Photogenic Vegan Buddhists" and has lived in Bethesda lately but normally lives in Woodstock, NY. Gilley lobbies on behalf of migratory salmon on Capitol Hill.

For linking purposes this article's URL is:

previous | next