Sunday, December 31, 2006

Happy Holidays At City Hall?

Political Analysis By Plattsy The Clown

Plattsy sez:

OK, no one wanted me as mayor of Plattsburgh. You voted for someone else. Hopefully you chose the right tool for the job. And considering the others tools who have run this city, maybe your decision was the best one.

But at least this blog recognizes my political genius and has hired me to provide incisive insight into local governmental activities, hammering away with my Clown Hammer of Truth.

So did the gang at Plattsburgh’s City Hall have a fun holiday season? I doubt it. The city is facing a financial crisis, drowning in red ink. Taxes are going up again, a double digit hit. To borrow a line from Jimmy Carter, a great malaise hangs over this city. Actually, it’s more like a great miasma, but this time it ain’t from the sewage treatment plant.

It’s been stated that Hollywood is high school with money. Well, Plattsburgh is like that but on a different level: it’s kindergarten with money.

I mean, how childish can some people act? There has been an accusation that the mayor-elect has a spy in city hall, providing classified data to the press. This top-secret data is the salaries of the municipal department heads – you know, what is called public information. The chief fiscal officer dealing with the books says there is a plant in her office; she alleges that this other city employee has been listening in on her phone conversations. (Hey, lady, why don’t ya get a scrambler system on your line?)

You know, the only leaks city hall should be concerned about are with its toilets.

Meanwhile, the head of human resources is suing the city, saying that his position was cut down to part time because he filed a sexual discrimination complaint on behalf of another employee. He’s hired some a big gun lawyer who works for a monster firm, Godzilla, Kong, Gamera and Bambi, whatever its name is.

And let’s not forget another important component of the City Hall Gang, the Common Council. At one council meeting a citizen stated that she would rather vote for a little brown dog than any of the councilors now in office.

So because of the city’s financial fiasco, you’ll see some fresh faces on the council after the next election. They’ll be furry. The trouble is, the new councilors could be bribed with treats. But least they won’t leave large elephantine messes behind like their predecessors.

The circus that is Plattsburgh will go on.

Saturday, December 16, 2006

Feeding (And Fooling) The Pigeons

The City of Plattsburgh has made sure the pigeons will be well-fed this winter.

As detailed in a previous post, the city hired a construction company to renovate the streets. During this renovation the lawn between the curb and the sidewalk was ripped up and carted away, leaving a shallow trench. Instead of placing sod strips down, the construction workers filled in the medians with soft soil that turns into muck during wet weather.

When the new soil was added, the workers rolled it down and added grass seed. The other day I noticed a flock of pigeons pecking away at a section of the median. I don’t think they were feeding on the soil. So whenever the grass seed does take hold, it’s going to look sparse.

Of course, the pigeons will be fat and happy thanks to another type of pigeon: the taxpayer.

Friday, December 08, 2006

Two Kuliks?

Are there two different individuals named Michael Kulik who reside in Plattsburgh, NY?

The reason why I ask this question is that I’ve spotted that particular name in the local daily newspaper on a few occasions. In regards to an income-restricted housing project in downtown Plattsburgh, a Mike Kulik supports the decision, criticizing anyone who opposes the mayor’s favorable vote.

At the same time there’s a Michael Kulik who doesn’t want an apartment house built near his neighborhood, an area secluded from downtown.

The proposed low-to-middle-income housing for downtown is referred to as The Bove Project. It would be built on a convenient, centrally-located parking lot. Some critics of the Bove project say they have nothing against low-income working families, but they feel the spot should remain set aside for parking. The pro-Bove crowd feel that these critics are just confusing the issue, that some people are prejudiced against people with limited incomes.

In a letter to the editor (Press Republican – Nov. 26, 2006), a Mike Kulik wrote:

“This whole thing isn't about a crummy parking lot being replaced by attractive, affordable housing for low- to middle-income families. It's all about the law of the jungle or, at least, the law of the street gang.

In the movie West Side Story the ‘Jets’ had a piece of the block they didn't want to share with the Puerto Ricans. Well, that parking lot at the corner of Margaret and Court was the tiny piece of the block that our own gang of businessmen wanted to control until they decided what to do with it, if anything.”

Meanwhile, a Michael Kulik who lives in the Hamilton Street area is opposed to an apartment complex being proposed near his home. In a newspaper article (Press Republican – Oct. 12, 2006) his letter to the city zoning board was discussed. He and his co-writer, Jennifer Colver, said the development appeared to be “a slum in the making.” This project is being promoted by developer James Latinville.

In his letter Kulik also stated: “[Mr. Latinville’s] apartment houses have driveway paving right up to the doorsteps and porches, little green space considering the number of residents, no outdoor storage, no screening for privacy and poor drainage in places… These shoddy apartment buildings undermine the value of the single-family houses the developer has sold nearby."

Assuming there is only one Michael Kulik (the phonebook lists only one), there is a common solution to the problems being caused by the Bove and Latinville projects.

Cancel the Latinville project and move the Bove development over to Kulik’s neighborhood. After all, Kulik doesn’t think the Bove project is a slum, unlike Latinville’s apartments. And since he is an advocate of low-to-middle-income families, Kulik can’t be accused of NIMBY (Not In My Back Yard).

And if there’s two different Michael Kuliks, I think they should get together and debate the merits of my solution.

Tuesday, December 05, 2006


One of my previous posts dealt with a local woman using her car as a message board. Someone decided to share their viewpoint and left a comment.

I like well-reasoned opinions. Then there are ones such as the following:

Stable Person said...
You and her are BOTH CRAZY!!! How's welfare....Plattsburgh is the capital!! Jackass!!

Such a statement evinces astute acumen.

I tried to envision what sort of individual lurked behind the pseudonym, "Stable Person." At first I thought "Stable" referred to his mental state.

But then I noticed that he thinks the word "jackass" is a compliment. The answer was obvious. The commenter was born in a barn and lived in a stable. How appropriate for such a half-witted animal.

Saturday, December 02, 2006

Plattsburgh, NY: Sod Off!

Like quicksand? Well, there’s plenty of it within the medians between the new sidewalks and the streets.

During the construction the old lawns were torn up and carried away. Then the resulting trenches will filled in with some new dirt. The other day some guys were rolling down the fresh soil, then sprinkling grass seed. But then it rained – a lot. Instant mud flats.

Usually after the street and sidewalk rehab is done, squares of grassy sod are put down. With thick sod you don’t have people’s feet sinking up to their ankles.

OK, maybe it’s too late in the season to put down sod. But any construction company should know that here in the North Country, you should have your lawn work wrapped up by the end of September or forget it. It’s obvious the crews were running behind schedule; they were paving the streets Halloween night.

So the answer is to try to get the job done on time or use a better type of soil. At least put up some sticks and orange ribbons to warn people that the new surface hasn’t taken yet, especially at night when the mud looks solid, safe to walk on.

I hate to see what could happen if someone breaks an ankle. But lawsuits do make The Powers That Be wake up and pay attention.

Actually, The Powers would be better off correcting a situation before getting stuck in a legal quagmire. Will they ever learn that a muckraker like me provides an invaluable service to the community? Instead, they remain muddleheaded.

Me, I remain standing on terra firma. At least I try to…

Thursday, November 30, 2006

Not An Artist

He’s a salesman. Hawking images like any other commodity. Might as well sell them by the pound.

He always jockeys for the best position in an exhibit. Can’t let any other artists have a prime spot. When the gallery staff is inattentive, he’ll sneak in an extra piece, having one more opportunity over the rest of the exhibitors to cinch a sale.

And if that isn’t enough, he’ll work the floor during a reception, drawing an unsuspecting browser over to his image, trying to make that deal. If needed, he’ll work every floor. There’s an anecdote that he ran into some trouble at a hospital because he was bothering everyone with his pushy personality, visiting each nurse’s station with his sales kit. Apparently his wares wore thin.

You never see his wife at any art events. Embarrassment? Who knows? But other artists are embarrassed – and angry – when his self-centered antics make all of them look bad.

But he’s a salesman, not an artist.

Good art sells itself.

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

So Where Have I Been Lately?

I’ve been plagued by distractions, especially this computer. No, it didn’t crash, but sometimes as a tool it’s wanting.

I enjoy printing out my own photos via the digital darkroom. But inkjet printers – at least the one I have – can be a pain in the ass. What you see on the monitor isn’t necessarily what ends up on the page, especially when a key color gets gummed up and your print-out looks like crap because there’s absolutely no yellow in it.

For some reason the yellow ink in this Epson printer likes to fail. Then I have to clean the cartridge a few times which uses up even more ink, all the colors, not just the yellow. After I get the inkjet more or less working properly, I print a few 8 by 10 prints and the color cartridge is almost dry. It costs over $60 to replace the cartridges, both the black and the color. Epson is making too much money off me, the bastards.

But I’ve learned a few tricks on my own. Instead of printing out the whole image, I select a key area, around a couple of inches or less square, and test print that. For example, a wasp was the subject. I wanted to emphasize its yellow color. What I saw on the monitor looked more intense than what was hitting the page. So by adjusting the color and then printing out a few little squares, I got the yellow hue I wanted. Then I printed the entire image. (Screw you, Epson.)

And as with any tool, there’s maintenance. I wanted to defrag both hard drives, the computer was getting a bit cranky, but I couldn’t because there were too many large photo files stored on my PC, not enough available memory. So I spent about five hours the other night sorting and backing up files on CDs, then dumping the duplicated files into the trash bin, freeing up the space needed to run the defragmentation program. And don’t forget, you also have to run an anti-spyware program on a regular basis. That eats up time, too. (Screw you, Bill Gates.)

Anyway, I got my photos printed, then I had to mat and frame them. Two are now on display at the North Country Cultural Center for the Arts on Brinkerhoff Street in Plattsburgh. And just up the street from the NCCCA is the public library where another group exhibit will be sponsored, but this one only features photography. That should be up by this weekend with three of my images. So if you’re in the downtown area, you can see what my stuff looks like in meatspace, instead viewing it on a computer screen.

Monday, November 13, 2006

A Second Pair Of Eyes

Sunday afternoon. Another damp, overcast mid-autumn day. My compact digital camera sits in its bag, slung over my shoulder, underneath the protective layer of my jacket.

The gray skies leave me uninspired. Sometimes I spot something that would look interesting after it gets dark, nighttime lighting: watery reflections, close-up shots. But nothing catches my eye. I walk into the coffeehouse to warm up with a cup of joe.

Around 5PM my friend Janis stops in. The sun has set and it’s already dark outside. She asks me if I could take a photo for her, something she noticed on the way in.

I follow her outside to the table I had passed by earlier without a glance. And most likely I would have been oblivious a second time when I went home, unaware of how the night had transformed its wet surface.

The tabletop is painted with a purple background, one of her two favorite colors. Bright yellow stars dot its metal surface. Rainfall has been reformed into big beads, a striking pattern of reflective liquid lenses. The main lighting isn’t the best, just the yellowish glare from an antique streetlight. Janis is aware that the light is low, meaning that getting a good shot while handholding will be tricky.

But I try it anyway, shooting wide-open at 1/6th shutter speed, trying to stand still, imitating a rock-steady tripod. Then I go inside, grab a chair, and then brace my camera on its back. I take a few more shots. I review them on my LCD screen; they’re OK but they could be better.

So I trudge home, return with my tripod, and get closer shots with longer shutter speeds and therefore more depth of field. I play around with the color balance on the camera, changing it from automatic white balance to tungsten to fluorescent lighting. Different settings, different color casts.

I end up with some good shots. Images that I would have missed if not for a second pair of eyes that spotted what I had overlooked.

Thanks, Janis.

Sunday, November 12, 2006

Plattsy + Plattsburgh = 0

Plattsy groans,

Uuuuuuuuu – where am I? It’s all over… that’s right. No one wanted me as mayor. In fact, I pulled in –2% of the vote. That means I owe votes the next time I run.

Yes, I will run again. Next year I have my eyes on a seat with Plattsburgh Common Council. I’ll be seeking the position of councilor at large. Plattsburgh is divided into different wards, but as a councilor at large I will be overseeing the mental ward. This town is indeed one big nuthouse.

You people have to be crazy. Don’t you realize that it takes a loser to run a loser town?

You could’ve had fun with me in charge. Remember when former mayor Dan Stewart wanted to fire a cannon at noon from the steps of city hall? What’s the fun in that? Me, I would get a circus cannon and fire either city councilors or department heads out of it. And just like the city, there wouldn’t be a safety net.

Well, enjoy yourselves with Mayor Mxyzptlk.

Uuuuu, my head. I drank too much of my own elixir, Plattsy’s Patented Panacea. Remember that nickname for Congressman Tom DeLay? They called him The Hammer. Well, you can call me The Clown Hammer. I’ll be back…

How To Fix A Dog

Photographically speaking, that is.

One major problem with a small camera is that its flash is located too near to the axis of the lens. This causes the burst of light to bounce off the back of the eyeball, resulting in red-eye with humans and blue or green eye in certain animals.

This dog would look cute if it wasn’t for its crazy eyes. The poor critter looks like it’s demon-possessed, or has been radioactively mutated, ready to blast me with its death beams.

A quick fix with Photoshop fills in the green with black. Now the dog’s pupils look like two flat discs. Still creepy-looking. Also, the background is distracting.

So another fix. Eliminate the background. Darken the dog's left pupil but leave a catchlight, a gleam that helps it to appear more three-dimensional. Copy that manipulated pupil, rotate it 180 degrees, and pop it into place in the right eye. Better, but the pupils are really big. Still looks a bit freaky. But the white background is a lot better, so I’m making progress.

Pressing on, I keep the manipulated pupils but make them smaller. Then, I pick up some of the natural brown eye color and use it to fill in around the pupils. Now the eyes look more natural, at least a lot better than a couple of bright off-blue discs.

How much time did I spend on this? Well, since I’m teaching myself to use Photoshop through trial and error, the time spent can be measured in hours, not minutes.

In case you’ve been wondering why I haven’t been posting lately…

Monday, November 06, 2006

Plattsy IS Plattsburgh!

Plattsy sez,

Dear Voter:

Dim-witted. Bumbling. Wrongheaded.

No, I’m not referring to one of my opponents in the Plattsburgh mayoral race. I’m talking about me, why I’m the best candidate to lead the ‘Burgh. My qualities are Plattsburgh’s qualities.

One of my opponents declares: Performance. Not Promises. Well, I can top that: Promises AND Performances. No one can spin as many plates on long slender poles than yours truly. In fact, in clown college I stated in my doctoral thesis that German dishes were the best for spinning. That earthshaking concept has become known as Plattsy’s Theory of Plate Teutonics, if you get my drift.

And I won’t be just making plates spin. Imagine the reaction by previous Plattsburgh mayors who are no longer among the living. If elected I’ll be making the dead spin in their graves!

So remember me tomorrow at the polls. My motto: Plattsburgh’s A Circus: Elect A Clown!


Saturday, November 04, 2006

Ruff! Ruff! Vote For Plattsy!

First Dog Barney barks:

Woof! I vote for Plattsy. He make good mayor. My master not good president. He said he would keep war on. He not listen to anyone. He said, even if only two agree, war not stop. The two, mistress Laura, a human, and me, a dog. He got it wrong. Barney try to warn him, long, long ago. I bit him in poop-end. Again and again. He invade Iraq anyway. He no listen to Barney. Barney right. But Barney got hit with rolled-up newspaper.

Master not smart. He dropped Barney. Ouch, ouch! How is life with moron master? Ruff!

But Plattsy nice. He rub my belly. Vote for Plattsy. He rub your belly.


(Barney’s paw print)

Friday, November 03, 2006

Creating & Posting

Someone asked me the other day why I haven't been posting that often to this blog. I appreciated his interest; I explained I was busy with different projects.

I do try to post something at least once a week. But I have all sorts of chronic distractions that interfere with my creativity, both writing and photography. I'm not one of those people who write every day. I write when it's time to write. As for photography, it's a lot easier than writing in that I can go out and capture a number of images. But those images have to be sorted, picked over, and then from my choices I have do additional work in Photoshop, from the basic task of resizing the image for the web to sometimes fixing the image or even manipulating it.

In the area of manipulation, the image below shows how I can go wild with a basic picture. It probably doesn't look like much to some people, but it took me eleven tries and two hours to get this one photo. Even then it's not perfect, but it will have to do for now. I'm still learning how to use Photoshop; my instructors are trial and error.

Even though these blog posts are short, it sometimes takes a lot of effort and some time to just get one completed, especially when I'm created something like the example below. So please keep in mind that what takes you a minute to read or view might take hours to finish.

All I can say is keep checking back. Eventually something will pop up here.

Thursday, November 02, 2006

Plattsy: Best Choice For Mayor

Viki Vinyl writes:

Citizens of Plattsburgh, you are at the crossroads. The path you choose on Election Day could lead to a dead end where the barking dogs of desperation and despair are snarling and peeing on the lawn.

In these uncertain times you must evaluate what all the candidates for mayor are espousing. There is a difference between promises and performance. The future beckons; you must pick the right beacon. Don’t follow a light that will lead you into the rocky reefs of rack and ruin.

I have known Plattsy for many years. Only he has the talent, the promise, the forward-thinkingness that will save Plattsburgh during this perplexing time of rising taxes and less services. We must protect our vital infrastructure by maintaining the quality of life while concurrently balancing the conflicting dichotomy of fiscal demands and public needs during a run-on sentence.

Plattsy will not only stay the course, he will create a new and better course. He likes to golf. So keep that in mind on November 7th.


Viki Vinyl

PS: Golly, I have to be honest. Those words I just said I didn’t say; Plattsy wrote them. He thinks I’m an airhead and can’t say the right thing. Well, I don’t mind signing my name to his writing. I’ll blow his horn any time.

Sunday, October 22, 2006

Maniacal Magic With Illustrator Steven Kellogg

I just added a new photo essay over at my dot com / website. You can directly access it here. And if that link doesn't work, go the the homepage for and under HEADLINKS click on the headline "Steven Kellogg Wows Them All."

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

The City Budget & Mathematical Wizardry

Below is a copy of a letter to the editor that addresses a detail that seems to have escaped everyone else's notice. Instead of waiting for it to be printed in the local newspapers (snail news), you can read it now.

Dear Editor:

27 = 35.

Am I the only person who noticed this bit of mathematical wizardry?

I am referring to a notable detail that appeared in a Press-Republican article on September 19th. The article, "City of Plattsburgh budget crisis," discusses the increase in the tax levy for the year 2006. It mentions that the common council approved what was "widely reported as a 27-percent increase." Then the article states: "The increase actually turned out to be 34.71 percent when the numbers shook out, the Press-Republican learned this week."

Since then the figure has been simply referred to as a 35-percent increase, as if the "official" number of 27-percent never existed.

This leads to some questions:

1. Who "shook out" the numbers?

2. How were the numbers shook out?

3. Do citizens have to "pre-shake-out" any numbers being bandied about by the mayor and the council?

Recently the figure of a 25-percent increase for 2007 has been mentioned. Or is that really a 35-percent increase after some shaking?

Luke T. Bush

Plattsburgh, NY 12901

Plattsy For Mayor!

Plattsy sez,

“Yup, I’m the one you need to run the circus that is Plattsburgh. Why am I qualified for the job? Let me prove my point by resorting to a time-honored tradition of political campaigning, firing cheap shots at my opponents.

“Take this guy Kasprzak -- please. What kind of name is that? How do you syllabize it? Hell, how you do even pronounce it? Can you trust someone with so many consonants in his surname and only two vowels to go with them? I bet if you trick Kasprzak to say his name backwards, he’ll pop back into the fifth dimension. Me, I would rather vote for Mr. Mxyzpltk.

“And then there’s Duniho; he’s some sort of overpaid back rubber. Does the city need a chiropractor or a protractor, whatever the hippie term is, to straighten things out? Yup, a groovy Democrat is the answer. What’s he going to do, climb on to that big metal eagle atop MacDonough Monument and turn it into a dove by massaging the subluxations out of its back?

“Don’t clown around. Vote for me and let the fun begin!”

Sunday, October 15, 2006

Mobilizing The Message

It sat outside the post office, an old four-door car, unremarkable –- except for one aspect.

The car’s exterior had been converted into a message board, announcing the owner’s disdain against sexual sin and immorality. Adhesive letters, black font on a metallic background, ran along different sides of the car, firmly stuck in place. Usually such letters would be used for quotidian purposes such as marking the address on a mailbox, but now they were being pressed into a different kind of service.

The owner apparently had to make do with a variety of letter sizes, unable to finish her messages with the same type size. This suggested a ransom note composed of individual headline letters glued onto a sheet of paper, the letters cut from various newspapers so that it would be harder to trace where the note was composed.

Apparently the car-owner was the same woman who frequently writes letters to the editor at the local newspaper. Her missives rail against pornographic magazines on the newsstands, such as People, that show a bit of cleavage now and then on their covers courtesy of an attractive movie starlet.

Now the anti-pornography crusader was taking her message to the streets. Besides decals evincing a belief in Jesus, the owner had affixed these proclamations to her car:


-- MARrieD MEN Are VisitNG COLLEGE WhorehoUseS wives Beware!

-- pLAttsbuRG ANd wESt cHAZy are wHore SMUt Towns

The assumption could be made that her letters published in the newspaper were sometimes modified, diluting or omitting key thoughts. By using her personal transportation, the woman could drive home her point in a direct, uncensored way.

maYbE sHE SHOULd tRy bLOgGng.

Sunday, October 08, 2006

Scat(ter) Rug – RIP

As illustrated in a previous post below, there was a small rug in front of an entrance on Clinton Street that a dog had dumped on. To take care of the problem, one corner of the rug was flipped over the offending mess, a partial cover-up.

Then someone came up with a real practical solution:

Yup, just flip the whole rug over.

But someone eventually had a better answer to the problem. One afternoon I noticed the rug had been thrown into the gutter, left there for the street sweeper.

The rug is gone. But Clinton Street is still dotted with litter.

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Street Trash or Cute Critters?

OK, I don't know about you, but I'm getting tired of posting trashy images online. Time for a change, but you'll find it over at my web site, Just click here

And if that link doesn't work, just go to and under HEADLINKS click on "Critters At The Fair."

Thursday, September 28, 2006

Don’t Sweep It Under The Rug

As I explained in a previous post, The Slum Of All Fears? (below), there’s a entranceway on Clinton Street where some milky glop is rotting on the steps and dogshit is ossifying on a carpet piece on the sidewalk. I vowed not to let this mess be swept under the rug.

It seems that someone heard me. Do they clean up the mess, especially the canine crappified carpet? No. As you can see from the accompanying image, they just flopped one corner of the rug over to cover the mess. If it’s out of sight, it’ll go away.

That seems to be the philosophy of Plattsburgh, NY. Don’t fix the problem, just cover it up.

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Going Buggy

OK, besides this blog, I also have a dot com, . And since Bugger – I mean Blogger – has been acting up lately, I’ve decided to use my dot com more often. So here’s a link to a new page at my website. You’ll see what else has been bugging me lately.

Monday, September 25, 2006

The Slum Of All Fears?

In a previous post I made the statement that Clinton Street area is starting to slide slumward. And in case anyone disagrees with me, here are images to back up that statement.

This image shows that someone left a small plastic bin of milk out on a step. I don’t know if that’s cereal or pet food floating on top.

Now noticed how days later the bowl’s contents are all over the steps, forming globs of decaying glop.

And then, as the milky mess rots away, a dog comes along later and craps all over the rug on the sidewalk. And from the way some of the dogshit is smeared, some victim didn’t watch his step.

Yes, the new laundry on the corner of Clinton and Brinkerhoff does spruce up the place. But more renovation and attention to appearances is needed along other parts of Clinton Street. Until then, I’m going to visually milk the crappiness for all its worth. I won’t let it be swept under the rug.

When An Inch Is A Good As A Mile

Sometimes the details reveal the devil.

Compare the following two images taken yesterday in downtown Plattsburgh on its main street:

The first image shows a curb on Margaret Street at the normal height, around 7 inches. The second shows another section of curbing on the same street, but its height is almost a whopping one foot!

The last time Margaret Street was rebuilt, someone screwed up and left this twelve-inch high curb. If you step off the sidewalk, not aware of the extra inches, it can be startling. For years this curb has remained this way. One wonders if any twisted ankles or even broken legs have resulted. I can imagine a handicapped person taking a tumble from this non-regulation curb.

Recently the city has been fixing up Margaret Street. Finally, the curb height can be adjusted.

But knowing the city, it will probably end up adding six more inches. Then the spot can be used for rappelling or bungee jumping.

Saturday, September 23, 2006

Code Breaker

Bad writer.

I didn’t take any notes on Thursday evening during the public hearing dealing with the contentious Bove project, a building complex proposed for the site of a downtown parking lot. I was too busy taking images with my compact digital camera.

But I did try to keep track of what was going on, especially when a citizen walked up to the microphone and voiced an opinion. I didn’t note everyone’s name, but I do remember the gist of the arguments.

As part of the Bove project, apartments would be provided to low-income working families. Some argued that the site under consideration isn’t an ideal place to raise children, especially with the bar scene at night with overactive college students (see previous post).

One person involved with a local organization dealing with such low income families – a bearded guy wearing glasses and a tweed sports jacket – took the podium and stated that he hoped that some people against the project weren’t speaking in “code.”

Gee, what “code” is that? Morse code?

I knew what he was saying. And, yes, probably there were a couple of people at the hearing there were prejudiced against low-income renters, afraid of a stupid stereotype that didn’t apply. Well, there’s plenty of low-income renters already downtown, so stopping one building project won’t make a difference. The Bove project won’t unleash hordes of parasitic stereotypes that will turn downtown into a slum. Some streets – like Clinton Street – are already sliding down. There are photos on this blog to prove that point.

What I hate is when someone, either pro or con, left or right, clouds an issue with push button words like “code.” I’m against the Bove project not because of low-income renters; the city would be better served leaving the parking lot alone. The malls outside the city have been kicking downtown’s sorry ass for decades, partly because they offer free parking in large, convenient lots. People like convenience and most would choose a parking lot over a spot on the street, especially when the downtown streets have been narrowed to build wide – and empty – sidewalks. It’s a tight squeeze getting in and out some of the spots. (Another brilliant mistake by the city.)

I do agree there is a need for low income housing for families just scraping by with minimum wages. But such housing could be located elsewhere.

No, I’m not speaking in “code.” I hate it when sometime plays the code card. I’m just getting by on a fixed income. I’ve never been in any upper – or even middle - income bracket during my life. I know what’s it’s like to face prejudice when someone finds out you’re not making a “good wage” or that you’re not working, i.e., you’re not “normal.”

One time I had a seasonal job, being laid off for the winter. I happened to see someone I knew from college one day at the mall. From what I had gathered about her, she came from a well-off family. She asked me what I was doing. I told her that I was unemployed at the moment. She literally shrank back from me, terrified of catching low-income leprosy.

That’s one end of the spectrum. On the other end is someone supposedly speaking on my behalf who resorts to “code words.” Let’s keep the talk plain and simple.

A Good Neighborhood? Try Sleeping At Night

Friday. September 22, 2006. Front page of the Press-Republican newspaper. Headline: “No accord on Bove project; Hearing on downtown development yields strong opinions.”

The article talks about the proposed building project on the parking lot located on the corner of Margaret and Court streets. The city council had held a meeting open to the public so that citizens could provide input on the proposal.

The project would build a combination parking garage, retail space, and apartment building for low-income working renters. One point against the project is that the location isn’t appropriate for families, due in part to the noisy, sometimes rowdy, bar scene at night.

The article mentions that Patty Waldron, owner of the Koffee Kat – a coffeehouse located across the street from the site under consideration – distributed to the councilors photos taken during the early morning hours of “large crowds having to be controlled by police” during the weekend.

None of the photos were reprinted by the PR. So as a public service, for those wondering what they looked like, here they are.

Friday, September 22, 2006

Plattsburgh Council Meeting Images

Yesterday I attended a meeting of the Plattsburgh Common Council. I was going to post a short essay with photos here, but Blogger doesn't want to cooperate. So I've pressed my dot com site into service. You can see the article at this LINK. And if that link doesn't work, go to the home page at and look for the link entitled "Faces At A Council Meeting."

And if blogspot stays spotty, you'll see more articles posted at my dot com. I have better ways to waste my time than trying to get Blogger to work properly.

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Bill & Hillary At The Fair

When I have the chance I’ve been sorting through the myriad of shots I took while I was at the state fair in Syracuse. Besides all of the digital images stored on my hard drive and CDs, there are still few rolls of film to be processed.

Why do I still use a film camera? Simple. At this time a digital SLR body is out of my financial reach. No, I’m not locked into film, unlike some traditionalists. With my small digital point-and-shoot I’ve seen the advantages of the new format. But when I want high quality shots, I reach for my 35mm SLR, take a lot of shots, and then wait until my budget permits get a roll developed and then have the negatives scanned onto a CD. And if needed, I can have prints made at a one-hour lab or just do them at home with my computer’s printer.

I still have rolls shot last summer stored in my refrigerator. As I go through yards of film, I dutifully make notes, listing the subjects on each roll, and then prioritize which rolls should be developed first.

Obviously, with digital you can download your images ASAP and review them on your computer, skipping the processing required with film.

Anyway, one roll I prioritized was the shots I took of the Clintons when they were visiting the state fair. I had initially used my digital P&S but the memory card filled up. Instead of fumbling around, switching to a free memory card, it was easier to reach for the SLR and continue my imaging. I was lucky enough to get shots of both Bill and Hillary as they made their way through a busy channel of admirers, gapers, autograph hounds, and, yes, shutterbugs like me.

Monday, September 18, 2006

CATegorical Close-Ups

When I was growing up we had all sorts of pets around: dogs, cats, rabbits, hamsters, etc. I wouldn’t mind having a pet around but there’s the matter of expense (vet bills) and also the fact that no critters are allowed in my apartment house.

So my contact with pets is limited to when I visit friends. While I was away I stayed with some friends who have the friendliest cat on the planet. He would climb up on my chest and lie down, carefully attaching his claws to my T-shirt, making sure not to pierce the pale, tender skin underneath.

The last day of my visit was sunny and warm. That morning the cat crawled up on my chest and enjoyed my attention, especially that rub behind his ear. I wondered if I could try some close-up shots with him hanging on my shirt. With my Canon digital point-and-shoot the closest focusing range is at the wide-angle setting.

So I shot away, knowing that if nothing came out, I could always erase the images and not be out anything but some time (the advantage of digital over film). Usually when shooting extreme close-ups I would use a tripod or some other steady form of support. But I made do with one hand petting the cat while the other took shots. I made sure the cat wasn’t moving and I also held my breath so that my breathing wouldn’t affect my handholding and also so that the cat wouldn’t rise and fall on my chest. What are imperceptible movements with normal photography become greatly magnified when shooting so close.

I was surprised at the results. The downside with wide-angle close-ups is that sometimes too much of the background is included. As you can see from one of these shots, I spent time using Photoshop to delete my distracting bluejeaned leg and replacing it with out-of-focus grass.

Sunday, September 03, 2006

So Who Did I See At The NY State Fair?

And not one problem with the state troopers or even the Secret Service agents. They kept everything under control, acting firm but respectful, allowing anyone like me to follow and photograph Bill as he made his way through the crowd.

Of course, at this point I’m tempted to contrast this situation with what I have encountered back home when trying to photograph an ambulance or a gas station or even an American flag at night. Maybe I could make a snide comment that I must look trustworthy around a former American president but not around an American flag.

But I didn’t really say any of that, did I?

Friday, August 25, 2006

Light Painting

Another technique I’m learning. Of course, to make this work, you need dark conditions, i.e., nighttime. So far no overzealous police officer has asked me why I’m pointing a flashlight down on the ground, waving it around. Hey, as long as I’m not waving it at someone’s window or into traffic, I’m not bothering anyone. Then again, maybe I’ll get a ticket for disturbing the bugs and night crawlers.