Cave Inn Coffeehouse in New Paltz

Main Street

mulled ciderSomething triggered a recollection of my days at New Paltz. During the 1975-76 school year, after I broke up with the Okie, then dropped out of college for a semester, I lived in a coffeehouse.

It was called the Cave Inn, something I didn’t remember the name until helped by a New Paltz alumni group. What I DO remember is the address, 143 Main Street, right next to the bus station. It was run by the Student Christian Center, under the leadership of Paul Wiley. But the music played every weekend wasn’t generally overtly Christian.

The residents’ jobs were to rent to set up, serve cider during the event, and clean up afterward. It was not a heavy lift, and I felt that the rent was quite reasonable. This setup went on for a number of years before and after my time there.

That year, I lived with two guys, both named Mike, one blondish and the other brunet. For some reason, they actively hated each other. They yelled a lot, and at least once, chairs were thrown. I tried to be the peacemaker, usually without much success.

The dark-haired Mike sang Alice Restaurant at least once at the coffeehouse. I have a specific recollection of people singing Take It To The Limit by the Eagles, and me being singing the high harmony, usually beyond my reach.

Culture break

The one problem is that Paul wouldn’t let us stay during the winter break, though I could leave my stuff there. I had no other place to live. My parents had moved to Charlotte, NC in 1974. So I stayed in Queens, NYC with my mother’s aunt Charlotte Yates for three weeks.

I went to a few cultural things with Charlotte, but far more with her sister Ida Berman. She was an accomplished photographer. It was probably the first time I had gone to at least a half dozen museums and art galleries.

Meeting Paul

When I first attended New Paltz in 1971, I was having serious doubts about the efficacy of Christianity. Yet I would occasionally hang out at the Christian Student Center on Plattekill Avenue, where Paul worked and I think lived. I wasn’t going to church, but I guess I wanted to be Christian-adjacent.

In the fall of 1974, when the Okie and I were breaking up, it became clear to me that there was no way I could finish my five courses. I just didn’t have it in me. But it was after the midterm point. One could not drop courses unless one had been seeing a professional: a doctor, or psychologist, or the like.

Or a pastor. I don’t know that I had been talking to Paul specifically about my immediate difficulties; I just don’t know. But he signed off on the form, and on December 4, I was able to withdraw from two classes. I received an A and two B’s and 2 W’s, I think, though I could look it up.

And ever since, every December 4, I remember that, sometimes, you just have to give up. Quit. Resign. It was a useful life lesson.


After I moved out of 143 Main Street, I moved into 145 Main Street, the large house in front of the Cave Inn. I’m told it was the Agonian Sorority House until it was sold. It’s now the New Paltz Hostel, according to Trulia. I met a friend there I’m still in touch with.


Non est scriptor coegi licentia

no car memory

no drivers licenseWhen I posted on Facebook a link to this post about trying to get from Binghamton to Albany, it generated a fair amount of conversation.

One buddy of mine asked: “Not that it’s any of my business, but curiosity is killing me: Why not drive?” I replied, “Because I have no license.” Or according to a translator: “Non est scriptor coegi licentia.”

This is true, as far as it goes. But more accurate, I suppose, is that I’ve NEVER had a driver’s license. Not ever. And while it’s just the way I am, it’d be disingenuous to think it wasn’t peculiar to most Americans. So I suppose it’s time to take a deep dive into that fact.

So I started free-associating and came up with over 1800 words. This means I’ll have to break this up into three chunks.

I don’t “get” cars

My parents both drove. My sisters both drive. It was never that important to me, except for a couple of brief times, which I’ll share with you eventually.

I have no car memory. That is, I didn’t care about cars growing up. I don’t know what model of cars my parents owned except one, I think, was a “woody,” with a faux wood exterior.

And I didn’t keep track of what kind of models each car maker made. I mean Chevrolet had the Chevette and some other “ch” lines. Ford had the Fairlane and the Mustang. But that’s about it. To this day, when I see a car model category on JEOPARDY, I respond exceedingly poorly.

Moreover, I never daydreamed about driving a car. I got around pretty well on foot, going to school and church, even walking three miles each way on Sunday afternoons to go to a second church. I had my bicycle, and occasionally, rode the bus.

In fact, my recurring nightmare was being in the back seat of a car, and the vehicle crashes through the side of the bridge, sinking rapidly into the river. (It was probably the Court Street Bridge into the Chenango River in Binghamton.)

The ex-husband of a friend of mine would ask me, “How do you not drive?” And since I never did, I had no good answer.

Ridin’ thumb

Even before I went to college, I started hitchhiking, from Binghamton to New Paltz, where my girlfriend at the time was attending. I took that stretch of road several times.

Speaking of which, the most serious car accident I was ever in happened when I was getting out of a car after a ride. A woman who had some physical limitation was unable to apply the brakes and plowed into that car while I was halfway out. I swore I’d never be like the driver in a situation like that.

I spent two days in the hospital, a week resting at home, then, when my right shoulder gave out, four weeks of physical therapy.

At some point, I got what was the first of seven driver’s permits, the document one needs to try to learn to drive. I think my first lesson was in the Okie’s Volvo? Saab? In any case, it had a manual transmission, and she screamed at me because I was going to burn out her clutch. And that was the end of that.

Later, she had a red car with push-button automatic transmission. Once I tried to drive it around the parking lot of the Colonial Arms apartments in New Paltz. It was uneventful until I accidentally went in reverse, knocking over a Dumpster! Surprisingly, the car appeared OK.

During this period, my good friend Uthaclena once tried to teach me to drive. I must have been quite terrible since he STILL shudders when he talks about it. I thought I was doing fine.

More soonish.


The anniversary of my first hangover

Not overcast enough

hangoverThe first hangover I ever had was on June 9, 1976, 44 years ago. Why do I remember? It must be the numerical flow: 6/9/76.

I never drank any alcohol before I was legal, which was 18. Then and now, I thought it was appropriate. Best I can remember, I had my first drink in a bar called Amps on Clinton Street in Binghamton, NY. In my recollection, my sister Leslie’s band Crystal Ship was performing. This took place a few months after my 19th birthday. It was a Tom Collins. Tasty, so I believed.

I went to college that fall, and I had the occasional drink. It was usually a simple concoction, rum and Coke, rye and ginger ale. I’d have a screwdriver, though when I started boycotting orange juice c 1977 because of Anita Byrant, I switched to a greyhound.

My choice of wine was white, or later, rose, because the tannins in red wine gave me a raging headache after one glass. I never acquired a taste for beer, which was a drag. Everyone else at the table in a bar was sharing a pitcher or two, but I’m drinking Something Else. It was also more expensive.

Mike Royko would have been proud

The Okie and I split in late 1974. Soon after I returned to college, I got involved with a student newsletter called the Wind Sun News. It was daily for a short time, then weekly, before it finally reached a thrice-weekly schedule in the spring of 1976. The newsletter came out Monday, Wednesday, and Friday morning, so we worked on it the nights before. Then my friend Bernadette and I would drink every MWF night like I heard real, hard-drinking journalists operated.

Without question, she could outdrink me. One evening I had four mixed drinks – tequila sunrise or maybe daiquiri or white Russian – and she had four double shots of vermouth. I never developed a taste for vermouth or Scotch.

On June 8, we were out drinking again, and I thought I had consumed more than enough. So I switched to ginger ale or maybe 7-Up, and I’m CONVINCED that was the culprit. And the next morning… Oh. My. Goodness.

It was overcast, yet it felt as though there were two suns up at once. For some reason, I had to go to both my savings bank and the place with my checking account. They were at either end of the village, not terribly far apart on most of the time, but the Bataan death march that day.

The worst part was that we had agreed to go horseback riding. There are very few things less pleasant when hung over. Anyway, I remember the only time I took horseback riding lessons, because of that painful convergence.

COVID fix, professors, writing fiction


Diamonds and RustDan, the albanyweblog man, decided to confound me:

A Pharma Corporation called Inovid is trying to speed up production of COVID-19 vaccine. They take virus DNA, convert it to RNA, pick out the right bits of the RNA according to a computer program, then inject it into bacteria, which makes lots of virus DNA that can be used to stimulate antibodies in the human, thus making an effective vaccine. What I want to know is how do they convert the virus DNA to RNA on cue? They talk about this like it’s NBD.

As I understand it – and I REALLY DON’T –

So what’s COVID-19’s story? Is a hint in what normally binds the receptor?

Perhaps sometime in the past, a virus formed, or came to include, human DNA or RNA instructions for making an integrin, which is a protein that binds to ACE2. Integrins glue our cells to surrounding connective tissue. The viral spike masquerades as the integrin, grabbing our cells.
In other words, a viral epidemic may arise as an accident, of sorts, of biochemistry and evolution.


One of the things I learned as a librarian is that sometimes I don’t understand what I’m passing along. It’s just beyond my comprehension. Check out this article, which may, or may not be useful.


Carla, an old colleague of my wife’s, wants to know:

Roger, Have you ever thought of writing fiction; or do you write fiction?

I’ve thought to do it. But a long piece seems too hard. You have to have a consistent universe. See, e.g., this post by Jaquandor. And I haven’t loved the short pieces I’ve written.

But if I live long enough, I’ll probably write a roman a clef. Or two.

Kevin, from my home county and the Wind Sun News, wants to know:

Who was your favorite Professor at New Paltz?

Of the ones I had class with, probably Glenn McNitt in the political science department. He was very smart but easy going. I remember listening to Stevie Wonder at his house more than once. I also recall specifically hearing Simple Twist of Fate by Joan Baez from her Diamonds and Rust album. She did a wicked Dylan impression and I cracked up.

Of the ones I did not have, probably Pam Tate, the head of Innovative Studies. I knew her in part because I was on the Financial Council and some of our budget went to her program. I was the Education chair so her program was in my jurisdiction.

April rambling: Unbreaking America

Why Did the U.S. Government Pay for a Painting of Strawberries? Two-thirds of the paintings, in total, are by women. This wasn’t because women of the era liked to paint fruit.

No Room!
“Looking Backward,” drawn by the brilliant Austrian-born Joseph Ferdinand Keppler (February 1, 1838 – February 19, 1894) for Puck magazine, January 11, 1893

First image of a black hole revealed.

Slave Owners’ Names Are on Dorms at a SUNY School. That’s Changing. New Paltz is my undergraduate alma mater.

Why There’s So Little Left of the Early Internet.

Anderson Cooper speaks the “language of loss”.

Amy Biancolli: talking to the darkness.

“I Had Nothing”: How Parole Perpetuates a Cycle of Incarceration and Instability.

You Are Probably a Victim of the Largest Theft of All Time.

TEDx: we all should be feminists – Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie.

Weekly Sift: Mueller by Gaslight.

Last Week Tonight with John Oliver: the sinister sides of World Wrestling Entertainment and the Mobile Home Industry.

Behind Bars, Co-Pays Are a Barrier to Basic Health Care.

The Death of an Adjunct Professor.

An aging population and a declining birthrate among the native-born population mean a shrinking workforce in many areas.

The Stephen Miller Presidency.

What an Empire Built on Nazi Collaboration Says About Our Economy.

Political Notebook: Politics last week and this week.

FTC Data Spotlight Shows Steep Rise in Complaints about Social Security Scams.

Unbreaking America: A NEW Short Film about Solving the Corruption Crisis.

New Zealand Parliament bans assault weapons.

“Men do not learn much from the lessons of history and that is the most important of all the lessons of history. “
– Aldous Huxley

The Persistence of Attachment.

What can an ice mummy teach us about heart disease?

Watch The World Turn.

The reason we bake at 350F.

5 Things to Do When You Have Too Many Ideas and Never Finish Anything.

Bless Your Heart doesn’t mean what you probably think it means.

Inside Bob Fosse and Gwen Verdon’s Unconventional Marriage and ten minutes with Fosse.

Remembering William Goldman.

Re: Dwayne Wade: Now this is a proper sendoff

Minor League Baseball announces pace-of-play rules for 2019 and this is what Major League Baseball fandom looks like across the country.

Now I Know video: This Guy Tastes Ice Cream For a Living.

Now I Know: Who is Dr. Fill and why are these people afraid of him? and This idea to augment the postal service was a catastrophe and Why You Shouldn’t Carpool with Winnie the Pooh and especially Why Did the U.S. Government Pay for a Painting of Strawberries?


Religion – PJ Morton feat. Lecrae.

Faith – Business Casual.

Dead Boys -Sam Fender.

Live from New York, it’s Aubrey Logan.

Heaven Is a Place on Earth – KT Tunstall.

Video Killed The Radio Star – Walk off the Earth feat. Sarah Silverman

My Heart Will Go On – Big Daddy

Les chansons des roses – Morten Lauridsen.

You Get What You Give – Scary Pockets.

Africa – Robyn Adele Anderson.

Pencil Neck Geek – Don Blassie.

Coverville: 1257: A Cover Chain with Birthday Covers for Stan Ridgway, Katrina Leskanich, Norah Jones, Mandy Moore, and Brian Setzer

FUV ESSENTIALS: Richard Thompson.