I heard the news today that Pete Seeger died at the ripe old age of 94. Pete Seeger was a legend in the folk music scene. A writer and performer who won Grammy awards and the American Music award, Pete was also an activist who fought for equal rights and environmental action. He founded the group Clearwater,Inc. that was established to educate the public about pollution in our waterways. Clearwater’s lobbying efforts helped win a court decision ordering GE to remove years of toxic PCB contamination from New York State’s Hudson River. Pete was also a friend who I met in the late 80′s through my late partner Ken Yeso who worked for Clearwater as an environmental educator. I became a Clearwater volunteer and freelance photographer, contributing photos for the Clearwater Navigator as well as the annual catalog. Pete and Toshi Seeger made you feel like you were part of an extended family. Their generosity had no limits. When Ken died in 1993, we held his service aboard the sloop Clearwater on the Hudson River near the Bear Mountain Bridge. Pete and other Clearwater members attended. Pete wrote and performed a short song in honor of my partner Ken. Pete Seeger will be missed by his huge extended family.
This year my blog went through some changes. The Grove Street Grumble became The Grove Street Photographer. The Buddhists helped me discover that I had more to be thankful for than to grumble about. While the statistics showed people really liked my grumbling posts, there was also a number of people who did not. One reporter for the Gazette even described my writing style as acerbic. While I still have a few acerbic posts now and then, for the most part I have tried to focus on what I can do well, photography.
Sixty posts were added to the Grove Street Photographer blog in 2012. The blog had 33,000 views from 95 countries. May 29, 2012 saw the highest number of views in one day with 1,134 people viewing the post Celebrating Buddhas Birthday.
Other popular posts viewed in 2012 included two from 2011. In the number two spot is A New York State of Death followed by Photo Restoration in the third place. The fourth and fifth places go to my 2012 acerbic posts The Many Faces of Michael Chiara and Letter to the Montgomery County Board of Supervisors.
The 2012 post with the largest number of comments was another acerbic post Mayor Proposes Two Condoms for the City of Amsterdam.
What I took from these statistics was that people would rather look at my photos than read about my political views and I’m good with that. The local papers use talented journalists who are very good at covering local politics. When it comes to photography, I have the edge.
See you next year!
The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2012 annual report for this blog.
My second event on Tuesday, August 7, 2012, was to photograph the annual end of the season fundraiser for the Friends of Sanford Stud Farm. It was held at the Broodmare Barn just off route 30 by Walgreens in the Town of Amsterdam. Cocktails and hors d’oeuvre were served to a group of devoted horse racing fans. Jaime Studd wrote a great article about the event, published in the Wednesday edition of the Recorder.
The Basics – What’s Out There?
The Official Tourism Site for the State of New York is usually the first website people will visit to get information about a New York State destination. Looking at the regional map we would assume Amsterdam is located in the Central New York region. Clicking on the map of NY Central Region opens the tourism website for Central New York.
Montgomery County is not listed as part of the Central, or any region on the NYS region map!
On the NYS Official Tourism website, we can click on the header CITIES & TOWNS, from there we are presented with an entry box where you can type in Amsterdam. You are then presented with the following description:
What is wrong with this picture? First of all Amsterdam is listed as a town. There is a town of Amsterdam, but the site is describing the city of Amsterdam. The Noteworthy Indian Museum has been closed for some time now. The Walter Elwood Museum closed since last year’s flood. None of the underlined links are working. The majority of the locations described (Fort Johnson, Lake George, Halcyon Farm B&B, The Brown House) are neither in the town or city of Amsterdam. There is no Visitor Center or garden at Riverlink Park.
Clicking on the SEE & DO tab for Amsterdam brings up the following:
Out of the five Locations listed, only the Amsterdam Municipal Golf Course is operational and in Amsterdam. The New York State Outdoorsman Hall of Fame is in Vail Mills/Broadalbin.
Clicking on the EVENTS tab gives us the following for Amsterdam:
Finally, clicking on the STAY tab brings this up:
Here we have some useful information, places to stay actually in the city and town of Amsterdam (along with a few that are not).
Overall, I would say the New York State Tourism website failed in terms of marketing Amsterdam. The outdated information and lack of an accurate, viable description of our history and local events is not helping. The NYS Tourism link to the Amsterdam Mohawks baseball website and schedule is dead. Updated links, including the Riverlink Park Concert Series, would draw more people to this area.
Failure to include Montgomery County or Amsterdam in any of the identified regions is just inexcusable.
It finally rained today! We really needed it; but with the past few rains, Grove Street experienced a phenomenon usually limited to streets closer to the river.
Grove Street in Amsterdam, NY is high enough in elevation not to experience flooding from the nearby Mohawk River. The last few times it has rained, a blocked storm drain changed all that as Grove Street became a pond. Watch as cars, trucks and even a motorcycle try to navigate the waters. The last car in the video decided not to risk it and turns around to go the wrong way down the one-way street.
The public was invited to celebrate the Buddha’s Birthday today at the Five Buddha Temple in Amsterdam, New York. The World Peace and Health Organization sponsored a celebration that included an introductory discussion about Memorial Day and Buddha, followed by costumed dance, ballet, Chinese Opera and a demonstration of Tai Chi. Refreshments were served after the performances. It was a great way to start the day.
Thanks to everyone who read this blog entry today, it has the highest one day viewing of any of my other posts with 1,480 total views!
With great perseverance, the Buddhist World Peace and Health Organization continues their mission of health and peace in the City of Amsterdam.
1. A steady persistence, course of action, purpose, state, etc., especially in spite of difficulties, obstacles, or discouragement.
2. Theology . continuance in a state of grace to the end, leading to eternal salvation.
The happiness and peace you see in the faces of the members of the WPHO is a reflection of their inner beauty. Despite rejection by some members of our community, religious property exemptions taken away by Amsterdam City Assessor Calvin Cline, $6,485 in fines from the City of Amsterdam and repeated burglaries and vandalism of their properties, they continue forward. With the main group continuing their mission in San Francisco and Hong Kong, a core group steadfastly moves from property to property, securing, cleaning and renovating buildings.
I want to introduce you to some of these dedicated people that have become my neighbors and friends.
The rectory building of the Goddess of Mercy Temple on Grove Street (seen in this August 2011 photo) was boarded up because of several previous burglaries, one I documented here.
The group decided it would be beneficial to move some of their members in this rectory building. To prepare for the move, they have been performing daily renovations. Boarding up a building may help prevent theft but it also sends a signal to would be thieves that the building is unoccupied.
On Wednesday, March 28, 2012, at about 1:40pm Angus and Juliana were working on renovations in the rectory while the rest of the group worked elsewhere. Suddenly they heard the sound of breaking glass on the second floor. Juliana ran up to the third floor and called the Amsterdam Police. She knew dialing directly would get them there sooner than calling 911. Angus not realizing what had happened responded to the second floor bedroom where she heard the noise and was confronted by two male burglars who she described as dark-skinned but not black, thin and tall with dark hair. She estimated the intruders at around 16-18 years old. Upon seeing Angus, the burglars fled back through the second floor window,where they gained access to the building by climbing on a trash can and scampering over the walkway roof and throwing a paint can through the window glass. The storm window slammed shut as the second male exited. Angus noticed a third similar looking male on the sidewalk outside the window.
I noticed two police cars respond to Grove Street as well as the rest of the WPHO work crew. I went over to the rectory building to photo document the incident. The following photo shows the second floor storm window with clear handprints on the outside. The burglars slid the storm window up before breaking the inner locked window.
The next photo shows the second floor bedroom where the burglars entered the building.
Amsterdam Police Officers took statements from the two WPHO members while two Amsterdam Detectives collected forensic evidence.
This incident was particularly disturbing because it happened near my home in broad daylight, yet it was not reported in the local media. The public needs to be aware of the increasing incidents of burglary in the City of Amsterdam.
Two weeks ago the WPHO property at 10 Leonard Street was burglarized once again. A hole cut in an outside fence and a rope used, allowing access to the second floor where burglars entered by breaking a window, taking machinery and scrap metal.
Both properties were once again boarded up, secured and padlocked. While the constant repairs may temporarily delay rehabilitation efforts, it does not deter the WPHO mission.
Through all of this adversity the WPHO members remain cautiously optimistic, using training in meditation to find that calming spiritual center that allows them the consciousness of being.
The second meeting of Amsterdam residents and representatives of established creative and support groups from surrounding communities met Tuesday evening at 305 East Main Street in Amsterdam, New York, to further develop Mayor Ann Thane’s vision establishing a Community Art Center for the recently vacated building.
The group members represent a variety of ages, ethnicities, talent and experience with the common goal of utilizing the former church building as a vehicle for creative expression and education. Attendance at last night’s meeting indicated a 30% increase from the first meeting on March 15, 2012.
The City of Amsterdam has been very supportive of sports and recreation, investing money in the continued improvement of Shuttleworth Park, the home of the Amsterdam Mohawks, and Riverlink Park for boaters and the Summer Concert Series. What is lacking is a Center for the Arts, an outlet for creative expression for all age groups.
With the decline in government support of our school system, it is unfortunate that art and music programs are the first to be eliminated. It is not just students who suffer from this educational blight, it is also the communities who lose out on the next Kirk Douglas, Steven Spielberg, Ansel Adams, Frida Kahlo or Steven King.
The Center for the Arts can fill that gap with little or no cost, providing a physical place for use as a meeting space for established groups, a learning center to nurture creative talents, a performance place for music & theater and as a gallery space for displaying the work of local artists. The Center will be self-sustaining through fund-raising efforts, grant writing and rental fees for use of the space to community groups. A formal organizational plan was written and a business study completed by Jessica Murray, President of the Mohawk Valley Creative Alliance, indicating the need as there is no Center for the Arts within a 45 minute drive of the City of Amsterdam.
The misconception that may people have when they hear the word Art is that it is just the physical act of drawing or painting. The creative arts are so much more than that, encompassing a range of activities. A small list would include writing, creating music, dance, acting, singing, cooking, photography, cinematography, illustration, animation, graphic design, sculpture, pottery and the list goes on.
The proposed Center for the Arts will be able to introduce both young an old to a world of possibilities they never imagined for themselves. In 1974 Actress Tatum O’Neil won an Academy Award and a Golden Globe at age 10 for her 1973 performance in Paper Moon. Ann Mary Robertson Moses better known as Grandma Moses, started her art career at age 70 after being introduced to painting as therapy for her advancing arthritis. Her 1943 painting Sugaring Off sold at auction in 2006 for $1.2 million. These achievements were possible because their talent was nurtured by an introduction to the creative arts.
A Center for the Arts in Amsterdam will be that vehicle to drive creative talent in our own community to places they never thought possible. The Creative Arts bring a community together, crossing political, socio-economic and cultural barriers.
You can help this effort by calling or emailing your Aldermen and let them know that you support an Amsterdam Center for the Arts.