I think this will be my fourth gig on the Albany AM talk radio station. I get scheduled unpredictably when Jim Franco needs to fill a hole, and go with the flow, trying to bloviate entertainingly without saying anything too outrageous (since I'm not Teflon Donald Trump).
I'll be yakking tomorrow (Friday) on Talk 1300 AM with Jim Franco, a veteran Troy newsman and columnist who is hosting the Talk 1300 Report from 1 to 3 p.m. You can listen online at the link above. Jim also puts out an online newspaper for the radio station which has the same name as the show.
I'll turn up before 1 at their studio in downtown Albany, and kinda doubt Jim will have me on for the whole two hours, but who knows? We'll talk about what's going on in the Capital Region and beyond, politically and otherwise, and I think it'll be fun.
Chris Churchill has a good column in today's Albany Times Union which I can't link to, because it's behind a pay wall and, despite being a subscriber to the dead-tree TU for the past several years, I can't successfully wend my through their registration process so as to be able to read the damn thing online -- example number six trillion in the ongoing, self-defeating death wish of American newspapers.
Anyway, the column is headlined "Troy must not let Lansingburgh slip away," and is about the middle-to-working class neighborhood encompassing the long north end of Troy, and how rising crime and neglect from City Hall have placed it in peril.
The wife and I were in Lansingburgh on Friday, eating good, reasonably priced Italian food at a packed Testo's restaurant, then driving down Fourth Avenue past St. Augustine's church and school on our way to the 112th Street bridge. We crossed the Hudson River into Albany County and Cohoes, where the Rymanowski Brothers Orchestra was giving a free concert. I like polka music and this band, the trumpet and sax sounding out together, with the accordion, guitar and drums. I was encouraged to see a big crowd in downtown Cohoes, a similarly gritty area but one that is pulling itself up by attracting new residents.
Back in Lansingburgh, it seems to me, one thing that needs to be done is save the aforementioned St. Augustine's School (pictured above). One way is to contribute to the Albany Catholic diocese's Beacon of Hope scholarship fund, which allows you to designate the gift for a particular school.
I confess that I've only just gotten around to watching this superb documentary, which WMHT is using as a fund-raising filler. (By all means subscribe; apart from the public TV, WMHT runs an excellent classical music radio station at 89.1 FM.)
It's about the neighborhood that was destroyed by Gov. Nelson Rockefeller and Mayor Erastus Corning, mostly for the construction of Empire State Plaza. It was a functioning, multiethnic working-class neighborhood, much like the Brooklyn of my Irish immigrant Gaffney grandparents. He became a postal clerk and she, a onetime maid, stayed home to raise their six children in a long dark apartment on Seventh Street near Eighth Avenue. My widowed grandmother and schoolteacher aunt moved to Long Island in the late 1970s because they perceived rising crime spilling into Park Slope. But NYC got a handle on crime, and Brooklyn is now thriving.
Albany, meanwhile, has much worse crime now than it did when the neighborhood was destroyed more than half a century ago, along with a disastrously high dropout rate from the public high school. I think it would be doing much better if its heart had not been ripped out then.
There are mixed opinions about Empire State Plaza, but whatever its uses, it was not worth the cost. (I mean the cost to Albany; it was not worth the huge financial cost to the state, either.) In the documentary, one old Italian lady compared the authorities who took her house to the fascists and communists of the old country. She was right. From the arrogant, snobbish Republican governor to the corrupt Democratic mayor, and their political flunkies from committeemen to legislators to judges, and the editorial boards and suburbanites and architecture critics and the rest, there was no one on the side of the people. No one sought to protect this place with its cultural riches that poor people had built together, and where they lived in harmony.
According to the Facebook page of producer Don Rittner:
"HERE IS ANOTHER CHANCE TO SEE "The Neighborhood That Disappeared" without interruption, if you missed it first time around . We are having an encore showing at the Madison Theater in Albany for one week starting on Tuesday, August 18 to 22 at 7 PM and a special matinee showing on Sunday, Auguest 23 at 2PM. Tickets are only $8 each or $5 for students and seniors. The proceeds will support the followup documentary ECHOES that will be shown on WMHT this coming December. You can also purchase the DVD at Madison. Please be sure to go the TNTD page and like it.