Posts Tagged ‘Alana Hauptman’

Letter From the Train 04 06 2017 Thoughts through mist and fog…

April 6, 2017

It is dusty grey; mist and fog lay lightly on the Hudson River as I head south toward New York City and then on to Baltimore to visit Lionel and Pierre.  It will be a long weekend; I return on Monday.


It had been my intent to drive but when I woke this morning to predictions of thunderstorms and tornadoes along my route, I opted for the train.

Last night, I sat down to begin a letter and could not find words.  Ennui swept over me and I wandered off to bed, watched an episode of “Grace and Frankie” and fell asleep, waking early to prepare to leave.

Yesterday was my first day as host of the Wednesday version of WGXC’s “Morning Show,” from 9 AM to 11 AM.  The night before, I had a night full of crazy dreams in which I got to the studio on Wednesday morning only to find they had changed all the controls and I had no idea on how to work them.  In another dream, I decided to sleep at the station the night before to make sure that I didn’t miss the program but did anyway.

No psychiatrist is needed to interpret these dreams.

And the program went well; there was much praise from friends and colleagues and I relaxed, thinking I can manage this.  It was fun and for my first guest, I had Alana Hauptman, who owns my beloved “Red Dot.”

Probably no one remembers Texas Guinan anymore; she ran the biggest, best, brassiest, funniest, speakeasy in New York during Prohibition.  She was loved and admired and imitated.  She was known for her big heart and saucy character.  Alana is all of that and is the Texas Guinan of Hudson.  The Red Dot has stood for nineteen years and been an anchor to the town and certainly my world.

There is a slew of people lined up to be guests on the show including the folks who run Bridge Street Theater in Catskill, world premiering a new play shortly and Jeff Cole, who is the CEO of the Center for the Digital Future at USC’s Annenberg School of Communication as well as Howard Bloom, who is a multi-published author and once press agent to every major rock group in the 1970’s and ‘80’s.  And Fayal Greene, who has lived in Hudson for a long time, civically active, and is leaving at the end of the month for Maine, where she and her husband will live in a retirement community near their summer home and many relatives.

The farewell party will, of course, be at the Red Dot.

All of this is very hygge.

And I roll around in the hygge-ness of my life as outside my bubble I am often stupefied by my world.

Politics has never been this raucous in my lifetime and perhaps not this much since the founding of the Republic, which, I understand, was a very raucous time.

As I was getting ready to board the train, Representative Devin Nunes, Chair of the House Intelligence Committee, has now recused himself from the Russian investigation over ethics concerns.

In Syria, eighty plus people, including children, died in an apparent gas attack.  Trump says the incident crossed “a lot of lines for him.”  Tillerson has said that it was undoubtedly Assad’s regime.  Assad is saying bombs ignited a store of gas weapons in the attacked town.  Russia is demanding the US lay out its cards on how to solve the Syrian problem.

This all sounds like a lot like another replay of the last few years, with some new players and no new results.  In the meantime, Syrians continue to suffer; something like five million of them are refugees, many living in squalor with their only drinking water coming from septic tanks causing typhoid and a further circling down into this hell that has been created.

A radio report from a Syrian refugee camp yesterday may have been the cause of last night’s ennui.

Chinese President Xi Jinping is meeting with President Trump at Mar-a-Lago today and tomorrow.  It is a high stakes meeting reports say.  Wide chasms exist in trade with Trump the candidate picking on China through most of the campaign and the Chinese, unlike some Americans, have long memories and play a long game.

If this turns out to be the pivot point for the United States, future historians might look at our tendency to be focused on short term goals as a factor in creating this pivot.

And in this miasma of non-hygge news, is a report that Jeff Bezos, second richest man on the planet, is selling a billion dollars of Amazon stock a year to finance Blue Origin, his space venture.  That makes me smile.  Money at work on building the future.



Letter from Claverack 11/05/2016 All about Hudson…

November 6, 2016

It is fall like but not November fall like.  In Minnesota my brother went to a football game wearing Bermuda shorts; it was 75 degrees there.  In Claverack, it scraped 65 and I was warm in my pullover fleece.

When I left home this morning, I wandered the Farmer’s Market, picking up a few things I craved like the Sea Salt and Onion cashews from Tierra Farms and some of their Free Trade Honduran coffee.  Meandering over to the Red Dot, I had the omelet of the day and then went wandering the streets of Hudson, marching up one side of Warren Street and returning on the other side, an adventure that took me three hours.

There are all kinds of changes on Warren Street and while I have been aware of them, I haven’t walked the street the way I used to when I first arrived here.  Some antique stores are gone and seem to have been replaced by clothing stores.  Several times I thought I could be in SoHo in Manhattan.

A fancy pizzeria has opened and Olde Hudson has expanded beyond belief.  Dena, who owns it, is a friend so I had seen that.

Many of us have been joking lately about the number of expensive cars seen on the street.  Not so long ago I spotted a Ferrari parked on Warren Street as I was on my way to meet Larry Divney for lunch.  We both said it was the beginning of the end.

When I arrived here fifteen years ago there were no expensive cars on the street.  My Acura was an anomaly for the time as was Larry’s Infiniti.

Hudson is becoming a destination.  For better or worse.  Better for my house value but perhaps worse for those who liked the edge Hudson had when I arrived, a little bit of rebelliousness that was a treasure.

The center of it was the Red Dot, owned by Alana Hauptman who is the Texas Guinan of our town.  Don’t know Texas Guinan?  She ran the hottest speakeasies in New York during Prohibition.  After 16 years, the Dot is still here and still a center of life in Hudson.  And Alana is our Texas Guinan.

And walking Warren Street today, I was astounded by the changes.  To think that I would be thinking it was a bit like SoHo, which is where I was living when we bought the house, is something I would never have thought then.  Sometime, long after I am gone, it will be a lot like Provincetown, I suspect.  Or Edgartown on The Vineyard.  It’s becoming that kind of place.

But will never be exactly that kind of place.  That’s what makes Hudson so special.

There were Porsches everywhere on the street today.  When I went back to the Dot after my tour of the street I ran into James Ivory, the director of films like “A Room with a View.”  He’s become a bit of friend,  has been at parties at my home and dinners too, and one Christmas I spent with him at his house.  With Alana…

It has been an interesting escapade to have lived here through all this, to witness the transformation of a community from rough and tumble to almost respectable.  It was and is an artist’s haven, a place where writers and painters and actors gather.

Across the river in Catskill, there is the Bridge Street Theater and I went last week to a performance of “Frankenstein.”  It was brilliant.  And I mean brilliant.  Steven Patterson, who did every role, was as riveting as Paul Scofield [“A Man For All Seasons”] when I saw him in London on my first trip there.  It was a forgettable script but his performance was transcendent.  Steven Patterson’s performance was like that.


John Sowle directed.  Equal kudos to him.

Tonight, I am not talking about politics or world events.  I can’t tonight.  We are at the near end of the most awful political period I have ever experienced.  No matter who wins, the contentiousness will not end.


The creek at night.


Letter From New York 12 17 15 Naughty Hedge Fund Managers to a return of The Force, may it be with you

December 17, 2015

Red Dot.  Alana Hauptman.  Jerimiah Rusconi.  James Ivory.  “A Room with a View”  “Howard’s End”  “Maurice” Putin The Donald Martin Shkreli Enrique Marquez Farook  Malik  US and Cuba flights  Star Wars  May the Force be with you!

Early this morning I came down to the city and will return on the 7:15.  There is a Holiday Party I should attend but will not.  I want to return to the cottage and continue cleaning up from the dinner party I had last night.

Alana, who owns the Red Dot, and her partner, Patrick, were there as well as Jeremiah Rusconi, the premiere consultant for restoring homes in the Hudson Valley, and James Ivory, the directing partner of the Merchant Ivory team that brought us such films as “A Room With a View,” “Maurice” and “Howard’s End.”  He lives at the end of my street and has become by way of a friend.

It was a lovely evening.  Roast duck, scalloped potatoes, creamed pearl onions and peas, carrots and a salted caramel chocolate ganache for dessert.

We talked of movies and politics and local events in the warmth and coziness of the cottage.  Floodlights lit up the creek and holiday lights festooned the front of the house.

Jim and I started the evening with martinis and went on to a chill white Cotes du Rhone.  It was a softly warm evening of good chatter and comradeship, all united by the place where we live.  I treasure nights like that at the cottage.

While we dined and sipped wine, the world was moving on…

Putin has said that The Donald is the absolute leader in the race for the Presidency.  They have formed a mutual admiration society.  Trump wants to get closer to Putin and Putin sees nothing wrong with that. 

While I was waking up this morning to make my way into the city, Federal agents were preparing to arrest Martin Shkreli, the bad boy of pharmaceuticals.  He is famous, or infamous, for upping the price of drug that had sold for $13.50 a pill to $750.00 a pill.  Used to treat people with toxoplasmosis, including those with AIDS, it was a critical component of many folks drug regimen.

Apparently, according to the Feds, he was not a very good boy before that and is charged with fraud and wire transfer conspiracy.  He’d been doing, according to the Feds, a number of naughty things with companies he’s been involved with and lying consistently about the financials of those companies.

I hope it’s all true.

Enrique Marquez, a friend of the San Bernardino shooters, Farook and Malik, was arrested.  He legally obtained the assault weapons used and gave them to the shooters, without going, apparently, through he legal process to transfer firearms.

He converted some years ago to Islam but quite going to his mosque because some members found him “goofy.”  Depending on what charges are filed, he faces some years in prison up to life imprisonment.

The US and Cuba are working out an agreement to allow up to thirty flights a day between the country.  Hello, tourism!

And hello “Star Wars,” which is released tomorrow.  Generally the reviews are really good and say the film harkens back to the first films, which were actually Episodes 4, 5 and 6.

1, 2 and 3 came out much later and while box office successful, were not critically acclaimed and didn’t capture the love of the audience the way the others did.  The magic seems to have returned with this episode, number 7.

I am sure I will see it but not for a bit.  I don’t like crowds and the crowds this weekend with be formidable.  May the Force be with you!

Letter From New York 12 05 15 Winter Walk in Hudson…

December 6, 2015

Hudson, New York.  Winter Walk. The Red Dot. James Linkin.  Mat Tombers. Mathew Tombers. Nutcracker. Columbia County, New York.  Warren Street, Hudson.  Old Chatham Kettle Corn.  Alana Hauptman. Brooklyn North. Hamptons.

It is the first Saturday in December and that means that tonight was Winter Walk in Hudson, an event I have attended faithfully for fourteen years. 

Hudson has one of the most magnificent collections of late 19th Century buildings in the country and each year on the first Saturday in December decks itself out for a winter party. 

Carolers line the streets and sing traditional carols while people in costume meander the street.  Shops decorate themselves for the day and there are probably 30,000 people who show up for the party.

It is Hudson’s kick-off for the Holiday Season.

For me, it reached its culmination when I returned from wandering the streets to go to The Red Dot to meet my friend James Linkin.  You couldn’t move in the place and it was the most festive of the places I had visited.

Alana, proprietress of The Red Dot, goes full tilt every year to transform her establishment to some Christmas theme.  This year may well be the most spectacular she has created.  It was all about The Nutcracker. 

She did an amazing job and it, alone, put me in a festive mood.

It was a local night.  The conversations were about decorative windows and great themes and neighborly conversations.  It was a celebration of local joy.  Tonight was about hometown.  Hudson is the county seat and the heart of Columbia County.

While I don’t live in Hudson it is the center of my life in Columbia County.  It is for almost everyone who lives in the county.  Hudson has a life of its own.

It is the last suburb of New York and the first suburb of Albany.  It has attracted a number of people who are economic refugees from New York, people who are connected to the city and who can no longer afford to live there.

It is a haven for those who are artistic, many are the artists who once made SoHo, SoHo.    

The creative energy that has found itself here that is amazing. 

With humor, people have called this Brooklyn North or SoHo Redux.  And it is true, there is a creative energy that flows through the county that is quite amazing.

The weekenders are people who cannot afford nor want to be in the Hamptons; looking for something that is more tangible and real.  We are also inhabited with those who could afford the Hamptons but don’t want it.

I have been to fourteen successive Winter Walks and each year find something new to wonder at.

Tonight I wandered through almost all of Warren Street while eating some of the best popcorn in the world:  Old Chatham Kettle Corn.  In a kind of popcorn ecstasy I walked the streets, not buying but looking for gifts for the folks on my list for which I have not found the perfect item.

Tonight the trials and the tribulations of the world were far way.  I was in my own place, my own world and allowed myself to be drenched by it.

  It was so good to celebrate my time and my place.

Since parking was impossible I hitched a ride in with young Nick after we had finished our weekend chores.  And I called Riverview Taxi to bring me home. 

Andy, the driver, came into the Red Dot to find me.  He was early and he wanted to be sure he found me and got me into his cab. 

It is the kind of personal touch of small town America that is seeping away in the world of Uber but one that I appreciate as I appreciate my place in this special place.

I’ve witnessed the growth of Hudson, seen it change a bit and know it will change more.  But it is a special place as is this whole county which is my home now.

I am lucky and am lucky enough to know I am lucky.

Letter From New York 11 18 15 Happy Birthday to me…

November 18, 2015

The day started grey; it looks like it will end grey but at lunchtime the world was flooded with sunlight and happiness, the way I was feeling.

Today is my birthday.  I’m a year older and, I think, a year wiser.  It has been an awfully contemplative year this past year.  When I was in high school, I had my “gang” and we’d laugh and say: live quick, die young and have a good looking corpse.

Unfortunately, some did just that but most of have lived on, exiting middle age for the last act, working to shape this phase of our lives with as much care as we worked to shape other periods in our lives, whether we succeeded or not, we attempted.

At 6:00 AM my friend, Nick Stuart, texted me with what he wanted to be my first “Happy Birthday” of the day.  It was.  I went right back to sleep.  Later, up and having my first coffee, another friend, Mary Dickey, called and we chatted, planning a time to see each other.

I’m here for the rest of the week, snuggling into my cottage.  Right now, I’m listening to jazz and looking across the table, out to the creek.  The trees have shed their leaves and the branches claw nakedly to the sky.

It is not the winter of my discontent.  If anything, I am more content than I have been in my life while watching life unfold in its mysterious ways.  Next January, I will be teaching a class, “Media and Society.”  I’m excited.

My friends Jeffrey and Joyce sent me a message today:  I hope today is a reminder of all good things that have and can happen.

And I am reminded of all the good things that have happened and may well still happen.

As I drove through the countryside, my friend Dairo phoned and we’re meeting for a martini in Hudson, a completely unexpected delight.  Alana Hauptmann, proprietress of The Red Dot, phoned me while I was eating at Relish to sing me “Happy Birthday” and to tell me to stop on by as she had a present for me.

My inbox overflows with messages of good wishes on this day.   Every other second it seems, a new Facebook birthday wish pops up.  This is one of the wonderful things about Facebook.  I’ve heard today by phone, text, email and Facebook from at least a 150 people wishing me well, not to mention the snail mail cards I have collected.

I have not paid much attention to the world beyond me today.  I know there have been developments in Paris and I have not followed them. 

It is my birthday and I am allowing myself to be joyful and whimsical and inattentive to the problem’s of the world.  Time enough tomorrow.

Happy Birthday to me!

Letter From New York 06 14 15 Celebrations of democracy on two sides of the Atlantic….

June 14, 2015

Today is June 14th, Flag Day, a holiday I must say I never paid much attention to before moving to Columbia County. On June 14, 1777, the Second Continental Congress passed a flag resolution. It stated: Resolved, That the flag of the United States be thirteen stripes, alternate red and white, the union be thirteen stars, white in a blue field, representing a new Constellation.

In 1949, Congress made it official.

Hudson, the County Seat for Columbia County, takes Flag Day VERY seriously; the day outstrips the 4th of July in celebrations. The parade is bigger than the 4th’s and Flag Day fireworks are much more spectacular than those on the 4th.

Apparently, it started with The Elks. They made it mandatory to celebrate Flag Day for their members in 1908 and the Hudson Elks started marching down the main drag, Warren Street, along with the high school marching band and a few others.

It is interesting to note that when Congress made the day official in 1949, Harry Truman was President, and he was an Elk.

In 1996, the Hudson Elks opened the parade to the whole county and it has soared since then.

Every year I go to the Red Dot, have my brunch, and watch from outside the restaurant as every fire truck in the County seems to wheel down the street. Most years, the Caballeros, from New Jersey, musically march down Warren Street in white and black with red scarves and sombreros.   They’re an annual hit. Alana, the Red Dot’s proprietress, hails from the same Jersey city they do and she relishes their presence. She followed them down the street yesterday, blessing them with the soap bubble gun she had me go out and buy for her.

Children dance and cheer and wave flags their parents have bought them from vendors plying Warren Street. It was a picture postcard perfect day yesterday and it was a picture postcard event. Hudson is a town of about 8,000 and 10 to 12 thousand jam into the city for the parade and the evening’s fireworks.

I was not in town for the fireworks, having invited friends for a barbecue last night.

Today is a lazy afternoon of finishing putting the house back in order. Right now, I am seated on the deck, staring down onto the creek, gently flowing down into the pond. The overhanging trees are reflected off the mirror like water, so that all in front of me is a riot of green. Birds are chirping on the other side of the creek and overhead is the muted roar of a plane flying south from the little Columbia County Airport due north of me. All is peaceful in my little world. When I have finished this, I will start “Scoop” by Evelyn Waugh, recommended to me by my friend, Nick Stuart.

It is a lovely afternoon in Columbia County, sitting on the deck, sipping water and tapping on my laptop.

The world, of course, is not peaceful but it feels so far away when I am here.

While Columbia County has been celebrating Flag Day with a weekend of festivities, Britain has been celebrating that tomorrow is the official 800th Anniversary of The Magna Carta, the document that established the King was not above the law but subject to it. It is the foundation upon which democracy has risen.

King John signed it at Runnymede and tomorrow the Queen will be there, hosting a celebration, which will include thousands of people. There have been jousting matches and re-enactments of carrying the document down the Thames to London by barge, 800 years ago.

A thirteen-foot tall statue of Queen Elizabeth II was unveiled yesterday at Runnymede to mark the occasion.

While Britain is in the throes of its Magna Carta celebration, Talha Asmal, a young British citizen from Dewsbury, blew himself up in Iraq, becoming the youngest known British suicide bomber. He was just seventeen. He had run away and joined IS in March.

Sudan’s President, Bashir, was in South Africa for a meeting of the African Union. South Africa ordered him not to leave the country because he is wanted on charges of genocide at Darfur. However, as I write, it appears he may have slipped out of South Africa and is on his way back to Khartoum.

IS has created “flirt squads” to unmask gay men so they can throw them from rooftops.

Once I flirted with the idea of going to the Middle East, it seemed exotic and wonderful. Now I am afraid of thinking about going there.

I will treasure my afternoon, on the creek, listening to the sounds of my woods and watching the mirror like creek reflect the trees.

Letter From New York 04 06 15 Back in the US of A…

April 7, 2015

Late last night I arrived back in New York and pulled up to my apartment building 24.5 hours after I had left the India Habitat Center, buttressed by a few hours sleep and some good service on the flights home. I did a few things of straightening up and then slipped into bed, awaking just a few hours later but then I slipped back to sleep and managed to clock near eleven hours.

As I drove through New York toward the apartment I was struck by both the familiarity of the skyline and how alien it seemed to me, as if it had been centuries since I had last seen it.

It was a familiar route, one I had traveled often in the last years, going from JFK to the apartment. Yet, somehow, it felt different this time. As if I was approaching it from a long way off, as, indeed, I was.

George, the doorman, helped me in with my luggage.

Waking at six, I rolled over and went back to sleep until 11:15 and then got up to have lunch with Nick Stuart at Le Monde, one of our haunts.

It was a great introduction back into the Western world.

After lunch, I went back to the apartment, gathered my things together and went north with my good friends, Lionel and Pierre, who were returning from a visit to their New York vet before leaving for Baltimore. They wanted Marcel, their dog, to have a final looking over before they left.

In the meantime, I’ve had little contact with the outside world and its events.

I could go on in this blissful ignorance but choose not too.

However, there seems to be little of great consequence happening in the news – and for that I am grateful. Too often I look at the news and see word of some great slaughter somewhere.

Today, we have Rolling Stone magazine caught in a scandal of bad reporting on a Virginia rape case. Reporters won’t be sanctioned but lawsuits are being prepared.

Last week, as reported, Misao Okawa passed away, having held the crown for being the world’s oldest person. The crown then passed to an Arkansas woman, Gertrude Weaver, who passed away today.

It’s been a bad week for living old.

In not a bad week for some. McDonald’s is raising its basic wage though not enough to stifle the protests of many. Starbucks is offering college tuition to its employees though I can’t tell you many details, as the story seems frozen on my computer.

Kenya has struck back at al-Shabaab in an air attack on two of their strongholds, following the deadly attack on students at University in Garissa.

So the violence goes on, while I sit at my laptop putting together the day’s events, even as I attempt to manage my jet lag.

Arriving in Claverack, Lionel, Pierre and I went to the Red Dot. Alana, the proprietress, was genuinely glad to see me and I was genuinely glad to see her.

It amazes me that I am still alive after my Indian road adventures. I thought, for sure, I would be road kill on one of those trips across India by car. But I am here, alive, and better for the journey.

It is 11:30 at night in Claverack. In India it is 9:00 in the morning.

I am sure that soon my body will catch up with my time zone.