Posts Tagged ‘Warren Street’

Letter From Claverack 07 07 2017 Musings on being home…

July 8, 2017

As I begin writing, it is twilight at the cottage.  The day began damp and grey, changing mid-day to blue and lovely.  Sitting on the deck, the torches burn to ward off mosquitoes and to give a sense of atmosphere.  It is lovely.

Of course, as soon as I typed those words, I felt the first of the raindrops and had to scutter back into the cottage.

Out there in the world, momentous things have been happening.  Trump and Putin met for the first time. Trump:  It’s an honor.  Putin: ?

It’s certain we will be hearing the parsing of the meeting for days to come.  They talked election tampering.  Putin: we didn’t.  Trump: okay. [At least according to some early reports.]  No agreement on Crimea.   Not expected.

We are to agree on a ceasefire in southwest Syria.  Good for everyone if it holds.

In Washington, Mitch McConnell faces the daunting task of passing the Republican version of healthcare legislation.  It seems to be the single most unpopular piece of legislation of the last thirty years.

Over the weekend, I listened to some interviews with people from around the country who were absolutely opposed to Obamacare and absolutely loved the ACA, not realizing they are one and the same.  It left me shaking my head in amazement and then, why should I be amazed?  We, on both sides of the fence, don’t always analyze and we just react, ideologically, and that seems to be on the increase.

In a bright moment in the world, Malala Yousafzai, a young woman targeted by terrorists, terribly wounded, and who miraculously clawed her way back, graduated from high school today.  She is also a Nobel Peace laureate. She celebrated graduation by tweeting her first tweet.

Amazing human being…

Closer to home, Etsy has cut its workforce by 15% and I wonder how that is going to affect the offices on Columbia Street in Hudson.  While that is happening, the stock has been upgraded to a buy by some brokers.

It’s interesting to me to walk down Warren Street and see all the businesses that are there that weren’t when I came and to see the ones that are still here, still pulling along.  One of my favorites is Carousel, next to the CVS on Warren.  One of my friends collects mid-century hammered aluminum pieces and I go in there and sometimes find things for her.

The Red Dot has been here since I arrived and I remember the transition of Brandow’s to Swoon Kitchen Bar.  Seems Ca’Mea has always been there since I arrived, though I am not sure about that.  That’s a little foggy.

It’s been interesting to watch all of this.  The cottage has been my home longer than any place I have lived, including the home I grew up in.  That’s sobering.  That’s rooting.  I like the sense of roots I have created here.

Yesterday, I had my car serviced at Kinderhook Toyota and ran into someone I knew.  At the Red Dot, I am always running into people I know.  Same for Ca’Mea.  It’s wonderful to go into places and be known or to know people there.

The places I’ve lived are many:  Minneapolis, Toronto, Carbondale, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Washington, DC, Eugene, OR, New York City and now Claverack.  The places I have visited seem innumerable. They’re not but…

Of all those places, including my hometown of Minneapolis, the only place that has felt like home is here.

And I am enormously grateful for that.  It is sweet and satisfying and that is how, I think, it should be as I enter this third act of my life.

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 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 the Train 08 31 15 Ruminating about a long good weekend…

August 31, 2015

This morning, I sat on the deck, looking over the creek, fog wafted through the little valley in which the creek lies. The sun was hidden in the haze; the effect was magical. I read the New York Times and from the BBC app.

For the last three days, I have not written, wanting a little perspective on my world. I worked on my Emmy judging and my CINE Golden Eagle judging.

I strolled down Warren, noticing the new shops and old ones that seemed flourishing. As I walked, I exchanged nods with a few people who I knew by sight. It was a pleasant, warm evening, not too hot.

Arriving at the Dot I visited with friends there after perusing the new Rivertown Lodge opening on Warren Street, extending the gentrification of Hudson eastward.

This weekend was “The Travers,” a $1.25 million dollar purse at Saratoga. American Pharaoh was running, winner of the Triple Crown this year. That night, the word among aficionados of horse racing was that if any horse could beat American Pharaoh, it would be Keen Ice. And he did.

Saturday was running errands while Nick and his younger brother Mikey restacked the woodpiles and got the fountain working.

Saturday afternoon was spent on the deck and the evening watching movies. Up early on Sunday, I did all kinds of backlogged paperwork and stopped my desk from overflowing.

Sunday I lunched with my friend Alicia at Passing the Thyme, a little Kinderhook café that is closing in September. Alicia and I made plans to go there the final day. She goes frequently; this was my first time, to my regret.

Next to it is the Columbia County Museum. I was surprised to discover there was a County Museum and will go back soon to see what it contains.

They were good and mellow days, wandering the back roads of Columbia County, cornfields ready for harvesting, green fields that seemed to go on forever, people out on their decks or working in their yards. Rural America toward the end of a lazy summer, it was gloriously simple.

This morning I took paperwork to Columbia Greene Community College. If there are enough students I may teach a class this fall. Whenever I get the chance, I’m looking forward to it.

Of course, while I was relaxing in the simplicity of the country, the rest of the world was wrestling with all varieties of tumult.

IS used dynamite on another temple in Palmyra, this one built in 32 AD, to the god Baal. There is no consensus on whether it has survived or not.

More migrants drowned off the Libyan coast and 71 were found dead in a truck in Austria. The sense of crisis is growing all over Europe, a continent that feels on the verge of being overwhelmed by refugees.

The Greeks have called new elections. Trump is still leading the Republicans. In Iowa, two thirds of Republicans want a President from outside the government.   Hillary’s email debacle percolates all around her, a reality she is working her best to ignore.

Kyle Jean-Baptiste, a 21-year-old African American, the first black man to play Jean Valjean in “Les Miserables” on Broadway, died when he fell from a fire escape where he had been sitting with a friend. It is said he had an amazing voice; he was scheduled to be in the new production of “A Color Purple.” His death, so young, reminds me of the fickleness of life.

That fickleness of life seems remote during times like this past weekend when time seemed to stretch on endlessly and pleasantly.

My train, ninety minutes late, is roaring down the track, doing its best to make up lost time. I may make the dentist on time, after all.

Letter From New York June 20, 2015 Of Pride Parades and Barbecues…

June 20, 2015

Yesterday, I started but didn’t finish my Letter. I was still writing when it came time to go to dinner and when I returned home from dinner my friend Lionel was here, sharing our traditional “cleansing vodka” before retiring. We got that name from a friend of mine’s grandmother, who would never go to bed until she’d had her “cleansing vodka.”

It is Pride weekend in Hudson, a tradition started just a few years ago here. The day began grey and overcast but at this moment, the sun has broken through with shadows and light playing across the deck, outside the dining room, where I am writing.

Today there will be, of course, a parade down Warren Street, which I will watch in my usual spot outside the Red Dot. In the evening my friend Matthew Morse will be hosting a barbecue at his house. The day is shaping up to be a pleasant Saturday.

Wikileaks had a very busy day yesterday.

They posted on their website 200,000 more Sony documents from the now infamous Sony hacking incident. And they began yesterday to release something like a half million documents from the Saudi government. Plus, yesterday, Julian Assange, founder of Wikileaks, celebrated his third anniversary holed up in the Ecuadorian Embassy in London.

Busy, busy, busy…

Not so busy as he was, Prince Harry, the playboy Prince, has left his career in the Armed Forces and is returning to civilian life. He will spend the summer working on conservation projects in southern Africa, where his foundation is based.

Dylann Storm Roof, the young man who allegedly shot to death nine people in Charleston, South Carolina, at a historic Black church, was arraigned to stand trial for nine murders. In court, via video link, families of the dead told him how they felt. At least one family told him that they forgave him.

A long time NRA Board Member, Charles Cotton, posted comments on a website, blaming the Pastor of the Church for the slaughter because he was for gun control. Pastor Pinckney was one of the victims. The comments have since been taken down and Mr. Cotton has been unavailable to reporters.

In Colorado, the prosecutors in the case against James Holmes, on trial for the death of 12 people in the Aurora Theater massacre, have rested their case. It is now the defense team’s turn.

In Oklahoma, Chancey Allen Luna, was sentenced to life in prison for the death of an Australian baseball player attending school in Oklahoma. Christopher Lane was shot in the back while out jogging. At one point, Chancey told police he did it because he was bored.

It is not news that Republicans want to repeal Obamacare. Who knows? They might get their way but if they do, there will be a cost. If they use an accounting method preferred by the GOP, it will cost about $130 billion. Using the Congressional Budget Office’s normal methodology, the cost is almost triple that. Hmmmm.

There has been a possible sighting of the two escaped murderers, Richard Matt and David Sweat, down near the Pennsylvania border. If true, it means they have covered a lot of territory since their escape, 15 days ago. They are on the “Most Wanted” list and there is a $50,000 reward for information leading to their arrest.

On June 19th, 1865, in Galveston, Texas, slaves were informed they had been freed by the Emancipation Act more that two years before. It has become known as Juneteenth, a holiday to celebrate liberation and empowerment for African-Americans. The statement made by Obama yesterday acknowledged the day and referenced the sorrow and mourning that marks the death of the Charleston Nine. We live in a world in which racism and bigotry are still very much alive.

In Australia, a straight married couple has pledged to divorce if same sex marriage comes to Down Under. A wag started a Facebook page asking people to pledge to party if they do divorce. 175,000 have joined the page and pledged to party hardy if the couple divorce, both straight and gay are represented.

Ah, the sun has slipped back behind the clouds and the land has turned a shade of grey again. Soon, I will go off to the Parade and then my barbecue. Hope your day is as pleasant as mine promises to be.

Letter From New York 01 16 15 Settling into a winter evening…

January 16, 2015

The setting sun is casting golden slashes of light across my snow-covered drive. The day is ending, a little later than yesterday. The days are growing slightly longer and I can see it, here at my desk, working, caught here almost every night about the time the sun begins to set. The cold-water faucet in my kitchen is set to drip continuously as a way to keep it from freezing again. The temperature tonight will fall again into negative territory, a sure danger place for the kitchen pipes.

While the temperature rose into the mid-20’s today, it felt much colder. That troublesome wind chill factor…

When I drove down into Hudson on an errand earlier, I found that Warren Street, which usually starts coming alive on Friday afternoons, was pretty deserted – people probably staying huddled in, as I have been doing. The Franklin Stove is helping warm the cottage; I have gone through most of the wood I have in the house and will have to haul in more tomorrow. For a while, big, puffy flakes of snow fell and I thought we might be in for a good snowfall but they didn’t last long and the forecast is for a chill but dry day tomorrow.

My work today was to edit some pages on my website and that I did, with more work to go. I have left my website go fallow these past months as I was doing a long consulting assignment. Have to spruce them up to reflect what I have been doing recently.

While I have been doing that, there was another hostage situation in Paris at a post office. No word yet that it was terror related or not. Cameron and Obama today announced they would take on the “poisonous ideology” of radical Islam. The Paris attacks against Charlie Hebdo have accelerated and focused the attention of governments.

Late this afternoon, while I was out doing my errands, SCOTUS [Supreme Court of the United States] determined it would take on gay marriage. The world will watch. 70% of Americans now live in states where gay marriage is sanctioned. Something I never expected in my lifetime. I doubt anyone expected it would happen as quickly as it has over the last few years.

We live in an interesting world in which some rights, like gay marriage, are expanding while privacy is whittled away. In many ways, we are giving it up ourselves. Is there anything Facebook doesn’t know about us or that we haven’t confessed on Facebook? I’ve read some of the posts from my friends’ children and I wince. They admit things I wouldn’t publicly admit even now. It’s stunning how much I know about some of them, much which I don’t think I need to know. But they are of an age when they have no qualms about surrendering this kind of information. I don’t know whether to admire them or not but certainly I note their audacity.

Soft jazz plays in the background, a playful counterpoint to the encroaching evening. And while I listen to the jazz I peruse the news, which is interesting.

Elon Musk has committed ten million dollars to help stop a robot uprising in the future. Many leading thinkers and movers are getting nervous about the rise of AI and want to stop a “Terminator” scenario. I signed on online petition about it yesterday. God forbid an Arnold Schwarzenegger coming back from the future! He’s frightening enough as is.

And speaking of science fiction sorts of things, my favorite news posting of the day was from the International Space Station. Recently, there was an ammonia leak that forced everyone to get together in one module while the trouble was sorted out. While they were there, footage surfaced of a UFO flying by the space station. What it was, I don’t know. CBS aired it. Now you know about it.

Love stuff like that. So while UFO believers and doubters debate the footage, I am going to go add another log to my fire and curl up for a quiet evening in the country. Dinner with friends at their house and then some Netflix or Amazon Prime after.

A good evening, I’d say.

Letter From New York Saturday, November 29, 2014

November 29, 2014

It is mid-afternoon yet the light is already fading here in Claverack; a pearl grey sky dominates the horizon. With the surfeit of snow, the view looks almost like a black and white photo. Branches, weighted down with snow, curl toward the earth all around me.

It is the Saturday following Thanksgiving, that long and lovely weekend of feasting and shopping. At least I heard no reports this year of crowds trampling each other into the linoleum. It has been mostly peaceful on the shopping front I think. There is nothing that says “Happy Holidays” more than a riot at Walmart. They opened Thanksgiving afternoon in an effort to let some steam out of the system so as to avoid the unpleasantness of previous years.

Today I passed their parking lot and it wasn’t full. I’m hoping that it was impossible to find a parking spot on Warren Street down in Hudson. It’s Small Business Saturday and Warren Street is crammed with small businesses. I will go there during the week this week to do some shopping.

I’m afraid I have no great need to plunge into the ritual of Black Friday or the counter movement of Small Business Saturday. I avoid all of those things. However, I am not immune to Cyber Monday. Amazon started its Cyber Monday Sale yesterday, or the day before or perhaps it has always been going on…

I confess that today I ventured online and ordered something for young Alicia, the three-year-old daughter of young Nick who works with me keeping the cottage running smoothly. She is enamored [as are so many] with FROZEN so I got her one of the hundreds of FROZEN items for sale on Amazon. So convenient. For a small fee, it will arrive wrapped. Because I am an Amazon Prime member it will come in two days, ready for the Christmas tree, which glows in the other room.

This is, perhaps my favorite weekend of the year, partly because I don’t push myself into the shopping frenzy at Walmart or Warren Street or the Cross Gate Mall up in Albany. I cozy up in the cottage and recover from my tryptophan hangover and concentrate on decorating for Christmas.

It is four o’clock as I write this and a family of deer has just crossed my yard; they seem to do so about this time every day. It causes me, in these quiet moments, to feel centered, in some kind of harmony with the larger world, aware that nature still runs wild in places and one of those places is my cottage by Claverack Creek.

From my desk, I look out the window to nothing but snow covered trees as far as I can see. My road is quiet and it seems a gentle world, far from the strum und drang of the city.

Twilight arrives. I got to prepare dinner for friends. I rejoice in the peace.

Letter From New York August 10, 2010

August 10, 2010

Or, as it seems to me…

The past weekend was one of indolence for me. Friday evening when I returned to the cottage, the air was clean and crisp, perfectly balanced in temperature. I threw open all the windows and allowed the air to flow through, a soft wind billowing in the scent of the woods and the creek from below the cottage. I watched a bit of television, read more of Sherlock Holmes, this time off the iPad, on loan from the office. I slept a deep, clear sleep, waking early and rolling over to once again surrender to Morpheus.

As sleep found me on Friday night, I determined to let the weekend be a small vacation. It had been a harried week. The mobile app had launched on Droid but we still wait for iPhone and Blackberry approval. There had been a meeting of channel editors, from all over the country, churning through ideas, one after another for the future. So when morning came on Saturday, a day stretched in front of me with no commitments other than the whim of the moment. I did a few things around the house, stopped at the dry cleaners on my way to town, picked up the weekend papers and settled in to a long leisurely brunch at the Red Dot, lingering in the lovely garden, warming in the sun, reading of the events of the world from which I felt far removed, safely, for a moment, insulated and protected.

It was an illusion, of course, but one I immersed myself in – for a moment wanting to be like friends who have ceased reading newspapers or scanning news websites or listening to anything but music on radio or net. I am not that person though and I found myself deep in the New York Times and my current edition of The Week, seeking some illumination in the words on paper, seeking to understand the ebb and flow of the violence that wracks the world we inhabit, seeking in that sun kissed garden the reason why one person would strap explosives on and then go detonate themselves in the middle of a crowd of strangers. Suicide is at least somewhat comprehensible, mass murder is not.

Deep out in the once pristine waters of the Gulf of Mexico, it appeared BP had staunched the leaking well. I swished flies away as I sat lazily on the teak bench on the patio, thinking about the rapacious need for oil that has resulted in our digging deeper and deeper in every accessible [and almost inaccessible] spot on earth to keep our machines rolling, wondering, lazily, why we have waited so long to seek alternatives? Perhaps because we are as lazy as I was Saturday afternoon, content to let things be than to expend energy to make changes? Do we, like the Louis XV, sit in our gardens and shrug, “Après moi, le deluge…”

And now that the well has been capped and it appears that ecological damage is less than feared, our collective media attention seems to be drifting away from the Gulf and on to…what? We wait to see what new events the digital throngs will next flock to follow, praising or bemoaning. On Saturday, I was only curious. There was nothing on the horizon that seemed the next frenzy in waiting. We have not excited ourselves about Pakistan’s floods or China’s landslides.

It seems the way we live, from frenzy to frenzy. But frenzy seemed far away this past bucolic weekend, devoted to laziness and indolence. From the Dot I wandered Warren Street, sat with friends in their shops and discussed the summer heat and the pleasant relief the day was giving. I lingered at Olde Hudson, the perfect place for cheeses, pastas, wonderful meats and fishes and took in the steady stream of shoppers, stocking up for a lovely summer evening and when I finally went home, I slipped between the cotton sheets and once again felt the soft summer embrace of my little world, far away, for the moment, from all the madness that makes the world so often threatening, preventing us, at times, from the lazy glory that is around us some of the time, at least.