Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Snow Job

Another winter of our discontent.

© 2014 Luke T. Bush


Winter.  That wonderful time of the year.  Pleasantries exchanged on the street as two people walk by each other.

“Happy Holidays.”

“And Happy Holidays to you, too.”

Other pleasantries are exchanged.

CAR DRIVER: “Hey, moron, get the hell out of the road!”

PEDESTRIAN: “I would if the sidewalk wasn’t blocked with two feet of snow!  FU!”

Yes, nothing says Plattsburgh City winter than another go-around with the chronic controversy of unshoveled sidewalks and who should clear them.  City or property owners?

In the past the city has put the onus on property owners.  Any sidewalk adjacent to a property must be cleared of snow.  Get out that shovel or snowblower and do your part, citizen!  If Public Works employees have to handle the job you will be billed/fined.

Then there’s the argument that public sidewalks are public property, i.e., the city owns them.  Ergo the owner should keep them clear.

Local activist for the disabled Debra Buell through a series of emails to city officials has been pushing this point. Debra isn't just concerned about citizens with disabilities.  She wants to make sure that others using city sidewalks — such as children and senior citizens — can do so safely without being forced to walk in the street with traffic.  Doing her research she contends that the city is responsible for its sidewalks under the law. 

She became vocal on this issue after she encountered a snow-blocked sidewalk near a doctor’s office.  She uses a power wheelchair, making her situation more problematic.  She can’t afford to miss any appointments — especially doctor appointments.

The location where her way was blocked, she says, falls into an “in-between area.”   Even though the city is supposed to be "the enforcer" it's uncertain which property owner is responsible.

My POV: With its zoning board and public records the city doesn't know who owns what?  Aren't there maps and records to settle any disputes?  There shouldn't be Twilight Zone areas in the city.  If they are, then why haven't they been addressed?

An icy pathway created by people trudging on an unshoveled sidewalk.  Watch your step.

There's a story from last winter involving the CCPT public bus system and a so-called in-between area.  City snowplows would pile up snow on the sidewalk at the main bus stop near the Clinton County Government Center, creating obstacles for both riders and drivers.  People would have to walk around or climb over the obstruction to board the bus.

And why wasn’t the problem fixed?  From what I heard there was a pissing match between the city and the county, each entity saying the other was responsible.  The obstructions remained.  It’s good the city and the county were able to set aside their differences for the benefit of the citizens they were supposedly serving.

Meanwhile the city keeps delegating the snow job to its citizens.  There’s a program under the city’s auspices where able-bodied people can volunteer to remove snow for someone unable to do the task such as a senior citizen on a fixed income.  But as Debra Buell points out when a volunteer completes and signs the form he leaves the city off the hook for any injuries sustained while doing the work.  Volunteer and throw out your back?  Well, maybe the city will send you a “Get Well” card.

So would you volunteer under those conditions as an unpaid, uninsured worker?  Why are you paying taxes to the city if you're required to provide it with free work as a volunteer or property owner?

But wait until next winter.  After this latest uproar the city will have a practical solution in place by then.

Sure.  I’m betting global warming will fix problem before the city.

Tuesday, November 25, 2014


ROTA Studios & Gallery promotes its music events as for "all ages."  For example...

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Rocks And Rust

If you want to promote your landscape rock business then include some classic old vehicles with the roadside display to ensure the attention of passing travelers.  (Route 9, south of Plattsburgh, NY.)

Thursday, November 06, 2014

Irish Catholic Moon

The Lowdown On Lucid

(C) 2014 Luke T. Bush


On this evening Lucid played at ROTA Gallery as part of a fundraiser event.  Sitting in the front row offered me the opportunity to get a different POV on the band.

Tuesday, November 04, 2014

Odd Accident Draws Eyes And Lenses

(C) 2014 Luke T. Bush


Yesterday I'm walking to my bank on Margaret Street when I notice the street area across from my destination is the focus of activity.  All because of one red SUV.  

Police cars parked with flashing lights.  Fire truck also on the scene.  Yellow tape strung from lampposts marking off the DO NOT ENTER zone.  Police officers and firefighters all over the place.

No, the red SUV wasn't on fire.  The problem was its rear section up and over the engine hood of the silver sedan behind it, the SUV's back tires sinking into the sedan's windshield..

I open up my camera bag and start taking shots.  I'm trying to figure out how the SUV ended up on top as if it was dropped from the sky.

Before I arrived there had been a black pickup truck in front of the SUV.  It was reported the accident was caused by operator error, the sedan driver hitting the gas instead of the brakes, his vehicle slamming into the SUV.  You would think that the car caught in the middle would just crumple but instead it popped up, landing on the runaway car.

It took a fork lift with a cable to remove the red SUV from its unusual resting place.

A crowd had gathered.  Besides the newspaper photog and TV station videographer Joe and Jane Citizen were also recording the event.

So images of the incident made it online before I posted this.   Another example of today's technological Argus.

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Welcome To Thrush TV: UNCLE Still Blocked


UNCLE fans still aren't happy.  In fact, they're even unhappier.

As detailed in another post the Plattsburgh MeTV affiliate station has been blocking transmission of The Man From UNCLE for its half-hour Vermont news program at 10 PM.

At first WPUTZ-TV on Channel 5.3 would cut to the last 30 minutes of each UNCLE episode after the news.   Now the station is has even eliminated that on Sunday nights, showing reruns of The Twilight Zone.

Channel 5 simulcasts the same news at subchannel 5.2 .  So people can get their Vermont news fix there.

The odd part is that local news does conflict with another MeTV program on Saturday night, Svengoolie, that features old Universal Studio monster movies in a two hour format hosted by a goofy host.  The last time I checked at 10:30 PM the station threw in another half-hour program but then it broadcast all two hours of Svengoolie, one hour behind its regular schedule.

So why doesn't UNCLE get the same treatment?

Gee, was it something I said, WPUTZ-TV?

I heard from one UNCLE fan who was wondering why reruns of The Twilight Zone ended up on his video recording when he was trying to time-shift UNCLE.

Because Channel 5, despite being located in New York State, is gonna to cram its Vermont news on both subchannels, like it or not.  Your viewership doesn't count as either a New York news watcher or UNCLE fan.

Remember: The public owns the airwaves.

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Lost, Seeking A Sign

(C) 2014 Luke T. Bush


Before you explore an unknown Adirondack backroad make sure you have GPS, a good map, or at least a compass.

My friend Jack invited me to take a drive through the regional hinterlands.  It was a rainy day but there was always the chance the clouds would clear, releasing the bright sun.  Either way I brought my camera along.

We traveled to Lake Placid, Saranac Lake and then began to return home on the main drag, Route 3 East.  Around Vermontville I saw a peak covered with a thick low hanging cloud but couldn't get a good shot over the treeline.  We took a sideroad hoping for an open spot to capture the image.

You would think locals such as ourselves would know two basic facts by now:

1.  Backroads out in the wild countryside are usually forest corridors, walls of trees on each side, clear views are rare.

2.  Backroads are hardly marked with signs.  When you encounter an intersection there isn't a signpost indicating the names of the roads or pointing towards the nearest community.  You are on your own.  Limbo.

So Jack kept driving, thinking that if we just kept going we would end up back on Route 3, a few miles past Vermontville.

There was no way to track the direction of our travel.  The sun was reduced to a pale sheet spread across the leaden sky, hardly a useful reference point.

Jack spotted a sign on the side of the road.  It was one of those ancient historical markers, rust brown with raised yellow letters.  The sign said that we were on an old turnpike that ran between Port Kent and a place called Hopkinton.  No details were provided to the present name of the road, even a county road number.

At another point we checked out a "witness post" sign.  The white metal plaque stated that a survey marker was nearby, do not disturb, contact Washington, DC, for more info.  An indication that we were really in rural limbo.  Speculation: if someone removes that marker the area will fade into nothingness.   

Later at one intersection I spotted a sign — not an official state one — that simply said PLATTSBURGH with an arrow pointing to the left.  The sign looked homemade.  I suspect that one of the few people who lived in this area got tired of people pounding on his door, asking for directions back to civilization.

The road took us back to Route 3.  Relieved to see the familiar passageway we drove on, only to find ourselves driving once again into Vermontville.  Despite the fact it seemed we were traveling eastward, we had backtracked miles to the opposite point.  Like I said: Limbo.

But I did get some good photographs on that maze of backroads, including shots of collapsed buildings, forgotten, left to the forces of nature.

My theory: the owner of a pre-buckled structure wanted to maintain his property but couldn't find his way back to it, he kept driving in circles and gave up.  Without proper maintenance entropy did its job.

And with Halloween approaching I suspect that the souls of lost travelers unable to reach their final destination will be seen on those twisty, never-ending Adirondack backroads.

But I won't be one.

One spot did open up during the backroad odyssey so I could capture the low clouds obscuring the mountains.

Monday, October 06, 2014


Consternation at UNCLE headquarters over "The Half-Ass Affair."


They've cut Napoleon Solo in half.

No, the evil organization called Thrush wasn't behind this dastardly deed.  It's a local TV station that stupidly assumes that people won't mind missing the first half of the superspy's heroics every Sunday night at 10 PM.

Tonight I tuned in to Channel 5.3 (Me TV) to watch The Man From UNCLE and found WPUTZ-TV was running its local newscast until 10:30 PM.  Then without any explanation or warning it cut back to the Me TV network feed right in the middle of an UNCLE affair.

For the uniformed The Man From UNCLE is a spy adventure series from the 1960s, TV's answer to James Bond.  Compared to some old TV shows (for example, take MASH — please!) it hasn't been seen around rerunland that often.

There's really no good reason for WPUTZ-TV to chop an episode in two because on its other subchannel, 5.2, it's simulcasting the same news program.  On that channel (the CW affiliate) an hour of Seinfeld reruns are scheduled but that series is formatted in the 30 minute format.  So one episode is blocked but the other can still be seen in its entirety at 10:30 PM.

I don't watch Channel 5 local news.  One reason are the incessant ads that run on all three of WPUTZ's channels extolling the greatness of its news team.  Every ten minutes it's bragging that its news is the best in the business: the best journalism, the best weather forecasting, the best sports coverage, the best humility.

Also, I live in New York State but Channel 5 panders to the almighty Vermont advertising dollar.  Green Mountain State news until you choke.  Its competition across the lake, Channel 3/WCAX-TV, is professional, not a dog-and-pony show.  Sometimes it does a better job of covering news on this side of Lake Champlain.

WCAX's logo: "Vermont's Own Channel 3."

WPUTZ's logo: "Vermont Owns Channel 5."

Before the fall season kicked off the Channel 5 news trio — the two anchorpersons and the weatherman — were seen 24/7 in a promo rhapsodizing that the popular Ellen DeGeneres talk show was moving to their station.  Extreme close-ups showed the TV news team lacing up their shoes.  Why?  Because they were getting ready to dance.

And then the trio danced around, cavorting like coked up clowns, giddy that Ellen was coming to Channel 5.  Big smiles and a hearty "Welcome!"

Yes, happy dance = professional journalism.

So will Channel 5 change its mind and run The Man From UNCLE in its entirety on Sunday nights?

I doubt it.  From what I've seen the station manager will just dance around the issue.  Giddily.

Wednesday, September 24, 2014


Detail Not Spanking New But Still Fascinating

(C) 2014 Luke T. Bush

PLATTSBURGH CITY, NY - Wednesday 9/24/2014

So I'm glancing at the front page of the Press-Republican, the dead tree format dated Saturday 9/20/14, and notice an article about the 75th anniversary of the Elizabethtown, NY Social Center.

The center stands where its founder, Cora Putnam Hale, used to live.  She donated both the property and funds to build the facility back in 1939 to serve both local youth and adults.

The article includes a photo of Cora's painted portrait (missing in the online version).  Below is copy of the photo and its caption.  

If you're unable to read it the caption states: 

"This oil portrait of Cora Putnam Hale by Wayman Adams hangs over the fireplace mantel at the Elizabethtown Social Center.  Supposedly, this is the location where Mrs. Hale received her first spanking."

The article doesn't mention if there's a plaque accompanying the oil portrait, a bronze marker immortalizing this fascinating historical detail.  "On this spot in the Year of Our Lord..."

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Getting Hip To Hooping

(C) 2014 Luke T. Bush

PLATTSBURGH CITY, NY - Saturday 9/6/2014

Fortunately the rain held off for most of this day for First Weekend events.  While the local rock band Lucid played in the background this hooping instructor was giving introductory lessons to some of the younger audience members.