A weblog about the politics and affairs of the old
and glorious City of Albany, New York, USA. Articles written and
disseminated from Albany's beautiful and historic South End by Daniel
Van Riper. If you wish to make a response, have anything to add
or would like to make an empty threat, please contact
October 8 , 2006
News Updates: Sorta Like A Real Blog
Art on a moonlit night, subsidizing corporate schools with roadwork
and internecine party politics
Art Walk In Albany! A while back I lamented the closing
of the leading art gallery in Albany, Firlefanz on Lark Street. The space is now
the new home to Central Art Supply. The proprietress of the shop
says business on Lark is better than at their old place on Washington
Avenue, serving both students and older folks in the neighborhood.
She also told us that one of the main reasons that Firlefanz closed
is that Cathy and Ed never intended their gallery to be the center
of the Albany arts scene. It was supposed to be primarily a studio,
with works for sale and events as an aside. But somehow the whole
arts scene came to their door and camped on their floor, and they
were tired of the responsibility. They just wanted to be artists,
not art directors.
It looks like art is not dead in Albany, far from it. From what
we could see, it looks like the beginning of a very happening scene.
Last Friday night, October 6, The Wife and I hauled our friend Gregg
Bell across Lincoln Park and down to Lark Street to participate in
the 1st Friday Art Openings, described as “a new Albany Art
Tradition” to be held the first Friday of every month from
now on. This was only the second month, and despite only marginal
advertising, it’s already a major success.
The four participating galleries were packed wall to wall with art
lovers. All the galleries sported impressive eats tables, and peddled
(for a suggested donation) all the cheap wine you could stomach.
I highly recommend watching the people who attend art openings, particularly
the way women dress for these things.
And oh yeah, there was art on the walls. Some of it was good, some
really sucked. You know, art. Far and away the best display was of the hand-colored silver gelatin prints by Robert Gullie at Amrose + Sable Gallery at 306 Hudson Ave. The detail on these pictures is amazing, and have an effect on the viewer that is hard to categorize.
Mission House by Robert Gullie
Believe it or not, this is a snapshot of one of the artworks hanging on the
wall at Amrose + Sable Gallery.
The most astonishing thing I saw that night was
a graphic hanging on the back wall of the Albany Center Galleries
located upstairs at the Public Library on Washington Avenue.
There among a jumble of incomprehensible claptrap was a head portrait
of a fellow with slicked back hair, a big nose and somewhat insane
grin against a solid red background, with the words CLUB FOOT underneath.
I used to see this portrait over 25 years ago when I was living in
San Francisco, photocopied and stapled to telephone poles.
I used to stare at it in fascination. The image was so strikingly
bizarre that defacing actually improved it. The image had been seared
into my brain so thoroughly that I had actually been thinking about
it a few days before the Art Walk. That kind of thing makes me think,
like, cosmic thoughts man.
The fellow in the picture turned out to be a well-known actor who
originally came from Albany, and Club Foot was the name of his self-consciously
avant-garde rock band. There was a listening station in the corner
of the gallery, I skipped through the CD. A couple of the songs were
interesting, but overall Club Foot still sounded mediocre after all
Hordes of people roamed the streets between the galleries,
We kept stopping to yack with passersby, and at one point got diverted
into the Antica Enoteca Wine Bar for a quick snort. Around 9:30 or
so the three of us went for sushi at Totem, and found the place packed
with people we had seen earlier at the galleries.
We had a long wait for our food. Chris, the proprietor of Totem,
had not known about the Art Walk and had been taken by surprise.
He was really glad to hear about the event and told us that he would
be ready next month.
One more thing. While we were crossing Lincoln Park, our friend
Gregg suddenly stopped in front of Thomas O'Brien school and pointed, “Look.” There
was the full harvest moon, big and yellow, set perfectly between
the points of the two spires of the cathedral on Eagle Street. I
gotta start bringing my camera when I go out. You never know what
Subsidies For The Scammers They’re ready to open the so-called “charter” school
built on top of the explosive landfill behind Bishop Maginn Catholic
school. In celebration of this monument to corporate socialism, the
City of Albany is building sidewalks where there were none before,
and paving the streets that approach the building. For the first
time in my memory, there is a crosswalk painted on Bucci McTeague
(also known as S. Dove) where it meets Oneida Terrace.
The official line is that the managers of the Brighter Choice “charter” school
have kicked in to help pay for these improvements, but there is no
solid evidence that they have done so. It looks like Mayor Jennings,
again indulging his strange compulsion to destroy the Albany public
school system, has channeled tight public works resources in the
direction of this private operation.
Like I’ve said before, I have no objection to some entrepreneur
financing and starting a private school in Albany. What I object
to is being forced to pay for their moneymaking scheme with my tax
dollars. And I object to seeing our neighborhoods go begging for
safe streets and sidewalks so that these scammers can lower their
risk of liability.
If the school building fills with methane and explodes, who will
take the blame? I sure hope that doesn’t happen. But if it
does, I can’t wait to hear how the controllers of Brighter
Choice avoid personal responsibility.
Democrats At War If you haven’t heard by now, Frank
Commisso is facing a lawsuit filed by David Bosworth, the Town of Guilderland
Democratic chairman. Bosworth got the short end of the battle for
chairman of the Albany County Democratic Party. As recounted here
on the September 30 post, the vote for the leadership of the party
was conducted in a manner that we could call creative. And very possibly,
On the day that Bosworth announced that he was going to court, the
weekly Altamont Enterprise came
out with a front page article that
everybody interested in this topic should read. As usual, the Enterprise
has the clearest and most comprehensive explanation of this toilet
drinking contest of all the media outlets.
Just like the Hearst Times Union, however, the Enterprise quotes
committeeman Dick Barrett of Colonie, only much more extensively.
Barrett apparently enjoys feeding into the media’s “City
versus suburbs” nonsense, even though both candidates for chairman
offered mixed City/suburb slates. But some of what Barrett says about
voting in the City of Albany is very interesting:
"Forty percent of the city is African-American and Hispanic,
and 25 percent of the city is impoverished. Generally, those people
don't vote. The mix in the city isn't the kind it used to be," said
Barrett. "Mayor Jerry Jennings has created a racial barrier.
"He has Betty Barnette, but she's only window dressing. They
don't have proper representation," he said. "The city's
base is anchored in the more affluent white neighborhoods...People
of color dominate the inner-city and the 15,000 University at Albany students
are predominately white."
The college students, who are only usually active in presidential
and gubernatorial elections said Barrett, coupled with Albany's transient
neighborhoods, create artificially inflated voter numbers in the
"There is no system for purging the enrollment lists. Transient
neighborhoods are very hard to keep track of," said Barrett. "It's
hard to wrench power from people who have a vice grip on it."
Um, “these people?” “Transient neighborhoods?” What "racial
barrier?" Note the casual suburbanite anti-urban prejudice,
which slithers dangerously close to open racism.
What Barrett does not quite say is that the old regime (“City
Democrats”) are doing whatever it takes to hold off the up
and coming newcomers (“suburban Democrats”) for as long
as they can.
Charges and counter charges have
flown around local cyberspace that
Mayor Jennings threatened City workers to vote for Commisso, while
Mike Breslin threatened County workers to vote for Bosworth.
Is Bosworth’s lawsuit a blow for fairplay and popular sovereignty,
or is it merely the latest move in a power struggle? Would Bosworth
and his allies behave differently than did Commisso and Jennings
did in the same situation?
Perhaps we will eventually find out. Meanwhile, Chairman Commisso
sent around this letter to all Committee persons, which we received
on Saturday October 6. We’ll see if the committees mollify
anybody. And as much as I’d like to see who shows up and who
doesn’t to Commisso’s $100 a head fundraiser, I don’t
think it likely The Wife and I are going to attend.
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