Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Dancing Man 2008

He's an institution at the New York State Fair. Every year he shows up to enjoy the free concerts in the Chevy Court, grooving with his own unique style.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Downtown Café Takes Proactive Approach

The last thing a hungry customer wants to see near a restaurant’s entrance is a fresh pile of dog dung. It kinda kills one’s appetite.

Harold Benjamin, co-owner of Benji’s Café & Bakery in downtown Plattsburgh, did more than just complain about the matter. He called the city police after witnessing the dog-owner’s neglectfulness. Knowing the dog-owner lived in the neighborhood, the police went from door-to-door until she was found.

The police had her pick up her mess and also gave her a warning.* (Kudos to those officers.)

With co-owner Betty Benjamin, Harold is doing his part in sprucing up downtown. Flowers decorate the front of his café, thanks to a couple of hanging pots and a large wooden bucket on the sidewalk. He told me that people enjoy the color they add to the area.

But what about flower vandals? People who enjoy ripping up decorative plants and throwing them all over the place?

It does happen, said Harold, but he took a measure to discourage such misconduct. He nodded at his video surveillance camera in the café’s front window. One time a vandal started to rip up a plant but left it where it was when he spotted the camera aimed at him.

What Plattsburgh needs are more people like the Benjamins: people who take a proactive approach to downtown’s chronic problems. If every business and property owner did their bit, the sum total would be much greater than its parts.

*Correction: 8/21/08. Changed "a warning ticket" to a warning.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Diaper Clogs Storm Drain

Maybe there’s an upside to this rainy summer: downpours clean Plattsburgh streets, accumulating litter and trash in a few places so that it's easier to avoid.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Doggone Downtown

Take Pride, Plattsburgh!

But remember that pride goeth before a fall –- especially when you slip on dogshit.

Journalistic Excellence And Dead Trees

Only newspapers provide professional journalism! Blogs are written by a bunch of semi-illiterate amateurs who can’t write or even spell!

Or so the old guard would tell you.

Yes, there is a lot of crap on the Web. There’s a lot of crap everywhere.

If newspapers want to take the high ground, then they should lead by example. For example, take the Plattsburgh daily paper, the Press-Republican. Please.

The PR boasts of maintaining high standards of excellence. Whether it’s a newspaper or a college or a business or a government agency, when I hear “excellence,” I expect to see it.

Let’s look at recent examples of excellence provided by the Press-Republican.

Sunday edition. 8/10/08. Page A7. An Associated Press article by Richard Richtmyer, dateline Albany. The article explains why so many companies are publishing phonebooks, creating a glut on the market. Ever notice how they pile up on your doorstep?

Now flip over to Page D7. An Associated Press article by Richard Richtmyer, dateline Albany. The article explains why so many companies are publishing phonebooks, creating a glut on the market. Ever notice how they pile up on your doorstep?

Wait, this can’t be the same article, can it? The headline is different and there’s a photo of phonebooks piled on an office desk.

Apparently this is journalistic excellence. A public service. By running the same article twice in the same edition, people with bad memories are more apt to remember the information after a second exposure.

This service is also provided on a day-to-day basis. PR Sunday edition, 8/10/08, page D8. An AP article by Larry Margasak about the politics involved with the development of a bio-warfare research facility.

Need a refresher? The article is reprinted the next day (8/11/08) on page A9.

This isn’t the first time that déjà vu all over again news has appeared in the Press-Republican. Apparently it won’t be the last. It wouldn’t surprise me to find out the person responsible for the layout is overworked and underpaid. I’ve been in job situations like that. Browbeat the employee all you want, you won’t get the best out of him unless he has reasonable working conditions.

Meanwhile, the PR keeps shrinking its paper, narrower trim, less news hole. It doesn’t have enough room to run the arts and events listing in its entirety on Thursday “due to space limitations.” But somehow it has the room to repeat AP articles in their entirety.

No, I don’t claim journalistic excellence as a blogger. But I try to spot mistakes before I hit the PUBLISH button. At least I compose with a spell check program running to alert me about typos. I’m not a great speller: red underlines always appear while I’m keyboarding. I make sure to go back and check and fix them as needed.

Sunday, 8/10/08, page D1. An article by a PR reporter about horseback rides being offered at a local tourist attraction. This business, as stated in the article, opened the last weekend of Junew.

Junew? Is that the month after Mayf?

Friday, August 08, 2008

Mysterious Images

What do these two images have in common? You can find out Saturday, Aug. 9th, at the North Country Cultural Center for the Arts (NCCCA) at 30 Brinkerhoff St., Plattsburgh. The Arts Center is one of the stops on the Summer Art Walk from 2 to 5 PM. The Art Walk features works by local artists on display at various downtown businesses. Maps will be available at sponsoring sites such as Irises Restaurant and the Koffee Kat.

Also on Saturday, the NCCCA hosts a reception from 5 – 7 PM for its members show. Another opportunity to make the connection between the mystery images shown above.


Newspapers are hurting. Declining readership, shrinking ad sales.

The old hometown paper once had an almost monopolistic hold on information. But along came radio, TV, and the Net. You have options besides the dead tree format.

There’s this buzzword out there: “Hyper-local.” It’s on the list of strategies to keep a newspaper in business. One strength of a local paper is coverage of news and events in its area. Ergo, a paper should focus on what’s happening in its neighborhood. This will keep readers coming back and even attract new ones.

A good example of hyper-local is Seven Days, the weekly freebie from Vermont. Its listings of events and shows are complete, covering the entire week.

And then there’s Plattsburgh’s daily paper. It brags that it covers 8 Days A Week. But this notice appears almost every Thursday:

Due to space limitations, 8 days a week was unable to run in its entirety.

The Press-Republican should be honest and call its listing 6.5 Days A Week.

New buzzword: “Hyper-stupid.”

Tuesday, August 05, 2008

Watch Your Step

Take care walking around the City of Plattsburgh or you’ll be leaving unpleasant footprints behind like this one on the front steps at the public library.

And once that stuff is on your shoe, it’s next to impossible to scrape all of it off.

A public service message from Writog.

Sunday, August 03, 2008

A Problem?

Image: man three stories up, working from a mobile cherry picker bucket, fixing a building’s façade one evening.

Some photos go into my “50 Years From Now” file. Documents of ordinary objects that at this time aren’t that unusual. But decades from now, changing technology may make that telephone kiosk or fire truck obsolete. Then it will look quaint.

Maybe in the future construction workers will be using free-floating buckets, hovering in the sky with any physical support thanks to a scientific breakthrough. If not, at least the style of a cherry picker will change, just like cars have over the years.

So that evening I take out my camera and snap a shot for posterity: Worker In Elevated Bucket, 2008. I had forgotten that my flash was still on. Noticing the small light burst, the worker looks down at me. From his perch up high he stares at me as I walk across the street.

What’s the problem? He’s in public view. I’m not interfering with his work. My compact camera’s flash is too puny to hurt his eyes. I’m doing nothing wrong.

Later I hear a story on the street that a downtown shop is calling it quits due to a considerable drop in sales. It rents a spot in a building being renovated and the construction work has interfered with its business. Complaints against the renovator regarding possible violations have been made. Proper procedures being ignored, customer hit by a small falling object, no warning tape or cones on sidewalk, scaffolding blocking the entrance, whatever. Or so the story goes.

Me, I don’t seek out rumors or controversy. Usually I just want to take photos.

But I also don’t like being stared at over nothing.

When the worker kept an eye on me after I took my shot, I felt like yelling up at him, repeating the old line:

“Hey, take a picture. It’ll last longer.”

Friday, August 01, 2008

3 Day Litter

This image was taken when the sauce was fresh. After three days it ain’t so photogenic. And the glass shards are still sharp. (Margaret Street, near Cornelia.)

This mayo jar and other smelly garbage lay on the south end of Miller Street. By the way, that’s City Hall across the street in the background.

Screw You

This wooden step on Clinton Street has remained unrepaired for weeks. Usually it wouldn’t bother me, but there are devils in the details.

Had your tetanus shot?

Dog, Not God

Trinity Church entrance. 7/31/08.

(This disrespect is beyond words.)

Clinton Or Weed Street?

Recent images of Clinton Street, downtown Plattsburgh.

There is also a Weed Street in the city. Maybe the two streets should swap names.