Voices

The crowd is the show

The crowd is the show

It is a truth universally acknowledged that young bands enjoy the enormous advantage of the spontaneous, easily mobilized fan base. In listening-room culture, an older crowd shows the kids the finer points of how this music-sent, music-received thing really works. I wonder if our confidence in each other is irreparably shaken. I wonder if listening rooms — and the Hudson Valley was rich in them — are coming back.

Our swimming hole

Our swimming hole

I guess there’s an element of privacy that’s long drawn folks to the Catskills. There may not be as much wilderness as in other places, but that doesn’t mean there’s any lack of hideaways, especially if you explore a bit and don’t get flustered when stores and gas stations disappear.

I was very, very lucky

I was very, very lucky

I got out of the car, in the middle of absolute nowhere, and walked back to that building with the neon beer sign. I hesitated on the porch. I was a 17-year-old girl, alone, walking into a bar in a very, very remote place. But this was the world before mobile phones, and if I was going to get help I was going to have to ask strangers.

Anais Nin and me

Anais Nin and me

The novel’s voice was like my inner, truer voice – desiring similar things: connection, adventure, appreciation. But unlike me, Nin’s heroine engaged her will to satisfy desire, come what may. She conveyed fear, but also an ability to master it through risk, through action. This was bravery to me, and I wanted it.

The good old days

The good old days

Chapman Hotel was a bar in Schoharie County that you entered through someone’s living room. They served Genesee and kept an old jar of pickled eggs on the bar for those needing sustenance. Down the road was a trailer bar in what seemed to be a landfill, along with a combined bar, laundromat and bowling alley.

Mattress shopping

Mattress shopping

You try to carry the nervous system imprint from one unit to the next. You try to extrapolate eight hours, a third of your life spent pouring dreams, airs, and fevers into a quilted top platform with which you will eventually have as much in common, genetically, as your children. Everything seems to ride on this choice.

Now I just breathe

Now I just breathe

My grandchildren were recently here, and they were absolutely delighted when we ate dinner outside. They’ve been cooped up in a suburban condo in Connecticut for much of the pandemic. Their outdoor space is limited. “It feels good to be out,” my son, their father, explained. “It feels good to be anywhere new.”

Build better wings

Build better wings

Prepping for fatherhood in 1997, I finally felt deeply connected to humankind’s technological adolescence, a revolution that would engulf almost everyone I knew. During my wife’s pregnancy, I signed up for AOL. We acquired our first family cell phone and desktop Mac. When son Jack arrived in 1998, I was able to say, “Welcome to the future. The agency of the gods is ours.”

Perils of a librarian

Perils of a librarian

My first nine months as a library clerk pushed me to rewatch The Wire. I wanted to run diary entries from my work experience alongside notes taken while watching the classic series’ dark glimpse into the various systems by which modern cities live.