Tuesday, March 17, 2009

John’s Ten Favorite Irish Songs For St. Paddy’s

Mary’s post on local traditional Irish music today inspired this list of “must have” Irish music everyone with Irish aspirations should know. Although these tunes are in no particular order, learn them and you’ll never spend St. Paddy’s alone.

Whiskey in the Jar – This classic tune is believed to have originated in the late 1600s or early 1700s. Since then it’s by been covered by The Dubliners, Thin Lizzy, Peter, Paul & Mary, Gerry Garcia and David Grisman, and Metallica. My favorite line: “I first produced my pistol, and then produced my rapier.”

Wild Colonial Boy – About 40,000 Irish convicts were transported to Australia between 1791 and 1867, many as political prisoners. There they continued to battle the British authorities as Jack Duggan does in this ditty – it doesn’t end well for Jack. My favorite line: “A terror to Australia was, the wild colonial boy”

Whiskey, You’re The Devil –
Whiskey leads our happy balladeer over hills and mountains. The word whiskey is an Anglicisation of the Gaelic “uisce beatha” (pronounced sort of like ishka ba) which translates as “water of life.” Today the Irish word is “craythur”; get The Pouges version. My favorite line: “Oh, whiskey you’re the devil, you’re leading me astray”

Finnegan’s Wake – James Joyce based his book in part on this song which includes the death of Tim – a hod carrier (a mason’s laborer) – and his subsequent wake at which a brawl breaks out, whiskey is spilled on Tim and he is revived. The Dropkick Murphy’s punk version is good craic. My favorite line: “You see he’d a sort of a tipplers way, but for the love for the liquor poor Tim was born. To help him on his way each day, he’d a drop of the craythur every morn.”

I Got Laid on James Joyce Grave – A Black 47 original. The band is named for the worst year of the Famine, Black 47. The song is an homage to Joyce and that says enough. My favorite line: “I Got Laid on James Joyce’s Grave, I was hoping that his genius would rub off on me.”

Wild Rover – A Traditional favorite you will hear on St. Paddy’s almost anywhere. It sounds like a proper old Irish drinking song, but in truth it is a Temperance song from the early 1800s. My favorite line “I’ve been a wild rover for many’s the year, and I spent all me money on whiskey and beer.”

James Connolly – One of my favorite songs of all time about the socialist labor leader, one time resident of Troy, NY, and commander of the Free Dublin forces during the Easter Rebellion of 1916. “With Pearce and Connolly bidding each other goodbye,” he was seriously wounded, captured, and taken to Kilmainham Jail where he was tied to a chair and executed. My favorite line: “So don’t give up your rifles boys, hold on to the dream, of a republic for the working class – economic liberty.”

Come Out Ye Black and Tans – Although Americans typically don’t know it, the half ale and half stout served as a “Black and Tan” is called a “Half and Half” in Ireland, and for good reason. The Black and Tans were a paramilitary group used to suppress revolution in Ireland in the 1920s. Their main targets were the Irish Republican Army, but they were notorious for their attacks on Irish civilians. My favorite line: “Come out ye Black and Tans, come out and fight me like a man, show your wife how you won medals out in Flanders, tell her how the IRA, made you run like hell away, from the green and lovely lanes in Killeshandra.”

Seven Drunken Nights – When The Dubliners play this song, they announce they can only sing five of the nights – the last two verses are generally considered too raunchy for the general public. If you hear them in the pub where you are, you know you are in the right place. My favorite line: “Your drunk, your drunk, you silly old fool, and still you cannot see.”

Irish Men Will Set Them Free – The beginning line – “In the jail that held McSwiney; In the prison where he died” – is all you need here, but there is more to this tale of women imprisoned for their “love of dear old Ireland.” The title is sometimes offered as “The IRA Will Set them Free.” My favorite line: “Twas the love of dear old Ireland brought them to a prison hell, but the ghosts of Pearse and Connolly, filled their lonely prison cell, Clarke and Plunkett stand beside them, McDonagh McDermott and Wolfe Tone, and all the voices of old Ireland, cry for us to bring them home.”


Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Traditional Irish Music for St. Patrick’s Day

If you like real Irish music, the northern Adirondacks is a good place to be this St. Patrick’s Day. Michael Cooney, an All-Ireland champion piper many times over, is playing in several venues.

Cooney was born in Tipperary, where he learned tunes from local fiddle and accordion players. In the 1980s he came to the United States, recently moving to Lake Placid.

With the band Aiseiri, Cooney will be playing today at P2s Pub in Tupper Lake 4-6 p.m. and at Kyna’s Pub in Malone 8-11 p.m. Wednesday Aisieri will play 12:10-1:10 p.m. at North Country Community College’s Saranac Lake campus, in the Connector (cafeteria).

A lot of bands play Irish music, but it’s rare to find musicians so dedicated to the old-country style. Aiseiri also features a singer, bodhrán (drum) and banjo player as well as another uilleann (elbow) pipes player who complement each other beautifully.

Aiseiri is organizing the second annual Festival of Ireland in Lake Placid, to be held Labor Day weekend.

Sláinte.


Tuesday, March 17, 2009

2009 St. Paddy’s Day Donegal Beard Contest

UPDATE: Photos can be found here.

Join your favorite Adirondack Almanack editor (yeah… me) at the St. Paddy’s Day Donegal Beard Contest, Gore Mountain Base Lodge, today between 1-4 pm; judging at 3 pm.

A Donegal Beard (also called a Chin-curtain or Lincoln) is a particular style of Irish hirsute appendage (facial hair) that grows along the jaw line and covers the chin – no soul patch, no mustache.

Contest Rules: All contestants must be clean shaven January 1st and grow a Donegal Beard by St. Patrick’s Day. On the day of the contest all beards must conform to the Donegal standard.

Contestants will be judged on the following criteria:

1. Length
2. Fullness
3. Style and Sophistication
4. General Manliness

Judges will be chosen at random from the crowd by three wise Adirondack women – the Donegal Biddies. Donegal Biddies are also responsible for the issuance of Clean Face Citations for violations of the Donegal standard. All men without a Donegal Beard are subject to a $1 fine.


Monday, March 16, 2009

The 2009 Adirondack March Madness Bracket


Well, it is that time of year again, when office worker productivity takes a dive as all thoughts and computer monitors turn to the NCAA basketball tournament. For those of you who could not possibly care less about “the dance,” but resent having to do something useful while your co-workers squander their afternoons and paychecks poring over free-throw percentages and betting pools, your friends at Adirondack Almanack offer this equally pointless alternative: Our first (and possibly last) annual Adirondack Bracket…

Since late last fall, bits and scraps of odd Adirondack trivia and associated miscellanea ranging from the obvious to the obscure have been floating around the desk, vying for recognition and publication in one form or another. This weekend we finally got around to putting them all into a feed-cap, jamming the feed-cap into the computer disk drive and and generating a random list. We then proceeded to select the top 64 items from that list (with a few minor alterations) and plug them into our tournament bracket. In the coming weeks we will post the randomly selected outcomes of each pairing after each corresponding round of the NCAAs. As our Adirondack Bracket reaches its thrilling climax, we hope you will share your thoughts on the pairings and your predictions of the outcomes. Let the random acts of Adirondack mud Season mania begin.


Monday, March 16, 2009

State Parks 2009 Reservation Numbers Up

More proof that camping remains an inexpensive vacation option came this late last week when the New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation announced that advance camping reservations are currently up 6 percent, noting that State Parks are booking record numbers of vacations.

According to the state, there are already 45,300 advance reservations for campsite, cabins and cottages for the 2009 season, a level that is more than 2,650 ahead of the total at same time last year. Advance reservations at state parks campgrounds have been steadily increasing in recent years, with a record 137,000 bookings in 2008.

OPRHP oversees 67 campgrounds with more than 8,000 campsites, 800 cabins and 41 vacation rentals. Reservations are accepted for campsites and cabins, from one day to nine months in advance of the planned arrival date by calling toll free 1-800-456-CAMP or online, www.nysparks.com.


Monday, March 16, 2009

Kids Enter Big Tupper Ski Area Fight

It’s hard to believe that Big Tupper, the ski area in Tupper Lake with a vertical drop of 1,136 feet, has been closed for a decade. A pair of local owners threw in the towel in 1999 after a string of money-losing seasons.

Small and midsize ski centers are marginal businesses in the Adirondack Park. There’s only one still privately owned inside the Blue Line: Royal Mountain, in Caroga Lake, which balances the books by hosting motocross in the off-season. There are some little town-run hills, and the village of Speculator recently took over bankrupt Oak Mountain. The state Olympic Regional Development Authority’s larger Whiteface and Gore Mountains seem to be going strong in Wilmington and North Creek.

Tupper Lake has a long skiing tradition, and you can’t blame people there for wanting their kids to grow up on the home slope. Diana Foley, a town resident, is organizing a rally at the base of the mountain at 4 p.m. today for local students to show support for reopening it.

But strings are attached. Ever since the ski area was sold in 2004 it has become the centerpiece of a development plan that also includes 652 high-end home and townhouse lots, a 60-room inn and other amenities. Foley has spoken out in favor of a tax exemption for the Adirondack Club and Resort.

The project has become a sensitive issue, drawing questions about its scale, financing, tax breaks, new utilities and backcountry building lots. Inside Tupper Lake, there have been shows of political and public support. Some have questioned whether asking kids to wear ski jackets and carry signs shills them into a much larger debate. And to miss a point. Nobody is against skiing.

Foley said this morning that the kids are fully aware of the broader issues, and many young people came unsolicited to a rally in favor of the project last month. “I think the more noise we can make the better,” she said. “What are the students going to have when they graduate from high school?” There are few jobs in town, she said, and the resort as a whole, not just the ski area, would give Tupper Lake an economic boost

A memorandum from the developers detailing ski deals that the town will get as part of an exchange for creation of a new sewer district is distracting. Free skiing for Franklin County residents age 70 or older is nice, but free skiing for septuagenarians no matter where they live is standard across the country. Likewise free skiing for young children. Any Tupper Lake student with straight As or perfect attendance would get a free season pass. Whiteface and Gore’s Youth Commission Programs offer youth-group deals including six full days of skiing and a lesson for $103, regardless of grades or attendance. Titus Mountain, north of the Blue Line, offers similar incentives to young skiers.

Which is not to say that lead developer Michael Foxman doesn’t have a point when he argues that the ski area can’t be self-sustaining; the second homes are necessary to support it, he maintains, and so a hostage situation enters its fifth year.

His Philadelphia-based investor group originally planned to open a new base lodge and skiing by Christmas 2006, but the project is still in Adirondack Park Agency-ordered adjudication as well as mediation with three dozen concerned parties. The parties aren’t supposed to talk about it, but last month Foxman sent a letter to the Plattsburgh Press-Republican saying the plan remains alive.

He also noted that Big Tupper languished on the market for five years when the economy was “booming,” criticizing a suggestion by an environmentalist involved in the mediation that the town try to obtain the ski area and pursue other buyers. “Had it not been for the actions of [the environmentalist] and his peers (not the APA), your readers and their children might be skiing Big Tupper now,” Foxman wrote.

Organizers say Foxman is expected to attend the child rally today and a meeting of the Tupper Lake town board tonight.


Sunday, March 15, 2009

Champlain Valley Architecture Tours

As part of the Lake Champlain Quadricentennial celebration, Adirondack Architectural Heritage is presenting a new tour series, Architecture of the Champlain Valley. The series features half-day walking tours of eight towns along the lake, led by experienced and professional guides. Tours will be at 9:30 am and 1:00 pm on Saturdays in May and June unless otherwise noted.

May 2- Willsboro: One of the oldest settlements in Essex County, Willsboro has a rich history connected to agriculture, paper industry, stone quarrying, shipbuilding, and tourism.

May 9- Keeseville: Keeseville is a town with a long history as an industrial community that manufactured products from wood and iron ore using the power of the Ausable River.

May 16- Essex: Essex prospered during much of the 19th century as a shipping and ship building port, and today, as a National Historic Register District, contains many wonderful examples of various styles of architecture.

May 23- Elizabethtown: As the county seat, Elizabethtown boasts a large historic government complex, and a number of buildings that reflect the town’s social, political and economic importance.

May 30- Port Henry: Port Henry and the surrounding town of Moriah have the longest industrial history of any community in the Champlain Valley, beginning with iron mining and manufacturing in the late 1700s.

June 6- Ticonderoga: Historically associated with military events, Ticonderoga developed as an industrial town connected to paper manufacturing, and today offers more than three dozen buildings listed on the National Register.

June 20- Wadhams (10:00)/Westport (1:00): The hamlet of Wadhams lies just north of Westport on the Boquet River, and was once known for its industrial pursuits which supported the outlying farms. Though industry and agriculture played a role in the development of Westport, it has gained most of its identity as a summer resort town.

June 27- Ironville: In the town of Crown Point, the settlement of Ironville is the site of the Penfield Homestead Museum and was once the center of a thriving iron industry.

Attendance is free of charge, but advance registration is required. Reservations may be made by calling AARCH at 834-9328.

Adirondack Architectural Heritage (AARCH) is the private, non-profit, historic preservation organization for the Adirondack Park region. This is one of over fifty events in our annual series highlighting the region’s vast architectural legacy. For more information on membership and our complete program schedule contact AARCH at (518) 834-9328 or visit our website at www.aarch.org.


Saturday, March 14, 2009

19th Century Houseplants Program at Adk Museum

Nearly everyone who endures long Adirondack winters understands how important flowering houseplants and a bit of green can be to lift the spirits. An African violet on the window sill or a simple spider plant in the hall can make a difference!

Adirondack housekeepers felt the same need for “green” in a winter landscape a century ago. However, the practical challenges of indoor gardening would have been daunting. Before central heating and modern insulation — water sometimes froze at night, while overcast skies and the expense of window glass made houses perpetually dim inside.

Adirondack Museum Curator Hallie Bond will present “Mountain Greenery” on March 22, 2009 at the Museum, a program on the joys and challenges of keeping houseplants at the turn of the last century. Diaries, historic photographs, and regional literature document how Adirondack women once added cheer and beauty to a long, dreary season.

Houseplants were also treasured because they provided connections to others in the community. Adirondack women cut blooms for winter weddings or funerals and shared cuttings with special friends. “Mountain Greenery” will provide an interesting footnote to the history of nineteenth century rural life and offer tips about hardy heritage houseplants for today’s indoor gardeners.

Hallie E. Bond has been Curator at the Adirondack Museum since 1987. She has written extensively on regional history and material culture including Boats and Boating in the Adirondacks, published by Syracuse University Press in 1995 and ‘A Paradise for Boys and Girls‘ Children’s Camps in the Adirondacks, Syracuse University Press, 2005.

The program is part of the museum’s popular Cabin Fever Sunday series. Held in the Auditorium, the presentation will begin promptly at 1:30 p.m. Cabin Fever Sundays are offered at no charge to museum members and children of elementary school age or younger. The fee for non-members is $5.00. Refreshments will be served. For additional information, please call the Education Department at (518) 352-7311, ext. 128 or visit the museum’s web site at www.adirondackmuseum.org.


Friday, March 13, 2009

James Tedisco and The GOP’s 20th CD Hopes

National media have framed the race for New York’s 20th congressional district seat as the pivot point on the National Republican Party’s path to resurgence. However, recent opinion polls of likely voters show that this might not be the slam dunk the party wants or expects. In fact the numbers continue a trend which has already become well-established over the course of this decade. If the trend continues, the GOP — fresh off a well financed loss in the same district — may be fulfilling Albert Einstein’s definition of insanity. And while New York Assembly Minority Leader Jim Tedisco’s hijacking of the Republican nomination may have been more a reflection of personal ambition than of party strategy, The RNC has bought into his dream quite conspicuously. If Tedisco and state and national party leaders are unable to stem the momentum of the rising Murphy campaign, this race may well become a showcase not of a political movement making a comeback, but of one coming undone altogether.


Friday, March 13, 2009

This Week’s Top Adirondack News Stories


Friday, March 13, 2009

Adirondack Blogging Round-Up


Thursday, March 12, 2009

20th CD: Eric Sundwall’s Petitions Challenged

The Adirondack Daily Enterprise is first out of the box with the news that two people have filed objections against the nominating petitions of Libertarian candidate for the 20th Congressional District, Eric Sundwall.

The objections were filed by Laurie Kelly Sickles of Ballston Spa and Donald J. Neddo of Waterford, according to state Board of Elections Public Information Officer John Conklin. Conklin said each is a general objection, or a statement of intent to file a more specific objection, which they have until Wednesday to do.

Neddo, 75, is a member of the Halfmoon Conservative Committee who ran for party state committee membership in 2008. He was formerly a school board member in the Waterford-Halfmoon school district. He was also responsible for organizing a number of rallies in support of the Iraq war in 2003, which he stopped doing after admitting that he had lied about having served in Korea when he is, in fact, not a veteran, according to the Times Union of Albany.

Sickles is a real estate agent and a member of the Ballston Spa Education Foundation.

Conklin said Sundwall had around 7,000 signatures on his petitions this year.


Thursday, March 12, 2009

Forbes, Madoff Lists and the Adirondacks

It was a tough year for the world’s billionaires, Forbes reported today. Hundreds of the world’s wealthiest are merely millionaires now, including Sandy Weill, former CEO of Citigroup and seasonal resident of Upper Saranac Lake. “His Citigroup shares have lost nearly all their value,” Forbes says, estimating that Citi shares have fallen 95 percent in the last 12 months. The financial services conglomerate that Weill built is now the recipient of a $45 billion federal bailout.

Weill is prominent in New York City philanthropic circles, but he maintains a low profile in the Adirondacks. Up here his wife, Joan, is much better known, especially for her generosity to Paul Smith’s College, where she serves as chairman of its board of trustees and spearheaded construction of a library (photo above) and student center that bear her name.

A Lake George summer resident, however, is still in good standing on the billionaire list. Forrest Mars Jr., co-owner of the privately held Mars candy company (which also includes Wrigley, Pedigree pet food and other brands), is the 43rd wealthiest person in the world with a net worth of $9 billion and growing, Forbes says. Mars and his wife Deborah Clarke Mars have a camp on the lake’s northeast shore, not far from Deborah’s hometown of Ticonderoga.

The Marses have been locally philanthropic, most notably to Fort Ticonderoga, but they withdrew support for the historic landmark last year after disagreements with its administration.

Meanwhile, Bernard L. Madoff pleaded guilty this morning to defrauding investors of about $65 billion dollars in a Ponzi scheme. The story seems unrelated, but it also has Adirondack connections, particularly for charitable giving. One of the victims on the Madoff list is the New York City–based Prospect Hill Foundation, a longtime supporter of many Adirondack environmental nonprofits. It’s still unclear what the repercussions will be for the foundation and its grant recipients. Also on the Madoff list is Anne Childs who — with her husband the Freedom Tower architect David Childs — owns a hilltop house in Keene.

If you know of other Adirondack connections on the Forbes or Madoff lists, please let us know.


Thursday, March 12, 2009

Growing Your Energy Independence Program

Bruce Brownell, founder of Adirondack Alternative Energy, will present a program at The Wild Center this Saturday, March 14th at 1 pm titled “Growing Your Energy Independence.” Brownell has over 30 years experience in passive building construction, and has been constructing passive homes and educating on the topic throughout the north east. At 1pm Bruce will present on a unique method of home construction and can offer ideas for things you can do today to improve energy efficiency in your home. (proper use of drapes, pipe insulation, wall/floor/ ceiling insulation, sealing up cracks around windows and wall openings, window placement, use, air circulation, programmable thermostats, etc.)

There will also be an optional tour following the program which will be leaving from The Wild Center around 2:30. The tour, lead by Bruce, will travel to Lake Placid to visit a passive house that is under construction. The tour is optional and participants need to provide their own transportation.

The event is free for members OR with paid admission. For more information or directions, please visit the Wild Center’s website or call 359-7800


Wednesday, March 11, 2009

New Poll Shows Race for 20th CD Tightening

A new poll sponsored by the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee shows a tightening of the contest for New York’s 20th congressional district seat. The survey of 400 likely voters, taken February 24-25th, shows Republican James Tedisco ahead with 44% followed by Democrat Scott Murphy with 37% and Libertarian Eric Sundwall with 4%. Fifteen percent of those surveyed had not yet made up their minds. Balloting is slated for March 31st.