far too much writing, far too many photos

A brief exchange of correspondence, begun when I sent my best buddy the following note, containing a news article I came across in the course of web wanderings. The town mentioned in the article — located across the flats from the easternmost reaches of the Catskill Mountains — is a strange, interesting, charming, goofy, rapidly-growing place.

Sent: Thursday, May 29, 2003 3:41 AM
Subject: in the news

You’re probably aware of this already, but on the chance you’re not check out the following article about what’s going on an hour north of you in New Paltz, where my brother has lived since going to the college there far too many years ago now (and where I lived for a year post-college); the Times article — more complete — linked at the bottom is also interesting:

Environmental news from GRIST MAGAZINE:

Jason West, a 26-year-old member of the Green Party, is shaking things up in New Paltz, N.Y., where he was elected mayor earlier this month — an outcome that has the local political establishment in a tizzy.

West ran on an ambitious environmental platform that rallied support from many students at the State University of New York at New Paltz, of which West is an alumnus. On June 1, West and his two running mates will take control of the village’s five-member board.

West’s agenda: curb sprawl, promote solar energy, power government vehicles with soy-based fuel, and purify sewer water by filtering it through artificial wetlands. The defeated incumbent, 71-year-old Mayor Thomas Nyquist (D), is not bowing out graciously. “I always considered myself an environmentalist, too, but what they’re talking about is ridiculous,” Nyquist said. “We have issues that are much more pressing than putting solar panels on Village Hall.” Meanwhile, on the national level, some Green activists are urging the party not to nominate a presidential candidate in 2004, but instead to throw its support behind a Democrat to increase the chances of unseating President Bush.

straight to the source: New York Times, Claudia Rowe, 25 May 2003

straight to the source: Washington Post, Brian Faler, 27 May 2003

My friend’s response, received late yesterday:

You must think that I read the news, that I listen to what goes on around me, that I take my head of out of the sand. You are heartily mistaken, my friend. Har har har. Well, tomorrow is June, the month you return. And is that still true? I just finished my five-day workshop on {a play he will be directing at a New York City theater} and am trying to catch up at {the public radio station he works at}. In the meantime, the economy is spanking my butt, so that the fund drive that was supposed to last ten days has lasted 17 and we are doing 2-1/2 more days next weekend to reach our goal. And it wasn’t even a high goal! Argggg. It’s making me look bad, and I look bad enough as it is.

In the meantime, life is as exquisite as a knee in the groin. All right, more exquisite than that. Actually, it’s like ten minutes after the knee in the groin. When you are really hallucinating and the pain has left your nether parts and is heading into the rest of your body looking for a home, and you think you are either numb or oversensitive. And you think, wow, life is just so damn REAL. Every moment of it. It is this freshening, always. Oh, my god, I think I’m going to cry.

Anyway, I hope you feel the same way, and if you don’t then you are a lot saner than I am, my friend.

My response to his response, sent this morning:


The scary thing about your note: I think I understood it.

Wait, was that what I meant to say? Never mind.

Yes, today is June. June is today. It has arrived. And so will I. Soon. I leave here on the 16th, stay at a friend’s place in London that night, return to the States on the 17th, stay with friends in Cambridge that night, take the bus back up to Vermont on the 18th. Two days later I will drive back down to Mass. and spend the weekend with friends in P-town for the film festival. I’ll be back up in Vermont the following Tuesday. At which time I’ll try to stay put for a while, maybe get serious about trying to find a home for the goddamn novel. Also, get serious about rewriting the first year to 16 months of the online journal and try to foist that on some unsuspecting agent or publishing house. Also, get serious about mowing the lawn. Or maybe I shouldn’t get too serious about that. If I don’t, though, I’ll walk out there one morning without my machete and disappear into the ever-growing thicket. They’ll find my pointy boots and my bleached bones months later, at which point my house will be sacked and left abandoned.

Mow the lawn. Get the car worked on. Work on the house. Mow the lawn. Mow the lawn. Mow the lawn. Would you explain to me why I’m going back to the States again? It sounds like it’s going to be so much fun. Wanna come up and help me hang a bunch of doors, maybe do some repainting in an effort to improve on the godawful job the previous owners did?

It will be nice to be back in the country after all these months in the city, he said in a rare moment of clarity and seriousness. Yesterday, a friend and I drove out to the ancient walled city of Toledo (Spain, not Ohio), which somebody dumped out in the middle of beautiful, hilly, high-chaparral kind of country. An amazing thunderstorm came through, and we went to the edge of the town to get a gander at its approach. I smelled smells of the earth and of rain in country air, odors of the sort I haven’t smelled since I left Vermont last, er, whenever it was. Centuries and centuries ago. It’ll be nice to back amid that again. And songbirds. And wild critters. And friends coming up to visit (nudge nudge). All that. At least for a few months. Then I’ll come back here and start shovelling down tapas again.

Re: the whole knee-in-the-groin allusion — should I be worried about you? Life is real, pal, and I will confess to loving the bugger. You probably do, too, once you find your way around the whole damaged-gonads thing.

Babble babble. I should go eat something. Hope this finds you and the rest of the clan having a fine Sunday.

It’s great to hear from you, BTW. I was just thinking of you yesterday, wondering if I should send you a note about things other than towns being taken over by college students. Apparently I should.

We’ll talk soon. Right?

Love from Madrid –

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