Cave Inn Coffeehouse in New Paltz

Main Street

mulled ciderSomething triggered a recollection of my days at New Paltz. During the 1975-76 school year, after I broke up with the Okie, then dropped out of college for a semester, I lived in a coffeehouse.

It was called the Cave Inn, something I didn’t remember the name until helped by a New Paltz alumni group. What I DO remember is the address, 143 Main Street, right next to the bus station. It was run by the Student Christian Center, under the leadership of Paul Wiley. But the music played every weekend wasn’t generally overtly Christian.

The residents’ jobs were to rent to set up, serve cider during the event, and clean up afterward. It was not a heavy lift, and I felt that the rent was quite reasonable. This setup went on for a number of years before and after my time there.

That year, I lived with two guys, both named Mike, one blondish and the other brunet. For some reason, they actively hated each other. They yelled a lot, and at least once, chairs were thrown. I tried to be the peacemaker, usually without much success.

The dark-haired Mike sang Alice Restaurant at least once at the coffeehouse. I have a specific recollection of people singing Take It To The Limit by the Eagles, and me being singing the high harmony, usually beyond my reach.

Culture break

The one problem is that Paul wouldn’t let us stay during the winter break, though I could leave my stuff there. I had no other place to live. My parents had moved to Charlotte, NC in 1974. So I stayed in Queens, NYC with my mother’s aunt Charlotte Yates for three weeks.

I went to a few cultural things with Charlotte, but far more with her sister Ida Berman. She was an accomplished photographer. It was probably the first time I had gone to at least a half dozen museums and art galleries.

Meeting Paul

When I first attended New Paltz in 1971, I was having serious doubts about the efficacy of Christianity. Yet I would occasionally hang out at the Christian Student Center on Plattekill Avenue, where Paul worked and I think lived. I wasn’t going to church, but I guess I wanted to be Christian-adjacent.

In the fall of 1974, when the Okie and I were breaking up, it became clear to me that there was no way I could finish my five courses. I just didn’t have it in me. But it was after the midterm point. One could not drop courses unless one had been seeing a professional: a doctor, or psychologist, or the like.

Or a pastor. I don’t know that I had been talking to Paul specifically about my immediate difficulties; I just don’t know. But he signed off on the form, and on December 4, I was able to withdraw from two classes. I received an A and two B’s and 2 W’s, I think, though I could look it up.

And ever since, every December 4, I remember that, sometimes, you just have to give up. Quit. Resign. It was a useful life lesson.


After I moved out of 143 Main Street, I moved into 145 Main Street, the large house in front of the Cave Inn. I’m told it was the Agonian Sorority House until it was sold. It’s now the New Paltz Hostel, according to Trulia. I met a friend there I’m still in touch with.


My library school under Emergency Preparedness?

“As we expand our offerings in intelligence analysis, smart cities/internet of things, crisis communications, extreme weather planning, advanced technologies, or social media I see nothing but exciting opportunities…”

Back in mid-October, I got this email from Phil Eppard, chair of the Department of Information Science, on the listserv of my alma mater at UAlbany:

“I am writing to inform you that the Information Science Department is moving from the College of Engineering and Applied Sciences to the College of Emergency Preparedness, Homeland Security, and Cybersecurity (CEHC). This move is the culmination of discussions between the provost, the deans of the two colleges, and the faculty of the department. We see great opportunities in locating the department in this emerging new college, for which information technology and management, information access and use, and information literacy and analysis are all key areas of study and concern.

“This relocation of the department will have no impact on students and their academic programs. On the contrary, we hope to be able to improve our course offerings and student services as we are integrated into CEHC.”

I posted it on Facebook, musing on what I thought of it. My initial thought was of feeling disquieted. As one friend wrote: “Librarians as a profession are guardians of free speech and free access to information. I can think of a bunch of my former professors who must be turning over in their graves.”

One response, from a relative of mine, believed “all data services were already under the homeland security umbrella.” But I noted: “The ethos of the librarian, at least for most of us, is to protect privacy. When the so-called USA PATRIOT Act was passed in 2001, it was the librarians who made it difficult for the government to get patron records. ‘The ALA believes certain sections of the USA PATRIOT Act endanger constitutional rights and privacy rights of library users.'”

The new dean put on a happy spin: “On behalf of the students, faculty, and staff of [CEHC], I would like to welcome you! We are excited that you are joining us! So much of what we do in CEHC is highly correlated with the work you do.

“There are limitless cool synergies we can explore together! Understanding how data become useful information, how to present information in an understandable way, operationalizing big data, analytics, visualization, remote sensoring querying and searching, predictive analytics, defining the role of society, community, and libraries, and developing and using information technology are just a few areas of intersection and collaboration I hope we can continue to develop.

“On a personal note, I am thrilled at the opportunity to work with you as we continue to build out CEHC. As we expand our offerings in intelligence analysis, smart cities/internet of things, crisis communications, extreme weather planning, advanced technologies, or social media I see nothing but exciting opportunities for our students, faculty researchers, creative staff, and operational partners. I even heard that these days, on websites like, you can buy likes that will set you on your social media journey, although, I doubt its veracity. I also see information science as one of the growing ‘demand’ degrees with enormous job growth and research potential. Come join us and help us make a difference.”

As one buddy asked, “Is this supposed to make Emergency Preparedness cooler or to make libraries less cool? Or maybe an attempt to bring attention to the fact that a college of Emergency Preparedness exists…” Well, I didn’t know. And another: “Is it just me or is Library/Information Science always something of an orphan? (from a UAlbany MLS graduate, back in the day when the library was part of the Rockefeller College, IIRC)” No, it’s not just you.

LaMBS is 60

Lynn was one of my best friends in college, then we lost touch for a good long while.

When I was in college, I was co-editor of a thrice-weekly newsletter, inexplicably called the Wind Sun News, sponsored by the Student Government. They instituted this publication in no small measure because the editors of The Oracle, the student newspaper, decided that political issues such as American involvement in overthrowing Chile’s Allende in favor of Pinochet were more important to cover than the prosaic issue of college governance.

I had a very good friend then, who I’ll call Lynn, mostly because it was her name. She had been kvetching about turning 20. It was a Wind Sun News night, when a bunch of us would work from 8 or 9 p.m. until around 2 a.m., and occasionally later. Normally, Lynn would be there, but her friend Pam convinced her to go out to dinner with her because she “needed” to talk to Lynn about her relationship with her boyfriend. It was an effective ruse because Pam apparently DID talk to her about the beau.

Lynn came back to the office just before midnight, glum because the staff was still all around, which she assumed meant the newsletter wasn’t done. Except that it WAS done, since the other co-editor, Kevin, and I had hustled to do so, largely that afternoon. The staffers were all there to put together and celebrate Lynn’s birthday.

At some point, around 2:30-2:45 a.m. on what was by then her actual natal day, everyone had left the office except Lynn (who fell asleep on some furniture), a Vietnam vet I’ll call Paul, who was in love with Lynn and kept staring at her, and me who kept watching him. Finally c. 4 a.m., he left. I locked the door and slept on a chair or sofa.

About 7 a.m., Lynn wakes up and says, “Roger?” (It’s pitch-black in the room – no windows – so one can’t see anything). I must be half-awake & say “Yes?” We take the newsletter to the printer, go out and eat breakfast at the Plaza Dinner – not unusual – then later pick up the newsletter to distribute. Lynn was one of my best friends in college, then we lost touch for a good long while. But we’ve been in e-mail contact the last couple years. I always remember her birthday because it’s an arithmetic sentence: 4X14=56.

So happy birthday, Lynn, 40 years after that night still stuck in my memory.


The graphic is a blend of two different iterations of the WSN.

College, and a LOT of politics (ARA)

Do I say to him what he ought to do in order to try to save the relationship OR assume those facts to be immutable. and advise him how to survive it better?

My friend Mary wrote:


Hi Roger- Re: “Ask Roger Anything” – I’m helping [my son] plan his courses for next semester, and so these questions come to mind: What was your very favorite course taken as an undergrad? Most useful later in life (for any reason)? One you struggled to get through but was worth it? Etcetera…

Favorite course: American Government and Politics, the intro course, which has also been quite useful for me as a librarian in ascertaining which federal department might have jurisdiction over different issues. Given his proclivity for politics – I follow his Facebook page – it might be a good fit.

I also liked a music intro course where I got a little music theory, composed some little ditties, and had a lot of fun.

Most useful later: intro to psychology, and logic. Understanding how the human mind works.

Struggled with, but was worth it: intro to anthropology, which I must confess was a struggle because it was at 8 a.m. Understanding where we as a species came from.

Struggled with, worth it as an exercise: intro to calculus. I was failing, going into the final, crammed for two days, passed the final. Looked at the book two weeks later but didn’t understand a thing.

In general, I believe a broad liberal arts education can serve one well, especially with someone as bright as your son clearly is.

A whole bunch of questions about our political election year

Best described in this parody: Finnish News Team Reports On U.S. Elections

The evil Amy from Sharp Little Pencil muses:

Why is Donald Drumpf? (That’s the whole question, hee hee hee)

After I started writing this, my friend Dan wrote The Presidential Distraction Examined, which touches on all the candidates, and which you should read. Or The rise of American authoritarianism. Heck, you answered your own question with Greedy Bastard.

We Americans have always been attracted to the carnival barker. We know that he’s probably giving us a bunch of hooey, but we’ll still spend the quarter to see the half-boy/half-alligator, or the bearded lady.

Drumpf is a master of self-promotion. The fact that his businesses, his brands are probably not as successful as he would have you believe is irrelevant. In a society where facts are at a premium, and celebrity is king – is Robert Downey Jr. moving to Albany? Er, no – a guy with an unconvincing combover of an unnatural color can be perceived as “genuine”, the fact that he contradicts himself regularly notwithstanding.

His birther attack on President Obama, I’ve come to see, was a trial run. Without a shred of evidence, Drumpf kept alive the notion that Obama was born in Nigeria. Or Indonesia.

Now he runs for President, and right out of the gate, he insults Mexican immigrants, and John McCain, and Muslims, and intelligent women. The punditry is SURE that his campaign will be over before it begins. But he gains support, not IN SPITE of those remarks, but BECAUSE of them. “He’s unfiltered! He’s not politically correct!”

And people watch. The ratings of the summer 2015 GOP debates were at least FOUR TIMES as large as the ones in 2011. As Les Moonves said about CBS News’ overabundant coverage of the man: “Who would’ve thought this circus would come to town?… It may not be good for America, but it’s damn good for CBS.” On the Daily Show, Trevor Noah likened Moonves’ and the news media’s, attitude to that of a doctor who says, ‘I hate to see all these patients coming in with cancer, but I have to admit, it’s been really good for my practice.'”

Let me say a word in defense of political correctness. Saying whatever comes to mind is not the sign of maturity or bravery, but of the mindset of children, who used to say the darndest things to Art Linkletter on his daytime talk show many years ago. When grownups do the same things, they are often a$$@#^%! The fact that his speeches have been targeted to third- or fourth-graders intellect is, sadly, effective. Even when it’s crazy.

Maybe that comes from talking too much to himself. On Morning Joe (MSNBC), he said recently: “I know what I’m doing, and I listen to a lot of people, I talk to a lot of people, and at the appropriate time I’ll tell you who the people are. But my primary consultant is myself.” To that end, here he is, consulting his campaign advisers.

And something else: none of his opponents are nearly as good as being contemptible as The Donald is. Marco Rubio started a riff suggesting the inferior size of Drumpf’s…er, genitalia. But Marco, not Donald, seemed the lesser person for this, as he admitted shortly before he dropped out of the race. The late-night comics had started referring to Rubio as Little Marco, just as the tycoon does.

Some ex-Jeb Bush operative said a Drumpf presidency would be like a chimp driving a tractor. Seems petty. Whereas The Donald is an EXCELLENT mudslinger.

One cannot underestimate, though, how much Americans HAVE been ripped off by the rich and powerful, the stuff that Bernie Sanders has been talking about. That anger and frustration are real, but Drumpf as the solution is surreal.

This, naturally, leads to Buffalo-area book scribe Jaquandor

Do you think Bernie Sanders would be an effective President, in terms of furthering a liberal agenda?

I chose to believe that, on the off chance Bernie Sanders gets elected – hey, he won the overseas vote – that his win would represent such a seminal shift in the body electoral that he would have actually a chance to enact some of his reforms. This would be especially true if some of those Senate seats in marginal states go to the Democrats.

And if he DOESN’T win, perhaps he’s started a movement that will prevail in 2020, when, presumably the country will, by then, realize that supporting a Nordic-style approach is not an act of altruism but of self-promotion.

Of course, I can only see this happening if, in addition to him making a miraculous comeback on the Democratic side against Hillary Clinton, that either 1) Drumpf gets the GOP nomination or 2) he is denied the nomination by some GOP machinations and goes third party.
BTW, I find it hysterical that the Republican establishment is now largely supporting Ted Cruz since they pretty much HATE Ted Cruz. Naturally, Cruz has called on US police to patrol Muslim neighborhoods in the wake of the Brussels attack.

You may have seen former GOP Presidential candidate Lindsey Graham say, less than a month ago, “If you killed Ted Cruz on the floor of the Senate, and the trial was in the Senate, nobody would convict you.” And now Graham is fundraising for Cruz.

It’s not that they’ve changed their minds about the obstructionist who is Rafael Cruz. Samantha Bee illustrates how unlikeable Ted Cruz really is—his whole life. It’s that the GOP establishment finds Drumpf the greater existential threat to the party, and perhaps the nation. Ruth Marcus, in the Washington Post back in December 2015, said that Drumpf was a better choice than Cruz because one could work with the former, but three months later, she changed her mind.

Both GOP candidates were criticized, though not by name, in this CBS Sunday Morning piece by a combat veteran this past week. “For too many Americans in 2016, war isn’t a dire act turned to once all other options have been exhausted. It’s a narcotic, a quick fix, something that happens in strange, faraway lands, where other people’s sons and daughters do violent things for country.”

The most eclectic Dustbury wonders:

What would be the one change you’d most like to see in the governance of the State of New York?

It appears that the sense of entitlement has brought forth all those indictments of our state legislators, including, in the last year or so, the Speaker of the Assembly AND the head of the State Senate, continues to run rampant.

Generally, I disdain term limits, because I believe philosophically the people should be able to elect who they want. But I also recognize that the state legislature gets to pick the gerrymandered boundaries of the state legislature.

I like the idea of a truly independent board that would redraw the lines every ten years, pretty much ignoring the previous boundaries, and primarily paying attention to finding the population balance, still with some consideration of neighborhoods, would be nice. I just don’t know what that looks like.

Coincidentally there will be a seminar this Friday at the Albany Law School, “Can a NYS Constitutional Convention Strengthen Government Ethics?”

“With so much talk about the erosion of integrity in government, can the problems with elected officials that so frequently dominate our headlines be fixed statutorily or are they more appropriately addressed through constitutional change? As November 2017 and a statewide referendum on whether or not to call a constitutional convention near, this and other questions will be increasingly on the minds of the voters. This forum will address these important issues.”


How is Andrew Cuomo doing, six years in?

He’s a strange egg. He’s been pushing the $15/hour minimum wage, and much of the literature shows him with his late father, the former governor Mario Cuomo. Mario, I liked; Andrew, not so much.

I remain convinced, with the fall of Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos, and Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver, both on corruption charges, that Andrew could be next. Or maybe that’s wishful thinking.

You don’t sound black

It’s that mindset that gives political correctness a bad name.

race card.kk
The cartoonist Keith Knight, a/k/a Keef is “the creator of three popular comic strips: the Knight Life, (th)ink, and the K Chronicles.” I haven’t followed (th)ink, which is a one-panel editorial strip, but The Knight Life is syndicated in several daily newspapers, including the local Times Union; you can read it HERE.

Arguably his best strip is K Chronicles. Keef says: “K Chronicles is like an indie film and the Knight Life is like a (good) network sit-com. Read his September 2015 strip Not Black. (I’ll wait.) I so relate!

When I was first working in my current job, we provided library services not just for New York State, but all around the country. In those largely pre-Internet, and even pre-email days, I would talk with SBDC counselors on the telephone, taking their questions. Then we would go to the national conference to tout our services. Invariably, I’d see white people, shocked that I was black. And black people, PLEASED that I was black.

More than once, I’ve gotten into debates with people about whether I “sound” black. My argument: I’m black, this is what I sound like. Ipso facto, I sound black.

Oh, the picture above is from a 2009 K Chronicles that created a kerfuffle. Students at Slippery Rock University in western Pennsylvanian school were “outraged” that “the black cartoonist Keith Knight dared to draw a black guy in a noose.” The objection is “extraordinarily stupid… once you read the actual comic strip in question.”

It’s that mindset that gives political correctness – whatever that means – a bad name, especially at colleges. In fact, The Atlantic had a lengthy article in September 2015, The Coddling of the American Mind. “In the name of emotional well-being, college students are increasingly demanding protection from words and ideas they don’t like. Here’s why that’s disastrous for education—and mental health.” So the idea of lynching is so offensive that when Keef is making an anti-lynching point in the drawing, the greater truth is lost.