Empire State Plaza fireworks with sound

Corning Tower

Empire State Plaza pic
c. 2020 Chuck Miller. Used with permission.

It wasn’t that I needed another piece of “stuff.” But there was something both familiar and wacky about this piece of art and craft by Chuck Miller that I had to put in at least an opening bid on. And, as it turned out, I won.

Here is one of Chuck’s photos of the Empire State Plaza fireworks, this from 2018. He’s taken quite a few of them over the years. As he explains here, “I’ve dabbled with electro-luminescent wire projects – mostly my neon sign recreation projects that later became successful art sales at Historic Albany Foundation’s BUILT charitable auction.

“So I wanted to build another one, and this time I wanted to integrate sound-activated lights in it.” And he did and offered it to the HAF auction.

Yes, it does light up with sound activation, such as talking or clapping. Playing music on the CD, though was less successful unless I played it very loud. But two things really work to create sustained lighting. One is to sing Om at approximately the F below middle C. That is amazingly effective. And fun. One can do that for only so long, though.

The other is to take the sleep machine I use every night. For most purposes, I set it to Stream, which replicates a babbling brook. For this exercise, I put it on Calm, which sounds a bit like a chant. Maybe sometime, I’ll bug my wife to pull out her clarinet to see what sound is most effective.

Sight and sound

I’m musing on this piece’s appeal to me. It is a fine photograph. It’s also the Albany connection. The Corning Tower, at 42 stories, is the tallest building between Montreal and New York City.

The picture is a reminder of something approaching “normal” in 2020, though the shot was taken in 2018. I hadn’t gone down to the plaza to watch the fireworks n a couple of decades, as it’s too crowded and noisy. But I had done so frequently last century.

The combination of sight and sound connected with me. I always find my own photographs of fireworks depressingly lacking. And I have no skills whatsoever on the mechanical front.

If nothing else, I can put Empire State Plaza fireworks with sound below the front windows. If anyone tries to commit a break-in, the burglar will be startled by the flashing lights.

E is for fireworks EAR-itation

I’ve NEVER seen on Facebook such unanimity from all over the city.

Albany, NY has some wonderful fireworks each year on the Empire State Plaza downtown.

Unfortunately, in the past few holidays, there’s been lots of competition from private individuals, and it has only became worse in the last two years when the Albany County legislature allowed individuals to buy items that had previously been banned.

The 4th of July was on a Tuesday in 2017, but I heard what sounded like a war zone each night from the 1st through the 5th.

I did laugh nervously when the family visited a CVS drug store, in adjacent Greene County, in June. Store space devoted to the fireworks was accompanied by a sign that warned people not to smoke near them. Smoking is illegal in most stores anyway, but it such an absurdist thing to see in a building that houses medicine and a pharmacy.

The three of us traversed out to see the downtown fireworks from the soccer field behind the high school, a couple miles from downtown. I had made a point of wearing ear plugs, the kind one uses to block out snoring or the like. I was very happy about that, because the competing local ordinance was close by, and therefore LOUD.

Unfortunately, the haze from the fireworks was THICK. As someone described it, “It was like morning fog by the river in the fall.” There is a potential impact on respiratory health to boot. I’ve NEVER seen on Facebook such unanimity from all over the city, antipathy for the new law.

As it turns out, the nearby Schenectady County legislature voted to ban, again, fireworks, but it widely ignored. Easy enough to do since all the counties around Schenectady still offer them for sale.

Googling for this post, I came across this story about pets suffering from late night fireworks. But it was about Albany, GEORGIA. So we’re not the only Albany suffering.

For ABC Wednesday

F is for Fireworks

Recently, I’ve been satisfied watching fireworks on TV.

Colorful fireworks lighting the night sky
Colorful fireworks lighting the night sky

I’m OK with a modicum of fireworks on the 4th of July. I’m less thrilled with them on the 1st, 2nd, and 3rd of the month, and I heard LOTS of fireworks in my neighborhood before Independence Day. I’m with Ken Levine when he says, “Why the hell do people buy home fireworks?”

A recent change in New York State Penal Law now allows for the sale and use of a specific category of consumer fireworks known as Sparkling Devices, ground based or handheld devices “that produce a shower of colored sparks and or a colored flame, audible crackling or whistling noise and smoke” of a certain size.

“Sale and use of Sparkling Devices will be legal only in counties and cities that have enacted a local law…” Albany County was the 37th county to pass such an ordinance in May 2016. This explains the display at the local CVS pharmacy of late, which did not used to be the case.

Recently, I’ve been satisfied watching fireworks on TV while The Wife and The Daughter travel 75 miles to my in-laws’ house in Oneonta and watch the festivities there. But because they were home this year, traveling two days later, the Daughter wanted to see pyrotechnics.

We all went out, hearing the explosions, but unable to see any fancy colors except the local illicit models. The Wife went home, but the Daughter and I found a field with a fairly decent view of the fireworks from the Empire State Plaza from behind the high school.

But the more local items blowing up were LOUD. A series of items that sounded like gunfire. In fact, if someone WANTED to commit murder, it’d be a decent time.

As we got closer to the school, we noticed what I initially thought was a furnace I had never seen before. But no, it was a fully-engulfed Dumpster fire. And the adjacent shack was smoldering. Fortunately, the Fire Department arrived before I was able to call.

On our walk home, we saw a young couple with her toddler daughter, throwing something out on the street. When cars would ride over the area, it sounded as they had blown a flat tire. Often, the driver would swerve from being startled; I’m glad no one got hurt.

I was ready to go home. I was most worried about someone detonating something and deafening me or my daughter.

The best way I could describe it was as a fairly civilized war zone.

ABC Wednesday – Round 19

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