Erastus Corning, Polly Noonan: Gillibrand connection

I remember Burt Reynolds first as the “half-breed” Quint on about four dozen episodes of the TV series Gunsmoke.

Falco as Noonan
Edie Falco as Polly Noonan in The True
These are a couple things that are Albany connected, the latter, very tangentially.

The new play “The True”, written by Sharr White, “examines — and hypothesizes about — the affections shared” between long-time Albany, NY mayor Erastus Corning 2nd (d. 1983) and his confidant Dorothea (Polly) Noonan (d. 2003).

There was an article in the local paper, the Times Union, with some relatives and/or friends of the pair complaining that no one had approached them about whether all the facts were correct. As with most movies about famous people and events, I’ve never felt it necessary for the story to be I-dotted, T-crossed factual.

BTW, I didn’t move to Albany in 1979, and Corning who was first elected in 1941, was STILL mayor. The Democratic machine, which still exists in a modified form to this day. Trivia fact: the tallest building between Montreal and New York City is the Corning Tower, the 43-story building on the Empire State Plaza.

“Edie Falco and Michael McKean star in The New Group production of “the True”, which opens September. 20 at the Pershing Square Signature Center in New York City. Falco, for one, didn’t know there really WAS a Polly Noonan.

Noonan’s granddaughter — Kirsten E. Gillibrand, “once a little-known congresswoman from the Capital District — was selected to fill the United States Senate seat held by Hillary Clinton, who had been named Secretary of State.”
I watched a LOT of Burt Reynolds. I remember him first as the “half-breed” Quint on about four dozen episodes of the TV series Gunsmoke (1962-1965), the detective show Dan August (1970-1972), then a whole bunch of movies when he was box-office champ, usually prompted by Susan, my first significant girlfriend after I first moved to the area in 1978.

We saw Smokey and the Bandit I and II, Rough Cut, Starting Over, Hooper, and the underrated The End. Later, I watched the series Evening Shade (1990-1994) and the movie Boogie Nights (1997), plus a variety of guest appearances. Sally Field, who was in at least four of those films, said that Burt “never leaves my mind.”

Here’s Jerry Reed performing “Eastbound and Down”, from Smokey and the Bandit.

Roger Answers Your Questions, Shooting Parrot, Tom the Mayor, and Rose

Albany is the right size for me.

I’ve been to the blog of Shooting Parrots, and have yet to see any dead or maimed birds. Regardless, he asked:

With most blogs, you get a sense of a life, but not necessarily a sense of place, apart from hints here and there. Could you describe the area where you live, what you like and/or hate about it, its history, the places you like to visit and things you like to do? Pretty much a blank cheque really!

Yikes, this is tough! So open-ended. Well, OK.

Albany is the capital of New York State. One of the things that kinda annoys me about that is that people from other parts of the state say we have to “fix Albany” when they mean state government. It’s like “fixing Washington” when referring to the US federal government.

Not that there aren’t things to fix in the city itself. Part of it has to do with bizarre urban planning. There is something generally called the Empire State Plaza, or the South Mall, which was built in the 1960s, apparently, as a result of the then-governor, Nelson Rockefeller, a Republican, being embarrassed by Albany’s allegedly parochial look when some Dutch royalty was visiting. This involved tearing down dozens of houses, and made the city’s downtown less walkable and vibrant in many ways, though it did provide it with its distinctive skyline.

Of course, Rocky couldn’t have pulled it off without the support of the city’s mayor, Erastus Corning, a Democrat, who ended up being mayor for 41 years. This is STILL a one-party town and has been for nearly a century. I don’t think there’s a single non-Democrat on the Common Council (and if there is, it’s a Green, not a Republican). This makes the primary election all important.

There is a long-standing event every year called Pinksterfest or the Tulip Festival that goes on in Washington Park on Mother’s Day weekend in May. Washington Park, BTW, was designed by Frederick Law Olmstead, the guy who planned New York City’s Central Park, among many others. when I lived closer to the park, I didn’t mind not having a yard, because I had the huge yard that was the park.

This is a university town. I recently wrote about that.

Albany is often called, derisively, Smallbany, because there’s a good chance that, particularly in the arts/progressive community, you all know each other or know somebody a degree or two away. I HATE when, in describing Albany’s virtues, one notes that it’s three hours to New York City, Boston, or Montreal, as though its proximity to SOMEWHERE ELSE is its sole calling card. Also, Montreal is at least four hours away, unless you drive like one of my brothers-in-law.

It’s like those TV shows that tease – in the middle of the show, in the lower corner – the NEXT show, as though watching THIS show isn’t good enough to be watching. And it is. For all its flaws, I like Albany. It’s working hard to TRY to be a more livable city. The population is well-educated, in the main, and reasonably liberal.

Speaking of TV, the first TV program was broadcast around here. Really. I’ve been to the Schenectady Museum, where there’s lots of early broadcast equipment.

There are some lovely old buildings here. Coincidentally, just this month, I visited the state Capitol on a tour. The interesting thing is that when it was built, there were massive cost overruns and a four-year project took about 40 and was technically unfinished when Governor Theodore Roosevelt, one of four New York State governors to eventually become President, pulled the plug. So state government’s incompetence is not a recent phenomenon.

Albany is the right size for me. Not overwhelmingly large like New York City, or too small, like my hometown of Binghamton, NY has become. Because it’s the capital, there are usually events going on, some of them free, though not as many lately due to budgetary constraints.

Specifically, I live in a section called the Pine Hills, which has both homeowners and student renters, a good thing, I believe. I can walk to the post office, drug store, supermarket, and movie theater.

I like Albany because it’s an old city, founded in 1686. It has a history, which it sometimes undermines, but cannot entirely. In some newer cities, I’ve found lots of shinier buildings, but no THERE there.

What do I DO here? The wife and I try to go on a date once a month. It might be a restaurant, a movie (almost never at a theater in the malls), or the Albany Symphony, which plays in Albany and Troy. Used to go to Capital Rep theatre, but I think we’ve been there once since the child was born. There’s Proctor’s Theatre in Schenectady, a nearby city, an old revitalized vaudeville house that I happen to love. And not that far out of town, is Thatcher Park, with tremendous views.

Tanya Bayo came by to say: In the chinese culture, the autumnal equinox coincides with what we call the “mid autumn festival”. During this time we get together with close friends and relatives to play a dice game and give mooncakes to each other. Thanks for that, Tanya.

Tom the Mayor, with whom I worked at the comic book store FantaCo asked:
Did the fact that Fantaco was publishing some pretty gruesome, {and selling some even more gruesome}, books have a part in your leaving Fantaco when you did?

Well, sorta. We started selling books like that as early as 1981 when we published Splatter Movies. But it wasn’t the gruesomeness that turned me off, it was the fact that I was no longer even reading the products we were publishing, because of their gruesomeness, to be sure, that made me feel very detached from the place at a certain point. I was shocked to go through my journal from the summer of 1987 and see that I wrote that I would leave in a year; I didn’t leave until November 1988, but I knew I wasn’t going to stay there forever. And if the market had allowed us to do more stuff like the Chronicles, it might have been different.

Ironically, if I had stayed, I could have made quite a bit of money, because I was making a percentage of mail-order sales of goods that I just wasn’t that into.
Rose asked:
You recently switched from Blogger to WordPress, how do you like WordPress compared to Blogger?

It’s funny. I’m typing this in Blogger because I find it easier. Sometimes when I’m typing in WP, the screen jumps, especially when I’m trying to put in some simple HTML code. Also, Blogger will SAVE NOW automatically; maybe WP does too, but I’ve typed stuff, failed to save it, and lost stuff on WP; that made me crazy. And I still haven’t mastered the photos on WP. When I had my Times Union blog, before this one, I wanted to put in a picture of Dudley Do-Right, who I thought looked a bit like the former governor Eliot Spitzer, and the photo ended up twice the size of the page, so I put pictures in Blogger.

That said, I like the LOOK of the WordPress blog much better, I like the Akismet spam blocker, I like how I can reply to specific questions.

BTW, Rose’s question wasn’t an idle one. The blog I’m on now I won in a contest she held back in February, I think. Not incidentally, she’s holding another one.

Rose also asked:
Why did you choose to be a librarian?

I will refer you to the aforementioned Times Union blog, where I answered that very question just this month!

Scott, Anne-Marie, and anybody else, more answers on Monday!

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