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:
   Crossgates Standard
Thursday, May 7 2009

Today I continued the process of putting a final hard shell of Wonderboard over the styrofoam exterior of the greenhouse foundation. Today's focus was on the east wall and the southeast corner near the door, where there were nearly as many complexities as I'd encountered on the southwest corner. The weather was warmer and the biting flies were worse, but I tried to ignore them as best I could, killing them whenever the prick of their bites were especially annoying, thereby selecting for those with less noticeable blood sucking behaviors (the ultimate result of suck selection is the tick: have you ever felt the bite of a tick?).

Yesterday our friend Deborah had gone to the hospital to have something done related to her kidney stones, and we'd taken care of her huge dog Juneau overnight. The cats had been freaked out in a way they rarely get about the dogs of friends, mostly because he is so enormous (but also because he likes to chase cats). Clarence is our only cat who knows how to deal with the likes of Juneau. He makes an effort not to walk away from Juneau, particularly when he's fast approaching. He also makes a point of acting casual, averting his gaze and rubbing lustily against whatever vertical surfaces are handy. Today we took Juneau back to Deborah (in her new place in Saugerties) on our way up to Albany, where we'd be spending our evening.
We decided to attend one of the This American Life-Live! events. Ira Glass had hosted an event in New York City and simulcasted it to over 400 theatres nationwide, and the event had been so popular that a rebroadcast had been scheduled. We'd be attending the rebroadcast at the nearest theatre hosting it, at the Crossgates Mall in Albany.
Near the mall on the main drag (Western Avenue) is a little hard-to-see-from-the road Lebanese eatery called the BFS Restaurant, and that was where we had our dinner. We both ordered vegan platters (mine being a sort of falafel-cous-cous salad). We also split a bottle of white wine, the first restaurant wine we'd had in some time. The food was very good but I think I would have preferred something a little more sandwichesque. As we were leaving, our waitress (who was perhaps half my age but unusually maternalistic) asked if we were good to drive, what with the wine we'd just had and all. Though it was a fair question, I don't think we've ever been asked that before.
Crossgates Mall makes our puny Hudson Valley Mall look like a dollar store. It features not just several wings of shoppertunities, but also two levels of stores on either side of a two-story atrium. It reminds me more of the fancy mega-malls of southern California than of anything familiar from the northeastern rust belt.
We had a little time to kill, so Gretch and I set off in search of a Banana Republic, which Gretchen insists is the best clothier for my particular physique. We'd shopped before at the Crossgates Banana Republic, but the mall is huge and we couldn't find it. We did find that one small shop that sells nothing but baseball caps, though it wasn't the place that James Howard Kunstler toured a few nonths back on an episode of the Kunstlercast (he'd asked the proprietor of a similar place if any "backwards baseball caps" were in stock).
The cinema was surprisingly-packed for a simulcast from such an obscure celebrity as Ira Glass. The people looked to be of the appropriate public radio demographic, though there were a few inexplicable baseball caps in attendance. As for the show itself, I'd heard most of it this afternoon while putting up Wonderboard and swatting flies. It was the show entitled "Return to the Scene of the Crime" and featured an unusually poignant reading from the usually-comic Dan Savage about the death of his mother. The live version also featured a wordlessly sad and weird animation of a mouse in love with a disembodied cat head as well as a clip by Starlee Kine, though I don't remember what it was about because I was too distracted by the man-holding-an-umbrella pattern repeating across her dress.
The most interesting thing about watching Ira Glass do his thing live was watching him work the equipment, which seemed similar to that used by a modern DJ (hip hop or otherwise). There were two turntables and a microphone, and he'd cue up clips as he talked and then let them roll, all in real time, and though there couldn't be any editing, there didn't seem to be any fuckups. He had an interesting habit of pointing at the ceiling as he stopped each clip; I'm still trying to come up with a theory to explain it.
After the 90 minutes show, most of the mall was closed, but we did find an open bar called Standard. There was a guy in there, a live guy dressed in a nice suit singing various jazz standard into a microphone, accompanied by a backing band pre-recording on his computer. It was an unusually sad thing to see a guy performing with a laptop, particularly given how little appreciation the crowd was showing him. Standard is a semi-fancy place and seems appropriate to fashionable middle-aged people and others with a fondness for jazz and alcoholics' drinks. But the crowd in this particular Standard was young and mostly informally-dressed in the way that mall youth generally aree. They actually looked too young to be in a bar at all, though I suppose Standard's staff have ID checking down to a science. One further point about the young people who had come to the bar, something Gretchen noted: they looked kind of, well, stupid. Perhaps this was because no one was dressed as a hipster or as a post-punk or anything else that would indicate exposure to college or curiosity about anything other than perfecting one's douchebaggery.

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