chowing down vegan food in a spiegeltent
Saturday, October 19 2019
It was sunny but cool in the house, so I started a fire in the stove for Saturday morning coffee. I still have some sludgy fuel oil in a five gallon bucket that I'd removed from the Brewster Street house when I dismantled its oil tank two and half years ago, and I've been taking paper cups of it and burning them in the stove to augment the heat provided by burning wood. The resulting smoke is kind of unpleasant when it gets into the house, but it's nowhere near as bad as, say, the smoke from burning plastic.
With that problem out of the way, I could move on to the rest of my weekend. Gretchen had already driven into Kingston to attend this year's Hudson Valley VegFest, where readings of her poetry would be one of the events, and I wanted to get there before the food ran out. This year VegFest was being held in the massive back part of BSP in Uptown. For those who don't remember, BSP stands for Backstage Productions, and features a bar with an intimate performance space in the front as well as a vast (and somewhat dilapidated) back area that is so enormous that it's hard to figure out how it can possibly fit within the city block that it is constrained by. (In our early years Upstate, Gretchen and I used to regularly attend the open mic at BSP, where various talented &emdash; but unknown &emdash; musicians would perform.)
I got to BSP at about 4:30pm, and when I tried to pay the $10 admission, Rebecca (the organizer) waved me in, saying I was Gretchen's plus one. She also told me where Gretchen was, in a seemingly-antique spiegeltent that is apparently a fixture in the east end of the enormous BSP space. I only got a glance at the fest itself before going into the spiegeltent. It was your typical array of tables with vendors selling things like vegan food, teeshirts, and solar energy installations. And lots of people (almost none of whom I knew) were in attendance. I found Getchen in a booth with Chris and Kirsti (the "photogenic vegan Buddhists") chowing down on a variety of delicious (though not especially healthy) vegan food, some of which had been accidentally smooshed together (my philly "cheese steak" was speckled with macaroni, for example). For some reason, there was also a beer sitting there ready for me to drink. As part of his job finding investors for vegan food products, Chris has been flying all over the world. He also recently made $80,000 on stock in Beyond Meat, the company that makes a popular ground beef substitute. I was incredibly hungry initially, but once I'd stuffed myself on all the food already at the booth, I could drink my beer at a more leisurely rate. At some point a musician got up on stage and started playing a loud electric guitar in a shimmering wall-of-sound shoegazey style. It sounded cool, but it was way too loud for the venue. We were a hundred feet away with the spiegeltent in the way, and it was too loud even for us. People were covering their baby's ears and fleeing. Somebody had to tell the guitarist to turn down his amps, at which point he abandoned the stage in a huff, since now his guitar was too quiet to serve his artistic vision.
There was some confusion about when Gretchen would be reading her poetry. After nailing that down, Gretchen and I wandered among the tables, most of which were already closed down or were in the process of doing so. There was a teeshirt in seafoam green with a lightning bolt and the word VEGAN that Gretchen wanted, but it turned out it had already been sold.
By now a couple were on stage performing nice somewhat-folksy music while the slideshow behind them continued to show a loop of occasionally-disturbing animal-rights-related images. At around this time, Gretchen learned that it would still be at least an hour before she would be reading her poetry. I'd thought Gretchen had wanted me to stay for her reading, but it turned out she didn't care. So I headed back home, escaping through a back door of BSP into a parking lot (41.934554N, 74.020648W) that I hadn't been aware of. Here one could see how BSP manages to fit into its block: its back reaches all the way to the Crown Street, the street on the block's other side.
Back at the house, I made myself a whiskey on the rocks and the sat down at the dining room table and quickly created a new component for my Electron app: an editor for editing the JSON that configures the app's settings. Someone had requested such a feature at Friday's meeting, and it had seemed like an easy thing to implement.
When Gretchen finally came home, it was without having actually read any of her poetry. There'd been some sort of logistical screw-up (not the sort of thing that could be blamed on anyone except, perhaps, a musician who had played too long). The evening ended on happy note, though, with us watching perhaps the best episode of Shark Tank we'd ever seen. Gretchen was so impressed by the guest shark, Daniel Lubetzky (creator of Kind bars) that she wanted to send him a copy of her book Kind.
Charles in the Thornwillow Press schwag bag from Gretchen's Newburgh poetry reading last night.
Click to enlarge.
The Spiegeltent at BSP today during Hudson Valley VegFest.
The BSP back stage. You can see the crumbling beaux-arts details from an earlier time, when people didn't have televisions and this was fancy venue.
Click for a wider view.
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