Wednesday, July 27, 2005

Fellowship and Followship

The Almanack realizes that some places in our region are languishing in rural poverty. But a story about a New Hampshire church group launching a mission to help Pottersville is just plain strange – but hey, they “definitely needed their help.” Even if they sit less than 200 yards from Word of Life Fellowship on Schroon Lake whose recent speakers (to thousands of fans) have included such fantastic representations of followship as guns and drugs runner Ollie North.

The Word of Life Standard of Conduct

Certain principles of conduct are a necessary part of the effort to establish an atmosphere within which the goals of Word of Life can be realized. For this reason, Word of Life requires associates of the organization to refrain from the possession or use of alcoholic beverages, tobacco, illicit drugs, from gambling and the use of traditional playing cards, from the participation in oath-bound secret organizations (societies), from social dancing of any type, from attendance at the motion picture theater, and commercial stage productions. Christian discretion and restraint will be exercised in all choices of entertainment, including radio, television, audio and visual recordings, and various forms of literature. Also, Christian discretion will be exercised in observance of the Lord’s day. Furthermore, it is expected that associates will actively support a local Bible-believing church through service, giving, and allegiance.

So much for that last line.

By The Way:

In New York City more than one-fifth of people (recent estimates put it at one-quarter) live under the poverty line. If the poor of NYC they were their own city (of about 1.7 million), they would be the fifth largest city in America [pdf].

Warren County is one of the fastest growing counties in New York – it’s ranked 11th in the state (out of 62). According to 2000 census data, the median household income in Warren County is $39,198. The national median household income in 2000 was $41,994. Warren County’s per capita income is about $28,020 (in 2002, an increase of 19.4% from 1997).

In Mexico – “a free market economy that recently entered the trillion dollar class” according to the CIA factbook – 40% of the population lives under the poverty line (that’s Mexico’s poverty line!).



Monday, July 25, 2005

Big Box Tops and Adirondack Blight

In the Adirondacks, Tops Supermarkets are ubiquitous to say the least. Many communities depend on Tops as the only supermarket of any size in town. Much of the fresh produce brought into the region is sold in Tops – in a number of places – North Creek, Schroon Lake, Chestertown, Indian Lake and others – the local Tops is the only game in town. Most had been Grand Unions until they were purchased in 2001. Some are still run-down and most offer a limited selection of fresh meat, fish and produce so it doesn’t bode well for a whole lot of us that Ahold, the multinational corporation that now owns Tops has abandoned it for greener pastures.

Tops is just a trade name, the real name of the company was the Niagara Frontier Services, begun in 1960 by Savino Nanula, Armand Castellani (the owner of Great Bear Market) and Thomas Buscaglia (a grocery equipment salesman) near Buffalo / Niagara (the later two are now dead). Tops along with it’s subsidy Sugercreek / Wilson Farms convenience stores were purchased by Ahold in 1991 in their bid to control America’s groceries [pdf].

Ahold just sold Sugercreek / Wilson Farms to “WFI Acquisition, Inc.,” – a corporate shield for Savino Nanula’s “The Nanula Group,” which is actually a corporation formed by Nanco Enterprises, Inc. and the New York City investment firm Bruckmann, Rosser, Sherrill & Co. Bruckmann, Rosser, Sherrill & Co is a coporation formed by former senior executives of Citicorp Venture Capital (who doesn’t even have a website they care so little about who knows about them) and, well, they are, you know.

But who knows what Nanco Enterprises is, though we do suspect the “Nan” in “Nanco” and the “Nan” in “Nanula” are one in the same – another shield from personal responsibility for what your corporate identity does, it wouldn’t surprise us it if was some kind of tax shelter as well.

Anyway… the question is, will Nanula and his good ole boys buy back the Tops in our midst now that Ahold has had its way with them? Or will they simply go the way many Grand Unions have – to abandoned blight. Its just another reason that the Big Box sucks… imagine what our towns and villages would have looked like had these “Super” Markets not replaced the locally owned corner grocery.

A great opportunity to mention that local baker Matt Funiciello, owner of Rock Hill Bakehouse, is hosting James Kunstler on Tuesday, August9th.



Thursday, July 21, 2005

Hey Cool…

The Association for the Protection of the Adirondacks, the people who brought us the Listing of Oldest and Rarest [Adirondack] Books has updated its Adirondack Chronology [pdf]. It’s an amazing bit of community history in its purest form.

Who knew that it was just .65 billion years ago that the Iapetus opened in the Adirondacks with much North-Northeast rifting and jointing and formation of diabase dikes… next time we’re at the Mt. Colden Trap Dike, we’ll really have something to think about.



Wednesday, July 20, 2005

Where There’s Smoke, There’s Not Always Fire

Michael Virtanen, our Associated Press writer, is reporting from Wanakena that the 1995 blowdown that toppled nearly a million acres of forest, nearly half in the Five Ponds Wilderness alone, is recovering in extraordinary ways. And look mom… despite all the lies and hype from Carol W. LaGrasse and the rest of the right-wingnuts, the wilderness did not go up in smoke. The same folks who are (at least partially) responsible for the ignorance of a few leaders against the conservation easements on International Paper lands [pdf] in the North. Which, by the way, is now under threat as IP “reorganizes” or “moves to China” – however you would rather pronounce it.

By the way, Virtanen’s latest is a piece on Adirondack guides.



Monday, July 18, 2005

Local Blogger Round-Up

Local blogs are proliferating. We’ve often cheered the writings of the Fairly Young Contrarian, whose recent rant against WAMC echoes our own feelings that Northeast Public Radio has gone too far – it’s time we had our own station that’s a little more local than Albany, or even Canton, for that matter.

A (rightfully) angry Jim Kunstler is back this week with another installment of Clusterfuck Nation “the industrial nations of the world will soon be competing desperately, perhaps even fighting over, the world’s remaining oil, while all our economies contract remorselessly” – whew… if only WAMC or NCPR would start seriously talking about that, and the implications for our region.

The Southern Adirondack DFA is busy missing the point (number 4) and encouraging us all to bypass Wal-Mart, not for local business, but for Costco… sure trade one super-national big box sprawl store for one that supports the perpetually losing corporate party DFA favors.

NYCO’s blog is Playing Chicken… something the DFA should think about when it supports corporations over people.

It’s certainly something Newsbreakers have been fired up over lately, even as their new blog calls it like it is.

And thanks to local bloggers Bethquick, CNY Ecoblog, and NYCO, who have (without us even asking!) added links to ADK Almanack… thanks folks



Friday, July 15, 2005

Visit The Adirondacks: Bring Your Gas Mask and Cell Phone

OK – we’re pissed… we’re tired of the long history of selling out our unique homeland for corporate gain.

“The policy of the state shall be to conserve and protect its natural resources and scenic beauty” of the Adirondacks – that’s what NYS Constitution says.

But maybe its time for a revision to the constitution to reflect the new realities of a region that beckons city folk to bring their cash and see the last unspoiled (a-hem) forest east of the Mississippi. So, the Almanack suggests, that when you visit, you remember to bring:

Your gas mask, preferably with a modification for your cell phone so you can order music festival tickets on the way home from visiting the towers on top of Black Mountain, and bring a documentary on timber rattlers for the kids to watch in the back of the SUV while you sit in traffic. Oh and don’t forget your emergency beacon.

Well, at least we don’t have a secret prison system… er wait, maybe we do. And it ain’t fun being there either.



Wednesday, June 29, 2005

Kill your car – before it kills you

When the next oil crises hits… our region will suffer. First, as we’ve discussed before at the Almanack – there’s the miles we have to drive. Then, there’s the complete lack of public transportation. The high percentage of income that Adirondackers spend on fuel. The failure of automakers to make fuel efficient and alternative fuel cars. Housing prices that are driving people farther out and into rural poverty. The list goes on.

But some people still don’t get it. Over in Middlebury Vermont blogger Greg Dennis wants to bypass town to make a ten minute crawl through town a five minute drive around town… apparently he’s never been to Warrensburg, Pottersville, Schroon Lake, or any of the other small Adirondack towns that have were destroyed in the 1960s with the completion of the Northway. So great, now you can get from Albany to Montreal in three hours… and you don’t have to see a single small town or local business along the way. Take the Wells House for example, if someone else hadn’t recently it would probably be rubble by now – the turn and intersection it’s on needs widening after all.

James Howard Kunstler stopped by the New York International Auto Show to see first hand what kind of fools are leading our most significant (in terms of impact) transportation issue – what we drive. The results were amazing and with the reactions he got, you’d think he was at an Adirondack pub, not one of the premiere auto shows in the country.

It’s kind of strange… oil and water both come out of a hole in the ground, and both are finite. Yet they’re only just now getting around to privatizing water. Here’s a strange phenomenon – one Leche Roja, drives to Lake George from Queens to learn about “biodiversity conservation and protecting people’s rights from threats to their livelihoods and environment by centralized systems of monoculture” in the Third World! If gas isn’t a “centralized system of monoculture” that is going to threaten “livelihoods and environment” of the Adirondacks… I’ll kill my car.

In related news:

Steve Balogh argues that Syracuse will be the place to be when the peak oil crisis happens.

The Post-Star fosters the big lie. Thanks to higher gas prices there will be higher tax revenues. They want to know what should “we” spend it on?

Even as they make commuting by train more miserable, Republican State Senate Majority Leader Joseph Bruno carries on a fantasy (or is it a lie) about high-speed rail.

It’s been said that there are forty roads that enter the Adirondack Park. So when the oil hits the fan they’ll be plenty of room for walking to walking trails. We’ll see you there.



Tuesday, June 28, 2005

Why bother?

The recent storms that washed nearly all access to Bolton Landing by road have brought into focus the failure of our local media. Sure, they told us who, what, and where, but failing to meet even the most basic level of journalism, they have simply avoided the why. TV8‘s Eye on Lake George is the only outlet to consistently ask the most important questions related to Lake George – what impact does the now excessive over-development, much of it upland from the lake, have on water quality. Of course Eye on Lake George is driven by advocates, not journalists. Today, News Channel 9 reports not on the source of the poisonous runoff into the lake – but that someone else is investigating it!

Hey, but don’t worry… if it bleeds… it leads – and fast.



Friday, June 3, 2005

On The Road With Chicken Little

The Almanack doesn’t like to fall into the Chicken Little trap – even if occasionally, it does seem as the sky really is falling – or at least growing very, very dark [flash animation].

But lately we’ve been considering the raising price of gas, oil, and propane. There’s been a lot of talk lately about peak oil – the term used for the theory, backed by nearly all scientists in the field, that the world’s oil supply is limited and that the limit (the peak) is about to be reached. It’s all laid out here in this Vermont Guardian piece. It’s not a question of whether it will happen, but when; some say it will be in 2005-2006.

Like most Adirondackers we at the Almanack drive a lot – the nearest grocery is a nearly 15 minute drive, and we’re lucky – some have to travel more than an hour. Daily commutes to work alone can cost an Adirondack family 3, 4, 5, 6, hundred dollars a month or more. So is it any wonder that one Warrensburg man has made national news by being arrested twice in two weeks for stealing gas? [Just for media fun - read this version, and see how twisted others report (actually copied) this story - here, and here]

We all know the price of gas has skyrocketed since the beginning of the Iraq War – right? Well, not all of us. According to the Federal Energy Information Administration – a mouthpiece of big oil – there is “some good news.” According to EIA, the price of gas has fallen to the level of a year ago! Hurray! Adirondack Guardian has duly “reported” the good news – we’ll bet verbatim from the EIA press release. A better place to gauge the impact on our suburban consumer driven fossil fuel economy and its coming impact on us all is to check in with Jim Kunstler’s Clusterfuck Nation Chronicle – the author of Geography of Nowhere is really somewhere.

The cable station FX (in true Fox form) is simply prodding at our greatest fears, but riots and robberies over scarce and expensive gas are as sure to arrive as the yearly increase in the number of drive-offs at local gas stations – our man in Warrensburg appears to be the harbinger of things to come.



Saturday, May 21, 2005

Your attention is directed…

To the new series by the Plattsburgh Press-Republican on Wind Power in our area…

To the Times Union’s ill-conceived editorial on the same subject… if we followed their weak argument – “Still other environmentalists believe the Adirondack Park should be true to its mission of keeping the wilderness free of humankind’s imprint. But that’s the point. Humans have already scarred the Adirondacks. It has been going on for years as smokestack pollutants from midwestern coal-fired power plants drift eastward and descend in the form of acid rain, killing lakes and forests in the Adirondacks at an alarming rate.” – Then hey… why should we care about protecting the Adirondack region at all? Who exactly is doing the thinking over there at the TU?

To Alan Chartok’s latest blog – a strange fantasy piece on Hillary Clinton…

To another great Metroland piece – this time the target is the St. Lawrence chipboard factory scam…



Tuesday, May 17, 2005

Historic Crimes

Regular readers know that ADK Almanack likes history, especially since we’re doomed to repeat it. That’s why we simply can’t believe that the powers that be will allow the historic Adirondack Railroad to be ripped up for scrap by corporate killer NL Industries (NCPR Report). Actually, we can believe it. Just take a look around – everywhere there are historic sites destroyed for little profit (if any). On Schroon Lake in the 1970’s the State of New York simply burned down the historic Scaroon Manor, there’s nothing left of that great historic hotel except what remains of the abandoned beach.

Cemeteries really get our blood boiling, like the Old Burying Ground in Keeseville that has been abandoned and vandalized over the years – or the Dresden Station Cemetery on Route 22 in Washington County that has been so neglected and overgrown that while hacking through the brush on a recent visit we noticed a buried stone, completely buried, face down, and when we turned it up, we discovered it was the grave of a Revolutionary War Veteran – we wonder what the graves of Vietnam or Iraq War vets will look like when they become history. » Continue Reading.



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