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Things To Do During A New York Heatwave, Part II


Wish you could be on a beach somewhere
cooler than here
But be glad you didn’t book a holiday
through British Airways
From Heathrow
________________

Get the hell out of town
Even if you’re only going 100 miles upstate
It’s still considerably cooler
And you can’t be forced to take the subway
Where the temperatures on the platform
Offer an idea of what to expect
Should you ever get to Hell
________________

Catch a cold
Wonder how it’s possible to catch a cold
when temperatures are at record highs
________________

Read how Mick Jagger has just rhymed
“hypocrite” with “shit”
in a new Rolling Stones song about the American President
Note that after 40 years writing lyrics,
he should be able to come up with a better rhyme than that
________________

Hudson’s Warren Street as it was early in the last Century

Visit the town of Hudson
Which is, not surprisingly, on the River Hudson
And is now one of the hippest cities in New York State
Not as hip as New York City, of course
Though most of the hip people in Hudson come from New York City anyway
Many still live there during the week
And some made the permanent move upstate

Hudson was a run-down shell of a city only a decade ago
Until it was “discovered” by the antique dealers, the interior designers, the restaurant owners…
…Who renovated the town’s main thoroughfare, Warren Street,
and turned Hudson into a destination town…
…For other people who are into antiques, interior design, and eating out
On the face of it, Hudson seems an ideal example of rejuvenation
Except that the fancy new stores lining Warren Street
are of little use to the local poor
Or to children

“Is there a store I can browse in?” our son Campbell asks,
He means, “Is there a toy store you can leave me at while you look at furniture? “
Walk up and down Warren Street
Past the furniture stores
looking for a toy store
There is none
The closest thing is an antique toy train and car store
With signs that say “Do not touch the toys”
“This is the most boring town I’ve ever been to,” says Campbell

Warren Street as it is now: Earthfoods is a long-standing vegetarian restaurant

Hit the CVS Pharmacy, to buy Vicks Vapor Rub
(How is it possible to catch a cold in these temperatures?)
And ask if there’s a toy store in town
The cashier says no.
Where do people go for toys, asks Campbell?
Walmart,” says the cashier

There’s a small village green opposite the CVS
Which could easily house some play equipment
But doesn’t
“I’m allergic to boredom,” says Campbell

The wife takes him to the waterfront
Where there’s meant to be a playpark
Make excuses for not going with them
Stop in at the Spotty Dog
It’s a bookstore
A café
With free wi-fi
An art supply store
And a microbrewery
All in one
old fire station
Named after C.H. Evans
The same C.H. Evans who owned a brewery
That, like many other small breweries across America,
Was once a roaring enterprise
But closed in the mid-20th Century
And then,
Following the microbrew trend,
was revived in 1998
In its original home city of Albany
As Evans Ales
Whose beers are now served in the Spotty Dog
The old fire station
In Hudson
That still displays the name C.H. Evans above its entrance
There’s some poetry to that
Don’t you think?

Order a pint of Evans’ Pump Station Pale
It hits the spot(ty dog)
Enjoy the drink at the iJamming! Pub,
edit a couple of recent iJamming! posts, send out some correspondence
Marvel at the modern miracle of e-mail, the Internet, and wi-fi access
Especially when someone in England
Who you’ve known for 25 years
Replies straight away
Time is an abstract
In the global village
Don’t you think?

More storefronts on Hudson’s Warren Street. The first fishermen built these homes in what is called the “salt and pepper” style.

Visit Hudson Wine Merchants
Which opened just over a year ago
Near the foot of Warren Street
At the poorer part of town
Which is also the non-white part of town
Though you might have guessed that by now
The guy who runs the store is from Brooklyn
But lives in Hudson now
Above the wine store
With his wife and child
He’s living his dream
And he carries good wine
He claims he does well because he beats “Manhattan prices”
That depends where in Manhattan you shop
Still, if you repeat that mantra long enough to your customers
They will come to believe you
Perception is reality
After all

Buy two bottles
Because you’re happy to support any “mom and pop” business
And especially someone from Brooklyn who got out
To live their dream
You know Hudson has made it
When there’s a boutique wine store
At the poorer end of town

The Hudson waterfront – this photo taken last November in the cold (we forgot to bring the camera with us at the weekend)

Meet Campbell back from the water front,
Where, says he, the play park had nothing but a “really little slide and some metal bars made up to look like a dome”
His mother concurs
It’s a shame
The next day, read the cover story from a free newspaper
Called Hill Country Observer
Which asks
“Can culture save a downtown?
Small cities across the region put theory to the test”

Citing economist Richard Florida and his book
Rise of The Creative Class

(What is the Creative Class?
They are, According to a Booklist review at amazon.com,
“Scientists, engineers, architects, educators, writers, artists, and entertainers.
Those whose economic function is to create new ideas, new technology, and new creative content.
In general this group shares common characteristics, such as creativity, individuality, diversity, and merit.”)

Florida, says The Observer, believes “the creative class will support better schools and insist on well-maintained public spaces, libraries and a decent public transportation system”
But The Observer notes this theory remains unproven in Hudson
Where “the school district is on a state watch list because of poor academic performance”
And the state comptroller’s office “ranked Hudson at the top of a list of 62 cities with socio-economic stresses,
Though the boutique furniture store on Warren Street charging $5000 a chair
may not be feeling that stress
Unless no one is buying
“If a community is looking for a way to bring the population downtown,”
the Observer quotes one Kate Maguire of the Berkshire Theater Festival
“it should bring in for-profit entertainment, such as ball park or a movie theater, for instance, something which is accessible and affordable and not at all intimidating.”
Seconded

A side street in Hudson

Have dinner at Baba Louie’s Sourdough
On Warren Street
A wood-oven fired pizza joint
The kind that makes pizza a meal
Rather than a snack
We have these places in Brooklyn now
Like Franny‘s on Flatbush Avenue
And Peperoncino on 5th Avenue
Each of which is great
But expensive
And not easy places to feed kids

Order Campbell pasta with parmesan and butter
Simple stuff
But kids like simple
And some restaurants forget that
Campbell vacuums it up like he hasn’t eaten in a week
It’s a big bowl
And only $5
The restaurant serves Evans’ brown ale
It’s called Kick Ass
We must be in America
Though this is merely “creative class” America
What would they call the local brown ale in redneck America?
Don’t Ask

Kick Ass lives up to its name
People who think American beer is all Bud, Rolling Rock and Coors don’t know what they’re missing
For real

Order the veggie pizza, made with spelt wheat-free dough Rather than the usual sourdough
And, apart from some optional chevre, completely vegan
Laden with artichokes, broccoli, spinach and tofu
And more Six big slices
A personal 10″ pie
For $11 bucks
Split a salad with the wife
Who has the half serving of the pasta special
Without the chicken, if you please

When the overflowing plates arrive, confirm that these are the small servings
Just to be sure
They are the small servings
We must be in America

Asks for a glass of Pinot Grigio
(The new Chardonnay)
Because the Torrontes seems like it’s been open too long
(They were, after all, kind enough to offer a taste)
Mention to the waiter
That the Pinot Grigio is a little warm
Saying hey, we know it’s hot as hell today
It’s alright, we understand
A cube of ice should do the trick
(It’s only Pinot Grigio)
Watch him bring a fresh glass of white wine
“Straight from the fridge”

Note that when the check comes
They’ve taken some money off for the absence of chicken
In the pasta special
And that the pint was only $4.50
Which is not your usual restaurant price
At least not in Brooklyn
The grand total is $53
To feed three people
As much as they could eat
Healthily
And happily
Leave a large tip
After all
It’s not rocket science
To make dining out a pleasant experience
Why do so many people make a hash of it?

Decide to write up Baba Louie’s on iJamming!
Not because iJamming! readers are heading up to Hudson
Any time soon
But because good food
with good service
at good prices
deserves a good review
Just as any new restaurant
On Park Slope’s Restaurant Row
that serves mediocre food
with poor service
at high prices
Deserves to be called on it

________________

Read Jimmy Buff‘s column in the latest Catskill Mountain Region Guide
That’s Jimmy Buff,
Not Jimmy Buffet
He’s a role model,
(Jimmy Buff,
not Jimmy Buffet)
An outdoor sportsman who writes about
extreme events
each month
Triathlons and the like
The type for whom the annual Escarpment Trail Run
– 30 kilometers and 10,000 feet of elevation –
is not competitive enough
So he and a group of equally hard-core
and equally mad mountain goats
run it at night
Once a year

Buff is also a daytime DJ
On WDST
In Woodstock
Which plays a lot of jam band music
But not exclusively so
They like Moby, too
At least they used to
His album Play did not have an American deal
Until an A&R woman heard it
On WDST
Driving to her weekend home
The rest is history
And hers

Buff quotes James in his latest column
The song ‘Sometimes’
Which is about a kid who wants to get hit
by lightning
In the hope of being changed
You learn something everyday

Buff cites it about his experience running on a mountain
And being trapped in a storm
With Tim Booth‘s words
“There’s a storm outside
And the gap between crack and thunder
Is closing in”
Trapped in his head

The post race beer party on Memorial Day

Buff ran the 15k race in Woodstock
This Memorial Day
He was one of the cyclists at the post-race awards party
(The one that served beer
At ten in the morning)
For whom a 15k run was not enough
They had to cycle up Platte Clove Road afterwards
Which could be described as like climbing a mountain
Except that there is no “like” about it
It was beyond Jimmy that day
He had to walk his bike up
Over-estimated his fitness
Calls it a case of “hubris”
And admits to it in public print
Another reason to admire the man

Set out Saturday morning for your long run
Figure on going fast because, of late
You’ve been going fast
Figure on not needing much liquid because, of late
You’ve not needed much liquid
Don’t figure in that this is set to be
the hottest day of the year
And you’re running
on tarmac
On a State highway
That is wide and high
And offers no shade
From the piercing sun
That is unforgiving
Even at nine
In the morning
Don’t figure either
that the gentle uphill return run
Will not seem so gentle
If the downhill half
Is run at too brisk a pace
And that, if you don’t carry a lot of liquid
On the hottest day of the year
You won’t have any spare water
To pour over your head
As it spouts steam

Note on the return run
that you’ve only just read a piece about “hubris”
Written by a runner
Here in the Catskills
Wonder what part of “stupid” you don’t understand
When mile nine
Becomes too painful
Under the piercing rays of the unprotected sun
On the hottest day of the year
Shift your 10 miles down to 15k
Like the race you ran in Woodstock
Which seems fitting
That makes it 9.3 miles
A small difference
But a significant one
When you’re on your own
And there’s no one urging you to finish strong

Note that, distance reduced
Course completed
You’re still a mile from your car
That you have no liquid left
And your head feels like it’s about to catch fire
Start walking
The mile looks too long
Jog it instead
Jogging is not the same as running
Make it to the car safe and sound
And devour a liter of water in 30 seconds
Drink several more liters through the day
And only pee once in five hours
Thought you might like to know
That
_______________

Thomas The Tank Engine: Fallen from grace

Offer to take your son
To see the Thomas The Tank Engine
Riding, in proper steam style, the Delaware and Ulster Rail Line
Wait for his dismissive answer
“Nooooo! You know I don’t like
Thomas The Tank Engine
Anymore”
Reminisce to yourself
How holidays in both American and Britain
were once arranged
Around the schedule of
Thomas the Tank Engine
And Friends
Lament that kids must grow
And leave their childhood behind
Look at baby Noel
And relish that you have it coming
All over again
___________

Go to Zoom Flume
The perfect place to spend a hot summer’s day
A water park
In the woods
That’s inexpensive, cheerful and
Above all
Fun
Ride the Anaconda and race the Grand Prix with your older sun
Play in the shallow water of the Pelican Pond with your baby
Groove to the golden oldies on the camp sound system
The Beatles, The Monkees, Buddy Holly
And Blondie
And Jesus Jones

Listen to ‘Right Here Right Now’ many miles from home
And agree
“There is no other place I’d rather be”
Note how you know the meaning behind these words
(Unlike those of ‘Sometimes’ by James)

“Watching the world wake up from history”
Was written
In the euphoria of the Iron Curtain
Collapsing after decades of Communism
And references that quote from someone who should have known better
But didn’t
The one who said we were witnessing
“The end of history”

Note that you have just read a novel
About “the end of history”
Or at least the end of communism
From the other side of the Iron Curtain
A place suspiciously like Romania
The novel is called The Farce
That tells you all you need know
Though no one should begrudge songwriter
Mike Edwards
his own moment of history
A pop hit that survived Jesus Jones
And a decade of Brit Pop
To become a golden oldie
Because it was written and recorded
In a haze of optimism
And though time can prove that optimism
Misplaced
It can’t cancel out
The original sensation

Right here, right now, there is no other place I’d rather be

____________

Plan on lighting the barbeque for dinner
It is summer
After all
But then clouds cover the sky
“And the gap between crack and thunder”
Closes in
Just like in the James song
And the rain comes down
Heavily
And the temperature drops
Precipitously
And when you drive back to New York City
On a Monday afternoon
The heatwave is over
For now

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