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").


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Like my brownhouse:
   independent radio benefit at a drive-in movie theatre
Wednesday, May 26 2021
On her way home from the bookstore this evening, Gretchen bought tamales at the Woodstock Farm Festival from a stand run by Veronica and her employees (Veronica used to run a Mexican restaurant at the storefront on the southeast corner of John and Wall Streets in Uptown Kingston). As Gretchen and I were preparing our tamales to be watched in the teevee room, a violent storm was blowing through, blasting the trees with winds and drenching the landscape with a torrential downpour, the first rain in a long time. (This year's garden had never seen a rain, so the plants were overjoyed.) We had a momentary power outage that screwed up the household network, delaying my ability to connect to the media server by a good fifteen minutes. As I was rebooting various things trying to get the Jeopardy! episode to play, my brother Don called from Virginia. But there was a storm down there too, and it was the excuse he gave to cut the call short. Don always ends our calls abruptly, though he can be persistent when trying to reach us. I had to tell him recently to not keep calling and calling when we don't answer, that sometimes we just don't want to talk and all that phone ringing is annoying.

Our friends Jeff & Alana work (or perhaps volunteer) for WGXC, a small community radio station based in Hudson. Tonight WGXC would be having a fundraiser at a drive-in theatre in Greenville, a "hamlet" in Greene County (the next county north of our own Ulster County), and Gretchen had bought tickets for herself, Powerful, and me, but Powerful, lucky man, had other plans and wouldn't be going. At the last second, we decided a drive-in-theatre would be a suitable place for dogs, meaning Ramona and Neville would get to come.
Greenville is a bit far afield for the Nissan Leaf, so we took the Prius instead. Most of the time the Prius is Powerful's car, and he goes on many errands per day because that's just how he's wired. Also, I think he's driving elsewhere to do his smoking, as Gretchen has expressed annoyance from smoking drifting into our house. Perhaps because of a desire to cover up that cigarette smell and perhaps from a cultural fondness for cloying chemical fragrances, Powerful has had a history of using air "fresheners" in the Prius, something Gretchen and I strongly objected to the last time we had to use the Prius. Today the Prius seemed to smell like a New York City taxi cab. This smell is an unpleasant mix of old stale cigarettes and air freshener. We weren't even out of the driveway yet before Gretchen had found a carton of what she took to be air fresheners that she took out of the car and placed at the back of a stone cairn which we use to display our street address.
We drove up the Thruway to the Catskill/Hudson exit and then headed northwest to Greenville. Gretchen wanted to do some vegan tourism at an icecream place that supposedly had a vegan flavor, but unbeknownst to Google it was closed.
I don't think I'd ever been to a drive-in movie theatre before. At the gate, we were checked in by someone with a rain-splattered iPad and assigned our parking spot, which was a prime location near the front and center of the parking area. After parking, we took the dogs for a walk to the nearby snackbar/hangout area. There was a tent in the outdoor area to protect people from the rain (which was falling), and evidently everyone was vaccinated because nobody in the tent was wearing a mask (and neither were we). We didn't know anyone in the tent and the people we saw were mostly younger and probably hipper, at least that was the assumption since these were alternative radio people. Also, we were the only ones with dogs, and, unusually, nobody was making a fuss over them. Eventually, though, we saw first Alana and then Jeff and talked with them briefly, as they would soon be doing a ten-minute DJ show. One of the things we learned from them was that our mutual friend Chrissy was also there in the drive-in. So we walked over to her car and there was an instant dog party when her dog Chongo came spilling out. Judging from her behavior, Ramona has grandfathered Chongo into her short list of dogs she will not attack. Chrissy was in an unusually good mood, mostly because we've more-or-less entered the post-pandemic period and her life has opened up considerably. She's a music person, and there are shows again. And people to hug. (Some people actually missed hugging.)
Tonight's benefit had been designed to celebrate WGXC's ten years of existence. Something like ten sets, each ten minutes in length, would be played on the drive-in screen. The sets were mostly live DJ sets, with one or two DJs mixing audio live in front of a camera. There's not really much to see when a DJ is doing his or her thing, and, with the exception of DJs using turntables, most of the action takes place on the trackpad of a Macintosh laptop (DJs apparently do not use Windows computers). None of the video we could see showed us what was on the screens of those Macintoshes; that would've been more interesting. What we were experiencing was clearly some form of art, a kind of live audio collage. Some of it was better than others; for someone like Gretchen or me who is unfamiliar with it (with respect to this stuff, we're like proletarian rubes stumbling with our muddy boots into a modern art gallery), we tend to prefer results that are more musical. We like melodies, rhythms, or some combination of the two. But people making audio collages sometimes indulge their fondness for abrasive textures and noisy electronic artifacts such as 60 Hz hum. Some of this stuff was genuinely unpleasant. I would say Jeff & Alana's DJ set was among the better we listened to, though our favorite was mixed by the one African American DJ, whose set included nothing but vintage disco, reggæ, and contemporary pop. And then Stephen Merritt, the musical genius behind the Magnetic Fields, performed ten songs in ten minutes, using just his voice, a ukulele, and, for one song, the snaps of his fingers. That was a real highlight. We left immediately after his last song, though we continued listening on the radio as we headed south down Route 32. By then someone was doing some exceedingly terrible independent-radio-themed standup comedy.

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