Thursday, December 27, 2007


JUST OUT: an updated version of GreeneLander Dennis Wepman’s lavish study Immigration. In the words of the publishing house, Facts On File, the volume “examines the history of immigrants in the United States,” updating their stories to cover the years after the closing of Ellis Island, focusing on such contemporary issues as the experiences of illegal immigrants and the transformation of immigration law since September 11, 2001.” Each chapter “begins with a detailed narrative section that chronicles the experiences of those who traveled to the United States as well as the reactions of religious and political leaders, social workers, and more. A chronology of events highlights important dates in the history of immigration. Eyewitness testimonies include passages from...hundreds of accounts from immigrants, social workers, politicians, and many others.” Also, “more than 110 black-and-white images, portraying immigration and immigrants in this country.”

SOLD OUT: Laser torches/lights designed by Rudie Berkhout, at the opening of the dazzling Play Of Light gallery ( in Catskill. Rudie and partners Hudson Talbott and Vincent Seeley weren’t even planning to sell stuff on that occasion. They graciously yielded to appeals, sold the dozen on-hand torches for $85 apiece (plus tripods, optional at $15) and took orders for more.

OUT and circulating around independent film festivals: a 35-minute movie “Jimmy’s CafĂ©,” in which GreeneLand’s Joe Capone plays a key part. It’s about “a love-starved matchmaking waitress in a small American town where nobody talks about the things that make us human.” Made last year, chiefly in a Greek diner in Poughkeepsie. For a teaser, with J C in foreground:

OUTBOUND, from The Daily Mail, as signaled by its Help Wanted advertisement for a “full-time crime and courts reporter” who also would “cover the Catskill Village Board and Catskill Town Board”: the paper’s best young reporter, Andrea Macko.

HONORED by GreeneLand's legislators,on advice of the County Planning Board (chaired by Wayne Deyo), with achievement awards named after Ellen Rettus: Hudson-Athens Lighthouse Preservation Society (chaired by Louise Bliss); Cairo Bicentennial Committee, led by Robert Uzzilia and Linda Larsen, who compiled a pictorial history of the town; Catskill Chamber of Commerce, managed by Linda Overbaugh, for the vitalizing Cat ‘n Around promotion); Commonwealth Construction Co., led by Scott Purdy, for the restoration, aided by Twelve Tribesfolk, of 18 South River St, Coxsackie.

GRANTED recently:

  • To the Catskill office of the Eddy Visiting Nurse Association: $62.000, from Hudson River Bank and Trust Co. Foundation. The money, according to a Daily Mail story (12/20; repeated verbatim on 12/21) will equip nurses with portable blood-testing equipment, so that they can learn immediately how patients who are taking blood thinning (clot-forestalling) medications are doing. For more on the grant and the foundation, see
  • To the Windham Community Food Pantry, the Windham Foundation and the Adaptive Sports Foundation (of Windham), from the charitable foundation of Legacy Banks (Yes; it’s plural): $2500 in total. As reported by Michael Ryan (Windham Journal and Daily Mail), the grants marked the opening of a branch of the Pittsfield MA-based financial institution, which recently has acquired five New York State outlets. The new Legacy outlet, formerly a First Niagara branch on Route 296 between Hensonville and Windham, is managed by Christine Hall.
  • To Catskill’s Community Center: $500 from the Rotary Club, $150 from Kiwanis.
  • To the Thomas Cole National Historic Site (=the Cedar Grove estate on Spring Street in Catskill), by the New York State Council of Arts: $20,300, in aid of the Site’s 2008 exhibition and its Sunday Salons. The latter are monthly conversations, led by guest speakers, about topics relating to the Hudson River School of art. For more information, google ‘Thomas Cole’ and follow the leads.
  • To 32 organizations in the 20th Congressional District (which includes GreeneLand), from the United States Treasury, thanks to earmarks that U.S. Rep. Kirsten Gillibrand succeeded in having included in the omnibus appropriations bill that Congress recently approved and the President signed: $19.2 million in total. As is usual in these matters, appeals from many more applicants, for many more millions, did not make the cut. Incidentally, Representative Gillibrand has announced that she is due to give birth to child (her second) in the spring. And one constituent--Ron Blackhut; NOT a GreeneLander--cites this incipient event as proof that women, or fertile women anyhow, are unsuited to hold Congressional office.


  • to artists “who have an affinity for the natural world,” from The Catskill Center for Conservation and Development: residency, for a few days or a fortnight during June 15-October 15, in a “tranquil and rustic workplace and retreat,” amid “the living landscape where American art began.” Home would be a two-floor cabin in GreeneLand’s Platte Clove Nature Preserve. Resident artists (graphic, literary, dramaturgical, musical, performing) would produce work, “traditional or experimental,” that could be exhibited in May 2009 at the Catskill Center’s Erpf Gallery. For details, guidelines, applications (due by March 1): (not .com).
  • to GreeneLand non-profits that foster low-income housing, education, health, social and civic service, and/or culture and the arts, from the Bank of Greene County’s charitable foundation: grants for 2008, from a purse of about $60,000. Deadline for applications is January 15 (!). Details:
  • to GreeneLand teachers imbued with good ideas about designing programs that foster learning about historic Hudson Valley sites, from the Federally funded Hudson River Valley National Heritage Area and Greenway Conservancy: grants of up to $10,000. Applications are due by next March 17th. For more information: (We owe this note to a Daily Mail story (12/22) that alluded to “Franklinn” Roosevelt, to “Environmental Copnservatoin” and to “…Oraged, Rokland, Ulter and Westchester counties”).

BTW: The Teaching the Hudson Valley project got started locally last year, with an ambitious “Landscape Connections” program which brought Catskill and Hudson high schoolers together for field trips (Cedar Grove, Olana, the Mountain House site…) and learning exercises. As designed by Ed Synan and Lorraine Ferrara of Catskill High, Carri Manchester of Olana, and Marilee Hobbs of Hudson High (at the instigation of Amy Bruning, late of Cedar Grove), the program elicited from participating students sketches, landscape paintings, essays and poems, including this, by Catskill’s Vasyl Hereha:

At times ambition gets the best of man.

When our great Earth, with living sunshine gleams.

We make a darkness with our narrow dreams,

Heading the wrong direction with no plan.


With no conscious thought of preservation

This derelict planet is torn to pieces.

As time rolls by, hope only decreases,

Stemming from neglected obligations.


An iniquitous quirk starting at birth,

A fatal blemish spanning all races,

Finding delight in all the wrong places;

In the perishable setting of Earth.


We ask what good it will do us mortals

To salvage a planet that should serve us.

Yet, there’s no incentive in speaking thus

Of the land that always opens portals.


Selfishness holds back the promise of change.

With attitudes mended we’ll open doors

And with sky majestic blue, birds will soar.

A concept that should not seem out of range.


And dragging down the next generation

Will not raise any of us the higher.

Plan to rid our lives of foolish desire

And say ‘bye to Earth-harming temptations.


Fear not to touch the calm seas or oceans

And live in pure harmony with our

Earth Let’s work to give the planet a rebirth.

A deed that will cure our souls and emotions.


Friday, December 14, 2007

Snowless News

HOT COLE. The National Endowment for the Humanities, months ago, earmarked $320,000 for a package of projects at GreeneLand’s Thomas Cole National Historic Site. But most of the grant—all but $49,500--was contingent on local procurement of matching funds. Latest news, however, is that the terms have been reversed, so that the project can move ahead promptly. As reported by Betsy Jacks, executive director of the Cole Site, to her board of directors, “We now officially have $270,900 in OUTRIGHT funds, requiring NO match, and $50,000 in matching funds, requiring $50,000 match.” That came about because the key NEH people “love our project and don’t want t to take five years to happen.”

DAILY MAUL. The December 8th issue of GreeneLand’s foremost (qua only) daily newspaper consisted of 18 pages of advertising and editorial matter. Pages A8 and B2 contained exactly the same wire-service story.

ELECTED to chair the Hudson Valley Economic Development Corporation: Alexander “Sandy” Mathes Jr, whose full-time job is executive director of GreeneLand’s semi-public Industrial Development Agency. The HVEDC’s purview embraces nine counties, from Westchester northward. Established in 2003, it is a public-private partnership devoted to bringing enterprises to the region.

STOUTER DEFENSE? Two part-time attorneys in the office of GreeneLand’s Public Defender will soon be succeeded, if the county legislators agree, by a new full-time hire, Joseph Meaney. In the words of Chief Public Defender Dominic J. Cornelius, “We are extremely fortunate to have recruited Joe. He’s eminently qualified and he’s extraordinarily versatile, so that he can handle Family Court and major felony cases.” Mr Meaney, an Albany Law School graduate, worked for the Child Protection Service of Albany County, then as a prosecutor in the office of the district attorney, and then for the eminent Albany defense attorney, James Long. As a full-time assistant Public Defender, at a salary of $50,000 per year, he will fill the vacancies created by the retirement, after 28 years, of Ralph Lewis, and the departure of Dale Dorner, a nine-year veteran of public defender work who also is the mother and the partner in private practice of another assistant public defender, Jon Kosich. Promoted to the rank of chief assistant to Mr Cornelius, meanwhile, will be Catskill’s Joseph Stanzione, who has been a part-time public defender for 19 years and is Mr Lewis’s partner in private practice.

NOTICE. Motorists approaching Catskill Village from the east, on Jefferson Heights Boulevard, pass a sign declaring (warning?) “Codes in effect and enforced. Building Permits required.” Do those words draw a contrast with rules or practices in other communities? with previous local practices?

THE TRIAL. Summations in the criminal trial of James Pine did not commence this morning at 10am as scheduled. Instead, while the jurors were sequestered and the spectators—relatives and friends of the defendant and of man he is accused of killing—milled about on the second floor of the county courthouse, the lawyers and the judge conferred privately until lunchtime. Mainly at stake in their prolonged interchanges was the matter of how the judge shall instruct the jury: verdicts they can reach, weighing evidence, appropriate findings with regard to the defendant’s intent, what doubts on what points are (un)reasonable…. District Attorney Terry Wilhelm and Defense Attorney Richard Mott advocated competing instructional points. And they needed to know Judge George R. Barrett III’s decisions so that they could shape the terms of their summations.

The jurors face a difficult problem. Pine is charged with felonious assault and manslaughter in connection with the fatal beating, on Halloween Night last year, in west Catskill, of Michael Formachelli of Hudson. Pine’s friend and fellow assailant, Michael Deyo, already has entered a plea of guilty to assaulting Formachelli. Pine has admitted that he too attacked Formachelli. But Pine and Deyo name each other as the wielder of the iron breaker bar that, according to expert testimony, produced the skull injuries that proved, three days later, to be fatal. No independent witness, and no physical evidence, has served during the trial to point conclusively to either man. Consequently, amid uncertainty on that part of the case, the jurors must decide whether Pine’s participation warrants a finding of Guilty of the crimes of first-degree manslaughter and/or first-degree assault.


In Athens: Craft & Story Hour for children, at D.R. Evarts Library, from 2:30pm.

Poetry (Robert Milby, Will Nixon, others) and music (Don Yacallo) for adults at the Cultural Center from 2 pm. Music (The Digits) as well as food at Yannis II from 8:30pm.

In Hunter, music (the Marc Belenfant Holiday Band, doing Jazz and Latin-infused holiday classics with singer and pianist Christine Spero) and dance (Sabina Starr’s Catskills Dance Theatre doing excerpts from “The Nutcracker”) at the Doctorow Center, from 7:30pm.

In Catskill, Main Street galleries beckon with art and wine. Among high spots: “Winter Showcase” at M (Polly Law, Jimmy James, Patrick Milbourn, one-name Natalici), with reception at 6pm (943-0380); Part II (landscapes) of the “Critical Mass” showing of Frank Faulkner works, at Terenchin Fine Art; and opening of new, brilliant Play of Light Gallery at 460 Main St (622 8733.

In addition, at BRIK (473 Main St; 943-0145), from 7pm, adventurer Albert Podell, co-author of Who Needs a Road?, will recount highlights of his and partner Harold Stephens’s longest, last motor journey around the world (in 1965). That talk, sponsored by Theodore S. Belfor, dentist, and Frank Cuthbert, strumming enterpriser, is a fund-raiser for the County Arts Council. Then there’s a first anniversary show, featuring the Betty MacDonald Trio, from 8:30 at Stella’s Lounge (; 943-3173). [Correction: it's been postponed].


Friday, December 07, 2007

Trials & Trails

DAILY MAUL. “A two car accident claimed Friday afternoon claimed the life of the driver of a Coxsackie Transport driver.” Those words opened the top story in last Saturday’s issue of GreeneLand’s foremost newspaper. And in an earlier issue, readers were invited to contemplate, to try to picture, this phenomenon: “E-Mail Flap Heats Up as Teachers Demand Apology.”

THE TRIAL. Will James Pine escape conviction in connection with the Halloween Night death of Michael Formichelli?

A GreeneLand jury of seven women and five men will answer that question on or about the end of next week. The jurors will decide whether Pine’s part in the fatal beating of Formichelli makes him guilty, as charged, of manslaughter and felonious assault.

Presiding over the trial in Catskill’s county courthouse is Judge George R. Bartlett of Schoharie County. He received the assignment after GreeneLand’s two county judges, George J. Pulver Jr and Daniel K. Lalor, recused themselves. They did so, Seeing Greene was told, because the defendant’s mother had been a long-time functionary in the court system.

Among witnesses scheduled to appear at the trial is Pine’s friend Michael Deyo, 37, of Athens. He already has entered a plea of guilty to criminal assault for his part in the pursuit with Pine, and the beating, in Catskill, of Formichelli. That pursuit purportedly began with a quarrel in the Dubois Road apartment of Mary Hyer Seeley.

Prosecuting the case is District Attorney Terry Wilhelm, who in his opening statement said “a vicious attack” and “savage beating,” including the use of a long club and motivated by intent to inflict “serious physical injury,” ended the life of Formichelli.

Representing Pine is criminal defense specialist Richard Mott of Albany. He is remembered most vividly among GreeneLand courthouse denizens for his success, against formidable obstacles, in winning an acquittal back in 1998 for Thomas J. Hall, who was charged with committing a murder outside a Catskill night club.

The prosecutor in the Hall case was then-District Attorney Edward Cloke. The acquittal prompted Mr Wilhelm, then an assistant district attorney, to seek the top job. When he won the Republican Party endorsement, Mr Cloke chose not to stand for re-election.

“FRIAR YUCK” is the alternate name that an October visitor nominates for GreeneLand’s foremost (=most capacious) resort. “We stayed 2 nights at the Friar Tuck inn for a convention of NY State Wildlife Rehabilitators,” the visitor recalls in a Trip Advisor message. “Luckily we are a benevolent, happy group that managed to laugh at how bad it was rather than get angry…. Most people in our group had to get the staff to re-clean their rooms, especially the bathrooms, before they could stand moving in. There were two confirmed reports of bedbugs….The floor plan had to have been designed by a person with mental deficiency.... Had our Board members not been smart enough to put up their OWN signs we would all have still been there today, still wandering.... The atmosphere is 1970's pseudo-Camelot kitsch and there is a smell of mold everywhere. As other reviews have mentioned, the desk staff is surly and yes, the guy screwed up my checkout as well because he 'couldn't find my record of having paid.... Finally, this may be nit-picking but they KNEW we were a group of wildlife rehabbers -- "ANIMAL PEOPLE" -- and yet they served (urk!) VEAL at every single meal. And told people it was chicken….”

“WORSE than anything in the third world," says another recent visitor, to another GreeneLand hostelry. Of the Quality Inn & Conference Center, a Trip Advisor correspondent says “I have stayed in hotels all over the world and in many developing countries, but nothing anywhere was as bad as this. I was promised Wi-Fi but it never worked and they said they couldn't get it serviced on weekends. The room smelled like a turkish prison. The heat never came on and there was no one to fix it, so we froze all night. They offered me another room to shower in the following morning, but we would have to drive there.” Moreover, a July visitor from Laguna Beach CA says the Quality Inn manager “tried to cheat us out of over $100 by charging us over the rate quoted and then being unresponsive to our requests for reimbursement. When I took it up with American Express, they wrote a letter justifying the overcharge. I then complained to Quality Inn Corporate, and they spent months researching it, saying the hotel needed to weigh in. When the hotel ‘became unresponsive’ with corporate, too, I finally (after 3 months) received a reimbursement check.”

TONIGHT (66 years after the Japanese bombing of Pearl Harbor):

*Sawyer Motors’ holiday kick-off party, with tree-lighting, Santa, drawings for free kids’ bicycles, games. West Bridge St, Catskill, from 6pm.

*Lex Grey sings with the Will Smith trio at Catskill Point Inn, from 8:30 pm.


*Catskill Puppet Theater presents “Ivan’s Three Wishes” at Doctorrow Center for the Arts, Hunter, from 3:30pm. 263-2063.

*Divine Enlightenment store on West Bridge St, Catskill, offers “Afternoon with the Angels” from 3 pm. Free 10-minute chair massages by Maria Elena Maurin. Optional $25 “angelic guidance.”

*Merchants of downtown Catskill offer a special holiday stroll, with store and street decorations galore, Frosty and his Snow Angels, live music by Basic Instinct, drawings for big Christmas stockings, from 5pm, with fireworks at 9.

*Catskill Point Inn offers Arabian Nights party with belly-dancing, from 9:30pm


*Athens Cultural Center hosts a series of readings, from 2pm, by writers Annie Forbes Cooper, Becky Minew, Mary Lou Becker and Ed Bloomer, with musical interludes by John Williamson. or 945-3547.

*Thomas Cole National Historic Site, at 218 Spring St, Catskill, hosts Christmas party for all comers, from 3pm, with cookies, mulled cider, ice cream punch, and Hudson River School-related gift items. 943-7465.

DECEMBER 15. Adventurer Albert Podell recounts highlights of his and partner Harold Stephens’s motor journey around the world—the longest and the last. Sponsored by Theodore S. Belfor, dentist, and Frank Cuthbert, enterpriser, at BRIK gallery, 473 Main St, Catskill, from 7pm, as a fund-raiser for the County Arts Council. Admission at $20 includes autographed copy of Who Needs A Road? 943-0145.