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Woodstock Is Dead

Long live Rosendale.

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Woodstock is still shorthand for “pot-smoking bohemian activist,” but the Catskills hamlet has become, frankly, a tourist destination. A short drive away, though, is the charmingly grungy town of Rosendale, which has evolved—thanks to a low cost of living, a walkable downtown and a critical mass of wellness-related businesses (three spiritual retreat centers in a town of 6,000)—into a proletariat’s paradise. There’s woodsy beauty, macrobiotic food, the requisite grassroots activists (Save the Lakes, fighting the development of an exclusive resort), and clannish bumper stickers proclaiming “People’s Republic of Rosendale.” There’s a Women’s Studio Workshop, and the new Rosendale Arts Squad just started a weekend crafts market in the old church. The Sustainable Living Resource Center has classes on harnessing solar energy and beekeeping. Like-minded New York transplants are buying old Victorians and farmhouses, many in the $250,000 range. Everybody’s composting, growing vegetables, raising chickens, drying clothes on the line, and showing up for indie-rock karaoke at the Market Market Café (big hit: Pavement’s “Range Life”). The local polyamorists are skinny-dipping at a hidden swimming hole, and there’s an annual all-day music festival, Rosendale Rocks the River (pictured), hosted by Ron Parenti at his property along the Rondout Creek, where the wildly dancing crowd sings along gustily when local punkabilly band Pitchfork Militia take the stage.


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