Our Man In
Our Man In
a column by
Douglas Hoyt, fugitive from a Vermont kale gang, must stay steadily on the move, but is driven to compulsively post about his whereabouts: sometimes out of ardor; sometimes out of perplexity; sometimes because - - gee willikers - - get a load of THAT; sometimes just for the love of great pizza; sometimes in a wistful longing for loves lost, loves gained, and for potential loves spotted in the windows of passing cars while slinging manure on the Molly Stark Scenic Byway. Oh yes, and other times just to taunt the deppities, and the deppities’ dawgs.
I have to say: it’s not my favorite place. But for January, the weather is BOSS. Sun, sun, sun.
Last year in January was Seville. Now THAT was fab. Temps in the 60’s during the day, and skirting about freezing at night. Tapas to die for. Total charm. Marrakech is kind of ‘exotic’, but once you scratch the surface, it’s really kind of dirty and monotonous, and lots of side hustles and ripoffs (not that there’s anything wrong with that). The Moroccan people are very gracious, and everybody speaks French, which is great, because just a few words of high school French make you feel like a native, kind of. Ultra kind of.
Today, sunup was scheduled for 8:45 a.m., but it took till 9:15 for the sun to peek out over the ridge, behind “Johnny Bicken’s field” (Johnny Bicken being long gone):
Walking up back into Pineridge from there, the sun hit the weaving studio, where they made ‘Sunrise Panels’ on the loom. Then through the secluded ‘nature garden’ in Pineridge:
Original ‘Sunrise Panel’ in the sanctuary
Interminable wait till the Phoenix Café in the Universal Hall opened for espresso macchiato:
This is the first return to Vermont since my escape from the kale gang. The plan is to retrieve shadily-gained but desperately-needed funds from a hollowed-out tree trunk in the Madame Sherri Forest near Brattleboro (with a tip of the hat to Madame Sherri!). All place names en route have been ingeniously altered so as to foil the machinations of the constabulary, and the constabular canines.
The approach to Vermont got serious in a small town that we shall cleverly moniker 'switch-Ip', where there is a clam-box-shaped clam-box-sales-outlet known as the Clam Box. Although the box was rather small, now we know how many clams it takes to fill the box up tall.
Next was a refreshing repast in a town named something uncannily similar to Newbellypup, Chassamusetts (on the mackMerri River) for a New England IPA. This style of beer is all the rage, and is named after a newer part of England, as well as India. The bridge north from Newbellypup leads one state closer to Vermont - - a state called Gnu Clotheshamper. There, there is a town we shall be referring to as Salisburysteak, where you can buy this diner (pictured top right), if you like. Across the street from your new diner in Salisburysteak, is, however, direct competition: the Gourmet Pantry, where they have gourmet bait, and they have gourmet tackle. And ice and pizza.
Heading north up the coast from Salisburysteak you can't help but not miss ‘Frampton Beach’ (no relation to the 70's rock icon) even if you try. There I had one of their famed local crustaceans, before blowing most of my precious remaining cash on a coin pusher machine at the Playland.
Heading north from Saint Frampton Peach, stopped over by Jenness State Beach at Ray’s for a bowl of their world-famous “jenness say qua”.
Last thing before entering Vermont was consulting with my lawyer, Schwarz, over pizza and ice cream, up in Pottymouth Puttsmuth, Gnu Clotheshamper.
[[[ Please note: all images and descriptions pertaining to those portions of this narrative occurring within the state of Vermont have been omitted pursuant to the determination of my legal representation. ]]]
There were enough credit cards in the hollowed-out tree trunk to get things going proper again. Enjoyed the lounges at JFK and Charles de Gaulle:
Then found a great place to finally lay low: Lido di Jesolo, frequented mostly by vacationing Austrians and Italians, just 35 minutes from the Venice airport, with 8 miles of beach, and quality 8-Euro pizza & pasta. La Dolce Vita [senza Vermonta, devo osservare]. It’s just a good thing that the coin pusher machine at sala giochi 'La Serinetta' does not accept credit cards.
Ich bin weit gegangen
aber ich blieb doch gefangen.
Show me the way to Amarillo.
I've been weeping like a willow.
Ich hab viele Sorgen
Dennoch freu ich mich auf Morgen...
Is this the way to Amarillo?
Every night I've been hugging my pillow.
Just beyond the highway
There's an open plane and it keeps me going
Through the wind and rain.
Ich träum nur noch von Amarillo.
My sweet Marie vergesse ich nie.
“Trudging slowly over wet sand ...
In the seaside town
That they forgot to bomb" ~Morrissey
"It's supposed to be a seaside resort — more like a seaside last resort if you ask me." ~ John Cleese
"Everyday is like Sunday
Everyday is silent and grey ...
This is the coastal town
That they forgot to close down
Armageddon, come Armageddon! Come!" ~Morrissey
"The Germans bombed Weston-super-Mare in 1940, an event which has baffled historians ever since as they have toiled with the question... Why?” "I despised Weston so much in fact that I once wrote a little poem about it: 'I do not care for Weston-super-Mare and so I'm glad that I'm not there.'” ~ John Cleese
“Just look at this freakin’ fish. Man. I can’t believe it. It is a cod, the size of your arm.” ~ Douglas Hoyt
Everything changed, though, in Belgium. For one thing, the food. At the train station they have meat on a stick for 3€ . In Belgium, it is a wooden stick. Changing trains in Hanover, though, the meat had come with the original stick, still stuck in the hock (4.80€).
What they also have in Belgium is beer. It is said, there are as many different styles of beer in Belgium, as there are brands of beer. I could not establish that definitively in Bruges in just one evening. But not for lack of trying.
Moving on, quickly, to Ghent, the allure became overwhelming, and many useful items and warmer clothing were jettisoned (may the deputy's dogs be ever confused), in favor of suds, which had won favor after cruisin' the brews in Bruges, such that many a cent was then spent in Ghent.
A neat fit in the wheelie it was, the three dozen darlings. And the orange peel & coriander in the Belgian Tripels would sure to be as sneezemaking to the otherwise canny canines as the plums in the geuze and the oak in the Quadrupel aged in peated malt whisky barrels, and the rhubarb in the farmhouse (ale).
Before slipping off undetected from Belgium, there was just enough time for a big meatball filled with mushroom (truffles/champignons).
Though pushing the cart through Whole Foods in Madison after a week in Puerto Vallarta, I feel like an alien life form, all glowing and cheery - - and everyone you see is truly ashen, and truly, I mean truly, grim. (And they don’t have “Midwestern Nice” in Madison anymore - - people don’t look at each other, and find it weird if strangers say anything to them - - that is a big change over the decades).
Yesterday the sun came out in Kilkenny.
And here in the Kilkenny countryside is where they grow the Guinness. The ripe cylindrical guinesses (guiniii?) are delivered directly to pubs from the field, where the sap is then tapped farm-fresh.