Friday, August 19, 2005

Skirling, Soaring, Scolding, Padding

First comes the skirl, then comes the sight, of 150 plaids-kilted bagpipers marching down the ski slope at Hunter Mountain. It’s an awesome start of the weekend’s International Celtic Festival, replete with caber tossing, Irish music, Celtic products. For details: 263-4223 or Equally special in GreeneLand this weekend will be the Great Northern Catskills Balloon Festival, in the Town Park on Route 32 in Greenville. There’s an opening ceremony at 5 o’clock today. On Saturday and Sunday, balloon launching starts at 6 (s-i-x) in the morning. The festival offers rides (helicopter as well as balloon), crafters, musicians and, at 9:15 both nights, fireworks. 966-5050 or Also noteworthy this weekend: Rocking. The B-Side Band at Athens Riverfront Park from 7 pm. tonight. Paddling. Guided kayaks and canoes through RamsHorn/Livingston Sanctuary, rich in flora and fauna, Saturday afternoon, with the Audubon Society’s Larry Federman. Also on Monday. Equipment provided. 678-3248. Shopping. Farmers’ & Artisans’Market, from 9:30 am. at Catskill Point (foot of Main St, Catskill) tomorrow. Vendors, music, demonstrations. Classic Rock. Richard Street and The Temptations, at Catskill Point from 7:30 pm. Saturday. A HOCA special. Listening. Opera stars Mignon Dunn and Camille Coppola performing with artists in residence at Altamura Summer Institute, 404 Winter Clove Road, Round Top, Saturday. 622-0070 or Gawking. Vintage cars & ‘bikes on show all of Sunday at Rielbauers Resort in Round Top. 622-9584. Mushrooming, from 9 am. Sunday at Cornell Co-operative Extension’s Agroforestry Resource Center in Acra. 622-9820 or Recollecting. Home and farm life during the American Revolution elucidated by costumed Historical Society guides, at the ultra-historic Bronck house and museum, just off Route 9W in Coxsackie, from 1:30 pm. Sunday. 731-6490 or OPENED: elegant new lodge at Hunter Mountain. It’s called the Kaatskill Mountain Club (except in Daily Mail of 8/13, where it becomes Katskill) and is being marketed as a “fractional ownership” (read: time-share) facility with hotel-like guest arrangements. An on-line advertisement for the place touts Hunter Mountain sub-literately as “the Catskill’s premier resort” and, a sentence later, as “the Catskills premier resort.” DAILY MAUL. While we’re being fussy about the literacy of putative professionals, it behooves us to memorialize the quarter-page house advertisement (DM, 8/17) that shouts ATTENTION READER’S, thereby inserting a superfluous apostrophe. And the ad’s next two lines invite us to “Get Ready for Hudson Valley Newspaper’s ‘Road Construction’ Contest!!!” thereby (since the sponsoring company is Hudson Valley Newspapers) putting an apostrophe in the wrong place. “SEAGULL” STORIES. On opening night (8/5) of the performance of Anton Chekhov’s play at Catskill Point, at the poignant moment where Nina picks up what appears to be a dead seagull, a flock of birds appeared on the Hudson, as if on cue; one broke from the flock and flew south. And at another point in the play, where Trigorin speaks of “when I hear the whistle of the train,” an Amtrak went by in the background, visible across the river. Such events, richly appreciated by the audience, served to vindicate the idea of staging the play outdoors and indoors at the Point. So did the turnout: far greater than what GreeneLand’s Tourism office had anticipated. Expect to hear more of what impresario Joseph Capone dubbed “Classics @ the Point.” ANOMALIES? Day & Holt, the GreeneLand hardware and antiques store, is run by neither a Day nor a Holt. Though started by Jeremiah Day and Samuel Holt back in 1810, it has been in the Patrick Walsh family since 1911. Bill’s Grill hasn’t been operated by a Bill for many years, although Bill Beck did open it and still owns the building. Al’s Tires is Ralph Basley’s place of business. Tony’s Luncheonette isn’t Tony Grillo’s luncheonette any more; its Rick Saparata’s. Joey’s Pizza is Laurie Berkowitz’s place. And Arthur Webster is long gone from Arthur’s Hair Studio; as of last April it had passed into the hands of Bitta Svensson (who has retained the window’s “Tan Naked Here” invitation). On the other hand, Ray Rothrock does run Ray’s Appliance; DiStefano’s Barber Shop and DiStefano’s Meat Market are run by third-generation DiStefanos; a Ritter operates Ritter’s Garage; sundry Lacys drive Lacy Ford/Lincoln/Mercury/Subaru, and hard-working Christmans do run Christman’s Windham House. Also peculiarly apt is the name Onteora, which was bestowed eponymously on the child who was born back in 1907 just as her parents reached Catskill Point aboard the cruise liner “Onteora.” Her grandson Bruce Whittaker came to be president of the Bank of Greene County. LEANING dangerously: bell tower of former Christ Presbyterian Church on Franklin Street in Catskill. That’s a major reason for the elaborate scaffolding now girding the place, as authorized at substantial expense by Jim Manfredi (distinguished Manhattan oncologist) and Mark Beard (distinguished painter). Only the birds and the resident raccoon were happy with the deteriorated, out-of-plumb tower. HOW LONG a sentence would be appropriate for somebody who attacks a drug peddler with a baseball bat? Should be shorter if the injuries are minor, or longer? What about motive? If the attacker, instead of resenting the drug racket, is demanding either delivery of his drug of choice or return of his down payment? Those questions have a bearing on a current GreeneLand case (with ace defense attorney Dennis Schlenker in one corner) that has not yet landed in court. (Who’s the smartass who asks what brand of bat was wielded?) DREAMS Dept. Some day, let’s hope, main streets of Catskill, and of Hunter & Windham & Athens & Coxsackie, will be subjects of web sites that are as attractive as that of –check it out— BYGONES. “Aunt Florence [Vincent] was a familiar figure on Main Street…. She and her ancient Buick approached the shopping area via the steepest hill like a charging lion. She did not believe in parking meters and refused to deposit coins. When escorted to the police department because of this infraction, she complained so vehemently about their use that, in desperation, the officer would tell her to just go home. The police became so weary of the scolding they received when tickets were placed on her car, they finally allowed her to park without charge, and notices were no long put on her windshield.” That’s from Edith Cole Silberstein, in Our Lovable Eccentrics (Thomas Cole National Historic Site, 2005). It’s about the eldest of three children of her grandfather, who was Thomas Cole’s oldest son. BYWORDS. Forget world peace. Visualize using your turn signal. He who laughs last thinks slowest. For every action there is an equal and opposite criticism. Give me ambiguity or give me something else. Consciousness: That annoying time between naps.

Friday, August 12, 2005

Wild Weekend

Is there too much to do in GreeneLand? Among tonight’s special events are country music in Cairo (Angelo Canna Park, from 7 pm.), bluegrass music in Athens (Riverfront Park from 7 pm.), “The Wonderful Worlds of Divas” (a tribute to Disney by Greene Room Players, Red Barn in Hunter, from 8 pm.), and “The Seagull” at Catskill Point (from 7 pm., in the park and in the Old Warehouse). And for something altogether different, at Outreach Ministries church in Round Top (opposite the firehouse; 622-2088), from 7 pm. (and again on Saturday night), guest preacher Bree Kenyon will expound on such matters as deliverance from evil spirits, miraculous healing by music, and spiritual warfare. As for Saturday and Sunday, well: there’s the two-day “Renaissance Faire” in Cairo (jousting, , sword fights, Punch & Judy, 7-ft dragon, magic, falconry, medieval music;Angelo Canna Park again; from 10 am.; go in period costume and get an entry discount). There’s the 16-stop ArtFest stretching from Maplecrest through Windham to Jewett Center, from 10 am. both days (info at 734-5076). There’s Saturday’s Classic Cars rally in Catskill, in honor of the late Charlie Raffiani Sr. (with Main Street being closed to regular traffic most of the day). There are new exhibitions at the Greene County Council On the Arts, downstairs (“Pulp Visions”) and upstairs (James Dustin, “Brooklyn in the Catskills”) opening at 5 pm. Saturday. Over in Arkville, meanwhile, at the Catskill Center for Conservation and Development, Laura J. Bried will expose the lives of river critters (mink, otters, fishers; from 2 pm.; phone [845] 586-2611). Alternatively, there’s the 58th annual juried art exhibition at Twilight Park (from 1 pm. Saturday); as well as a “Spiritual Powers” workshop at the Peace Village Learning & Retreat Center in Haines Falls ([518]589-5000); or the wine & food & art sampler at Athens Cultural Center, from 6 pm.; and the final performance (all four acts, notwithstanding what appears in the Daily Mail), at Catskill Point, of “The Seagull.” And just for Sunday, in addition to the Renaissance Faire, GreeneLanders could attend the free concert in Riverside Park at the Gazebo in Coxsackie, or go with an Audubon Society guide on an edifying paddle through RamsHorn-Livingston Sanctuary (678-3248). BOMB SCARE? When the lights and the computers went out at the new County Office Building last Monday at mid-day, all occupants were ordered to evacuate. Which prompted some of them to prattle (while “clucking and flapping,” said a witness) about a bomb scare. CHIEF STORY. As of blog post time, Dave Darling had been offered and had not yet decided whether to accept the post of Catskill Police Chief. If the veteran State Police Investigator does accept, he’ll take on a job whose yearly salary most recently was $53,000 and change. Benefits (medical, dental, pension, uniform allowance) brought the incumbent’s effective compensation to about $72,000. Then there were overtime payments to the extent of about $8,000. Those payments went to the current Chief, Roger Masse, who also holds the job of Athens Police Chief. Meanwhile, starting salary for a Village Patrolman is $33,004. (Add 12-15 per cent to that figure for value of benefits). MOVING this weekend: Community Action of Greene County, from 2 Franklin St, Catskill (across from the Public Library and from the county jail) to 55 South Jefferson Ave., Building 1. The new place will reopen on Tuesday (8/16), says Board Chair Naomi Rubin. Among ongoing programs: domestic violence victim support, Senior Companions, Weatherization subsidies, Healthy Women Partnership, Fresh Start program for the homeless. MOVING IN? The erstwhile Community Action building is now the property of Ted and Nancy Hilscher, attorneys. And their ownership is peculiarly apt: the building is redolent with history; and Ted is one of GreeneLand’s keenest historians. MR. SUDZ = name of new/old laundromat in Catskill, successor by way of much renovation to the former EC DUZ IT ALL at 491 Main Street. Proprietors Clinton Bugg and Jeffrey Nucey, of Claverack and Hudson, bought the place in July by foreclosure, have undertaken repairs (frozen pipes, packed-in lint, leaky water heater, erratic boiler, worn pressure valves, defunct machines, flooring, “filth”) and hope to open by mid-September. Their purple & teal color scheme has evoked some negative local comments, and has prompted realization that planning commissions, zoning boards and Village Trustees currently have no legal control over color schemes of homes or businesses. The Trustees are likely in near future to gather a sample of other communities’ color-regulating statutes. GUIDED. August edition of Catskill Mountain Region Guide contains a nice feature story, “Preserving Tangible Pieces of History,”about GreeneLand’s premier care-taker of antique furniture, Mark Cooper (formerly of Sotheby’s UK and Sotheby’s NYC). Among matters of special interest addressed by author Karin Edmondson is the difference between preserving and restoring. Not covered in the story are Cooper’s penchants for motorcycling, parenting and rubbernecking. Query: Did he really say that his high-end specialization “sometimes precludes me not taking on a piece…?” THE GOOD NEWS. Interest in supporting Beattie-Powers Place has undergone a revival. The seven-acre riverside property, with its Greek Revival house (built in 1831 by Catskill’s eighth President), was bequeathed by Mary Emily Beattie to the Village in 1990 with the stipulation that it be used “for public purposes.” But use of the place has dwindled, and so has upkeep (especially since the death of Jack Sencabaugh). In 2003, the house was used for functions (a wedding, meetings, an art show, play rehearsal) for all of 15 days. Last year the usage figure was about 10 days (or fractions of days). So far this year it’s the same story. Meanwhile, yard maintenance has been declined. In short, the Place has become a virtually idle, unknown, deteriorating resource. But that could change. A recent meeting produced a new slate of officers of the volunteer group, Friends of Beattie-Powers Place: Bob Hoven, president; David King, vice-president; Barbara Weber, vice-president; Richard Philp, treasurer; Rita Landy, secretary. And plans are afoot to rewrite the Friends’ mission statement, formulate a business plan, and go on the hunt for patronage (financial and personal). AND THE BAD. That new-found enthusiasm for Beattie-Powers Place sprang most immediately from antipathy to an incipient proposal whereby part of Beattie-Powers House would be leased to GreeneLand’s Industrial Development Agency. The terms of that prospect have not been worked out in detail. Essentially the idea was, and is, that the IDA would take over exclusive use of two rooms on the ground floor plus desk space in another room, and would make those spaces suitable for office use. Tenancy would be for five years with an option to renew. Payments by the lessor would enable repairs and improvements to be made to the house and the grounds. To that extent, Village taxpayers would be relieved of a financial burden. Meanwhile, the grounds would still be open to the public, and access to the house, under Village rules presently in place, would continue. According to Sandy Mathes, IDA's executive director, opposition to this kind of arrangement, as expressed by the new Friends, has been based largely on misapprehensions. And that blindness, he suggests (and this spectator agrees), has been willful. The new Friends have spurned opportunities to acquaint themselves with the IDA’s projects, its directors, its procedures. As for Beattie-Powers House, “It’s so frustrating; I’ve offered to meet with those people, to go through to show them just what we have in mind. No response. “The existence of a revived, active Friends group can only enhance efforts to restore BPH to its original glamour,” Mathes added. “We would want to work very closely with them” in deciding what measures to take in the preservation of the house and the re-cultivation of the grounds. “I know of no use to which the place has been put in the past, or would likely be put, that would be incompatible with IDA’s occupation of part of the house.” “If it’s done right, our presence in Beattie-Powers Place would be a win-win situation. It would help us to show off the beauties of Greene County and thereby do a better job of attracting industry and jobs. It would facilitate an urgently-needed restoration. And it would enhance the use and value, for public purposes, of this historic treasure.” More on this subject in next Seeing Greene. ((The mechanical masters of this blog site will not, do not, allow indentations))

Friday, August 05, 2005

Numbers Game

125=number of seats at Historic Catskill Point, in the park and in the warehouse, for this weekend’s opening performances (Friday and Saturday nights, from 7 pm.) of the modern classic play by Anton Chekhov, “The Seagull” by carefully selected local cast. RECOMMENDED. 943-2680. (Not to the exclusion, of course, of “Catskills on Broadway” benefit—music, jokes--at Hunter Mountain, 8 pm.; 263-4908 ext. 202). 4=number of acts in “The Seagull,” all to be performed each performance night (Aug. 5 & 6, 12 & 13), notwithstanding Daily Maul Events Calendar item of Wednesday (8/3) saying “first act” will be performed Friday night, “second act” Saturday…. This was ‘corrected’ in Thursday’s and Friday’s Mauls to say “first act of four acts” and “second act of four acts….” 141,000=dollars saved by Greene County legislators by putting their general insurance out to bid. That’s according to Legislator Keith Valentine, himself an insurance expert, as reported in 8/2 Daily Mail. The accepted price was $504,124, vs. $620,000 in 2003 and $645,000 in 2004. 235,093=dollars likely to be spent by Hudson Common Council on new Fire Dept rescue truck. At recent meeting of Hudson’s Fire Committee, speakers compared this figure with $425,000 likely to be paid by Catskill Trustees for a new rescue truck. According to Catskill Fire Chief Randy Ormerod, Hudson’s version would be akin to a Ford Pinto. And Catskill’s prospective r.t. will cost a bit less than $425k. Submitted bids are now being vetted for compliance with specifications. 7500=dollars reportedly (Daily Mail, 8/1) raised for Coxsackie Rescue Squad at Coxsackie Challenge golf tournament at Catskill Golf Club last Friday (7/29), organized by Gunderpersons. 5302=dollars spent by GreeneLand Kiwanians so far this year on good local causes, mostly having to do with youngsters. That’s about half, we’re told, of what ultimately will be outlaid. And does not include the $4336 cleared from the 7/17 golf tournament in support of Catskill Community Center. 14=reputed age of GreeneLand student reputedly impregnated by a now-former school custodian. No prosecution (yet?) for the criminal acts. 18,000+ =dollars raised for Thomas Cole National Historic Site (Cedar Grove, in Catskill) at July 31 summer party. That’s a 20% gain over last year’s summer fund-raiser and it demonstrates, as Site Director Elizabeth Jacks told Seeing Greene, increase in “one of our greatest treasures: the support of this community.” …….."It was only a few years ago that this house was saved from near collapse by a caring group of people, and their love of this place clearly continues. With the funds we have raised, Cedar Grove can continue to serve as an inspiration to all those who love the landscape." ….. Following a cocktail party at the Site, graced by presence the famous artist’s great-granddaughter, Edith Cole Silverstein, 200 participants joined 20 pairs of hosts at dinner in private homes (and an art gallery) in Greene and Columbia counties. Members paid $75 apiece for the goodies; non-members paid $100 which included membership. Most of what they paid went into the treasury thanks to contributions from in-kind sponsors (Douglas Koch, Frank Racette, Ruder-Finn Inc., Brian Branigan, Patricia Decker, Michel Goldberg, Domaney Liquors of Great Barringon) and to the generosity of the hosts, who absorbed the full costs of the dinners (and libations) they served, (including, in some cases, the costs of caterers and servers). In addition, the Site’s operations and programs, devoted to the founder of the Hudson River school of landscape painting, benefited from a substantial cash contribution by Rip Van Winkle Realty. Of 20 host couples, four were Columbia County patrons, and four were veteran GreeneLanders. 90=per cent probability that Catskill’s new police chief will be Dave Darling; and that his chief deputy will be Greg Sager; and that they’ll do a great job. Darling (one of multitudinous GreeneLand Darlings), is due for mandatory (and cushy) retirement, two years hence, as Chief Investigator of local troop of State Police. He’s not ready to give up law enforcement. May never be ready. Could run for Sheriff in a few years. 85=per cent likelihood that Catskill’s Community Theater will soon be the property of PJ & Jessica Maisano, youthful New Jersey residents (and live theater fans) who will soon be GreeneLanders. 5=years elapsing between time that Florence Liberatore (a k a Mrs Damon Pouyat) took up golf and the time she first became Albany Country Club champion. (First time of many). 4.8 million=number of old tires (give or take a few thousand) that Lafarge Co. proposes to burn as fuel in its Ravena cement kiln. Yearly. Whole tires, not shredded. Lafarge is a Paris-based globe-girdling building materials company (cement, roofing, aggregates, concrete, gypsum; 77,000 people in 75 countries). It bought the plant in 2001 from Blue Circle Cement, shortly after the latter was fined $276,000 for air permit violations. Its proposal has triggered apprehensions hereabouts over toxic effects (Parkinson’s disease? Rheumatoid arthritis? Autism?) of fallout. Friends of Hudson members, led by GreeneLand’s Susan Falzon, say the Ravena plant, even without burning tires, “has long been known a one of New York’s dirtiest.” They are circulating petitions calling on Governor Pataki and other public officials to
(1) Fully address the serious, long-standing compliance problems at the Ravena plant, which State regulators have failed to act upon, before moving forward with any consideration of tire-burning at this troubled facility; (2) Require Lafarge to explain why it seeks to burn whole tires as fuel, a practice even riskier than burning shredded tires; (3) Explain why State regulators have not yet even considered the need for a test burn before moving forward on this proposal; (4) Explain why New York State regulators would encourage the incineration of tires, when the State and U.S. EPA agree that there are more beneficial forms of re-use which address the State's tire management problem; (5) At minimum, extend the comment period on this project by at least 90 days, to give the general public and scientific experts a proper opportunity to participate meaningfully in the review process.
Check it out at 40=years to pass until we have thousands of old ladies running around with tattoos.