Tuesday, September 02, 2008

Hot Weather In Cold Spring

Yesterday was Labor Day, the day set aside to lament the passing of the summer season and gird our loins to be kicked by working life for the rest of the year. This Labor Day, I decided to take an inexpensive ($7.75 each way on Metro North) trip to Cold Spring, New York, an hour’s train ride north of New York City to meet spend time with some family.

I met my mother, her husband and a friend of theirs at Foundry Dock Park, which sits across a parking lot from the Cold Spring Metro North train station. After lunch at a restaurant near the Hudson River, we began walking the West Point Foundry Preserve. This consisted of mostly un-preserved remains of buildings that once housed foundry works that were essential to the Union winning the Civil War. A historic marker informed us that President Abraham Lincoln visited the works during the War Between The States and witnessed a demonstration of one of the cannons that was made there. There are still reported to be unexploded munitions on the other side of the Hudson River.

Most of what was the foundry is now brick rubble that has been overgrown by woods. One building, an office building built in 1865, still remains mostly intact, though it is fenced off. The fa├žade of another building sits nearby. Piles of bricks, low-lying brick and rock walls made for cumbersome hiking. Despite the difficult terrain and decrepit state of the remains, it was good to see evidence of things from the past. Visiting the surviving relics of things that happened long ago will give you both a greater appreciation for history and the fleeting nature of life. People working at the foundry during the Civil War probably never envisioned well-fed local tourists would be stumbling through rubble in the woods on the very spot where they worked smelting iron for the war effort.

After seeing the historic site and taking in some excellent views of the Hudson River, I walked on Main Street to see the shops and what else the town might have to offer. The first shop that caught my attention was a shoe store. Outside, all the men’s footwear on display were various forms of sandals. I walked inside to see if they had any footwear that a real man would wear. I did see some nice hiking boots, but at $190 they were priced for the rich and retarded shopper. Continuing up the street, there were many antique shops, each with its own character. The best one I saw had old 45 records stacked inside and inexpensive furniture in display outside. In the back corner, a female mannequin leaned against the wall in a vintage army uniform and a disheveled young man in long hair and large glasses discussed comic books and collectibles.

I patronized the Cold Spring Bake Shoppe and got some ice cream. I should normally stay away from such sweets, but I thought it was OK to indulge on the last day of the summer season. Some motorcycle convention or ride must have been happening, because people on motorcycles roared up Main Street at regular intervals. One man rode a colorful motorized tricycle and sported a long grey beard. Both real motorcycles and rice burners were represented.

But my brief stay in Cold Spring left me with the impression that it is a nice town that is being ruined by people with too much money moving in. While my mother went to buy a milkshake for my stepfather, a snide man with family in tow parked his white escalade in a ‘No Parking’ zone and sauntered away like it was no big deal. I got the impression from most of the people there that they had no interest in being a part of the good working-class American life that Cold Spring was built upon; they were just there to go shopping. While the people behind the counters in the places I visited were friendly, most of the patrons were out of towners (like me) who had too much money for their own good (not like me).

While I enjoy rustic environments and escaping the city for a while, Cold Spring is being transformed into a faux rustic town. It may be a Perrier Paradise for well-off city folk, but they are removing more charms then they are preserving.

When it was time for me to go, I headed back to the train station with other city people. I saw a man who looked like independent film director Jim Jarmusch waiting on the platform also. I’m a fan of his films, but I did not approach or attempt to photograph him for confirmation. If it was not him, then all I would achieve would be to photograph some guy who looks like Jim Jarmusch and embarrass myself as an incompetent celebrity stalker. If it was him, then I would be responsible for letting the world would know that Jarmusch is a pussy who goes antiquing in Cold Spring, and I love the cinema too much to do that. So it shall remain a mystery.


hoodawg said...

What is your general thought on approaching people you recognize? I've never really thought it useful - particularly if all you've got to offer is "hey, I know who you are." Since the individual in question knows who he/she is, anyway, that's not a very compelling conversation. My thought is, if you want to talk gardening with a baseball player you know who enjoys a good azalea, or to ask a local TV personality what she thinks of the new restaurant in Buckhead, that is a useful line of inquiry. It respects the person's humanity while allowing you to get to know a local hero/heroine in a way you otherwise wouldn't. Your thoughts, IP?

Matthew Sheahan said...

I normally don't approach people I recognize as celebrities. I once saw three celebrities within a half hour in the lobby of the Plaza Hotel - Jerry Springer, Thurston Moore of Sonic Youth, and Al Sharpton. I didn't say anything to any one of them. Al Sharpton had a huge bodyguard with him. If it's someone who I am a fan of, maybe I would approach them. I came across the Beastie Boys doing a photo shoot one day and I really wanted to ask for their autograph, but I didn't get the chance before I had to go back to work.

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