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.


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, 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.


Monday, June 13, 2005

Indians and Empire

We like the Empire Journal. Sure they are a little nutty sometimes. They can be rabidly right wing. But they have an anti-establishmentarianism bent that makes up for their repetitive hang up on the Terri Schiavo case and their fear that behind every government official is an illegal schmuck assuming illegitimate authority over the common people – let’s face it, we like them because, whether they know it or not, they’re good old fashion libertarian anarchists. We like to check in with Ginger Berlin, whose latest rant on political free speech and the blogosphere is timely and locally produced.

We have a lot of folks who say they are reporting on our area. WAMC claims to have a North Country Reporter. NCPR has plenty of North Country news, provided you limit the North Country to everything above and to the West of Exit 31. The Champlain Channel, Capital News 9, they all have pretensions to North Country reporting – those who pay attention know they’re false.

But leave it to the Empire Journal to give us the latest on the Mohawk Land Claim – 12,000 acres in the Adirondack Region are at issue, local taxes are at issue, Indian Sovereignty is at issue.

The Mohawk (one tribe of the Iroquois Confederacy) have argued that thanks to the 1796 Treaty with the Seven Nations of Canada, they still own the Village of St. Regis, a six mile-square piece of land in Northern NY, a chunk on the Grasse River in Massena, and a number of islands in the St. Lawrence River – including Barnhart Island.

The Iroquois, although inspirational in our own form of government, defenders of America in every war since the earliest, and an independent country in their own right, have been given short shrift by the State of New York and the United States. ADK Almanack wishes them the best.


Sunday, June 12, 2005

Come on your honor… everyone’s doing it!

Famous pot smokers aside. Last week, in a second bid to subvert the will of voters in ten states, the Bush Administration got the US Supreme Court to rule that the Feds can prosecute the sick for marijuana crimes when they are legally proscribed cannabis in states that have medical marijuana laws – and they have wasted no time in getting it done. We already know about the high costs of prohibition (especially in the North Country). We’d like to know where the states rights conservatives stand on this one, but we’re aware that the media is in their pocket so it was no surprise that the story quickly faded from public and the tough questions were never asked – or at least never answered.

It will have an impact in Vermont though, and in New York where a half-hearted reform of the draconian Rockefeller Drug Laws last year means that the battle over our last war — the War on Drugs (remember that one?), which has imprisoned millions of Americans and filled North Country jails and prisons with our non-violent neighbors, is far from over. A recent edition of public radio’s To the Point makes a good one – The War on Drugs has become the War on Pot. It only makes sense; people on the political left seem to smoke more pot after all.

A little history:

Draconian: From the Greek King Draco, whose laws were so severe they were said to be written in blood.

Marijuana Act of 1937 – First federal law to limit access to Marijuana via a tax (the original tax stamps like those that used to appear on cigarettes and booze) were recently auctioned off by the Treasury Department. Marijuana was outlawed first in the west (particularly) California and Louisiana.

In Cali (now said to be home to America’s most potent pot) the impetus was the need to eliminate immigrant Mexican labor during the depression – since they were pretty much the only folks around smoking the weed, passing laws outlawing it and then arrested and deporting them was a great way to free up jobs for Okies and other white working poor.

In Louisiana, it was jazz musicians and racism that inspired the right-wing prosecutors to outlaw pot and wage a war against the evils it inspired – mainly that Negro music and it’s decadent dancing, which it was said led to white slavery, black on white rape, and you name it.


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.