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September 28, 2007

Too Hot to Handle

Anyone considering a trip to Austin today should be forewarned that it is really hot here. To which the natives counter, "But it's a dry heat." Rubbish, I say. Saunas are dry but they are still hot. Death Valley is dry. Volcanos are dry, dammit.

But I am in Austin. We woke so early yesterday morning to get me to the airport in Baltimore on time. One of the virtues of early rising (perhaps the only virtue) is getting to see the low light of morning, especially when driving across the Bay Bridge.

One of the liabilities of waking early is not having the wherewithal to think through fashion choices in a clear and cogent way upon waking, a condition which forces one to make a last-minute curbside shirt change just outside the Southwest gates.

And when Robbi is armed with the new camera, such moments get documented.

We are pleased to have the new camera and hope that you are satisfied with the image quality. Notice the work of the wide-angle lens. While we were cameraless we kept seeing beautiful, wonderful, strange things in the world that we had no ability to capture. The best of these was the writing we saw on the back of a large, lumbering truck of some sort on the way back from Baltimore last Wednesday. The writing, in a curly font that had clearly been painstakingly applied by hand, was as follows:

Hauling it all, just God and me.

I'd rather have shown you a picture of this wonderful item of being, but unfortunately, the moment passed and now is gone. Robbi and I wondered for a while who made the decision to apply the letters and what exactly the author had in mind in terms of message. Some questions are best left unpursued. And, painful as it may seem, perhaps some moments are best left unphotographed.

Like this one, maybe:

Posted by bogenamp at 09:43 AM

September 26, 2007

Robbi Paints

It has been a long day and a strange day. We drove to Baltimore this morning to sit in on a training session for the new Adobe Creative Suite. Then we returned to Chestertown, all set to relax on the couch with Subway sandwiches and an episode of Season Three of guilty pleasure Grey's Anatomy when suddenly the power went out and we were left dazed, empty, adrift, and utterly confounded as to what to do with ourselves. We could not watch tv, play nintendo, surf the internet, use the computer in any other way, make phone calls or drill things with the power drill. It was a helpless, helpless moment. Eventually we realized that the new camera had batteries and was thus free to operate without connection to the grid. So we went out into the sunshine and walked around Chestetertown taking photos.

This was not a pleasure walk, even though it was pleasant. No, we were on a mission to photograph key buildings that will appear in the panels of our work-in-progress 2008 Chestertown calendar. This calendar will be humorous, irreverent, and non-factual and will have a George Washington theme. It will be full of inside jokes for the benefit of those from Chestertown, but we will make it available for purchase on the Idiots'Books Web site if, as a groupie, you just can't get enough.

Eventually the power came back on, the universe came back to balance, and we watched our episode of Grey's.

For the last few hours, I've been trimming copies of Volume 10, which is called, by the by, The Clearing.

While I trimmed, Robbi futzed around with a program that lets you paint on the computer. The stylus of one's Wacom tablet becomes the brush and the "paint" is applied in a pressure-sensitive, highly contoured way. It's really pretty nifty. Here is her first work.

I think the guy looks a little like Wario.

In other news, the Boston Red Sox are just two games (or two Yankees losses) away from clinching their first American League East title in ten years. This is exciting to me. In general, I try to avoid politics and sports on this blog because there is nothing less interesting to someone who doesn't care about politics than politics and nothing less interesting to someone who doesn't care about sports than sports. But I am a Red Sox fan and am gratified that after nearly blowing a monumental mid-season lead over the hated Yankees, they seem to have righted the ship. But perhaps I speak too soon. There is still time for grand calamity. I digress into sports talk because I had a moment of human sympathy for the cold inhuman Yankees today when I saw this photo of their four rookies, dressed thus by their more veteran teammates on the occasion of the final road trip of the year. It's kind of cute in an evil franchise kind of way.

I'm kind of hurting right now because tomorrow I must go to Texas, and friends, if there is any place more loathsome than Connecticut, it's Texas. I won't go into the reasons, in part because of the self-imposed politics embargo I mentioned above. Texas has somewhat redeemed itself of late by virtue of the enormous spider web that seems to be happening outside of Dallas. Have you heard about this? Apparently the spiders are cooperating in a way that is antithetical to all tried and true spider behavior.

What is the explanation? I cannot say. Perhaps the spiders' motives are political. Perhaps they are just tired of working at cross purposes. I will get nowhere near the spiders, as I am heading to Austin, which is, by all accounts, a relatively inoffensive part of the Lone Star State.

Posted by bogenamp at 08:42 PM

September 25, 2007

Words Without Pictures

I've wanted to post these last few days but have felt disadvantaged by the lack of photographic ballast. As much as I value words, I know that people really don't much care to read them. At least not without some goofy pictures of my dog to look at when the prose gets tiresome. The new camera has been ordered but has not yet arrived, and I have been hesitant to venture forth alone. I have grown accustomed to collaborating with Robbi. Naked words seem much less appropriate now than they did were before.

I have just consulted the FedEx tracking information and am gratified and relieved to find that our new camera will arrive tomorrow. I am a bit wary of the camera because it represents a departure from the run-of-the-mill point-and-click that has served us so well for years. This camera has two lenses: one a regular sort of lens and the other a wide-angle lens. Robbi has coveted this camera for some time now, ever since she saw one owned by our former colleague. The crushing weight of her envy nearly ruined the friendship.

Here is the camera in question.

I am unnerved by its odd shape and extra lens. I am not predisposed to embrace change and am fundamentally skeptical. If the camera is not to our liking, I'll grumble a lot and give Robbi a really hard time. If it turns out to be a great camera, I'll probably take all the credit and hog the camera so that she never gets a chance to use it.

In other news, Volume 10 is finished and printing. For better or for worse, I spun a story around the series of odd, disjointed illustrations Robbi sent my way. I'm far too close to the story right now to cast a reliable vote as to whether it's any good, but I do think that it's lovely to look at. And sometimes that's enough for a book.

Posted by bogenamp at 08:24 PM

September 22, 2007

Outrage

Well, well.

Little did I know that the contents of the Barnstorming could stir controversy. And yet, just now, I received an email indicating that a new comment had been posted to entry number 183, Keeping Up With the Westbrooks. You may link to that entry here, should you care to reacquaint yourselves with my blatant lies before reading the high-octane rebuttal. The comment is as follows:

I was just looking at your blog with my friend and these are my thoughts:
How dare you call us the "westbrook clan"!!! we're a pack not a clan.
Oh and by the way my dad is not a patriarch. my family is a democracy!!!!

just thought you should know :)

--Kira (written with the help of jackie and jennifer)

Kira is, of course, the elder daughter of Matthew and Barbara Westbrook. Apparently, I had misunderstood the governmental structure of the Westbrook "pack" and Matt's role within it.

I hereby apologize for my gross misrepresentation and thank Kira (and Jackie and Jennifer) for presenting her dissenting opinion with such diplomacy.

Chagrined I am.

Posted by bogenamp at 06:25 PM

September 21, 2007

Some Good Ink

The last few days have had their share of ups and downs. On the last day in Chicago, our camera (which has admittedly endured such insults as being placed on top of a car that we then proceeded to drive away) made a horrible noise and died dramatically. Though I suspected that the camera was not well when I heard the noise, I hoped for the best and slipped it back into my pocket. It was not until hours later, when my traveling companion Matt noticed the warm late afternoon sunlight on the red paint of the turbine under our engine's wing, that I dared to test the camera's will. I pushed the power button. There was a defeated grinding of tiny, tired gears, and although the camera agreed to turn itself on, the thing refused to focus. It was with some nostalgia that I took this final picture, already too late to catch the fleeting light.

The camera has served us well. I am tempted to recite a poem on this, the occasion of its last hurrah, but I know none fitting to commemorate the loyal workhorse it has been. Rather, I shall let it slip into graceful obsolescence in the back of some drawer of neglected miscellany. I cannot bring myself to actually dispose of it. But neither do I have an urn appropriate to hold its compromised remains.

All of this is to apologize in advance for my failure to document the dramas of the past few days. I spent most of the week in Baltimore, but found, attempting to drive home to Chestertown late Wednesday night, that when the battery light comes to life on one's dashboard panel, engine death is soon to follow. But the battery light was just the beginning of the excitement. Between that moment and the utter failure of all vehicular systems that followed a few minutes later, the brake light, the "check engine" light, and the airbag light also lit up. And so I took out my cell phone to call AAA. Since we seem genetically predisposed to car failure, we have the really special level of AAA coverage and may be towed up to 100 miles without being charged. I called AAA and was informed that I would be picked up within 63 minutes, and I cannot help but wonder what byzantine algorithm was responsible for the estimate.

While I waited, my good friend Christian came to keep me company. And to bring the two suitcases and five pillows I had left on the third floor of his home. Did I mention that neither of the suitcases had yet been packed. He is a good friend.

Eventually the tow truck came. If not for the death of the camera, I would include dramatic photos of the Sentra being loaded on to the back of the truck, which was, I later learned from the driver, less than one week old. The man was proud of his truck. And with good reason. It was a beautiful rig, and in it we traveled across the Bay Bridge as midnight passed.

If I had my camera, I would also have taken photographs of tonight's excitement, the official book launch reading for St. Michaels, the Town that Somehow Fooled the British at Artiste Locale of St. Michaels. There was fanfare and excitement. Many copies of the book were purchased. Robbi and I engaged in banter. You would have loved it.

Here is the postcard we sent out to advertise the arrival of the book.

Some of you may already have received it. Others may not have on account of our having run out of mailing labels. Sorry about that. We have ordered more.

The day's most exciting news was the very flattering review we received from the Star Democrat, the main paper for the Eastern Shore. The woman who wrote the review really understood what we're up to, and did a great job, so we think, of pointing out what is funny and interesting about the book.

You can read the review here if you are interested.

And now I must go play Scrabble with Robbi. For a long time we played "make interesting words" Scrabble, because trying to be strategic by placing one's words on the various bonus squares seemed too onerous and time-consuming. But we just got a computer Scrabble game that makes the whole thing go faster, so for now at least, we are back to cutthroat score-based Scrabble.

There will be no photos of the Scrabble.

Posted by bogenamp at 10:52 PM

September 17, 2007

On the Road Again

Once again, I have not stayed in Chestertown. Over the weekend I was in Chicago. While there, I saw a few things.

The Blues Brothers, for example.

Even the elusive third brother, Matt "Blues" Westbrook.

A sculpture of the liquid contents of Lake Michigan, seen from the bottom.

The glorious dawn.

Public sculpture

A guy on a unicycle.

You know what they say about a photographer with two big cameras...

...he has a lot of memory cards.

Impressive stained glass

The corpses of long-dead kings

People playing bagpipes

A man taking pictures of people playing bagpipes

A highly evolved dog

A girl with a sign offering a cure for a confusion.

See how well she does her job?

Alas, her bag of tricks does not contain the answers to matters of spiritual guidance. I know because I asked. Her one piece of advice: avoid Connecticut. And so I left Chicago without enlightenment but feeling most affirmed.

Posted by bogenamp at 11:45 PM

September 13, 2007

Ghetto Booty

Sometimes life gives us little treasures when we're least expecting it. Today, for example, I was just finishing a long run when something caught the corner of my eye. I stopped, reached down, and found this:

And on the reverse:

That's right! This is a DOUBLE SIDED "Ghetto Booty" key chain with glittery silver letters and a stylish red brick patterned background. I did not know such a thing could be, and yet, there it was, on the cobbled sidewalk of Chestertown's historic district. Without a second thought, I claimed the prize for my own.

Sitting here now, I wonder who owned the Ghetto Booty key chain before it fell into my clutches. How did the owner feel about the Ghetto Booty key chain? Was it a badge of pride? A totem of self-identification? Does the owner lament its loss? Is there a lonely owner of a ghetto booty out there somewhere, lost and adrift without the legitimacy bestowed by possession of this key chain, which is kind of like a license to flaunt one's ghetto booty?

If you are the rightful owner of the Ghetto Booty key chain, please contact me, and I will (reluctantly) return it to you. I will, of course, demand a lengthy explanation of how you came to own the thing and how you came to lose it. If the Ghetto Booty key chain is not claimed within 30 days, I will keep it for my own. And will cherish it always.


Posted by bogenamp at 01:57 PM

September 12, 2007

Fishing 101

Robbi ran into an old friend today, someone who grew up in Chestertown but now lives far from here. This friend told Robbi that she enjoyed reading about our Alaskan adventures on the blog, and that she was glad to have a picture of the place to associate with the stories she had heard over the years. People who have known the Behrs for a long time know about the fishing but have never gotten much insight into the details. I was pleased to learn the identity of another of our readers and was also reminded that there are several important stories yet to share about our summer in Alaska, not the least of which is how we go about catching the fish.

There are many tiny details which serve as preface to a discussion of fishing technique, just as there are many fishing techniques that could be described. But in the interest of getting to the point, I'll talk about the kind of fishing I did for most of the summer, leaving many tiny details out and adding others as we go along.

And so then.

To fish, we need a net and a raft.

Here is the net.

It is, in fact, two nets, each 25 fathoms (50 yards) long, clipped together in the middle to form one long net of 50 fathoms (100 yards). The net is in a large plastic tote on the back of a wooden cart that can be towed by the 4-wheelers. When the time comes for fishing, we deposit the cart with the tote with the net near the water.

Here is the raft.

Note that I am pumping up the raft because it is flat. The rafts are always flat. We really like this kind of raft and it is no longer in production. And so we use 15-year-old rafts that are full of holes. And always flat.

Note the nozzle through which I inflate the raft.

Though very helpful for inflating rafts, the nozzles are also a frequent cause of snagging for our nets. And since a snagged net can mean thousands of pounds of pressure suddenly exerted on whatever is snagged, snagged nets can be dangerous. And so we cover the nozzles with plastic, as shown.

Once the nozzles are covered, we "stack" the net into the raft, carefully keeping the cork lines (which keep the top of the net afloat) on one side of the boat and the lead lines (which keep the bottom of the net on the bottom of the river) on the other.

In stacking the net, we pull it directly from the plastic tote into the raft.

The Behr family operation has three fishing sites and so we put out three 100 fathom nets. While Robbi and I are stacking our net, Bob and Seiko are stacking theirs and Maiko and Roji are stacking yet another.

Once the net is in stacked the raft, we stand around looking great in our rain gear.

As I explained in an entry months ago, we are told by the Alaska Department of Fish and Game precisely when we may begin fishing. If we start a minute early, we risk heavy fines. If we start a minute late, we will miss the majority of the fish we might otherwise have caught. Therefore, it is very important that we bring reliable timepieces to the beach.

Seiko has hers:

And Maiko has hers:

Usually we get done stacking long before it's time to fish, and so we are able to pass the time by driving around looking heroic on the 4-wheelers.

Or taking artful pictures of dogs.

About five minutes before the "opening" when we may start fishing, I pull the raft out into the water.

I climb in.

And pull myself along the "running line" out to the buoy which marks the end of our line.

Eventually, I'm about 100 yards away.

Using a carabiner, I clip one end of the stacked net to a ring tied near the buoy. This ensures that one end of the net will remain tightly affixed to the far end of the line when I start to pull the boat in toward the shore.

While I'm out fussing with the net, Robbi stands on the shore waiting for the signal to begin fishing. When she waves her arms, I start pulling myself and the raft and the net along the "running line" as fast as I possibly can. As I pull forward, the net (which is attached to the ring) pulls out of the raft behind me.

It is an exhausting task, kind of like a sprint in a full rubber suit.

Sometimes I fall out at the end.

Once the net has been pulled in to shore, Robbi ties it to the running line so that both ends of the net are secured.

As soon as the net is in the water, the fish start getting caught. We use "gill nets", that is, nets fashioned of many small diamond-shaped openings. The fish swim in headfirst, their gills get snagged. The fish are too big to swim through the net and so they are stuck.

The next stage is "picking" the fish. That is, going along the net in the raft, and pulling the fish out by hand, ideally without breaking the net filaments.

Occasionally we pick near the shore without being in the raft and just keep the raft nearby to use as a giant creel as we pull fish out of the net.

Iggy, being a card-carrying PETA member, was disgusted.

Robbi is a champion picker.

When we have picked the net, we throw the fish from the raft into the plastic tote, but first we put a liner called a brailer into the tote. When the time comes to sell the fish, a crane will lift the brailer out of the tote to weigh and lift it into the buyers' truck.

It seemed odd to me at first, throwing fish in the throes of death. But the volume is so high that there's really no way around it. Sometimes, when my arms get too tired to throw, I use my magical levitating powers to move the fish into the tote.

Robbi makes fun of me when I do this.

When the tote is full, it's time to sell the fish. Usually we sell to guys in a truck with a big crane.

The brailer has four strong loops on the four corners. We attach these to hooks on the crane.

When the loops are secure, the buyer lifts the brailer with the crane arm.

Built into the crane is a scale with a digital readout. Once the brailer of fish is high in the air, one of the buyers takes a read on the scale and writes down the poundage. The wonderful and disgusting thing is that the buyers usually wait for a minute or two before taking a read because as the fish are lifted squeezed, tons of fish slime and blood oozes out through the mesh of the brailer. They wait because there is so much blood and fish slime that it actually adds poundage to the measurement. And although the buyers love buying fish, they prefer to leave the slime and blood on the beach.

Once the fish have been weighed, the buyer dumps the contents of the brailer out into a tote on the truck.

Our empty brailer is returned.

Since we all work on different nets, no one really knows how much fish we sell as a family until we get back home and compare notes. One of the ways we amuse ourselves in Alaska is to have a daily guessing game. After dinner, each of us writes his guess down on a slip of paper and hands them in.

Someone (usually Roji) then makes a tally of the "pink slips", the official chit the buyers give us to acknowledge receipt of a given poundage of fish.

Whoever guesses closest to the total catch without going over wins a Maryland scratch-off ticket.

We all watch intently as the winner scratches, wondering whether this is the day that we'll win the big money and have an excuse to sleep through the next fishing period.

It never happened.

Posted by bogenamp at 09:30 PM

September 11, 2007

Pittsburgh

Hell bent on making it to Pittsburgh by sunset, we set off late morning Saturday. Alas, the road between Chestertown and Western Pennsylvania happens to pass right through Annapolis and within spitting distance of everyone's favorite place to eat.

In fact, we were at the Annapolis Mall for several other purposes. I needed a new pair of running shoes after thoroughly exhausting the ones I've been using since a year ago June. And Robbi needed to stop by the Mac store to purchase some rather unwieldy conversion boxes needed to allow her old monitors to speak to her brand new MacPro.

Shoes and computer equipment in hand, we got our burritos.

I like Chipotle for various reasons. First, it goes without saying, the burritos are excellent. But also they provide little bins of sliced lime and lemon for placing in one's soft drink. And their marketing language is lively and clever. You've seen all the clever signage from corporate headquarters that hangs throughout the restaurant and on their cups, bags, etc. But perhaps you have never seen (as I had never seen) a handmade sign such as this one, hanging on the inside of the men's room door.

After clearing Annapolis, there was nothing between us and Pittsburgh but a whole lot of Maryland. Or so we thought. After coasting blissfully for hours without incident, and within about ten miles of our destination, traffic suddenly ground to an unexpected halt. After musing for a few minutes on the fact that we were not moving, we saw a sign that indicated, inexplicably, that the highway was, in fact, closed. It took us a few minutes to digest the news that the road that was to take us to Christian and Emily was simply not available. There was a detour, it seemed, and it seemed we had no choice but to take it. And so we did.

For the next two hours we moved wormlike from long red light to long red light in a single file line of other infuriated drivers. Drives enraged and drivers despondent, the line of us railed against Pittsburgh and the inexplicability of closing a critical highway on a Saturday afternoon.

Fortunately, there were various police officers situated at key intersections to help traffic along.

Unfortunately, they seemed content to sit like the one pictured above, watching with mild amusement as the traffic situation worsened from dismal to comical. At one point we openly debated whether the many virtues of friendship with Christian and Emily were equal to the utter dreariness of the current situation. Nearly manic with frustration, we resorted to clownish behavior to distract us from homicidal impulse.

Just when we were about to throw in the towel and drive back to Chestertown, the highway came into view and we were released back into the speedy flow of traffic. And so Christian and Emily dodged a bullet. For now.

We arrived at the Sewickley Inn and changed into swank party garb.

At the party, there was a pleasant greyhound named Kemper.

And a truly impressive sundae bar.

Various members of Christian's and Emily's families were on hand, and so we took pictures of various configurations of people.

Christian and his sisters Victoria and Amy.

Christian and me

Emily, Robbi, and Emily's Uncle Art

Emily and her dad, George

The siblings Vainieri, with their parents, Deborah and Humberto, our hosts for the evening

Kemper head on, not her best angle

The next morning, we ate some more. Ruby was in attendance.

When we had eaten all there was to eat, we headed home using obvious routes.

If you can't tell from the picture above, this sign was truly enormous. The person who made it was either blind or really concerned that people be able to find the Turnpike. Even people five or six miles away.

On the way home, we saw some windmills. Both of us agreed that we'd like to have some on the mountainside where we will live someday

Ah Pittsburgh (with the exception of your closed highway and the resulting hells it inflicted), how we love thee.


Posted by bogenamp at 09:46 AM

September 08, 2007

Steel City Bound

I spent all day wrangling with Volume 10 and feel I made some progress. Often I do my best and most lucid thinking while running and so I ran twice today. On both runs I had some good thoughts, but on the second, I had an idea that will, I think, tie the whole the thing together. There is still a lot of tinkering to do, and I may yet discover that this supposedly good idea is little more than an unworkable stopgap.

I will have plenty of time to work on things tomorrow when we drive to Pittsburgh to celebrate the impending nuptials of Christian and Emily. For those who don't know, Christian spent some formative years in Pittsburgh, and a lot of his family still lives there. We went to Pittsburgh a few years back to see our friend David Turner in a play there. Robbi, a small town girl by nature, was beguiled by the place. "It's so clean," she said with wide eyes. "It has interesting architecture," she went on. "And there's nobody here!" she concluded, "I love this place!" We were in the heart of downtown, and I must admit, it was fairly deserted. Since that day, whenever Pittsburgh is mentioned, Robbi gets all excited and repeats the three sentiments outlined above over and over.

As a refresher, here is Christian:

And here is Emily:

This picture was taken mere moments after she was proposed to (notice the engagement ring, featured prominently on the offending finger).

As I said, they intend to wed.

And I rather think that it's going to work out.


Posted by bogenamp at 01:03 AM

September 05, 2007

In a Funk

My trip to New York City came and went without incident. I was unharmed by the city, and really not even very seriously harassed. For whatever reason, the traffic flowed, the train was on time, my meeting ended on time (early even). Shocking, yes, but I don't want to be the naysayer that won't then admit it when something goes better than expected. So I grumble today not about New York but about the daunting task of writing Volume 10.

As I mentioned a few days ago, Robbi and I have decided to invert the normal course of things this time around. Usually I write and then she illustrates. As was the plan for Volume 10, she has produced a body of illustrations that it is now my task to transform into a viable story. The drawings are vintage Robbi: visceral, messy, caustic, intriguing. They are wonderful and interesting, and yet I cannot say what I will do with them. I had thought a story would leap into my mind the moment I saw the illustrations the way that words flood the page when I sit down to write with an empty screen. But I must admit to being a little beside myself. I want to do her illustrations justice, but my ideas so far are dull, predictable, and at best, merely "cute."

And so I will stew, as Robbi often does upon receipt of one of my manuscripts. I will let the characters churn a bit, see what significance rises from her cryptic configurations. I will see what story I can tell that refers to what she's drawn without quoting it exactly. Our best work lies in the place where words and pictures conspire to create something implied in the space between. At least that's what we tell ourselves. All of this is to say that I'm suddenly empathetic with Robbi and the terrible moods she carries about sometimes between our meeting to discuss a new book and the Eureka moment when she sits down with the pen to realize the hard-won idea.

I am trying hard to resist the funk. But it really isn't working.

Posted by bogenamp at 11:26 PM

September 03, 2007

People of the Corn

We celebrated Labor Day by escaping the bustling urban grind of Chestertown by driving to the nearby town of Kennedyville. Kennedyville has a post office that isn't really a post office. It's just a sign in the window of a building that looks like a house. It also has a gas station that sells bait and tackle. And a few houses. Our friend Sarah Myers lives in Kennedyville, in a beautiful little house nestled between woods and cornfields. It's a nice place, is what I'm trying to say.

There is a place off a dirt road where you can park your car and then walk through fields. In the winter, when the crops have been harvested, the landscape is lunar, expansive. Today, the summer corn was tall and turning brown.

Iggy was intrigued by the corn.

It was a sunny, clear day. Not too hot. A transitional day that felt like summer ending.

We usually walk for a mile through fields before coming to some woods. In the woods, not far from the cliffs that look out over the bay, is an old deserted house, all wood, with a beautiful stone fireplace. We have always dreamed of buying the house (or claiming it) and fixing it up. We always stop on our walk and admire the house. Imagine our surprise today to find this:

We do not know if it was vandalism or accident, but our dream house is no more.

After mulling for a bit over whether to interpret the charred remains of the dream house as some sort of symbolic portent of coming doom, we decided to go on with our day and walked down to the beach.

We've been to this beach a dozen times in the past year and have never found it occupied. There were sailboats and jet skis far across the water, but our little beach was quiet.

Tomorrow I am heading back to NYC, perhaps the place on earth most opposite to Kennedyville.

Posted by bogenamp at 06:20 PM

The Big Apple

Those of you who know me well know that my negative feelings about Connecticut are like mild dissatisfaction when compared to the oceanic loathing I harbor for New York City. I have it on good authority that there are countless empty acres available throughout the world for humanity to spread out upon. Why in the world would 8 million people choose to live on one skinny, stinking, loud, congested, expensive island? It makes no sense. And yet, several of my best friends in life have chosen to settle there. And so I must periodically visit. Thank god Christian had the good sense to leave.

Last weekend, I was in New York for the pre-wedding celebration of Holden, one of my best friends from high school. It was not really a bachelor party proper, but rather a series of urban excursions with a group of people collected in various contexts throughout his life. There was the high school contingent, the law school crowd, the folks from work, etc. We ate brunch in Manhattan before taking a subway to Queens to visit The Beach, a new tourist attraction, which consists of a bunch of sand dumped in a former parking lot along the water. The view of the Manhattan skyline from The Beach is really something. If I had remembered to bring my camera, I'd be happy to show you. On account of its being nearly 100 degrees, we decided to leave The Beach in favor of some cooler destinations. We hopped on the water taxi and headed south, stopping in Brooklyn before arriving at the South Street Seaport.

Along the way, we took some pictures

My friend Victor and me:

Scott, Victor, me, and Holden (and on the far right, Ian, who I just met this weekend, a friend of Holden's from law school, if I remember right).

The water taxi is only $10 and will carry you a long way. All the way from The Beach to the western side of Manhattan, apparently, a trip that takes about an hour and a half to complete. Considering that it usually costs about $50 an hour to stand on the street breathing in Manhattan, this is a fairly economical way to spend time. And on a hot day, the wind on the upper deck keeps one very cool indeed.

We debarked at the South Street Seaport. I headed uptown to pick up some emergency dry cleaning for Holden's fiance Michelle while the others sampled the offerings at the Beirgarten at South Street Seaport.

It was there that Holden ate the last chocolate-coated soft serve he will ever eat as an unmarried man.

We ate dinner at a very swanky Italian place on the lower east side, then headed to Chinatown for karaoke.

While in New York, I stayed in Greenwich Village with my good friend David Turner. As we often do when we're together, we wrote stories together by each providing every other word. We both get on a laptop, turn on instant messenger, and write the story back and forth as a chat. There were several unsuccessful efforts, but we were both pleased with the following:

Silvio Giovanni Giuseppi Beppe del Giorno di Lucca Prima Donna Del Vera was upset. He wanted friends, but who would agree? Who would agree to listen to that boorish, incessantly soporific nincompoop? Not anyone from the little town of Bacia del Pomona Sontita Pace Gama Ragazzo de Ponte Porro d'Abrucio en Gusto. So Silvio went to America, where people laugh and gaily prance. That's where people like Silvio are given a chance. Silvio spent sixteen months living in a lean-to under some docks. He loved it. Well, until he got brave barnacles on his ankles. After scraping them off, he was seized by a biologist from Cape Hampshire, who took him to prison. There he studied theology, chemistry, and botany. Finally, he understood God, chemicals and plants. Once he was knowledgeable of life, Silvio returned to his home overseas and started a new life. He changed his name to God de Lucia del Beppe Magnesium d'Arrancia Conifer Daisy Yahweh van Neon Buttercup de Abraham. Was there happiness? Some, but also despair. For in his will to discover new truths, Silvio had failed to uncover the falsehoods of life: recliners save lives, for every thing there is another thing, and a long day at home is better than a long day with someone you don't respect. No matter, Silvio endeavored to learn still life painting. He married no one and died penniless. His epitaph read: Here lies Silvio de Palma Apple Sulphate Pussywillow Athena di Ginko Biloba Zuul van Sodium Fruit Buddah Bowl Hyacinth Barnacle Jones, he died on his deathbed; how ironic.

Now we just have to convince Robbi to illustrate it.


Posted by bogenamp at 12:23 AM