We’re All Invited!



I just found it!  The invitation came through on Facebook.  Tom Pacheco’s annual Memorial Day Concert is Saturday, May 23rd at the Colony Cafe on Rock City Road.

Bruce Milner and Brian Hollander will be joining him.

Tom is a very special person in Woodstock.  Legendary even in a town filled with very special people, he’s a friend to us all…especially the hungry.

He was a friend to the Good Neighbor Food Pantry when he gave us a concert of our very own!  We didn’t even ask him.  We just wanted him to sing a song at our pantry music festival.

We stalked him for 5 whole days, Harriet Kazansky and I, in the weeks before the festival.  We went over to Maria’s at different times during the day because we knew he hung out there when in town.  And, every time we went we heard pretty much the same thing:  “He didn’t come in yet today.  Try back around 5:00.”

Or, we’d hear:  “You just missed him.  He left a little while ago”.

Maria always greeted us with the most comforting smile.  I felt like some teenager chasing a movie star.  Tom Pacheco is a world class musician  and we were really hoping against hope.

When we finally tracked him down one afternoon about 4:00, he was wonderful.  He turned us down on the music festival but he offered us one better.  “I’ll give you a concert.  Here’s my phone number.  Call me in the fall and we’ll schedule something in February.  I want to give this concert for you.  I’m writing a song about hunger.”

I shyly thanked him, got back in Harriet’s car and we drove away.  Our hearts were singing!

And, give a concert he did!  He gathered some of his friends:  Brian Hollander, the Cupcakes, (Lyn Hardy, Elly Wininger, and Janice Hardgrove), Dave Kearney, Dan Wininger, and Norm Wennert.

Lucy Swensen designed the posters advertising the evening and we put them up all over town.

On a cold Friday evening in February  we all gathered at the Community Center at 7:00 p.m.  This was, of course, a really early time for Tom and the musicians but pantry people have their own time clock and this was the hour they chose.

Volunteers made cookies.  Someone brought a coffee pot.  Somebody else brought a tea pot.  Coffee was made.  Tea was brewed.  The energy built.

People arrived.  The event charge was all by donation.  Some people dropped coins in the jar.  Others brought bags of food for the pantry.  Yet others wrote generous checks.

The event managed itself.  It was an evening right out of an old “Union Hall” event.  Different performers got up, played their music, and then turned the mike over to the next person on the list.

Someone suggested that I get up and be the M.C.  I didn’t dare.  I knew if I did, I would begin to talk about hunger and ruin everyone’s fun time.  Tom Pacheco knew exactly what to do.  And, it was a perfect evening.  Tom is the consummate professional.

When Tom played his song about hunger, I cried.

Tom asked his friends to join him on the stage that night.  At one point,  he had the local newspaperman, Brian Hollander, play with him.  Tom would be playing and singing along and then tap his foot loudly and say “Hit it Brian!”

And Brian would play his heart out.

Every person in that room had a wonderful evening.  Tom did that for the pantry. We are eternally grateful for his generosity, his talent, his love of fellow man.

I looking forward  to seeing you at the Colony Cafe on Saturday, May 23rd!

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Good luck to us all.

Thurman Greco

Did you read Shiv’s message on Facebook?

Shiv’s message came through on Facebook the other day.

“I finally decided to take the step and become a Tibetan monk after taking instruction with HH Yangsi Rinpoche, shaved my 30 years of dreadlocks and beard and now I’m getting my robes today.”

April 1, 2015

1:54 am.


Although I didn’t know him personally, he was a popular  face at Monday night poetry readings at the Colony Cafe.  I noticed him each time he attended a poetry reading, with his massive mound of dreadlocks wound around the top of his scalp.  He also had an open smile and everyone  seemed to like him.  And, of course, silly me, what did I know?  Here he was, living and breathing…the most famous of the famous.

One of the first things that impressed me about Woodstock was the prevalence of artists, writers, poets, musicians, singers, actors.  They move about town as if no one knows who they are.  And, indeed, many are not known to people on the street.

It’s been that way for years.  Byrdcliffe has attracted people in the arts since  the early 20th century years.  Artists live at Byrdcliffe both permanently in their private homes and temporarily through the artist-in-residence program.

And, then, the famous Woodstock Music Festival  brought another group which also never left.  They are seen about town today.  Some of them are now local businessmen.  The story goes that the original owner of Taco Juan was at the festival, for example.  Ditto for Not Fade Away.  The new Shindig is owned by a “festival family”.

But, back to Shiv,  the most talented in a lineup of many.

Both famous, semi-famous, and unknown talented people in the arts used the food pantry regularly after the downfall of the economy in ’07.  Because Woodstock attracted artists, musicians, and writers, many of them had second homes in Woodstock.  Some of these creative and talented people saw their incomes totally dry up.

I heard similar stories.   They essentially went like this:  the person would have a home in the Woodstock area in addition to a place in New York City or Paris or Dubai, Katmandu, Delhi, or Miami or someplace…anyplace else.  As the income dwindled, the person looked around, assessed his/her situation and tried to unload the most expensive place which was usually in the someplace else location.

Some sublet.  Others sold.  Still others underwent foreclosusre.

They came to Woodstock to live in the cheaper home, only to find   zero opportunity to earn $$$ away from  the city environment.  So, here they were…down and out in Woodstock and Bearsville.  Some even experienced foreclosure of the Upstate New York home.

The pantry line filled weekly with intelligent, well educated, talented people who were stranded because their support system was just not what it should have been.  They, for the most part, made the best of it.  What else could they do?  Artists, musicians, writers, actors…talented…all.

Eventually, some established new lifelines.  A few ended up homeless.

Battling the restrictions of the building committee, while trying to serve everyone who needed food was challenging for the volunteers.  Often the wait was over an hour for a 3-day supply of food  during the darkest days of the depression.

Somehow, I felt these talented people deserved better than a begrudging attitude offered to them in the cold basement of the Woodstock Reformed Church.  As volunteers, we did the best we could to make them feel welcome, safe, accepted but it was hard.

Shiv Mirabito was  the center of the group in the food pantry line each week.  He  offered strength with his positive attitude and smile.  I credit this with the essence which makes makes Shiv Mirabito the person he is.  He has spent his entire adult life studying Tantric Buddhist philosophy and lives what he studies.  Each moment is a religious experience for him.

Now, time has passed.  Possibly life has improved in the bowels of the church on pantry day.  Hopefully fewer of these talented people need food from the pantry.  I’m not sure because I moved  to Reservoir Food Pantry where the atmosphere is totally different.

We’ve all changed.  Especially Shiv who will be totally unrecognizable for awhile on the streets of Woodstock.  I’m hoping to see him soon in his new robes.  Without his dreads, the robes will be the only way I’ll be able to recognize him.

Shiv has a publishing house in India for his fellow writers/artists.  He prints their work on handmade papers.  Shiv has been doing this for years.  Shivastan Publishing uses traditional printing methods to craft print chapbooks and broadsides on handmade paper.  Each of these books is a work of art unto itself in addition to the poetry printed on the page.  There are typos to be found.   After all, the people doing the printing don’t read or write English.

And what has happened to the other equally talented artists, writers, musicians who were stuck for awhile in Woodstock?  Hopefully times have changed for them too.  I occasionally see 1 or 2 of them in Kingston.

It was gut wrenching to see the effect of the foreclosures on them in Woodstock.  And, it was difficult for them to leave Woodstock.  For some, foreclosure affected their emotional health.

A few, I know, returned to the primary city where life is easier for them now.  They are happy for the return move.

RUPCO is opening a new housing unit for those in the arts.  It’s located in the newly refurbished, historical Lace Mill in Kingston.  I’m hoping some will be lucky enough to get an apartment there.

Opening soon, 1, 2, and 3-bedroom lofts will be available with mezzanines and high ceilings.  Several gallery spaces,  designated shared and private work studios are planned.

A common artist utility room is being built on every level.

Outdoor sculpture areas are designed for public art.

I’m hoping some of those in the arts in Woodstock will be lucky enough to get an apartment there.  I’m hoping they’ll enjoy it.  It’s  gorgeous!


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Good luck to us all.

Thurman Greco

Discover a secret in some Woodstock Kitchens

different types of salt (pink, sea, black, and with spices)

Salt is extremely important in the Woodstock diet.  How can I say this?  Well, people talk about salt here in Woodstock. Jogger John once told me that he was very sick several years ago.  He recovered from his illness when Prasida prescribed Himalayan Sea Salt to deal with his symptoms.  Years later, he’s still seen around Woodstock daily, one of the wisest of all our colorful Woodstock character residents.  It’s a secret in some Woodstock Kitchens.

He’s still together, too.  Whenever I find myself  in a situation that I can’t decipher, I go up to Jogger John and ask him about my situation.  He always tells me what to do.  As a psychic, he’s the best in Woodstock.  Thank you for prescribing Himalayan Sea Salt, Prasida.  What would we do without Jogger John?

But, back to the salt.

It’s  been important in the human diet for thousands of years…maybe since the shrouded beginning of our time on this planet.  Early on, humans consumed sodium that was naturally present in the food they ate.

Then, about 6,000 years ago, give or take a few thousand years, man learned to refine salt.  This was huge in the overall scheme of things.  Two recent developments in recent civilization that compare will give you an idea of their importance:

The discovery of oil and the development of the computer.  Each of these events totally changed how we live.  Salt had that kind of impact on mankind.

It was no longer necessary to be nomads because salt enabled man to preserve foods.  Wars were fought over salt.  New cultures were discovered as trade routes were developed when men searched for salt.

But, back to the salt, the secret in some Woodstock kitchens.

If you go to the Sunflower Natural Foods Market, you’ll find 9 different brands:

Atlantic Sea Salt

Celtic Sea Salt

Essential Living Foods Himalayan Sea Salt

Field Day Sea Salt (both coarse and fine)

Hawaiian Black Salt

Himalayan Crystal Salt (Culinary)


Maldon Sea Salt Flakes

Real Salt (both fine and kosher).

If you go across the street to the CVS, you’ll find the CVS private label salt and packages of picnic shakers of salt and pepper.

At Woodstock Meats, you’ll find Black Brazilian Salt.

Cub Market features:

Baleine Sea Salt,

Himalania Coarse Pink Salt

Mediterranean Salt.

You can see through these few stores, all on one street in Woodstock, that many salts are available to a community of only 5000 or so residents.  When I talk to my fellow residents, they’re all wrapped up in Himalayan Sea Salt.

“Himalayan Sea Salt keeps me well.”

“Look at Jogger John.  It saved his life.”

“I would never use anything else.  Never.”

If someone uses Morton Salt in this town, they have to sneak over to Kingston or Saugerties to get it.  And, I’m willing to bet it’s hidden  out of sight on a cabinet shelf where no one will know.

And, a bit of trivia:   Morton Salt is a New York State business with a plant in Silver Springs, NY.  Silver Springs sits atop an ancient sea bed which is about 2000 feet underground.  Morton Salt has been mining salt in this town since the 1800’s.

Well, I see things a little differently.  I’m all wrapped up in using the least amount of salt possible because I know that it’s implicated in hypertension.  Preventing hypertension is important if we want to be healthy.

One important exception to this rule is in treating lyme disease.

I write about the problems with salt in both my Reflexology for the Spirit blog and in Hunger is Not a Disease.

So, I’m going to go against every bit of the thinking in Woodstock and say this:  try to use less salt.  Unless you are treating a specific illness such as lyme disease, use something else.

If you must use salt, use Real Salt.

I like Real Salt because it’s pure.  It has 60 minerals, all of which we need.  One of those minerals is potassium.  We (humans) have a long history with potassium.  We got enough when we were dependent on sodium as opposed to salt.  Now that we’ve developed a salt dependency, we’re coming up short on the potassium front.

I also like Real Salt because it’s American.  It’s mined from an ancient sea bed in central Utah.  In Redmond, to be exact.  it’s as good as any salt sold in Woodstock…and it’s American.  It’s also better than some of the other salts because it comes from an ancient sea bed.  Some very glitzy sea salts come from modern sea beds with all the modern day amenities:


environmental hazards.

Why pay the  freight for a product to come from Brazil, the Mediterranean, the Himalayas, etc., when we have something just as good,  or better, right here at home which can be a secret in our own Woodstock kitchens?

Good Luck to us all.


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Thurman Greco

A Little Known Woodstock Weight Loss Secret

vegetable soup

“Eat your veggies.”  Here I am now, sounding like one of my mothers-in-law.

However, as adults, someone has to talk straight.  Virtually every Woodstocker I ask about diet assures me that s/he eats only the perfect foods.  In reality, no one knows what  they eat until they start making entries in a diet journal.

Then, the awful truth comes out.

Or not.

It all depends on how truthful the entries are.

So far, the only person who’s managed to convince me that he’s eating properly is Richard Spool.

Start with veggies and fruits.  Especially start with veggies and fruits if you’re having any digestive problems or if you’re overweight.

And, who isn’t overweight these days?  It’s scary.  I walk around town here in Woodstock, in Albany, and in the city and I see obese people everywhere.

Woodstockers are, for the most part, not overweight.  That includes the pantry shoppers.  People walk a lot in Woodstock which keeps them slim and the pantry shoppers simply don’t have access to enough food to get fat on.  This is a weight loss secret for some.

But, the rest of the country has rolls and rolls of fat.  We see it on the tourists who come to Woodstock to shop.  We also see it over in Kingston.  The only place I go that I don’t see rolls and rolls of fat is the city and Woodstock.

Eating lots of veggies will really help here.  Overweight people can eat literally pounds and pounds of broccoli, green beans, lettuces, carrots, and not gain more weight.  This is a weight loss secret.

My spouse, Barry, is living, walking proof.

Weighing in at over 250, he’s finally on a diet.  This diet doesn’t come easy, I’ll tell you.  Barry loves to cook and he loves to eat.  That’s one of the reasons why we came to Woodstock in the first place.  But…that’s another blog post entirely.  Let me get back to the diet.

Barry was sick over the holidays and ended up in the hospital in Rhinebeck.  When he got out of Northern Dutchess Hospital, it wasn’t long until we were at Weight Watchers signing on the dotted line.

Now, Weight Watchers is not exactly a Woodstock thing.  If a Woodstocker wants to go to Weight Watchers, s/he has to sneak over to Kingston or Rosendale.

They have to leave town to get any diet food also.  Ditto the diet books.  The closest thing a person is going to come to diet books in The Golden Notebook is a small book exposing all the myths of low carb diets.  Dr. Fuhrman’s latest book is on the shelves also.  And, that’s about it.

There’s only 1 diet tea available in Woodstock.  Gaia has a diet tea which can be found on the next-to-bottom shelf at Village  Apothecary.  The closest you’re going to come to a diet tea beyond the Gaia tea is a large selection of detox teas at Sunflower and Village  Apothecary.

There are a few protein drinks available at Sunflower, CVS, and Village  Apothecary.  There are many protein powders on the shelves as well.

CVS sells almost a dozen kinds of diet pills, though.  The bottles and boxes take up 3 shelves.  I suspect they don’t really count as a diet here in Woodstock.

Cereal and protein bars are popular on shelves in Woodstock but they aren’t thought of as diet bars.

In any event, I’ll put it to you straight.  I’ve never heard even one person utter the words “Weight Watchers” anywhere in Woodstock.  I think it’s mainly because they’ve got so many other things to worry about:  Arabs, Israelis, Fracking, Water, the library expansion, Smart Meters,  me feeding the “unworthy hungry”….

I did go to one diet talk given by Rudy Hunter and George Koury, the 2 local Young Living gurus (the Aroma Guys).  George gave  an amazing speech, actually.  Rudy passed out fliers with forgiveness prayers on them.

I found the talk to be transformational  in its own way. That’s how it’s done in Woodstock.  No calorie counting books.  If we’re overweight, we get right to the heart of the matter and deal with it spiritually.

So, anyway…back to Barry’s diet.

The results have been amazing.  Barry’s losing about 2 pounds a week.   When a person who is over 70 manages to lose 2 pounds a week for several weeks running, you know he’s onto something.

I can pretty well promise you that Barry is never hungry on this diet because he just doesn’t know what hungry is.  That’s not his lifestyle.

Early on, Julie Joseph, (the Weight Watchers Coach) introduced the concept of power foods.  That was all Barry needed.  He created his very own Woodstock     Power Diet Soup which he cooks up often and eats as much as he wants whenever he wants it.

I warn you in advance that few to none of the ingredients in this soup can be found in Woodstock.  Well, the fresh veggies can be gotten at Woodstock Meats and Sunflower.  But the Swanson infused broth is definitely a Kingston goodie.

Barry’s basic recipe is easy:

Begin with a 32-ounce container of Swanson brand prepared flavor infused broth.

Pour the entire container of broth in a saucepan and add a 16-ounce package of frozen mixed vegetables.

Season your soup with about 3 tablespoons of salsa.

Cook this mixture on medium heat for 10 minutes.  Enjoy!

Barry heats his soup for most meals.  He varies the flavors of the broth and the combinations of frozen vegetables which results in different soups.  Barry also adds fresh vegetables such as chopped carrots, celery, parsnips, mushrooms.

The diet is successful for him because he’s able to vary the soup flavors enough to hold off flavor boredom.  He’s also able to eat as much as he wants so he’s never hungry.

The soup is made of water-rich ingredients which are low in calories.  The fresh carrots, potatoes, parsnips in the soup add chew appeal.

I’m grateful for several things here.  The hospital trip was a real wake-up call.  He came home from Northern Dutchess Hospital a changed man.

He’s looking better.  And, as his weight drops, his chances of having to deal with hypertension, high cholesterol, asthma, diabetes, arthritis, and cancer have diminished.

The blood pressure and cholesterol are already lower.

You can do this too.  You can go on a diet if you feel you need to shed a few pounds.  You can enjoy Barry’s Woodstock Power  Soup in the privacy of your own home and no one will be the wiser.

Meanwhile, you will be slimmer and healthier.

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Good luck to both of us.

Thurman Greco

Where is Grandpa Woodstock now?


I don’t know what happened to him since they threw him in the slam.  He’s around, for sure.  I just never see Grandpa Woodstock anymore.  Of course, I can’t be sure why.  This winter has been an experience in weather brutality so it just may be too damn cold to see him.

And, of course, I’m not seeing any other colorful Woodstockers these days either.  Not one.  Not anywhere.  Every once in awhile I’ll get a glimpse of Ricochet or Fancy Pants or  maybe Jogger John but everyone else is seriously missing.

One, in fact, that I used to see every day was Michael Pacut.  I  haven’t read a copy of his newspaper in over 2 months.

Woodstock gets downright depressing when it’s cold and dark and icy.  We all start counting the days until it might end.  One day when it was really awful  I slogged over to Pegasus Shoes just to see if there might be  sandals  in the window.  And, of course, the window was still stuffed with boots.

So, I went inside to see if something might be on display there.  There wasn’t much.  Just a pair of  Birkenstocks in the latest  shade of purple.

What I did find, though, was a Woodstock Map.  There was a stack of them just sitting there…waiting for tourists to snap them up so they could walk around the town when it was 2 degrees.

How cute.  There, in full color on the map, was a tiny drawing of both Grandpa and  Lady Estar.    Both of them were dressed in their gorgeous red silk flowing robes.  Their hair was long and Grandpa was wearing a silk hat.

Cheryl Taylor drew it the map, “Come to Woodstock”.

I remember seeing Grandpa Woodstock, Lady Estar and their beloved dog Hectar outside the pantry on Wednesday afternoons.

Grandpa Woodstock is the most colorful of the colorful in Woodstock.  Everyone  loves him…both residents and tourists.  Women especially love him.  Everyone who comes in contact with him finds him irresistable.  Grandpa can be the most charming of the charming.

One reason, I think is his props…and his smile.  Grandpa Woodstock loves to smile at people, show off his clothes and his cart and his horn which is mounted on top of a walking stick.

I personally loved him more than the others could ever love him when he came into the pantry carrying his walking stick with the horn attached.

“You look lovely today!”  he always said with feeling as he tooted the horn for emphasis.  “Toot Toot.”  My heart melted.  Because, in reality, working in the pantry was tough with the watchers counting the minutes, checking the hallway lines, complaining about the cardboard, and me “feeding the unworthy hungry”.  For the few minutes that Grandpa Woodstock shopped in the pantry, none of it mattered.

A  few years ago Grandpa Woodstock and Lady Estar fell in love.  What a pair!  They were perfect for each other.

When out in public, he and Lady Estar always dressed beautifully.  They wore matching flowing silk skirts and beautiful silk kimonos.  They favored red silk floral print jackets, dresses, and skirts.  Their toenails were always painted.  They wore matching Teva sandals.  They had matching long flowing silver hair and beards.

Granda Woodstock entertained both tourists and residents alike as he took his cart out to the village green so everyone could take  pictures of him.  As he posed for the tourists, he commented to women admirers about how beautiful they were.  “Toot.  Toot.”

He probably never meant a word of it.  But, no matter.  This was street theater at its finest.  He drew the admirers in, entertained them, made them feel special for the moment.  Life was beautiful!

For me, Grandpa Woodstock was/is the best actor in Woodstock.  And, Grandpa was a good director too.  He got everyone to smile when he came around.  He choreographed things so that everyone oohed and aahed when he posed for photographs with a peace sign and a smile.  “Toot.  Toot.”

Grandpa was an ambassador for Woodstock.  People came from all corners of the globe as well as just from our neighborhood to catch a glimpse of him, his colorful cart, his flowing robes, his peace sign, and his smile.  “Toot Toot.”

Once people got their smile and a photograph, they went on down the street to shop, buy a cup of coffee at Bread Alone, a meal at Maria’s, a necklace at Gwen’s Gems, an ice cream cone at Taco Juan’s or a find at Mower’s Meadow.

Grandpa Woodstock convinced people with his smile and the “Toot Toot” of his horn that these things were really important.

He carried on like this for almost 20 years.  Twenty years is long enough to be a tradition in Woodstock.  So, things really changed last summer during the famous August full moon.

Grandpa ended up in the slam in Kingston for selling  drugs.  I’ve been asking myself all winter how this all happened.

Obviously, Grandpa Woodstock had been living a certain lifestyle for lo these many years.  I’ll never know, I guess.

I haven’t been able to find out why, after 20 some odd years, they felt they had to throw him in the slam.  All I know is…that must’ve been 1 helluva full moon.

Then again,  it’s just how Woodstock does things.

Hope springs eternal.  I’m looking forward to seeing Grandpa Woodstock when the weather is warmer and the tourists are out.   I’m working in a different pantry now.  So, if I want to see him, I have to seek him out.   I’m looking forward to participating in his street theater again this summer.

In the meantime, Grandpa Woodstock was spotted a couple of times  over the winter.  It’s too cold for an old guy to go out much.  I thought I caught sight of him one afternoon walking across the village green.  But, when I blinked, he had disappeared.

There was no one on the green…just a bitter cold enveloping the entire town.

Good luck to us all.

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Thurman Greco