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   Woodstock book release party
Sunday, August 26 2012
After a good productive day of cranking out code at my computer (Woodchuck), I drove to Woodstock to attend the upstate book release party for the book Gretchen and our friend Jenny wrote all last year. There had already been a release party for the book down in Manhattan, but you can never have too many book release parties. Gretchen and I took separate cars because of the possibility that we might want to go separate ways, though neither of us brought the dogs.
The party was held at the Kleinert (which Gretchen is famous for filling with people attending a poetry event after being told "Poetry will never fill the Kleinert"), and, given that there was free organic wine and vegan food, it was perhaps a little surprising that more of Woodstock's demimond didn't show up, though some of it did (including the close talker who always carries a travel guitar and never says anything that makes any sense).
Everybody who is anybody in Gretchen's life turned out, as did all the additional people connected to the animal sanctuary out in Willow. (I'm avoiding mentioning it by name so as to avoid triggering a Google news alert, which has caused me trouble in the past.) It's not always pleasant at such events to be in the crowd or circulating, because the people who most want to talk to you are not necessarily the people you most want to talk to. The solution to all of this was to take a seat next to Nancy (who was sitting next to Ray). It was good I got a seat when I did, because once the reading began, only about two thirds of those present had places to sit.
Gretchen functioned as the mistress of ceremonies and overall facilitator, a task that perfectly fits her personality. The way the she ran the event reminded me of the competence she'd demonstrated with her poetry events in this same room. As for the reading itself, it was unusually entertaining. I've suffered through a few book readings in my day, and it's a rare one where the material being read doesn't send me into daydream land. But tonight it was different. The first snippet of the book Jenny read told of the time shortly after her cancerous leg was amputated when she joined the cheerleading squad. All went well until the day she executed something called a "roundoff" and her artificial leg detached itself and executed a ballistic trajectory in front of a whole stand of people who had come to watch a high school football game. The other was a snippet telling the tale of two ducks rescued as ducklings from Easter-related animal cruelty who went on to fall in love at the sanctuary.
After the reading, there was more schmoozing time, and by this point I'd drunk enough wine to feel comfortable talking to anyone. At one point while telling a story to KMOCA Michæl and Sarah the Korean (who isn't Korean and had driven here with a friend from the Berkshire), I gesticulated wildly with a cup of red wine and ended up with something superficially resembling a bear mauling wound across my chest. But at the time I happened to wearing a shirt from Kencos made of some sort of wonder material. All I had to do was go into the bathroom and dab the wine stains with a wet towel and then pull my shirt back and forth a few times. The shirt was nearly dry by the time I was done pissing, and once it really was dry a couple minutes later, the evidence of this fiasco had completely evaporated.
After the party, the group of us that set out together for a restaurant consisted of Michæl and Carrie, Deborah, and Sarah the Korean, and that friend of Sarah's whose name I was told twice but which I cannot remember. Gretchen's first choice was the Garden Café, but that place was full. So we ended up walking down to Catskill Mountain Pizza and sitting in their swanky new extended dining area, a place equipped with its own bar and interesting beers on tap. All of us who ordered beer ordered IPAs. Michæl is sort of an IPA connoisseur, and he recommended the Racer X Double IPA. (I liked it, but it was little too floral for me.) For food, we ordered french fries and pizzas made with vegan cheese. The former were sort of meh, but I really liked the pizza. Somewhat amusingly, I saw Carrie grab the shaker of parmesan cheese and absentmindedly shake it on her pizza, only to catch herself, realizing that we were gathered to celebrate the writing of a memoir written mostly by one vegan about another vegan who has committed herself to the plight of farm animals (such as the veal calves that are the inevitable byproduct of parmesan cheese production). Carrie dumped off the flakes of parmesan in a futile attempt to unring that bell.

Gretchen (left) and Jenny on stage this evening at the book release party at the Kleinert. (I snagged this photo from someone's Facebook photo gallery.)

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