Posts Tagged ‘Lake George’

Monday, August 4, 2008

Welcome to The New Millionaires’ Row at Lake George

The Albany Times Union ran a story this week that is one of the few looks at the really wealthy in our area:

” ‘It boggles my mind when I give a client a monthly bill for $500,000 and they just open their checkbook and write me a check without flinching,’ said Dean Howland. He’s been building high-end custom homes on Lake George for two decades and recalls only a few buyers who took out a mortgage…”

Today’s buyers typically come from the New York metropolitan area and often own their own business or amassed wealth as CEOs and money managers.

They generally refuse to be identified publicly (fear? humility? shame?) but they include this family:

Howland is building the Assembly Point complex for a Westchester County family in the construction business downstate. The owners, who asked that their names not be used, paid more than $1 million for an undistinguished house on a waterfront lot just south of Diamond Point on the lake’s west side. They tore down the old house and paid $500,000 to blast 10 feet into bedrock for a foundation, terrace the steep slope to the lake and truck in tons of gravel for a storm water management system. An adjoining parcel came up for sale. They bought that, too.

The couple’s 21-year-old daughter desired privacy, so they built a cottage with a loft, deck, gourmet kitchen and bath with Italian glass tile.

A partial tally of their lakefront compound reveals: 15 bedrooms, 13 bathrooms, 6 kitchens, 18 plasma TVs, eight security cameras, one infinity edge pool, one sauna, one steam room, one boccie ball court, one Hummer, one Corvette, one Harley, two horseshoe pits, five kayaks, three Jet-Skis, two canoes, three golf carts and a boathouse with four motorboats.

Among those actually named in the piece include Robert J. Higgins (Trans World Entertainment Corp.); Lewis Golub (Price Chopper); John Breyo (Ayco); George Hearst (Times Union); Bob Bailey (Racemark International); and Vincent Riggi (Turbine Services Ltd.).

Stephen Serlin, Glens Falls obstetrician / gynecologist is owner of the 1895 Tudor revival Wikiosco, built for Royal C. Peabody in 1895 (that’s it at left). Peabody was founder of the Brooklyn Edison Co. – one of the country’s oldest electric companies and one that was charged with bilking its customers in 1920. It’s 11,000 sq-ft located just south of the Hearthstone Point, has “seven bedrooms, 10 bathrooms, seven fireplaces, staff quarters, a guest cottage and a 20-car garage. The asking price is $17.9 million.”

Phillip H. Morse, vice chairman of the Boston Red Sox, who got rich developing cardiac catheters, owns a newly built compound on the northern tip of Assembly Point estimated to be worth more than $20 million. The main house is over 10,000 sq-ft.

One wonders large a house it would take to cover the 2.6 million people in New York State without health insurance.


Thursday, July 3, 2008

Adirondack Park Invasive Species Awareness Week

Adirondack communities and organizations will celebrate the 3rd annual Adirondack Park Invasive Species Awareness Week July 6- July 12, 2008.

WHY: Invasive plants and animals threaten Adirondack lakes, ponds, rivers, and forests, which are precious resources that underwrite the economy of many communities through recreation, tourism, forestry, and numerous other uses.

WHAT: Learn about the issues surrounding invasive species (both plant and animal, aquatic and terrestrial) and about the importance of native biodiversity in the Adirondacks by attending workshops, field trips, lectures, and control parties. » Continue Reading.


Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Lake George Theater Lab Announces 4th Season

The Lake George Theater Lab has announced its 2008 season, its most ambitious ever, including “Four by Four,” an evening of world premiere short plays by a quartet of rising young American playwrights; three free “sneak-peek” readings of full-length plays; a free, outdoor production of “Two Gentlemen of Verona,” part of our annual “Shakes by the Lake” series in Rogers Memorial Park; and a benefit performance of “Chopin and the Nightingale,” the American premiere of a drama with music at the Marcella Sembrich Opera Museum.

All told, the LGTL will present seven new plays – and one classic – from July 10-19:

“Four by Four,” a collection of four new short plays, including “Leo,” an exploration of a hamster’s homecoming by Daniel Heath; “Panopticon,” a comedy by Aaron Loeb about a husband and wife with a few little weapons around; “The Grave,” Gabriel McKinley’s gritty tale of one horseplayer’s blues; and “Three Divided into One,” a drama about letting go by Molly Rhodes. All seven are directed by Rosemary Andress. JULY 10-12; Bolton Central School, 26 Horicon Avenue, Bolton Landing; 8 PM; $15. Reservations: (518) 207-0143.

“Fresh Work At Frederick’s,” readings of three new American plays, presented at Frederick’s Restaurant, in downtown Bolton Landing. With drinks on tap and dinner at the ready, the readings are designed to be a casual way to hear brand-spanking new work – for free! Among the inaugural offerings are “The Swearing Jar,” a contemporary drama by Kate Hewlett; “The Boy From Newfoundland,” a quirky Canadian comedy by Graeme Gillis; and “Away in a Manger,” not your average Christmas play by Jesse McKinley. JULY 14-16; Frederick’s Restaurant, 4970 Lake Shore Drive, Bolton Landing; 7 PM; FREE and no reservations required.

Shakespeare’s “Two Gentlemen of Verona,” the comic fairy tale pitting friendship against love and featuring feisty young gentlemen, intelligent young ladies, servants, outlaws, a duke, a knight, and a dog fight. (Needed: one dog.) Directed by Daniel Spector. JULY 17-19, Rogers Memorial Park, Route 9A; 7:30 PM. FREE and outdoors.

“Chopin and the Nightingale,” a drama about the long-secret romance between the famed composer and Jenny Lind, a beautiful Swedish soprano. Performed with a pair of world class sopranos in the gorgeous environs of the Sembrich Museum, the performance will benefit the Icons of Europe TB Fund, which benefits tuberculosis research. JULY 25, Marcella Sembrich Opera Museum, 4800 Lake Shore Drive, Bolton Landing; 7:30 PM; $20; Reservations: 518-644-2431. (Extra performance: JULY 27, 2 PM).


Monday, April 21, 2008

The Dangers of Americade Revisited

Springtime means a lot of motorcycles on the road. It also means Americade, the annual motorcycle fest in Lake George that draws some 60 or 70 thousand riders to what is considered the World’s Largest Touring Rally.

According to their website, this year:

You can enjoy 5 new MiniTours, 3 Poker Runs (with a new route), a new scavenger hunt, 2 TourExpo tradeshows (bigger than ever), a new Moonlight boat cruise as well as a dozen daylight ones, 2 rodeos, 50+ seminars, 2 parades, parties, nearly $100,000 in door prizes!

Also: 17 manufacturers offering demo rides on the latest bikes and trikes, and on Saturday, World Champ Chris Pfeiffer will demonstrate his amazing riding skills. And… a whole lot more.

I wholeheartedly support Americade, but increasingly every year the rally draws criticism from our friends and neighbors. Among the chief complaints are the role tax money plays in supporting the event (which brings thousands of dollars to private businesses) and the sometimes caustic attitude of event organizers (who have repeatedly threatened to take Americade elsewhere if they don’t get their way).

Last year, I wrote a piece called The Dangers of Americade that questioned the deafening silence of organizers on the issue of safety. I pointed out that according to an Associated Press report, Americade founder Bill Dutcher stated that he was “aware of only one death among the hundreds of thousands of bikers who have registered for Americade over the years.”

My argument was simple, Dutcher assertion was blatantly false – many folks are killed coming and going to Americade. I argued that Americade organizers should stop obfuscating the facts and show some leadership on the issue of safety and in particular, on the continued cultural sense that automobile drivers own the road. Not even on their website, loaded with corporate logos and tips for attending the event, do they bother to even mention safety. They do take time to try to keep out the the folks they think are riff-raff, however, as I noted last year:

While the Americade website offers no safety advice or links, it does take pains to remind a certain class of riders that:

Americade… [is] a convention of riders and passengers who enjoy riding tourers, sport-tourers and cruising motorcycles.

Americade is a gathering of friendly, fun-loving folks, for whom motorcycling is a social hobby, but not some form of rebellion. It’s NOT the place for shows of speed, hostile attitudes, or illegally loud motorcycles. Americade supports the AMA position that “Loud Pipes Risk Rights.”

Nowhere does it remind riders that, unfortunately, riding a motorcycle is dangerous in our car-centered, self-absorbed world. It’s one of the most important issues facing bikers (as well as pedestrians, joggers, and bicyclists) today. It’s probably safe to say that every bike club in America has a memorial to one of their riders killed by a car or truck.

That recently drew some discussion on the original post from a long time rider who took offense with my call for Americade organizers to show some leadership. One of the arguments the commenter made was that:

Americade is run by motorcyclist for motorcyclists and the overwhelming majority of the attendees are very experienced motorcyclists. Very few of the attendees are newcomers to the sport. When they are newcomers they usually are in the company of experienced riders who are introducing them to the fun of Americade. Americade does not pose any dangers for riders that don’t exist every other time they throw a leg across the seat of their ride.

Motorcycling is all about freedom and the responsibility that goes along with it. Anyone who expect someone else to be responsible for their safety on a motorcycle has no business being on one. All riders learn very quickly that they are responsible or managing the risks when riding. No one can do it for them.

That’s sounds great, but it’s not the truth. A new study by Gannett News Service reporters John Yaukey and Robert Benincasa called Risky Ride looked at data from the federal government’s Fatality Analysis Reporting System:

Nearly half of the riders killed in 2006 were age 40 and older, and nearly a quarter were 50 or older. The average age of motorcyclists killed in accidents was about 38.

Half of motorcyclists killed between 2002 and 2006 lost control and crashed without colliding with another vehicle… Motorcyclists account for about 2 percent of vehicles on the road but 10 percent of all traffic fatalities, according to federal statistics.

The main point of the study is that the trend toward fewer helmet laws has led to an increase in fatalities. According to Yaukey and Benincasa:

Death rates from motorcycle crashes have risen steadily since states began weakening helmet laws about a decade ago, according to a Gannett News Service analysis of federal accident reports.

I don’t agree with helmet laws, though I think you’d be stupid to ride without one for any distance (yeah, I know, and even down the block… blah, blah, blah).

I do however, still think it’s long past time for Americade organizers to take a leadership role in rider safety – something – anything – to show a commitment to rider safety for bikers young and old. It makes even more sense now, that their is a rise in rider deaths with loosening of helmet laws to show the world that riders care about safety and don’t need the nanny state to keep them safe.

Don’t you think?

BTW: Last year’s post was prompted in part by the news that Alan Gregory, author of Alan Gregory’s Conservation News was hit by an 85-year old driver while bicycling near is home. He suffered a traumatic brain injury and was in long term hospital care – the good news is, one year later, he is getting back to blogging. We missed his insights and are glad to hear of his return to the blogosphere.


Wednesday, February 20, 2008

The Seven Human Made Wonders of the Adirondacks

In no particular order, Adirondack Almanack’s list of Seven Human Made Wonders of the Adirondacks. Our list of the Seven Natural Wonders can be found here. Feel free to add your comments and suggestions.

Whiteface Memorial Highway
Although Lake George’s Prospect Mountain Veterans Memorial Highway deserves honorable mention, the Whiteface Mountain Veterans Memorial Highway deserves a spot on our list of wonders. Considered a test case for both the New Deal Works Progress Administration and the constitutional protection of the Forest Preserve, construction began in 1929 (after passage of the necessary amendment) and eventually cost 1.2 million dollars. The completed road, an eight-mile climb (at 8 percent average grade) from the crossroads in Wilmington, comes within 400 feet of the summit of the fifth highest mountain in the Adirondacks. New York Governor Franklin D. Roosevelt announced at the groundbreaking that a “distinguished French engineer” had driven the road and told him, “I, of course, know all of the great mountain highways of Europe. There is no highway in all of Europe which can compare for its engineering skill, for its perfection of detail, with the White Face Mountain Highway of the State of New York.” When the road was completed, F.D.R. (by then President of the United States) officially opened the route on July 20, 1935 and dedicated it to the “veterans of the Great War.” In his closing remarks F.D.R. said “I wish very much that it were possible for me to walk up the few remaining feet to the actual top of the mountain. Some day they are going to make it possible for people who cannot make the little climb to go up there in a comfortable and easy elevator.” The result of F.D.R’s desire is the 424-foot tunnel into the core of the mountain that ends in a elevator which rises 276 feet (about 27 stories) to the summit.

Fort Ticonderoga
Although the earliest archeological evidence of Indian settlement dates to 8,000 B.C. (and Native Americans were planting crops there as early as 1,000 B.C.), the first fort built there by Europeans was Fort Carillon constructed by the French in 1755-1758 during the French and Indian War. It’s location at the narrow strip of land between Lake Champlain and Lake George meant that the fort, called the “key to the continent,” controlled the northern portion of America‘s most important north-south travel route through the earl 19th century. Its impressive placement atop the cliffs and its European design kept it from being taken by an overwhelming British force under General Abercromby in 1758. It was taken the following year under General Amherst and again on May 10, 1775, when Ethan Allen, Benedict Arnold, and the Green Mountain Boys surprised the sleeping British garrison. It was retaken by the British in July 1777 by General Burgoyne who managed to place cannon on Mount Defiance overlooking the fort. In 1820, William Ferris Pell bought the ruins and in 1908 Stephen and Sarah Gibbs Thompson Pell began restoration. The following year it was opened to the public (President Taft was on hand) and in 1931 Fort Ticonderoga was designated a not-for-profit educational historic site managed by the Fort Ticonderoga Association.

The Adirondack Museum
Some day the Wild Center in Tupper Lake may make this list, but until then the Aidirondack Museum owns the title Adirondack wonder. The brainchild of mining baron Harold Hochschild, the museum has recently reached its 50th year preserving the heritage of the Adirondacks. Although it began as a small endeavor it has become a must see attraction of 32 acres and 22 buildings. Nearly 3 million visitors have seen the exhibits on mining, logging, boating, recreation, and the environment and culture of the Adirondacks. It is the single largest collection of Adirondack artifacts, including thousands of books (60 published by the museum), periodicals, manuscripts, maps and government documents, over 2,500 original works of art, 70,000 photographs, 300 boats and wheeled vehicles, and a large collection of rustic furniture, art, and architecture. Highlights include the Marion River Carry Railroad engine passenger car and the carriage that brought Vice President Theodore Roosevelt to North Creek the night President William McKinley was assassinated.

North Country Public Radio
Founded at St. Lawrence University and now celebrating their 40th year, today’s North Country Public Radio is a network of stations broadcast from 30 fm transmitters and translators from the Canadian frontier to Western Vermont and south into Hudson Valley. Its regional and national news, public affairs, and music programs have become a part of Adirondack culture in a way that gives NCPR a place on our list of Adirondack wonders. Whether its a ham dinner in Placid, a lost dog in the Keene Valley, a fire in Pottersville, or a political event in Saranac or Tupper, NCPR reaches over, around, and seemingly through the mountains and into our homes in ways nothing else in the North Country does. That’s a wonder in itself.

Keeseville Stone Arch Bridge
Workers building the historic Stone Arch Bridge over the AuSable River on Main Street in Keeseville had a close call in 1842. The bridge of native stone, believed at the time to be the largest such bridge in the country, was being built to replace the original wooden structure erected in 1805. The men had completed the first course of stone including the keystones and had nearly finished the second course when a violent storm blew in. Just as more then 30 men fled the storm’s heavy rain to a wooden shed on the bank of the river, the entire bridge collapsed into the AuSable with a thunderous crash said to have shaken buildings as far away as Port Kent. Since then it’s done quiet service. Rehabilitated in 2000 and now carrying more than 5,500 vehicles a day, the bridge still stands as a testament to Adirondack engineering. Its total length is over one hundred feet with 90 foot stone arch span.

Santa’s Workshop
Each year more and more of the region’s theme parks fade into oblivion. Those that have been lost include Old McDonald’s Farm (Lake Placid), The Land of Make Believe (Upper Jay), Frontier Town (North Hudson), Storytown (now the corporate Great Escape), Gaslight Village (Lake George), and Time Town (Bolton Landing). Santa’s Workshop in North Pole, NY seems the last of a breed and some of the remaining (and still operational in its original context) handiwork of Arto Monaco. Monaco was the local artist who designed sets for MGM and Warner Brothers, a fake German village in the Arizona desert to train World War II soldiers, and later his own Land of Make Believe (as well as parts of Storytown, Gaslight Village, and Frontier Town). Lake Placid businessman Julian Reiss’s Santa’s workshop opened July 1, 1949 and included a very early prototype petty zoo; it received its own zip code (12946) in 1953. A record daily attendance occurred in 1951 when 14,000 people walked through the gates. Julian’s son Bob Reiss took over the operation in the early 1970s, but the number of visitors has continued to drop with the park closing in 2001 only to reopen, hopefully for good.

Lake Placid Sports Complex

From the early competitions at the Lake Placid Club to the modern Olympic Training Facility, the sports complexes in and around Lake Placid have been bringing the sports world to our doorsteps for over a hundred years. Most are familiar with the stats: 12 awards in each the 1932 and 1980 games; Jack’s Shea two gold medals (the first American to win two gold medals at the same Olympics); figure skater-turned movie star Sonja Henie’s second of three consecutive Olympic gold medals, speed skater Eric Heiden’s five medal sweep (including one world record); “The Miracle” of 1980. After the 1980 Games, the Olympic Regional Development Authority (ORDA) combined under one management Whiteface, the bobsled, luge, cross-country ski and biathlon facilities at Mt. Van Hoevenberg, the Olympic Center, the speed skating oval, and the jumping complex. Since then ORDA has hosted hundreds of major national and international events, including world championships and world cup competitions in bobsled, luge, skeleton, alpine racing, ski jumping, speed skating, freestyle skiing and snowboarding. The Olympic Training facility opened in 1988 (one of only three in the country) and includes a 96-room dormitory that meets the needs of more than 6,000 athletes a year. The Lake Placid facilities are in one of only three communities in the world to have hosted two Winter Olympics, and that alone makes them an Adirondack wonder.

What do you think?

Fire away – let us know which Adirondack human and natural constructed things/places are the most significant, must-see attractions, marvels of engineering, historically important, or have other significance that makes them one of your top seven?

Remember – two lists – one for the human-made wonders, one for natural wonders.


Sunday, February 17, 2008

The Seven Natural Wonders of the Adirondacks

Here is (in no particular order) Adirondack Almanack’s List of the Seven Natural Wonders of the Adirondacks. The Seven Human-Made Wonders can be found here. Feel free to add your comments and suggestions. » Continue Reading.


Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Gaslight Village: Lake George Fun Yesterday

I thought I’d take a look at the history of the one of the more popular Adirondack theme parks – Lake George’s Gaslight Village.

Gaslight Village opened in 1959 and was run by Charley Wood. Charley already owned a number of investments including Holiday House on the shores of Lake George, and Storytown, U.S.A., an amusement park with a Mother Goose rhymes theme (later expanded with Ghost Town, a western boot-hill theme, and Jungle Land, an animal park) which he opened in 1954. He later went on to build the Tiki Resort (now a Howard Johnson’s), a short lived wax museum, Sun Castle resort, and more. » Continue Reading.


Friday, September 7, 2007

RCPA Executive Director Peter Bauer Leaving

Peter Bauer, Executive Director of the Residents Committee to Protect the Adirondacks today. Before his tenure with since 1994, will leave his position by the end of September according to a news release the Adirondack Almanack receivedRCPA Bauer worked for the Commission on the Adirondacks in the Twenty-First Century, and at Adirondack Life. In his position with the RCPA, he worked on a variety of issues affecting the stewardship and environmental protection of the public and private lands of the Adirondack Park and was the target of much right-wing criticism. He is married to Cathleen Collins and has two children, Jake and Emma. He will be moving to a position as Executive Director for the Fund For Lake George. » Continue Reading.


Tuesday, June 12, 2007

The Dangers of Americade

This past week marked the 25th Anniversary of Americade, one of Lake George’s premier tourist events. The motorcycle rally, billed as the world’s largest for touring bikes, brings bikers of all stripes to pack Lake George streets and bars. It also brings locals from nearby towns into the village on what, for some, is one of the only trips they’ll make there all year.

There’s an excellent article on Americade and its founder Bill Dutcher by Associated Press sports writer John Kekis. It gives a nice history of the rally’s founding, touches on the boon in trike riders (that’s good for Chestertown’s Adirondack Ural) and the event’s economic impact. It also, makes some pretty crazy claims about how safe the event is.

Here are some highlights:

Upward of 60,000 motorcycle enthusiasts – most on two wheels, but many now on three – will ride into town this week and transform this village of fewer than 1,000 full-time residents into a motorcycle heaven.

The rally, which once filled the economic void between Memorial Day and the Fourth of July, is now the mainstay of the whole year. Past estimates of Americade’s economic impact have been pegged at anywhere from $20 million to $40 million, though Dutcher hopes to get a more accurate figure this year from research to be conducted by the Technical Assistance Center at Plattsburgh State University.

“It is our largest single week economically,” longtime Lake George Mayor Robert M. Blais said. “It takes up every road and byway. People have come to accept it.”

Indeed we have. In fact they are still rolling by our house 20 minutes north of the village right now, days after the rally officially ended.

Blais was in office when Dutcher originally came to the village board with his idea. The moment remains etched in his mind.

“I thought it was a great idea,” Blais said. “I understood fully it was the touring folks that would be coming, but when I brought it to the attention of the village board, they were apprehensive. They didn’t want another Sturgis. They were concerned it was going to be loud, troublesome, boisterous.”

It wasn’t. Americade is about as peaceful as a motorcycle rally can be. And it certainly is no Sturgis, the massive South Dakota rally where 11 of the 300,000 people who showed up at the ride’s 50th anniversary in 1990 died. Dutcher said he is aware of only one death among the hundreds of thousands of bikers who have registered for Americade over the years.

That’s stretching the truth to say the least. Any local you ask will tell you about the riders killed every year at Americade time. They may not all have been officially registered for the rally – which costs anywhere from $57 to $95 per rider, depending on the package – but many visitors to Americade have been killed coming and going, and in tooling around locally in the days before and after the event.

But while the Americade website offers no safety advice or links, it does take pains to remind a certain class of riders that:

Americade… [is] a convention of riders and passengers who enjoy riding tourers, sport-tourers and cruising motorcycles.

Americade is a gathering of friendly, fun-loving folks, for whom motorcycling is a social hobby, but not some form of rebellion. It’s NOT the place for shows of speed, hostile attitudes, or illegally loud motorcycles. Americade supports the AMA position that “Loud Pipes Risk Rights.”

Nowhere does it remind riders that, unfortunately, riding a motorcycle is dangerous in our car-centered, self-absorbed world. It’s one of the most important issues facing bikers (as well as pedestrians, joggers, and bicyclists) today. It’s probably safe to say that every bike club in America has a memorial to one of their riders killed by a car or truck.

New York has the highest number of pedestrian and cyclist deaths and injuries in the U.S. What’s more, pedestrian and cyclist deaths make up a majority of traffic deaths in the state.

Just this past week a car-bike collision hit close to home when we learned the news that Alan Gregory, author of Alan Gregory’s Conservation News was hit by an 85-year old driver while bicycling near is home. He suffered a traumatic brain injury and is in long term hospital care.

Although Alan’s home is in Conyngham, Pennsylvania, until he was run-down in the street by a car, he was a regular writer on topics Adirondack and a staunch and intelligent defender of the Adirondack wilderness. His concern for the Adirondack environment is the kind of concern that has helped make Lake George such a great place to have a touring rally. The natural beauty of the Adirondacks is, in fact, one of Americade’s main features.

The promoters of Americade need to be reminded that it isn’t the rebellious who are the danger at Americade. The danger is that Americaders, and others, have to share our common roadways with highway hogs.

Americade’s promoters and participants have the perfect opportunity to engage us in serious ideas about sharing the roadway with people using other forms of transportation – bikes, cars, trains, buses, and feet.

Denying that there is a danger to Americaders, is not the first step.


Saturday, June 2, 2007

Adirondack Events: Watershed Ecology Lecture Series

The Lake George Land Conservancy and the Lake George Association a presenting a series of lectures on natural features of the Lake George watershed this spring and summer. The series of speakers will address the ecology and natural history plants and animals found around Lake George.

The events are free and open to the public. they will be held on Thursday evenings at 7 p.m. at either the Lake George Association or the Lake George Land Conservancy; light refreshments will be provided.

June 14, “Bats in your Backyard,” Al Hicks, NYSDEC Mammal Specialist, 7 p.m. at LGA office.

June 28, “Lake George Fish: Natural History and Ecology,” Emily Zollweg, NYSDEC Senior Aquatic Biologist, 7 p.m. at LGLC office.

July 12: “Zebra Mussels in Lake George,” John Wimbush, Darrin Fresh Water Institute researcher, 7 p.m. at LGA office.

July 26: “Rattlesnakes at Lake George: What You Need to Know but Were Afraid to Ask,” Bill Brown, associate professor emeritus of Biology at Skidmore College, 7 p.m. at LGLC office.

Aug. 9: “Mushrooms of the Adirondacks,” Nancy Scarzello, 7 pm at LGA office.

Aug. 23: “Exploring Pond Life: Turtles, Frogs and Pollywogs,” Emily DeBolt, LGA education and outreach coordinator, 7 p.m. at LGLC office.

For more information contact LGA’s Emily DeBolt 518-668-3558 or LGLC’s Sarah Hoffman at 518-644-9673.


Friday, April 6, 2007

Sopranos Premiere Set In The Adirondacks

According to various online sources, this season’s premiere episode of HBO’s The Sopranos (“Home Movies” set to air Sunday night) will be set almost entirely in the Adirondack cabin of Bobby Bacala, Tony Soprano’s brother-in-law. The Bacala character is a seasoned hunter who carried out the search and rescue of Pauly and Christopher in the hilarious New Jersey pine barren scene – “you one shoe mother-f*&$%r.”

The Sopranos has a close association with the Adirondacks. Christopher’s girlfriend suggested, before she was whacked for being an informer) that they run away to Lake George. There have been other passing references as well, and Duffy’s Tavern, the legendary Lake George watering hole at the top of Amherst Street, has a photo of a visit by Sopranos cast members hanging behind the bar.

We hope (and suspect) they don’t have a connection to Soprano’s Pizzeria on Canada Street. The pizzeria has terrible reviews, and once had a patron arrested for not leaving a large enough tip [link].

A $2 tip on a $77 restaurant bill may be cheap, but it isn’t criminal. So says a New York state district attorney, who declined to press charges against a man who refused to leave a restaurant’s required gratuity of 18 percent for large parties.

Humberto A. Taveras’ arrest on Sept. 5 came under New York’s theft of services law, which carries misdemeanor charges. With a party of eight, the Long Island man dined at Soprano’s Italian and American Grill, a Lake George, N.Y., restaurant that applied the tip policy to parties of six or more.

(Ironically, The Sopranos, HBO’s television series, had a recent episode involving a dispute over a gratuity for a large party of mobsters. That dispute ended in the macabre, with the waiter being killed in the argument.)

Ultimately, the case boiled down to language. Soprano’s restaurant described the policy on its menu as a “gratuity,” which by definition means “discretion,” says Kathleen B. Hogan, the district attorney of Warren County, who ultimately decided to drop charges against Taveras.

The pizzeria aside, it’s nice to hear the region is playing a role in one of America’s most popular television shows.

UPDATE 4/7/2007: Regular reader Brian, who writes the blog Musings of a (Fairly) Young Contrarian, has written to clarify some of the Sopranos Pizzeria details:

As you suspected, there is no connection between the pizzerias and the TV show. There is an actual family in Queensbury named The Sopranos who run the restaurants; their sons have played on the town’s high school hockey team. That said, I can understand why some might assume the connection as the restaurants’ menus play up the mob aspect (as an Italian-American myself, I find this pandering to stereotypes annoying). The Sopranos in Glens Falls has better service than its Lake George counterpart. Not surprising as the latter deals with mostly tourists and has more seasonal, and less permanent help.


Saturday, January 20, 2007

Aquarium of the Adirondacks

This week news broke of a plan for a Aquarium of the Adirondacks – described in their mission statement as a “unique interdisciplinary attraction as the only aquarium facility of its kind to feature species of the Adirondack Region in addition to aquatic exhibits from around the world.”

In smartly keeping one eye on the Adirondack region, the Aquarium hopes to “foster stewardship by merging culture, history and science to promote learning and understanding of the incredible depth of the Adirondack landscape and a broader appreciation and respect for the global world of water.”

Sure the earth is two-thirds water, but only recently has the underwater world around us been truly explored. Only recently, for instance, have we even discovered that America’s Oldest Intact Warship was laying in the south basin of Lake George.

The aquarium’s developers are looking for a location for a 60,000-square-foot aquarium with parking and outdoor features. Our suggestion? The old Gaslight Village property – how about a creative facility that is nothing like the poorly designed Lake George Forum (notice there are no photos of the crappy building on their site), but rather includes native architecture, integrated convention / aquarium / wetlands space – just onshore from one of America’s greatest wreck dives – the 1758 Land Tortoise radeau. An option on the land has just lapsed. Think of it, Lake George Steamboat Company, a National Historic Landmark and New York State Submerged Heritage Preserve, and the Queen of American Lakes.

The most important draw we have in the Adirondacks is our natural environment. Developing the Adirondacks as the premier location to experience the natural world is a good idea – the Adirondacks has the potential to be the greatest living natural history center in the east – that’s a sustainable and laudable environmental and economic goal.

Here’s hoping the Aquarium of the Adirondacks joins the Adirondack Wild Center in promoting it.


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 13, 2006

The Great Lake George Scrabble Tourney is On!

Yesterday (Sunday) at least 140 Scrabble players descended on Lake George for a National Scrabble Association Professional Tournament. They came from all over the east – Ontario, Quebec, New York, Vermont, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Maryland – one of the entrants is Erica Moore of Midtown Manhattan’s Scrabble Club #56 who is blogging about her experience.

Who knew it required so much gear?

UPDATE 10/20/06: Check out this Scrabble furniture from Boing Boing.


Thursday, September 28, 2006

Animal Encounters: Moose in the Adirondacks

Relatively fewer hunters and natural predators combined with the amazing adaptability of some species has led to a recent boom in the populations of New York’s largest animals – moose, bear, deer, coyotes and bobcats. In the past few years a 400 pound bear was shot in the City of Albany’s Washington Park after it wandered for a couple hours around the downtown area. In 1997, a moose wandered Albany’s inner city neighborhood of Arbor Hill before being relocated. » Continue Reading.


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