As of 10:30 pm, NYSEG shows over 900 customers without power, and National Grid shows over 3,000. Of those with the latter service, Germantown, Livingston and Taghkanic appear to have the most outages.
The storm at this point has an erratic, volatile feel to it. For a half-hour this evening, it was quiet and dry, and stars could be seen through breaks in the rapidly-moving clouds overhead.
Here are some of the tips that have come in so far, but at this point they are too numerous to mention:
Power is out in the Glenco Mills area as of 8 pm, with sparks seen flying off a pole on Old Route 82;
A downed tree and power line closed Route 22 in Hillsdale near Route 21 around 5 pm, according to a Philmont resident; UPDATE: Officials say 22 is back open;
Multiple trees down on Route 28 have knocked power out in parts of Kinderhook, according to Columbia County 911.
Power went out around Churchtown a bit before 9 pm;
On Facebook, Columbia County 911 reported the closure around 11:30 pm of Route 9 between County Route 10 and Maple Lane in Livingston, due to “several power poles down,” saying that this “will be an extended closure.”
If you have storm-related news, pictures or alerts, feel free to post them below in comments, or email firstname.lastname@example.org ... Lastly, this NOAA Flash animation of the storm’s water vapor loop is pretty amazing.
UPDATE: As of Tuesday morning, it's breezy but calm and mostly dry here in Taghkanic. Seems we were mostly spared.
It’s not online (yet), but a comprehensive article by Tracy Frisch about the TCI of NY fire appears in the new print edition of The Hill Country Observer. In addition to gathering many key details of the August 1st inferno (including several mentions of this site), Frisch includes an second piece addressing TCI’s track record in Newburgh, Athens and Ghent.
The Observer is distributed free and can be found in many coffee and lunch places, and other around the region. To find a copy, a list of their distribution points is posted here.
The promoters of Bacon Fest are offering an apology following widespread complaints about last weekend’s first-time event in Hudson. “We apologize if we inadvertently left people feeling disappointed. That sucks and we are sorry,” says the unattributed statement on the event’s website.
Many attendees who did not arrive at the event’s 9 am opening bell did not get much if any charred pig fat, apparently due to organizers and exhibitors underestimating popular demand.
“Lots of people came to Bacon Fest and didn’t get any bacon,” confessed one of the judges on his blog.
After boasting that 3,000 people attended—1,000 for free after the bacon ran out within a matter of hours—and that $3,000 was raised for charity, and that “the streets of Hudson were overflowing with people, most of them wearing bacon t-shirts,” Bacon Fest gets around to expressing its regrets:
“It was never our intention to shortchange anyone on food or fun. Where we exceeded in motivation, enthusiasm and dedication, we fell short on experience. We know better now, and from these mistakes we will build a better executed festival for next year.”
(Note: Hudson-Catskill Newspapers reported attendance in the “hundreds.”)
Looking on the bright side, event organizers further posit that “it was an unintended compliment to the day that festival goers, unhappy with the state of the event, took to the streets to search out other food options and poured into the businesses of Hudson, many for the first time ever.”
But “all that being said,” the statement continues, “the day was not a total success.” Indeed, the one-day festival has been getting raked over the coals on its Facebook page...
“What a disappointment... no bacon smell and some of the vendors didn't even have bacon.”
“I was very disappointed in this festival. I will not attend again. Troy’s Pig Out is much more worth the trip than Hudson. There is NO cover charge and goes for two days without running out of food or Bacon.”
“Very disappointed that when I was in line at 1:00 with advanced tickets , was only offered a 50% refund if we entered.”
We showed up at 10am and were disapointed by the size of the event for the $10 entrance fee. We left and went to the Chatham Fair which was HUGE and fun. I run an event for 1,000 people and use the same tent company and your tent was a 1/4 of the size of our tent. It's such a beautiful location and I expected so much more.”
“Still so angry over this.”
... and in the comments on the Albany Times-Union’s various food blogposts:
Personally, I think that would be a great release for a public relations professor to take and give to a class to rip apart.
This was a complete waste of time; not enough vendors, not enough samples, not enough to make me go back again.
We went to the garlic fest on Saturday, in Bennington. That was AWESOME! Note to baconfest organizers: just copy them.
Vowing to return, Bacon Fest says that “we know better now, and from these mistakes we will build a better executed festival for next year” to continue their stated goal of “work[ing] together to build a better world, especially one fueled by the power of bacon... never underestimate the power of bacon.” *Grunt.*
Gore Vidal bought a house upstate for $16,000 in 1946—a full 62 years ago. His Barrytown home, called Edgewater, is one of the only Hudson Valley mansions located on the west side of the railroad tracks. (It’s now owned by the financier and historic preservationist Dick Jenrette, who purchased it from him in 1969 for $125,000.)
Considering that the Hudson Valley seems to get rediscovered every 10 years or so, it’s tempting to view Vidal as the original “newcomer,” except that he was born at West Point. But apart from his birthplace, Vidal must have come across to his new neighbors on the River as the ultimate City interloper. A novelist, critic, playwright, occasional actor, Army veteran, quipster and quixotic political candidate, Vidal was also a tart-tongued tastemaker: contrarian, iconoclastic, left-wing, blue-blooded and promiscuously bisexual to boot. (He claimed a tally of conquests that rivals Wilt Chamberlain’s.)
Theatrically immodest, Vidal said that “There is no human problem which could not be solved if people would simply do as I advise.” He was much more out of the British mold of journalist/authors, cultivating high-profile feuds (with Norman Mailer, William F. Buckley, Charlton Heston, et al.) both out of personal conviction and also to milk their publicity value.
Unlike his sparkling earlier essays, Vidal’s later work could feel a bit overly-vehement and repetitive, even when one agreed with his politics. Though celebrated as a supreme stylist, the prose of his well-known historical novels is less than fluid, though still enjoyable for their imaginative leaps, bordering on outright fabications—such as his attempt to rehabilitate Aaron Burr, at the expense of Hamilton and Jefferson. More purely enjoyable is lighter fiction, such as Kalki (about a hapless would-be savior arriving on earth near the end of the world). His late-life cameos on TV and film, from The Simpsons to Gattaca, made better use of a persona that was long-since established, and by his own admission a relic of a different time in American history.
Intellectually and socially elite, Vidal was at the same time a political populist, writing that “The genius of our ruling class is that it has kept a majority of the people from ever questioning the inequity of a system where most people drudge along, paying heavy taxes for which they get nothing in return.”
Of his time in the Valley, Vidal wrote:
When a writer moves into the house that he most wants or needs, the result is often a sudden release of new energy. Henry James's move to Lamb House produced The Wings of the Dove, Somerset Maugham's move to Villa Mauresque resulted in his only satisfactory novel, Cakes and Ale. In my case, there was a burst of energy and imagination of a sort not accessible to me before. Overnight—the result of the octagonal library?”I jettisoned what I called ‘the national manner,' the gray, slow realism of most American writing, not to mention the strict absence of wit and color...
According to The Poughkeepsie Journal, the actress Joanne Woodward told Vidal he “never should have sold that house,” and that the writer “dreamed” all the remainder of his life of moving back.
UPDATE: According to a Hudson Supervisor, Koolhaas may handle the building's interior, while the exterior would be renovated by another architect.
New York Magazine’s “Vulture” blog reports some truly earth-shaking news for Hudson: Rem Koolhaas has signed on to build Marina Abramovic’s long-awaited museum. The Center for the Preservation of Performance Art is slated for the old Community Tennis building on the north side of the 7th Street park.
Without exaggeration, Koolhaas is among the very most respected avant-garde architects in the world today. His involvement means that the building should become a destination not only for performance art afficianados, but also architecture buffs.
According to the article, Abramovic—who also bought a Dennis Wedlick house here in Columbia County—is anticipating an $8 million budget. She also says that she’s advocating with the new Mayor to support a hotel which would accommodate the large number of anticipated visitors, some of whom might be looking for something other than a B&B experience or a motel. (Note: A friend reports that the nearby St. Charles Hotel, which had suffered from some neglect over the years, recently has begun renovating its rooms.)
Describing the area, Vulture columnist Alexandra peers writes:
Hudson, New York, and the surrounding region southeast of the Catskills, is already something of a serious art-world hangout, with several expat galleries in town. It was the site of a New Art Dealers Alliance art fair last summer (not to mention the headquarters of the last century’s “Hudson River School” of painters and painting).
It will be fascinating, among other things, to see how Hudson’s Historic Preservation Commission approaches the project. I’ve long argued that preservation in Hudson should focus primarily on (A) preventing demolition of historic structures and (B) assisting homeowners with making—and finding funding for—historically accurate restorations. A question I remember raising with my friend Tony Thompson way back in 1998 or ’99, at a garden party held by Sarah Sterling: What would Hudson do if a truly famous architect wanted to build something cutting-edge here? Would we spurn a Richard Meier, or Zaha Hadid, or Frank Gehry building because it was not period? Hudson is, today, a catalog of period vernacular American styles precisely because its building stock evolved with the times.
(Obviously, there is a big difference between an ambitious modern project and someone negligently stripping important period details from a historic façade... But how does one distinguish between the two in a preservation code, without essentially saying “You can change it, so long the result is really cool”?)
This project may put such theoretical questions to the test. However it turns out, Koolhaas’ involvement is huge, positive news for Hudson, promising many direct and indirect economic and cultural benefits.
Does healthy, organic food cost more than “regular” food? And what’s a hamburger supposed to cost around here, anyway?
Ever since Grazin’ revitalized a formerly-empty restaurant space on Warren Street, one has heard more than a few hyperbolic discussions about prices, with little actual relationship to the reality of the 21st Century cost of delivering a decent meal.
The chart below collects some representative menu prices for burgers in the region. For the purposes of a fair comparison, the price of a side of fries was included if those don’t come automatically with the burger:
As the hard numbers above show, the price of a burger in these parts can range from a low of $5.50 to a high of $13. The average burger price of the 15 establishments list above is $9.98—precisely 3 cents higher than than that of the Grazin’ all-organic, Animal Welfare Certifed burger.
In short, getting a healthy, organic, responsibly-created, locally-sourced, farm-to-table burger is no more expensive than eating at most any other non-fastfood restaurant in the area... which just points up the irrationality of some of the anti-organic voices in our midst. Those who denounce $9-$10 for a burger as outrageous clearly haven’t been getting out much lately.
Now some Rush Limbaugh listeners may cry foul, noting that they could get a slider and fries at McDonald’s or Burger King for even less than any of the prices above. Yes, you could... except those aren’t hamburgers. Those are reprocessed sewage patties masquerading as food. If you eat them regularly, you will almost certainly die early. And the price of that to your family and society far exceeds anything that buying organic ever could.
Entry in the September 24th, 1609 journal of sailor Robert Juet, who was aboard the Half Moon as it encountered the flats of the “middle ground” between what is now Hudson and Athens:
The foure and twentieth was faire weather: the winde at the North-west, wee weighed, and went downe the River seven or eight leagues; and at halfe ebbe wee came on ground on a banke of Oze in the middle of the river, and sate there till the floud. Then wee went on Land, and gathered good store of Chest-nuts. At ten of the clocke we came off into deepe water, and anchored.
The five and twentieth was faire weather, and the wind at South a stiff gale. We rode still, and went on Land to walke on the West side of the River, and found good ground for Corne and other Garden herbes, with great store of goodly Oakes, and Wal-nut trees, and Chest-nut trees, Ewe trees, and trees of sweet wood in great abundance, and great store of Slate for houses, and other good stones.
The sixe and twentieth was faire weather, and the wind at South a stiffe gale, wee rode still. In the morning our Carpenter went on Land, with our Masters Mate, and foure more of our companie, to cut wood. This morning, two Canoes came up the River from the place where we first found loving people, and in one of them was the old man that had lyen aboord of us at the other place. He brought another old man with him, which brought more stropes of Beades, and gave them to our Master, and shewed him all the Countrey there about, as though it were at his command. So he made the two old men dine with him, and the old mans wife: for they brought two old women, and two young maidens of the age of sixteene or seventeene yeeres with them, who behaved themselves very modestly. Our Master gave one of the old men a Knife, and they gave him and us Tabbaco. And at one of the clocke they departed downe the River, making signes that we should come down to them; for wee were within two leagues of the place where they dwelt.
The seven and twentieth, in the morning was faire weather, but much wind at the north, we weighed and set our fore top-sayle, and our ship would not flat, but ran on the Ozie banke at halfe ebbe. Wee layed out anchor to heave her off, but could not. So wee sate from halfe ebbe to halfe floud: then wee set our fore-sayle and mayne top-sayl, and got downe sixe leagues. The old man came aboord, and would have lad us anchor, and goe on Land, to eate with him: but the wind being faire, we would not yeeld to his request; so hee left us, being very sorrowfull for our departure.
At five of the clocke in the after-noone, the wind came to the South South-west. So wee made a boord or two, and anchored in fourteene fathomes water. Then our Boat went on shoare to fish right against the ship. Our Masters Mate and Boat-swaine, and three more of the companie went on land to fish, but could not finde a good place. They tooke foure or five and twentie Mullets, Breames, Bases, and Barbils; and returned in an houre. We rode still all night.
The following article appears in the current issue of Our Town: The Columbia County Quarterly, and will appear here in four installments over the next two weeks. Link to the second installment: Part II
Arguably, the last real act of investigative journalism in Columbia County was committed 23 years ago.
In the summer of ’88, headlines in the Register-Star ran from the banal (Frozen Drinks are Popular at Area Bars) to the sordid (Grandinetti Suspect in Threat Against Chief’s Niece, Nephew).
But the steamiest topic that season was solid waste.
Trash talk had erupted all over the region, from Milan and Red Hook, to Stockport and Taghkanic. Garbage disposal was at the center of the controversy du jour, and nowhere was it hotter or more fetid than in Claverack.
For months, intrepid reporter Daniel Bellow doggedly covered the contested closing of the Snydertown Road dump. What began as a small, unlined town facility, had become the County’s landfill of last resort. Neighbors groused about the constant truck traffic and the risk of chemicals leaching into their wells, along with the peculiar absence of wildlife in nearby wetlands and streams. The dump was set to close in July by order of the State, but soon the County Board of Supervisors’ newly-elected Democratic leadership, headed by Chatham Supervisor Fran Blake, became embroiled in a bitter legal dispute with Claverack Super John Hess.
Hess and Claverack Town Attorney Allen Miller expected the State consent order to be upheld. Blake and BOS Attorney Carl Whitbeck insisted the Snydertown dump be kept open to prevent a “culture shock” for the County—code for the millions in fees it might cost to ship the trash elsewhere. Meanwhile, Tim Schools of the H.K.S. Hunt Club filed a private lawsuit against the County. And Dr. Jeff Monkash, heading up Concerned Citizens Against the Dump, called for scrutiny of New York’s Department of Environmental Conservation, likening the DEC staff to “cockroaches in a dark kitchen, who scatter when the light is turned on.”
Unlike many reporters today, Bellow understood his job demanded more than merely transcribing each round of “he said/she said” arguments. (Lately, one often gets only “he said.”) First he filed Freedom of Information Law requests for data officials wanted suppressed.
Then he got up from his desk at The Register-Star to do some actual legwork.
Tramping around the dump, Bellow found paint cans poking out of the earth, oily pools of water, and a frothy oozing “orange foam.” Following the sludge downhill, he observed polluted water breaking through berms, which the County’s engineer had said were adequate to prevent the spread of leachates.
“The Claverack dump is bursting with garbage,” Bellow reported, “and leachate visibly runs out the bottom like coffee through grounds. Two miles away, and 200 feet lower in elevation, is the Churchtown Reservoir, serving the City of Hudson, fed by streams that originate near the dump.”
“Uncontrolled leachate is clearly visible,” he elaborated in another article. “Red and blue, it gushes out the bottom of the mountain of garbage there, feeding the stream that runs along the bottom of the pile, running into the swamp at the edge of the dump.” Worried that his investigative work might fall victim to political interference or a publisher’s whim, Bellow filed one key report on a weekend afternoon, after much of the paper’s staff had gone home.
“All hell broke loose with that one, and Fran Blake had some choice words for me,” Bellow recalled recently.
Finally, after several court rulings and reversals, the dump was shut down and capped. Today, Monkash still wonders what might be seeping from the site into the water table, and the entrance is marked only by an improbable, peeling sign which reads: Town of Claverack Animal and Bird Sanctuary. County Public Works Commissioner Richard Brady soon moved on, as did Bellow, to the more professional climes of the then locally-owned Berkshire Eagle.
In his short time here, Bellow demonstrated the unique power of the press to hold public officials accountable. His work both clarified and amplified legitimate public concerns. There have been a few other bright spots since then: Jill Hazelton exposed scandals in the Hudson Police Department in the now-defunct Independent; she moved on after her car was firebombed by a buddy of Chief Jimmy Dolan. And Register reporter Sean Springer filed a series of valuably candid reports of County Supervisors’ shenanigans, leading soon thereafter to his reluctant resignation. Such journalistic acts have a tendency to hasten both the enactment of reforms and the departure of the journalist.
Our nation’s founders recognized that democracy depends on “an informed populace.” They understood the so-called Fourth Estate to be a crucial, independent check-and-balance on all three branches of our government. A quarter-century after the Snydertown dump debacle, such sustained, courageous, on-the-scene reporting has become an endangered species, fast approaching extinction.
But when the press fails to exercise its full rights under the Constitution, the fourlegged chair of our democratic system tends to go all wobbly.
Next Up: Part II of Missing Ink will look at the results of a survey of 400+ area residents’ views on our local media.
Everyone likes to scoff at “social media,” even those who use it most... as if its use consists of nothing but narcissists tweeting about their toddlers, or posting pics of their pedicures.
Which, usually, it does.
But during disasters, social media proves its worth. As Hurricane Irene progressed up the Hudson Valley, Facebook, Twitter, and the liveblogs which build upon them filled up with on-the-scene reports and pictures which, in a least a few cases, may have actually saved lives. The traditional media did its part, but mostly couldn’t keep up with the hoi polloi.
Above, you'll find links to a sampler just a small portion of the countless Irene photos posted online over the past 24 hours in the Hudson Valley. Wherever possible, the photographer has been credited, though a few were hard to pin down. (If for any reason you want your photo removed, just ask.)
At (p.m.) last night in Hudson, a patron at the bar was predicting authoritatively that today's storm would hit the Catskills much harder than Columbia County, due to the mountains’ elevation and terrain.
Seems he was right... While Hurricane Irene mostly has not lived up to its advance billing on the eastern side of the Hudson River, the same cannot be said for the western side. Facebook and Twitter are replete with pictures of semi-submerged cars, homes and businesses in places such as Arkville, Catskill, Cornwall, Tannersville and Windham.
Notably, flooding—not wind—is the problem. From the looks of things, many creeks in Greene, Ulster and Delaware counties have risen to, or above, the tops of their banks.
A liveblog over at the indispensable Watershed Post is filling up with alarming reports of roof rescues and (disputed) tales of dam ruptures, and is well worth a check-in: click here.