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We’re big fans of July over here at Roll. Personally, I’m a sucker for the Fourth of July, which is the day I get all America-d up (no flag shirt), enjoy beer (moderately) and fireworks (over the top preferred), and even (responsibly, mind you) maybe blow up some stuff myself!

You know, I happen to really love this country. Granted, I dislike the pointless and expensive warmongering, the sycophantic worship of the über-wealthy, the egotistical posturing of the American exceptionalist, the emphasis on the exploitation of energy resources over conservation, the shameless manipulation of pervasive national media by the corporatocracy. But other than that, it’s a pretty rockin’ joint.

And the reason why? I think it comes down to this: Americans actually can drop the whole left/right construct and work together constructively. See how communities across the country have had to pull together in the face of recent natural disasters (Joplin, Minot, Arizona/Texas fires), just to survive and rebuild? Not a lot of time for getting angry at talk radio’s “Anti-American” of the day when your house—and everything in it—is gone. When a good neighbor is helping out, you’re just not going be checking out their political affiliation, or wondering if they were “born here.” You just want a good neighbor. Americans are pretty great in crisis mode, in my opinion (and experience).

Thankfully, we have had no such disaster in the Hudson Valley recently, so we can all just celebrate on the Fourth together in grand style. And hopefully there will be further cause for celebration—the New York State Legislature is oh-so-close (as of this moment) to making same-sex marriage legal in New York. Personally, I happen to think that my (and your) gay and lesbian American friends should have the same rights that I do, and I’m sorry if you disagree. Fortunately, you do have the right to not marry someone of the same sex, so it really shouldn’t affect you in the slightest. That is, unless it just pisses you off that somewhere there’s a happily married gay or lesbian American. Then…well, I’m not a bit sorry. (Last minute update: the bill passed! This state rocks.)

There’s a lot to celebrate in the Hudson Valley this month, and with our peerless listings and highlights we’ve got the comprehensive manual on how to enjoy one’s self around these parts. We wanted to give special coverage to our resident artists, starting with 24 of our finest on display this month at the SUNY New Paltz Samuel Dorsky Museum—one of the region’s curatorial gems—meditating on the concept of “beauty,” with surprising and provocative results.

We’ve got Woodstock treasures Happy and Jane Traum, whose Homespun organization brings the world’s finest musicians to the eager student via video, tape, CD, and DVD—a truly stellar educational resource. I should apologize in advance for not getting more into Happy’s amazing musical career, rising through the NYC 60s folk scene with brother Artie, interacting with the likes of Bob Dylan, Pete Seeger, and Allen Ginsburg, on up to his recent recordings and performances, notably his annual Winter Solstice concert in Woodstock. Perhaps in another issue…

And is there great theatre this July? Why, yes there is: operettas, cinema, and Ibsen’s The Wild Duck—plus the cabaret Spiegeltent—make Bard College’s Summerscape a major destination, and Vassar’s Powerhouse Theater is a veritable cauldron of thespianism, with readings and performances of new works done by professionals and students together. Fans of the 80s/90s TV favorite “thirtysomething” won’t want to miss the Mainstage production of F2M, written by Patricia Wettig and featuring her husband Ken Olin, both of whom were award-winning cast members of that popular series.

All this…and the Rosendale Street Festival, the region’s only truly free music festival. I’ll probably see you there if you’re inclined to go, with four bands in a row on that Sunday! You see, I have much to celebrate this month, starting with the 25th anniversary of my marriage to Jamaine Bell: the best and smartest thing I’ve ever done! And once again, it’s a Roll anniversary with this issue, we’re starting our fifth (!) year in print. Can’t decide if the time has flown by, or if it seems like a decade ago we started, but we’re still here! All thanks to you…

Ross Rice, Editor

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