My sister Leslie decided to attend her ##th reunion from Binghamton (NY) Central High School. If MY class had one last year, I didn’t know about it, AND I’m not sure I would have gone. The last one of mine I went to be more than a decade ago, when the Daughter was very small.

Leslie flew to Albany on a Wednesday night, crashed my choir rehearsal on Thursday, then, on Friday, she drove us to the Parlor City, its old nickname, dropping me off with a high school friend and her husband, while she stayed with a grade school chum of ours.

She picked me up a couple hours later and we attended a mixer at a place called Remlick’s. It was a bit overwhelming; a few dozen people from BCHS I hadn’t seen in decades, without the benefit of name tags. But it was a pleasant time, as the cobwebs of forgotten events began to dissolve.

Sharkey’s is a “contender to the throne of spiedie creator,” and that’s where we went Saturday at lunchtime, running into six of my sister’s classmates.

Leslie had attended to Binghamton University, then called SUNY Binghamton, and it was homecoming weekend. So we went to the campus and listened to three choral groups, each performing a piece my church choir has performed. The Women’s Chorus (Zion’s Walls by Aaron Copland), The Chamber Singers (Sicut cervus desiderat by Palestrina) and Leslie’s old group, the Harpur Chorale (Hark! I Hear the Harps Eternal arraigned by Alice Parker).

Onto Thirsty’s, where Leslie sees her old friends Cathy and Bobby and their family, then to a separate room, where a bunch of my First Ward chums were gathering. That was likely the high point, as I recognized several of them without assistance. I got to talk about genealogies, and libraries, and book writing, among the topics.

Round Two of the BCHS reunion was at the Holiday Inn. Now that I had seen many of these folks the day before, AND they had name tags, I was in a much more comfortable situation.

Leslie made the trip specifically for the high school reunion. That it, the First Ward reunion, AND the SUNY-B homecoming were all on the SAME DAY was astonishingly convenient, and wonderful coincidence.

Skelos, Gov. Andrew Cuomo, Silver

With all the attention on the potential Constitutional Convention on the ballot November 7, I was only dimly aware of the other two propositions that New Yorkers must consider. OK, SHOULD consider, since they’re on the flip side of he ballot.

The proposed amendment… would allow a court to reduce or revoke the pension of a public officer who is convicted of a felony that has a direct and actual relationship to the performance of the public officer’s duties.

The number of corrupt government officials is arguably higher in the Empire State than any other. I assume some judge would decide whether, and how, the crime relates to their official duties.

The problem in this state is that those convictions can be overturned, as they were, just in the past four months, in the cases of former Assembly speaker Sheldon Silver and former Senate majority leader Dean Skelos. If this proposal had been in place, the pensions of the pols whose convictions were vacated could, and I suppose should, be reinstated.

Still, I support this amendment as a step in the right direction.

The proposed amendment will create a land account with up to 250 acres of forest preserve land eligible for use by towns, villages, and counties that have no viable alternative to using forest preserve land to address specific public health and safety concerns; as a substitute for the land removed from the forest preserve, another 250 acres of land, subject to legislative approval, will be added to the forest preserve. The proposed amendment also will allow bicycle trails and certain public utility lines to be located within the width of highways that traverse the forest preserve while minimizing removal of trees and vegetation.

This is largely a land swap, with the State acquiring the same amount of land, “subject to approval by the Legislature, to incorporate into the forest preserve to replace the land placed in the health and safety land account.” This has a lot of precedent, and I’m willing to support this.

I’ve already noted my opposition to the “convention to revise the Constitution and amend the same.” Interestingly, if it were to pass, I’d want to run as a delegate if I thought I had a scintilla of a chance of winning.

The propositions are the most interesting items on the ballot because the candidate races were all but settled in the primaries, at least in the city of Albany. The one surprise for me was that Bryan Jimenez is the Green Party candidate for mayor. After the election, Dan Plaat had a 17-15 lead from the machines, but Jimenez got some absentee or other paper ballot votes.

This is unconfirmed rumor, but I was told by someone in the know that the Greens wanted a primary so they could show up on the stage with the Democrats at candidate talks, not ignored like other minor party candidates.

There was this blogpost that community, unpaid blogger Heather Rusaw-Fazio wrote for the Times Union site in the spirit of #MeToo. It became not visible and the site inaccessible to the blogger because the post did not meet whatever community standards the Times Union thought were being violated.

Which standards, exactly?

Ultimately, Chuck Miller posted the piece on his blog, and I on mine. I referred to it as a “banned” post.

Rex wrote to a friend of mine:

We did not, in fact, silence a woman’s voice. A woman who is the senior editor in charge of engagement – and thus the supervisor of community blogs – took the step of protecting Heather and the Times Union from a potential libel claim. (As publisher of the blog, we are susceptible to libel claims.) We are quite eager to publish Heather’s post, but we have suggestions to make it less likely that we – and Heather – might be vulnerable legally. Since we have a lot of experience in legal matters, we could advise her on this, but at this point she has chosen to remain silent rather than accept any such suggestion. It is very regrettable, but there is certainly no intent on our part to shut down conversation.

What does Heather have to say about this to Rex? This is pretty much the opposite of what Heather was told by TU folks:

There has been very little to no consistency on blogger standards from blogger to blogger or post to post for some, and I hope you take the time to read all of this and truly understand.

Is it the use of f**k? Read the rest of this entry »

Cynthia Erivo as Celie in the Broadway revival

I never finished reading Alice Walker’s powerful 1982 novel The Color Purple, though I had read good chunks of it.

The movie came out in late 1985, so I would have seen it in the first three months of the following year. I thought it was strong, powerful, and occasionally difficult to watch. Danny Glover played Mister/Albert, who was a brute. Whoopi Goldberg as Celie Johnson, Margaret Avery and Shug Avery, and, surprisingly, Oprah Winfrey as Sofia were quite good, as was the rest of the cast.

The film garnered 11 Academy Award nominations, including for those three women, winning zero, making it the film with the most noms with no Oscars. Goldberg and director Steven Spielberg did win the Golden Globes, and the film was named best drama.

Then there was the first Broadway production which ran from December 2005 to the end of February 2008, nominated for 11 Tonys, and winning one, LaChanze as Celie. Renée Elise Goldsberry, later of Hamilton fame, played Celie’s sister Nettie. The touring company production ended a couple years later.

The musical was revived at the end of 2015 and closed early in 2017. It was nominated for four Tonys, and won Best Revival of a Musical and Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role in a Musical, Cynthia Erivo as Celie.

The touring show started on October 17, 2017 in Baltimore. But wait. What did I see on October 8 at Proctors Theatre in Schenectady, featuring “director John Doyle’s deceptively simple set design, a towering array of angled, broken barn boards and mismatched wooden chairs that rise up from the stage to the overhead fly-space”?

Technically, it was a preview show, working out the bugs in the story and technical problems. I’m told the cast in the earlier production was quite large, but only 17 in this iteration. The story is strong, especially in the first half. The songs are very inspirational, especially in the second half, and performed well throughout.

A couple actors weren’t miked well, and I couldn’t really make out what they were saying.

A bigger problem for me, though, was the transformation of Mister/Albert from Act 1’s bully to Act 2’s saint. It didn’t feel earned, and as my wife noted, when a child is left in hs care, she worried about the baby’s welfare, unnecessarily so, as it turns out.

I’m sure that the technical issues will be fixed. Whether the storyline will be, I don’t know. Still, even with that caveat, it was well worth seeing.

My fellow Times Union blogger Heather Rusaw-Fazio posted the item below at 6 a.m. on October 17. It was not easy for her to write, obviously.

She received a note from the TU that while they’re sorry what had happened to her, her reportage was too “graphic.” Her blogs have been blocked and she’s been suspended. Per the terms of the TU bloggers, they can’t change the content, but they can block it if it is considered – and these words were circled, “pornography” or “child pornography.”

Reposted with her permission.

#MeToo

*Caution – strong adult language/topic*

I’ve been thinking about this for a couple of days but I haven’t been brave enough until tonight. Do I publish my story or do I simply write “me too” for a Facebook status? Is that enough to have a genuine impact? Do I tell you his/their name?

Do I share the names of the Massena NY Police Department officers who dismissed me because I was 15 and had two beers at a high-school party? Or do I share their names because they told the 21-year-old man who was enlisted in the Army that he’s a “good guy” and “doesn’t need the hassle” as they interviewed me IN FRONT OF HIM on the front steps of his house?

No hospital visit, no nurse, no female police officer – just me, three grown men, and a kid my age who hosted the party and protected his big brother even though he knew the truth. The only question I was asked by the police officers was “How much did you drink?”

It’s something that (obviously and rightfully) bothers me to this day because I think about it often. I think about the man “DM” often – his real initials. I even think about his little brother who protected him. I was friends with the little brother on Facebook for a while until he began spewing hate, homophobia, and racism as soon as Trump announced he was running for office. I sent him a private message to remind him his brother is at the very least a sexual predator if not a rapist. Who knows what he had done before and after me?

After this experience I quickly learned that sexual harassment is common, should just be accepted by women, we should be grateful someone is attracted to us, and if reported you will rarely be taken seriously by other men – and sometimes women. In the 80’s, it seemed that was par for the course and unfortunately these lessons stayed with me until my 30s.

The only “men” who believed me were two of my best friends who knew DM. They even went to his house to confront him but he called the police. The same two police officers told him to stay inside until his leave was over and then he could forget about the whole situation and put it behind him. My friends were threatened with arrest but were able to go home with a warning.

At 15, this wasn’t the first or close to the last time I had been sexually harassed but it was the first time I was sexually assaulted – but not the last. Read the rest of this entry »

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