I’m in Bearsville.
I love Bearsville.
Bearsville is the even artsier town, nestled in the little valley in the Catskills Mountains of New York, where Woodstock lives.
It is also where my heart lives. Where I became Coyote. Where I was a magic boy in the hills. I’m sitting at a tiny plaza on a river in between a group of restaurants called “The Bear”, “The Little Bear”, and “The Saloon”. The compound also houses The Woodstock Barn, and WDST-Woodstock Radio, in a separate building, once used by Todd Rundgren as his video studio.
All of this is about a mile from Bearsville Studios (some of my favorite music in the last 50 years recorded there), and about two miles from The Byrdcliffe Colony. The Byrdcliffe Colony was once an utopian colony where they made furniture and searched for American style Christian nirvana. Now it’s an arts colony that houses theater and writers and musicians. I saw The Fugs play in yet another awesome old structure on Byrdcliffe land (my fate as a granola eating, tree hugger was sealed that night). I have stayed there with my old theater company, and made art, and observed raccoons successfully busting into the theater at night. Further up that road is sophisticated rock God, Donald Fagan’s house, previously owned by Bob Dylan. This is on Mount Guardian. Up the mountain, on State land, but not far from Mr. Fagan and his neighbors on a little flat, level area in the woods in between but just far enough away from hiking trails…is the spot where I lived in a tent, not once, but twice, for entire summers, while I worked at “The Bear” and in the restaurant across the stone plaza that is now called The Saloon, where I sit now…having a nice glass of local whiskey, and some kale salad, and fries, served by adorable young waitresses, serenaded by crickets and post-millennial hippies with guitars.
Here, working in the kitchen, in the 90’s, and sleeping at night on the mountain (getting coded, numeric love messages from my wife in my tent, on a beeper), I once cooked tuna and tofu for the singer, Jewel, and her band as they workshopped new music. About 20 years later I read a book by Lenedra Caroll, Jewel’s mom, that blew my mind, and is still doing so.
Ari, my friend and my band’s official arranger, is a maniacal fan of both Donald Fagan and Todd Rundgren. Cari Cole, my indie music entrepreneur mentor, who recommended Lenedra Caroll’s book to me, is also Donald Fagan’s vocal coach. She is also how I met Ari, who took the same course with her as I did.
On Mt. Guardian, I was howled at by a coyote, who sat 5 feet away from me, on a full moon night, my last night that I worked at this restaurant that I’m sitting at. I had a fire going, it was too big, I was too loud (high on 50 year old Anejo from my last night party thrown by my bosses at the restaurant) cracking logs on trees to break them. The coyote easily creeped up on my blind side, sat next to my bonfire, and howled what in human language amounts to “shut up asshole”. I can be an asshole, and often need to be told to shut up.
A few years later, my friend, playwright Kirk Bromley, later asked me to play the role of Coyote in his millennial play, Midnight Brainwash Revival. Kirk can be an asshole. I once told him to shut up.
It was in Kirk’s theater company, Inverse, that I met Rachel Grundy. She’s never an asshole, but sometimes tells me to shut up. We were friends long before I found out she played sax and could sing on key. I was starting to play my own tunes when I found this out about her. We’ve been friends and band mates ever since. Before that I was in a band with Christine Mascott. She was in Kirk’s first play at Todo Con Nada. We later did a rock opera about a guy on acid. This newsletter sounds like I’m on acid.
I stopped here tonight almost by chance. I came up here to go to court in Shandaken, to refute a speeding ticket I got while driving home with Coyote Love, from a show in the area. So I had to drive back upstate to plead my case. Thankfully, my 71mph in a 55mph zone was reduced to a $75 parking ticket. The road through Bearsville holds great memories for me to drive down and I felt compelled to come see what they made of these restaurants and to grab a bite. I thought about all of these connections as I sat here. And there you go. This is why I believe in a spirit-that-moves-through-all-things. This is why I am coyote. This is why God spelled backwards is dog. HOWOOO