Thursday, June 28, 2007

Public Library Or Sauna?

Plattsy sez:

“I’m reporting live from the Plattsburgh Public Library. Another day without air conditioning. Man, look at the water coming outta me. I’m pissin’ right through my pores. And this is happening while wearing my lightweight summer clown clothes.

“The story is the central AC will be fixed in two or three weeks. Since this institution is under the auspices of the City of Plattsburgh, the AC will be back up and running just before Christmas.

“Remember, people judge the quality of life in their community by its institutions. And if your institution reeks of perspiration, then its quality stinks.

“The library Board of Directors met recently to discuss the problem. They convened in the air-conditioned room upstairs that isn’t part of the central system. So one wonders if they were sweating the details.

“Until the library is less than 95 degrees, you are advised to wear only thick fluffy towels wrapped around your naked flesh. This way you can melt off a few pounds while reading Fahrenheit 451 or Dante’s Inferno.”

Leaf It To Luke

(Click on each image for larger view.)

Monday, June 25, 2007

Buttheads Bucket Up

There are a couple of large wooden buckets downtown near the corner bookshop. They’re filled with fresh soil, waiting for flowers to be planted, all part of an effort to spruce up the block. In the meantime, certain individuals consider these buckets perfect for another purpose.


Yup, filthy butts sure spruce up downtown. But that’s not enough. The buckets need some used needles and condoms to give them visual variety.

Saturday, June 23, 2007

Here We Go Again

I hate repeating myself, but that's the downside of living in a sleepy podunk like Plattsburgh. Below is a copy of an email I just sent.

* * *

Dear Mayor Kazprzak:

I wrote to you some time ago about people using electric scooters on the sidewalk. Tonight I was almost clipped by someone on one of these scooters. You don’t hear the scooter coming up from behind until it’s too late. This scooter had no lights. The woman just zipped by me on the sidewalk, barely giving me enough room.

Someone else with an electric scooter keeps showing up at a downtown coffeehouse during the daytime. I’m surprised that no police officers see this person racing down the sidewalk.

Unless the law has been changed, electric scooters are not permitted on either sidewalks or the roadway. Here is part of a press release issued by the NYS Dept. of Motor Vehicles:

"Though they may seem like toys, gas and electric scooters and pocket bikes are considered motor vehicles by the New York State Vehicle and Traffic Law definition, and therefore cannot be operated on public roads without first being registered. However, because they don't meet state and federal safety and emissions requirements, they are too dangerous for road use and cannot be registered by DMV. They are therefore illegal to operate on public roads or sidewalks.”

The complete news release can be found at:

Please regard this email as my notification about the scooter problem to the City of Plattsburgh. It’s bad enough with bicyclists racing down the sidewalk, but these electric scooters are just as hazardous.

I would like to see something done about this matter before someone is hurt.


Luke T. Bush

Puddles: Down Is Up

(Click on each image for a larger view.)

Thursday, June 21, 2007

I’m Not A Dick. Are You?

Today I was photographing a second story window that caught my attention. It framed some mysterious objects that were colorful but odd, especially with the evening sunlight.

A man looked at me and said, “Are you a private detective? Are you trying to spy on someone?”

As you can see from the accompanying image, glare obscured the interior of the apartment. And from the angle I was taking the shot, without the glare I would only get a great image of the ceiling inside, not much else.

Anyway, if I was a private detective, would I be so stupid to taking shots out in the open, attracting attention to myself? Only a dick dick would do that.

More Bull Downtown

Now here’s a summer job for a college student: spreading the word about Red Bull energy drink, visiting various places in a mini-car all pimped out to promote the product.

Once you arrive at your location, you strap on your plastic backpack shaped like a giant can of Red Bull and make the rounds. What’s in the cooler backpack? Well, what do you think?

Along the way some people will ask for a free sample and you happily oblige.

I spoke with the young ladies who were visiting Plattsburgh today to spread the Bull. I asked them about the history of the product and learned that it originated in Thailand and was later introduced to Austria (I thought it was Australia, but what do I know?). Red Bull is loaded with all sorts of good stuff like caffeine and taurine to compensate for the vitamins and nutrients that one pisses away during a hard night of drinking. (That last sentence is my observation, not details given by the Red Bull representatives.)

One lady knew her product. When she mentioned “taurine,” I asked her if it was bull urine. She replied that people sometimes ask about that ingredient, but it really isn’t bull urine.

I knew from my own previous research that she wasn’t feeding me any bull. Taurine was first isolated from bull bile.

Is Red Bull bilious? That’s a matter of opinion. Having tasted it before, I politely declined when offered a free sample.

Clinton Street: Pride of Downtown Plattsburgh

I was board when I took this shot.

Clinton Street always looks ragged. Here’s the proof.

Grate shot, eh?

Maybe it’s time for a new broom to sweep clean.

Sunday, June 17, 2007

Fun Sun & Streaking Comet

Invitation Declined

Sunday evening. I notice that the skateboarders are out, across the street at the Old Courthouse.

As you can see one of them has failed to complete a stunt, his board left behind. Disappointing; an accomplice keeps trying to document a successful maneuver with a camera.

The skateboarders spot me with my camera. They invite me over to take a close-up shot. I decline, nodding my head “No thanks.”

After all, knowing my luck, if I did join them, the cops would show up and arrest me for inciting illegal skateboarding.

Downtown Plattsburgh Improvement

As part of the city’s grand renovation, a restroom booth has been installed at the end of the sidewalk on the northeastern corner of Cornelia and Margaret streets.

Thanks to bright orange barrels, tape and an arrow sign, you can’t miss it. This installation is convenient for those on the run with the runs.

Saturday, June 16, 2007

A Visual Explanation For Pat

One evening I’m at the coffeehouse, standing in the middle of the place with a small camera atop a big tripod. A colorfully lit sign indicated the entrance to the patio area. But my camera wasn’t aimed at that sign – at least, not directly.

A friend came in from the patio. He was wondering what I was shooting. I pointed at my camera’s tiny LCD screen. I tried to explain how the patio sign was making an interesting reflection on paintings hanging on the rear wall. My friend – who has bad eyes like me – squinted at the LCD screen, but he couldn’t see what I was focused on.

I’m always looking for eye-catching reflections. What grabbed my attention was a double reflection. Anyway, Pat, here’s what I was shooting:

I thought it was worth spending a few minutes manipulating a camera and tripod to get this image.

Taking A Step In The Right Direction?

At long last: the entrance to the city library is being permanently fixed. Or is it?

Individual steps are being replaced instead of the entire entrance. Maybe this will work, but how is it different from patching up broken sections of the old steps? No, I’m not a construction expert, but it seems that this will only work if the new steps completely adhere to the old foundation.

Also, as I pointed out before, the old steps had a design flaw: each one had a one-inch overhang or lip. Between all the foot traffic and the skateboarders, such overhangs have a tendency to break off. Solidly square steps would hold up better. Unless metal plates are put down, I don’t see how the same flaw will hold up any better.

I could be wrong and everything is hunky-dory with the reconstruction. Time will tell.

One suggestion for the city: install a motion-activated camcorder at the library entrance to catch skateboarders in the act. They’re camera shy. I know when I take out my small compact camera, skateboarders on Marion Street act differently. They freeze and then start to drift away.

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Strange Street Ritual Exposed

Concern has been expressed about signs of street gang activity in Plattsburgh. But what about evidence of cult activity?

The other day I’m walking down the sidewalk when I encounter some notable litter. Sections of a three-dimensional jigsaw puzzle are scattered about. And paper twisted into a bundle is burning.

The work of rowdy middle-school kids who ran away? Or maybe it’s something more, a ritualistic pattern left behind for only those with special knowledge to decipher.

Study the accompanying images. Notice that the 3D puzzle sections once formed a castle, the symbol of the ruling class. The castle has been smashed. Note how one section has been placed near a white streak running north to south on the sidewalk. The white streak represents the “pure” blood of the ruling class that has been shed when its power was smashed.

And the torch made of twisted paper? It represents illumination revealing the lies of The Powers That Be.

The conclusion is obvious. The whispers are true. A cult lurks among us. The Gnostic Grange of Jeezum Crow.

Monday, June 11, 2007

Politely Responding To A Few Points

Someone named Anonymous doesn’t like this blog. He says it’s too negative.

Anonymous left a comment at a previous post entitled Downtown Plattsburgh: Yours To Avoid. You can read his reaction in its entirety in the comments section for that post.

There were a number of issues raised by Anonymous. Besides my brief reply in the comments section, this post will address his comments in more detail.

1. I’m “verbally trashing” the place where I live.

No, I’m just trashing the trashers, the ones ruining this town with litter, vandalism, indifference and incompetence. If you read a little closer, you would see that I’m blogging about specific problems and the people responsible for creating or taking care of those problems. And if you read more often, you would see that I do run “positive” items. If my negative-to-positive ratio isn’t to your liking, then tough shit. This is my blog. Start your own if you want to promote Plattsburgh. And if you think Plattsburgh is so great, why are you living in Illinois? Better job opportunities, eh? Unlike this economically depressed area.

2. My blog is a “constant stream of one-sided ranting about municipal shortcomings.”

Constant? Wrong, michigan breath. Review my 150+ posts. Not every one is about Plattsburgh and its problems. In fact, one is entitled Not The Usual, featuring some “positive” people photos. Or what about my post, Children + Chalk = Bright Art, showing some fun images of kids sidewalk art? And if you had more of an open mind, you would appreciate my humor when I’m being so “negative.” (Apparently all you can handle are “Knock-Knock” jokes.)

3. I should be “looking up instead of down.”

Sure, if I want to step in dogshit. I look up, down, and sideways. I don’t overlook, especially when it comes to repeated stupidity.

4. I could lessen my negativity by showing an image of the new office building and parking garage on Durkee Street.

You mean, the parking garage that has replaced unlimited parking spots with two hour parking? Yup, more two hour parking spots are gonna to encourage people to come and hang around downtown. Who doesn’t like relaxing in a quiet café, rapidly gulping down a cup of coffee because they only have five minutes left to run over to the parking garage and move their vehicle before they get a ticket?

5. I’m overreacting to the downtown reconstruction project. Construction cones and traffic disruptions can be found in any American city during the summer.

I can handle responsible disruptions. The downtown Plattsburgh reconstruction is just keeps dragging on. The crews have spent too much time ripping up more spots instead of finishing at least one part of the project. Business owners in a recent newspaper article complained how slow the work was going.

And putting in more fancy stonework means nothing if downtown keeps losing businesses. A major furniture store is closing. What’s going to replace it – another bar? Well, at least the new stonework will give the skateboarders something different to grind on.

Now excuse me, Anonymous. I have to lie down and rest for a while, preparing myself for a flood of positive thoughts…

Views Of A Villa

A comfortably warm Sunday evening. I’m sitting on the back patio at the coffeehouse when I notice how the setting sun is illuminating the upper part of the building across the street.

I set up my small tripod and compact digital camera to capture the scene. The building has always been a mystery with its distinctive façade, the brickwork and therounded archways evoking the image of an old Spanish villa. No other buildings in downtown Plattsburgh resemble this one. It’s so out of place; how did this architectural style end up here?

The reddish sunlight striking the building creates the illusion that the viewer is in Spain. The light changes as the sun disappears. Some of the tenants come out and hang around.

When editing the images on my computer it’s obvious that a few of the tenants were aware of my shooting. They look right at the camera.

And it appears at extreme magnification that one tenant didn’t like me capturing her image. (Or maybe she’s telling a joke to her friends.) Maybe I should have yelled out: “Hey, I’m a photo-hobbyist, not a CIA agent!”

Saturday, June 09, 2007

Terrorist Crossing Guards Bankrupting Plattsburgh!!

Of course, the headline to this post is a joke. But the recent demonization of school crossing guards by the Press-Republican is no joke.

Recently Plattsburgh’s mayor raised a stink about school crossing guards collecting unemployment during the summer. These guards work in difficult conditions, sometimes dealing with aggressive drivers while trying to keep students safe. They’re out there twenty hours a week, tolerating the cold or the heat, snow or rain, earning a staggering $10 or less an hour.

A turgid Press-Republican asshat weighed in on the issue with an editorial entitled “Unemployment undeserved” [Friday, June 8,2007; page A4]. While acknowledging that the crossing guards are “worth every penny,” the unsigned editorial makes this claim:

“Undoubtedly, somewhere along the line, a smart crossing guard divined a loophole by which the group of individuals could exploit an unsuspecting system.”

My god – the crossing guards are working for Osama bin Laden!

The asshat who wrote the editorial is obviously an upper middle-class boob who has never worked a “real job” for too long. With his present employment, he just plops down in a fat, comfy chair and then slings half-baked verbiage with his computer, safely ensconced in his climate-controlled office. The only crisis he has to face during his workday is how to adjust his cursor’s blink rate.

I’ve worked real jobs, especially as a seasonal laborer for NY State. In the fall I would be laid off. I did collect unemployment during the winter months because that’s how the system worked. I didn’t “divine” a way to cheat the taxpayers. School crossing guards are probably classified as seasonal employees.

The Press-Republican – and, I’m afraid, the mayor – have made a mistake by going after the have-nots. I haven’t seen a crossing guard driving to work in a brand new Cadillac.

I used to live in a low-rent dump when I first moved to Plattsburgh. One of my neighbors was a crossing guard. His apartment was a hole in the wall, just enough room for a bed, a refrigerator and a bathroom with a cramped shower stall.

He was out of work for a while, needing an operation. With his health situation he probably could have collected disability. Instead, when he felt better, he returned to crossing guard duty, riding his banged-up, rusty old bike to work (weather permitting).

If someone like him collects unemployment for three months, that doesn’t bother me.

What bothers me is a small-town newspaper hack demonizing such a man. A man who got paid a lot less for his real service to the community. A man who did more work in twenty hours than some bourgeois twit PR editor does in two weeks.

I’d like to see the lofty PR editor get out of his protective bubble and rub elbows with the common man. Maybe he would realize what a struggle it is for too many people striving to exist on minimum wages.

(Gee, am I demonizing a Press-Republican employee? Oops.)

If the city of Plattsburgh doesn’t want crossing guards to collect unemployment, then it should employ them year-round, providing the steady income needed by these low-wage workers.

In the meantime, I want the Press-Republican to prove that a “smart crossing guard” evilly “divined” a way to cheat the system. Go out and find that person. Show me the evidence. Or retract your near libelous bullshit.

Thursday, June 07, 2007

Downtown Plattsburgh: Yours To Avoid

Once upon a time the City of Plattsburgh decided to run a TV spot to draw people back to its downtown. Of course, this folly ignored the fact that there was next to nothing downtown, that most of the action was outside the city limits at the malls.

The city hired a third-rate advertising agency to produce the spot. One of my friends, a musician, would be aggravated by the wrap-up of the ad that featured strep-throated singers shrieking: “Downtown Plattsburgh. Yours To Explore!” I’m not a musician but even my untrained ear was pained by the poorly-written, badly-executed jingle.

While the promo spot was being aired, I didn’t notice a surge in visitors to downtown. Any suckers who did fall for the ad soon realized that the only opportunity for exploration was pub-crawling.

Lately the city has skipped wasting the money on pointless promos and instead is vainly reconstructing downtown, screwing it up even more. Take a look at the west end of Bridge Street where it intersects with Margaret. For a while it was changed back to a two-way street, making it convenient for drivers. Now it’s being transformed into a one-way bottleneck.

And what happened to the taxi stand that used to be on Bridge Street? There was a big stink when the city had designated a couple of parking spots for cab drivers only. Both of Plattsburgh’s mainstream media outlets, the newspaper and the TV station, reported on the issue. It sounded that those spots were vital to the fiscal health of downtown. Tickets where issued to any non-taxi driver who trespassed on those forbidden areas. Now there doesn’t seem to be any room left to replace them.

One-way or two-way? Taxi stands or no taxi stands? Obviously Plattsburgh has no master plan; it just improvises along the way. Let’s try this. No, let’s try that. After all, if it doesn’t work, it’s only taxpayer money we’re wasting.

During a city common council meeting last year a downtown businessman vented his frustration to the mayor and the councilors. He summed up the situation best when he said: “You just throw crap on the wall and see what will stick.” (Thanks to a WIRY-Radio microphone, his comment was recorded for posterity.)

My advice to anyone considering a downtown visit: Stay the fuque away! The reconstruction just keeps dragging on. Key streets are ripped up to hell. If you want to damage your car, then come on down! If you want to get stuck in traffic, then join the crowd!

And after the “improvements” are finished? My advice: Stay the fuque away! The traffic flow will be worse than ever with the west end of Bridge Street being one-way for no good reason. And with streets like Brinkerhoff and Court that are partially two-way, then suddenly change into one-way streets, you’ll end up exploring in circles.

Monday, June 04, 2007

Children + Chalk = Bright Art

Another dreary, overcast day ends. Somewhere behind the clouds the sun is nearing the horizon, getting ready to set. Evening just means deepening gloom.

As I walk by the church, an array of scratchings catches my eye. Earlier some kids had let loose with sidewalk chalk. Youthful bursts defying the gray.