Stuff to do this weekend!

The Kenmore Hotel and Steuben Club, uproar on Elm Street, and other exciting tales of the Albany Planning Board

Kenmore Hotel block downtown Albany

Exciting Tales of the Albany Planning Board is a program recorded before a live studio audience once a month in which the fates of multi-million dollar projects around the city are (partially) decided.

This month: uproar over infill development in Hudson/Park, the plans for the old Steuben Club and Kenmore Hotel downtown, taking over a street segment, demolitions, and school buses...

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Seeking foregiveness

This area has a lot of public employees, so we suspect this will be of interest: You know that federal program that was supposed to forgive student loans for public employees after 10 years of payments, Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF)? So far it's worked out for very few people -- only 300 of the 28,000 borrowers who have submitted applications for loan forgiveness have been approved, and just 96 people have seen their loans discharged. Here's a big Mother Jones article looking at how this happened. [MarketWatch] [Mother Jones]

Fall foliage maps 2018

NY fall foliage map 2018-09-19 I Love NY

Fall officially starts Saturday. That means colorful foliage. That means maps about where to see colorful foliage.

The map above is from I Love NY, the state's tourism site. It provides a weekly foliage report every Wednesday during the season with region-by-region details.

It looks like the next week or two could be prime time at some of the higher elevations. Something to keep in mind if you're planning a day trip.

Vermont
Vermont is right next door. It's beautiful pretty much all year round, but especially in the fall. And, hey, look, there's a site called Foliage-Vermont with maps, updates, and recommended routes.

Local coding or 3-D printing classes for kids?

screengrab javascript for election results tree mapTom emails:

My 11 year-old son has expressed interest in computer coding (he's been doing some at code.org) and also 3-D printing. He's a very strong student, especially in math where he's been accelerated one year since 3rd grade, so I think he'd excel at both. I'm looking for classes or organizations that teach coding or 3-D printing to kids. There's an 8 week class at the Albany library that would be great for him but it's entitled "Girls Who Code", and there doesn't seem to be one for boys. Can anyone point me toward classes/groups for him?

Sure, a class like this can help a kid follow their interests, or even set them on a path toward a career. But there's also something valuable in just learning a little bit about how all this stuff works. Our world is saturated with computing devices. Knowing something about the concepts on which they run is a good thing for anyone.

So, got a suggestion for Tom and his son and other kids? Please share! And a sentence or two about why you're recommending a place can be helpful.

Percoco sentenced to prison, the people who stopped a knife attack, Watervliet road diet, in the end it's just stuff

Percoco sentenced
+ Joe Percoco -- the former top advisor to Andrew Cuomo who was convicted of taking more than $300k in bribes from companies with business before the state -- was sentenced to six years in prison Thursday. [TU]
+ Valerie Caproni, the federal judge in the case: "Frankly, it's not surprising that the citizenry of this state have absolutely lost faith in their government." [NYT]
+ Andrew Cuomo: "Joe Percoco is paying the price for violating the public trust. And it should serve as a warning to anyone who fails to uphold his or her oath as a public servant. On a personal level, the human tragedy for Joe's young children and family is a very sad consequence." [News10]
+ Republican gubernatorial candidate Marc Molinaro: "Andrew Cuomo was sentenced today -- he just doesn't have to do the time." [TU]
+ NYPIRG's Blair Horner: "It's hard to believe that Albany has learned anything. If they have, they've been keeping it a secret. There have no meaningful measures to reduce the corruption in state government." [Spectrum]

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Yep, this summer was unusually hot

melted ice cream in a cup

This summer also had a high melted-ice cream index.

Summer ends this weekend.* And it's been hot -- unusually so, by a few measures.

One of those is 90+ degree days. The Albany area has logged 20 90+ degree days this year (so far) between May and September.** And while that's not close to the record, it is a high enough number to be tied for 10th all time.

Those numbers are from the National Weather Service Albany and the records go back to 1874.

Because we can't help ourselves, here's a graph and a few more bits...

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Newburgh, Catskill, Troy

Those three cities get the "Next Hudson, but maybe different?" treatment from New York Magazine. Earlier: A check list for Upstate Place/Rust Belt City is the new Brooklyn articles [via @Maureen_McM]

Stuff to do this weekend

LarkFest overhead by Sebastien Barre

LarkFest is one of many festivals this weekend.

Welcome to the first weekend of fall -- otherwise known as festival season in the Capital Region. This weekend's festivals include music, hot air balloons, Hispanic heritage, art, and more. We've complied a whole list stuff happening this weekend that we though might interest you.

Planning something you don't see here? Share it with us in the comment section.

And whatever you're up to, have a fantastic weekend.

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The old riverfront and the old bridge

Dunn Memorial Bridge 1969 Albany NY 1960s

Random historical photo we stumbled across while looking for something else: This aerial photo of the Albany riverfront is from 1969 and shows the old Dunn Memorial Bridge as the new (that is, current) Dunn is being constructed just up river. It's from the local history rabbit hole that is the Albany Group Archive on Flickr.

Two things about this photo:

1. There is an ongoing conversation about how Albany can make its riverfront more accessible and hospitable to people. And one of the things that often gets lost in that discussion is that Albany riverfront has really been a place for people in a very long time. Like, a century or more. That's not say it shouldn't be in the future -- it just provides some context for the challenge.

2. The old Dunn Memorial Bridge had a section that lifted to make way for passing ships, sort of like the Green Island Bridge does today. That allowed the bridge to be closer to the water, and as a result, its connections on either end were much closer to street level. See the photo below -- also from the Albany Group Archive.

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Hudson Valley Gamer Con

Albany Capital Center exterior v2

Video games are now being treated like sports. Colleges are fielding teams. And some of those teams will be at the Albany Capital Center March 30-31 for a new event called the Hudson Valley Gamer Con, which is being billed as the "largest Northeast collegiate esports event to-date." Blurbage:

This event has plans to highlight the Capital Region as a destination for gamers, esport fans and software developers alike. The conference and expo will feature seating for more than 800 guests to watch the ECAC esports Championships featuring three popular game titles including League of Legends and Overwatch. A third title will be revealed in the coming months. ...
Additionally, there will be an expo that caters to the regional gaming and esports community, featuring up to 50 vendors. The expo has plans to showcase regional game development studios, Empire State Development's Digital Game Hubs at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute and New York University, college programs focused on games and esports, local artists, independent developers and other esports lifestyle brands. Portions of the expo will feature hands-on gameplay and retail vendors.

Sixteen colleges are currently set to compete at the event.

Esports -- essentially people playing video games in organized competitions -- have become big business and are drawing a huge amounts of attention. An event last year in Poland drew more than 170,000 people and 46 million unique online viewers. And many American colleges and universities field esports teams, some of them even offer scholarships.

A star Fortnite player who goes by the name Ninja is on the cover of ESPN The Magazine this month.

Tickets for Hudson Valley Gamer Con are $24 per day / $14 per day for students and available online.

Top state mental health official charged with child endangerment, legislators await pay raise decision, rescued bear cub euthanized

Top state official charged with child exploitation
A special assistant to the commissioner of the NYS Office of Mental Health was is facing 29 counts of child endangerment after police say he lured teens into his home, and, among other things, asked them to wear diapers. [News 10][TU]

Legislative pay raise
The decision on a long-awaited pay raise for stat legislators is in the hands of a state compensation committee and should come within the next three months. [TU]

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Spooky, haunted, or creepy tours around the Capital Region this fall

spooky Ten Broeck Mansion

There's a claim that the Ten Broeck Mansion is "one of the most haunted public sites in Albany."

We're already into mid September and that means ghosts are migrating back to the Capital Region from their summer homes and punching back in at their regular haunts.

And just in time, because it's high season for haunting.

Here's a handful of spooky, haunted, creepy, or just generally atmospheric tours at spots around the area from now through Halloween...

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Friend connections across space and time

NYT Upshot county friend connections Albany County

This is just a screengrab. If you head over to The Upshot, there's an interesting interactive map with sorts of info.

Over at the New York Times, The Upshot has an interesting interactive look at some research into Facebook friend links by place. Basically, the team of researchers tried to figure out how closely counties are connected by these social ties:

The darker the color, the greater the relative likelihood that any two people living in two different counties are connected on Facebook. Counties that are broadly tied to more -- and more distant -- places will color in more of the map. Counties where nearly all ties are very local will look more isolated.

That's a clip of the interactive map above selected for Albany County. A couple quick things that we noticed:

+ It's notable how East Coast-heavy the connections are for the Capital Region core counties -- not just eastern United States, but the actual coastal area. (Though Saratoga County's connections are a bit more widespread nationally.)

+ Maybe you noticed those two counties in Mississippi that stick out as having a relatively high number of connections to Albany County? They're Wayne County and Clarke County. And if you click on Clarke County in the NYT's interactive, Albany County pops up as a highly-connected place for it. The reason, we suspect, is history: Shubuta, Mississippi is in Clarke County. And it was from the Shubuta area that many families made their way from Mississippi to Albany during the Great Migration, first settling in the South End, with some families later moving to the Pine Bush.

There's a whole lot more at The Upshot about some of the patterns that emerged in the research about the effect of things like state lines. And there's even some new fuel for the ongoing "Where is Upstate?" discussion.

It was his idea to put Nipper up there

looking up at Nipper 991 Broadway 2016-April

Longtime Albany architect Harris Sanders died this week at age 91. He designed a bunch of buildings around the area -- you've probably been in a few of them.

But his most notable local work is the landmark statue of Nipper that stands atop a building in the Warehouse District. That was his idea, a way of drawing attention to appliance distributor that occupied the building and carried RCA products during the 1950s.

As Sanders told Spectrum's Mike Allen for a nice first-person video piece last year:

We had an office, about 10 people. But no one got any publicity. You put up a 25-foot-high dog and I'm getting people form California calling me. ...
There were going to put it right next to the entrance door. That little four-foot dog they had would be lost on Broadway. They wouldn't even see it. So I said, if you want it visible, you gotta put it on the roof. So I figured 25 feet with a 12-foot base would be very visible. And it is.

In a Sanders profile written by Joseph Dalton for the Times Union four years ago, the architect explained how he was inspired by the work of Frank Lloyd Wright, and you can see that influence in some of his buildings around this area.

The Sanders architecture firm continues to this day. And his son, Daniel Sanders, frequently works on local projects.

What's up in the Neighborohood

The NeighborhoodAmong the topics in this most recent spin around the Capital Region's online neighborhood: how Van Rensselaer Manor vanished, a sudden marriage, plastic, the old Albany Patroons, beautiful wildflowers, a job no one wants, taking ownership, donuts, pickled eggs, birthday parties, and trips around the sun.

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Albany Barn in post ad 2018

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Silver Fox Salvage is closing

Silver Fox Salvage interior

This is sad to hear: Silver Fox Salvage -- the wonderfully eclectic collection of salvaged architectural and furniture pieces Albany's Warehouse District -- is closing.

From a post on its Facebook page this morning:

To our loyal customers and friends. We regret that after all these years Silver Fox will be closing. We are forced to do this to settle the estate of our founder, Fred Shapiro.
The building and all its contents most be sold. If you previously had some lighting or other pieces you had your eye on please stop in and make a discounted purchase. We we will be open our usual hours 10:30 until 6:00 but closed on Monday. We will still be taking custom orders for tables, vanities and all other pieces.
Please share this with friends and we hope to see you soon.
Thanks, The crew at Silver Fox

Fred Shapiro, who was also an oncologist, started Silver Fox in 2007 with Camille Gibeau. He died in 2013. As Gibeau remembered him then: "He could always turn nothing into something. And he had many interests -- he played blues harp, was a motorcycle racer, had a huge book selling business for a while -- even played on a unicycle basketball team."

Silver Fox wasn't just a repository of salvaged items. Its crew also helped turn reclaimed materials into new pieces for local establishments such as City Beer Hall in Albany and the Dinosaur Bar-B-Que in Troy, and created custom furniture for clients.

The warehouse on Learned Street will "close when the building contents and lumber are gone," according to its Facebook account.

Where to buy Mexican-style chorizo?

chorizo taco La Mexicana Schenectady

A chorizo taco at La Mexicana. / photo: Daniel B.

Sean emails:

Do any of your readers know where I can find any of that good chorizo that crumbles when you remove the casing? Price Chopper used to carry some, but I haven't seen it in quite a while. I've been left having to use "hot-dog chorizo," which is nothing like the good oily, crumbly stuff. Please help!

As Sean mentions, there are two general types of chorizo: the Spanish or Portuguese style that slices up like a sausage, and the Mexican style that crumbles. The Mexican style is excellent in a taco with potatoes or mixed up with eggs (you can get it like that at Viva Cinco de Mayo in Albany).

Our first thought when we saw Sean's question was the Mexican Market on Central Ave, so we called over there and it sounds like they don't have it available for retail. (We wouldn't be surprised if you get it as a taco there, though.)

So then we called over to La Mexicana on State Street in Schenectady. And success -- the person on the phone said they do sell chorizo in the grocery there. (Also: You pretty much have to stop for a few tacos if you go to La Mexicana.)

Got other suggestions for Sean in his search for chorizo? Please share!

Albany homicides reach 12, JCOPE hasn't investigated Cuomo, flooding issues continue on Western Avenue, Saratoga City Hall closed for a year

Albany homicides
Albany has recorded 12 homicides in 2018 so far -- the highest number in 18 years. [TU]

Sentencing in Schenectady stabbing
A Schenectady woman will serve 3 years in prison for an April stabbing at Summit Towers apartments in the city. [Gazette]

Manslaughter plea
An Albany woman pleaded guilty to second-degree manslaughter Tuesday morning, in connection with the overdose death of a 24-year-old woman found in a snowbank in March. [TU]

"It felt like my whole back was on fire"
Ellazar Williams, the man paralyzed after being shot in the back in a police involved shooting, told his story to Paul Grondahl[TU]

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Today's moment of late summer

late day sun sunchokes bees 2018-09-18

late-day late-summer sun + sunchokes + bumblebees

A look around the Maiden House residential + retail conversion in downtown Albany

Maiden House downtown Albany

That latest project in the ongoing shift of downtown Albany toward being a residential neighborhood: Maiden House.

It includes 18 apartments and a handful of potentially interest retail spaces at the corner of North Pearl Street and Maiden Lane in a building that had been vacant or underused for many years. And it's backed by development company that's becoming a key player in the transformation of downtown.

So, let's have a look around...

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Recent Comments

La Mexicana is a treasure. We always buy a few packages of the Chorizo and freeze them (after stopping in for tacos) -Great market and really cool restaurant.

A look around the Maiden House residential + retail conversion in downtown Albany

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