(Gipson (Terry): One of   the good guys)

CoCo (NY) Loses Terry Gipson?

  MH April 1, 2012
Redistricting, signed by Gov. Cuomo March 15, amid many questions, leaves Columbia County out of NY State Senatorial Districrt 41.

Where are we? Wherever it is, it won't be easy to find another Democratic candidate like Terry Gipson.

  MH April 3, 2012
Info forwarded by Ernie Reis indicates that Columbia County, NY now resides in NY State Senate district 43. Instead of Steve Saland, we are represented by Republican, Roy J. McDonald.

BOARDS of EDUCATION (We elected them...)

  [May 2011]

When boards of education volunteer for their arduous jobs, does anyone ask them for their deeply considered definitions of education? Do we ask them specifically how they would turn their general ideas into some specifics that communities and tax monies can support? (And, incidentally, should keeping-the-tax-rates-down ever be enough to elect a Bd. of Ed. member?)

[Use arrows to cont.]

Some years ago, in one of those dinner-table conversations that grow extended and serious, Joe Jurchak (Valatie, NY) made a compelling argument for education as the most basic answer to national issues—actually, to human problems in general. His SQUAWK-BACK reminded me once again to ask…

Yeah but, what do you mean “education”? 

I know that education involves facts, at least as we humans can best determine them. I know it involves a huge effort to acquire habits of logic, reason, and the connecting up of facts. I know it must include calculation skills. To be education, it must cause students to seek and probe ideas and weed out the untrue and the illogical and the just-plain-silly. I think it involves some acquisition of personal survival skills, mental, manual, and health-related. I think it involves
noticing that “do unto others…” mostly works—and it includes the chance to practice the concept. I think education involves the practice of self-discipline.

To be education, I think it must cast a wide net around things-human and things-universe. (Who else can we be? Where else can we go?) I think it must unleash imaginations and encourage connections so that useful and beautiful things can be made from our minds and from our universe.

(What a load for teachers! We must choose them carefully, nurture them, accord them status, hire enough of them, and pay them very well!)

I know a couple of things education is not. It is not simply memorizing, word for word (boys only) an ancient religious book; although some long-term memory, boys, and many old books are useful and important.

I know that education is not herding humans into sameness or mindless worship of “authorities.”

I know that education should not include brain-damaging activities such as football.

I know that education is not indoctrination.

Or is it? Maybe my particular definition of education (and everyone else’s) is simply a particular kind of indoctrination.

Maybe cultures merely choose the particular indoctrination they wish to pass on to successive generations.

What do you think? What do our boards of education think?
  [May, 2011 MH]

Gibson Nailed by Adcock

  August 19, 2011

Please read Thomas Adcock's full letter in the Columbia Paper (8/18/11)! At the end of it, he quotes one of his old bosses--an ad agency guy:

  One day Frank asked, "Tom, would
  you like to know how come I'm so
  damn rich?... A smart person knows
  what smart people want, a genius
  knows what stupid people want. I
  am a genius."

Adcock reviews the Gibson's Tea-Taliban-Party votes and concludes that the man is "a genius."

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The "genius" principle would seem to expose, once again, the weakness in our democracy. The country is always at risk because of the "the stupid vote." (After all, we voted in George Bush--at least once.) Actually, I think "stupid vote" is a misnomer. "Ignorant vote" perhaps: the unrich voting against their own best interests while the "geniuses" are laughing past their gold cuff links.



MARRIED! Natalie Varriale (Kinderhook/NYC) & Himanshu (New Delhi, India/NYC) in NYC 2011

MARRIED! Paul Leyden and Paul Murphy, Canaan, Sept. 2011


UEL'S piano KIDS


Julia Rose & Uel Wade preparing for
  Spencertown, NY



Yes, Uel Wade (Chatham, NY) has adult students, but Saturday, June 11, 2011 was PERFORMANCE DAY for his kids at the Spencertown Academy, NY.

If you were there you must have been shocked at how they looked. They looked as if this were a special event! There was a conspicuous absence of jeans and sneakers. Now, jeans and sneakers can be a great, practical uniform, but what a breath of summer air to see something different: boys in ties, girls all crisp and feminine. Hailey Morgan was especially pretty in a lovely dress and earrings. Jan Jurchak was a cool, handsome, teenage retro-dude in sweater-vest and slick hair. Benjamin Halpin walked tall in his best dress shoes. They were all beautiful. And they could play the piano.

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The youngest performer, Phoebe Hebert, aced her solo, bravely overcoming extreme, extreme, extreme reluctance; and no one left the stage in tears. Because this was “collaborative piano year,” along with solos, duets abounded. Duets with friends, duets with siblings, duets with the teach.

My hub (Uel) wasn’t too bad either, telling us stuff most of us didn’t know about the music. I usually complain about his singing, but he was pretty good imitating how blues singers bend a note (relating to a student‘s blues piece) and pointing out a Wagnerian theme in Zachary Pearson’s Debussy solo.

After Christopher Howard played his Bach, he, Zachary, and Jan left the crowd laughing with their send-up of Chopsticks for six, occasionally jazzy, hands.

Heavens! They were all enough to make a person sanguine about the future.

  [MH June 2011]

PS: I know I’m getting old when a bunch of kids can turn me all sentimental. Having raised a couple, I know they can be pains in the rear. But I forget.


  (Message from Terry Gipson,
  November, 2011)
Dear Marion,

Let me get straight to the point. Eliminating the so-called "Millionaires' Tax" in New York State is a bad idea.
The state's finances are a mess and the last thing we should be doing is cutting revenue and laying off more teachers, policemen, and firefighters. That's exactly what will happen if this tax is allowed to expire. We need this income to support the vital services we all use.
You've heard about the numbers. In the next year alone, this existing tax could supply $4.6 billion, and that would do a lot of good for the state, like help respond to the recent October snow storm or hurricane Irene. And without it, we'll have to cut another $2 billion from existing education and infrastructure budgets.

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This is one of the points where Senator Saland and I disagree. He wants to cut taxes for the wealthiest New Yorkers and make the rest of us pick up the tab. He says that asking the top 1% pay their fair share will drive them from the state. Well, that makes no sense. In fact, study after study has shown this is absolutely not the case.

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Check out the numbers here.
We simply can't afford this tone deaf "protect the powerful at all costs" kind of thinking any more.
I've got a better idea. Let's elect senators who will work for all of us.


  (Elect Terry Gipson.



  A message from Terry Gipson)
  Jan. 26, 2012

Dear Marion,
Let me be blunt.

The unrelenting war on women's rights waged by the extreme right wing of the Republican Party has come to New York.

The passage of a resolution designating this week as Reproductive Rights and Justice Week should be a simple matter, but, apparently, with this senate majority, with our senator, nothing having to do with equal rights for women is easy. THE GOP [State] Senate has re-written the resolution and watered it down to the point where we might as well not even bother. This type of pandering isn't pretty, and the people of our state desrerve better.
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I suppose we shouldn't be surprised. Senator Saland has a long history of not supporting basic women's rights. He has voted against the Domestic Workers Bill oif Rights, against No-Fault Divorce, against authorizing nurses and pharmacists to dispense emergency contraception, and he has consistently been anti-choice on Medicaid funding for abortions and parental notification laws. He has proven that he is a dutiful foot soldier in the national war against women that has been going on for far too long in this country.

I call on Senator Saland to stand up the the right wing of his party and end the assault on the rights of the women of this state. As Senator, I will fight every day for the rights of women and for those of all New Yorkers.

There are some things that are more important than party loyalty, and this is certainly one of them.


Noise Ordinance for Chatham Village?

  MH Sept. 16, 2011

Yes please.

Sometimes the earth-shaking thump of a car radio (apparently a car occupied by a hearing-impaired or brain-dead teenager) shakes the the windows of our house all the way to the backyard.

In some years, Fair (unfair) "music " or repeated Fair crashing has made our home almost uninhabitable.

The amazing decibels were especially obnoxious the year my mother was dying in the upstairs bedroom.

The NY Districts Game: local

  Updated April 16,2012
  MH April 4, 2012

Who represents us?

You live in NY State 
  U.S. Senate: Kirsten Gillibrand (D)
  Charles E. Schumer (D)
You live in town of Chatham, or town of Ghent, NY:
  U.S. House of Rep., (new, Jan. 1, 2013) District
  19 (was 20)
  Chris Gibson (R)

  NY State Senate, new District 43,
  Roy McDonald (R);
  (You were in 41, Steve Saland [R])
  NY State Assembly, 103rd District (District to be
  Didi Barrett (D)

[Use arrows to cont.]

You live in town of Chatham, NY 
  NY State Assembly (new) District 107
  Steve McLaughlin (R)

You live in town of Ghent (Including the part of Chatham village that is included in Ghent)
  NY State Assembly, (new, as of Jan. 1, 2013)
  District 106
  Ron Canestrari (D)

We are told that law suits could still cause changes.
Is this confusing, or what?

DAN'S DINER Spencertown, NY

  MH Sept. 9, 2011

I have just returned from the urban part of Michigan where one finds, lined up mile after mile, a Burger King, a Wendy’s, a McDonald’s, an Arbys, a Denny’s, a Bob Evans, etc, etc, etc. (There is not even an empty lot or a Ford salesroom between them.) When they reach the end of that list, they start over with another Burger King, another Wendy’s, another MacDonalds…! (It’s enough to ruin your appetite.) I don’t know. Maybe Michiganians seldom eat slowly or at home.

Lucky for us in Columbia County, NY, we’ve got Dan’s Diner. It shares several acres of treed land with a beautiful old red barn and two windmills. Lest you think the ambiance is like one of those super-manicured, phony-countrified establishments meant for rich, nostalgic locals and tourists, you may relax. The property

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also sports what looks like a vinyl garage, in front of which can live an orange truck with tiger stripes and a flat tire. Deep in the back of the property sit various kinds of prosaic machinery.

Inside, you find the diner womaned by several young persons, all of whom are cheerful and pretty--all of whom know how to cook perfect bacon and serve it with good humor. (The beautiful red-head is especially sunny and agreeable.)

Small oak stools are not friendly to bottoms, but the atmosphere is excellent. A heavy, sliding oak door is at the entrance. The ceiling is covered with curved, narrow oak strips. A nature-green trims the doors and etched windows. On either end are genuine old-time oak cabinets, one of which is refrigerated with many large-latched doors. In summer there are flies. Sometimes there is bad music on the radio. Always it is peopled with locals who seem well-acquainted and respectful with the young women.

One may hope that Dan’s Diner, along with the Country Store, remains in splendid isolation in Spencertown, NY. That is about as urban as the town should get.

Dan’s Diner. I love it. It's us.



[Nov.5, 2011]   Judy Grunberg
  Chatham Center, NY
This is an important election year for us. We have a rare opportunity to overturn the current business-as-usual Town-of-Chatham administration in favor of a more forward-thinking, activist group of individauals.

After the last eight years, we need a new leader for the Town. We are lucky that KURT BARENSFELD agreed to head the Dems ticket. He will make a firm but kind Supervisor. I know he has strong ethical beliefs for himself and his family , which will transfer to how he leads us as well.

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For the two open seats on the Town Council, I endorse BOB BALCOM, who attends nearly every meeting of the Board and faithfully reports back to keep us apprised of the goings-on at the Town level. As a former Town Board member (he lost his seat four years ago by only a handful of votes.) Bob brings experience and native wisdom to the job. I am particularly grateful for his fine sense of humor and his willingness to work with so many different kinds of people. He is perfect for the job.

LINDA HABER: a great woman! Another person with a strong eithical sense. She'll make an excellent addition to the Board.

And I'm equally impressed with our two candidates for Judge, KANDACE EATON & JAMES BORGIA-FORSTER. I don't rememer a year when I have been so taken with the personal & professional qualities of all the Democratic candidates. Aren't they smart and handsome? And they're ready to buckle down to the serious work of representing all of us in the Town.


Cathy Chronicles 1


Cathy (on the phone to roofer): That huge snow storm made a hole in my roof. When can you come?

Roofer (arriving at the door): Is there snow on your roof?

Cathy: (pause) Uh, yes. (pause) May I have an estimate?

Roofer: Do you have a ladder?

Cathy: (long pause) You're a roofer for gawd's sake!

The Cathy Chronicles 3

A (Chatham) Spring Tale

    (April 2011)
Son: Mom. What do you want for Mother’s Day?

Cathy: Wood chip mulch.

Son: Okay

  (May—Mother’s Day.
  Offspring, cards and flowers
  have arrived. Son discovers
  Cathy holding an envelope
  vigorously shaking it.)

Son: What are you doing, Mother?

Cathy: (dryly) Looking for mulch.



Cathy (astonished): Do you know about the guy up the street who has been sexually abusing his girl friend’s kids for two years?!

Woman: I read something about it.

Cathy: He admits it! My husband and I knew him. At the fire house. Around. He seemed just like a regular person. (pause) She worked three to eleven, so I guess he had lots of access.

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Woman: Ah.

Cathy: Do you know how much tax-payer money it takes to keep one of these guys in prison every year?

Woman: About forty thousand, I think.

Cathy: Yeah. And about a hundred thousand if he needs medical care. (With great simplicity and energy) I think they should cut it off and march him around town with it pasted to his forehead.

Woman:  Oo.
  [June 2011]


  April 16. 2012


1.Regarding the U.S. congressional race and a Democratic challenger to Chris Gibson, I suspect there will be a primary between Tyner and Schreibman. Petitions

  [Use arrows to cont.]

have to be filed today [4/16/12], and both candidates have met the signature requirements. However, it will take several days before the state Board of Elections makes an announcement.
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2. Yes, we lose Saland (and Democratic challenger Terry Gipson) and gain Roy McDonald. However, the state redistricting is being challenged in court. A judge ruled in favor of the current plan. I am told the judge did not like the plan but said it was not unconstitutional. It is being appealed, so state redistricting is still not settled.

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Terry Gipson is still making the rounds here in Columbia County but not at previous levels.

The problem seems to be centered in the creation of a 63-senate seat that will favor the Republicans and help them stay in control of the NYS Senate.


Do take a circuitous route! Get a map and pick narrow, winding, upsy-downsy roads to get there in order to see meadows and old houses, and a continuously surprising landscene. And when you come to the Book Barn you will find its modest, red exterior perfect.

Inside is an elderly stove, an elegantly informal, white-haired, London-born proprietor, and a rabbit-warren record of civilization--narrow, winding, and (like the landscene) upsy-downsy and continuously surprising.
  [Use Arrows to cont.]

One small, low-ceilinged, book-lined room leads to another, relieved only with beautiful posters touting interesting bygone events and bygone persons and places.

The style of this place is not unique, but somethig else about it may be. I challenge you to find anywhere on these shelves a truly crappy book. Everywhere you look, there are authors of stature. They have been chosen. They are for sale minus the familiar price-gouging.

This is a small business to be cherished. Go there. Buy books. Read them.


Bravo, Steve Saland. You did the brave and decent thing.

  [MH June 24, 2011]

Happening In On Piano People

  MH July 17, 2012

Today I happened to be in the Uel Wade piano studio (getting the maestro to zip up my dress) when Phoebe Hebert entered for her piano lesson. How open and confident her entrance! "Hi" she greeted sturdily and simply. The gigantic Steinway holds no terror for Phoebe. She knows she can tame it.

If I'm lucky, at dinner I get some Phoebe quotes. She's eight years old. Most of them sound like bits of a particularly truthful New Yorker essay.

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Once in a while, I see the entrance of
 Benjamin Halpin through the glass door. With arms full of music, he runs to the Steinway.  He runs! He is eight.

From the kitchen, I sometimes hear Julia Rose's sure-fingered touch--or the sparkling Bach of the amazing adult pianist, Jon Cashen.

Once in a while I get a spectacular Uel Wade-Gili Lev four-hands Poulenc!

It's enough to make you happy about America.

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