Thursday, November 10, 2011

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Route 20 Mystique To Inspire 10 Books


Michael J. Till grew up in Independence, Iowa, and Route 20 in front of his house was the stuff of his boyhood daydreams, spanning the nation as it does, from Boston’s Kenmore Square to Newport, Ore.
His future wife, Christine, was from Pittsburgh, and when married the young couple used to drive Route 20 from Minneapolis east to visit her family.
As Dr. Till’s career in pediatric dentistry led him into academe – he was dean of the University of Minnesota’s College of Dentistry for years – he and Christine, on getaway vacations, travelled Route 20’s whole 3,365 miles.
Retired, the Tills decided on a plan to immortalize their beloved Route 20 – in truth, it’s loved by many – by capturing it on the printed page.
The first result of their effort – nine more volumes are planned – is “Along New York’s Route 20,” just published by Arcadia.
The Tills were at the Richfield Springs Historical Society Saturday, May 14, chatting about their project and signing copies.
Contrary to Route 66, which has been largely absorbed into the Interstate Highway System, on Route 20 “the original highway is still 90 percent intact,” Till said.
Route 20 actually goes through 12 states, the authors said, but that includes only about 20 miles of Pennsylvania and about the same of Montana, not enough for a stand-alone volume.
The couple chose New York first because more postcards have recorded this stretch than any of the others, John Sagendorf of the state’s Highway 20 Association encouraged them, and because of its historical routes.
In Otsego County, it includes both the historic Cherry Valley Turnpike and the beginnings of the Great Western Turnpike, two storied roads.  “We wanted to capitalize on that,” Till said.
The Massachusetts volume is nearly complete, and Ohio is half-done, so the project is gaining momentum.
In their travels and through their research, the Tills have collected page upon page of Route 20 lore. 

Here are just a few examples, not to ruin the anticipation:
• The “Black Sox” scandal of 1919, where Joe “Say It Ain’t So” Jackson helped fix the World Series, was hatched in Boston’s Hotel Buckminster, right on Kenmore Square.
• Samuel B. Morse developed the first working telegraph machine in 1837 in Cherry Valley, right on the future Route 20 (before the four-lane shifted the route a mile north), and he returned to C-V in 1844 to establish the first telegraph office.
• Route 20 cross four presidents’ hometowns:  Millard Fillmore, East Aurora; James Garfield, Mentor, Ohio; Rutherford B. Hayes, Fremont, Ohio, and U.S. Grant, Galena, Ill.
• A stone obelisk in Sioux City, Iowa, memorializes Sgt. Charles Floyd, the only member of the Lewis & Clark Expedition to die en route, (of “bilious colic,” now thought to be a ruptured appendix.)

And much, much more.  But see for yourself.  “Along New York’s Route 20” is available at The Tepee, that Route 20 landmark just this side of Sharon Springs, the Richfield Springs Historical Society, and on

Vitch Committal


A committal service for Norma I. Vitch, 92, who passed away on Dec. 10, 2010, will be at 4 p.m. Friday, May 20, in the Evergreen Cemetery, Otego, with Rev. Teressa Sivers, officiating.
Arrangements are by the Lester R. Grummons Funeral Home.

Bridger Interment


The graveside service of committal and burial for Mrs. Rosalina “Rosie” M. (Pugliese) Bridger, 86, who died Jan. 8, 2011, will be offered at 1 p.m. on  Monday,  May 23, 2011, at Hartwick Seminary Cemetery.  Arrangements are under the guidance of the Connell, Dow & Deysenroth Funeral Home.


Milford’s Bob Harrington smartly drives Tim and Tom at the 18th annual Plow Days Saturday-Sunday, May 7-8, at Don and Donna Decker’s Deckerdale Farm in South Hartwick.   The Deckers organized what Donna calls “The No-Name Gang” almost two decades ago.  “I’m the only boss they’ve got,” she said, referring to the draft-horse aficionados that gather annually.  “No president.  No money.”  A harvest weekend is planned at the end of September.  Don Decker’s father, Mortimer, was one of the last farmers in that area to stop farming with horses, in the late 1950s.  Their sons, Don Jr., David and Dennis, aren’t farmers, but in the next few days planned to help their parents, using the horses, plant 350 pounds of potatoes.

Thursday, May 12, 2011

The War Between The Poets

CGP student Julie Broadbent conceived of a “poetry blast” to recollect the Civil War.
When most people think about the Civil War, they think of Gettysburg, Abraham Lincoln and the freeing of the slaves.  It’s a topic that’s been heavily researched, written about and the subject of movies such as “Glory,” “Gods and Generals,” and “Gettysburg.”
For Cooperstown Museum Studies graduate student Julie Broadbent, it’s best represented in poetry.
While browsing through the archives at the New York State Historical Association, she found an anonymous poem, written about a Southern woman living in Ohio during Confederate Brig. Gen. John Hunt Morgan’s attack.  The woman is torn between her Southern heritage and her Ohio upbringing as she tends to the wounded from both sides.
 “It was an extremely personal conflict,” Broadbent explained.  “She saw both sides as human, and she wanted to heal them all and send them home.”
She will be reading that poem at the “War Between the Poets” poetry slam, at 5 p.m. Saturday, May 14, held at the NYSHA library.
The poetry slam will feature original poetry as well as classics from such poets as Walt Whitman.  All members of the community are invited to participate.  The slam will showcase the performance, rather than the straight reading, of these poems, and performances are limited to four minutes.  The poem must utilize a documented source, costumes are encouraged and the five judges will be picked out of the audience to rate each performance on a 1-10 scale, dropping the highest and lowest scores.  In the event of a tie, the audience will decide on the winner, and prizes will be given..
But why the Civil War?
“The Civil War touches on issues that are still very prevalent today – race, economics and class conflict,” Broadbent said.  “As manufacturing jobs started disappearing, there was a depression, a sense of “what comes next?” 
Of course, race was and still is an issue, and the abolishment of slavery was a huge upheaval to the African American community, allowing them more resources to make their own social stratus – of course, Jim Crow laws immediately tightened this freedom after Reconstruction.”
“There is still a conflict,” Broadbent said.  “There are still huge inequalities and still tensions.”
In addition, gender roles were redefined in the Civil War.  As men went to war, women had to take over as farmers, and the classic images of Florence Nightingale and Clara Barton as nursemaids to the wounded help change the landscape of nursing as a predominantly male career into the “feminized” industry it is today.  And with so many soldiers not coming home, women were either widowed or didn’t marry.
It’s been 150 years since the start of the Civil War, but for Julie Broadbent, a single anonymous poem brought it all home.  The “War Between the Poets” poetry slam is to raise awareness of this anniversary, as New York state isn’t having an formal reflections or celebrations.  “I want to bring these issues – race, gender, class and economics – to the forefront,” she said.
For complete rules or more information, please contact Julie Broadbent at

Corning’s Project Blazes Trail For Oneonta’s Bresee’s

What Is... Will Be

Corning’s Connors Block, Cedar and East Market streets, was the first building renovated for first-floor stores and apartments upstairs.  It opened in 2001.

With Grants, Credits, Revised Building Codes, Restorations Make ‘Financial Sense’ Again


A big reception was in the works.  Corning Inc. President/CEO Jamie Houghton had sponsored it.  The plan was to introduce the Connors Block as site of Corning’s first experiment to return housing to the downtown’s upstairs.
Then a big, thick beam in the roof collapsed.  Water poured into the premises below.
“There was a ton of water” – yes, an actual ton – “between the ceiling and the roof,” architect Elise Johnson-Schmidt reported discovering.
The mishap didn’t discourage the developers.  In fact, the event underscored Johnson-Schmidt’s thesis:  Downtown buildings are often in need of expensive repair; if the upstairs floors can’t be used to enhance the revenue stream, demolition becomes the most cost-effective option.
This story had a happy ending.  In 2001, a renovated Connors Block reopened for stores and apartments.  A decade later, 41 apartments have been created in the formerly vacant upstairs of Market Street buildings, with more on the way.
And a new chapter is about to open for Johnson-Schmidt & Associates, Architects which is partnering with Corning’s Klugo Enterprises in renovating the former Bresee’s Department Store in downtown Oneonta and 1 Deitz St., the yellow-brick building around the corner.
Johnson-Schmidt has also made an appearance in Cooperstown in recent months, speaking at Otsego 2000’s Nov. 16 seminar on reviving housing on Main Street’s upper stories.  The Planning Board in April referred the initial revisions to the village code to the trustees.
“I was so excited I could hardly contain myself,” said Johnson-Schmidt, still elated by news of the Bresee’s contract.
She was being interviewed in the second-floor conference room of Johnson-Schmidt Associates at 15 East Market St., which – walking the walk after talking the talk – she purchased and renovated into two stores and one apartment – rented for $1,500 a month to an engineer in the gas-drilling business.
Plus, her architectural firm, three stories on the back of the building, entered from the parking lot that separates the structure from the Chemung River.  Her office is on the third floor, rear; she’s partial to the northern light.
“She sees what it used to be in its prime,” architect David Anderson said of his boss.  “And she sees what it’s going to be.  She doesn’t see the dirt and the decay.”
The Bresee’s plan, announced Tuesday, May 3, in Oneonta City Hall, would create commercial space on the first floor, and five two-bedroom apartments and 10 one-bedroom apartments above. 
The recent demolition of the back end of the building will provide tenants’ parking, and additional parking for downtown shoppers, as well as picnic tables and open space.
While revisions in the state code do not require an elevator (a $100,000 expense), Klugo and Johnson-Schmidt plan to install one anyhow as part of the marketing plan – tenants will be able to pull up to the entrance and unload their cars by the elevator.
“You have plenty of student housing in Oneonta,” Johnson-Schmidt said.  “The preference would be to offer a different housing opportunity, for professionals, for people who are retiring, for young professionals.”
Construction is due to begin Jan. 1, and Johnson-Schmidt anticipates people will be moving in 16-18 months from today.
As it happens, the Bresee’s partner was perhaps the foremost reason such rehabilitations are possible.
A Painted Post native and Cornell graduate with a master’s in its historic-preservation planning program, and after a career in Europe and New York, Johnson-Schmidt returned to Corning in 1990 as executive director of its Market Street Restoration Agency.
While helping create the 600-building Southside Historic District and enabling 150 facade improvement projects, in 1996 she began lobbying for changes in the state building code to allow redevelopment of upper stories.
The changes – substituting sprinklers for a second egress, for instance – are in place.  A second piece, New Markets Historic Tax credits – 39 percent – were enacted by Congress in 2000.  A third, Restore New York grants that have been used to prepare Bresee’s for redevelopment, were created in the Spitzer Administration.
“Now, finally,” said Johnson-Schmidt, “there was money for people to actually rehabilitate buildings and have it make financial sense.”
Regarding Bresee’s – the planning began in Mayor John Nader’s administration – Oneonta has “been looking at the right pieces,” she continued.  And, she added, Bresee’s can be just the beginning.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Reindeer's Christmas Wish

and if you want to read more from this author, visit her blog --

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Whether They Like Drilling Or Not, Bradford County, Pa., Is Riding A... NATURAL GAS Tsunami

If Drilling Comes To Otsego County, A Good Lease Is Your Best Protection

The Otsego County contingent observed one manifestation of natural-gas drilling en route home from Towanda, Pa., Friday, April 29:  This rig near the New York-Pennsylvania state line.

A gas lease may be your best protection against gas drilling.
In a visit organized by the Otsego County Planning Department, a group of county officials, town and private citizens went to Dimock and Towanda, Pa., (Susquehanna and Bradford counties respectively), on Friday April 29.
I went as a private citizen, and the group (we) stayed together for the discussions.
From three stops, it appears that there is a known incidence of shallow methane gas migration at about 1,000 to 2,000 feet below the surface that can migrate up to the aquifer. It is a known problem, and as yet there is no known way to predict its location.
Based on a limited study of a different drilling system, in a different gas field the incidence of hitting shallow methane is about 2 percent. Anecdotal comments on the trip yielded both higher and lower estimates.
However, the methane exists, and will migrate. It is this methane type that is suspected in those faucets in the county that you can light.
There was common agreement among the people we talked to that the methane was released by the vertical drilling, and not by the hydrofracking. Industry claims that hydrofracking does not contaminate water wells may be true in the narrow horizontal 6,000-8,000-feet-subsurface sense of the word.
As we listened to the economic development official from Bradford County, it was clear that there were jobs, not necessarily on the rigs, but in the ancillary industries supporting the drilling.
More clear was that areas with drilling were facing a boom-and-bust scenario. Pennsylvania is studying this process. Although they were unready in Bradford County for the boom, they want to be better prepared for the bust.
Example: Subsequently I learned that all the hotels in Williamsport are full all year long, and the gas companies want to lease hotels year round. Problem: the Little League World Series is played in Williamsport every summer and they need the hotel rooms. Working with the town, the gas companies made Little League World Series week a vacation week, freeing rooms for the series.
Impact on Otsego County is different. Our baseball season is three months long. However, that coincides with low Susquehanna water. Problem: the SRBC that licenses water removal from the Susquehanna has never denied the gas companies a water removal permit, according to one person we met.
In any case, hotel rooms will get built for the boom, and lower room rates in the bust.
In Bradford County, county officials listed five things that they know now that would have made a difference three years ago when the boom started.
1. The drilling boom evolves into a maintenance phase, so don’t overbuild in the boom as it will go back to what it was before in the bust.
2. You need land-use controls, not just for drilling but for the ancillary industrial activity, and at the county level they don’t know what they can do about the environmental issues.
3. Rural roads have pinch points such as bridges and intersections. According to one Pennsylvania study, traffic will increase 4/5 times, and truck traffic will increase 10 times. One road supervisor said that he had no problems getting gas-company road damage repaired, once they figured out whom to talk to at the company.  He always had the option to close the road until he could get to fixing it. It turns out that it is cheaper for the gas company to fix the road than stop work for a couple of days.
4. At every level, you need construction/best practices standards. For example, when they started drilling in Dimock they used just steel pipe, and over time that evolved into multiple casings. Now that Shell has entered the business, Shell is setting a standard with five casings; others may use less.
5. In retrospect the Braddock County people feel that they should have done a better job educating land owners to negotiate good leases. They made the point that we own the minerals, and they come with the
land, but now we are seeing the separation of mineral rights from the land.
Why did I say a gas lease may be your best protection? A lease is a contract, and an enforceable contract for everything that is in it. For example, if you put in the lease a requirement for the gas company to test and certify the water within 30 days of signing or you keep the money and mineral rights, you can be reasonably sure they will do so.
The downside of not testing the water is a 2 percent chance of a bad well and the gas company will deny liability. The lease can contain the remediation and damages clauses. In one example in Bradford county three families claiming water well damage had to get appraisals of their homes after their water went bad. The appraised value of their homes went down by a reported 85 percent, and goodbye borrowing capacity.
For the people who don’t have leases and are incorporated into the drilling unit by proximity, they may not have the same protections as lease holders. Their major asset, their home, may lose value to a process they didn’t want, and did not receive payment for. A tenth to a quarter of an acre divided by any drilling unit isn’t going to generate more than a token payment, nowhere near the potential loss in value on their house.
The gas companies may extract gas for 30 years, and all of your rights are contained in the document you sign for the down payment when the glitter of gold is shining in your eyes. However it is that lease that may well be your only protection.

During the first stop, at the Springville, Pa., town hall, near Dimock, Roseboom Town Clerk Beth Rosenthal questions the motivation of a Dimock landowner who called cloudy water from a tap a “minor inconvenience.” 

At the second stop, the Wyalusing Overlook, Otsego County Planner Psalm Wyckoff points out rigs and gas-related facilities in the Susquehanna Valley below to county Rep. Kay Stuligross, D-Oneonta.

Bers Braves Israeli Strife As Volunteer


For 25 years, the Trudi Birger Dental Clinic in Jerusalem, Israel, has provided free dental care to the city’s poor and underprivileged children.  In March, Cooperstown dentist Leonard Bers joined the Trudi Birger team for a week-long residency of volunteer dentistry.
“I wanted to give something back,” Dr. Bers, of Northern Catskill Dental PC, explained.  “I hit that point in my life when I wanted to make a difference.”
The clinic is open to all children, regardless of race or religious affiliation.  Bers was proud to explain that sitting together in the waiting room at any given time would be an Orthodox Jew, a Muslim and a Christian child, all there for the same reason—to get a lesson in good dental hygiene, a full check-up and a full range of dental treatments.  “This is not battlefield dentistry,” said Bers.  “It is like any clinic you see here in the United States.”
A residency at the Birger clinic is available to four dentists at a time, and during Bers residency he worked with dentists from Minnesota, Germany and Sweden.  He was provided with an apartment and saw between six and eight patients a day. 
Despite hearing a bomb blast while waiting for a bus, Bers adopted the same cheerful attitude as the people of Jerusalem, who live with violence on an almost daily basis.  “It doesn’t stop people from doing what they have to do,” he says.
 Bers has plans to go back to the Birger clinic next May, but in the meantime he continues working at his cousin’s practice.  When Gerald Bers, a longtime Cooperstown dentist, died unexpected six and half years ago, Leonard came up from his practice in Washington D.C. to help out. 
“I didn’t know if I could do it,” he said.  He allowed the staff and his patients to call him Dr. Lenny, not wanting to take the Bers name from a man who meant so much to the community.  What he thought would be a three or four month gig turned into a bi-weekly excursion for those six and a half years.
Every other week, Dr. Bers flies from D.C. to Albany and drives to Cooperstown, staying with Ed and Marge Landers at the White House Inn.  “They treat me like family,” he said.  “And I help them out.  Sometimes on Saturday you can find me down in the kitchen cooking bacon for the other guests.”
“I feel like a local,” he adds.  “Coming up here is a lifesaver.”
Whether in Cooperstown or in Israel, Dr. Bers stresses the important of making a difference no matter what the occupation is.  “I was really moved,” he said.  “In your line of work, you wonder if you’re making a difference – and then sometimes, you see that you do.”

Thursday, April 28, 2011


The family of Stuart P. Taugher, left, the former mayor, county representative and a force in the establishment of the Cooperstown Emergency Squad, gathered at Doubleday Field Monday, April 25, for the unveiling of a plaque in the patriarch’s memory.  “His appreciation of Doubleday Field led to a renewed appreciation for this important piece of baseball history,” the plaque reads in part.  Mayor Joe Booan and Ted Peters, a colleague of Taugher’s in community-improvement efforts, spoke.  Taugher and wife Jody raised five daughters on Maple Street, four of whom were at the ceremony:  seated from left, twins Jacqueline Ruck and Colleen Sheldon, both of Milford, Pa.; Karen Taugher, New Hartford, and Patricia Schultz, Fly Creek.  (The fifth daughter, Marcia Pugliese, Cooperstown, was ill and could not attend.)  Standing are, from left, Jacqueline’s husband Richard; Colleen’s husband Scott and their son Liam; granddaughter Stephanie Nelen and her children, daughter Rory, son Miles and baby Lanie (on Colleen’s lap); granddaughter Bridget Bertram and her son Tyler; granddaughter Jacqueline Sheldon, and granddaughter Rebecca McManus with husband Jon and son Park.

This Byrd’s Wild About Folks Songs


McGuinn, Sebastian Perform At Oneonta

Roger McGuinn, right, will perform in the county Sunday, May 1.


It’s been almost 50 years since Roger McGuinn, David Crosby, Chris Hillman, Gene Clark and Michael Clark formed the influential rock group, The Byrds.  Now a solo act, McGuinn brings his trademark folk-rock sound Sunday, May 1, to the Oneonta Theatre in a double-headline show with The Lovin’ Spoonfuls’ John Sebastian on Sunday, May 1.
Fans can expect a full-fledged show from McGuinn, complete with Byrds classics, traditional folk songs and even a little storytelling in between songs.  “I just love performing,” McGuinn said in a telephone interview Monday, April 25.  “And I just chain it all into one big story.”
Folk music is a passion for McGuinn. Back in 1995, he noticed an absence of traditional folk singers performing the old English ballads, as many of them were turning into singer-songwriters. 
In conjunction with the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, McGuinn started the Folk Den, an online collection of over 190 songs, complete with chords, lyrics and pictures, for musicians and listeners to download free of charge.
“I saw a possibility of old songs getting lost in the shuffle,” he said.  “I wanted to keep the old songs alive.”  He also found himself returning to his own folk music roots, playing solo shows with just his own four instruments on stage.
But it isn’t just touring and archiving folk music that keeps McGuinn busy.  He is also currently shooting a documentary about his life as a musician.
Tentatively titled “River Flows,” the film will trace his time both with The Byrds and as a solo act, featuring concert footage and interviews with fellow musicians such as Tom Petty, Bruce Springsteen and Judy Collins, for whom McGuinn had been a musical director on her third album.
He compares the film to the out-of-print Hollywood Records collection “Live from Mars,” which featured acoustic versions of Byrds classics such as “Mr. Tamborine Man” and “Turn Turn Turn,” as well as some of his stories from the road.
McGuinn also designed a limited-addition guitar for Martin Guitars, the seven-string acoustic Roger McGuinn HD7.  This guitar captures McGuinn’s signature “jingle-jangle” sound with a doubled g-string--the second string tuned an octave higher,  it allowed McGuinn to play melody and lead lines on the g-string, a trick taught to him by George Harrison.

IF YOU GO:  Roger McGuinn, John Sebastian at 7:30 p.m. Sunday, May 1, at the Oneonta Theater.  Tickets $50 at door, or $45 in advance at Music Square, Eighth Note, Green Toad and Maxwell’s in Oneonta, Stagecoach Coffee in Cooperstown.


Inspired During Meditation, Belleau ‘Channels’ Reggae Icon Into Song

Listen to this:
In the morning of May 12, 2009, Jim Belleau, proprietor of Principally Prints in the Oneonta Theatre building for the past 25 years, was meditating, as is his daily practice.
“It was a very good meditation,” he reflected the other day.  “I was in quite a peaceful state.”
Suddenly, he experienced words rushing by overhead, the way signs on overpasses flash by as you drive under them on I-88.
“I knew better than to trust that I would remember,” he said. “I got up, took up a piece of paper and started writing.”
In 20 minutes, he’d written 70 lines of poetry, of song.  He’d never written poetry before.
“I thought it was kind of cool that this was happening,” he said.
Two days later, during meditation, it happened again.  He roused himself and in a few minutes had written two stanzas of a second piece.
“What is this?” he asked himself.
“Immediately, the answer came, ‘message from Bob’,” he said.  “I knew immediately it was Bob Marley,” the Jamaican reggae singer-songwriter who died in 1981.
“I’d write the first half of the line, and I would just wait for the second part of the line to appear,” said Belleau.  “Every time I sat down to write, it came; every single time I would to it.”
In four weeks, he had completed 14 songs, each one with a message.
Together, the songs formed was Jim calls the “Quantum Reggae Manifesto.  Message From Bob: Volume Oneness.”  He added, “I am claiming to be literally channelling Bob Marley.”
Jim Belleau was born and raised in Salem, Mass., and graduated from St. John’s Prep in Danvers, Mass., and Emerson College.  He came to Oneonta in 1982 – “a woman,” he explained – joined  Principally Prints, and bought the business three years later.
A few years ago, he took up with Chris Rosenthal, who operates Harmony Hill Retreat Center, East Meredith, and they spent five years together.
The two began following the precepts of “A Course In Miracles,” published in 1977 by Helen Schucman, who developed it with her partner, William Thetford, originally psychologists at Columbia University’s College of Physicians & Surgeons.
Belleau said the resulting meditation caused him to let go of the “negative parts of my mind.  It also allowed what I call the quantum mind to gradually replace the ego-bound mind.  I began to experience states of peace that were unprecedented in my life.”
Bob Marley’s music advocates freedom as the best way to combat poverty, war, injustice.
“He is a worldwide symbol of freedom,” Jim said, adding that the Marley estate still grosses $100 million a year.  “His influence is huge. Go to any city in the world larger than 10,000, and Marley will be there.”
However, here we are, three decades later, and there’s little evidence that poverty, war and injustice are decreasing.  If anything, quite the opposite.
Last year, he found himself telling this story to a woman who stopped by the shop, and she offered, “I have a girlfriend who knows a Rasta-man,” who turned out to be Maroghini, a leading Jamaican percussionist who had performed with Marley; as it happened, he had been in Marley’s house the day the musician died.
Belleau sent off an e-mail, and received a reply.  Maroghini’s mother, who lives in Spring Valley, was ill, and “I happen to need to be in Upstate New York in two weeks.”
The Oneontan drove down, met the musician, told him the story and gave him the poems.  “If I can connect with it, I’ll do it,” Maroghini said.
“Two weeks later, he wrote back and said, ‘I have the first song,” said Belleau, who downloaded the track, “and I heard this beautiful song.”
It was “War is Gone.” The percussionist had recruited Donald Waugh and other notable Jamaican musicians to perform with him.
Maroghini rewrote some of the poems to work better as lyrics, and one or two new songs a month arrived for the next 10 months.
Meanwhile, Belleau got an agent, Bernie Walters of Indian Ledge Records in Albany, collaborated with Oneonta’s Dave Kenny in creating, which will go live on Friday, April 29 –’s day of publication – in time for the 30th anniversary of Bob Marley’s death, May 11, 1981.
The music will be available through the site, but Belleau and his agent – on the same release date – also plan to send copies of the DVD, “Quantum Reggae:  Message from Bob, Volume Oneness” to national and international labels. In addition to the music, it contains the account of how it came about, and sales pitch.
Through Maroghini, Jim plans to make the release available first to the Marley estate.
“Why am I the one who gets to do this?”
Belleau has two answers, the first being “my relationship with the one-ness” developed through the discipline of his meditation and his training through “A Course in Miracles.”
Second, “I’m white.  The the product of a New England prep school” – the choice is both unlikely and one that would allow the creative and marketing steps taken to date to occur.  He adds, “and I’ve never written a song in my life.”
There’s also a logo, three slashes – one red, one green, one gold, the colors of the Jamaican flag – formed in “an interlocking chain of forgiveness.”
While Jim Belleau is excited about the events of the past two years, he is also energized by the possibilities of Bob Marley’s message for the world and everyone in it.
As this takes off, remember:  You read it here first.

Jim Kevlin/
Jim Belleau, proprietor of Principally Prints, the Oneonta frame shop, believes he’s been “channelling” Bob Marley, and is about to deliver the reggae musician’s message from beyond the grave.

“QUANTUM REGGAE MANIFESTO.  Message From Bob: Volume Oneness,” become available today at

Cherubini, Brahms Focus Of CSO’s Season Finale


Fifty singers from the SUNY Oneonta Concert Choir, Chamber Singers and Choir Alumni will perform Cherubini’s “Coronation” Mass at the Catskill Symphony Orchestra’s final performance of its 2010-11 season at 8 p.m. Saturday, April 30, at the college’s Hunt Union Ballroom.
The work, “Messe Solennelle in A Major,” was written in 1825 for the coronation of King Charles X of France.  Cherubini (1760-1842), best known for his operas and sacred music, served 22 years as director of the Paris Conservatory.
The evening will begin with Symphony No. 1 by Brahms, an admirer of Cherubini.  It premiered in 1876 after a 21-year delay because Beethoven’s nine symphonies dominated the field during that period.  Brahms’ work was dubbed “Beethoven’s 10th.”
The concert is sponsored by the Bassett Healthcare Network with additional support from Excellus Blue Cross Blue Shield.
Two adults to bring any number of children to this concert for free. For more information, call 436-2670 or visit



Saturday, April 30
11:00 Police - Community
11:00 Benson - 6th Ward (F-2)
1:00 Reinhardt - N. Eagle
1:00 Royal - N.B.T. (F-2)
3:00 V.S.H. - ELKS
3:00 C. Club - Up Country (F-2)

Monday, May 2
5:45 V.S.H. - Police
5:45 6th Ward - Stero Lab (F-2)

Tuesday, May 3

5:45 N. Eagle - Elks
5:45 C. Club - Royal (F-2)

pictures from our 2010 archives...

Amanda Hoepker/Hometown Oneonta
Clockwise from left: VSH catcher Patrick Calhoun goes to make the catch as the Elks’ Bennett Eggler slides into home during Friday, May 7’s 2010 game at Doc Knapp Field. Tanner Jennings takes a swing for VSH. Alex Brannan gets advice from the Elks’ first base Coach Geoff Hassard. VSH pitcher Kaleb O’Neill winds up.

Wilber Bank’s Paul Zimmer, Owen Mann, Lucas Wilder, Tyler Henderson, Reilly Catan, Mackenzie Catan, Sam Goff and Coach Chris Goff look up at the Stars and Stripes while the National Anthem is sung during opening ceremonies for the Oneonta Little League 2010 season Saturday, May 1, at “Doc” Knapp Field.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

MARLY YOUMANS: ART REVIEW: ‘Snared In The Moment When Things Go Awry...’

"HOMEBODIES,” by Cooperstown’s Ashley Norwood Cooper, on display through Saturday, May 14, at the Earlville Opera House.

The Freeman’s Journal
Cooperstown’s Ashley Norwood Cooper touches up a painting in her Lake Street attic studio.

Cooperstown artist Ashley Norwood Cooper has a strong solo show of 18  casein-on-board paintings, “Homebodies,” at the East Gallery of the Earlville Opera House. These pictures are part of the resurgence of narrative, representation and pictorial beauty in painting.  They are resonant with half-told stories and rich with mystery.
They demonstrate a fascinating relationship to what in the past has been considered a traditional, often-scorned woman’s subject, domestic life.  Her statements about her work may sound modest: “I try to paint life in a small town as thoroughly and honestly as I can. We live with our families, protected from the elements in houses built on the bones of the past.” She finds that “mundane details are fraught with mystery and meaning.”
But the paintings have something powerful and not at all modest to say. Houses have been cut away so that we see simultaneously the ordinary and the terrible intrusions created by nature, accident and danger.  These are not paintings removed from real life, located in some distant arena of action. They are the places where we live and die, where transformation is continually happening. Their middle-class interiors remind me of a poem by Mary Jo Salter in which “hidden in the house a fine / crack – nothing spectacular, / only a leak somewhere – is slowly / widening to claim each of us.”
The entire world functions as a kind of doll’s house, where we are allowed to see into the earth or through private walls.  The bones of a bear seem to stir, longing to attack a heavy-racked deer that lowers its head to drink from a child’s wading pool in the dream-like “Night Secrets.” Not knowing that mystery is only a few walls away, a man and woman embrace inside the house. Here and elsewhere bones of the past remind us of the scope of time, that it is large and that our lives in the shelter of homes are small.
In “Light as a Feather, Stiff as a Board,” my favorite of the paintings, children play an occult game down in the basement, lifting a girl into the air with only two fingers from each hand. Weird light spills onto her face; her mouth is open, and she is in the grip of something ecstatic. What have these children conjured? The gold and green gleams shed from a streetlight through a basement window and the face of the half-thrilled, half-horrified child are uncanny. 
That uncanniness is contagious.  It infects the entire house as well as the yard and street glimpsed outside, where bats jitter and swarm in the twilight.  A figure leaving a car seems strangely vulnerable to the open air.  Upstairs, reflected eerily in a big-screen TV, a naked man stoops, seeking to get into bed with his wife, who has stiffly ensconced herself in the very center of the bed, her body as pale and cold as the sheets. Outside, a skeleton under the ground gropes upward, as if awakened by the séance game and wishing to snatch at life.
The figures in “The Bear,” Ashley Cooper’s most recent work on exhibit at Earlville, show signs of wanting to escape the dimensions of her current paintings. They have grown large and suggest that the artist is looking for bigger rooms to inhabit. She is looking for generous studio space where she can work on a larger canvas and has ideas about a new project. It will be interesting to watch where she goes from here.
In the cut-away interior of “The Bear,” a family is frozen at the moment when a bear knocks over the aluminum garbage can outside – awakened, caught up, and alarmed. Picasso once said that we see a painting better when it’s not hung tidily on a nail but is hung crookedly. These paintings are crooked in just such a way: their human occupants are snared in the moment when things go awry. Life is illuminated by strangeness and is suddenly more real and intense than it was a moment before.
Ashley Norwood Cooper is an artist with a vocation, one that we locals ought to support with our attention and time and, yes, money. From now through May 14, pay a visit to her work at the Earlville Opera House, a model for arts programs in our area.

Ashley Norwood Cooper’s latest work, “The Bear,” is among 18 paintings displayed at the Earlville Opera House through May 14.

Marly Youmans’ eighth book is just out – a collection of poetry, “The Throne of Psyche” (Mercer University Press, April 2011.)


‘Grand Reopening’ Due May 20

Jim Kevlin/
Walmart Store Manager Paul Wasko, left, discusses the expanded TV section, featuring HD and Internet-connected models, with Alex Ewaniszwk, with R.L. Spencer, the Syracuse contractor.


When Paul Wasko arrived as Walmart store manager here six years ago, a “fixup-cleanup” was underway, but nothing like this.
All 188,000-square-feet are getting a redo.
The back wall where the TVs are displayed has been lengthened, to make way for HD and Internet-connected models.  Walmart’s new Vizio brand is “a big seller,” he said.
The book and stationery section has been moved to the back, to make way for a “Celebration Center” – everything from balloons to pinatas – next to greeting cards in the front.  
Women’s and men’s clothing used to run vertically back from the front, side by side.  When the renovations are done, women’s clothing will stretch along the front, parallel to the cash registers, with men’s clothing behind.
cash-register islands are a light-wood tone.
The renovation, the most extensive since this store opened in 1995 on Southside, began March 27, and is expected to be complete by May 20, when a Grand Reopening is planned.
“It’s more state of the art, more shopper friendly,” said Wasko, a Johnson City native who after decades in Florida moved back Upstate to take this job.  He lives in New Berlin.
During a tour of the store, he bumped into Zimmerman and Jennifer Walston of Norfolk, Va., who are part of a corps that oversees Walmart redos nationwide.  Each do 5-6 a year.  In a 10-year career, Walston estimates she’s been involved in 60 such projects; Zimmerman has only been at it about a year.
Wal-Mart Store, Inc. – that’s the company’s official name, but the individual stores are called “Walmart,” one word, unhyphenated, said Katie Johnston, the company spokesman – is always renovating stores, said Walston and Zimmerman.
The 709 regular Walmarts, 2,907 Walmart Supercenters – Oneonta’s outlet is a Supercenter – and 182 neighborhood markets all have a spot on the company’s systematic renovation schedule, they said.
Wasko proceeds through the store calmly, an earpiece keeping him up-to-the minute on the goings-on in the huge building.  Employees – he is hiring 50 new ones; 15 vacancies remain to be filled – come up to him with various challenges, and he listens and suggests commonsense outcomes.
Renovations in Kingston, he lets on, are two weeks ahead of Oneonta’s, so when really thorny situations arise, he calls his colleague down there, who’s usually already figured out a solution.

Barbara Deitch of Westford, accompanied by grandson Christopher, rolls through the space next to greeting cards that will soon be the new “Celebration Center,” featuring party supplies.

Janet Blatsos, Milford, fills prescriptions in the bright, open new pharmacy.  The windowed previous site is in the background.

to see more pictures, visit our pictures page --Wal Mart: THE NEXT WAVE

Friday, April 15, 2011

Lady of FINLAND & They Do Adore Photographer At Tampere’s Vapriikki Museum

Lady Ostapeck, the Fly Creek portraitist now living at Oneonta’s Nader Towers, is just back from Finland, where 60- by 20-inch blowups of her photos and 100 costumes from her extensive collection are on view at the Vapriikki Museum in Tampere through March 18, 2012.

You may know the story of Lady Ostapeck’s narrow escape while still in the cradle.
It was 1919.  The baby’s mother had died in childbirth in Brooklyn, N.Y., and she had been sent to live with an aunt in a Finnish community in rural Brooklyn, Conn.
One day, a farmer name Koski emerged from his house with a hatchet in his hand, turned left and butchered everyone in the next five houses, hanging himself in the barn at the end.
If he had turned right, Baby Ostapeck would been one of his first victims.
The baby was returned to Brooklyn, where she was taken in by Mama Jansson, who lived in Edgewater, N.J.
Mama’s three young children and her husband had died, Lady related in an interview the other day, wearing a black sombrero and sipping coffee from a paper cup.
“I got all the love she would have given her babies – all of it,” she said matter-of-factly.
Mama Jansson’s love and sincerity was such that girls contemplating suicide would cross the Hudson River for her counseling.  Not a one went through with it, Lady said.
As it happens, she had just returned from Finland, where more
LADY/From B1
than 400 people crowded into the Vapriikki Museum in Tampere, the country’s third-largest city, for the opening of “A Lady of Style: Lady Ostapeck’s American Costumes & Portraits.”
In her speech opening night, on the podium with the Finnish minister of culture and tourism, Lady Ostapeck gave credit to Mama Jansson for everything that has happened to her in the 90+ years since.
Did you know Lady Ostapeck was originally a seamstress, trained at the Fashion Institute of Technology?
By the time she arrived at her Greek revival cottage in Fly Creek a half century ago – she lived there until moving to Oneonta’s Nader Towers two years ago – and began her career as a portraitist with an unusual muse, she had already collected dozens of vintage costumes.
She continued to do so, at thrift shops and auctions, and as she produced hundreds of photo portraits of subjects in vintage clothing, her costume collection – it includes two pith helmets – grew into the hundreds of examples as well.
Periodically, Lady has been invited to display her photos in Finland, and 10 years ago she met Marketa Frank, now a curator at the Vapriikki, who was interested in antique clothing.
One thing led to another, and last summer a team from the museum visited the Fly Creek Valley cottage, where it identified more than 100 gowns and other articles from Lady’s collection.
When packed, Lady said, the clothes filled 19 of those movers’ wardrobes.  “Next year,” said Lady, “they’ll be getting another set.”
Lady’s promoter and friend Nick Argyros, director of the Photo Center of the Capital District in Troy, had collaborated with Marketa Frank in organizing the exhibit and intended to accompany the photographer.
But, just before they were to depart in mid-March, he suffered a heart attack and underwent a triple bypass.  Lady’s Fly Creek neighbor, Barbara Lyon, was recruited for the task and the two departed from JFK Sunday, March 13, aboard a Finnair flight, courtesy of the Vapriikki.
“Non-stop to Helsinki,” said Barbara.  “We flew
LADY/From B2
over the Arctic Circle, looking down on glaciers and ice-blue rivers.  It was incredible.  It reminded me of ‘Dr. Zhivago’.”
Met at the airport, the two were driven the two hours to Tampere – a metropolitan area of 300,000 known as “The Manchester of Finland” –  and immediately went to the museum.
It was “a wonderful factory building on the river,” the Tammerkoski channel that connects the city’s two lakes, Näsijärvi and Pyhäjärvi.
The exhibit included most of the clothing, examples of Lady’s photos, blown up to 16- by 20-inch sizes, and detailed texts of her life and work.
“We spent every day at the museum,” said Lyon.  “She had interviews every day.  There were ones that weren’t planned, and those that were planned.”
One morning at breakfast, the waitress approached with a copy of Aamulehti, the daily paper.  “This is you, isn’t it?” she asked, holding up the front page of the feature section, dedicated completely to Lady’s exhibit.
Then came the big night.  The museum’s reception area was filled.  Champagne all around.  Finland’s minister of culture and tourism was there.  Also a cousin of Lady’s who was a member of the Finnish parliament, and a nephew who was Finnair’s director of marketing.
Lady had had a rough winter.  She had been hospitalized twice over Christmas, then had spent time in rehabilitation at Otsego Manor.
“All I want is to go to Finland, and then I can die,” she told Barbara.
“After the reception,” her friend recalled, “she said, ‘This is the highpoint of my whole life.  I can die now’.”
If you die in Finland, would you want to be buried here? asked Barbara.  In addition to wanting to know Lady’s wishes, she was pondering the logistics of transporting her back to the States.
“No, no,” she said in that abruptly frank way those who know her would recognize. “I have a plot in Fly Creek. You have to bring me back.”

The entrance to the complex that contains the Vapriikki, which means “factory” in Finnish.

 to see pictures, see our picture page or visit our facebook album -- Lady of Finland, Lady Ostapeck, 2011

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Retirees Remain At Home

You Can Renovate For The Longterm

ARA Content

Because so many Americans are aging in place, they’re looking for ways to make their homes safe and comfortable for the long term. With just a few modifications, retired couples can make their homes perfect sanctuaries for their golden years. Here are some modification ideas to help you keep your heart right at home:

• Stay connected. There are video/television systems and services available that allow you to chat with a person from a care program while sitting at your dining room table. Program staff can also monitor your house and contact a relative or emergency service if they notice you haven’t moved in awhile.
• Independence is also very important for seniors, and this is especially true in the bathroom. Climbing over a bathtub wall becomes more difficult as people age, and can also make the bathroom very dangerous for slips and falls. Walk-in baths are one option.  Because the door opens and seals shut, this walk-in bath allows you to sit down prior to running any water, which can help prevent a slip or fall. Hydrotherapy jets also add additional health benefits, so you can comfortably soak as long as you want.
• Car manufacturers are adapting vehicles to accommodate seniors with such options as seats that swivel to face out the door so you can sit down or stand up easily and not have to bend down at an angle to climb into the seat. Other available adapters are dashboards that push back until the driver is in the seat and ready to start the car, buttons to control the radio and temperature on the steering wheel, and sliding cabinets that help a person load items into the trunk – and get them out easier.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

FROM “The Angel with a Broken Face,” inspired by Cooperstown’s Christ Church.

Stained-glass image is from Christ Church, Cooperstown.
For as I stared, fixed there as surely as if I had been nailed to the spot, the swirling air from the open doors increased in color and in brightness, so that the entire chamber of the room was stained.  For the first time I grasped what I should have noticed before, the eerie wailings of the wind, tearing through the yard of stones.  Then I heard a sound as if the entire world had been uprooted and disassembled:  an immense slow wrenching followed by a complex series of crashes.  The perfection of the angel’s face exploded into shards that made, for one instant, a corona around its head.  Something struck my face.  I heard a voice screaming, tearing like a pennant in a storm.  I realized that a branch had smashed through the window; the leaves ripped from the limb like a flock of butterflies, seized and crumpled.  The angel’s mildness had been destroyed, shot through by the raw flood of air and the stab of wood.  The green mysterious air had entered my lungs, and I seemed hell-bent on expelling it.  The noise in my ears increased to a roar as I saw Father Martin rush toward me, his bathrobe flapping behind him.  The sanctuary collapsed in black dots; I saw nothing more.

BY Marly Youmans

descendant Walks In Steps Of POW Who Fled Captivity

“CAPTIVE! The Story of David Ogden and the Iroquois,” by Jack Harpster and Dr. Ken Stalter, the Oneonta surgeon and Ogden descendant, has just been published by Greenwood Publishing Group.

Joseph Brant – the famous Gilbert Stuart portrait hangs in The Fenimore Art Museum – comes off well in “Captive!”
The story of David Ogden and his ordeal is one of many similar stories of people being captured by the Iroquois during the American Revolution as it played out in Central New York.  Among the other such captivity ordeals of local interest is that of Daniel McCollum of Middlefield Centre, who was taken at a young age and recovered many years later. 
In that sense, the ordeal of David Ogden may not be unique; what is unique is how well Ogden’s ordeal has been documented and how well it is recreated in this book.
The best source of the Odgen experience is indeed from Ogden himself, who related his tale to Josiah Priest in 1840.  It is on this narrative that Harpster and Stalter (a descendant of Ogden) base much of their fine work. 
The basics of the tale are rather straightforward.  For safety, Ogden’s family went from Otego to Cherry Valley, by way of Newtown-Martin, or Middlefield Center, during the early stages of the American Revolution.  They were in Cherry Valley during the Massacre. 

Ogden descendant, surgeon and author Ken Stalter
Ogden enlisted in the war effort and was captured by the Iroquois, led
by Joseph Brant, on March 2, 1781, while chopping wood for Fort Stanwix (Utica).  He had to endure a winter march to Fort Niagara, where he and other captives had to run a gauntlet.  He was adopted into an Indian family, who, after he proved a poor surrogate for their dead son, was given back to the Tories.  From thence he ended up in Oswego, where he escaped and literally ran back to Warren’s Bush, where his family had made their home.
Throughout the book, the authors make a point of differentiating how Tories and the Iroquois treated prisoners of war. To a great extent, the Iroquois were generally more humane in terms of keeping prisoners well fed and comfortable, notwithstanding forced winter marches and the running of gauntlets. Indeed, in general, the Iroquois are treated quite sympathetically throughout this book.  Even Joseph Brant, leader of the Iroquois who was reviled by Americans for much of the 19th century, is shown to be a much more decent warrior and much less barbarous then early works have portrayed.
To their credit, Harpster and Stalter do not merely retell the tale as Priest told it.  Through extensive primary and secondary source research they have been able to flesh out many more particulars about Ogden’s life and what his captivity may have really been like.  To be sure, to do this there is a fair amount of “filler” which helps to bring the people in the book to life. 
For example, there is a detailed description of the Indian Yaup early in the text which can be based on nothing more than a supposition of what this Iroquois looked like and could have been wearing.
This book makes admirable use of primary source material to tell Ogden’s story more completely than did Priest.  Ample use of the Brant manuscripts, the Campbell Family Papers, the Haldimand Papers, and the orderly books of the Fourth and Second New York Regiments among other documents was made.  These sources give the book both an air of authority and reliability. 
Among the highlights of this book is the detailed telling of David Odgen’s run to freedom from Oswego to Cherry Valley.  This part of the story is told vividly in light of Stalter’s own experience retracing his ancestor’s steps.  I am at a loss to think of many historians who have taken the time to recreate such a trek made by their subjects.
On the whole, this book is an excellent retelling of an aspect of the American Revolution that is not often heard.  This is a  personal tale of one man’s harrowing experience and through his experience it helps shed light on other aspects of the human toll of the American Revolution.
In the hands of Harpster and Stalter, the tale comes alive and reads both as historical narrative and as well-crafted fiction.  In the reading, one could easily lose sight of the fact that this is a true tale and not a novel.  The story moves at a fast pace and, as the title implies, “CAPTIVE!” is captivating.

Dominick J. Reisen is author of “Middlefield and the Settling of the New York Frontier” and past president of the Otsego County Historical Association.

Spooky, Special GLIMMERGLASS

Under Its Spell, Marly Youmans Writes, And Writes...

Jim Kevlin/
Kingfisher Tower and the source of the Susquehanna are among the locales that have figured in Marly Youmans poems, novels and stories.


‘T here’s something very cozy, being up in your room, writing, when it’s snowing outside,” Marly Youmans said the other day, sitting in the back room, a modern kitchen attached to one of Cooperstown’s earliest homes at Main Street’s east end.
Up there one night – it was a Twelfth Night, Epiphany’s eve – she looked out and there were 12 deer, led by a stag, crossing the bridge over the Susquehanna River.

I saw the twelve crossing the bridge.
They paused to meet my eye
Before floating along the ridge
Where river mansions lie

Youmans – she’s a prolific writer, with numerous novels and books of poetry to her name, and six more books (including “Glimmerglass,” a novel) at various publishers – didn’t intend to find herself here.
She was born in Aiken, S.C., the daughter of a professor of analytical chemistry, and was raised in Louisiana, Kansas and Delaware before returning South to Cullowhee, N.C., where her
father taught at Western Carolina.
“I was a passionate reader,” she remembers. “I was wild to read.  I didn’t go anywhere without a book.”
She graduated from Hollins College in Roanoke, Va., did graduate work at Brown and Chapel Hill, and in the 1980s found herself teaching at SUNY Potsdam, an associate professor.
There, she met Michael T. Miller.  The couple moved to Albany for his medical school.  They had married and, while pregnant with her first child, she wrote her first novel, “Little Jordan,” (1995), which begins with a 13-year-old girl finding a little girl’s body along a river in the South.
She had sent the manuscript to David R. Godine, Publisher, Boston, never thinking it would be rejected.  “I was just very innocent, because I was a poet.”  It wasn’t.
The couple moved to Cooperstown for her husband’s residency at Bassett and, pregnant with her daughter, Rebecca Miller (a CCS grad, now a student at Bard), wrote “Catherwood” (1996) in the backyard of their Fernleigh Drive home, listening to her son play.  (Son Ben Miller is now a college student in the Carolinas; son Nate Miller is a CCS eighth grader.)

On chilly days the women cut and sewed around the fireplace, but on sunny days they carried a bed rug outside and sewed on the grass.  Baby Edmund would lie on his back, clouds reflected in his round eyes.  When Cath held the child, she imagined the two babies sitting close together, one unborn, separated from the other only by a narrow wall.

In “Catherwood,” inspired by the woods and terrain between here and Albany, the heroine goes to visit a neighbor, gets disoriented and spends months in the wilderness. It was a Literary Guild alternate.
“I thought of it as a souvenir of Cooperstown,” she said, “because I would never be coming back.”
The family moved to UNC Chapel Hill where Miller was head resident.  He then served a fellowship at Duke, before joining a practice in Greenville, N.C.  When that didn’t seem to be working out, “I just knew we were going back.”  She told her husband, “I would never live north of Cooperstown,” and here they are.  He is a Bassett neurologist.
Busy enough with two kids, she plunged into a Civil War novel, “The Wolf Pit” (2001), set in the Union prison camp at Elmira, visiting the scene, exploring archival records.  She would write until 4 a.m., then get up at 7 to get Ben and Rebecca ready for school.
“When I’m writing,” she said, “I think about it all the time.”
The South.  Elmira.  The wild Upstate woods.  In “Ingledove” (2006), Youmans created Adantis, a fantasy forest world, where Ingledove accompanies her brother in search of a serpent demon.  “Val/Orson” (2009), the tale of a stolen twin, plays out among the Sequoias.
“Am I whimsical?” she asks of these various settings.  “I just get easily bored.  A lot of writers write the same novel over again.  I’m not interested in that.”
Edward Taylor, “our only metaphysical poet,” influenced her, as have Indian captivity narratives, “a lot of Puritan writings,” Cooper’s “Leatherstocking Tales,” and – of course – Cooperstown and Otsego Lake.

The creek surged above the bank – the boy was gone – and she flashed away, her feet sliding on patches of ice, past the cottage with its seven doors wide open, past the firs, and through the formal stone gateway with its arch and ironwork griffins.  A wave tangled with her feet, slammed her to the ground.  She picked herself up and raced on in deepening water.

“Glimmerglass,” due to be published next year in the U.K. – “one of my stranger books” – is set in a fictionalized version of that stone gatehouse on Route 80, across from Pierstown Road.  (The Rev. Sam Abbott, former Christ Church, Cooperstown, rector, and his wife, Edith, lived there when they moved to town, and Marly got to know the house quite well.)
“It’s the story of a woman who’s a failed painter, never been married.  She doesn’t like her life.  She comes to Cooperstown and thinks she can begin again.”
Not to ruin the anticipation, suffice it to say it involved a young man and scenes “on the lake and under the lake,” Youmans said.
Fans or would-be fans will have the chance to hear Marly talk about her work at 7 p.m. Thursday, April 7, at the Village Library of Cooperstown, along with novelists Alice Lichtenstein of Oneonta and Peg Leon of Middlefield’s Beaver Meadow section.
Or you can look forward to “A Death at the White Camellia Orphanage,” based on her father, Hubert’s, early life as a sharecropper’s son who ran away from home repeatedly, then serve in World War II as a tailgunner.  Even before publication, it won Mercer University Press’ Ferrol Sams Award for Fiction for 2010.
Or you can plunge into the poems, stories or novels for more depictions of local scenes, however obliquely, of Kingfisher Tower, the source of the Susquehanna, Hidden Island...

At midnight I went down to the lake, and there
I saw the Northern Lights as seven swords
Of long-dead kings that glimmered in the sky.
They were as thin and cold as icicles,
Set evenly above a shoal of cloud—
The winter’s glittering eyes drew low to see,
Its glories made into one burning look.
I stepped onto the marble arrowhead
That points the way to North forevermore,
And though I stood below a canopy
Close-crowded with the bright burrs of the stars,
And though I held my love, and though our children
Were safe and sleeping at my back, I met
And knew a loneliness beyond all heal.

Meanwhile, Marly Youmans will keep writing.  “It’s how I navigate through my life.”

Editor’s Note:  The excerpts are, respectively, from “The Kirkyard Deer,” “Catherwood,” “Glimmerglass” and “The Exile’s Track.”  “Catherwood” is a novel; the rest are poems.

Thursday, March 31, 2011

Pat Spencer’s ‘Painted Ladies’ Make Beautiful Dolls


What is going on here?
Tufts of hair – human hair? – are evident around the table in the high-ceilinged dining room of Pat Spencer’s turreted Victorian home on upper Main Street.
Are those little body parts?
And these ladies:  What’s the snipping and sewing all about?
If double, double toil and trouble; fire burn and caldron bubble comes to mind, well, set your mind at ease.
This is no coven.  These are highly skilled craftspeople involved in an innocent hobby:  High-end dollmaking.
“I’ve always loved dolls,” said Spencer, who in 1986 acted on that life-long affection and took a doll-making course at Seeley’s,
the Oneonta doll company (now New York Doll Products in the Pony Farm Industrial Park.)
“I took it and I loved it.  I bought a kiln,” said the Massachusetts College for the Arts art major (she met her husband, Ted, there).  “It was perfect.  Artistic.  You have to paint them.  Then the dolls.  Then the beauty.”
Soon, she was a member of the Doll Artisan Guild, an international organization that celebrates dollmaking, and she was travelling to conferences all over the world – in Japan, in Australia – as well as a regional one at The Concord in the Catskills.
“There’s actually a huge group of people who do this,” she said.
Once a year, Pat hosts the best of the best, a half-dozen pals who have been making dolls together for years – they call themselves The Painted Ladies – and that’s what was going on around her diningroom table that morning in mid-March.
Heather Levy, Marieke Kuiper and Karin Svahn – “the best modern-day dollmaker I’ve ever seen,” who recently retired to Doylestown, Pa., with her husband – are among some of the local participants.  Patti Putnam participates from West Winfield.
But some of The Painted Ladies come from as far away at Huntington, W.Va.
Pat Spencer teaches dollmaking classes weekly, but really looks forward to the annual get-togethers.  Each year, The Painted Ladies pick a project and immerse themselves in it, a three-day marathon.  Meals are catered, so they can concentrate on the work at hand.
While chatting, Pat has been pointing out some of her favorite dolls in the glass-fronted cabinets that line her downstairs walls – there’s a lovely girl from “Lord of the Rings.”  There’s the doll that won Pat a “Millie,” the Oscar of dollmaking, named after Mildred Seeley, the Oneonta doll-company founder.
Now in the cellar, she points out four kilns she uses to make the ceramic heads and shoulders.  Over there are jars of liquid porcelain, the raw material.
Pat and the other Ladies seek to recreate examples from 1860 to 1910, the heyday of fine dollmaking.  Pre-plastic, the bodies are made of leather, with sawdust and glue among the ingredients.
All the years this was going on, she and Ted, now retired, but then chief curator at the National Baseball Hall of Fame, were raising three children.  (They now have three grandsons and a granddaughter.)
Daughter Jennifer loved the dolls, her mom said.  “My granddaughter loves them.  My husband is very supportive – he thinks its a great art form.
“My sons” – Matthew and Lucas – “they think I’m a little nuts.”

Jim Kevlin/
The Painted Ladies, above, are in the midst of their annual three-day doll-making marathon in Pat Spencer’s Cooperstown dining room.  Upper right is Pat and the doll that won her a “Millie.”  Center right is a princess from “Lord of the Rings.”  At right is the bisque head and shoulders that dolls are built around.

Kate, Don’t Select Your Gown Yet!


Amanda Hoepker/
SUNY Oneonta student designer Kate Fragoso is “walked down the aisle” by Oscar Oberkircher, professor of Food Service Management, at the recent wedding fashion show.

Forget Vera Wang.  Future English Princess Kate Middleton might want to consider purchasing her one-of-a-kind wedding dress from SUNY Oneonta.
Drawing inspiration from the upcoming nuptials of Prince William and Ms. Middleton, students in Dr. Annacleta Chiweshe’s “Innovations in Wearable Art” class were charged with deconstructing a used wedding dress, donated from the collection of the Human Ecology Department, then reconstructing the gown into a unique dress fit for a royal wedding.
From concept to product, the designers had three weeks to prepare their creation.  Then the big day arrived:  On Thursday, March 24, the Hunt Union became the runway, and each girl got to show off her design to a gathered crowd. 
The inspirations for the gowns varied from Kate’s vintage sapphire engagement ring to peacocks, cameo brooches and waterfalls. 
Pam Earnest, whose “Silver Bullet” dress featured a long braided silver and white train, said she was inspired by silverware.
Fan Chao Chen utilized an “East meets West” theme in designing her red and white creation “Raise the Red Lantern.” Chen’s dress featured a bubble-shaped skirt and a bouquet of two lanterns.  “Red is a happy color traditionally used in Asian weddings,” she said.  “It scares away evil.”
Dr. Chiweshe’s “Innovations in Wearable Art” class started in 2002 as an experimental special topics course and has since become a staple, with several of her students going on to publish their designs and compete internationally. 
“Dress is form of self-expression,” she says.  “We are making garments in the form of art – the beauty is that you can break all the rules.”
The gowns will be on display in the Human Ecology Department’s Gallery until mid-April, and the students will submit their designs for possible publication in various fashion trade magazines.

Amanda Hoepker/
Other “brides” included, front to back, Ellen Brady, Carolyn Bunn, Pamela Ernst, Alexis Gabriel, Amanda Guernsey, Brittany Meeter, Kelsey Minnich and Fan Chao Chen.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

APRIL Master Arts Calendar

The new Master Arts Calendar for April is out, click the tab above to see more!!!

Thursday, March 24, 2011

rom Glimmerglass To Hong Kong, MacLeod Steers His Life Eastward


The Freeman’s Journal
One regret:  Michael MacLeod never did witness a baseball game.  Torrential rains flooded out the final Hall of Fame Game in 2008.

What a concept:  Government subsidizing the arts.
As Glimmerglass Opera’s general & artistic director, Michael MacLeod saw the state’s annual $120,000 grant disappear after the economy went south in 2008.
“In Europe,” said MacLeod, “many of the arts organizations are struggling, too, even in the U.K.  In Italy, it is a bomb site.”
He asked rhetorically, “Where is the new Land of Opportunity?”
“China,” he answered, where interest in Western Classical music continues to take great leaps forward.
And so it is that, after a decade in the U.S. – a second chapter in MacLeod’s professional life, after Europe – Glimmerglass’ 5-year chief executive is opening perhaps the last chapter, in Hong Kong.
“If you ask people to name the most famous orchestra in the East, most people will say, the Hong Kong Philharmonic,” said the 58-year-old MacLeod in an interview the other day while he was back in town packing up his home at Six Mile Point.
He assumes his new position as the Hong Kong Philharmonic’s chief executive April 1 in “The Pearl of the Orient,” overseeing a $12 million operation.  He replaces So Hau-leung, a member of the philharmonic’s Board of Governors since 2002 who served in the position during 2009.
He’s particularly excited about guiding the orchestra through the selection of a new conductor in the next year, and in providing input to a new philharmonic hall now in the planning.
MacLeod, who left Glimmerglass Opera at the end of the 2010 season after five years on Otsego Lake, had been praised for innovative seasons built around single themes.
The first was the Orpheus myth, with offerings in 2007 ranging from Monteverdi’s “L’Orfeo,” considered the first modern opera, to Philip Glass’ contemporary “Orphée” and Michael Camus’ movie, “Black Orpheus.”
“I am extraordinarily proud of that,” said MacLeod.
He followed up the next year with a Shakespeare theme, which included Richard Wagner’s adaptation of “Measure for Measure” and also Cole Porter’s musical, “Kiss Me Kate,” based on “The Taming of the Shrew.”  The set at the Alice Busch Opera Theatre was designed to echo Shakespeare’s Globe.
In 2010, Copeland’s “The Tender Land,” written for young voices, allowed Glimmerglass to maximize the contribution of its Young American Artists, its internship program for future opera stars.
“I feel my legacy is very imaginative programming at a time of deep recession,” MacLeod said.  “Normally these things don’t go together.”
A Scot (who also carries a U.S. passport) and son of a British diplomat, MacLeod was born in Bogota and was raised around the world, including stints in L.A. and Denver.  He graduated from Amherst College.
He came to the U.S. in 2001 as New Haven Symphony Orchestra executive director.  (Flying in on 9/11, his flight was sent back to London.  He returned a few days later.)
Previously, he had directed the City of London Festival and served as managing director of John Eliot Gardiner’s Monteverdi Choir, English Baroque Soloists, and Orchestre Révolutionnaire et Romantique.
He joined Glimmerglass in September 2005, succeeding Esther Miller, now Boston Lyric Opera executive director.  He has been succeeded by Francesca Zambello, who has rechristened the opera the Glimmerglass Festival, seeking to expand the offerings and community reach.
MacLeod’s introduction to Hong Kong came in 1989, while on a world tour with the Monteverdi, and was heralded in a front-page story in the South China Morning Post, the former crown colony’s daily.
It happened like this.  While in Taipei, there was a serial killing spree in Bombay. “India has been cancelled,” MacLeod was told.  “Good luck getting back to London.”
Setting up an ad hoc concert in Hong Kong to finance the rest of the trip, MacLeod sat next to a woman who turned out to be the manager of a newly opened Marriott in Hong Kong.
“I’ll give you a cheap rate because it’s good publicity for me,” she told him, “on the condition someone gives an interview to the newspaper.”
The Monteverdi Choir won a $25,000 prize from the Japanese Critic’s Circle.  In Tokyo to receive the award the next year, MacLeod then spent a couple of weeks in Hong Kong before returning home.
“Technically, it’s part of China again; the reality is it remains independent in spirit,” he said of his new home, where he’ll experience 90 degrees and high humidity most of the year.
“It has its own government, its own administration, its own currency, the Hong Kong dollar,” he said. “It’s a massive financial generator.  The Chinese have decided to leave Hong Kong alone.”
MacLeod said he’s leaving his lakeside home – and 2008 Jeep – with regret, but has fond memories of his stint here, including one fall when he took his boat on a trip down the Mississippi.
A fresh-water sailor, he nonetheless is looking forward to Hong Kong’s location on the China Sea:  “They have junks there; look for me on a junk.”

Many consider the Hong Kong Philharmonic the best orchestra in the Orient.

Michael MacLeod will be trading in Otsego Lake and his power boat for the South China Sea and, perhaps, a junk, he says.

Friday, March 18, 2011

LIVE! at the Oneonta Theater!

Partners Try Something No One Else Has Done


OK, you may not be aware of the fourth annual WONYpalooza, an evening of heavy metal that kicks off the Oneonta Theatre’s first full season Saturday, March 19.  Or PowerGlove, the featured act.
But if you have, you’ve probably never heard of Ricky Nelson, who will be honored in the “Ricky Nelson Remembered” 25th Anniversary Tour – Ricky’s sons Gunnar and Matthew perform.  It plays at the Oneonta Theatre Sunday, March 27.
If you follow music, you probably are aware of The Byrds’ Roger McGuinn and the Lovin’ Spoonfuls’ John Sebastian (May 7), or John Mayall (April 1), Eric Clapton’s collaborator.
And who hasn’t heard of The Beatles.  (The Fab Faux, June 10, will seek not merely to play the hits, but seeks to replicate the experience of a Beatles’ concert.)
The point is, there’s something for everyone.
That’s the goal of Oneonta Theatre owner Tom Cormier and promoter Jon Weiss, who were brought together early in 2010 by a question:  Forget Glimmerglass Opera, forget the CSO, can a modern-music venue – rock, jazz, folk, you name it – flourish in Oneonta?
“The only music you can specialize in is good music,” Weiss said, sipping a yerba mate the other day, during an interview with Cormier at the Yellow Deli.
Looking at this summer’s offerings, you quickly conclude that “good music” may be the foundation, but add the adjective, “variety.”
For, as noted above in the first few paragraphs, Weiss and Cormier are striving to cover the whole demographic, your grandfather’s Oldsmobile, your father’s VW Bug, and your Kia Soul, (they’re not rats, but “lovable, singing hamsters,” the car company insists.)
“It has to be eclectic,” said Cormier.  “If you go after one genre, one demographic, by the fourth week they’ve seen it, they’re sick of it.  And they’re broke.”
Because of the extensive renovations the long-unused theater – it was a former vaudeville house, and hadn’t been an operating cinema for years – wasn’t ready to host performances until the middle of last summer.
By then, said Weiss – he’s a rock promoter in New York City who has a weekend home in Franklin – the best acts for the Oneonta were locked in elsewhere.
Since late last year, however, he has been focused on lining up acts for this summer, which explains the range and mix.  (If Arlo Guthrie or Todd Rundgren happen to show up by season’s end, don’t say you heard it here first.)
His efforts have been helped by the fact the theater has a track record, albeit not an extensive one.
“We’ve been able to demonstrate to the industry that the Oneonta Theatre is a good-sounding, good-looking, well-run room,” Weiss said.
Folksinger Steve Earle, one of the first acts, told his hosts, “Man, I can’t wait to get back here with a full band.”
The interest in the Oneonta is varied.
Just the other week, for instance, Doug Decker from the American Legion approached the partners about doing something for the Wounded Warrior Project, which assists severely wounded soldiers, particularly in their transition back to civilian life.
“I thought it was a terrific idea,” said Weiss.
The Oneonta contracted with up-and-coming C&W star Josh Thompson – his latest album, “Way Out Here,” was just issued – and he’ll be performing Saturday, June 4.
The partners are providing a concert-ready venue, all staffed and ready to go.  All the profits go to the Wounded Warriors.
Gung-ho?  Yes.
But the promoter and proprietor recognize the challenges.  For instance, Cormier said, there’s really nothing quite like the Oneonta, a 600-seat theater in a rural town seeking to become a rock ‘n’ roll magnet.
“Not a lot of theaters are privately owned,” he said.  “They’re non-profits, run by a board.  It’s different from what we’re trying to do.”
Different?  That sounds interesting.  This may be the season to try it out.

March 18th, 9pm
WONYpalooza,  Feat.
March 25th, 9pm
The Felice Brothers
March 26th, 9pm
Hair of the Dog
March 27th, 7:30 pm
Ricky Nelson Remembered
April 1st, 9pm
John Mayall
April 2nd, 9pm
Really Old Airplanes
April 7th - 10th
Always Patsy Cline
April 16th, 9pm
FILM: Detour
April 29th, 9pm
April 30th, 9pm
Hot Tuna
May 1st, 7:30 pm
Roger McGuinn
& John Sebastian
May 7th, 9pm
Dark Star Orchestra
May 21st, 9pm
Childhood’s End
May 26th, 9pm
Wailers ASAP!
May 28th, 9pm
June 3rd, 9pm
Sister Sparrow
& The Dirty Birds
June 4th, 8pm
Josh Thompson
June 7th, 9pm
Ani Difranco
June 10th, 9pm
Fab Faux
June 11th, 8pm
Sweeney Todd
June 17th, 9pm
June 18th, 9pm
Dr. Dirty
June 23rd,
Odd Couple
June 23rd - 26th
CNYRG Sock Hop
July 7th, 9pm
October 22nd 8pm
Arlo Guthrie