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:
   Norfolk, Connecticut
Saturday, November 7 2009
While commuting down to the prison and back, Gretchen often listens to the local radio station WKZE. They play an eclectic mix of rock, folk, and country geared to the mature, educated listener. If you like things heavy, fast, or stupid, there are better stations (such as WPDH or even WDST). Whenever WKZE is having a giveaway, Gretchen always calls in on her cellphone, and the other day she finally won something: two tickets to see Fran Cosmo tonight at Infinity Hall in Norfolk, Connecticut.
Fran Cosmo was one of the the lead singers of Boston, a virtuosic hard rock band that started packing stadia back in the late 1970s with such songs as "Don't Look Back" and "More Than a Feeling." Their innovative three-or-four-guitar wall of sound paved the way for plenty of great music over the ensuing years. Gretchen and I have always liked Boston; on road trips their debut album used to be an important unit of consensus soundtrack. [I didn't bother to look up Cosmo's relationship with Boston before Gretchen and I set out for today's show, but it turns out that he joined the band well after Boston's classic period.]
We hadn't been able to arrange any dog sitters for tonight, so we took the dogs with us on our road trip to Connecticut, which delighted them even though it meant they would be spending considerable time tonight languishing in a parked car.
In the eastern extreme of New York, on a ridge above Millerton, we stopped at a graveyard (41.971353N, 73.546241W) to walk the dogs. It just before sunset and the colors and layers of the landscape were gorgeous. Corn fields seemed to stretch endlessly back from the road, but I wasn't wearing a jacket and there was a cold wind blowing, so we turned back.

Gretchen with Eleanor in the cornfields just west of Millerton.

Sally and Eleanor in the cornfields just west of Millerton. Click to enlarge.

Looking back towards the Catskills (30 miles away) from the cornfields west of Millerton.

Gretchen wanted to stop on the in Millerton because she thinks its a cute village, so we pissed away some time there in an antique store, a coffee shop (which was soon overrun by a high school track team disgorged by an activity bus), and finally Oblong Books, where I was reminded of the book Feathered Dinosaurs.
After another half hour of driving through a fairly empty piece of New England, we were in Norfolk, the home of Infinity Hall. nfinity Hall is a large wooden building whose flat square face towers over the one-sided mainstreet of tiny Norfolk. We decided to walk the dogs one last time before getting dinner (Infinity Hall also has a bar and restaurant), so we walked them to the entrance to whatever was across the street. At first we thought it might be a graveyard, as the parcel looked to be largely wooded and separated from the village by a low stone wall. But the entrance (which was open) had no signage of any sort, either telling us what it was or that we shouldn't enter. So we walked a ways up the entrance road until we were in such inky blackness that we couldn't continue (we didn't have flashlights).
Eventually we left the dogs in the car and went in to have dinner. The restaurant was crowded and we hadn't made a reservation, so we ended up at the bar, sitting next to a couple women who seemed to be on a first date. One looked to be in her late teens and the other looked to be in her late 40s. Nothing on the menu was vegan, so we had the chef cook us up a custom vegan pasta-mushroom-sundried-tomato-asparagus dish. It turned out very oily as opposed to saucy, but I thought it was pretty good. We also ordered French fries, which were absolutely perfect.
After our dinner, we went out to our car to let our dogs run around the parking lot and eat some food we'd brought for them. We also ran the car for a bit to reheat its interior, which had probably become just a little uncomfortable for the sparsely-haired Eleanor.
The actual venue in Infinity Hall is a beautiful room walled with thickly-laquered wooden planks. The seats are comfortable, but there aren't all that many of them. Despite its having two levels, it seemed a bit smaller than even the auditorium of the small public high school I attended in rural Redneckistan. Worse than that, for the band at least, was that less than half the seats had been sold. There were fewer than 100 people in attendance to see a band that had once filled football stadia.
So then the band took the stage and opened with the worst possible song, "Rock & Roll Band," which documented their rise from being "just another band out of Boston," to dealing with the kind of men who smoke big cigars and drive cadillac cars. A roaring crowd has been added to the mix even in the studio version of this song, so it was sad to hear the pathetic crowd noises this little venue was able to generate in the quiet parts. Still, the few who had come were plenty enthusiastic, at least for the classic songs. Nobody really knew what to make of the newer stuff or the über80s tune by Orion the Hunter (a side project for some of the guys). Some of the new material seemed to make good use of the four guitars on stage. They often relaxed into a thundering growl between passages, an effect I really liked.
A family a couple rows in front of us had brought their two preteen kids, something Gretchen found amusing, telling me, "My parents used to take me to opera." I can't even imagine what it's like to be a kid being exposed to any kind of rock and roll by a parent. I imagine there are some who take their kids to see Slayer. At that point, Hannah Montana might be the only suitable rebellion.
The show ended up being fairly short. When it was over, we got in the car and drove into the mysterious walled parcel across the road. We passed through a narrow patch of forest and came out among some large stone buildings at the top of a hill. They seemed utterly abandoned, though some doors were dully lit from behind by red Exit signs. On closer inspection, it was clear that these buildings and the grounds were in an excellent state of repair. But why was nobody using them? We explored some more, but there was a limit to what we could do on foot, so eventually we got in the car and drove. Evidently we were on some sort of seasonal campus, one that operated in a season different from the one we were presently in. At long last we came upon a sign that explained everything. This was, it turned out, a remote Yale campus for a summer arts and music program. Only a well-endowed university like Yale could have such a massive tract of well-maintained campus that it could afford to abandon for most of the year, leaving its host (Norfolk, Connecticut) with a main street having only one side.

For linking purposes this article's URL is:

previous | next