Issue for Gov. Spitzer to Hang His Hat On
reform, or as Sen. Joseph Bruno calls it, “millionaire re-election
campaign,” was one of those issues that Gov. Eliot Spitzer campaigned
on, and it was one of the issues that invigorated his supporters.
If implemented properly (and there are plenty of examples nationwide),
campaign-finance reform could lead to some heavy-duty reform here
in Albany. So far, it looks as though the governor isn’t backing
down, no matter how the senator spins it. Here’s to the steamroller
for sticking to his guns.
can’t say whether or not Troy’s Harry Tutunjian is a good mayor—that’s
for Troy to decide in November—but we can say that he certainly
is a creative tinkerer. Lamps made from exhaust pipes and couches
made from vintage bench seats are just some of the artwork the dapper
mayor exhibits from time to time. Marveling at his auto-inspired
artwork and calculating the time these wacky creations must have
taken, we are left to wonder: Doesn’t this guy have a city to run?
Mayor (Bon Vivant Pearl Street)
is unlikely that any one man knows the smooth countertops of Pearl
Street’s bars more intimately than Albany Mayor Jerry Jennings.
We are told you might find Jennings inspecting the floors at Blue
82, perched on a stool at Envy or checking the stock at the Pearl
on any given weekday. Heck, he even shut down the street to traffic
for a while to make sure things stayed tidy.
Spitzer vs. Joe Bruno
the Effing Steamroller vs. the Wily Old Boxer. Newly elected New
York Gov. Spitzer seemed to think he could just roll over Senate
Majority Leader Bruno. Yes, the governor earned a mandate with his
crushing electoral victory, but he should have been around Albany
long enough to know that legislative leaders can be bullied only
so far—they have too much power to steamroll. So when Spitzer tried
to bring the smackdown to Bruno, the former pugilist turned out
to have not a glass jaw, but an iron fist. Spitzer may win the fight
in the long run, especially if a couple of Republican state senators
are knocked out in the 2008 election, but all of the recent rounds
have gone to Uncle Joe.
Place to Talk To Your Congressperson
Your Local Grocery Store
Last year we got to pick “Best Place to Drink With Your Congressman,”
and it just so happened to be at a Union frat house. We feel much
better to be able to inform residents of the 20th District that
if they have issues with their Congressperson this year, they can
speak to her face to face thanks to a thorough open-door policy,
a series of town-hall meetings, and Congress on Your Corner events
that see Gillibrand out and among her constituents. We can’t tell
you where you might go to get a drink with Gillibrand; we doubt
she has time for a drink. Where can you drink with your former
congressman? That we can tell you.
Thorn in Jerry Jennings’ Side
Common Councilman Dominick Calsolaro will not be denied. Calsolaro
has been unrelenting with his criticism of the Albany Convention
Center, and his press for a citywide gun violence task force. No
other council person dares to press the issues as hard as Calsolaro,
and even when faced with a brick wall in the form of opposition
from City Hall, he doesn’t wither. As a result, Calsolaro has steadily
become one of Albany’s most popular politicians.
Way to Hijack an Issue and/or Bury It
that the citizenry are chattering about change? Are they pressing
hard to have public-access TV or do they want to see the legislative
body have more power? The answer: Create a committee, appoint your
friends—those who are indebted to you—and let them think about it
for a good long time—long enough so that hopefully everyone will
forget why you formed a committee in the first place.
Soares and Andrew Cuomo
isn’t quite clear whether the Albany DA and the state AG are a power
couple or a powerfully odd couple, but one thing is for sure; Soares
and Cuomo are both ambitious. With politicians from around the state
banging on their doors for them to investigate alleged misdeeds,
it is certain they will both have their time in the limelight and
possibly bust some corrupt heads in the process. Has anyone started
making up those Cuomo/Soares 2018 buttons yet?
Politician Turned Superhero
doesn’t leap over buildings in a single bound, as far as we know,
but Kirsten Gillibrand does leap from cars to save wayward puppies.
According to the Post Star (whose bloggership has already
deemed Gillibrand “Wonder Woman”), during a recent phone interview
with Gillibrand, she paused the conversation for a moment to rescue
a dog that had fallen out of the window of the car that was stopped
at a traffic light in front of her. And this wasn’t on any old country
road, no, this was on Wolf Road in Albany. We hope Gillibrand decides
soon to move past the puppy-saving beat and on to the super-villain-thrashing
side of having superpowers. *Boff!* Take that Cheney! *Biff!* There
is no escape now, Bushy! *Ka-pow!*
Assemblyman John “Jack” McEneny
is likely the only time you will see Jack McEneny compared to a
bunny, but it is a necessary evil. You see, this man just goes nonstop.
A health problem that would have sidelined lesser men for weeks
barely had him away from his duties. He even took a call from one
of our hard-working interns while at his doctor’s office. Day or
night, McEneny is always on call.
years Morgenbesser has catalogued media reports of gun violence
in the city of Albany. And while the simple task for gathering these
reports may not be terribly complicated, Morgenbesser has made people
pay attention to an issue that some city officials would seem inclined
to sweep under the rug.
Place to Get the Bad Guys
the end of 2006, David Soares was riding high on his successful
plea bargaining of the Hevesi case. In 2007 he followed that up
by . . . going to Florida to prosecute a steroids ring. While Soares’
steroid-busting initiative may be all well and good, it did nothing
for the perception among certain local groups that Soares is focused
on making headlines rather than making a dent in local crime.
Place to Have a Municipal Credit Card
the constraints on using city credit cards in Hudson were loose
enough to include dry cleaning and signing up for a dating service.
don’t know yet whether what she alleged is true. But what we do
know is that Regan has caused a whole helluva lot of discomfort
for some Rensselaer County politicos. As the initiator of Tanyagate
(which involves juicy allegations of election-year skullduggery,
sexual intimidation, and all-around corruption), she has raised
anger over a perceived “Legislature run amok” to a fever pitch in
Rensselaer and even drawn the attention of Albany’s District Attorney,
David Soares, in the way of special prosecutor. The betting man
puts his money on heads rolling out of Rensselaer Republican offices
sometime this year.
Way To Get Your Street Paved in Albany
year the Albany Common Council commissioned a study of Albany roads
to access which of Albany’s thoroughfares were in most need of repair.
The answer? Mostly the ones where the poor people live.
Way To Make Poor Design Worse (Tie)
Latham Circle Mall
Neither mall has been the premier mall in the area for some time.
Yet, the owners of both malls seem to have the same idea about how
to change their fortunes. They want to add more outdoor dining and
exclusive stores, and make their malls more like strip-mall plazas
where customers drive from store entrance to store entrance. In
fact, Colonie Center moved its bus stop away from the building,
apparently to make outdoor dining more pleasant. We can’t wait to
enjoy our defrosted mall meal while taking in the enchanting parking-lot
views, that asphalt smell, and the sure-to-be-increased roar of
Park: Central Park.
PHOTO: martin Benjamin
Park (all access)
We have many lovely parks, but we had to pick one, and Central Park
just has so much to offer: tennis courts, playing fields, a kids’
playgound, a music stage, ice skating in the winter, lots of open
spaces and trails, and paddleboats. Love those paddleboats.
Park (restricted access)
A full block sitting in the middle of Troy’s ritzy Washington Park
neighborhood, this private, gated vanity park is well-maintained
and luscious. But on busy days, you’ll still only see the random,
lonely human pretending to read or a couple of birds swooping down
to peck at worms. Most days, it just sits empty. In such a compact,
urban setting like Troy, it’s a real shame to see such a great park
go to waste.
Airport to Bring a Bomb to
guys. We know you have a tough job. Seriously. But you take
the bottle of water and leave the fake bomb? That’s. . .
. Oh, what’s the word? Scary.
State Route 9L, Lake George
Wiawaka is a gem of a place situated on the shores of Lake George.
Founded in 1903 by progressive women’s rights activist Mary Fuller,
Wiawaka was created to give women an affordable respite from work
and life, and to provide a place for them to bond with nature and
each other. Under the guidance of executive director Wendy Littlefield,
Wiawaka Holiday House remains true to its mission today.
Reason to Visit Coxsackie
of the indoor megaplex, its pumped-in oxygen, the screaming pre-teens,
and the fact that you actually have to get out of your car to watch
a movie? The Hi-Way Drive-In provides megaplex movies in double
billings that will satisfy any movie fanatic. Looking for some summer
action? Nothing will ever likely beat the pairing of Transformers
and Live Free or Die Hard. But if action is not your to your
liking, there’s likely something else playing, seeing that the theater
features three screens with two flicks apiece.
Evidence of Tech Valley
notion hit us while we waited in a theater in Crossgates mall for
the Transformers preview screening: “We’re surrounded
by dorks!” And we mean dorks in the coolest way possible. The
guys in the row next to us had worked on the Transformers
video game. (We’re so jealous!)
The folks in the row in front of us were also in the video-game
industry and were discussing the celebrities they had worked with.
Then only days later while at Stuyvesant Plaza we encountered the
King of Dorks as he enjoyed a drink in his designer shades and jeans.
He hopped into an open-topped Ferrari, gunned the engine and sped
by us as we imagined all the babeage that car could secure us. We
caught his license plate before the exhaust stream could obscure
it. It read: Dr. Nano.
has it that J.C. Glindmeyer, owner of Albany’s Earthworld Comics,
is the living inspiration behind the Simpsons’ Comic Book
Guy character. J.C. is the Capitol Region’s resident expert on all
things comic book and is regularly featured on popular comic-book
Web sites as an expert pundit. Besides his comic book knowledge,
J.C. is renowned for his Comic Book Guyesque sarcasm, dry kiss-offs
and geek elitism.
Use of Sand
Nanotech recently donated 300,000 pounds of sand to the Albany Pine
Bush Preserve. This will help the good folks who manage the preserve
to begin to restore the formerly massive sand dunes that made up
part of the landscape before being mined for numerous area construction
projects. This will, in turn, make life more hospitable to the native
plant and animal species. Most of us—well, all of us, except for
one editor—have no freaking idea what in the hell Albany Nanotech
does, but we’re all grateful to them for helping the Pine Bush.
wonderful, under-traveled state highway winds its way along the
Hudson River from Rensselaer to the outskirts of Hudson. It’s deceptively
pleasing, because, for most of the way, there’s nothing but wetlands,
farms, glimpses of the river and the Amtrak mainline to New York
City. Little towns spring up, as if out of nowhere; tight curves
appear just often enough to keep you at an honest speed; and finally,
as, you near the city of Hudson, the road ascends, and, depending
on the time of year, affords majestic views.
Pool: Peerless Pool.
PHOTO: Leif Zurmuhlen
Spa State Park
You park your car in the big lot, you wind your way through the
WPA-era brick-walled maze of entryways and locker rooms, and you
reemerge into the bright sunlight to discover that Peerless Pool
is . . . HUGE! Like football-stadium huge! And it slopes up at one
entire end so you can wade in! And there’s a kiddie pool!
And two huge corkscrew slides that you can race your friends down!
Or race your kids down (they’ll win)! All this, and you can swim
laps too, if that’s your idea of fun. OK, should I swim laps, or
. . . Last one down’s a rotten egg!
Golf Course (Public)
Creek Golf Club
Dunnsville Road, Altamont
This course has finally grown into a real golfers’ golf course.
Decent length, tough par-threes, water hazards on at least 13 holes,
and the greens. . . . Oh, those greens. Some of the greens are like
postage stamps and others are like football fields, multi-tiered
and fast, like concrete. One of the most simple and best amenities
is the scorecard—it doesn’t sound like much, but it’s important.
The detailing of each hole is very useful to the novice and the
low handicapper. Other local courses should take note: It’s an inexpensive
investment to inform players and to keep play moving. However, do
have one criticism: The cart paths are atrocious. A little gravel
or macadam would help.
Golf Course (Private)
Union St., Schenectady
The perennial winner in this category. There are many great private
courses in the Capital Region, but when the pros come to town for
their annual skins game, this is where they play. As you drive toward
the stately clubhouse, you know you entered a real hard-core golf
palace. The differences between public and private golf courses
are many, but the most noticeable are the amenities, and this place
is loaded with the little things that make a big difference. The
course layout is lengthy and narrow, and to score well, you must
manage shots and the greens. Good luck!
Golf Course (Public That Plays Private)
National Golf Course
Union Ave., Saratoga Springs
In Saratoga, horses run on a track; golfers play on a track. Horses
get treated like royalty; golfers get to play on a course fit for
a king. Horses get tons of money bet on them, golfers bet tons of
money. This $100-plus round of golf (prices vary based on the day)
is well worth the price of admission. Get out and play it now, because
after next week, this track will be packed and you’ll have to wait
till September. Wetlands and water hazards in play on all 18 holes,
and enough sand traps to start a public beach, and the greens? Well,
let’s just say, we spent a little extra time testing the greens.
This course is a must-play for any avid golfer
George being as kitschy and theme-oriented as it is, it’s no surprise
that the many mini-golf courses here have names like Pirates Cove,
Lumberjack Pass and Around the World. And they’re just so much fun.
So pack up the minivan, get your family a couple of rooms at the
motor inn, bring your swimsuits and sunscreen, and build your weekend
around a mini-golf tournament. And stop fighting over the orange
ball—you can have orange next round.
New Loudon Road, Latham
With themes based on medieval fantastical tales, The Knight’s Tale
Mini-Golf course provides an imaginative, fun backdrop to your afternoon
of put-put. And, if it starts to rain, you can duck into the black-lit
indoor 18-hole mini-golf course right next door.
Sports Bar With Girlie Drinks: Legends.
PHOTO: Joe Putrock
Sports Bar with Girlie Drinks
Lark St., Albany
Legends has everything a sports bar should have, and then some.
There’s tasty bar food (try the custom pizzas or a hearty Milwaukee
Brat) evocative of a trip to the stadium, cool sports memorabilia
on the walls, and a TV in almost any direction you turn your head.
What they have that most sports bars do not, however, is an excellent
selection of frothy, refreshing girlie drinks. Colorful concoctions
with a tantalizing assortment of tasty spirits, liqueurs and mixers.
How do we know this? We’ve enjoyed many of them, these lazy summer
afternoons. And who would know more about girlie drinks than journalists?
Main St., Chatham
a lot of competition in this category, but Peint O Gwrw deserves
recognition for its eccentric devotion to all things Celtic, free
music and good beer. Of the dozen-or-so beers on tap, four of them
dispense the brand new Chatham Brewery’s product, including a hand-drawn
cask ale. Love that draft experience, but not a beer fan? Then try
the local hard cider, or even a root beer, both on tap. Single-malt
Scotches and a notoriously mediocre wine selection are also featured
(it’s a Welsh pub, what do you expect?). Friday nights feature
area bands and there are Irish and bluegrass open jam sessions on
Sundays. Go on a Celtic saint’s day (David, Patrick, Robbie Burns’
birthday, etc.), and you’ll be treated to a free feast, bagpipes
and perhaps some local lovelies dancing on the bar. But it’s the
bizarre decor we keep going back for—tin ceilings, wood paneling,
swords and armor, Welsh flags, skulls, stuffed cats, a buffalo head
(in the Buffalo Lounge!), ’50s and ’60s kitsch—it shouldn’t work,
but it does.
3rd St., Troy
Russell Sage girls cutting loose and burgers of mouthwatering greasy
deliciousness. Need we say more?
of skfl (sometimes known as Jason Steven Murphy) and the mighty
Goodship (with DJ Back From Japan, aka Kevin Luddy, at the helm)
the Official Unofficial Afterparty for Troy Night Out started out
with bang a few months ago and quickly became a highlight of the
Collar City’s monthly arts’ night. Featuring a healthy rotation
of super-talented whatnots playing live and robot music, trance-inducing
video, and beats addictive enough to whip even the stodgiest misanthrope
into a dancing fury, this is one afterparty we hope never ends.
Gay Bar Crawl
Central Ave, Albany
Central Ave., Albany
Because one gay bar on that block of Central wasn’t nearly enough.
Henry Johnson Blvd., Albany
There’s nothing like the sense of camaraderie we feel when we enter
the Silver Slipper in Arbor Hill in Albany. Owner Phil is usually
behind the bar, quick with a smile and greeting, and equally as
quick to get a cold brew into your hands. The jukebox kicks ass,
and the atmosphere is cozy and convivial. We’d move our offices
into the Slipper if we could.
Talk about a dive. Bad lighting, a little TV in the corner showing
soap reruns, an amalgam of ridiculous wall art, canned beer, and
lax rules. We love it.
288 Lark St., Albany
Hal knows what we shouldn’t be drinking, and he lets us drink it
anyway, and that is why we love him. When we say, “Hal, make us
a drink with egg in it!” Hal says, “Bring me an egg!” and after
he makes it, he saves a little bit to taste it himself. Yes, he
is an adventurous soul. He knows your drink, and he is always ready
to listen to your joke, or throw a joke your way. He will even help
you find a new drink, to help make sure next time your joke is just
a little bit funnier. He even created our new favorite drink, the
Stiff Arnie, a mixture of lemonade, iced tea and vodka. No other
bartender keeps us as comfortable when we’re hammered than Hal.