Friday, May 20, 2005

Living By Gerund

MUNCHING. At Catskill Point tomorrow, from 11am, comes GreeneLand’s Shad Festival. This will be the final party (for 2005) in a series sponsored, at suitable places, from Fort Lee NJ north, by the Hudson River Foundation. Some tasty words from the HRF:

The American shad, Alosa sapidissima (translation, shad most delicious) is an anadromous fish, meaning it spends its life in salt water, but returns to spawn in fresh water. This glistening silvery fish has been part of culinary life in the Hudson as long as its shores have been inhabited. The flesh has been served pickled, smoked and baked, and even the roe are considered a prized delicacy….. And each year at this time, Christopher Letts, a naturalist with the Hudson River Foundation, prepares his cherry and white oak planks to roast this wonderful harbinger of spring at traditional Shad Festivals up and down the Hudson Valley. The traditional method of planking and fire roasting shad…was passed down by the region's early settlers and is thought to have been adapted from a method used by the Algonquin Indians. Mr. Letts fillets the fish, covers them with strips of bacon, and then nails them to roasting boards. He then props the boards around a pile of red hot coals and allows the fish to roast for about one hour. The result is a delicious piece of Hudson River

(The Shad Festival is cited in our Promotions Department’s on-line calendar, but the cyber link sends visitors to the wrong place: Cornell Co-operative Extension, a shad-free site).

WITNESSING. “Artists’ Studios Past and Present” is title of symposium this weekend under joint sponsorship of Olana (over in Columbia County) and the Thomas Cole Historic Site (here in Catskill). On Saturday, participants will see and hear about the restored studios of those 19th century stars of landscape painting, Frederic Church, at Olana, and Thomas Cole, at Cedar Grove. They also will hear about and see pictures of studios of other famous 19th century Hudson area artists: Daniel French, N C Wyeth and Russel Wright. Then on Sunday they’ll be welcomed to active studios of living, working mid-Hudson artists. GreeneLand hosts, all with studios in or near Catskill, are Dina Bursztyn, Lucia Gannett, Jared Handelsman, Ruth Leonard, Patrick Milbourn, Portia Munson, and Fawn Potash. Starts on Sunday at 11, from the Arts Council’s gallery on Main Street. And could terminate unofficially at 473 Main Street, where (as covered in our previous blog), Frank Cuthbert is sponsoring a concert of fine music in advance of the opening of his new gallery, The Brick.

BANKING. At 320 Main Street, headquarters of Greene County Bancorp, parent of our Bank of Greene County, they are quietly celebrating a two-for-one stock split. It follows substantial growth, profits, and a 15% dividend hike. In the company-made news story as disseminated by “Business Wire,” incidentally, the bank’s president (identified only as “Mr. Whittaker” rather than as J. Bruce Whittaker) is quoted as rationalizing the split as a way to “enhance liquidity.” But the number of ownership shares does not manifestly affect a company’s financial liquidity. What matters is the proportion of assets that are in or near the form of cash, no? Main effects (and aims?) of share-splitting usually are to spread share ownership and to enrich current owners. When interviewed by Seeing Greene’s finance editor, Mr W stipulated that his “enhance liquidity” thesis was meant to allude to enlarging ranks of shareholders. He also foresaw imminent graduation of the bank to $300-million-in-assets status. That’s a pittance as compared with First Niagara’s $5 billion. But the BGC’s assets were all grown right here, not from pricey acquisitions all over upstate New York. Ripe for takeover? Not likely. BGC’s shares are closely held. And among banks their market price relative to company earnings is far above average.

HOSTING. Catskill Village now boasts two gracious, history-drenched Bed & Breakfast lodges. Just across from Caleb Street’s Inn at 251 Main Street, operated by Rita Landy with help from her great friend Homer Hager, we now have The Day House. As described by hosts Wayne Holmen and Bob Koven, accurately, the Day is “a stately brick mansion located in the heart of the historic town of Catskill,” meticulously restored and set in a capacious garden. It was built in 1791 by Stephen Day, Catskill’s foremost trader and first mayor. Two artfully decorated rooms for guest are available, along with use of the first-floor parlor, dining room, and flagstone patio. Check it out at

ENDORSING. County Judge George Pulver Jr solidified last night his already-strong prospect of re-election. By 127 votes to 56, at a meeting in the courthouse (followed by convivialities at the golf club), he became the endorsed candidate of GreeneLand’s Republican Party. His challenger for party endorsement, Greg Lubow, former Chief Public Defender, had thrown his hat in the ring just recently after Peter Margolius, Catskill lawyer and Town Judge, withdrew from the race. Prominent among Lubow’s backers, in addition to Hunter-Tannersville friends and neighbors, was Ed Barber, former chairman of GreeneLand Republicans. So far it looks as if Pulver will face no opposition on the November ballot. A run by Coxsackie lawyer Eugenia Brennan, by way of Democratic Party endorsement, has not eventuated. And the foregoing recitation leaves out the zesty undercurrents, mutterings, intrigues….

RENOVATING. After complications galore, ownership of the former Todd Martin Media building at 352 Main Street, Catskill, has passed into the hands of Stan Raven (for $115,000?) and renovation is well under way. All being well, the building’s ground floor will be done over so as to recapture the look—shown in an old photograph which Stan has pasted to the window--when it housed the Margolius family’s dry goods store. But the new store probably will not carry, as the old one did, a stock of corsets. MOVING: our venerable, spry, witty county historian, Raymond Beecher; from Vedder Library of G.C. Historical Society to an office in Catskill (probably in former Welfare building set back from upper Main Street). There he’ll work on archives, consult with judges and others about restoration of County Courthouse, write articles (including one about Thomas Cole’s son’s ill-fated venture into the oil business), be closer to Cedar Grove (and to cherished project of replicating the New Studio), and swap recollections with visitors. SPELLING. It evidently is not a prerequisite for managerial status at Burger King. Witness the recent big sign touting OMLETs. And past sign touting CHILLI. GARBLING. “As a valued subscriber, we’re pleased to offer you 20% off* online purchases through May 23,” says a cyber-advertisement from Macys. Such a sentence makes Macys the valued subscriber. MAULING (verbally). Did attorney Michael Esslie really say the Cairo planning board “continues to flaunt the law”? Or was he misquoted (Daily Mail (5/9) when he actually said flout? And did Cairo’s attorney, Tal Rappleyea, later say a certain issue was “mute” (vs. moot)? Anyhow, beyond question, a Daily Mail scribe wrote (5/19) of people who “are in the process of building a outdoor stage in Woodstock which the proceeds from the dinner will be used toward its construction.”

OPENING: folksy, funky Durham Center Museum and research library, on Route 145 in East Durham; for its 44th year; tomorrow (Saturday, 5/21) from 1 pm and Sunday, 1-4 pm.

CLEANING. On day of recent Hudson-long River Sweep, 25 GreeneLanders took part by collecting from river bank at Cohotate Preserve. According to Liz LoGiudice, education co-ordinator of GreeneLand’s Sanitation and Water Conservation District, “We collected 642 pounds of bagged garbage, plus 6 car tires, a truck tire, a tractor tire, a 12 foot axel with two tires and a big wooden spool….” Next year (or week) let’s have a clean-up campaign at north end of Dutchmans Landing. And by the way, if you have not strolled through the Cohotate Preserve, off Route 385 between Catskill and Athens, you’ve got a big treat in store.

MOURNING, over sale of “Kindred Spirits,” the Asher B. Durand landscape painting, to WalMart heiress Alice Walton: eloquent Kingston writer John Thorn.

Now we know how Egyptians feel about the Rosetta Stone…. Our treasure has been lost… Moving a Catskills painting to the Ozarks seems comical, and [this loss of a “regional monument” gives painful] cultural confirmation of what the marketplace has been telling us for decades now: the small cities, towns, and villages of the Northeast have become vast grazing lands, colonies for plunder by more prosperous sections of the country. We have been losing industry, jobs, population, and brainpower…as if we were bathing in a tub with a slow leak, wondering why we are feeling chilled. Our cultural artifacts seep into the heartland via Ebay. The time is not distant when our steepled churches and clapboard and fieldstone houses will survive only as part of a historical theme park for the rest of the nation, a Yosemite of quaint lifestyle and vernacular, a time capsule of an America that used to be. --“Walm-Art.” Saugerties Times, 5/20.
That “Catskills painting” was in the New York City Library, though, not the Catskills. And aren’t we enjoying a counter-current of immigration to mid-Hudson towns, by brainy solvent people? Buck up, John.

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