The Gilded Age, starring 1st Pres!

everybody’s in show biz

gilded age
The sign First Pres parishioners saw Sunday, 14 August 2022. The historical plaque was removed during filming.

The Gilded Age, an HBO Max series, has been well-received. It’s one of my sister Marcia’s favorite shows. “Old New York in the 1880s. Old Money and New Money are the opposites that attract to create a Post Civil War Era New York society.” I haven’t seen it yet.

But I may have to because my church, First Presbyterian, is a filming and production site for the program! The building “will be featured in the opening scene of the second season, and it will also be used as a production and cast holding site throughout the month of August,” according to the church office.

Apparently, the 2022 Capital District is more representative of 19th-century NYC than 21st-century NYC. Preparation for filming began on 1 August, “and related activities will continue through August 25th. We will be able to attend worship on Sundays as we normally would since the production company works only on weekdays. However, access to the building during weekdays will be restricted to the production company and church staff in order to observe strict COVID-19 protocols.”

No closeup for me

I had seen the casting call for extras. “Grant Wilfley Casting is seeking paid actors to play 1880s pedestrians and church-goers. According to the casting call notes, women will be fit for corsets, should have shoulder-length or longer hair and ‘natural’ hair colors only will be allowed. No balayage, undercuts, wigs, weaves, braids, ombre or unnatural looking highlights will be considered. Shaved heads and dreads will also not be permitted.” And no, I didn’t try out.

Costume fittings began on June 27, and all background actors had to “attend a costume fitting and mandatory COVID-19 testing before filming. Extras must also be up-to-date with all COVID-19 vaccinations as defined by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The casting company reports that background actors will be paid $60 for COVID testing, $30 per two hours for fittings, and $165 per 10 hours for filming.” And you thought show biz was glamorous.

“The Gilded Age filmed sections of its first season around Troy, New York, completely transforming the city. The TV series is a period drama that follows the millionaire titans of New York City in the 1880s, including Marian Brook, an orphaned daughter of a Union general, and a ruthless railroad tycoon named George Russell. Played by Louisa Jacobson, Marion moves into the New York City home of her wealthy, old money aunts, played by Christine Baranski and Cynthia Nixon.”

During the second week of production, “a team of horses pulling a carriage went up on the sidewalk forcing an actor to fall. But she was not hurt, and production resumed.

A tree branch falls in Albany


tree branch fallsIf a tree branch falls in Albany, NY, and I don’t hear it, did it really come down? Apparently, if I am to believe my eyes. And now YOU can believe it because I have PICTURES. And as we all know, pictures never lie.

I’ve been really tired the past three weeks. This is a function of staying up until 3:30 a.m. the night of the daughter’s prom the second Saturday in June, then essentially pulling an all-nighter a couple of nights later, for reasons I will share eventually.

After a couple more weeks chock full of events, including the Albany High School graduation on June 26, I went to bed and slept until about 8:30 a.m. Apparently, I missed a severe morning thunderstorm, an event that would usually awaken me.

“I wonder if the tree branch that fell hit the shed.” my wife wondered. What tree branch? There was a storm? Oh, THAT tree branch. And, no, the shed is fine.

tree brach falls 2The branch is about 3.6 meters tall, a little less than twice my height. For such a relatively small piece, it’s a bit heavy. I offered my daughter money to trim off the greenery and throw it onto the compost, but she declined. So I did it myself.

We’ll have to call a tree service. That tree was trimmed maybe a decade ago. My wife called them again five years later, but they never showed up.

Hey, does anyone in Albany want a nice piece of wood? One could use it for jousting, or some other medieval sport. 


The things I do to maintain peace and quiet. I was at the CVS register, picking up a package. There was a young woman and a teen female trying to make a purchase from the autopay, though I neither knew nor cared what they were buying. It appeared they put in every cent they had. But it was $6.07 short. The machine told everyone within 30 feet: PAYMENT INSUFFICIENT or some such. Three times.

Finally, I asked if I could pay the balance. They said yes. And the damn loud machine stopped talking. BTW, 607 is the area code of Binghamton, NY, my hometown.

June rambling: It goes on


Belief in God in the U.S. Dips to 81%, a New Low

Life: It goes on

In 6-3 rulings, SCOTUS strikes down New York’s concealed-carry law

Also, SCOTUS overturns Roe v. Wade; I wrote about it here and hereNow whatKelly is not happy either.  And Clarence Thomas believes SCOTUS should reconsider contraception and same-sex marriage rulings. Plus, can we trust tech companies to protect privacy?

Will the Great Salt Lake stay great?

The detectives hunting for underwater volcanoes

Trump administration embraced herd immunity via mass infection — The strategy likely contributed to many preventable deaths

Feds Aim to Slash Nicotine

How are autism and Alzheimer’s related?

John Green: On Disease

The Healing Power of ‘I Don’t Know’ 

Hank Green: Are You Eating a Credit Card Every Week?

Tech Monopolies: Last Week Tonight with John Oliver

Why the US military is listening to shrimp

The Texas Republican Party goes off the deep end

US travelers now need a visa to enter Japan

The surprise hiatus of the band BTS is sending ripples throughout the South Korean economy

The Monkeys and Parrots Caught Up in the California Gold Rush

Orphan Trains: A Brief History and Research How-to

Creative with your catchphrases

Pride parade.TU

June 12, 2022, Pride Parade, Lark St between State and Lancaster Sts, Albany, NY. The car that was the basis of the First Presbyterian Church Albany float stalled out; this was the improvisation. Photo by Jay Zhang, first used by the [Albany] Times Union. Used with permission.

Lessons from Fictional Fathers

PBS NewsHour commentator Mark Shields dies at age 85

James Rado, Co-Creator of Groundbreaking ‘Hair’ Musical, Dies at 90

Jon Stewart: acceptance speech for the Mark Twain Award

Anna “Brizzy” Brisbin -History of Voiceover

Amy Schumer, Selena Gomez, Tracee Ellis Ross, and THR’s Comedy Actress Roundtable

50 years of The Price Is Right 

William Henry Cosby Jr. lost a civil trial

The Insane Plan to Lift NYC’s Palace Theatre

The smile: a history

The Ultimate Guide to Dream Interpretation

A surprise response from Professor O’Neill

 How to ‘Zhuzh’ Up Your Vocabulary; zhuzh is NOT a word I want to see in Wordle

How to prepare for hurricane season 2022 and avoid storm-related scams

8 Ways to Spot Counterfeit Money

Now I Know: The Fired Employee Who Got The Last Laugh and  When Shouting “Cr*p!” is a Wish Come True and Capture the Flag, updated and A Fishy Train Line That Goes Nowhere

About Me (kinda sorta)

Mark Evanier answers my question about mandated representation in cartoon animation in the 1980s. “Doing the right thing for the wrong reason”

Kelly did linkage and wrote about Judy Garland, mentioning moi

I’ve been doing that Sunday Stealing, which fillyjonk also did here and here and here and here. Kelly did the same here and here


Purple Haze – Joy Oladokun 

Rapsodie Espagnol by Maurice Ravel

This Must Be The Place – Ondara 

Espana by Emmanuel Chabrier

Where Grace Abounds – Julius Rodriguez 

NPR Tiny Desk concert with the current off-Broadway production of Little Shop Of Horrors

Freedom – Jon Batiste

 Reclamation – Brandee Younger 

God Bless The Child – Melanie Charles

Hustle (Live) – Sons Of Kemet 

Communion In My Cup  Tank And The Bangas ft. The Ton3s

The first railroad in New York sign


Here’s a picture of the sign designating the first railroad chartered in the US. As you can see, the sign had been there since 1940.

“The Mohawk and Hudson Railroad was the first railroad built in the state of New York and one of the first railroads in the United States. It was so-named because it linked the Mohawk River at Schenectady with the Hudson River at Albany. It was conceived as a means of allowing Erie Canal passengers to quickly bypass the circuitous Cohoes Falls via steam-powered trains.

“The railroad was incorporated on April 17, 1826, as the Mohawk and Hudson Company and opened for public service on August 9, 1831. On April 19, 1847, the company name was changed to the Albany and Schenectady Railroad. The railroad was consolidated into the New York Central Railroad on May 17, 1853.”

This sign was located along historic Route 20 in Albany on Madison Avenue near Allen Street, just two blocks from my house.

That’s not the same sign!

I would not have mentioned this except for one thing. The sign has been replaced, apparently in 2021, though I never noticed until mid-May 2022.

Notice the more definitive wording. Not “near here,” but here. Yet it’s narrowed the scope of the accomplishment.

The other noteworthy element is who paid for the sign. “The William G. Pomeroy Foundation  is committed to supporting the celebration and preservation of community history, and working to improve the probability of finding appropriate donor matches or other life-saving treatments for blood cancer patients.”

Here’s the description of this sign.

“In August of 1831 the first steam-powered passenger train in New York State, powered by the locomotive DeWitt Clinton, traveled between this place (junction of Railroad and Great Western Turnpike, now Western Avenue in Albany) on the Mohawk and Hudson Railroad line and Schenectady.”

“From the August 2, 1831 edition of Morrisville’s Republican Monitor:

We learn that the company have decided on using steam power only; and there is probably no road in this country or Europe more admirably calculated for locomotive engines…The Mohawk and Hudson rail-road has an important advantage over other roads, in being perfectly straight, and consequently less liable to lateral pressure; and the engines placed upon it will not be retarded by any intervening inclined plane, as they will be employed upon the level between the hills at Albany and Schenectady.


The Pomeroy Foundation, which began in 2005, “is interested in opportunities to partner with 501(c)(3) organizations, nonprofit educational institutions, and local, state, and federal government entities that have identified a unique and historically significant project that could incorporate physically placed roadside markers.”

I’m fascinated by this in part because something that I had taken for granted, sitting by the nearby bus stop for decades, had changed, and I missed it until now. Also, I’m interested in entities that will provide signage designating historical places to not-for-profit entities, but also to the governments.

March snows can ruin plans in Albany

Remember “The Great” one of March 1888?

I know that March snows can ruin plans in Albany. My wife, my daughter, and I were going to do a college visit on March 12-13, but the forecasted snow and wind had us postpone the trip. The St. Patrick’s Day parade in the city, which had been canceled the last two years, was postponed a week.

The WORST two storms in Albany, at least as far back as the records go, were in March. The first one was The Blizzard of 1888 (March 11-14, 1888). “The blizzard by which all others are measured.” No, I don’t remember it. But it appeared in at least four JEOPARDY clues.

2001: AMERICAN HISTORIC EVENTS for $400: The “Great” one of these paralyzed New York City on March 12, 1888 (Triple stumper, with guesses of fire and a blackout)
2007: STORMY WEATHER for $400 (DJ): In March 1888 one of these blinding snowstorms struck the East Coast, creating 40-to-50-foot snowdrifts (correct answer)
2014: WEATHER REPORT for $2000 Remember “The Great” one of March 1888? (Triple stumper)
2018: “ZZ” MIDDLE for $600: Spring buds were blooming, but “The Great” one of these of March 1888 was one of the worst ever in American history (correct answer)

Storms I DO remember

Blizzard of 1978 (February 6-7, 1978). I was working at the Albany Savings Bank downtown while living in Schenectady. A chunk of ice hit the roof of a VW Beetle on the street where I was living.

April 6-7 1982: I saw Pete Seeger at Page Hall at the downtown SUNY campus on the 4th, when it was already uncommonly cold. Then the snow came.

January Snowstorm of 1983 (January 15-16, 1983). I didn’t remember this, maybe because it was on the weekend. But my girlfriend at the time and I DID go to a party Saturday night, despite 18″ of snow.

Unprecedented Early Season Snowstorm (October 4, 1987). I  wrote about this.

The Downslope Nor’easter (December 10-12, 1992) “This storm produced incredible snowfall totals across many mountainous locations, while barely having any effect on valley locations.” Chris Kapostasy of WNYT (later Chris Jansing of MSNBC) told this story at my church a couple of years later. She and her cameraman were trapped in the Berkshires. And no one was looking for them from Albany because it wasn’t a big deal in the city. But Chris and the cameraman recorded their final wishes.

The worst storm in my life

Superstorm of 1993 (March 13-14, 1993) This was the worst storm in Albany in my lifetime, which I wrote about here.

May 18, 2002 – Snowstorm. I remember because my wife was supposed to get her graduate degree from UAlbany outdoors. They had to find an inside venue.

Various storms in the early 2000s I recall vaguely. We went to visit my in-laws in Oneonta during the December 25-26, 2002, and again for the January 3-4, 2003 storms. When we came home, we had double-digit inches of snow to shovel.

Valentine’s Day Storm: February 14, 2007. I was working at Corporate (frickin) Woods when we were told we could leave if we wanted to. If I hadn’t taken the 2:06 pm bus out of there, I would have had to sleep at my desk. Any westbound bus from Central Avenue and Henry Johnson Boulevard took 45 minutes to arrive, then took 20 minutes to ride a 10-minute stretch. The 6-minute walk home required nearly a half-hour. I took the next day off, helping my wife dig out her car as the temperature plummeted. Dig for 20 minutes, drink hot chocolate indoors, dig for 15 minutes, go back inside for 15 minutes…

Social media & sharing icons powered by UltimatelySocial