Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Goin' Up the Country

(Also could be titled "If You Ever Wondered Where Every Hasidic Jew in the New York-New Jersey-Connecticut Tri-State Area Goes on a Summer Sunday, Take the New York State Thruway to Route 17 and Get Off at Exit 105B.")

My buddy Snacks and I left Manhattan at 11:30 on Sunday morning, en route to my third Half of Phish + The Duo = GRAB and Phil & Friends show in the past eight days. I enjoy such variety in my spiceless life.

This concert also doubled as the third ever event at the East Coast's newest and already best outdoor shed, the Bethel Woods Center for the Arts, erected and opened last week on the site of the original Woodstock. Incidentally, if you want to see a show at a great venue with unparalleled acoustics, high-definition side screens, friendly support staff, gorgeous grounds and scenic views of lush greenery, keep this place on your radar.

But first, there was the matter of a big-time soccer match, and our choices for where to watch this can't-miss event were extremely limited. We first stopped at a Monticello tavern that looked straight out of Deliverance. The bar had it's four tiny screens turned to the pre-game coverage, but Snacks didn't like the looks of the six patrons that may or may not have asked us to squeal like pigs. We bolted.

Eventually we drove the other way on Route 42 and pulled up to Kiamesha Lanes. Hey, the bowling alley's gotta be showing this game. A row of minivans greeted us outside, and when we walked in to the establishment, we found every yarmulke in New York. I liken our experience to the scene in Animal House when Otter and the guys take Fawn and the girls to that bar where Otis Day was playing, only instead of blacks, the Hebrews greeted us with calculating stares.

So as it turns out, this is what The Jews do on Sundays in the summer (and when I say Jews, I don't mean the Lawn Gisland family playing golf at the club and planning the $100,000 Bat Mitzvah, I'm talking about the ones with the funny sideburns and the pieces of string hanging off their pants). Whole families come here to bowl and play arcade games from the many run-down bungalow camps in the area, packing Dovie and Avi and Shmuel and Shira and Aron and Yitzi into the unadorned 1994 Dodge Caravan for an afternoon of athletic hijinx. It's touching.

And we couldn't have picked a better spot. Aside from the obvious unintentional comedy presented to us, the remainder of the televisions in the place turned to the Mets and Yankees games while ours stayed with the World Cup final. We played some pool, we played some air hockey, I sank a few quarters into Cruisin' USA whilst Snacks controlled Ms. Pacman and we accomplished the first half of our day's master plan in perfect form.

We watched the Zidanian Cranium Catastrophe and I-tals win on penalties, then headed up the block for some whiteboy hippie dancing. Worked out perfectly...We must have been blessed.

Slack Anniversary of the Day: One year ago today I woke up and couldn't see what time the alarm clock flashed. One year ago tomorrow I had 20/20 vision. LASIK, a gift from the Gods (albeit the most expensive gift I've ever received). As a member of the anti-Thomas Dolby club -- they unblinded us with science -- I celebrate this occasion not with pompousity but as a public service to anyone with glasses or contacts. Get the fucking procedure. It rocks.

Slack Obit of the Day: Seems like a lot of famous musicians have been dying lately. Today, we bid farewell to one of the most badass men on the planet, former Pink Floyd lead singer Syd Barrett. He's often referred to as acid's first high-profile casualty, suffering a psychedlic breakdown in the 1960s, but if you ever listen to his stuff right before falling completely off the edge, you'll know what it means to lose a man of Syd's genius.

Slack Song of the Day: We'll go two-pronged today, in honor of Barrett's passing -- the first is a shitty recording of a 9/13/67 Pink Floyd show in Denmark, while the second pair is a bluegrass duo, one called Same Old River and one called Spanish Point, that have absolutely nothing to do with today's news. Just thought y'all could use some 'grass in your breakfast this morning.


At 5:35 PM, Anonymous en regalia said...

brah, ive actually rolled there! i lived in monti for a summer working for the aborted "bethel 94" workign with the rhulen family who owned the defunct frontier insurance co.

wow. long story there...but whatta place...

really reaaly glad to hear again of how pimp the venue is...there was a feeling that the site wasa cursed in its ability to be profitable at all after so many failed entreprenuerial efforts...

viva max yasgur!

At 11:09 AM, Blogger Ace Cowboy said...

Good to here, ER...I'd actually like to hear that long story sometime. But yeah, if you have a connection to the land up there, make it your beeswax to get up there and see this venue. It's absolutely gorgeous and they've done incredible things with the property. I hadn't been there in 10 years (almost to the day), but I was so pleasantly surprised by what I saw. Great times.


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