I was listening to 13-year-old Brayden Harrington speak about Joe Biden on the final night of the Democratic National Convention.
We have friends in Cold Spring who have started shopping at the WalMart 15 miles away because they’ll put ordered groceries in their trunk. The wife hasn’t left their property since there was snow outside. Woodstock acquaintances are scoffing at Kingston acquaintances going out to socially distanced events, saying they don’t understand the dangers.
Milo was doing fine in public school until he ran up against a former state trooper turned teacher in third grade who didn’t like our kid’s hyper ways. We were forced to create an IEP that uncovered his advanced nature with most subjects, natural sense of humor, and the fact that our district’s special classes were shared with detention.
I invited every artist I knew who could add some wildness: bands, solo musicians, sound experimenters, video mayhem masters. I projected old government propaganda films off the creek’s surface onto the bar’s outside walls. Friends made esoteric dance tapes for the old ballroom we half-cleared beyond the bar. People could drink Clarence’s dandelion wine for free. We served it in what looked like methadone cups. The event drew an eclectic crowd. Old friendships were renewed and new ones established.
Going postal once meant something we all thought was deeply sinister. We’d made it through the summer of ‘77, with blackouts, heat and riots, and the Son of Sam. The latter was a postal worker who heard voices and killed people. Around the same time others working in the U.S.P.S. had rages. Some suggested it had to do with aspects of the boring jobs at hand.
One of my most radical acts occurred on the spur. I was at home in the Cemetery House in Westkill. There was a massive evening downpour. I was all alone and decided to head out into the deluge without a stitch on. I ran around the gravestones, protected from view by tall pines. I rolled in the wild thyme.
I had a brother and several friends who died of addiction. I’ve had schizophrenic acquaintances. I’ve known people who took their lives after years asking for diagnoses for physical ailments the system hasn’t recognized, such as chronic Lyme disease. As a reporter, I’ve tried to cover incidents where young men jumped head-first off land-locked bridges and older women drove into centuries-old trees. You don’t publish such things unless they draw community response, a wail of hurt.
Fifty-one years ago this weekend, a big festival took place that redefined this area. Last year, that Woodstock Festival was set to be commemorated with an anniversary fest. It didn’t happen as planned.
I have long been comfortable in the simpler forms of word processing, and have gravitated to open-source software for my Linux computer. It fits better with many of the chores I undertake daily, the radio work I do, and my ideology. I never liked the group-editing functions Microsoft Word offered, finding it to be less clear and more prone to mistakes than doing drafts that got tossed in a final edit.
We’ve been hit with a pandemic, just as many of us have feared would happen. It’s been worldwide. It’s still spreading. Even when we close this chapter with the help of a vaccine or herd immunity, it’s becoming clear there will be more to come. And it all seems to be tied to changes in the world we inhabit.