River Muse
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It’s hard, no matter how we try, to feel the loss of half a million fellow Americans. We know it, we can see it represented on the front page of The New York Times in clusters of dots, we can … more
  Staying healthy during the pandemic has mostly meant staying at home. In the spring and summer months, this was easy and fun. We took to gardening, building beds for vegetables and herbs. … more
On Christmas night, the river crested. Distracted by the holiday mood, we didn’t spend the day or our energies fretting about flood. But when all was quiet, the dark river rushed closer to its … more
Thanksgiving was always my favorite holiday. Even after my 8-year-old daughter apprised me of its false narrative, it managed to hold its first-place position. All that it required was the presence … more
Between the action and the reaction falls the shadow. That’s a paraphrase of the T.S. Eliot poem, “The Hollow Men,” which is worth reading anytime but maybe especially during these … more
What have you done for yourself during the pandemic? Learned to knit or fly-fish? Perfected a dish from Larousse Gastronomique? Perhaps, as a friend did, you successfully re-tooled your business to … more
Routine is a gift of this lockdown. Without the desirable distractions of art shows, theater and film and parties, we have made a routine of gardening by day, a quick dip in the pool in the … more
Our two small businesses are in free-fall due to the pandemic. We are watching it happen, taking a loss to sustain them but reluctant to close up shop and call it a day. In the city, our small jazz … more
As if to ease our worldly burdens, nature has bestowed us with abundance this summer like no other. What a gift to be quarantined on our acre by the river, rather than in the ghostly streets of the … more
Haven’t we been here before? I’m thinking of 1968, also an election year, when a major crisis (Vietnam War then, COVID-19 pandemic now) and economic turmoil (rampant inflation then, … more
Sooner or later, it was bound to happen. After weeks of creative paralysis and compulsive baking brought on by existential fear, the need to move beyond confinement overtakes us and we expand our … more
I’m remembering the time 10 years ago when I had the flu and said to myself and anyone listening, “If I were 10 years older, I’d be dead now.” It was the last time I neglected … more
It took every ounce of forbearance on my part to maneuver the bureaucracy of international travel with our pets, but I did it. From buying a pet stroller to seeking the advice of a psychiatrist, I … more
My friend and colleague, Jonathan Fox, scooped me last week by writing about his diagnosis of SAD (seasonal affective disorder) and one of its treatment options, the Happy Lite. Having already touted … more
Everything I know about celebrating the holidays came from my gay stepfather. At Easter, he showed us how to blow eggs and marbleize them, while other kids used wax crayons and fizzy Easter egg dye. … more
Our small-business owners are the lifeblood of our community. At a time when monster malls are sitting empty and Amazon is gobbling the world’s retail economy, they are the ones we go to every … more
Our recent road trip across the United States was a travelogue of astonishing sights, but it was also a journey of discovery about family. As I get older, I seek to connect with family members who … more
“I’m thinking it will be romantic,” said my husband of 33 years. He was proposing a road trip across the country. After a stressful year of moving and resettling, starting a … more
It has come to this. Diving headlong into country living, I am planning to replace our garage doors. The current doors sprang into action the year the Woodstock Festival was conceived. I never really … more

My name is seen Siim Hanja. I've been coming up to Sullivan County for the last 40 years.

But even before then, I was up there in 1969, because I was going to school in Philadelphia. I was at a summer session there... and a friend of mine and I started hearing about this music festival that was going on up there. We didn't have tickets, but you know, the buzz had gotten so strong that we decided to go. Because he lived in Bucks County, he kind of knew the back roads to the festival, instead of going to New York and coming up 17. So we went over the back road through Pennsylvania—you know, we went by his place in Bucks County. And then we crossed the bridge at Narrowsburg—what a beautiful sight that was. And we were to return to it later. But we kept driving. And we drove all the way- we got within, I don't know, half a mile or so of the of the concert—right off of 17B, where that little two-story cedar-shingled shack is at 17B and whatever that road is that heads down towards Narrowsburg. That house has been there all that time. And my family takes pictures whenever we go by there.

So my friend Tom and I parked the car near there and walked to the festival. It was totally overwhelmed with people walking down the road. Forget about tickets. And we arrived there on a dark night. I guess it was Friday, maybe Saturday, it had to be Friday, I think we got there. And what a scene. I mean, you'll get better descriptions than mine of what that was like, but one of the most unique scenes that was there was this: It's all rainy. It's all mud. We're all up on that top of that bowl that looks down to where the stage was [laughter]. What was there were two guys in the rain and in the mud, playing imaginary tennis with each other. There was no net other than the one they imagined. And the whole crowd that stood back from them and gave them the room of roughly what looked to me like the size of a tennis court. And... they're playing back and forth, obviously stoned out of their minds or something, and they would go running for the ball, dive into the mud, people would cheer, there would be the shots going back and forth; the crowds’ heads sort of swinging back and forth watching the ball—the one that wasn't the ball, just imaginary. That was a standout moment. I'd love to hear if anybody else had witnessed that as well.

Stage was great. I worked my way down there, was able to be down there just a few feet away from the front of the stage when Janis Joplin was singing. And some of the women just went crazy when they saw Janis performing there; throwing off their tops, they're trying to climb up on the stage. Whenever somebody did get high enough—stage wasn't much more than about five, six feet high—a security guy would run out, pull them up on the stage and run them off the stage.

What else what else? All that rain, all that mud the next day, and just the whole hillside covered with people. And just a wonderful, just massive- just this spontaneous thing. All that great music. You know, Jefferson Airplane, Richie Havens singing—all of that. But with everybody there and this just working out so, so darn well, all together.

Next day, we decided—did we sleep in the car? I don't remember. But the next day because we were all just all covered with mud and everything, we drive down to Narrowsburg right by the bridge and there was a rope underneath the bridge. There were, not that many, but there was enough people there enjoying that wonderful spot on the river where they could swing out on the rope and then go flying out into the nice cool, deep, clean water. Sun ourselves on the rocks, be in that wonderful little town, where you guys are [referring to The River Reporter].

Hanja added, after the recording ended, that he and his wife later found an old bungalow colony in the area in 1979, which he and his friends [including TRR’s columnist Cass Collins] in Tribeca and Soho bought into as a co-op and still enjoy to this day.

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Currently viewing stories posted within the past 2 years.
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