Monday, July 31, 2006

Bicentennial Bash

Where’s the party this weekend? Why it’s in rocking, ripping, caterwauling Catskill NY. As Patrick Milbourn’s poster conveys so brilliantly, by endowing Rip Van Winkle with a long beard and a young, lively stride, it’s party time in the rejuvenated Village that is 200 years young. And the weekend will be one long birthday party. Festivities begin on Friday at 6 o’clock at the front of the Greene County Courthouse on Main Street, with speechifying, and dancing (to the live music of “Steppin’ Out”), and food vendors (especially from local churches), and solidarity. Saturday’s kick-off event is a mile-long parade starting at noon. Fed by the 70 participating groups from many side streets, it will pass from West Main Street to upper Main Street, and from there down to Dutchmen’s Landing, site for a day (and a good bit of the night) of live entertainment. Parking and motor traffic on many Village streets will be banned, but shuttle buses will operate from off-Main Street parking lots as well as from Catskill High School’s parking lot. In addition to hours of live music, the revelers will be offered rides on the old fireboat John J. Harvey, an exhibition of antique cars, games, tables of arts and crafts, food and fireworks. Among Sunday’s festivities is a tour of historic homes, organized by the Greene County Historical Society. It starts from the Thomas Cole National Historic Site (218 Spring St) at 11 o’clock in the morning. Prospective participants can get tickets there ($20 per person, with proceeds going to the Historical Society) and can visit the selected sites (12 of them) at their leisure until 5 pm. (Information: [518]731-6490, or 943-6452, or 943-7465). Meanwhile, on Main Street, from noon, many shops and art galleries will be open, a Dixieland band will be strolling and, at 3 o’clock, in front of Bell’s Café (387 Main St), a huge birthday cake will be cut. At 4 pm., in the parking lot between 466 and 468 Main Street musicians (starting with Lex Grey and The Urban Pioneers) will play and play some more, in advance of the opening (at 6 pm.) of a new BRIK gallery show (473 Main St) that is composed of art works by 37 (t-h-i-r-t-y s-e-v-e-n) Hudson Valley artists, all female (f-e-m-a-l-e). Meanwhile, at 5 pm. at the First Reformed Church (310 Main St) Michael deBenedictus will give an organ recital. An important additional feature of the bicentennial celebration is the publication of a new book, lavishly illustrated, written by a collection of distinguished contributors (plus a drudge from Seeing Greene). It would make for the ideal durable souvenir. To reserve a copy ($20 if you call immediately, $25 by Friday), telephone the Heart of Catskill Association (943-0989) or the Village office (943-3830 ) and leave a suitable message. The supply is dwindling rapidly. Honest. But a second printing may be ordered. Equally suitable as a bicentennial memento would be a copy, full-sized, of Patrick Milbourn’s poster (as above), signed by the artist. The price is $60. Also available from HOCA or the Village office.

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Main-ly News

JUST OPENED, at 325 Main St, Catskill: Sonny’s Place, the former Tony’s Luncheonette, which was Rick Saparata’s luncheonette until a couple of months ago. The new boss, Sonny Ward of Cairo, is a veteran of food service and explosives (would that information be a cue for jokes about belching?). There’s continuity of fare, with cook Lisa Meade being back at “my second home.” Open from 6 to 3 on weekdays, 7 to 2 on Saturdays.

ALSO just opened on Catskill’s Main Street (#418) is Unforgiven, a tattoo parlor operated by Tony Deamer. In the words of a Daily Mail reporter, Mr Deamer’s walls “are covered with exceedingly unique masterpieces” while his own body abounds with “profound and vociferous” figures.

MOVING from one Main Street location (#302) to another (#327), around the end of August, is Catskill’s chamber of commerce (aka Heart of Catskill Association, aka HOCA). The new spot, rented from Susan Lalor (=Mrs Judge Daniel L.) is treble the size of the present one, rented from Mark Cooper. It formerly housed the Hilscher law practice, which now is ensconced gloriously in the restored old county courthouse.

NOT MOVING out and away, says publisher Roger Coleman, is GreeneLand’s one daily newspaper. Mr Coleman disconfirms rather assured gossip to the effect that a single trans-Hudson newspaper, The Daily Star, will emerge from eradication of the Catskill operation.

SOON TO OPEN on Main Street are Hood & Co. (household furnishings); N & S plumbing supplies; Retriever Roasters (fresh-roasted coffee and tidbits including, we hope, fresh sourdough bread); and an art show called “Sea Graves.” The latter, composed of pictures by Francis Hines, will open Saturday (7/29) at Gallery 384 (=384 Main St, Catskill; 947-6730). According to curator David Griffin, the pictures explore “the cyclical nature of experience” whereby “the ephemeral and the eternal find a necessary balance.” More immediately, they are “elegiac and ethereal” depictions of the “fluidity and fragility of life forms” that are deposited on the beach by incoming waves on the Mexican Pacific Coast.; e-mail is

ALSO IN PROSPECT for Main Street, in addition to two more art galleries, is—possibly, perhaps, maybe—a wine bar. If the latter eventuates, it would be brought to us by the GreeneLand ladies (“Catskill+Co, for the discriminating nature lover”) who already confect yummy Trail Truffles.

SPEAKING OF CONFECTIONS, GreeneLand writer Paul Smart recently served to Ulster Publishing Group readers (six weeklies) a bit of discourse suggesting (under the headline “SoHo on the Hudson?” in The Woodstock Times) that “Catskill is turning into the arts destination that Beacon almost became.” Hard to swallow.

NOT SO SWEET is the court action of accountant Alexander Varga against Main Street neighbors. He accuses the Bell’s Café people, and optometrist Damon Pouyat, and the owners of the building that houses H & R Block, of making a mess in the alley that he owns behind their buildings. It’s a 20-foot strip to which they have rights of ingress and egress, but in which, he claims, they illegally keep putting garbage cans and stuff, thereby exceeding their rights, to his detriment. He asks the State Supreme Court here to enjoin them from committing those offenses and to pay his litigation costs. But there are some problems with this legal action. One is that the complaint, nominally drawn up by attorney Joseph Stanzione, is a literary and hence a procedural atrocity. A defendant is mis-named; an allegation terminates in mid-sentence (“…other than ingress and egress to their respaective”); preceding owners are said to “have and continue to [mis-]use” the alley; and so on. Another problem has to do with matters of fact. Regarding all the cited defendants, Mr Varga claims that they have indeed done the dirty deeds, they have received “repeated requests” to desist, and they have not desisted. Baloney. (Full Disclosure Time: Seeing Greene is intimately connected to one of the defendants).

MEANWHILE, way out west in the incipient Catskill Commons, Lori Berkowitz is transforming Joey’s Pizza into a full-bore restaurant, Pomodoro’s Italian Eatery. 943-4446.

FARTHER NORTH, on Route 9W, what most recently was Marty Dibble’s Auto Mall is now a refurbished, 1950s-style car sales outlet. Although it’s called Sawyer Motors, it’s run by Macy Siracusano, who’s the daughter of Larry Siracusano, who runs Sawyer [sic.] Chevrolet here and is the brother of Bob Siracusano, who runs the Sawyer [sic.] Daimler/Chrysler dealership in Saugerties. The new Sawyers is worth a visit just for the décor.

NOT EXPANDING, on the other hand, is Lacy Ford (&Mercury&Lincoln&Subaru) of Catskill. A nearly-done deal with Hudson’s city government, in which Lacy would take over the defunct Schroeder Chevrolet/Cadillac premises at 40 Green St, went sour.

IN ATHENS, the former Gerards restaurant at the corner of Washington and Second Streets has just been reopened as Cameo’s, run by Jeff Yungandreas and Josh Lackie (telephone 934-2375). According to a Daily Mail story (7/21), Mr Lackie will draw on 11 years’ experience at Anthony’s in Leeds; and he’s 24 years old.

ALSO IN PROSPECT for Athens (remotely?) is the boon of becoming headquarters of the stylish year-old magazine Inside/OUT, presently published in New Paltz. A veteran of magazine publishing may take on the project, if he decides that his image as an alpha male would not be imperiled.

YOUTH SOCCER was richly served last Sunday thanks to a benefit golf tournament. What with a full field of 136 players (paying $75 each to play and ride and eat and collect prizes), and with a plentitude of sponsors, mustered by Kiwanians and by insurance agent Frank Porto as a memorial to the late Albert Natarnicola, the event at Catskill Golf Club yielded a net return of about $6000.

COMING EVENTS. For a canvass of coming GreeneLand attractions, check the Calendar in the GreeneLand chamber of commerce’s website: . Mentioned there are the opening of the Youth Fair (Angelo Canna Park in Cairo, from 9 a.m. Thursday); classical music in Windham and in Round Top; pop music at Dutchmen’s Landing (Thursday night); closing performances, at the Historic Catskill Point warehouse, Friday and Saturday nights, of “Our Town”; and more. (Sorely needed: a comprehensive GreeneLand calendar that includes public meetings, movie offerings and night club acts to the present selection. Good project for the new Chamber manager, along with updating the whole web site.)

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Musical Interlude

DIVA VISIT. Hanging out in GreeneLand recently, in hope of averting performance panic, quiet, was an international opera star from Down Under. Lisa Gasteen relaxed here in these parts before crossing over to Tanglewood, to sing what Boston Globe scribe Richard Dyer calls “the most demanding part ever written for dramatic soprano”: the title role in Richard Strauss’s opera Elektra. Based on ancient Greek legend, the show is a gruesome, sanguinary “100-minute primal scream” (Dyer). Tanglewood’s production was a concert version, with the singers being placed, un-amplified of course, behind an orchestra of 110 (one hundred and ten) musicians, who were playing, most of the time, forte and fortissimo. According to Dyer, Ms Gasteen “found it difficult to project some quieter phrases over the orchestra.” Would you believe? Still, her "powerful voice boasts a beautiful glowing, ruby timbre, deployed with vigor and insight. And she is a theatrical presence who can command attention even when standing still.” “Powerful,” as it turned out, was the favorite adjective of the opera’s reviewers. In the words of New York Times reviewer Anthony Tomassini, the GreeneLand visitor “gave a vocally fearless and chilling portrayal” of the wronged daughter, carrying off a “notoriously difficult” role, in which she is called upon to bring “cool power to Elektra’s outbursts of avenging fury” and then to project “melting sadness” in another situation. The whole performance, he added, evoked “a frenzied ovation” and one that has “seldom…been more deserved.” In a similar vein, Seeing Greene’s own correspondent, the veteran opera-goer Flip Richards (who has seen four other presentations of Elektra), “enormous range and flexibility and power” make Gasteen “the finest singer of that kind of role in at least two generations.”

SPEAKING OF OPERA, a GreeneLander who recently returned from an Italian sojourn shared these notes with our bloggeroos.

In Italy, it’s easier to attend an opera than to see one. The great opera houses are giant tubes. Most of the seats are in boxes, bulging out away from the sides of the stage. And in about half the cases, they are buttressed reinforced with columns that are placed in front of the box seats. Occupants of the first row in a box can see the show okay if they lean out, but people behind them are obliged to concentrate on the sound. Which is apt to be quite wonderful.

English-speaking visitors swarm over Italy, and are warmly welcomed. The opera goers among them are enriched by program notes that are printed in what appears to be their native language. Thus: ^*La Traviata:. “During a party, courtesan Violetta discovers that Alfredo love her since one year. A short while afterwards they are living together, but because of her past behaviour, Alfredo’s father asks her to leave him. Violetta sacrifice herself and Alfredo, unaware, hurts her. Some months later Violetta is dying, Alfredo learned the truth, goes to her, but too late and she dies into his arms.” ^*Tosca: “Rome, 1800. The rebel Angelotti is hidden in a church, with the help of his sister, that his friend Cavaradossi is depicting. Tosca, who loves Cavaradossi, arrives and becomes Jealouse. Also Scarpia, who is the police leader, arrives, he’s seeking the rebel and order to follow her because he thinks Cavaradossi is hidding the rebel. Scarpia order to torture Cavaradossi, so Tosca betrays him to save his life, but he’s condemned anyway. Then Tosca pretends to yield to pressure of Scarpia, who tells her Mario will not be killed but when he tries to embrace her, she kills him. It is dawn and Tosca reaches Mario to explain him his execution will be a pretence, but when soldiers shoots, Tosca discovers they killed him and before to be captured, she throws down the castle.” ^*Rigoletto: “Buffoon Rigoletto suggest to his duke the libertine behaviour that dishonour maidens of the court, but Monterone, whose daughter was seduced, damn him; his awful jokes will turns against him.In fact, his daughter Gilda is a victim of the duke, who abduct her Rigoletto pays Sparafucile to kill the duke, but Gilda, who loves him, decides she will dye instead of him. It is dawn and Rigoletto discovers horrified the body of his beloved daughter murdered instead of the duke.” ^*La Boheme. “Four young bohemians friends lives in an attic….It is Christmas eve, so they decide to dine at the cafe Momus, there is a knock at the door: it is Benoit asking for the rent, but he’s ejected with an excuse. While the others goes to the café, Rodolfo tries to finish an article, but a girl enters the room, Mimi, and in the moonlight they falls in love. Rodolfo and Mimi catches up with the others at the café. Musetta is seen approaching, she quarrelled with Marcello and now she is with the rich but old Alcindoro, but she is still in love with Marcello and send Alcindoro to buy new shoes for her, all sit down to supper but without money, and Musetta tells the waiter to charge the bill to Alcindoro. Two months later Mimi meets Marcello and tells him she will leave Rodolfo. Rodolfo arrives and speaks with Marcello about Mimi: they will part. Mimi and Rodolfo are agree. Time later Rodolfo and Marcello are talking about their girl friends: it is a lot of time since they heard of them. I^n the while Musetta appears: she is worried about Mimi. Rodolfo hurries to Mimi and supports her to the bed. Everyone sells something to help Mimi, but it’s late and she dies.”

MEANWHILE, BETWEEN THE ACTS >>”Please throw sanitary pads and similar into the trash below.” >>”This service is hygienized automatically after every use.” >>”Rest Room closed except for special events.”

AND FURTHERMORE Comments on Seeing Greene should be signed by their authors.

Saturday, July 08, 2006

Independently Speaking

No, Seeing Greene did not go on strike. We were diverted by other tasks, and then thwarted by technological booby traps. It happened at a most inopportune time, when so much is happening. This promises to be one of the great GreeneLand weekends: **In Athens, the Street Festival, at Riverfront Park and all over town, started at 10 this morning, runs to at least 11 o’c1ock tonight. Boat jaunts, booths (scores of them), car show, parade, street entertainers, carriage rides, music…. **In Hunter, the Mountain Cultural Festival in and around the Catskill Mountain Foundation’s Red Barn, today and tomorrow, morning and night. Quilting and lots of other crafts. Wood products fair (exhibition + demonstration). Farming and livestock cultivation. Guided hikes with emphasis on painterly scenes. Mountainfilm Festival imported from Telluride CO. Country music (evenings) from many countries. AND in the foundation's Village Square gallery, luminous landscapes by the extraordinary Thomas Locker are on display. **In Catskill, the Farmers’ & Artisans’ Market at Historic Catskill Point went to early this afternoon. In the evening, again at the Point, The Stylistics give a musical show. And in downtown Catskill, two gallery openings: “Curvature of the Earth” (Josh Bate, Julie Chase, Dina Bursztyn), at The Open Studio (402 Main St); and, across the street at The Wilder (375 Main St, upstairs) “political” works by four artists (John Karch, Earl Lundy, Anne Dunn, Will Wolven), from 5 pm., with funk music after 9. **On the roads, especially this afternoon: HOG rally and parade. Harley-Davidson motorcycle devotees(hundreds of them?) have converged on GreeneLand. A parade is slated to start from rally headquarters, the Friar Tuck Inn, at 1:30 pm. and will hit (engulf?) Catskill’s Main Street later. Expect hundreds of bikes. Keep ear muffs handy. **On Sunday, more of the splendid Mountain Culture Festival. Plus a guided interpretive paddle around RamsHorn-Livingston sanctuary, thanks to the Audubon Society (phone 678-3248 or e-mail As well as a concert at the Altamura Center in Round Top where, from 1 pm., Ashley Horn, Erasmia Voukelatos, Bethany Slater, Guadalupe Peraza and Cary Peck will perform violin, piano, oboe and vocal music. (622-0060).

ALSO IMMINENT, warns local Extension ace Bob Beyfuss: “mosquito explosion,” triggered by all that rain.

BACKWARD BOYS? This year’s crop of high school graduates gives fresh evidence that GreeneLand’s boys (among others) lack fitness for leadership. Awards for scholarship and for service went preponderantly to female graduates, again. Of the 10 valedictorians and salutatorians who graduated from our five high schools, seven are girls. At the Catskill and Greenville high schools, both the valedictorian and the salutatorian were girls (Laura Finch and Kayla Valdez; Jenna Lamb and Jessica Gerdsmeier--& CONGRATULATIONS). Among the graduates who ranked in the top ten of their respective classes, about seven, on average, were girls.

HOW COME? That boys lag behind girls in academic achievement and in school service activities is a familiar GreeneLand pattern. And evidently the rest of the country is, so to speak, catching up. Hence the Newsweek cover story (1/30/06) entitled “The Boy Crisis: At Every Level of Education, They’re Falling Behind.” Only 44% of college students today are male, in contrast to 58% in 1975. In lower schools, boys greatly out-number girls in special-education classes; they lag behind girls in writing tests and reading tests (in 4th grade and above). They are twice as likely as girls to repeat a grade. Some commentators offer physiological explanations: boys mature later than girls; their brains develop later; during adolescence, at least, they process information more slowly and inefficiently; they are more rebellious. So how can it be, then, that in times past boys out-performed girls on the same tests of merit? How can it be that in times past females were deemed by respectable authorities to be unfit to manage property, to compete effectively in business, to enter into the professions, to hold office, even to vote? The dears needed male protection from the consequences of their flighty, emotion-clouded impulses….

NO AMBITION? Also indicated about the latest crop of high school graduates is either low ambition or poor qualifications on the part of the top performers (National Honor Society, Advanced Placement courses, A’s). For example, Cairo-Durham’s valedictorian plans to attend Columbia-Greene Community College, along with her fourth-ranked twin sister. What is more, at Cairo-Durham High, LOTS of available scholarships were not applied for.

RESIGNED, abruptly and unexpectedly: Catskill’s chief librarian, Luisa Sabin-Kildiss, and the Thomas Cole National Historic Site’s education director, Amy Bruning. Ms Sabin-Kilduss succeeded long-serving Andy Dancer (who retired abruptly) in 2004). Her interim successor is assistant librarian Jessica Maisano.

OPENED in Catskill: new restaurant, at 12 Greene St, on the creek. It’s NOT a jinxed spot. In the distant past, when it was Harbor Lights for the first time, it was a flourishing institution, superbly situated for dining and drinking. But it has been through many mutations. Here’s hoping it deserves to succeed this time, and does so. Gillie & Mac’s is the name, Eugene & Meredith Carey are the hosts, lunch and dinner are served daily, and the telephone number is 943-6054.

DOCKETED, in the court of Hunter town justice William Simon, for this Thursday (July 13): action of some sort on the drunk-driving charge against GreeneLand sheriff Richard Hussey. A lawyer from the Washington County district attorney’s office will handle the prosecution side, if the much-postponed trial actually begins.

GROWING GRADUALLY: GreeneLand’s resident population. The U.S, Census Bureau’s estimate for 1990 was 44,739; for 2000, 48,195; for 2005, 49,682. Accordingly, our resident population now tops 50,000. But those numbers are deceptive. From them you’d never guess that our builders are over-booked, our materials suppliers have been swamped with orders (the new Home Depot did as much business in its first six months as had been projected for the full year), our banks have been lending mortgage money at a record clip. Much of the explanation has to do with a big influx of second-home buyers and builders. They don’t get counted officially as GreeneLanders. If they were included, perhaps we’d be 47th instead of 50th in population among New York State’s 62 counties.

DINNER + MOVIE. A new program, launched last Wednesday (7/5), offers dinner at Bell’s Café plus an Independent movie at the Community Theatre in Catskill. First film offering was “Grizzly Man,” a documentary about the life and death of an eccentric ursalogist. (We just made up that word, to denote student of bears). Coming this Wednesday is the gripping “Three Burials of Melquiades Estrada,” starring and directed by Tommy Lee Jones (with GreeneLand’s own Levon Helm in the cast). The movies start at 7:30 pm. Dinner service begins at 5, and--in light of the first session--meal reservations are strongly recommended (943-4070). Moreover, after the movie (adults $6.50; kids $4), Bell’s will serve dessert+coffee or cheese+wine. (For copious notes about the independent movie that was just made in and around Catskill, stay tuned to Seeing Greene).

BUT ALSO. “Be Careful,” says a warning on the container of Enchilosa noodles, “when Serving Children.” --“Douglas fills a niche that has fallen by the wayside” says a story in Business Weekly of the United Kingdom. (Recorded in the World\WideWords web site). -- “…presented by HOCA & Catskill Chamber of Commerce,” say Calendar items in Catskill’s daily newspaper, when in fact HOCA is the Chamber.