Thursday, August 11, 2005

Castleton on the Hudson

Sounds nice doesn’t it. I’ll be leaving here tomorrow after 5 days. Let me try to paint a picture of this town.

Castleton is on the east side of the Hudson river about 15 miles south of Albany. I’m at the Castleton Boat Club moored to their pier with a nice view both north and south of the river. To describe the town itself you need to put yourself into the mood. Think of your favorite Steven King novel, an episode of Twilight Zone, or think of any scene from Silent Hill the video game. To get to town you have to cross the Amtrak tracks that run just off of the river bank and are between the boat club and town. A high speed Amtrak train goes through here blowing its whistle about every 20 minutes all day long. When it does the ground shakes and conversations are ceased until it passes. Leaving the boat club then and going across the tracks you find yourself on THE street in town. This in itself isn’t that unusual for a small town but on this street you find that nearly everything is boarded up. There are for sale signs by owner and available by auction on most buildings. There is a nice post office and at the opposite end of THE street is a modern convenience store. In between there is a café with ice cream and coffee treats that seems to be open on occasion. I saw a sign in one of the dirty windows of a defunct business that read, “$500 reward for information concerning the burglary at the fire house.”

OK so nobody lives here, right. Wrong. They come out at night. In the evening the local youths hang out and compare tattoos and nose rings and skate boards. Not real threatening but just depressing. You see people living in second floor apartments and the occasional kid being hollered at. It is so stinking hot here and there is no wind and you can see that many of the apartment windows don’t even have screens let alone air conditioners. You have to wonder about the lives that are populating these few dingy apartments. It would be easy to throw them into the mix in a big city but in a town of maybe 500 people you just wonder when the sun comes up and it’s a new day in Castleton…then what?

I went to the one café in town looking for dinner knowing that they also had advertised live music. The café is actually interesting and most tables were filled. The menu consisted of clams or shrimp. I had a diet Pepsi. The music consisted of a guitar player and a rhythm guy. I won’t call him a drummer since he had no drums. He had what looked to be a practice pad that was miked and played with thick brushes. Not a bad sound actually. The guitar player did a mix of blues, Dylan, and some old standards. Not being fond of shell fish I opted for dessert.

As I was listening to the music I could watch the decrepit apartment building across the street. On the second floor there were about 3 windows and a porch probably leading off of the kitchen. Some guys in giant pants and diego T’s were on the porch trying to not be hot. The screen in the first window was torn and out of the corner of the tear came a half grown black cat. She seemed to be aware that she was on the second floor and probably wasn’t going anywhere. Then, dimly through the screen I could make out a huge arm. The head that went with this arm was above the shaded part of the window so just the arm. The giant arm came closer to the window and then more quickly than you would expect, the giant hand at its nether end swallowed the cat. A little disconcerting but better safe than sorry I guess. Then the arm delivered the punishment.

And again.

Damn cats!

On my walk back to the boat I realized that the entire town is separated from the river by the railroad tracks and the only way across the tracks is the little road to the boat club where the sign says, “Private Club No Trespassing”. If you entered this town from the east you’d never know the Hudson River was even here. There is no good way to get to the river to swim, look for frogs, or enjoy the view. Castleton on the Hudson indeed!

Another strange American town on the banks of one of our old waterways

9 comments:

Gracie Liberation Front said...

Remember - this is Bush's America.

Anyone else want to mate with a close relative? Let's wade in a common gene pool.

PS - Did they play any Radiohead - bet not!

PSS - Radiohead fans have all their teeth!

PSSS - You can't say that about most Parrotheads!

PSSSS - Or Bush voters for that matter.

Arg!

Frieda Pussy!

Chairman Meow
The GLF

Brian said...

Hey Cap'n Snappy - Lighten up. You'll see real poverty when you get to paradise. I mean the Carribean. This offends me. I was thinking of retiring to a town such as this. Where else will $500 be considered a kingly amount. By the way. tell Sue I had a good time at the GLF recruitment meeting this week. I just need to come up with a name.

Barry said...

Gracie has been communicating with our cat. Jazmine said to tell you Gracie is not just piseed she is cutting you our of her will!

Gracie Liberation Front said...

See - it's a movement!

Frieda Pussy, Indeed!

Chairman Meow
The GLF

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