Sunday, April 6, 2014

Trenchant Architectural Criticism & Winooski,VT

Shit. I waited too long to write this. It’s only Friday morning and this was Tuesday but it feels like another life. Oh right, we were in the beef smelling hotel. (Chuck says it was a yeasty smell and it’s only because I’m a vegetarian that it smells like meat. The man’s a fucking idiot.) After a little experience it’s pretty easy to look at how much shit Lisa has spread around the hotel room and gauge how long it will be until we leave. I figured I had a good hour at least, so I went for a walk across the street to a bunch of homogeneous 1960’s looking buildings. Turns out it was the University of Albany. The entire campus was designed by Edward Durell Stone and most people hate it. Most people have a point. It’s a big lifeless chunk of ice in the middle of a field. When you get up close however there are a some lovely details, so I’ll post some pictures of those, but in general – blech. While there I went to the University Art Museum where they had an exhibit by Lamar Peterson called Blue Plastic Bubbles, which was awesomely weird. I took a picture of Jimi Hendrix with a deer, which is maybe the most sane one, but still featured Jimi Hendrix with a deer.

We took a state route route up to Vermont because Rene’ wanted to stop at the Saratoga National Park to see the only remaining honorarium to Benedict Arnold in the states, (they were all destroyed by decree after the ah, incident Rene’ said) because he is a direct relative of hers. National Park? Yes, thank you. I got to try on period costumes meant for children, and watch the battle of Saratoga unfold on a big piece of painted wood with little lights signifying the troop movements being described in aching detail by a deeply serious, sonorous voice. The statue of traitor Ben was covered up for winter so Rene’ was pissed, but my day was made. (Not because Rene’ was pissed- that made me sad.)

It turned out we were playing in Winooski, a little ways out of Burlington. It was a funny little town along a river that looked like it was probably an old mill town, but at the same time everything looked brand new. I asked the bartender, and he said that a few years ago the place had been full of empty buildings and beset with serious generational poverty. But they’d converted the great old high-ceilinged buildings into condos and everything else had been torn down and built anew. So now it’s kind of like an upscale strip mall with just a skosh of human suffering.

We loaded in to the Monkey Room or whatever it was called, right before the open mic storytelling was to begin. It was a close call but I managed to learn nothing of anyone’s internal life. I went down to the river, frightened an otter, and discovered they had converted their bucolic river into a hydro-electric plant. John and I climbed over a wall far too low to be meant as a serious impediment, and went out to the edge of some rocks that jutted into where the outflow from the plant re-joined the river from the spillway. It was a very starry, classically Vermont-y, wintery, gorge scene with the gentle water sounds giving John and I a nice chance to share each other’s strength.

The last time we played Vermont was years ago in Montpelier, and we played this  theater space which was attended by a whole community of people who knew each other and supported the place. We had a wonderful time and these two people, Scott and Nora, whom me had never met, gave us their house for the night. They showed us where the food was and then left. Like we could’ve smelled their underwear, (lavender) hung dong willy-nilly, but they left anyway. They’ve become dear friends regardless and we got to play for them again, which was sweet. We played well (two nights in a row!) and people really seemed to enjoy themselves. Awesome person in general and superlative bass player Mike Donofrio got us to play an entirely unrehearsed version of Crooked which was fun if also refreshingly unlistenable.

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