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.


Friday, July 22, 2005

The Flag or Egret Question

Stopped into the local Post Office to pick up a new roll of stamps. “Would you like flags or egrets?” the postmaster asked. The Almanack is fine with egrets or flags (they’re only stamps after all), but the question struck us as funny… was the postmaster checking our loyalty?

“At least you have a choice now,” he says, noting that until recently they only carried flags. We scanned the lobby wondering if someone was watching by video – and decided they probably weren’t – then noted that probably, flag stamps didn’t exist before the Civil War, and they couldn’t have been offering no stamps before that so…

It turns out the first flag stamp was apparently issued in 1869. Big brother discovered the power of “The Flag or Egret Question” somewhat later.


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.


Tuesday, July 19, 2005

Remembering Veterans

There’s always plenty of loud-mouths who demand respect for veterans. The question is, where are they when something actually needs to be done to show respect for people who have served American causes. Certainly not in Schuyler Falls where the grave of a veteran from one of America’s most important wars, the American Revolution, was recently [re]discovered. How long before the graves of Korean, Vietnam, Gulf and Iraq War veterans are forgotten – apparently not too long if a recent [re]discovery of a graveyard abandoned in the 1880s in Rutland County VT is any indicator.

A question for readers: From what other wars are their abandoned memorials in the region?

The grave of Ephraim Williams (who died at 42 at the Battle of Lake George on September 8, 1755) was only recently resurrected by a group of Williams College students. Williams left money in his will – made out just before he left for battle – to Williamstown for the establishment of a school, now Williams College.


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.


Thursday, July 14, 2005

Progressive ADK Native Annouces for Albany Mayor

The Almanack is happy to hear that our good friend Alice Green is running for Mayor of Albany against the sun-tan man and his Democratic Machine (which is not as dead as we’re led to believe) and on the Green Party line. Alice, is known and loved in the Essex County area for her sponsorship of The Paden Institute and Retreat for Writers of Color and her work with the progressive / radical historical activist group John Brown Lives! [Tech Heads! They need a site! Volunteer!].

She was instrumental in getting the NY Green Party ballot status when she ran for Lt. Governor with “Grandpa” Al Lewis a few years back. They’ve since lost it again, thanks to the undemocratic alliance between the two major parties who have worked long and hard to squash citizen involvement. The usual corporate suspects are already lining up in opposition.

Alice has a long history of hard work for the under-represented – we know, just like Esmond Lyons in Glens Falls, that she’d make a great mayor. She’ll be talking with former NYS Green Party Chair Mark Dunlea on his WRPI radio program tonight at 5 pm.

Alice needs 1,500 valid signatures to get on the ballot, and petitioners to help her. The petitioning period
started Tuesday (July 12) and ends August 23. She will also need donations, and people to help with various campaign tasks, phone banking, literature drops, registering new voters, etc.

You can reach the campaign at 463-8653 or albanygreens@yahoo.com.

Send donations to:

Friends of Alice Green
PO Box 8481
Albany, NY 12208


Wednesday, July 13, 2005

After A Blink The Eye Opens Again

After a short vacation, we’re back! And so apparently is the Albany Eye. After a long hiatus this spring when the only posts were obscure song lyrics, the Albany Eye has re-joined the blogosphere (if he ever really left). Apparently, the fear of being outed by his/her enemies has abated. The Eye’s first post, a slam on ADK Almanack favorite Metroland, is way out of line – Metroland is the Capital / Saratoga Region’s best weekly. We challenge the Eye to name another that does even equal the job. Sure, they’re not news heavy like Adirondack regional favorite the Hill Country Observer – but they’re not acting like a horny kid in print either. What other local media outlet even bothers to look at the candidates early enough in the process that it actually matters, say before the primary?


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.


Thursday, June 23, 2005

Another Attack on Local Indy Media

Federal agents raided the downtown office of Brattleboro Vermont’s low-power community radio (10-watt) station Radio Free Brattleboro (107.9 rfb) yesterday morning seizing (ahem… stealing) thousands of dollars worth of equipment and leaving a warrant on the unmanned console [full story].

Long ago in the history of radio federal officials gave away the public airwaves to their corporate buddies. rfb is “a non-commercial and commercial free all access independent community radio station” and that simply won’t do. Here’s a nice profile. Here’s A Big List of Low-Power FM Stations

Adirondack Almanack encourages readers to join with their neighbors to seize back the airwaves – some local broadcast opportunities:

Grassroots Radio Conference and Radio Barnraising
Florence, MA Aug 4-7.

Saratoga Media Center
Get involved with demanding the Public Access we’re due!

WRPI – 91.5 FM Troy
Get Involved in one of the countries oldest community radio stations.

WGFR – ACC Radio
Adirondack Community College students – seize control of your radio station!

Prometheus Radio
A Great Resource

Berkshire Community Radio Alliance (97.7 WBCR)
The Latest and Greatest Local Effort


Tuesday, June 21, 2005

The Faces of Fascism

We’re slipping further into fascism – how do we know? Because we’ve seen the unabashedly inhumane rule of the corporate-military-industrial complex over working people before.

Because we are now detaining well over 10,000 people without charges, without identifying who they are, without the ability to face their accusers, without allowing them to contact an attorney, without allowing them to contact their families, with no hope of ever being released, some of them are being tortured and some are being killed. If these people were all together in one place it would be a concentration camp – its obvious, and here and now only the sinister and the ignorant make excuses for it. But that’s not what today’s Almanack is really all about.

There has been a constant barrage of criticism of the corporate and mainstream press, it’s complete failure to act independently, both locally and nationally. Now, the party bent on one party rule, having eliminated the so-called opposition party by first falsely identifying them as one, and then declaring them cowards and traitors, is determined to eliminate any media that even vaguely questions thier motives or the results of their actions.

It’s nothing new… but what is new, is WAMC’s Alan Chartock acknowledging that something is fishy in his political world, it’s too bad that he has waited until now (when his income is under attack) to sound the clarion. Of course his regular fantasies and rebukes of third party politics – a third party who has shown the only real opposition to the military-corporate-industrial complex – have helped put us where we are… and where we’re going. His credibility as opposition matches that of the Democratic Party.

It’s been reported that near 2,000 “coalition soliders” have been killed in Iraq – that’s in Iraq – and nearly 13,000 wounded. Apparently, because seriously wounded troops are almost immediately loaded on planes for Germany, then not counted as deaths in Iraq when they die enroute, the real number of US deaths is near 9,000. The numbers of Iraqi deaths are somewhere above 25 ,000 and it’s only getting worse.

What local media outlet (aside from the tiny Metroland, and smaller Indies) will be the first to acknowledge what is now painfully obvious?

When? And when they do realize what they’ve done – will they have any shame? Doubtful.


Thursday, June 16, 2005

We like beer…

Especially good local beer. Lake Placid Pub and Brewery’s UBU (as in “sit Ubu sit”) is an extra special favorite. We’ve always been a fan of the Saranac Brewery, though we were terribly distressed when regional favorite Utica Club left the shelves in droves. Sure Saranac is keeping the old F. X. Matt / Utica brewery operating, but Utica Club was a classic! So it’s with great hopes and anticipation that we look forward to the return of the old greats in a retro beer revival.

We’re glad Yuengling is back, but we still fear for Genny, and the now lamented 12 Horse Ale.


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