Friday, January 14, 2011

the cultural coop

last night an old friend, a really good friend, called out of the blue and we talked for an hour or so. we talked about her marriage and her kids and our lives and why my wife is in the phillipines and various sundry topics. and at one point in the middle of talking about nothing in particular, she reminded me of a place where we used to spend a lot of time. this was the cultural coop in stone ridge, new york, outside new paltz.

the place was a big old 2 story building that had recently been a family's home, but paul and nicci--I can't remember their last names--bought it and reworked it and made it a place for plays and concerts and potlucks and meetings and gardens and art exhibits and anything else they could crop in. paul was an aging hippie, all wrinkles and white hair and bifocals. nicci was younger and heavier, an earth mama who played up the role and financed the place through selling her designed clothes.

the place was all exposed wood and lath and stone, mismatched tables and chairs and big rooms that smelled like sawdust and polish and thousands of candles, candles on every table and in every nook and window. the 2nd floor were paul and nicci's place and the 1st was public space. they provided a place for us to put together a small free newspaper, our ridge, that I edited and wrote a community AIDS column for.

they provided a center for a tribe that gathered for meals and music and sometimes just for the hell of it. it was close enough to woodstock to provide for members to live there and hang out and smack dab in the middle of the distance between there and new paltz, sort of 2 points of a triangle of which new york could be the 3rd. it was the place where we didn't live but we were most alive.

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