Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Pictures and Comments Related to the August 1 Shandaken Town Meeting

I took some pictures of people who presented at the Shandaken Town Board meeting last Monday that were not published in my Watershed Post article so I thought I would publish here.

It was very interesting to hear the enthusiasm in the voices of Maria Todaro and Louis Otey (world famous singers and two of the founders of Voicefest ) as they discussed plans for the Phoenicia Voicefest this week. The Voicefest is a wonderful addition to the summer events in the Catskills, and it is gratifying to see that it is receiving national and international recognition. Chelsea and I are looking forward to attending "Don Giovanni" at the fest this Saturday.

People who live in the Catskills can sense the gradual economic decline of the region, judging by the stories of friends who are having a hard time finding a decent job, and the number of "for sale" signs on businesses and houses. A fellow used book dealer said to me the other day "we are in a depression plain and simple, even though no one wants to say it." Two summer visitor walked into our bookstore last Sunday and commented on how every summer in the past four years when they have summered in the Catskills the economic decline of the region has been evident. I remarked to them that there is an economic death and rebirth process going on. People are starting new ventures such as WIOX radio in Roxbury, the book village in Hobart, and various food producing/direct food marketing ventures springing up in Delaware County. The Voicefest is clearly one of the most positive of these new developments not only from and artistic but also from an economic standpoint. The Watershed Post article on Voicefest this week mentions several interviews with businesspeople in Phoenicia that point out how the event has a strong economic impact on the town and region.

One report at the town meeting that did not make the editing cut was on the Town of Shandaken Ambulance Service. This is one of the most vital services provided to residents of the area. Here is a picture of Richard Muellerleile, Captain/Administrator of the Town of Shandaken Ambulance Service, as he presented his report last Monday.

The Shandaken Town Museum is another reviving venture that can have a good social as well as economic benefit for the area. The museum has been closed much of the time in recent years, and at best is has been open on a part time basis. It is good that the town is now putting resources into staffing the museum, increasing hours, and improving the exhibitions. I know first hand that there is great interest in the museum from the visitors who pass through the Catskills. We have a constant flow of people coming into our book store in Pine Hill asking where the museum is located, and when it is open. They are disappointed that the museum has such limited hours. People are fascinated with the history and culture of the Catskills, and looking for places they can go to learn more. Studies have shown that learning about the history of the region is a strong motivation for at least 20 percent of the people coming to the Hudson Valley and the Catskills. I know that I find the regional history to be fascinating.

Monday, July 25, 2011

The Pow Wow at Big Indian

One of my room mates is a card carrying member of the Cree Tribe. Her name is Gina Sommers, but because she feels a special affinity with rabbits, she has assumed the name of Dancing Rabbit. She has a special connection with animals. A hummingbird came into our bookstore last summer and was trapped. We could not figure out how to get it free, but Gina just help out her hand and the hummingbird flew to it. She gently carried the bird back to freedom.

Gina's mother is Barbara, who lives in Kingston. They were both vendors at the Pow Wow in Big Indian on the 16th and 17th of July. Gina makes beautiful indian flutes out of wood and metal and leather. Her silver aluminum flute with a black ebony mouthpiece is striking. Barbara makes bracelets and earrings, and also dances at tribal events in the Hudson Valley and Catskills.

The pow wow was organized by the Big Indian Native Cultural Society, a 501.c3 corporation founded by Mary Lou and Frank Stapleton. Mary Lou appears below with her grandson, who was helping out at the family food stand selling fry bread and buffalo burgers. It seems to me that this cultural society is a sort of 21st Century super tribe which includes smaller groups from different tribes.

There were a lot of events in the rope enclosed dancing ring around the fire. One group came all the way from Mexico to dance at the pow wow.

The Sint Sink Drummers, led by Bill Dibennedetto and George Michaud taught some of the children to sing a song and accompany themselves on the big drum. The Sint Sink is a river near Albany.

The statement of principles of the pow wow makes a lot of sense. There was a feeling of good will, peace, and sociability at the pow wow. I certainly felt a good spirit among the people at the pow wow.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Heinrich Boll's Books on Germany at the end of World War II

One of the nicest aspects of working in a bookstore is that you frequently run across and read authors which are new to you. Heinrich Boll, a German who won the Nobel Prize For Literature in 1972 has been a great find for me. I first read "Billiards at Half Past Nine" almost be chance, picking up a copy in the bookstore. I find it interesting to read about Germany's experience in wartime and post WWII Germany. Next I read "The Clown". I have just finished reading two novellas which appeared between 1947 and 1951, entitled "Adam," and "The Train". We in America often view WWII from the perspective of Western Europe and the Pacific. Boll evokes the reality of the war from the German side of the Eastern Front (Great Patriotic War to the Russians). I looked up the Eastern Front on Wikipedia, and found that the "Eastern Front" was the greatest war ever fought by many measures such as "loss of life." The stupidity of the German military strategy under Hitler's personal direction was loyally carried out to the best of the ability of millions of ordinary people caught up in something they could not avoid.

My mother's side of my family is heavily oriented by a consciousness of great great grandparents who immigrated from Germany in the 1885-90's. They settled in Louisville and prospered by running a hardware store and lumber yard.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

My New Blog

Since mega corporation Google has made it impossible for me to access "The Green Frog Cafe", my blog of many years because of its many acquisitions, I have been forced to start a new blog. The name "Professor Snappy McTurtle" was suggested by Chelsea Goodwin, my partner since 1992 through thick and thin. For some reason Chelsea likes to think of me as a turtle. I go along with this because turtles do seem to be favorably viewed by many, and they have proven to be one of the most durable species up to the present.

I like to use my blogs as a personal journal. It always came as a surprise to me that many friends and family later told me that they enjoyed reading my posts on the Green Frog Cafe. I will continue here in the same vein, and I hope to pick up 5 or 10 followers as I continue along. There are many times when I compose blog entries in my mind about things like what it is like to be treated like an old person, or the growing sense of alienation from younger people which I sometimes feel at present.

Right now there is a lot of stress in my life. My work as a professor of international business has seemingly ended at Hofstra, by my choice. I may teach elsewhere again, or even at Hofstra, but after 33 years within the Hofstra curriculum and culture I am glad to have a break. Perhaps more importantly, I am reevaluating many assumptions about international economic relations which I originally picked up at Northwestern and Fletcher in the late 50's and 60's which may no longer be valid. On the other hand, I have been enjoying the opportunity to teach a few courses in LGBTQ Studies, particularly because this area is centrally important to my direct life experience, and also because the students are intently interested in the field at this time.

Apart from the academic side of things, my plate is full of practical matters such as renovating our 1890 era house in Pine Hill, NY, "freshening" and renting out our two apartment town house in Park Slope, Brooklyn. Another big concern is the management of our book store in Pine Hill. I also am interested in doing more writing, whether it be of a journalistic, academic, or fictional nature.

Aspects of all of these endeavors will be discussed in this blog, as well as commentary on contemporary socioeconomic and political trends.