Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Property Values

This time of year I scan the ground as I walk along, searching for fallen leaves to photograph, especially those backlit by the low autumn sun.

Sunday afternoon I spotted a few interesting leaves among the many strewn along a median lawn between the street and the sidewalk. The nearest house was a stone's toss away; behind me was an empty lot and a billboard.

I got down on my knees and started to take close-up shots. At one point I noticed a man watching me, standing in front of the house down the street. I just kept concentrating on my photography.

After a while the man approached me. He asked what I was doing on “his property.” I didn't say this to him but my understanding is that the sidewalk and the median are city/public property.

Instead of getting into details about who owned what, I just explained my interest in the backlit leaves, showing him one shot on my camera's preview screen. Obviously I placed a different value on his property. To him what I was photographing was just leaves. To me it was art.

He was satisfied that I wasn't in distress or up to no good. He was just curious, not confrontational. Before the homeowner walked away, he commented that the leaves had blown over from the trees from his neighbor's yard across the street.

So it all worked out. The neighbor's leaves on his property became my images.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Paranormal Expo 1

The Northern New York Paranormal Expo held on Saturday, October 24th, turned out to be a popular event despite the rainy weather. The Expo was sponsored by the City of Plattsburgh and NNYPRS (Northern New York Paranormal Research Society). The location: City Recreation Center, AKA the old gym at the former Plattsburgh Air Force Base. Upstairs in the gym area were a variety of vendor tables.

Psychic counseling.

The line for two popular psychics.

Keeseville Girl Scouts Teen Troop 4233
had seasonal goodies for sale.

Carmon Rust, NNYPRS Lead Researcher/Tech Department, explains how a digital camera has been modified to record infra-red images, a tool used in his organization's investigations of hauntings and ghosts.

All sorts of interesting faces
were seen at the Paranormal Expo.

Paranormal Expo 2

Besides the activities upstairs, the Northern New York Paranormal Expo also featured guest speakers in the downstairs community room at the Plattsburgh Recreation Center.

Ufologist Dan Lowenski talked about encounters with alien craft and even their occupants. The slide in the background is a drawing of a being that allegedly was seen by a family in a rural area.

Emmy Michell, a Native American reader (psychic), during her presentation asked her listeners if they could see her white aura. She backed away from the lecturn and stood against a wall. A couple of people said they could see her aura.

Attentive and appreciative listeners during Emmy Mitchell's presentation.

Christopher Nye spoke about the haunted house he owns in Fort Covington, NY. In the background are his two young daughters and his brother-in-law, Merrill McKee, of NNYPRS (Northern New York Paranormal Research Society).

Listeners both young and old were fascinated by Nye's presentation. He spoke about the unusual events that caused his conversion from a skeptic to a believer.

Paranormal lovers.

Zombie Walk

They gathered at the Champlain Monument at 8 PM Saturday night, the unearthly crowd growing into a critical mass of horror.

The first slow step: signing in. Paperwork is such a drag.

Family fun.

Then the walk began...

For one little zombie with short legs, it was hard to keep up, but she kept trucking - I mean, shuffling - on.

The zombies cried out for their particular form of nourishment:

"Brains... we need brains."

For some reason they didn't seek that food item at city hall.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Plattsburgh Forum

I just created a new blog where your input is valued: Plattsburgh Forum, found at 12901forum.blogspot.com . The set up features a series of topics – such as City Services, Neighborhood Watch, If I Were Mayor – where you can comment on subjects pertaining to Plattsburgh. Scroll through the topics, use the Comment link to share your POV, and check back later to see what others have to say.

My role with Plattsburgh Forum is mainly as a moderator. It's your opportunity to voice your concerns and suggestions. If you have any ideas for other topics, please email me at luketbush[at]yahoo[dot]com .

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Eye of the Beholder

I look through my camera's lens, composing. A passerby sees me taking the shot. Two POVs, sometimes completely contrary.

One time I'm shooting a close-up of peeling paint on a wall; an art image. Two women walk by. One woman says to her friend, judgmental tone: “That's not a good picture.”

It's comes with the territory as a photographer: outside observers who don't understand what you're doing.

Yesterday I noticed orange springs holding up a temporary road sign. The springs are Halloween orange; bits of paint have flaked off, revealing the rust underneath. I squat down, get in close, intrigued by the color and texture, the lighting, the unusual subject matter.

A man walks behind me, crossing the street. I'm concentrating on the shot when he makes a passing comment:

“A good day for Plattsburgh when that's the only problem around here.”

At first his remark doesn't register. What did he mean by that?

I thought about it for a moment, then sorted out this explanation:

The man was probably a “fan” of my blog. He recognized me from around town, the guy on the Web who posts images of bad stuff. The stuff that needs attention: vandalism, garbage, dogshit, etc.

In that context his comment makes sense. He's assumed that I've photographed the rusty springs to show another problem.

Who was commenter? I don't know. I couldn't get a good look at him with the sun in my eyes. Maybe he was a city pol or employee.

Whoever he was, he was wrong. Not all my shots document the bad side of the Burgh. Some are simply “art” shots, images I take because a subject has caught my eye. Why should I care as a concerned citizen if springs holding up a road sign have chipped paint? No problem there. I'm just trying to create art.

As for the non-art images on this blog, if it's not there – busted beer bottles, damaged property, piled up garbage, ossifying dogshit, whatever needs attention – I can't document it.

Like my mother used to say:

The truth hurts.

Friday, October 16, 2009


A Haiku By Luke T. Bush

Up there on that ledge

Sits a stoned hippie pigeon

Enjoy his high coo

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Tempus Fugetaboutit

These images – shots of both sides of an antique clock on Durkee Street – were taken at around 1:05 PM.

Does this post seem familiar? I wrote about this same problem back in January 2008. This clock still doesn't meet the basic function of a timepiece: to tell the correct time.

Taxpayer funds, well invested.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Art From Adversity

“Don't worry,” the Border Patrol officer reassured Kim Leclaire about her husband.

“We're doing you a favor,” the officer continued during the phone conversation. “We're sending him to the Buffalo detention center. He'll be processed even quicker in two or three days.”

Those few days turned out to be three long weeks for Kim's husband, Gharan Burton.

Gharan grew up in Dominica, a small Caribbean island. He attended college at Plattsburgh State with a student visa. After he graduated from PSUC, he had a one year work permit and when that ran out, he started the paperwork to become a citizen. Since the paperwork was being processed, Gharan thought that there would be no problem until his citizenship was finalized.

One day in July he was with his wife Kim, a passenger in her car. A state trooper pulled Kim over for a seatbelt violation. He also ran an ID check on Gharan.

This ended up with Gharan being taken into custody by the Border Patrol. He was transported to an immigration jail in Buffalo.

While incarcerated in the detention center, Gharan was worried about his future, whether or not he would be deported. He spent part of his time sketching, drawings of his environment that would become the basis of the exhibit, “Three Weeks Revisited,” now at the Plattsburgh Public Library. The exhibit also features works by his wife.

Some of the paintings based on the Gharan's sketches are stark, a large white sun in the background while detainees stand near a prison fence topped with razor wire. The images are drenched in red, an intense color to reflect his feelings at the time, anger and despair. The sun beyond the fence symbolizes his hope for a bright future, freedom.

Gharan is a quiet, soft-spoken man. Not the type one would associate with dangerous individuals.

He was finally released from the detention center after Kim hired a lawyer and the charge was dismissed. The problem was that Gharan hadn't notified the Department of Homeland Security about his status. He would have done this if he had known about it. Just a matter of communication.

Another example of bumbling bureaucracy. The story of red tape – and the red images it created.


For artist Darlene Joy Virgin it starts with the fabric.

Her fascination with fabric started at an early age, making cloths for her little troll dolls. A piece of cloth cut to size with armholes so that the attire could easily slip on the doll.

That interest as a young girl has led to her as an adult creating intricate fabric designs. Her materials are sorted into bins by type: solids, plaids, Asian, etc. She looks at the various designs and colors, drawing inspiration. One design might suggest tall grasses by a lake during sunset. She places the strips down, seeing how they form an overall pattern, “auditioning” each component. When the pieces fall into place, the pattern is glued down.

Fabric is her palette. Darlene creates a variety of work from her choices, just like a painter who uses a range of colors and textures to create an image.

Darlene grew up in an Air Force family, traveling around the world. Some of her images have a tropical motif, memories of a young girl living in Guam.

Darlene and her husband moved to Plattsburgh in 2005. A new environment, new inspirations.

Her fabric artwork is now on display in the Textile Gallery at the Plattsburgh Public Library. Also her work can be seen at her website, http://www.2purejoy.com/ .

BOP Fireworks 2009

A plethora of pixels. I have too many images on file to sort and edit. Anyway, here are some shots of the Battle of Plattsburgh fireworks back in September. (Click on each image for larger view.)

Wednesday, October 07, 2009

Found On The Trail: Plattsburgh's Heritage?

No Notice: City Screws Up

Apparently the City of Plattsburgh failed Communications 101 in college.

Many people were caught off guard on Monday morning when a construction crew started to rip up the southern end of Oak Street.

Chris Dominianni, owner of the Adirondack Soup Company, didn't know about the street work until Sunday night after he saw a sign posted. He contacted the city and found out that notices went out a week ago to building owners who were in turn supposed to contact their tenants.

I did a quick survey of five shops in the area where the work is being done. No shop owner had been given advance notification.

June Defrane, owner of June's, didn't know about the construction work until Tuesday morning because her shop is closed on Monday. She tried to park in front of her business to unload some materials but was told by construction workers she had to park elsewhere. She was forced to park temporarily across the street in the Plattsburgh Public Library parking.

The PPL staff was also surprised by the lack of notification. When Brinkerhoff Street was being upgraded earlier in the year, the library had a week's warning. It put up signs to let patrons know about the upcoming work. Police officers had to enter the library on Monday morning to tell patrons who had parked on Oak Street to move their vehicles. Officers also went to the shops across the street, trying to locate car owners.

So what should the city learn from this stupid dust-up?

Communication is key. Contacting the building owner apparently doesn't work, especially if the owner is out of town. Efforts should be made to personally contact people who work in the area. If a shop owner isn't in, a sign could be posted on the front door.

Signs posted along the street shouldn't go up a day before. They should be up a few days before the roadwork is to begin, giving people enough notice.

Time To Haul It

June Defrane, owner of June's on Oak Street, doesn't want rodents to show up in the alleyway behind her shop. For too many days she has been trying to get garbage picked up, refuse left behind by other tenants in the neighborhood. The trashcans for her building are emptied but the rest of it from others just keeps accumulating.

What is it about Plattsburgh and trash? Sometimes you have to invoke the name of the gods to get it properly disposed.

Monday, October 05, 2009

Burton – LeClaire Exhibit

There's an intriguing art exhibit now on display at the Plattsburgh Public Library featuring the works of local artists Gharan Burton and Kim LeClaire. “Three Weeks Revisited” will run until January 4, 2010 in the Helen Wilcox Ianelli Gallery located on the second floor of the PPL. A reception will be held Saturday, October 10th, from 5 – 7 PM. For more information, call (518) 297-2616.

Friday, October 02, 2009

Hey, Man - What's In The Bag?

This plastic bag with unknown contents has been hanging around for over a month, three stories up on a Clinton Street building. I don't know how it got there. How it is attached to the wall is also a mystery.