Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Man Shoots Window; Police Not On The Scene

Yesterday evening I noticed this small pit in a front window of a business that was closed for the day. It was probably caused by a defect in the glass. I was intrigued by the way it was reflecting and bending the image of the latticed doorway on the other side. I set up my camera on a tripod and got in close. The police didn’t drive by and ask me what I was doing. (See below.) Maybe they had spotted a birdwatcher on the other side of town and were questioning him about his binoculars.

“Now you say you look at birds with that device…?”

It’s interesting how the police are compelled to inquire about my activity when I am obviously engaging in the lawful act of photography.

Police Officer: “Excuse me, what are you doing?”

Me: “Hmmmm, let’s see. I have a camera on top of a tripod. I must be getting ready to launch a cruise missile at the White House.”

As tempting as it would be, I don’t say what is on my mind. I bite my tongue a lot. And keep taking images. And giving polite replies to simple questions.

Sidewalk Beer Blast

Plattsy sez: “Don’t look at me, kids. I didn’t break this beer bottle with my clown hammer. But I would like to bop on the head the moron who left this mess behind. Probably a drive-by hit. Well, at least it didn’t ruin a fresh pile of dog shit.”

Monday, May 29, 2006

Don’t Forget On This Memorial Day... keep in mind those disabled veterans who have a hard time getting around. Make sure they have enough room to get by; don’t create any obstacles for them and other handicapped individuals. Show that you have at least a semi-functioning brain.

Police Question Suspicious Man Using Camera & Tripod

I was walking around during the night and noticed a few subjects that would make interesting images. So I went home, grabbed my digital camera and tripod.

One subject was an American flag display on someone’s front porch on main street. Something to include my Memorial Day file. I noticed no lights were on and that all the blinds were closed. I set up my camera for a time exposure, making sure not to block the sidewalk, even though there isn’t that much foot traffic after 3 AM. Since I was using available light, there would be no flash to disturb anyone in the home. It took a while to frame the shot, set the manual exposure and focus.

A city patrol car drove by. I looked over my shoulder; the car was sitting at the stoplight. I gently tripped the shutter, waiting for the long exposure to do its stuff.

I noticed something behind me. I turned around; it was the patrol car. The two officers asked me what I was doing. I explained I was just taking a photograph of the flag; I wasn’t looking into any windows. The female officer was puzzled when I said I was making a time exposure. (Then again, I’m not an expert on police tech talk and lingo.) After asking for my name and address, the officers told me to take the shot and move along before the owner could possibly call in a complaint. So I grabbed one more shot and left.

It’s a good thing the police didn’t question me on a side street where I found some stuffed toys scattered all over the sidewalk and grass. If they saw me imaging the teddy bear with the missing leg, they might have run me in for being a toy killer.

Strange Reflections

Friday, May 26, 2006

A Leap Of Faith

Going out of business? Then let Plattsburgh’s mayor facilitate the process.

Recently His Honor appeared in a TV ad for a downtown furniture store closing its doors. Some question if there’s a conflict of interest when a mayor ends up hawking for a private business. In response the mayor said the business was sponsoring not a regular sale, but a going-out-of-business sale, and that he wasn’t compensated.

In the commercial the mayor inferred that the closing was bringing new opportunities to downtown, the old making way for the new.

So the mayor promotes a thriving downtown by promoting the last gasp of a dying business. In fact, according to a newspaper article, he would do it for any business calling it quits.

The closing of the furniture store is the latest tearful entry on the long list of entrepreneurial dodo birds. It probably won’t be long before the mayor’s services are needed.

How far will the mayor go to get the word out about downtown Plattsburgh? One can only imagine his appearance in another TV commercial.

“Hello, I’m Plattsburgh Mayor Dan Stewart. You may be wondering why I’m standing on the edge of this rooftop with the distraught gentleman next to me. Well, I’m here to promote a special going-out-of-existence event. This poor guy is a downtown business owner screwed by the lack of customers. He’s financially ruined, considering an option to solve his problems. And if he does, his option can be your opportunity. Come on down and check out the available empty storefronts right on main street. If you’re a good businessman and can sucker –- I mean attract –- shoppers to downtown, then you won’t be pushed to the edge. You’ll be jumping for joy with cash in hand. Isn’t that right, Rolla?

“Uh, Rolla…?”

Sunday, May 21, 2006

Warning: Corporate Copyright Grab

I was curious how the Press Republican with its website – – was handling the issue of copyright when a reader or other non-employee submitted material. I had read too many stories about a creator who was screwed out of profits and credit because he gave away all rights to his work.

It took a while, but after some digging I finally accessed the relevant information at the Terms Of Use page. And what I read was disturbing.

If you agree to use a public use area –- for example, submitting a letter to the editor or a review –- you are giving away ALL RIGHTS to your work or “information.” The corporation behind the PR will own the work and can do anything it wants with it. And if the work somehow becomes a moneymaker, the corporation owes you NOTHING. In the Terms Of Use it is stated that you are granting the corporation the “perpetual, royalty-free and irrevocable right and license” of your “information.”

And does “information” include photographs that you submit? The publisher states it has the right to “edit or abridge any message, letter or posting.” So if I “post” a digital image on the PR site, that “information” now belongs to them?

The site should be upfront about the issue of copyright and spell out in plain English, not legalese, what the policy is in regards to an outside contributor and copyright. The policy shouldn’t be buried in the dim recesses of the site, hard to find.

Until this matter is cleared up, I wouldn’t recommend submitting any “information” to the Press Republican.

There is also a section in the Terms Of Use, Copyrights And Copyright Agents, which addresses the issue of someone stealing your work and then claiming it to be his own, submits the work to the site. It’s interesting how the corporation shows concern about “copyright infringement” while its own policy of taking rights from contributors isn’t that clear cut.

To the corporation’s credit, the site lists a contact person for any claims of infringement. But note this disclaimer:

“We cannot guarantee that any action will be taken as a result of your correspondence.”

What does that mean? That the corporation is entitled to do nothing if it so chooses, not even looking into an infringement claim? Then why have the contact person? What does this contact person do all day – watch “Judge Judy” and other court shows on TV to pass the time?

Or is he busy making a Hollywood movie deal with a “derivative work” based upon “information” you freely gave away?

Saturday, May 20, 2006

Under Mayoral Authority


What’s the solution?


Plattsburgh’s pragmatic mayor was quoted in the newspaper that citizens should help out with the problem of dogshit being left on the ground. If a citizen sees a dog-owner not picking up after his pet, stated the mayor, then the citizen should yell at the rude dog-owner.

My reaction at the time: “The way is the law is, the person doing the yelling will probably face harassment charges while the dog-owner will walk away scot-free.

This letter appeared in the newspaper, dated May 15, 2006:

Am I psychic? No, I just know how things can work out for someone who is in the right but gets screwed for it.

Since the mayor offers such a practical solution to the problem, let me suggest a course of action just as sensible. The fictional British superspy, James Bond, has a license to kill under the authority of Her Majesty. Ordinarily killing a person is a big No-No, but it’s allowed when working for the government.

Because the mayor has stated that citizens should vocally attack inconsiderate dog-owners, a concerned citizen should be given leeway in the matter. In fact, the mayor’s proclamation in the newspaper means that he has deputized all citizens to crack down on the dogshit problem.

Just go to a local print shop and have a special ID made stating that you have a license to harass under the authority of His Honor.

But don’t blame me if a dog-owner has his pit bull chew off your leg. After all, yelling can really provoke an animal, either the two or four legged kind.

Friday, May 19, 2006

Plattsy’s Woody Complaint

Plattsy is upset again. He sez: “Gee, why does downtown Plattsburgh have to be such a dump? This woody has been sitting here for at least a couple of days. Apparently someone was sporting their wood and left it behind when they were done. Tsk, tsk.”

Saturday, May 13, 2006


"OK, maybe this will do it. Put the hole there. The thirteenth time should be the charm..."

Rainbow Pond

Yes, there are some clean, pleasant spots in Plattsburgh. This image was taken at the pond at the college. It's too bad the city can't devote as much attention to keeping downtown in proper condition as the college spends on its own turf.

But there are those who like to ruin a good thing. Years ago a couple of kids threw medical waste in this pond. Apparently they missed living in New Jersey.


Why A Clown?

Ever get sick of reading the same kind of stuff by me? Well, I get tired of writing the same stuff after a while. But repeating myself isn’t as sickening as the problems I see again and again. Dog shit on the sidewalk. The city wasting money. Inconsiderate assholes. Issues that get out of hand because they’re never really addressed with consistent attention.

No, I don’t expect to save the world –- or even Plattsburgh, NY. At the same time I don’t plan on letting the shit slide until I’m buried in it. Sometimes problems have to be attacked from a different angle.

Enter Plattsy The Clown. Another voice in the war on mediocrity and repetitive crap.

Besides another angle, Plattsy addresses the situation with Those Who Just Don’t Get It, people who just step over a mess on the sidewalk and pretend it isn’t there. Now through a ceramic clown I can speak to such people on their own level. But for some of them, Plattsy might be too cerebral. In that event I’ll have to reinvent him as Plattsy The Paramecium.


Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Killer Doggy Doo!!!

So what happened to Plattsy's boot? Well, he stepped in some canine crap that some dog owner left behind in a city park. But it wasn't any doggy doo. Apparently it was serving as a host for a mutant form of necrotizing fasciitis. The bug just are right through the leather and it would've infected Plattsy if it wasn't for his crusty wool sock that hadn't been washed since last summer. Anyway, Plattsy had his boot cleaned with high intensity gamma rays and then patched it up with antibacterial Kevlar (R). See what happens when you let a problem get out of hand? Plattsy paid a lot of money to have his boot treated at the Plattsburgh Shoe Hospital -- but it wasn't covered by his medical insurance. Instead of fining discourteous dog owners, Plattsy wants them to have their noses rubbed in it, treating them like the bad dogs they are. And if their noses are eaten away by mutant bacteria, oh, well, that's life.

What A Crumb

"What a bloody mess," sez Plattsy the Clown, AKA The Spirit of Plattsburgh. "Kids, when you grow up, try to take pride in your work, unlike the crumb who left this mess behind. Doing a good job is one thing, but picking up after yourself is just as important. Someone has been fixing the brickwork on some of the buildings in downtown Plattsburgh, a commendable effort, but the laborer has left a mess behind for the second time. Look how big some of the chunks are. Well, your pal Plattsy tripped over one of these chunks and I'm taking legal action against the city. Mayor, you'll be hearing from my lawyer who originally hails from Singapore. His name is Mr. Sueya."

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

Tsk, Tsk. Doggy Doo!

Plattsy sez: "Gee, somebody didn't curb their dog. Usually you find this kind of mess downtown, but I came across this pooch poop pattern in a residential section of Margaret Street, right in the middle of the sidewalk. But don't worry. I picked it up and saved it. I'm going to do a special juggling act at the next meeting of the Plattsburgh city council. Maybe that will motivate them to do more about the town going to the dogs."

Meet Plattsy

Hi, ya-yo-yo, kids! I'm Plattsy, the spirit of Plattsburgh. You may notice that I look like a grossly overweight, slow-moving, slow-witted clown. That's just a coincidence.

I'll be stopping by from time to time for fun and games and biting observations about Plattsburgh, NY, whacking some noggins with my Clown Hammer of Truth.