Category Archives: Albany

She'll Need Schoolin'

For me, one of the motivating factors of urban life is my long-standing belief that if the middle class leaves the city, the city will die and the ‘burbs around it will as well.

Anyway, I was having this discussion about wanting Lydia to go to school in the city, if at all possible. There was a story last month in the paper about the 38% graduation rate at Albany High School. (A later story noted a reporting error on the part of the school, so that the number was really a still dismal 53%.) Her elementary school is brand new. The middle school is problematic, though I don’t know how it’ll be seven years from now, and I indicated that, by the time she’s ready for that level, perhaps we’d put her in private school, or even home school her, but that abandoning the city was not my desire. To which someone noted, “Do you want to sacrifice your daughter for an ideal?”

You have no idea how much this ticked me off.

I never criticize those people who move out of the city to do what they think is best. But I don’t want to be criticized for staying and trying to make things better. I noted that suburban schools are not bereft of problems; note the location of many of the mass school shootings.

Anyway, this article, which eventually be at a different address in the Metroland archives, best expresses my love for the city.

RM 4

Popeye, my first childhood hero, was more right than he knew: Spinach to power green computers, phones
There really is a Potted Meat Museum, apparently, as I read in Greg Haymes’ Times Union column. Sarge, this is VERY disturbing.
As a black church-going man, I was VERY fascinated with the Washington Post article How Today’s Church Is Failing Black Men, by John W. Fountain,
Journalism Professor and Former Post Reporter. If this article disappears, please let me know; I have the full-text in an e-mail sent to me.
Top 10 Driving Songs, from “Drivers who are singing along to favorite music are likely to concentrate more on their driving and are less likely to fall asleep.” So this will not only entertain you, it may save somebody’s life, maybe even your own.
Conversely, some of these folks, “winners” of the Darwin Awards lacked the capacity for self-preservation.
I know you I’m sure all you erudite computer maven types know this, but as librarian, I get queried on a wide range of things not as commonly known as you might think. I was asked recently if the fact that you type in the URL and nothing comes up means that the website is available. I said, no. Actually, I said, “NO!” I directed them to a couple websites such as Whois Source or InterNIC. I suggested they buzz around the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers website, for even more info.
Which American City Provides The Best Consumer Test Market? If your from these parts, you know, it’s Albany, NY. Or more specifically, “the Albany, NY Metropolitan Statistical Area (MSA) has a consumer life stage profile that correlates almost perfectly with the consumer life stage profile of the whole U.S., with a correlation score of .90904 (A score of 1 would be a perfect correlation.)” Where does your MSA rate? Check here. Albany, New York: the epitome of America. This came out last year, but I had need to look it up this month, and pass it on to you lucky folks. (Also, I didn’t blog last year.)

Go Ask Alice

Alice Green is running as the Green Party candidate for mayor of Albany, NY. I’m quite pleased, even though we’re not related.

For those of you from out-of-town, a very quick, very light primer in Albany politics. Remember the Democratic machine of Mayor Richard Daley of Chicago? (I mean the elder Mayor Richard Daley; his son is the mayor now.
Well, Albany’s kinda like that. The last time a Republican was elected mayor was around the time Prohibition STARTED.

Like Chicago, this city was run by a powerful machine. For instance, one man, Erastus Corning, was mayor for over 40 years. And for most of that time, he wasn’t even the most powerful guy in the city. That would have been Dan O’Connell, the Democratic Party chair. I shan’t bore you with tales of the corrupting effect of one-party politics.

Erastus died in a Boston hospital in 1982 was replaced by a guy named Thomas Whalen, who seemed to try to make moderate changes in the system.

Then in 1993 came Jerry Jennings, who ran as an “outsider” and won. But soon he became the ultimate insider, and was challenged in the Democratic primary by a state assemblyman named Jack McEneny in 1997. Jerry beat Jack, and being the vindictive sort that he was, Jerry made sure that someone ran in the primary for the Assembly seat against Jack the next year. (Jack prevailed.)

In 2001, NO ONE ran against Jerry in the primary, and in this city, the primary IS the race.

In 2005, two guys with little name recognition are running against Jerry in the primary, and they haven’t a prayer. The Republican challenger is perennial candidate Joe Sullivan (think Harold Stassen.)

Now, Alice Green, long-time activist in issues of law and justice and a very familiar figure in these parts, comes out as a minor party challenger. It’s EXTREMELY unlikely that she will win either, but her entry will almost certainly mean that there will be a real campaign put forth by the incumbent, perhaps even with debates in the fall, and in THIS city, that’s progress.

For information on all the races, go here

Play ball!

Today is the beginning of baseball season.

WHAT? you proclaim. The Yankees, Mets, Red Sox and the other teams have been playing for nearly two months. Indeed they have, but I wasn’t talking about Major League Baseball. I was talking about Minor League Baseball, specifically the Class A New York-Penn (NY-P) League.

When I was growing up in Binghamton, my father or grandfather (but seldom both) would take me to see the Triplets. They were team in the Eastern League from 1923 to 1963 and again in 1967 and 1968. They were called the Triplets because they represented the Triple Cities in New York State’s Southern Tier: Binghamton, Johnson City, and Endicott (the fact that only Binghamton was a city and the other two were villages is not germane to the discussion). The out-of-town papers referred to the team as Binghamton. They were an affiliate of the New York Yankees from 1932 to 1961, so I was a fan of the Bronx Bombers as a kid.
I saw Al Downing pitch there. He eventually became a Yankee starter. (He was best known, though, for being the Dodgers pitcher when Atlanta Braves’ star Hank Aaron hit home run #715 in 1973, breaking Babe Ruth’s record.)
The Triplets were a Kansas City Athletics affiliate in 1962 and 1963. The team spent three years (1964-66) in the lower level NY-P League, linked with the Milwaukee Braves the first year, and the Yankees subsequently before their brief return to the Eastern League, still affiliated with the Yanks. Then nothing, as Johnson Field was torn down after the 1968 season so that a newer Route 17 could be built west of Binghamton.

That Yankee Class A NY-P team that was in Binghamton in 1965 & 1966 ended up in Oneonta for over 30 years before moving again. Oneonta is now a Tiger affiliate in the NY-P.

Albany has had trouble fielding a team. For a time, they had an Eastern League team in Heritage Park in Colonie (near Albany) that was affiliated with the Oakland A’s (1983-84), then the New York Yankees (1985-94.) I saw Bernie Williams play there. But those arrangements eventually collapsed.
Then there were the Diamond Dogs (alas, no David Bowie) in an independent league not affiliated with major league baseball. I went to a few of those games and they were quite a bit of fun, though not always the highest caliber of play.
Now, the Capital District has a new team, the Tri-Cities Valley Cats (the Tri-Cities in this case being Albany, Schenectady and Troy — all CITIES) in the NY-P League.
The out-of-town papers referred to the team as Troy. Today’s opener is against the Oneonta Tigers at the Joseph L. Bruno Stadium, nicknamed “The Joe”. (The running joke at the time: “It’s a good thing his name wasn’t John.”) Joe Bruno is the Majority Leader in the New York Senate.

One of the cool games this season will be on July 30, when the same two teams meet in Cooperstown at Doubleday Field. The Oneonta team has, for many years, gotten a “home” game there, and I understand that it’s quite a thrill for the players. Since my father-in-law has had season tickets to the Oneonta Yankees -he saw Ricky Ledee play for them- and now the Oneonta Tigers, I’ve seen a couple games there myself.

It’s a bit surprising that a market the size of Albany/Schenectady/Troy has a Class A team, especially since Binghamton, which is about the size of Troy and half the size of Albany, once again has a team in the Class AA Eastern League, with a higher caliber of player.
Last year, for the first time, I went to the stadium in downtown Binghamton where the Binghamton Mets have played for a few years, after a nearly three-decade gap for baseball in Binghamton. The program had third baseman David Wright on the cover; he’d already been promoted to the New York Mets, but that’s baseball. It’s a lovely stadium, but I have to think that foul balls must hit the cars driving by on Henry Street.

In any case, if you like baseball, but have gotten cynical over Major League Baseball because of the salaries, or whatever, check out Minor League Baseball.