Posts Tagged ‘Arts’

Tuesday, September 4, 2007

End of Summer: Adirondack Travel Edition

Now that the summer tourist season is mostly over, we’ll present what has become our annual list of some of the best travel blogging of the Adirondacks we’ve seen. If you have a post you find worth sharing let us know.

One of our favorite local blogs, Adirondack Musing, took their annual trip to Saratoga for a day at the flat track, the harness track, and the racino. The posts, with some nice photos, are in four parts (Saratoga, Backstreetch Tour Parts One and Two, and Race Day).

Another local, Rebbecca Leonard, has been travelling the highways and byways of the Adirondacks all summer trying to sell her first book, Adirondack Nightmare: A Spooky Tale in the North Country, which she self published in the spring. Her journeys are interesting slices of life in the region – good and bad.

Dave Schatsky just returned from an Adirondack vacation:

We didn’t see much wildlife–local experts say the park system is so large that the bobcats, martins, and other mid-sized mammals have no motive for straying closed to humans. Black bears are not hard to encounter there, but it’s better not to and we didn’t either. We did see a salamander–my favorite amphibian–frogs, wild turkeys and deer.

Dominique shared her experiences and suggestions of camping with her toddler at Cranberry Lake in Sophia In the Adirondacks:

Make sure that your child can be very involved….when my husband went fishing, we had a small toy fishing pole so that Sophia could emulate what he was doing. Also, a variety in the level of activity is beneficial. It was great to relax for the afternoon on the beach after a busy morning of hiking and campground activities.

A Woman Obsessed took a Mini Yarn Crawl through the Adirondacks with stops in Tupper Lake and Lake Placid.

Our first stop on the yarn crawl was Lonesome Landing in Saranac Lake. Cute town, cute store, cute owner. Things were a little disorganized, but there was interesting yarn, out of print books, and a great deal on Opal sock yarn ($11!!!!) I brought home this darling, after Meg spotted me the cash to make the purchase- if you go to Lonesome Landing, be forewarned that they only accept cash and checks!

Warren D. Jorgensen left Tarrytown for An Adirondack Mountain Sojourn:

Anxious to put work-city-civilization-traffic behind, I put the hammer down on the five hour slab ride that put me off exit 30 and onto route 73 west and into the park. The weight of a thousand and one problems lifted off my shoulders with the sight of the High Peaks, and for some reason, I felt at home. I have been coming to these mountains since 1958, and the sight of mountains always warms my soul.

As the evening faded, a canoeist paddled across the lake off the rear deck of our cabin just outside Lake Placid, and we decided that in this nothingness, we would do nothing. No plans, no itinerary, but just follow the front wheel and see where it would take us on the roads that wound through this “Forever Wild” wilderness.

Kathleen at Be Still And Know spent some time at Chapel Island on Upper Saranac Lake:

The loons cry, campfires burn, birds sing, leaves begin to turn, fish jump, children splash with delight into the cold lake water, water skiers ride the wake, sailboats sail, pontoons party their way around the waters edge, eagles scream and soar, and the earth smells ever so sweet. I’m bundled up with all my sweatshirts, and strip down to my tankini, forgiving the drastic temperature change…just to be here basking in the glory of Mother Nature at her best.

Many of the posts have some outstanding photos, but be sure to check out the flickr Adirondacks photo pool for more great Adirondack vacation amateur photography.


Friday, August 24, 2007

Sketches of Sam Bush by Speedy Arnold

George (Speedy) Arnold plays guitar and sings for the bluegrass band Three Doug Knight, which appears at local bluegrass festivals in the Adirondack region of New York State. The band is most enjoyable and we’ve heard them play several times this summer. Last week, at the Otis Mtn. Festival, I learned that Speedy Arnold also illustrates children’s books. Later I saw him sketching during the Sam Bush set. As with many able and talented people who live in the Adirondacks, Speedy does a variety of things to keep body and soul together. He serves as a school bus driver in the Ausable Valley Central School District, owns and operates Arnold’s Grocery and Likker Lokker in Keeseville, NY and serves as assessor for the Town of Ausable. Information about his illustrations can be found here.

Here are two sketches Speedy did during Sam’s set.


You can contact him about others.


Thursday, August 9, 2007

Otis Mountain Music Festival – Preview

The Otis Mountain Music Festival will hold its fifth annual event on August 17th and 18th in Elizabethtown, NY along route 9 between the route 73 split and Elizabethtown. This festival has been moving its date and searching for an identity which will sell in this huge rural county within the Adirondack Park in northern New York. It remains to be seen whether scheduling two of the most popular and progressive bluegrass bands in this venue will bring in the crowds needed to make this event pay. I can only hope. In scheduling the great, established Sam Bush Band and the wonderful emerging band The Infamous Stringdusters to appear on Saturday, promoter Jeff Allot is offering a day of the very finest progressive bluegrass that can be found. He is also offering an interesting, if little known, supporting cast ranging from traditional bluegrass to indie/rock that may hit the spot or fail to please.

The setting of the Otis Mountain Festival could not be any more beautiful. The band stand sits at the base of a gentle ski hill which slopes upward and away to form a natural amphitheater. There is plenty of room for people to see the bands and, I understand, an area has been set aside to permit dancing without interfering with viewing and listening. In the past, this festival has featured excellent food venders featuring offerings several cuts above the usual fair food served at bluegrass and music festivals. There is rough camping available and good transportation from the rather remote parking areas and the festival site. Allot has gone to great lengths to make this event one in which there has been extensive community involvement, and, in its 2005 version, succeeded admirably. Last year he changed the date to conflict with another New York State festival, which we chose to attend. This year he has again chosen a new date. I thought the weekend after Labor Day was a great date to hold a festival, but apparently it didn’t draw sufficient crowds, and it was chilly at night. Perhaps finding a regular date and keeping it would be a good way to build the festival audience.

Sam Bush is one of the most important influences in bluegrass music since its invention by Bill Monroe. With the establishment of The New Grass Revival in 1971, bluegrass opened itself to the new sounds coming from Rock and Roll bringing new sounds, rhythms, and themes into the acoustic music Monroe had pioneered and whose influence continues to dominate the genre. In his history of bluegrass, Neil V. Rosenberg points out that the musicians have always been out ahead of the fans of bluegrass music in their willingness to explore new approaches to the music. For more than 35 years, Sam Bush has been in the lead. He has introduced electric instruments and drums to the genre without ever bending it too far from its roots. His mandolin and fiddle playing are extraordinary. His current band, with Scott Vestal on banjo, Byron House on bass, Chris Brown on Drums, and Stephen Mougin on guitar continues in the tradition Bush has established, but the band is really Sam Bush. The list of performers Bush has played with forms a who’s who of bluegrass and country music greats.


While the Sam Bush Band represents the genesis and progress of modern bluegrass music, The Infamous Stringdusters stand for the state of the art. Composed of a group of players, several of whom studied at the famed Berklee School of Music in Boston, this fast rising group has taken the country by storm during the past eighteen months. I have written about their debut album “Fork in the Road” here. They still need to establish a solid record of ongoing accomplishment, but this first recording is better than a good start. Otis Mountain gives listeners one of their last chances to hear and see the original band, as brilliant flat-picking guitarist Chris Eldridge is leaving the band to join Chris Thile. Eldridge represents a link between the past and the future. He’s the son of Ben Eldridge, an original and continuing member of The Seldom Scene, who is acknowledged as a master of innovation on the banjo. Chris Eldridge appears to be in some other world as his wonderful solos and oh-so-solid rhythm guitar contribute mightily to the Stringdusters’ drive and style. Banjo player Chris Pandolfi is the first banjo graduate of the Berklee School of Music, perhaps the premier school for contemporary jazz, rock, and pop musicians today. Jeremy Garrett on fiddle comes from Idaho where he was a member of his father’s band The Grasshoppers, and he studied at South Plains College in Texas, where there is a well-known bluegrass program. Garrett sings lead and plays fiddle. Jesse Cobb, on mandolin, also comes from a family of bluegrass musicians. Andy Hall on Dobro and providing lead vocals is also a graduate of Berklee, where he majored in Music Production and Engineering. Finally, Travis Book, the newest member of the band on bass, comes from Colorado, where he was recognized for his playing as well as his lead singing. This band came together after all its members had moved to Nashville and established themselves with a variety of touring bands as well as studio musicians. Their collaboration grew out of jamming in the rich Nashville scene and his matured as they formed the Stringdusters and have worked to forge a distinctive sound and style. As a band they are still maturing and should provide years of delightful surprises to
thoughtful and informed listeners.

As might be expected with two such budget busting bands, the remainder of the lineup emphasizes either bands you haven’t heard of or local/regional bands that don’t have to travel too far or demand too much to appear. This does not, however, mean you won’t find something worth listening to. Big Spike, acting as host band this weekend, comes from Vermont and seeks to recreate the sounds of bluegrass and country music as it existed at about the time bluegrass began to distinguish itself as a sub-genre within the country music rubric. According to their web site “The band aims to recreate a sound that is long gone from country music, a sound closer to the honky-tonk and early bluegrass sound of the 50’s than it is to what’s played in Nashville today.” They are justly familiar to bluegrass fans around New York and New England.

Similarly, The New England Bluegrass Band, while best known in its namesake region, consists of excellent musicians presenting music in mostly traditional formats. They have recently been joined by Ashleigh Caudill, a new graduate of Berklee School of Music on bass and vocals. Joe Walsh, new mandolin player for the group, is also a student at Berklee. Since the Infamous Stringdusters are on the bill here, I wouldn’t be too surprised to see Chris Pandolfi sitting in with the group, too. Lincoln Myers, Ron Cody, and Cecil Abels are long term members of this excellent bluegrass band. All the members have experiences that cross genres and also have considerable range within bluegrass. You can expect first class sets from this band on Saturday.

Three Doug Knight is a local bluegrass band that provides very satisfactory covers of bluegrass standards as well amusing songs written by guitar player Speedy Arnold. They will provide more than satisfactory sets on both Friday and Saturday. For me, Wild By Nature, Greenwich Mean Time, and Crossing North are unknown quantities. You can find a little more information on Greenwich Mean Time here at their MySpace entry. They provide a couple of cuts from their catalog. Their blurb seems determined not to provide any useful information about them except that they come from Olympia, WA. Crossing North is a duo based in Plattsburgh, NY. You can hear some of their cuts here.

Tickets to the Otis Mtn. Music Festival are $24 advance until August 18th and then $29 at the gate. The Festival map can be found here. This eclectic festival looks like a really good bet. Between two great national bands, some pretty well-known regional bands, and some new experiences, you won’t be wasting your time.


Monday, August 6, 2007

Fox Family Bluegrass Festival – Preview

The 18th Annual Fox Family Bluegrass Festival will take place August 9 – 12, 2007 in Old Forge, NY. The Fox Family’s home is in the Adirondacks, even though they have relocated to Nashville. Fronted by the wonderful voice of Kim Fox, this band continues to host a traditional bluegrass festival. Accommodations are limited and the camping is rough. There are no hookups and the nearest shower requires a drive of several miles. Old Forge is located here, in the southwest corner of the massive Adirondack Park, close to the New York Thruway and I-81. The Adirondack Park, a six million acre state park, is the largest wilderness area east of the Mississippi River, a vast tract of woods, mountain, and lakes. Because many people harbor stereotypes about New York, few recognize that this magnificent wilderness lies with only a few hours’ drive of millions of people in the northeast and the Midwest.

IIIrd Tyme Out

Headline bands, in addition to the host band Fox Family, are IIIrd Tyme Out, Jr. Sisk & Rambler Choice, reunited and on tour, and The Gibson Brothers, one a local band but now a national band of growing popularity which retains its loyalty to the local festivals that booked them when they weren’t so big. It’s hard to tell just now who will turn up with IIIrd Tyme Out. Founded and fronted by Ray Deaton, Bassist and premier bass singer, has announced he is leaving the band and The Bluegrass Blog announces here that Edgar Loudermilk has replaced him. Deaton originally said he would stay the season, but has moved up his change. Mandolinist Alan Perdue has been replaced by mandolin master Wayne Benson, which will add considerable depth to the band. Russell Moore is a long-time standout on vocals and rhythm guitar. Steve Dilling has been with the band on banjo for sixteen years. He’s struggling with distonia, but an injured Dilling is still better than most banjo players. All-in-all, despite their recent changes, IIIrd Tyme Out should continue as a very strong band. It’s always interesting to see how a changing band develops. Watch them on stage as they discover new ways to present their music through the addition of new musicians.

Jr. Sisk has long been one of the premier voices in bluegrass music. When Blueridge broke up as Alan Bibey left to help form Grasstowne and Alan Johnson moved on to Doyle Lawson & Quicksilver (side note: Isn’t it interesting how many bands have former Quicksilver players and how this particular festival features several of them?) Jr. Sisk reconstituted Rambler’s Choice and began to tour with them. This group made one recording with Rounder in 1998. Junior, a resident of Virginia, played with the Lonesome River Band in their early days as well as with Wyatt Rice & Santa Cruz. His distinctive high lonesome tenor and solid rhythm guitar have added depth and character to every band he has played with.

Sarah Jarosz is a fourteen year old mandolin player who lives in Austin, TX. She has received a lot of recognition in IBMA’s effort to promote younger artists. There are a lot of young, female mandolin players out there just now. Sierra Hull and Jessica Lovell are just two of a growing number. Sarah Jarosz has joined this group. If half of Sarah’s professional friends on her MySpace page have seen and heard her, she’s likely to be worth your time, too. Aiophe Donavan of Crooked Still offers quite a comment.

The Gibson Brothers

The Gibson Brothers of course need no introduction to readers of this blog. Simply put, we believe this group is among the premier bluegrass bands in the nation. As their national recognition increases, they have lit up audiences from Yakima Washington to Myrtle Beach. No longer a regional band, the Gibsons originated in Ellenburg Depot, NY, only a few miles south of the Canadian border, but their characteristic brother harmonies and very strong instrumental support are without peer. Watch Eric Gibson, who is one of the few lead singers who picks effectively while singing. He has yet to receive adequate recognition for his fine banjo work. Listen to brother Leigh, whose voice blends with Eric’s as only brothers can. Both brothers write wonderful songs and their background and taste has led them to create new bluegrass sounds from classic country and rock and roll. Bassist Mike Barber, mandolin player Rick Hayes, and fiddler Clayton Campbell add depth and taste to this superior band. The variety of their sounds, harmonies, and keys takes them beyond bluegrass while never straying very far from their roots.

A huge revelation that comes almost every time we attend a local festival is the reminder that there are so many fine bluegrass bands around. While people think of New York as urban and ethnic, the state is home to many bands rooted in country and bluegrass music. These bands are well-represented at the Fox Family Festival.

Local bands include The Atkinson Family, whose delightful music, much of it written by father Dick ]Atkinson, combines country and bluegrass with a northern New York tone that fits right in here. His song about losing the farm should be a classic. The review in Bluegrass Unlimited noted, “Tearin’ Up the Line is a stellar production that will surely generate many new friends for the group.”

The Dalaney Brothers describe themselves as a contemporary bluegrass band that has played around New York State for the past 25 years. Over the years, they have recorded five albums. Recently they replaced two longtime members for medical reasons. The New York Times named Full Spectrum as one of the top ten local releases in 2000.

Sweet Cider describes itself as “ rooted in vocal harmony, attention to arrangement and original material. They now perform their own style of acoustic music with that ever-present bluegrass flavor. The Northeast Country Music Association has named them CMA bluegrass band of the year several times, and they have been inducted into the NE CMA hall of fame as well as receiving other awards. They hail from Rotterdam, NY along the NY Thruway.

Miller’s Crossing is a Long Island bluegrass band whose sound, according to the cuts on their web site, is traditional southern. Their lead vocalist has a pleasant voice and instrumentals are strong. “Miller’s crossing prides itself on the original material eachmember brings to the band’s repertoire. They strive to play bluegrass music the way they feel it, and the result is a fesh outlook on the music while not getting to far away from its roots.” The McCarthy/Paisley Band from Elbridge, NY advertises itself as featuring traditional Americana and contemporary folk music.

Off the Wall’s entry at ibluegrass says, “Blending folk, bluegrass and traditional country into a unique, no frills sound that lends itself to the works of John Prine, Guy Clark, Tim O’Brien and the Seldom Scene, as well as the works of more obscure songwriters. Add to that, strong vocals and tight harmonies, you have the makings of enjoyable music that tells the story of lifes journey.” They come from central New York.

Bill Knowlton and Lisa Husted will emcee. Tickets are $75.00 for the entire festival, including rough camping. Day passes are $20.00 for Thursday, $30.00 a day for Friday and Saturday, and $15.00 for Sunday. Gates open for camping on a first come, first served basis at 10:00 AM on Wednesday and there is no reserving of spaces for others. A dump station and showers are available nearby, but there are no amenities for campers on the site. This festival has one of the most interesting and varied programs for young people of any bluegrass event, showing their interest in and concern for children’s enjoyment and providing alternatives for parents wishing to give their children a good time. For additional information, check out the Fox Family Bluegrass Festival’s web site.

Some pictures for this post were taken from band web sites. I will remove them immediately upon request.


Thursday, August 2, 2007

Keene Valley Fire Dept’s Annual Field Day

By

The 2000 census lists the population of Keene Valley, NY at 1063. In summer the population nearly triples, and this influx of summer residents is both a blessing and a curse. It’s a curse because the village is largely dependent on the business generated by summer residents and taxes raised from these (generally) wealthy summer people to fund its necessary and more optional institutions.

Furthermore, pressure to buy land and build second homes on it has driven the cost of living here to levels that make it nearly impossible for young locals to stay at home, work, and raise families. It’s a blessing, because the money makes it possible for this village to thrive in many ways, providing retail opportunities, service, and government jobs that otherwise might not be available.


Essex County, located in the northern corner of the Adirondack Park, is huge, about 500 square miles larger than Rhode Island, but has amassed a population of only 38,000. This rural village in the heart of the Adirondack wilderness is a thriving and lively place and the home of the annual Keene Valley Fire Department Field Day. Volunteer fire departments in the US are facing something of a crisis. Volunteerism has declined while the performance standards for membership have risen. Members of volunteer fire departments, at least in New York, must constantly train to upgrade their skills and raise money to upgrade their equipment. But a village like Keene Valley would be in jeopardy if it weren’t for the existence of the KVFD and its ambulance/rescue squad. Almost all the housing in the village and on the surrounding hills is wood frame. The nearest hospital is thirteen miles away. Without the fire department and the ambulance squad, houses would burn and people would die.

Each year on the last Sunday in July the KVFD holds its annual field day. After years of running this annual event, the Fire Department has got it down to a science. The day begins with a demonstration of fire fighting and rescue equipment and techniques. Continues with a range of activities for young children, including face painting and Tim Dumas, a magician, offers a variety of raffles and Chinese auctions with small and large prizes donated by local businesses, and culminates with a widely known and justly appreciated barbecue chicken dinner, which each year sells around 600 meals, many eaten in the fire house meeting room, while others are taken home.

A local bluegrass band, Three Doug Night, plays bluegrass through the late afternoon and early evening. Several 50/50 drawings are held during the day with half the proceeds going to the fire company and half to each lucky winner. All is calculated to encourage people attending the event to gladly let loose of goodly amounts of cash in an easy and enjoyable way to provide needed support for the fire company. Big sellers each year are the KVFD t-shirts, collected and prized by local and summer people alike. Beer flows. Music abounds, Drinking laws are enforced. People come for the party and stay to spend. While the Keene Valley Fire District is tax supported and pays the major portion of the fixed costs of operating the fire company and ambulance squad, the fire department itself runs the field day. Proceeds from this event are often earmarked for purchasing a specific, needed piece of equipment or helping defray additional costs not covered by tax revenue. As such, the Field Day stands as the major annual fund raiser for the fire company.

Perhaps as interesting as the economic needs met by this annual party are its social implications. While it has narrowed in recent years, a social and economic gulf between local residents and summer visitors has long existed. Summer people come to stay in their cottages and purchase services, which they expect to be prompt and efficient. Local people offer these services, but the gulf cannot be denied. That is, except on field days. It’s as if the fire department serves as a leveling ground, providing a place where people can meet on neutral ground and, for a fairly brief time, interact on a more equal than usual basis. Captains of industry, construction workers, media moguls, corrections officers, retired military officers, retired town workers, slackers, entrepreneurs, you name it; they’re all here. Some may seem like out of place creatures checking out the “local scene,” but real affection and cordiality is also plainly in evidence. Relationships in this community run deep and old and have a long history. They are complex and convoluted, perhaps more the stuff of a novel than a blog entry. The American story of narrowing the gulf between classes and economic status is writ large in this gathering.

In recent years the KVFD Field Day has become more contained and less wild. The hours have been shortened, beer sales curtailed, kids activities increased, bluegrass music added, and a community party has been established. Next year marks the 100th anniversary of the Keene Valley Fire Department. You should mark your calendar, too.


Monday, July 2, 2007

Adirondack Summer Music Festivals

The Adirondack region is home to a variety of summer music festivals. Tomorrow, bluegrass legend Ralph Stanley will be playing at the Wild Center’s second annual WildFest – which also marks the opening of the Natural History Museum of the Adirondacks‘ “Wings over the Adirondacks bird-themed experience.” Here are the details:

The free, day-long WildFest ‘07 celebration is scheduled to begin at 10:00 a.m. and conclude at 4:00 p.m. so visitors can get home in time for evening fireworks. The live music begins at 10:30 a.m. and the ceremony to open Wings over the Adirondacks at 11:00 a.m. There will be an entire tent on the campus dedicated to bird presentations. Visitors will be treated to a preview of the Wild Center’s planned Bird Skywalk and Skytowers, and tours of what is now the ‘greenest’ building in the Adirondacks. When the Skywalk is complete in 2008, it will showcase nearly 100 bird exhibits, and will take visitors up to the top of the tree canopy.

WildFest’s musical headliners include legendary musician Ralph Stanley & the Clinch Mountain Boys and the great live performer Martin Sexton. Other bands will feature music from the places Adirondack birds migrate to, including the Caribbean.

There will be a children’s tent featuring the Zucchini Brothers, a musical group lauded as “the Beatles of kid music,” and a Bird Tent where birding organizations will help visitors see the world of birds. The day will include free flight bird shows with live birds.

This year’s moe.down (the 8th annual) promises to be a quite a festival:

Nearly 20 acts, including Ryan Adams and the Cardinals, The Roots, Medeski Scofield Martin & Wood, Amos Lee and Meat Puppets have signed on for this year’s moe.down.

The August 31 to September 2 festival will be held at the Snow Ridge Ski area in Turin, N.Y., at the edge of the Adirondack Mountains. Festival founders moe. will perform a total of six sets throughout the weekend.

Other acts on the roster for the three-day shindig include Uncle Earl, Strangefolk, State Radio, Al and the Transamericans, Rolla, Ryan Montbleau, Lotus, Ra Ra Riot, Ha Ha the Moose, The Brakes, VietNam and Acoustic Forum.

A limited number of tickets are available at $95 until they run out or until August 12, after which tickets will be $110. Full details on the festival and tickets can be found at www.moe.org/moedown.

This is the eighth year for the event, which promises three days of music, camping and all around fun. Ski lifts will be open during the festival, and fans are encouraged to bring their mountain bikes.

Regular reader Ted Lehmann over at Bluegrass, Books, and Brainstorms has written to let us know that he’ll be attending, photographing, and reviewing the first annual Mountain Meltdown in Saranac Lake (which ended yesterday), the Fox Family Bluegrass Festival (August 9, 10, 11, & 12, 2007 in Old Forge) and the Upper Hudson Bluegrass Festival in North Creek (August 24-26).

If there are other festivals we should know about, drop us a note.


Monday, June 18, 2007

Center for Writing: Best Adirondack Books of 2006

Adirondack Center for Writing‘s 2nd Annual Adirondack Literary Awards were announced last week in Blue Mountain Lake. The honors were bestowed upon the best books published “in or about the Adirondacks” in 2006. There were 37 entries this year.

And the winners were:

Brian Mann’s Welcome to the Homeland: A Journey to the Rural Heart of America’s Conservative Revolution (Steerforth Press) won both the Best Nonfiction Book category and the People’s Choice Award, voted on by members of the Adirondack Center for Writing.

For the second year in a row, a trio of poets from the Saratoga region took the prize for Best Poetry Book was awarded for the second year in a row to Glacial Erratica: Three Poets on the Adirondacks, Part 2 (30-Acre Wood Publishing – apparently not available online) by Mary Sanders Shartle, Elaine Handley, and Marilyn McCabe.

Rick Henry’s book Lucy’s Eggs: Short Stories And a Novella (Syracuse University Press)won top prize in the fiction category.

Irene Uttendofsky won Best Children’s Book for Adirondack Mouse and the Perilous Journey (Spruce Gulch Press).

Lueza Thirkield Gelb from New York City received the Best Memoir Book award for her Schroon Lake (Pulpit Harbor Press).

Two books tied the Edited Collections category: Oswegatchie: A North Country River (North Country Books) and No Place I’d Rather Be: Wit and Wisdom from Adirondack Lean-to Journals (Adirondack Mountain Club).

Adirondack Waters: Spirit of the Mountains (North Country Books) by Mark Bowie won Best Photography Book.

Congratulations!


Saturday, March 17, 2007

St. Patrick’s Day

Padriac reminds me of Ireland, and Ireland reminds me of Irish Republicanism and the working class. Those are two themes, along with the Irish diaspora (and drinking) that are heavily reflected in Celtic punk.

Wikipedia says Celtic punk (paddybeat, celtcore) emerged from “both the British folk rock bands of the 1960s and 70s who first electrified the music of the British Isles and more directly in folk bands such as The Dubliners and The Clancy Brothers.” Wikipedia points to the Skids 1981 album Joy and the Pouges.

Irish oriented punk in America might be traced to the many Ancient Order of Hibernian halls that hosted late punk shows in the early 1980s. Celtic punk came into popular American culture with Black-47

Check out The Men They Couldn’t Hang – he’s an intersting tidbit from wikipedia about the band:

Their first single, “The Green Fields of France“, was released in 1984. Written by Eric Bogle (of “And The Band Played Waltzing Matilda” fame), the song’s protagonist imagined having a conversation with one of the fallen soldiers of World War I whilst sitting by his graveside. It received considerable airplay on the John Peel show on BBC Radio 1 and finished at No.3 in Peel’s Festive 50 for that year. It became a big hit on the UK Indie charts.

The following year they were signed by Elvis Costello to his Demon label, and released their debut album, “The Night of a Thousand Candles”, and its accompanying single “Ironmasters”, a self-penned number by main songwriter Simmonds, linking the Industrial Revolution to the present-day treatment of the working class. The original final line of the song – “and oh, that iron bastard, she still gets her way” (a reference to the then Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher) had to be removed for the single version to ensure radio airplay. They were again named in Peel’s yearly Festive 50, this time at No.11.

In 1985 the band signed for MCA records and released “How Green Is The Valley”. The record included “Ghosts Of Cable Street”, a political number concerning The Battle of Cable Street in 1936 and “Shirt Of Blue”, which regarded the miners’ strike of 1984-5. At the end of promotion for the album Shanne Bradley left to create music with Wreckless Eric and The Chicken Family, she was replaced on bass by Ricky McGuire (ex UK Subs).

In 1987 the band switched to Magnet Records and the new record released was, what many fans consider their best “Waiting For Bonaparte”. Once again the strongest songs were stories of historical origin. “The Colours” told of an English mutineer sailor during the Napoleonic War and “The Crest” a stretcher bearer during World War II. Sadly whilst “The Colours” was at no.61 in the British top 75 it was blacklisted by BBC Radio 1 due to the line “You’ve Come Here To Watch Me Hang”, which echoed the events happening in South African townships at the time.

Flogging Molly, Black-47, The Barleycorns, Dropkick Murphys, Fighting Men of Crossmaglen, The Pouges, is all great St. Paddy’s Day musical fare.


Saturday, March 10, 2007

Adirondack Northway Cell Phone Controversy

When two men died on the Northway in late January and early February, right-wingers, downstaters, and anti-environmentalists offensively used their deaths to go on the attack. Never mind these unfortunate folks were traveling through isolated mountain passes in what was certainly the worst weather of the season, and in one case, the worst ice storm in at least several years – the wing-nuts raised their collective cane in disgust over those of us who they said cared more about the environment than people.

“But it should not have come to this. This could have been prevented,” our State Senator Betty Little (R-Queensbury) said. She failed to mention that she was one of those at the top of the list who could have prevented it. Little and our Assemblywoman Teresa Sayward (R-Willsboro) failed to act decisively to force cell-phone companies to provide adequate cell-coverage, and more importantly, they spent more than four years pretending that having a cell phone on the Northway was a substitute for common sense in considering driving conditions before you set out to cross the largest wilderness in the east.

“You mean we can talk to people on the moon, but we can’t talk to people on Interstate 87?” Abraham Isaac, a Jewish community activist said. His Voz Iz Neias blog has become a center for New York City / New Jersey folks who just can’t seem to understand that the world is not made of high-rises, strip-malls, and unlimited cell service. Maybe they’ve spent too much time talking to people on the moon.

Assemblyman an opportunist Roy McDonald met with people at, get this, the Wilton Mall food court to call the lack of cell service “geographic discrimination” and to say that “people’s live should come first” – “There’s a substantial part and areas throughout New York that don’t have service, and I don’t want the upstate area to turn into a third world country,” he said. Gee Mr. McDonald, ever meet any of the rural poor in our area? Ever consider that South Korea has better broadband penetration than the Untied States?

Senator Martin J. Golden (R-Brooklyn) said “Shame on those that would get in the way of human life, to lose a life for something as simple as not having a cell phone tower … is very telling about priorities.” Now that’s someone with priorities. Forget war, lack of health care or living wages, failure to fund education to such an extent that the courts had to force the state to act, a state legislature that is a laughing stock of the nation and about as un-democratic as it gets – no, the real priorities are cell service. Now that’s telling about priorities, namely Mr. Golden’s re-election prospects.

The Adirondack Daily Enterprise said we were being kept in a “dark ages” by “absolute lunacy.” Blog writer Shlomah Shamos exclaimed the following outright lie “The untimely deaths of two beloved family men are on the conscience of the Adirondack Park Agency, who has been ignoring this issue and blocking all efforts” and asked “how many people have to die due to the lack of cell service on the Northway?” We’ll guess that many more will die on the Northway with cell service or without and Shlomah probably won’t give a single sentence to their deaths.

A guy from Jersey calling himself ironically, Right, Wing Nut! made the following assumptions, apparently out of ignorance of the facts (surprise, surprise):

LET ’em die – just don’t mess with our perfect view. That’s the message from New York environmentalists who’ve prevented the construction of cell-phone towers along Interstate 87 in the Adirondacks.

They like to call themselves “progressives”, but the enviorn”mental”ists are hell-bent on sending society careening backwards. Cutting off humanity from help so that a view may be perfectly preserved? Perfectly logical to the Greenies; and the deaths that result from their actions are consequences that they feel are worth the cost. I wonder if anyone has asked the survivors of the deceased their opinions…

And in the meanwhile, the Killer Greens have their way in the Adirondacks, and while folks die all around them, they pat themselves on the back…can’t wait until they can foist their policies upon the rest of us!

Ahhhh… sure… we’re not sure how the quality of life in Old Bridge, NJ is treating the Jersey Wing Nut, but we’re pretty sure the vast majority of folks here in our region would laugh at the thought of living there and our environment is the reason, not their cell phone coverage.

Anyway, here are some things to consider:

The Adirondack Park Agency already approved 32 – count ’em – thirty-two towers along the Northway. Even though they make a mint on out-of-service-area calls, the cell phone companies couldn’t make ENOUGH profit to install the towers.

Economic disparity makes owning a cell phone in Adirondack counties a lot less likely, even if service was available. The cell tower solution leaves the working poor, the elderly, and others who likely don’t have cell phones out of luck. They rely on common sense and avoid making trips across mountain passes during blizzards and ice storms.

Complete cell-phone coverage in the Adirondacks is a pipe-dream, unless there are towers on nearly every mountain in the region. Anyone who lives in the mountains, or even in the hilly suburbs knows they lose service all the time, no matter how close the nearest tower is.

Dependence on cell-phones in the case of emergency is downright stupid. Survival in the wilderness in the depths of winter is not dependent on the battery in your cell-phone or the nearest tower, it depends on your emergency preparation and winter survival skills – a $2 emergency blanket in the glove box might have saved the life of the first stranded motorist. The second died of a heart-attack while tromping through three foot snows.

If lower income people in our region can’t afford their own cell-phone service why should they be required to subsidize the cell service of downstaters? In Saratoga County, there was the plan to spend $12 to $15 million to improve cell service. The first call from Little and Sayward was to demand the state step in and foot the bill. If they were concerned about saving lives (especially of locals), they would fund helicopter rescue services, signs for thin ice, free health screenings, additional health centers, and a thousand other things people in the mountains need. $10 million would save a lot more lives (lost to heart attacks and broken bones) if it were spent on shoveling old folks’ homes out during storms.

Lake George Fire Chief Bruce Kilburn got it right when he said, “Some good preparedness and some prevention can alleviate and prevent a lot.” He suggested:

Having an emergency kit in your car.
Wearing warm clothes in winter in case you break down.
Carrying extra clothes or extra blankets.
Keeping emergency flares in your car.
Carrying an air horn in car.

He forgot to add: don’t cross mountain passes in the depths of a blizzard or ice storm unless you are prepared for the worst.

If there is anyone to blame for these terrible tragedies it’s the cell companies who just couldn’t make enough money – the proof is in the fact that those companies, Verizon, Sprint-Nextel, AT&T and T-Mobil among them, have now (according to Sayward) “committed to engineering [a] plan for the Adirondacks for us.” Unfortunately, Sayward still doesn’t get it, she added “so if we can gather the information, [sic] see if we can get this done over time.”

You keep working on it Theresa, but the next time someone dies on I-87 – take a few minutes to think about why you didn’t demand the cell companies install those long-approved towers. In the meantime, we’ll accept the message of Saranac Lake resident Mark Wilson, who said this week, “Life within the blue line is not easy, and it’s not meant to be easy sometimes.”

True enough.


Monday, February 19, 2007

Adirondack Bacon

Sometimes other bloggers seem to throw the Adirondacks into their posts, for well, inexplicable reasons. Here’s a sample from Drink at Work:

Things to do with bacon when you’re in the remote Adirondack Mountains without cable

Drink 16 beers and throw raw bacon against the wall to see if it sticks. Repeat until dawn.

Strip naked, slap raw bacon to your face and make a fire in the middle of the living room. Chant whenever you here a snowmobile.

Cook three pounds of bacon, build a snow store front at the end of the road. Collect mad cash.

Hmmmm….


Thursday, February 15, 2007

Valentine’s Day Blizzard of 2007

TourPro has beaten us to the storm round-up here, so we’ll go back to shoveling – it’s time to take Adirondack Musing’s advice and get a Wovel while they are on sale.

Also, while you’re over at Adirondack Musing’s blog, take a look at his recent posts of photos of the 2007 Saranac Lake Winter Carnival’s Ice Palace; Here is our own Adirondack Almanack post about last year’s event (with some Almanack history goodness).

Musing is one of our favorite blogs so here is a list of some recent posts we’ve found interesting:

On Ticonderoga Airport Security:

One can argue that since the 9/11 attacks on the World Trade Center, airline and airport security have been improved significantly. It is also clear that “Homeland” security funds are not being spent in the most logical way.

For example, the Ticonderoga, NY airport is getting fenced in to the tune of $800,000 funded by homeland security funds. One reason for the fencing is to keep local drag racers off the runway. But maybe they are worried that terrorists might take over the old fort in Ticonderoga and wage war on the local populace.

Also from Adirondack Musing:

Low Frequency Noise and Wind Turbines

You Are One of the Richest People on Earth

The Past Was Better and I’m Not a Bigot

Michael Moore’s Promises to Conservatives

On Broadband Internet Penetration in The US

Musing’s Favorite Place – Crown Point on Lake Champlain

Adirondack Musing is just one of the region’s great blogs – check out the other Adirondack blogs at the right and the Bloglines Adirondack feeds here.

On a related note, it looks like the Adirondack Boys have left the room.


Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Holy Guest Editorial Adirondack Man! Poverty and ADK Jobs

George Bryjak of Bloomingdale, Essex County has written an incredible guest editorial for the Adirondack Daily Enterprise:

As I enter the seventh decade of life, my most enduring recollections are of people toiling in Third World nations. As a young Marine in Vietnam, I watched three men ploughing a field like beasts of burden in the scorching heat. Two were yoked to a plough while the third stood on the blade. After about 60 slow yards of muscle-aching drudgery, they stopped. The men rotated positions upon completing a row with each man getting a much-needed rest every third pull.

The rest is even more powerful. A quick search for Bryjak’s work turned up a lot of material including an excellent piece entitled “Outsourcing the American Dream” in Z Magazine from 2004 on the threat of out-sourcing jobs. A sample:

A study of 400 of the nation’s top 1,000 companies concluded that by 2006, between 35 and 45 percent of current full-time IT jobs will be sent overseas. Using Bureau of Labor Statistics data, Bardhan and Kroll estimate that of the almost 128 million workers in the U.S., 11 percent—or just over 14 million individuals—are at risk of having their jobs outsourced.

IT positions will follow the millions of manufacturing jobs already lost, only at a more rapid pace. As Matthew Slaughter of Dartmouth College notes, “IT work will move faster because it is easier to ship work across phone lines and put consultants on airplanes than it is to ship bulky raw materials across borders and build factories.”

Significantly lower labor costs are the primary rationale for this job exodus. While telephone operators in the U.S. earn an average of $12.57 an hour, in India they make less than $1.00 Payroll clerks take home less than $2.00 an hour whereas their counterparts in the U.S. average $15.17 an hour. Business Week reports, “Soon, offshore accountants may do everything but on-site audits.” Medical billing may become the first occupational category to all but disappear.

We wonder – how did that estimate of 35 to 45 percent of IT jobs being outsourced by 2006 actually work out?

Mr. Bryjak, paging Mr. Bryjak.


Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Naughty Nurses and the Cult of Halloween Sex

Strange things happen on Halloween. Perhaps the strangest is the tendency for women across America to abandon all pretense of Red State virtue and don the most outrageous, barley decent, costumes – so for your Halloween reading pleasure this year we offer the following notes on Halloween and Naughty Nurse Sex.

Let’s start with the Times Union’s “Sexy Scare,” written by Times Union intern Kelly Smith, which points to the latest tendency of costume manufacturers (presumably supplying a need) to provide the scantiest clad costumes for, well, kids.

For years, Halloween parties have had their share of hot nurses and seductive pirates. But these are parties for adults, right? Not anymore. With names like “Transylvania Temptress,” “Handy Candy,” “Major Flirt,” and “Red Velvet Devil Bride,” there is no doubt that costumes marketed to children and teens have become more suggestive.

Such costumes, which typically feature plunging necklines, fishnet stockings, knee-high boots and very short skirts, dominate the display at most costume shops and party supply stores, and parents are having a hard time avoiding them.

Parents might be having a hard time avoiding them, because they are so busy finding their own sexified costumes, their presence points to a failure to understand the kinds of messages these companies (and their financial supporters) are sending:

When it comes to Halloween, Sharon Lamb, a co-author of Packaging Girlhood: Rescuing Our Daughters From Marketers’ Schemes, the costumes marketed to girls severely limit the options they see for themselves. There’s nothing inherently wrong with a little girl dressing up as a pretty princess, Lamb said, but the problem comes when such feminine, passive characters are all girls can envision for themselves. And she thinks it is that same ideology that pushes girls toward hyper-sexual costumes as they get older.

Doubt it’s true what they say about “the problem comes when such feminine, passive characters are all girls can envision for themselves”? Consider the role of the “naughty nurse” when you’re out in Pottersville at the Black Bear Halloween Party this Saturday night.

According to the Center for Nursing Advocacy the naughty nurse is a cultural phenomenon that sexualizes one of America’s most important professions:

Linking sexual images so closely to the profession of nursing–to even the fantasy idea that working nurses are sexually available to patients–reinforces long-standing stereotypes. Those stereotypes continue to discourage practicing and potential nurses, foster sexual violence in the workplace, and contribute to a general atmosphere of disrespect. Desexualizing the nursing image is a key part of building the strength the profession needs to overcome the current shortage, which threatens lives worldwide, and to meet the challenges of 21st Century health care.

Most people today probably don’t think the average nurse goes to work in lingerie, looking for sex. But the relentless fusing of lingerie with nurses’ work uniforms in popular media images, and the frequent exposure of sexy “nurses'” bodies in these images, still associates the profession with sex in the public mind… Other people may simply see nurses as looking to meet a physician–even an already married one–to take them away from the dead end job of nursing, a horrific stereotype that was actually expressed in late 2004 by Dr. Phil McGraw on his popular television show.

Wow… and let’s just say right now, that media images matter – we wouldn’t consider for a minute that children don’t learn from Sesame Street, why should we think the naughty nurse imagery doesn’t have a similar impact, even with adults.

Don’t think this is really a serious problem? France Presse recently reported that a study of just over 1800 adults found that “Nurses and firemen dominate the sexual fantasies of men and women in Britain.” What’s important here is something the Nurse Advocates picked up on:

It reports that a new poll has found that 54% of British men have sexual fantasies about nurses. No other profession hit the 50% mark for male or female, though 47% of women apparently dream about “firemen.” The results seem to show that nursing leads a list of traditionally female, service-oriented jobs about which men fantasize.

In addition to nurses, men fantasize about maids (44%) and flight attendants (40%), rounding out the stereotypical usual suspects. For their part, women also dreamed of soldiers (28%), businessmen (27%), and physicians (26%). At the other end of the list, less than 2% of women fantasized about politicians, while less than 7% of men fantasized about “traffic wardens.”

The jobs that women fantasize most about are associated with economic, physical, and/or mental power, while those that top the men’s list are associated with care-taking or service–a classic dominant-submissive division. It is not clear if any allowance was made for the possibilities of male nurses or flight attendants, or female firefighters or physicians. Perhaps no one would fantasize about such freakish people, who defy all the accepted rules.

Indeed, the deep-seated–and this study suggests unparalleled–association of nursing and sexuality continues to discourage practicing and potential nurses, foster sexual violence in the workplace, and contribute to a general atmosphere of disrespect that weakens nurses’ claims to adequate resources. When you combine the lack of respect that this poll reflects, the college-level training nursing actually requires, and the difficulty and stress of actual nursing practice, it is no surprise that the profession remains in the midst of a crisis driven by rampant short-staffing. In fact, we hear short-staffing has gotten so bad, nurses don’t have as much time as they once did to spend in male sexual fantasies.

This has serious economic effects for local Adirondack health care (as outlined in this CDC report):

It’s diverting for some men, apparently, to think that the little handmaiden job of nursing is populated by disposable bimbos, which may also help such men handle the notion that female nurses actually have some power over them in clinical settings. But the disposable bimbo is not an image that appeals to most career seekers, particularly men, which is a key reason the profession remains over 90% female–never a prescription for power and respect. And it’s not an image that persuades decision-makers to allocate sufficient resources to nursing practice, notably adequate staffing. Get back to us… about how sexy you feel after a 12-hour shift spent rushing from room to room in a desperate effort not to kill any patients, hauling the obese ones around until your back throbs, all the while contending with leering demands for a little sexual healing.

So this Halloween we side with JockeyStreet [sadly now long gone) who says:

Don’t even get me going on the Adult stuff. Guys get the typical choices. The ladies get, essentially, Hooker Combo 1, Hooker Combo 2, Stripper Kit A, Stripper Kit B.

Maybe I sound like a prude. I’m not. Really, really, really. I’m not.

But it offends me that we continue to shove these roles down our kids’ throats at such an early age. It offends me that our culture has taken to sexualizing and objectifying girls so young. It offends me that [costume retailer] Party City seems to think that the only thing a female over 13 might want to be for Halloween is “sexier.”

Agreed.


Sunday, October 22, 2006

The Ku Klux Klan in the Adirondacks

We recently received a note from a reader about the Ku Klux Klan presence in the Adirondack region. A Wilmington (Essex County) woman had the following story to tell. She believes it dates from the 1930s –

My mom had told me how when she was a little girl the kkk had burned a house down just up a ways on the Whiteface Memorial Highway, and had run the family out of town. » Continue Reading.


Friday, October 20, 2006

TAUNY Presents North Country Heritage Awards

Traditional Arts in Upstate New York (TAUNY) has announced its 2007 North Country Heritage Awards:

Chief Tom Porter (Sakokwenionkwas), spokesman and spiritual leader of the Mohawk community of Kanatsiohareke (Ga na jo ha lay go) in Fonda.

Vincent and Louise Boyea, French American musicians from Westville.

The Greek pastry makers of St. Vasilios Church in Watertown.

Barry Gregson, rustic furniture builder from Schroon Lake.

The awards recognize “masters of local traditions and celebrates their contributions to the traditions and local culture of the region.”



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