November 5, 2017 (Sunday)

by Yule Heibel on November 4, 2018

Slept for hours and hours last night – the Airbnb room is nice, the house itself is lovely, the setting is as advertised, with amazing views over the Hudson River.

We went to bed relatively early after an early dinner at a little downtown pizza joint. There wasn’t much else to do after we ate, except wander up and down the streets in Hudson. Oh, the pretentious New Yorkers flaneuring in little old Hudson; and, one suspects, wanna-be New Yorkers who perhaps hope to be “noticed” by actual New Yorkers: the town has that kind of artificial vibe. It’s so overarchingly fey.

In the afternoon, after arriving in Hudson but before going to our Airbnb, we stopped for coffee in town. Both of us had a kind of “meh” feeling about Hudson; this isn’t our first visit, as we came this way in 2012. It didn’t seem as wonky then – or else it was just different because it was May then and it’s November now? We found Hudson “meh,” but couldn’t articulate why.

But now I think I know why. Like mast cell degranulation during a histamine reaction crisis, the New Yorkers (real ones) back in 2012 were just regular New Yorkers, in other words, a tolerable level of histamine that didn’t cause a reaction. Now the mast cells have broken (degranulated) and wanna-be New Yorkers (histamine) escape into the bloodstream, overloading the system. Result: neurotransmitter overload, fake town, fake vibe.

After we checked in at the Airbnb, we went to Olana to walk around the house and part of the grounds. I didn’t really like it. My sense was that it was built by a megalomaniac who thought too highly of himself. All the critiques I ever read of the Hudson River School’s “manifest destiny” ideology made more sense on a personal (to Frederic Church’s) level. Let’s just say that I much prefer dear Edith Wharton as far as domestic architecture and landscape goes, much prefer her aesthetic to Church’s overwrought and grandiose style.

By the time we left it was late afternoon, almost early evening, and we went straight back into Hudson. Walked up and down the main streets, imbibed some more of that fake air, had dinner. On the way back to the car, we passed the September Gallery, which had an opening. We went up the stairs to see. It was packed, wall to wall people, some real, some players, some wanna-be players. We both agreed that we couldn’t really stand to live here.

Back at the ranch there really wasn’t much of anything to do, so we went up to our room and eventually, soon thereafter, to bed.

At some point today we’ll drive across the Rip van Winkle Bridge to Catskill to see the Thomas Cole house, then on to New York City – where the marathon is taking place. Great timing (sarcasm). I hope we don’t run into traffic issues, and I hope there are no extra-ordinary disruptions à la Boston Marathon bombing.

I saw on Twitter that a Saudi billionaire prince (is there any other kind?) has been arrested, along with ten or eleven others, on corruption charges. Interesting in this case: the guy has a major (if not majority) stake in Citigroup, which they say essentially picked Obama’s cabinet before he was even elected. He’s also a darling of the Silicon Valley tech industry, apparently, and has part ownership of Twitter. In German this is called Verfilzung, which is what happens when threads (or skeins of wool, say) get so tangled that it’s impossible to untangle them. It also always makes me think of what happens when a wool garment tightens into a shrunken mass after a hot (boiling) water wash. You’ll never get the “original” back; you’ll never untangle the mess.

The sky is clouding over; there was some sun a while ago. It painted the remaining autumn leaves more vivid shades of gold, but in this duller light it’s obvious that the leaf-peep show is ending.

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