Sunday, May 31, 2009

Ahem, Press-Republican

Dear Press-Republican:

The accompanying image was taken Friday afternoon (5/29/08). Apparently you don’t read my blog. Anyway I had posted before about the same mess in your driveway a week ago (here’s the link). The mess in question is indicated in the image below with a blue dot.

I know your fine institution isn’t responsible for what the dog and its rude owner left behind. But shouldn’t you be keeping up appearances? After all, you do mow your lawn and trim your shrubbery. But maybe you’re too busy writing editorials like the one on May 27th entitled “The home of the conscientious” about litter and pollution problems.

To quote from that fine editorial:

“We should all make 2009 the year of renewal for our environment. We're using up and laying waste to our planet, and that must stop.

”There is no better place to start than in the outdoors-conscious North Country.”

Maybe your outdoors consciousness is making you less cognizant of what’s in your own front yard. (You do get out of that bubble on Margaret Street, don’t you?)

I hope you didn’t think all the rain we’ve been having would wash it away. All that did was re-moisturize the mess.

Maybe you picked it up yesterday. I didn’t check; I have better things to do. Even if you did get out the scooper, not responding to such an unsolicited comment in your driveway for days ain’t professional.


Luke T. Bush, Writog

PS: Please note that not reading my blog – or, heaven forbid, ignoring it – can exacerbate matters.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Attention All Units: Man Acting Oddly Near School

Nighttime. Working with my camera. I was getting into the zone when two police cars showed up.

Earlier, around dinnertime, I had noticed large pieces of chalk, the kind kids use to scribble on sidewalks, broken and scattered in the entrance area to a schoolyard. School was closed for the day. No cars or buses around. I tried some macro shots, getting down low to get an offbeat wide-angle perspective, making the best of the evening sun. Then I left; no one said anything.

After the sun had set, around 9 PM, I noticed a crescent moon low to the horizon with some sketchy clouds. So I grabbed my tripod and went over to the schoolyard where I had a good view, no powerlines or streetlights in my way.

I remembered the sidewalk chalk at the entrance. I thought how the nighttime lighting would create a different feel. So as I had done in broad daylight, I tried some down-to-the-ground macro shots. I played around with my settings on my camera, exposures, color balance. I was starting to get the get into the process, feeling comfortable with what settings to use, how to compose the shot, what views looked the best.

There’s a side street that faces the school entrance. At one point I noticed a car parked at the end of that street, its headlights aimed at me. I suspected that someone was watching me.

Two panda cars (to use the British term) pulled into the lot. One officer from each car joined me. They inquired about what I was doing.

I explained to them that I was just taking photographs. They said they had a report of a man in distress. Apparently while I was crouching down I appeared to someone to be suffering a heart attack or was passing out from too many drinks.

The officers were polite, no real hassles. I told them I didn’t expect to create a “commotion,” adding that maybe I should call the Plattsburgh PD in advance of any picture taking. One officer advised me to do that.

After they got my name, address, phone number, and birth date, the officers told me it was OK to continue shooting. Unfortunately the distraction had made me lose the zone; I cut it short. I understand they were doing their job but I didn’t end up with the images I was wanted. So it goes.

Before the police left, one also asked me if I wrote the graffiti on the pavement, I’m on a boat bitch. I told him no.

I might be a crazy photographer but I ain’t a crazy artist.

Monday, May 25, 2009

Toothsome Twosome

Two days ago I found this toothbrush in the northbound lane of Margaret Street.

Today up the street from that discovery I found a tube of toothpaste in the same lane.

Parallel litter.

Maybe from the same source. A litterbug who was angry with his dentist?

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Great Day For Sign Painting

Today was indeed Sun-day.

Plenty of light made it easy for this man on the scaffolding to paint with exact detail. And warm temps cut short the drying time.

According to the sign painter a new business will be opening at the spot where Park & Post used to be, 82 Margaret St., downtown Plattsburgh. It will be a coffee and gift shop.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Space Dragon

For some of you this image looks familiar. I took an earlier shot showing this odd object hanging on to a car radio antenna. I called it in a previous post a “Psychedelic Dragon.”

I came across the same object in similar lighting and took more shots. For this post I cut out the object with the GIMP photo-editing program, taking it out of context. Now it looks like a dragon from the outer reaches of space.

I’m not happy with the image because it’s a bit rough around the edges. But that happens when you’re using a mouse freehand to cut out an image.

When I took the second shots, the car owner got “touchy” because I was “touching” his car. He didn’t understand the art of photography. Obviously a philistine. (Know what I mean, Mr. S. B.?)

Ironical Litter

Found this item lying on a lawn, trash tossed aside. Apparently a Starbucks customer didn’t read on the info on the back of the cup. (Click on image to enlarge.)

Thinking green, eh?

ATTN: Press-Republican

An inconsiderate dog owner left a story lead in your driveway yesterday. It’s still there this evening. Will you have to step in it to realize that there’s a chronic problem plaguing Plattsburgh that needs to be addressed?

Recently you published an article with pics of your staff saving ducklings that fell into a storm drain near your offices. Commendable rescue effort.

But nature ain’t cute all the time.

Friday, May 22, 2009

S.W.A.T. - The Complete First Season: The X1.4 Review

Praise my new Sony DVD player. It plays any recording at a faster speed without muting the sound. Now I can zip through a dumb movie or TV show 1.4 times faster. This helps me locate the good bad stuff with less boredom and despair.

Case in point: The first season of the 1970’s cop show, S.W.A.T. (short for Special Weapons And Tactics). You can tell how dated this series is because they use periods between each letter in the title, the way old timers used to spell acronyms. (Or maybe they kept in the periods not to confuse the typical fan with limited reading skills.)

SWAT teams did exist but don’t mistake this series for a docu-drama. Comedy is more like it. If you’re into comic book cops, this is for you.

The series was a typical Aaron Spelling production. No shades of gray. Every week S.W.A.T. (located in a unnamed city because real cities know better) faces off with another psychopath on the loose. Take the momma’s boy who is killing a model’s boyfriends because he thinks she would be with him. Or the creepy guy who kidnaps a high school student and plans to sail away with her to paradise.

You’ll cringe when the psychopath tells his helpless female captive that it will work out, they’re meant to be together. And don’t worry, he adds, I’ll lose weight, you’ll see.

With that kind of material I think S.W.A.T. actually stood for Stupid Writers – Asinine Television.

The big selling point for S.W.A.T. was the opening scene: the para-military police unit goes into action, dressed in black with bullet-proof vests, grabbing automatic weapons off the rack before they jump into an oversized van. (Batman had his batmobile; these guys had their S.W.A.T. mobile.)

They would rush off with enough firepower to kill off half a city. They would use that firepower to blow away the bad guys. The stuff of Shakespearean drama.

The theme song heard in the opening sequence became a top ten hit on the radio. After hearing it so many times, I’ve composed lyrics for it:

“What a load,

What load,

It’s a load,

It’s a load

Of bull flop.”

When you hear the theme, you’ll soon discover how the lyrics fall into place. If only Pavarotti or another great opera singer could have sung them…

To wrap up this review of the train wreck called S.W.A.T., let’s take a look at key scenes from one episode, Omega One.

Some psychopathic college students have decided to take over a chemical plant and threaten to blow it up – and everything nearby in the Unnamed City – unless they’re paid a million bucks in small bills. They organize other students to have a protest outside the plant because it is suspected to be involved in bio-warfare experiments. The peaceniks are all holding handmade signs on long wooden poles, lifting them up and down, shouting.

The leader of the protest convinces the plant supervisor to let them in so that they can see for themselves that the place has stopped making biological weapons. Unknown to most of the peaceniks, the plant’s security guards, and the cops, the psychopaths have hidden rifles inside their demonstration signs. It’s amazing how a high-powered military rifle can be easily concealed behind a pike and some poster board.

Here’s the lead psycho, a nut named Stockwell. How come all the insane criminals have such simple tough-sounding surnames? Then again, maybe it wouldn’t play dramatically if a S.W.A.T. officer got on the bullhorn and shouted, “Give it up, Weiner!” or “It’s over, Honeydew!”

Here Stockwell confronts the S.W.A.T. leader known as Hondo. Trivia: Hondo had a brother who owned an automobile body repair shop. His name was Bondo.

Can you spot the detail that easily proves Stockwell is a psychopath? No, not the gun drawn pointed at Hondo. It’s his horrible sweater – nutzoid, man!

The bad guys have deactivated the safety mechanism to some unspecified system in the plant. Pressure builds. The city has to pay up or get blown away.

Who was the technical consultant for the show? I’ve heard of warning meters but one that indicates EXPLODE? Then again, Aaron Spelling had to keep it on the same level of the average viewer: simple. See Dick run simple.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Psychedelic Mantis

Found this strange bug hanging on to a car radio antenna.

No Dog Hit For Special Visitor

“They’re cleaning up downtown,” someone told me a while ago. “There’s a special visitor coming from the state to see how the grant money has been spent.”

That visitor - Deborah VanAmerongen, New York State Commissioner of Housing and Community Renewal – was in town the other day, as reported by the Press-Republican. She visited various businesses that made use of state funds to improve their properties. It’s good to see taxpayer money being put to practical use. Some landlords were letting their buildings rot; they didn’t want to spend the money.

There was one building downtown where the landlord let the upper stories decay. A college student took photographs of a pigeon skeleton on one floor, picked clean by decay and insects. When that site was finally fixed up, they hauled away bags of pigeon waste. The building was behabbed for new apartments and businesses.

But what gets me is a special cleanup for a state visitor. Obviously VanAmergon didn’t have to worry about scraping dog *hit off her shoe. Shouldn’t downtown be clean for us average citizens? Or should we get used to carrying putty knives and a bottle of disinfectant with us?


Thursday, May 14, 2009


As long as I can remember the Singer sewing machine shop on Margaret Street has been there. It was a landmark compared to other businesses that have come and gone.

But the MOVING SALE signs are up. Is the Singer store moving to another location in downtown Plattsburgh? Nope.

Unless someone else is ready to move in, add another item to the Empty Storefront List.


Some residents of Plattsburgh’s Center City (AKA the CZ or Combat Zone) are hoping the new private housing being built on Broad Street for college students will alleviate some of the chronic problems caused by rowdy renters.

The new housing is being built on the lot where St. John’s Academy used to stand. The company behind the project, United Group, promises to have managers on site to keep things under control.

Rules and regs? I think the some of transient renters in the CZ want the minimum amount of supervision, especially the ones who want to cut loose with noise, theft and vandalism. That’s why they’re not living on campus in the dorms. For them absentee landlords are great.

Monday, May 11, 2009

No Youth Center For Plattsburgh

Years ago (how many? I can’t recall) a bored Plattsburgh teen told me how easy it was to score street drugs. The statement wasn’t surprising. After all, “Da Burgh” is one of the main connections along the Montreal – New York City pipeline.

The bored teen mentioned that he didn’t want to get into drugs for recreation, but it was hard to find something to do. The drug scene was an opportunity to meet people his own age, to find a common interest.

With his comment in mind I approached a city councilor about setting up a youth center. Smaller communities in the area – Saranac Lake and Lake Placid – had such centers. (See links below.) The councilor liked the idea and looked into it.

A spot was found on the former Plattsburgh Air Force Base, a basement area that once housed a bowling alley. Asbestos had to be removed. After that was completed, the bureaucratic glacier ground to a halt. Not a whisper about a youth center.

Then I noticed in the news that the basement area in the Recreation Department had been rehabbed into a community room that would be rented out for various events. I contacted the Rec Superintendent, Steve Peters, via email, inquiring about the possibility that the room could be used as a part-time youth center.

Peters promptly responded, saying that there was no money in the city budget to operate a youth center. I appreciated his quick response; less than twelve hours. He wrote:

“Thank you for your email. The Community Room is set up to be available as a multi-purpose room to accommodate a variety of needs in the community, which certainly can include youth activities. The Recreation Department is currently not staffed or equipped to appropriately manage a Youth Center, but I would welcome any individual or group that is interested in reserving space and running programs for area youth. The room is available to be scheduled/reserved on a first-come, first-served basis and is free for public non-profit and not-for-profit activities (or $25/hr for fee-based or private use).”

So there’s an opportunity for some activities for youth but not on a regular basis. When dealing with a problem, consistency is key. The door is a bit open but as for a full time youth center, it’s dead.

Prevention or enforcement? Enforcement just rounds up a few more low level dealers, a routine repeated every few months. Then more dealers move in to take over. Prevention could result in fewer customers and fewer dealers.

Somehow small towns like Saranac Lake and Lake Placid have the money for youth centers. But not the “big city” of Plattsburgh.

Meanwhile drugs keep running through Plattsburgh, a major stop on the pipeline. And its teens are bored.


Sunday, May 10, 2009

Tracking The Problem 5

Is this really needed?

I asked myself that question a couple of times during a visit to a neurosurgeon at the medical center across the lake in Vermont.

The first time I had asked it was when the neurosurgeon and his assistant recommended back surgery. They showed me on a computer screen a MRI scan, how a nerve was being pinched by narrow passageway.

I’ve decided to put off surgery for now. Maybe physical therapy will work as it has done in the past.

I asked Is this really needed? a second time while I was waiting to see the neurosurgeon, wandering around the impressive multi-storied building that housed his office. It was called a “pavilion.” Indeed. The front part was opened up, five stories down to the first floor lobby, the fa├žade constructed of huge windows. Another section by the neurosurgeon’s office was opened up three stories, a balcony view on four sides down into the food court.

Such architecture is great for a shopping mall but what has it to do with health services?

I thought to myself I would like to live on the equivalent amount of money spent each year heating and cooling the place. Those wide-open areas couldn’t be energy efficient.

I also wondered how many surgeries were needed to cover the bills for the maintenance of this house – actually, palace – of healing.

Friday, May 08, 2009

What’s The Story?

A bit strange.

Thursday. The lunch hour. I’m walking by Plattsburgh City Hall when I spot two men at the bottom of the front steps. There’s something about the way they’re posed that strikes me as odd. One man wearing a maroon hoodie has his foot up on one step as if he suddenly suspended his ascension. They both face the building but seem to be talking to each other, sideways communication.

Some time later I walk by again. I notice that a woman wearing a red shirt has joined the two men, a trio now facing city hall. Each head is bowed down.

Really strange.

I doubled back, passing closer to the mysterious trio. Their voices are low; I can’t hear what they’re saying. I think about asking them about what they’re doing, but it seems such a personal moment that I don’t want to interrupt.

So what’s the story? I speculate. Maybe it’s a small protest. Or a moment to memorialize a dead friend.

If not, what could it be? Turning aside ordinary explanations, I unleash my imagination. Did they each take turns reading memorized passages from the Necronomicon, hoping to call forth Cthulhu and the other Old Ones? Or was it only a prayer of thanks to the Great God Kasprzak?

If it was a serious moment, my apologies. But look at it from my POV: why would three people engage in such a puzzling public act?

Wednesday, May 06, 2009

Scars In The Combat Zone

An anonymous photographer submitted the following images. This person has been documenting the damage and litter in the Center City of Plattsburgh (what I call the Combat Zone) since last fall. I did some editing, cropping and making adjustments in the brightness and contrast levels. What you see is what was there; nothing has been added.

Keep in mind that these locations are within the heart of the city, even though it looks like L’il Abner’s Dogpatch.

If you have any images of problem areas, please contact me: luketbush[at]yahoo[dot]com.

Bent On Destruction

An anonymous photographer submitted the following images. This person has been documenting the damage to the street signs in the Center City of Plattsburgh (what I call the Combat Zone) since last fall. I did some editing, cropping and making adjustments in the brightness and contrast levels. What you see is what was there; nothing has been added.

If you have any images of problem areas, please contact me: luketbush[at]yahoo[dot]com.

Monday, May 04, 2009


Saturday, May 2, 2009: The Fifth Annual City of Plattsburgh Cleanup Day. Volunteers, including college students, pick up litter and trash around the community.

Saturday, May 2, 2009: Trash It Again Night. Rowdies, both town and gown, voluntarily return the city back to its “natural” entropic state. The results of their efforts are plainly seen during a Sunday evening walk, especially the remains of the latest fad: smashing glass bottles all over the sidewalks.

Trash it. Clean up. Trash it. The cycle repeats itself.

(Click on each image for larger view.)

Friday, May 01, 2009

Miller Street Obstacle Course

Sometimes the area between the Delord and Lorraine intersections on Miller Street can be a pain to navigate, especially if you’re a resident.

  • After a parking lot on Margaret Street started to charge a weekly fee, more cars ended up using the non-restricted spots on Miller Street up the street from the Post Office. Weekdays from early morning to mid-afternoon the area can become congested, cars lined up on both sides of the street.

  • More cars mean a narrower passageway, particularly for larger vehicles. Miller Street homeowner Valeri Raugi says that vehicles sometimes race through this section to avoid a tight squeeze play.

  • Big boxy vans and large vehicles in short parking spots create blind spots for anyone entering the street from a narrow driveway, even when the area isn’t that congested. Resident Valeri Raugi says it’s difficult to safely enter Miller Street when vehicles parked on both sides of her driveway block her view. How about painting yellow X boxes in such spots with No Parking signs?

  • Vehicle blocks driveway. OK, the driveway belongs to an abandoned house, but what will happen if there’s a fire and the FD needs quick access?

  • No driveways here. So why not limit parking to this side of Miller Street where there are less driveways?

Valeri Raugi spoke with the mayor around a year ago. So far there have been no real changes outside of a decrease in the number of cars at certain times.

Clinton Street: Before And After

Renovations are progressing on Clinton Street. It’s good to see buildings being fixed up after being neglected for so long. If the economy turns around, maybe some niche stores could occupy the refurbished spots.