Thursday, May 24, 2007

Politickling & Caterwauling

Yesterday we wrote the following anticipatory treatment of the Republican committee meeting that took place last night. Technical difficulties, among other kinds, thwarted posting then. Here is the treatment, followed by a retrospective comment, followed by other matters that were intended for posting yesterday. CAUCUSING TONIGHT in the county courthouse, and for all intents and purposes deciding who shall occupy most of GreeneLand’s county-wide elective offices, will be Republican delegates from the party’s town committees. They will overwhelmingly, if not unanimously, endorse incumbent Terry Wilhelm for District Attorney (holder of our highest-paying county job, at ($120,000 per year), and incumbent Willis Vermilyea for County Treasurer. Those men will not be challenged in the Republican primary elections in September and, on present indications, will not even be faced with Democratic challengers on the November ballot. (Rumors that Joe Izzo, retiring Catskaill Town Supervisor, would challenge Mr Vermilyea for the $70,000 per year Treasurership seem to be baseless). Tonight’s conferees, moreover, will likely take the rare step of refusing to re-endorse a willing incumbent. For the $62,000-per-year office of county sheriff, they will bless Lt. Greg Seeley at the expense of his boss, Dick Hussey. It remains to be seen whether the sitting sheriff will accept that rejection stoically or will try to counter by standing in the Republican primary election, by soliciting the Democratic Party nomination, or by standing as a third-party candidate. (One observer speculates that Mr Hussey will resign before his term expires, leaving it up to the Governor--a Democrat!--to fill the short-term vacancy). Much less predictable is the outcome of the contest to win Republican committee endorsement for the office of County Clerk. Long-time Republican incumbent Mary Ann Kordich is retiring. Four would-be successors have taken the field. Our sauces rate Mike Flynn, the Cairo Town Judge and former State trooper (with close connections to ex-Governor George Pataki), as the most likely winner. Betty Reich, wife of a former Highway Superintendent, claims (credibly) to be the most qualified of candidates, since she was deputy county clerk for many years before retiring. She is 68 years old, however, and her immediate backers, Hunter Republicans, swing only a few votes. Marilynn Farrell of Athens is married to GreeneLand’s Emergency Services Director; she has held clerkships under Ms Kordich’s supervision for some 14 years; and she is rumored to be Ms Kordich’s preferred candidate—a story that Ms Kordich does not deny. Well qualified and connected too is Laurie Sprague Cornelius, daughter of Catskill’s Town Clerk, wife of GreeneLand’s Chief Public Defender, and, by way of the Public Service Commission in Albany, an experienced administrator. The $50,000-per-year office of County Clerk in GreeneLand is unusually demanding. Its occupant runs the Motor Vehicles department as well as regular record-keeping operations. There could well be a Republican primary election contest for the job. And a Democratic candidate may materialize. (The anticipated results did come to pass. In the case of the county clerkship, Mr Flynn won a plurality of votes in the first round, then a solid majority in the run-off, followed by a show of solidarity. A primary election contest is unlikely to occur).

HOWLING success: the witty, variegated, marvelously crafted cats of Catskill. All up and down Main Street. In number and variety of style and ingenuity, they surpass all expectations. Find out for self, soonest. And here's hoping the Village police make steadfast use of their surveillance cameras.

VISITING GreeneLand currently are veteran thespian Leigh McCloskey (Mitch Cooper in “Dallas,” among many roles) and his wife Carla (veteran director). Leigh also is a painter (see the artwork on the Rolling Stones’ current Big Bang tour) and a writer. He “reVisions” classic stories, and in his latest book, In the Splendor, he expounds on “the awakening of our sacred DNA.”

WEEKEND TREATS. Tonight (5/25). Pamela Pentony sings, backed by Steve Raleigh & Lou Pappas & T. Xiques, at Stella’s Lounge, while on the adjacent main stage of the Catskill Point entertainment center, The Preachers sound off. 943-3173. Saturday. *Community-wide yard sale in Cairo, from 9am. *Celebration of the life of the late Carol T. Savage, BRIK , 473 Main St, Catskill, from 6pm. Apart from being a high-level business executive, Carol had been chair of the governors of Thomas Cole National Historic Site and an active supporter of Hudson Valley Technology & Commerce, Hudson River Classics Showcase Theater, Manhattan School of Music, the Olana Partnership, and Greene County Planning Board. *Tom DePetris trio plays at Stella’s Lounge, with Lex Grey & the Urban Pioneers rocking the main stage at the Catskill Point entertainment center. 943-3173. *Durham Irish Festival, at Michael J. Quill Irish Cultural and Sports Centre. Plenty of wonderful entertainment. Check is out at

GASOLINE PRICES. Getty station on west end of Rip Van Winkle Bridge was selling s regular for $3.14 per gallon yesterday, and so was the rival Citgo station. That dreadful price actually was lower by 5 cents than the Mobil station price at the bridge’s east end. And today the figure at both Hess and Cumberland Farms on Route 9W was $3.16. Those prices are actually less than the national average ($3.21 per gallon for regular) and the California average ($3.44!), but more than the East Coast, New York State and New York City averages ($3.105, $3.135, $3.10). So much for tooling around in a half-ton pickup.

NOSTALGIA DEPT. On display in the window that formerly displayed Orens furniture are old publications and items of clothing that, during renovation, were liberated from the walls of that establishment.

Meanwhile, antiquarian Pat Walsh recently came across an old poster announcing the schedule for ferry boat trips (on the pictured “A.F. Beach,” for example).across the Hudson. That was back in 1930, 18 months before the opening of the Rip Van Winkle Bridge. For a car and driver, the 30-minute ferry crossing between Catskill and Greendale (yes; a stop called Greendale) cost 50 cents; additional passengers cost 15 cents each. There were 28 daily trips each way, starting from 7:15 in the morning and ending at 8pm. Those terms, according to a notice sponsored by manager Charles Loveland and printed by The Daily Mail, were “subject to change with without notice.” (The proofreader is not identified). As for Greendale, it was the east-side-of-Hudson stop for this ferry service, across from Catskill Point, with a connection with New York Central trains. And the poster unearthed by Mr Walsh contains a poem by one Kingsland Spencer, rhapsodizing about that destination:

There’s nothing in the city I care to see or do— The people are too many The trees are far too few. But up the stream at Greendale The trees stand all about And overbearing buildings Will never crowd them out. The train shakes off the city With sullen crank and jar The Pullmans and the diner, And my ordinary car— But on the way to Greendale Its anger always fails And it hums above the sleepers And clicks along the rails. The ferries of the city Are dingy water-bugs They dodge the ocean liners And intimidate the tugs; But I know where there’s a ferry Leaves a lonely wake of foam— And it takes me out from Greendale To the hills that are my home

REMINDER: Prospective comments on Seeing Greene entries must be signed by senders.

Friday, May 18, 2007

Savoury, Sweet & Sour News

Fans of the tragically deceased Freehold Country Inn can rejoice. Benjamin and Terri Buel, who sold that esteemed hostelry, have opened, on Route 32 in Greenville, across from the drive-in cinema, the Mountain View Brasserie (“American cuisine with a French twist”). Many of the old staff members, including chef (and partner) Max Suhner, are back in harness. ( ; 966-5522). As for the Country Inn, it’s about to be auctioned. The buyer, Zofia Ghoshal of Preston Hollow, evidently never got the money she was expecting to receive to cover the acquisition. The mortgage holder (M. Hiller & Son Retirement Trust) has received a court order for a June 7 auction in the county courthouse. Amount of lien is, gulp, $1.4 million. The original 2006 loan was for $1.25 million, at interest rates of 14 (as in fourteen) and then, after a short interval, 24 (TWENTY-FOUR) per cent. Meanwhile: *Stewart House in Athens is now open seven nights a week. Its interior makeover has been completed, along with the menu makeover; and they fully vindicate owner Owen Lipstein’s bet on the judgment of manager Reggie Young. Thursday night’s prix fixe dinners still are winners. *The FirehouseTavern in Catskill seems likely to change hands soon, and with minimal down time. Building owner and creditor Mike Sanders has accepted an offer. But there may be difficulties over (among possibilities) conformity with relevant health codes. If these are overcome, the new operators will do a modest scrub-over, saving big alterations for winter. The relaxed, bistro-like ambience will be retained.

ACHIEVERS DEPT. *Brigit (Roadfoodie) Binns of Athens has graciously consented to compose, for the Williams-Sonoma people, her 18th book. This one will roll out, sprinkle, bake and spin the subject of pizza. BB’s 17th tome, to be launched with much fanfare in October, is The Relaxed Kitchen. And we hereby make space for the whole sub-title: How to Entertain with Casual Elegance and Never Lose Your Mind, Incinerate the SoufflĂ©, or Murder the Guests. *Casey Biggs, while plotting to make GreeneLand the performing arts capital of the world (well, anyhow, a big draw), has contracted to direct, for the John Houseman-founded Acting Company, the Orson Welles play “Moby Dick Rehearsed,” to be road-tested prior to a May 2008 opening in Gotham. He lives quite close to Ms Binns. *Bethany Slater of Freehold will sound off, in Ithica on June 15th, at the convention of the International Double Reed Society. As reported in The Daily Mail, she will be one of five Gillet International Oboe Competition finalists. She’s the highly accomplished 24-year-old daughter of Ellsworth (“Unk”) Slater, the supermarketeer and backer of good local causes. *John Lees of Leeds, according to art critic Benjamin Genocchio (in last Sunday’s New York Times), is “one of the most accomplished expressionist painters of his generation.” He stars in a new exhibition at the Fiacco Gallery in Hudson. *Lt. Shane Oravsky, having graduated from Catskill High School (in 2000), from Valley Forge Military Academy, from the United States Military Academy, and from combat diving and air assault programs, has lately completed, at Fort Benning GA, the Ranger Course. This training for small units engaged in “close combat direct fire battle” conditions, according to the Army’s description, goes for 61 straight days and for 19 hours, on average, each day. “Fatigue, hunger,, the necessity for quick, sound decisions,” plus “Frequent and unexpected contact [with hostiles], reduced sleep, difficult terrain, and the constant pressure of operating within restrictive time limits all create [an] atmosphere of stress.” The latest batch of trainees numbered 450; 190 survived. Shane is still a distinctly modest, mild-mannered individual. *Raymond Beecher of Coxsackie, who may be the world’s liveliest and busiest nonagenarian, was crowned last Tuesday by GreeneLand’s legislators—well, plaqued anyhow—as Senior Citizen of the Year.

IMMINENT Friday (5/18) night, Saturday & Sunday. Catskill Mountain Music Festival at Irish Cultural Centre, Route 145, East Durham. 30 live bands playing a variety of styles. Some information may be tapped at Saturday. Forestry Heritage Field Day and dedication at the Cornell Co-operative Extension’s new Acra headquarters, Route 23. 9am to 3pm. Tours of new quarters. Dedication of Siuslaw Model Forest. Talks on history of New York State forests and on agroforestry opportunities: regeneration and production of northern hardwoods; sugar maple trees, and sap-tapping; ginseng…. Deer exclusion. Logs inoculated with mushrooms. Goldenseal. Bob Beyfuss’s portable sawmill. (518 622-9820). Coxsackie Cuisine. Food-laden fund-raiser for Heermance Library, with gourmet dinners offered at home by seven hosts . Information: Vicki Ecker, 731-2145 Funktional “ art show opens at Wilder Gallery (375 Main St, Catskill) from 5 pm. Jazz at BRIK in Catskill. Dick Oatts (alto sax) and David Berkman (piano) talk from 7pm, play from 8pm. $10 admission. Richard Pryor Jr (yes; the late comedian's son) performs the Bill Gulino band, from 8:30pm at Stella’s Lounge. Sunday. Star-studded symposium, from 1pm, on renowned 19th century artist Asher B. Durand, for Thomas Cole National Historic Site in Catskill and Olana State Historic Site and Olana Partnership. Linda Ferber of the New-York Historical Society; Franklin Kelly, senior curator of American Art at the National Gallery in Washington D C; Kenneth Myers, curator of American Art at the Detroit Institute of the Arts; Evelyn Trebilcock, curator of Olana. Viewing of Durand pictures opens at 10am. The symposium takes place next door to Cedar Grove, at Temple Beth Israel, 218 Spring St, Catskill.

COMMENTATORS are hereby reminded that their offerings, in order to be post-worthy, must be signed. With a real identity.