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?