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:
   alone at Never Alone
Saturday, October 31 2009
It was an unseasonably warm day, with temperatures reaching nearly 70, and that was after sunset. Gretchen, who had spent the night on Manhattan after missing the last train out of Penn Station, arrived to inform me that the date we'd made with Chris and Kirsty (the vegan Buddhists from Zena Road) to see the Woodstock Halloween parade would involve getting dressed up. I didn't have to, of course, but Gretchen announced that she'd be wearing her ho outfit from last year, the one involving knee-high red boots, a purple wig, and a miniskirt. I walked into my laboratory to see what I could cobble together and then I realized I could be a Mac, that is, the kind of computer that is not a PC. I already had two of the apple-emblazed silvered-plastic side panels from a desktop G4. With duct tape, I could convert them into something of a sandwich board. Then I could attach an old ADB keyboard to my belt and dangle a mouse from a belt loop. Gretchen suggested I have my head somehow inside a monitor, which would have been perfect, but it would have taken too much work to extract a CRT from one of the few existing monitors I have, so I went with the old bezel frame from a Dell laptop (whose logo I covered with a piece of duct tape illustrated with an Apple logo in blue Sharpie). Not only did this look completely lame, but it amounted to the most brand-conscious, corporate sell-out costume I've ever worn. Remember, in 1998 I dressed up as a stock market crash and last year I was Trig Palin's extra chromosome. I don't even particularly like Macintosh computers.
We drove over to Chris and Kirsty's place, where they still hadn't rounded up the last of their ten cats (who, given the ubiquity of coyotes, cannot be left out after dark). Unlike, say, Gretchen, Chris and Kirsty never dial down their animal rights activism. For them, Halloween is just another opportunity to propagandize. So Kirsty dressed as an angel in white and carried a sign urging people to go straight to veganism from their disgusting diets of burgers and cheese-stuffed pepperoni. And Chris dressed as a gorilla in a Tyvek painter's onesy covered with writing in magic marker urging people to stop experimenting on primates.
Finally Kirsty managed to catch the last of the cats, a Wilma-style grey who had been watching us mockingly from the top of a bluestone bluff.
Woodstock was overflowing with people, and most of them were in costume, making me feel a little less ridiculous with that ADB keyboard banging against my Jimmy James Johnson Jr. We weren't in Woodstock long before Gretchen and I noticed something unexpected: people seemed to be digging my dorky costume. The kids would say, "That's so cool!" (which, given that I looked like a complete loser, suggests that the word "cool" has drifted in meaning since I was a kid) and the adults would smile and snap pictures. [I later went looking for pictures from the parade on Flickr, but it seems that for all the cameras and self-publishing tools available, nobody actually uploaded anything to the web.] The lesson I take from this is that when one stumbles in the expression of one's personal taste, it is possible to fall into the taste of a far wider demographic. There are plenty of one-hit-wonder pop bands who have fallen prey to this phenomenon.
Meanwhile, despite the frenzy and number of costumed celebrants, there were relatively few costumes of note. There was one woman dressed as an H1N1 virus, which I thought was clever, but for the most part it was your typical scene of provocatively-dressed women and guys with painted faces. Though it threatened rain, the warm weather definitely helped women channel their inner hos.
Eventually we ducked into Oriole 9, the lunchy wine bar/winey lunch bar, and split a bottle of wine four ways. There were a smattering of customers there, but we were the only ones in costumes. Our waitress was unusually friendly, reminding us of when we were cute and young and had shitty jobs.
Back out on the street, we decided to go through a haunted house. It was part of the festivities and didn't cost anything. I don't know if I'd ever actually been in a haunted house before. This one required us to get on our knees and crawl on a U-shaped trajectory past a woman being attacked by a spider, at least one girl pleading to be released from a cage, and a sit-down post-goth rock band. My expectations had been low, but still it had failed to meet them. Nevertheless, as I came stumbling out I faked a look of shock and horror on my face so that others would experience even greater dashing of expectations. Muhuhuhuhuhaaa.
Our dinner was at the Garden Café of course, it ended up being something of an off-night food wise. My bowl of black bean soup was cold and Gretchen wasn't particularly jazzed about her foot either. However, they did have an IPA there that reminded me of the many fine IPAs I drank when I was in the Pacific Northwest back in June. (If it weren't for Hurrican Kitty, the delicious IPA brewed here in Kingston, I'd launch into a comparison of India Pale Ales and burritos, advancing the thesis that neither has yet been successfully replicated on the East Coast.)
Back out on the streets, the ruffian youths of Woodstock had just had a massive shaving cream battle in the middle of 212 and now looked liked ghostly white forms. Passions were high further east as well, and we'd just missed an interesting fight that began when a kid got too close to some guy, who shoved the kid away. At that point the kid's father hauled off and gave the guy a knuckle sandwich. (Do people still use that term? I don't believe I've ever heard anyone but my brother say "knuckle sandwich."
Back at Chris and Kirsty's place, we watched some live reportage from the streets of New York City, where costumed revelers were repeatedly accosted by clearly-drunk shout-talking television personalities wielding microphones.

When Gretchen and I finally made it home, we found that neither of our dogs were there to greet us and there were four messages on the answering machine. Some woman who works at Never Alone (the rehab program for alcohol-and-substance-abusing adolescents a couple miles north on Dug Hill Road) had seen our dog Sally standing in the road at 4pm (just after we'd left for Woodstock) and had thought she was a stray and loaded her into her car, driven her to Never Alone, and then called the number on Sally's tag. Evidently she'd missed the part where it said where Sally lived and the part where it provided Gretchen's cellphone number. But she'd left two or three messages on our machine. And there was also a message from our neighbor Andrea saying Eleanor was over at her house, that she'd been in her front yard barking. (My theory is that she'd seen Sally climbing into a stranger's car, had become concerned, and had gone to Andrea's to ask for help Lassie-style.)
While we were gearing up to drive to Never Alone, Eleanor came flying in through the pet door, so the three of us drove over there together. Gretchen was not happy to find that Sally had spent the last few hours alone by herself in a room in a boarded-up building on the Never Alone campus. The irony, of course, was that Sally had gone to a place called Never Alone and had ended up being more alone than she ever gets at our house.
By this point it was clear that Sally had simply been standing in the road as she often does. This behavior is reckless and we've tried to get her to stop, but it's one of the ways she protests being left alone, particularly on days (such as today) when some redneck with a huge gun has been firing monotonously at some tree nearby.

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