06/09/2010 (9:32 am)

Pizza tastes better than thin feels

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Moving to Rosendale has had many positive effects on me. The one I’m noticing right now: it has adjusted my previously seriously warped sense of body image, for myself and other women. Now, on the occasions that I venture into the city, everyone looks anorexic to me. Well, not everyone, but many women.

We found ourselves in Manhattan on Sunday after one of Brian’s clients had an I.T. situation. It seemed like something he could fix quickly, so I thought I’d go along for the ride and see if we could do something there afterward. Now that we are bridge and tunnel, we can do touristy things! Things we almost never did when we lived there, like go to exhibits at the Met.

Before we ventured up to the Picasso show, we stopped at Slice, a sort of artisanal pizza place that has gluten-free varieties. The pizza was great. It had a chewier crust than I’ve found in most other gluten-free pizzas. They use a combination of rice flower, potato and corn starches, and of course that g.f. wonder ingredient, xanthum gum, whatever that is, plus other things I’m not remembering now.

Toward the end of our lunch, two women who seemed to be in their twenties walked in. They looked like stick figures. After scrutinizing the menu for five minutes and then asking a bunch of questions of the guy behind the counter, one turned to the other and said, “Do you want to eat?”

“No, but I’ll watch you eat,” said the other after thinking for a second.

“No, I don’t need to eat now,” the first one responded. “We can come here another time.”

It was like an outtake from Henry Jaglom’s “Eating.”

04/23/2010 (9:23 am)

No nail clippers for you, either…

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So, apparently violations of common courtesy and decency aren’t limited to noisy and stinky riders on the Aridondack Trailways line from Rosendale to NYC.

Jason Shelowitz, the artist brother of a friend of mine, has started this campaign on the New York City subways. Maybe we can get him to make some placards for our buses.

04/14/2010 (6:14 pm)

No neck pillow for you.

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Dear operators of the Adirondack Trailways bus line between Port Authority and the mid-Hudson Valley:

I know you mean well.

You take good care to have your drivers make that announcement at the beginning of each ride, the one listing the myriad ways in which riders should be considerate – not smoking or drinking, keeping their music low, their cell phone conversations seconds-long and quiet.

But I am here to tell you that announcement is not nearly enough. In the five years since I migrated north from the East Village, I don’t think I have made the hour-and-a-half ride between New Paltz and Manhattan once without having to give a fellow rider a dirty look – or a talking to – for some infringement of common courtesy, not to mention your own very reasonable rules.

We are not as fortunate as our Rhinebeck and Poughkeepsie counterparts across the river, who have both Amtrak and MetroNorth trains at their disposal. Oh, no – on a bus to Manhattan, you can never get up and stomp indignantly to the next car if someone is being annoying or inconsiderate.

Nearly every bus ride is ruined by someone with a blaring MP3 player, whose ear buds must have been firmly in place during the announcement at the beginning of the ride – and who still can’t hear the driver when he says into his mic, “Will the person blasting music a few rows back please lower it so only you can hear it in your head phones?” Just as bad are the people who keep talking on their phones – lowering their voices temporarily – throughout the announcement, and so never realize recreational chattering is taboo. Don’t get me started on the ones who either space out during the announcement, or just don’t take it seriously.

Can I make a suggestion, Trailways? Spell it out for people. Literally. Right in front of their faces. Seriously, how hard would it be to print up some placards and affix them to the backs of the seats of every bus in your fleet? Choose a large and easy-to-read font so that I don’t have to humiliate the nice octogenarian woman across the aisle by interrupting her heart-warming – for her, anyway – conversation with her grand niece.

While you’re at it, how about some additional rules, to ensure maximal rider comfort (and to keep people like me from becoming homicidal)? Ninety-plus minutes is a long time to be confined in an enclosed capsule with people who are assaulting your senses.

For example: No polishing your nails, balancing the toxic fume-emitting bottle precariously on the seat between us as you clamp your cell phone between your shoulder and your ear. No bathing yourself in heavy cologne in lieu of, well, bathing, causing the allergic, like me, to gasp for air. Oh – and for the guy who derives such comfort from his neck pillow on the 6 pm ride that he descends so deeply into sleep as to snore like a buzz saw? No neck pillow for you.

02/28/2010 (2:16 pm)

Let all the children boogie

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In Patti Smith’s memoir about her symbiotic relationship with creative soulmate Robert Mappelthorpe, she writes about the adrenaline rush she experienced the first time she performed her poems and songs at the St. Marks Poetry Project. She found herself so overstimulated afterward, she couldn’t sleep.

I read that passage just yesterday, and here I am today having a similar experience. Brian and I are completely wired after performing for the second time as “Altar Egos” at a David Bowie “Tributon” event at Market Market Cafe. (The first time we did “7″ at a Prince tribute.) We did goofy, shticky, hammed-up versions of “It Ain’t Easy” and “Starman” while dressed as a nun and a Hassidic rabbi, and even though it’s a dumb joke you’d only get if you knew us (Brian’s oldest sister says we are “cross dressing”) and which is stretched too far, and despite that fact that our musical technique and comedic improv chops leave much to be desired, people seemed to really love our performance.

An audience showing you the love is cause alone for a serious buzz, but I think there’s more to it. I feel like I’m also buzzing off of everyone else’s spirited performances, but more than that, off of the encouragement and acceptance that are such a vital part of the creative scene here in Rosendale. From one event to the next in this town, whether it’s an 80s-themed Prom party or a night of original monologues, I am consistently amazed by not only how much originality and talent there is here, but also by how mutually supportive people are.

You won’t find any attitude here – no in-group sneering sideways at the wanna-be’s. Everyone is welcome and encouraged to join in the fun. It makes for an environment where people are unafraid to take creative risks – even people brand new to town – and that naturally breeds exciting, original art and entertainment. (Sure, it paves the way for some serious clunkers. But it’s still all in good fun.)

It’s thrilling to witness and take part in that. No wonder we slept only four hours.

02/25/2010 (4:55 pm)

Apples to apples

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We got this much more snow today. At least in this one spot.

02/24/2010 (4:35 pm)

Counting the snowflakes

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On days like today when it snows in the mid-Hudson Valley, friends and family from other areas want to know how many inches we got. We tend to get a lot more than people to the south of here.

I try to give an accurate answer, but it’s hard to say. Drifts will cause greater accumulations in some spots, and drippings from the trees will tamp down the piles in others. I am reminded that the Constants, the house’s owners-twice-removed, had the job of measuring precipitation and reporting it to the National Weather Service when they lived here from the late 1940s to the early 1970s. In fact, until our garage came down a couple of years ago, their special yellow measuring cup was attached to it.

Today I planned to go outside and measure with a ruler in several places, then average my findings. But I can’t find my ruler. Using my show shoes as yard sticks seems a little unscientific, but they’re what I’ve got. Somewhere at the bottom of some landfill, that special measuring cup is mocking me.

02/22/2010 (10:27 am)

Law and Order, Criminal Intent: Rosendale edition

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Sometimes it’s easy to forget here in idyllic, hippy-ish Rosendale that crime exists. Many of us, not mentioning any names, don’t even lock our doors and/or cars.

Every now and then, things happen nearby that threaten to awaken us to certain grim realities – although they don’t always sink in, probably because we don’t want them to.

We’ll hear about an armed robbery two-towns away – Stone Ridge, maybe. But it’s just far enough to ignore. There’ll be a drug- and/or gang-related shooting in Kingston, where there are Crips and Bloods and some very sketchy neighborhoods. But we’ll think, “Well, they probably stay in their sketchy neighborhoods.” (Even though said neighborhoods are 10 minutes away.) A friend will mention something about another friend having CDs lifted from his car, right in his driveway, and our minds quickly posit, “Oh, probably just some bored teenagers.”

But on Saturday night, it all hit much closer to home. Market Market Cafe, a much beloved bistro and boite on Route 32, was burglarized. After pry-barring their way in, the burglars were able to find and run off with a week’s worth of cash receipts – a lot of money to a small, up-and-coming mom-and-pop business.

I have heard there were seven other business in Ulster County hit that night. And that a neighbor here on Main Street had two bikes stolen then, too. So much for my rose-colored view of country life. Time to call a locksmith. And maybe an alarm company. Because, finally, I am alarmed.

01/20/2010 (5:35 pm)

Breaking (gluten-free) bread with an old friend

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Hello, readers. Happy 2010. I’m back – sorry for he hiatus. I was busy ghostwriting a memoir. I do that. It’s my bread and butter.

Speaking of which… This week, Jenifer Constantine, proprietrix of Market Market Cafe, was so kind as to bake a loaf of gluten-free bread for me to have my sandwiches on. Usually I have my sandwiches there on a wheat-free sprouted rye kernel bread, but it is not entirely gluten-free. It contains rye gluten, and although I don’t noticeably react to that, it has been brought to my attention that it might still be causing me harm.

Jenifer’s bread turned out great. Firm but a little springy, tasty, fresh – not cardboard-y like so many gluten-free loaves. On Monday, I had a ham and cheese presse on it and it was quite good. Not only did I enjoy the taste and the texture, I also took pleasure in feeling like a normal person eating a sandwich on normal, white, fluffy bread.

Today, I had a toasted, buttered slice with my soup and salad. I felt like standing up and showing everybody, “Look! I have toast!” (You’d probably have to have celiac or some other condition that requires you to eat gluten-free in order to appreciate that feeling.)

Ironically, I bumped into an old writing workshop cohort there today. It turns out she eats gluten-free, too, and was thrilled to have some of the bread as well.

In a few weeks, after I’ve gone through all the rye kernel bread Jenifer was kind enough to order for me, she will likely bake more of this bread. If you’re gluten-free, you’ll definitely want to stop in and give it a try.

12/08/2009 (9:04 am)

Frozendale

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Rosendale bills itself as “the Festival Town,” and with something like eight of them each year, it seems as if this might be truth in advertising. It probably tarnishes my image as a jaded New Yorker to admit this, but I am a sucker for each and every one. Sure, at root they’re just commercial, promotional efforts by the town’s chamber of commerce. But the festivals are all so small town and hokey, they have a certain ernest local authenticity that truly appeals.

The one that probably gets me the most is Frozendale Day, the pre-holiday event that was held this past Saturday, 12/5. I was working all day, but took a break to have lunch at The Big Cheese and quickly survey the festivities and gifts for sale up and down Main Street. Our bleak-chic grey little town with very few operating stores took on a completely different hue. It didn’t hurt that it snowed, big glistening flakes.

There were kids everywhere, in town for the free showing of Polar Express at the Rosendale Theater and the puppet show at the Redwing Blackbird Theater. They were there to see Santa as well, and my heart melted when a little girl of about three or four jumped up and down at the sight of him riding up the road on a hay ride. “It’s SANTA!” she shouted! Maybe it’s a result of all those pre-Brian years I spent as a lonely Jew on Christmas, but I couldn’t help getting excited, too.

I was only out for about a half-hour, but it was the perfect uplifting break from my work.

12/02/2009 (11:38 pm)

The 32 bridge is open

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I just picked up Brian from the bus depot and to my surprise, after something like 19 months, the route 32 bridge over the Rondout is finally open. It was actually a little thrilling driving over it. Rosendalians – rejoice.

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