We hope you're enjoying the holiday -- in whatever shape it's taking for you.
Thanks for being part of AOA this year!
Many people will be out and about doing holiday shopping over the next few weeks. If you're looking for something a little bit different -- craftier, handmade, more independent, fair trade -- there are a handful of local holiday markets coming up that could be worth a stop.
And here's a rundown of them...
A piece of Lark Street history closes its doors for good on Sunday.
Hot Dog Heaven, the tiny Lark Street diner where Barbara Lamperella and her family have been making homemade soups, roasts, burgers and, of course, hot dogs for 20 years will flip its last burger on Sunday.
Lamperella says after two decades, it's just time to close.
Among the topics in this most recent spin around the Capital Region's online neighborhood: Thanksgiving, media criticism, a fire tower, Cooperstown, moss, the Saratoga restaurant market, lobster mac 'n cheese, brunch at The Low Beat, sausage, donuts, The Shop, Fort Orange General Store, apartment gawking, and yes, ma'am.
I'm a big fan of food trucks, and particularly fond of Slidin' Dirty. So I was over the moon when I heard they were opening a permanent brick-and-mortar location in Troy.
This week I stopped by to check out the new space on First Street, which maintains the no-nonsense Slidin' Dirty vibe.
March in Albany protests Ferguson decision, Schenectady neighborhood residents clamor for crime solutions, ownership fight over cupcake bakery
Hundreds of people marched from Albany City Hall to the O'Brien Federal Building to protest the recent grand jury result in the death of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri. Speakers also called for changes and greater awareness in the Albany area. Said Angela Clarke of Capital Area Against Mass Incarceration: "We see constantly these cases where people are killed in very public ways and nothing comes from it. From our perspective, that's why the entire system doesn't work for us and that's why we're protesting today." [Daily Gazette] [TU] [Troy Record]
Albany County DA David Soares on how officials handled the situation in Ferguson, to the Times Union: "Throughout this entire process it has just been one big example of mismanagement to another and I don't know why I expected anything differently on the day that the grand jury decision was publicized." [TU]
From Capital: "Respected Albany reporter James Odato has taken a leave of absence from the city's Times Union newspaper -- a move that appears to be related to a lawsuit involving his in-depth coverage of a secretive personal development organization [NXIVM]." [Capital]
Historical illustration of the day, because Thanksgiving week: "The Wild Turkey," from Zoology of New York, published in 1844. Or: The New-York Fauna: comprising detailed descriptions of all the animals hitherto observed within the state of New York, with brief notices of those occasionally found near its borders, and accompanied by appropriate illustrations.
The book was the work of James Ellsworth De Kay, a medical doctor and zoologist with a somewhat colorful backstory, and artist John William Hill. The author and illustrator produced the work for the New York State Geologic Survey.
image via NYPL
The Albany Police Department is hosting two public forums on December 2 about the possible locations for red light cameras in the city -- at 2 pm at 200 Henry Johnson Blvd and 7 pm at Albany High School. From the poster: "Albany Police Deputy Chief Brendan Cox will provide a presentation on the current red light camera project. He will also discuss crash data and potential intersection locations for red light cameras. The Deputy Chief will then open the floor for questions, feedback, and comments." (Thanks, Valerie) Earlier: Albany Common Council passes red light camera ordinance: comments, votes, thoughts
The Trial Before Christmas -- a mock trial to settle who really wrote "A Visit from Saint Nicholas," first published in the Troy Sentinel -- will once again be held at the Rensselaer County Courthouse in Troy on December 7 during the Victorian Stroll at 2 pm. It's free to attend.
Last year's trial -- featuring a judge, jury, attorneys, expert witnesses, a sax-playing Santa -- was in front of an overflow crowd of almost 500 people. As a result, event organizer Duncan Crary is aiming to have a feed of the trial in the courthouse rotunda this year to handle the overflow, and to post a video of the trial online afterward. To cover the costs involved, there's a Kickstarter.
One of the pledge premiums is a a fun poster designed Ben Karis-Nix of Troy Cloth and Paper. That's the poster on the side here.
Ever have a cheeseburger change your life?
I haven't either -- though I've had plenty of cheeseburgers that remind me why it's good to be alive.
To me, cheeseburgers are prized because they're quick, filling, and relatively inexpensive. It's part of the reason they've lasted through decades, beyond trends.
For all those reasons, it never made much sense to me to have a cheeseburger on the menu of an upscale, top-rated restaurant. Why, when you are going to dine at an eatery that features Artic Char with quinoa, squash puree, Greek yogurt sauce, and pickled black currants -- or beef carpaccio with crispy oysters, fried capers, shaved Parmesan, and truffle emulsion -- would you order a cheeseburger? Facepalm.
If you want a cheeseburger, go somewhere that's going to give you that cheesy, fat-dripping patty of delight that with leave you just a few bucks poorer. (In that situation, Five Guys is my burger of choice.)
But then I ate the cheeseburger at 15 Church in Saratoga Springs, and I had a shift in perspective. I was trapped in a food identity crisis. I'm a thin-patty kind of girl who fell in love with a hockey-puck mound of ground meat. All I thought I loved/hated about a burger was being questioned.
Following on a comment from Andrew Cuomo that upstate cities should propose ambitious projects, Syracuse mayor Stephanie Miner took up challenge (dare?) and her administration has proposed a "Syracuse Billion" (a la the Buffalo Billion). It's essentially a call for infrastructure (re)investment: replacing the city's water mains, the construction of a 1 gigabit/s municipal fiber network, and a cooling system that makes use of water from a nearby lake. (What would an Albany Billion include...) [Syracuse Post-Standard]
The annual Siena holiday poll included two (well, three) winter questions this year:
As you think about winter, which of the following two statements is closer to your opinion
I dread it. The holidays may be enjoyable, but I can't stand the darkness, the cold and the ice and snow take a toll on me - 36 percent
It may be cold but it is a special time of year. I look forward to winter sports, sitting by a fire, catching up on reading, putting on my winter clothes and all the holidays and events the season provides - 60 percent
And thinking specifically about snow, would you describe yourself more as
Someone that gets excited about snow coming and looks forward to enjoying the related activities and its quiet beauty - 43 percent
Someone that figures out how to endure it, get it cleared away and wouldn't be upset if we had very little of it - 55 percent
The only demographic group that include majority excited about snow (beyond the margin of error): households with kids.
Oh, and that third winter question asked people how much snow they thought we'd be getting this winter. Considering that trained meteorologists have trouble with that question, maybe they should have just asked people to pick a number between 1 and 100.
SRI says the poll was conducted November 3-17 and has a margin of error of +/- 3.4 points.
Fatal shooting in Schenectady, budget drama in Albany and Troy, proposed Shen policy for transgender students draws criticism, public transit facing funding gap
Schenectady police say one man was fatally shot -- and his brother stabbed -- in Mont Pleasant Monday evening. Witnesses reported hearing 10-15 shots. SPD was investigating and as of Monday night no arrests had been made. [Daily Gazette] [WNYT] [TWCN]
The man convicted of stalking a woman from Albany to Colonie where he attacked her and stabbed her this past August was sentenced 18 years to life in prison. The attack left the woman, a Gulf War veteran, blind in one eye. Said the woman at the sentencing: "My concern both during the attack and now is that this individual never again has the opportunity to victimize anyone else." [TU] [TWCN] [Daily Gazette]
It looks like December 17 could be the day the Gaming Facility Location Board releases the recommended casino sites. [TU]
A "a rally, march and speak out for justice" is scheduled for 5 pm outside Albany City Hall Tuesday in response to the grand jury decision to not indict in the Ferguson, Missouri case involving the death of Michael Brown. Alice Green, from the Albany-based Center for Law & Justice, on Ferguson situation: "The case has helped a lot of people understand the historical problems African Americans, especially African American males have had." [press release] [TU] [News10]
The annual Albany Antique Postcard Show is set for December 6 at the Polish Community Center on Washington Ave Ext in Albany. Blurbage:
Over 1 Million Vintage Postcards on display and for sale at the 4th Annual Antique Postcard show held at the Polish Community Center in Albany New York. Dealers from 5 different states will be set up with cards from all over the world. Collectors will come from all over the east coast to look for every subject imaginable. Small towns from all over New York state, over 100 years old. Free appraisals on location.
The company behind this show is Mary L. Martin Ltd. Postcards, which has an interesting backstory -- one that started in Albany. As the story goes, the eponymous Mary Martin was living in Albany during the 1960s when she got interested in postcards via her husband's stamp collecting hobby. Martin started collecting and trading the cards, and that eventually turned into a job for her and later a family business. (Along the way the Martins moved to Maryland.) Mary Martin died in 2001, and the business is now run by Martin's daughter, also named Mary, who grew up in the family business. It has a 10,000-square-foot warehouse in Maryland and claims the world's largest collection of postcards. [Baltimore Sun] [Baltimore Magazine] [Baltimore Sun x2]
The postcard show at the Polish Community Center is from 9:30 am-3 pm on December 6. Admission is $3.
The city of Albany had the highest "effective" property tax rate among upstate's five largest cities in 2013, according to analysis by the Empire Center. The think tank posted new data for its Benchmarking New York database today, which compares cities/towns/villages/school districts on a bunch of different measures for revenue and spending.
Updated Wednesday at 11 am.
And so it begins. The Icy, Snowy Apocalypse Watch makes its debut for the 2014-2015 season with everyone's favorite variety of icy, snowy apocalypse: A costal storm with great uncertainty -- ahead of holiday travel.
Which way will the storm track? Will there be two inches of snow or ten? Will Andrew Cuomo blame a weather forecaster? Drama without a script. Drama. Without a script.
The paraphrased forecast:
Wednesday: A winter storm warning has been declared. Snow starting late morning (oh, look, it has), could be heavy at times -- 1-2 inches an hour at times during the afternoon. Daytime accumulation of 4-8 inches possible.
Wednesday night: More snow, maybe another 3-5 inches.
Thanksgiving: Probably some more snow, trailing off in the morning. Mid 30s.
Thursday night:Cloudy, low of 22.
Friday: Sunny and 34.
Because this is a coastal storm, the track will make a huge difference as to what happens in the Capital Region. If it tracks farther out to sea, we could get a few inches. More to the west and mashed potatoes won't be the only thing people are shoveling.
Projections for snow totals in the Capital Region have increased since the beginning of the week. About 10 inches or more now looks like a good bet in the Capital Region core. Areas to the east/southeast/south will probably get more, areas to the the north/northwest/west. The probabilistic snowfall accumulation map is worth a look.
We're continuing to peg this as a "Winter's making a point" icy, snowy apocalypse.
Shovels at the ready, upstaters. There's turkey on the other side.
Media freakout forecast: HORN OF PLENTY. Major travel holiday + first icy, snowy apocalypse of the season = extra helpings of media freakout. (Pass the gravy.)
Necessary note: You should take this all with an enormous bag of rock salt. AOA has absolutely no weather forecasting expertise. At all. That said, the world will probably not end because of some snow. Most likely.
We've enlisted Daniel B. to survey Capital Region donuts -- and pick his favorites -- for a short series called "The Best Dozen."
Donuts are a special treat. Given the ubiquity of that one regional orange and pink chain, sometimes we forget that.
At Park Side Eatery, donuts are only available on Friday, Saturday and Sunday. The flavors also change frequently, typically offering between 10-15 varieties on any given day. So all of the donuts sampled on a recent visit may not be available when you go. And they don't make a ton, so popular varieties often sell out by noon.
Still, by going to the shop and sampling one of every donut on the rack, it is possible to learn how to cobble together the best dozen.
The UAlbany Foundation has bought a new president's residence -- in Guilderland -- and university president Robert Jones will be moving there, at the foundation's request, from the downtown Albany apartment he had been leasing, the Times Union reports. (The Foundation says it needs the new residence for hosting events.) Didn't UAlbany already have a president's residence? Yep -- a 6,000-square-foot house near Washington Park in Albany that was put up for sale by the foundation last year after Jones chose to live downtown. [TU]
Drawing's closed! Winner's been emailed!
As is now an annual tradition, we'd like to know...
What are you thankful for this year?
Please share in the comments -- it could be anything or anyone.
As is also tradition, we will draw one person randomly from the comments and AOA will donate $100 to the charity of that person's choice.
The Editors will start things off after the jump.
Important: To be part of the drawing, you must submit your comment (that answers the question) by 11 pm on November 25, 2014. You must include a working email address (that you check regularly). The winner will be notified by 10 am on November 26 and must respond by noon on December 1. The choice of charity is totally subject to AOA approval. (For example, we're not going to give money to People Against Puppies.)
Cuomo tries to blame NWS for snow forecasts, pedestrian killed in Colonie, water main break affects busy restaurants
On Saturday Andrew Cuomo blamed the National Weather Service for not forecasting the massive lake effect snow that hit the Buffalo area last week. Except the NWS did forecast multiple feet of snow and the possibility of a "historic" lake effect snow event. Cuomo walked some of his comments back Sunday, but still used the events to tout a planned state-run system of weather sensors. [TWCN] [Gawker] [Buffalo News]
The new weather concern in the Buffalo area: flooding, as warm weather melts the multiple feet of snow. [Buffalo News]
Colonie police say a 66-year-old pedestrian was killed Friday night in Colonie in a hit and run. CPD says the driver was an 88-year-old woman and she was unaware she had hit the man. [TU] [News10] [TWCN]
And you can always try searching for it: