SAVE THE RAILS

To the elected officials of Ulster County

My name is Richard Frisbie. I’m a voting resident and business owner in Ulster County. I greatly resent the County’s attempt to remove an important historical element of our cultural heritage – the rails that follow the Rt 28 corridor west from Kingston to Belleayre and beyond.

Instead, I wish the legislature would instruct the executive to release the funds to repair the rails and endorse train traffic for tourism, commuting and freight – in effect providing options to insure the future economic growth of Ulster County.

We have a generation of millennials, now the largest block of our population, who eschew car ownership. Many don’t even have a driver’s license. Yet we are committing them to restricted access to vast recreational areas of Ulster County and the Catskills by eliminating the rails.   A dangerous and congested Rt 28, an access destined to become even more so as development along the corridor continues to grow, will remain the only option unless you insist the rails remain.

To do less is short-sighted and against the wishes of a majority of Ulster residents.

The Catskill Mountain Railroad is one of the top tourism draws in Ulster County. A rail trail along the tracks is feasible and would only increase tourism. Please, don’t replace one with the other, move to make both part of our long term economic goals. Ulster County will be better for it.

Thank you for your attention

 

Richard Frisbie

15 Jane Street

Saugerties NY 12477

Posted in environment, historic preservation, Railroads, tourism, Travel, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Saugerties Pro Musica – Dr. Herman Ash Memorial Music Scholarship

Each year Saugerties Pro Musica awards a $500 scholarship in memory of Dr. Herman Ash, our founder and friend. This year’s scholarship will be awarded to a graduating Saugerties student pursuing an education in music or music-related field. Consideration will be given to one who has demonstrated dedication to his or her education, and displays compassion and concern for community, classmates and fellow citizens.

Completed applications along with a letter of recommendation from a music teacher or mentor should be forwarded to: Scholarships, c/o Saugerties Pro Musica, P.O. Box 276 Saugerties, NY 12477.

Scholarship applications are available in the Saugerties High School guidance office or can be downloaded from http://www.saugertiespromusica.org .

The deadline for submitting applications is April 29, 2016.

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No more orange zest

I used to cook a lot with orange zest, it’s a great way to pop that orange flavor in everything from sauces to dessert toppings. Lately, though, I’ve been peeling my oranges and toasting the skin on my wood-fired kitchen cooking range. As they dry out a roasted orange scent fills the kitchen. When totally dry, even a little charred, I crumble them, even sometimes pulverizing them in a spice grinder. The result is a full flavored addition to marinades, dry rubs, dressings – even desserts – you name it. It adds much more depth of flavor than the one-note zest ever could!

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Book Review: Woodstock before Woodstock

 

“He writes with witty turns of phrases and endearing details that create a charming picture of youth, and innocence lost.”

Woodstock before Woodstock, And a Brief Military History from the selective memory of David Malcolm Rose

Today Woodstock, NY, is a tourist destination as much for the nostalgia of the psychedelic sixties as for the artists’ colony that came before it. It is a community of primarily second home owners escaping the reality of metropolitan New York each weekend for the privilege of complaining about the left-over and wannabe hippies who clog the traffic-light free main drag. It is a collection of artsy boutiques and galleries geared to the hordes of tourists, where what few locals that are left would never and could never afford to shop. Woodstock is.

Before the festival, which bore the Woodstock name but occurred 60 miles away, instigated the decline that led to today’s Woodstock, it was a charming, working class, rural community of craftsmen, farmers and struggling artists. The upheaval caused by the artist’s influx at the turn of the century had morphed into a live-and-let-live peaceful coexistence, and the community was richer for it. A Whitehead still resided in the largely unrecognized Arts and Crafts Colony of Byrdcliff and the Maverick Colony was nearly halfway through the centenary they celebrated last year. Life was good in 1950’s upstate New York.

It was into this bucolia the author was born, into a family of craftsmen generations deep and well-known in the area. With loving parents and grandparents, and a disarming penchant for underachievement, the artistic child had a refreshingly normal youth. This book is mostly a series of vignettes from his selective memory of that dusty time of one-room schools, when cars replaced horses and the first TVs delivered the world of Superman and Howdy Dooty into a small child’s living room.

He writes of learning the song “Teddy Bear’s Picnic” from his grandparents and believing that the party took place in the narrow strip of “wild” woods he bravely crossed everyday to visit them. And of favorite TV shows like Diver Dan, Beanie and Cecil and Howdy Dooty, the freckle-faced marionette of Buffalo Bob Smith and Clarabell the clown. And of the “duck and cover” atomic war safety drill practiced in school, and the joys of little league – it’s all here with witty turns of phrases and endearing details that create a charming picture of youth, and innocence lost.

The author did not outgrow his youthful ability to outsmart his teachers, and the lessons he learned served him well when drafted into the Vietnam War-era army. The final brief reminiscences of his “Military History” are as engagingly written as the earlier section, but more laugh-out-loud funny then the earlier nostalgia. Anyone who has ever endured the “catch-22” absurdity of military life will find the stories of his war years on Okinawa familiar and amusing.

All told, author David Malcolm Rose’s dead-on wit is wielded in one hand while the other uses a fuzzy gauze to soften the punctuated blows the wry words are intended to deliver. Woodstock before Woodstock is an engaging read. The author comes across as a likable and good storyteller with a keen ear and a memory for absurd details. I liked it. I grew up in that time and place and I recognize the truths of a life similarly led and fairly told. If you did too, you’ll enjoy his book as much as I did. If you grew up in a different age or a more urban setting, you’ll enjoy reading this account of how life used to be in Woodstock, before it was Woodstock.

Buy this book

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SUP (Stand Up Paddling) on Florida’s Dune Lakes

SUP (Stand Up Paddling) is the act of standing up on a surf board – not the little modern ones, but the big longboard-styles from the early days of surfing. The paddling is done using what looks like the big brother of canoe paddles, taller than the paddler, with a curved blade. Now, instead of paddling with your hands while lying down, then jumping up to catch the waves, the entire trip is done standing up on calmer waters. At least for beginners, it is. As stand up paddling grows in popularity, more extreme uses are being devised. Some daredevils are surfing on them, some racing and others are even trying to navigate white water. The sport is in its infancy. There is no telling how it will develop.

I learned the sport on still bays and quiet backwaters. And what backwaters they are! Just behind the dunes of the South Walton County, Florida, beaches are a series of 17 rare coastal dune lakes. There are only 3 or 4 places in the world where these unusual bodies of water can be found, and Walton County, Florida, has the highest concentration of coastal dune lakes in the world. Some, like the one known as Western, are brackish water, tidal, emptying into the Gulf of Mexico. The mix of fresh water and gulf water creates diverse micro-ecosystems where a wide selection of plants, animals and fish thrive. Conversely, some dune lakes are fresh water, totally landlocked. At least one is more of a vernal pool, filling during the rainy season and slowly lowering over the rest of the year. All represent unique habitats for marine life, and offer some of the finest birding on the Gulf coast.

During a tour of the Topsail Hill Preserve State Park with its several dune lakes, Park Ranger Leda Suydan, pointed out an alligator in No Name Lake. Then we spotted the bloated carcass of a young deer in the shallow water. “It probably came for a drink and instead became a meal for the ‘gator.” She explained. “They wait for the meat to decompose before feeding. He’s hanging around to protect his meal; we shouldn’t go any closer.” I was glad not to be practicing my new SUP skills on his turf!

The nearby town of Santa Rosa Beach fronts on both the Gulf and on the coastal dune lake Western. It is the headquarters for the YOLO Board Co. which promotes stand-up paddling. Owner Tom Losee teaches the basics of what he refers to as Yolo boarding during an hour of fun paddling on the lake. In no time at all his instruction had me standing and paddling like a pro. The fact that I’m a canoeist and kayaker who used to surf probably helped, but before I could revel in my prowess he said people rarely fall off the boards because “it’s an easy sport to learn.” So, don’t let a lack of experience stop you, almost anyone can do it.

Tom knows what he is talking about. Within moments of standing up on my board I was skimming along through the water grass. While admiring the water lilies, I saw lizards skittering across the pads to escape, and big fish leaving swirls in the water as they ducked underneath them. It is a wonderful perspective to have, standing on the board viewing everything in and on the water with ease. Where was my fishing rod when I needed it most? I left my camera on the dock, too, “just in case”, but I was sorry not to have it with me when I coasted within a few feet of an egret near the shore. Heck, I stayed so dry I could have had my shoes on! I think that the next time I go I’ll take a light stool with me so I can lean against it to fish and photograph in comfort. Maybe a lunch, too.

Before I got too comfortable, though, I learned that there are YOLO Board races with erect paddlers covering mile-long courses in a very short time. SUP offers an excellent core workout which is only intensified by racing. SUP is so much more than relaxed bird watching or fishing. It is becoming a competitive sport! That’s all well and good, but I’ll stick with a leisurely paddle around a lake, or on a meandering river, exploring the water as if I could walk on it, and at about that pace.

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New film, Stand In, is a comedy/drama with heart

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There’s a new comedy/drama called “Stand-In”, about modern life and the issues young women face balancing careers and relationships as they navigate their uncharted journey through adulthood. Vincent Parker and Elizabeth Drake, who stars in the film and is his partner, have created, written and are the Executive Producers of the pilot film “Stand In” which was filmed this week in New York.  Hopefully this will air in the near future on either the regular broadcast channels or cable.

A synopsis of the film:
“Stand-In” is based on a young woman’s journey in the constantly evolving world of urban twenty first century womanhood.
The protagonist, Sara, is faced with challenging choices that all women face in regards to career versus family. The caveat to Sara’s choices is that her career hasn’t really taken off yet, making the choice to commit to a career far more of a gamble.
Although a classically trained actor, Sara is working as a stand-in for a mediocre television series where the characters are but caricatures of the real human condition. This irony however is never lost on Sara, and it captures the theme of the show as a whole, for as the title suggests, Sara is conscious and fearful that she may just be standing in on one life as opposed to living another.
Sara’s choices, although seemingly basic and easily identifiable, are far more complex for anyone conscious. One of her choices is marrying the “ideal man” who loves her almost unconditionally, and wants to move her out to the suburbs to start a family. Her alternative choice is to forge on in what may be evolving into a dead-end career. Looming behind these already difficult choices is a family history of breast cancer, which haunts Sara as her mother is presently dying from the disease.
Despite the seriousness or the gravity of these issues, the series has considerable humor, as does life, as we continue to press on optimistically, and in many ways heroically, finding comfort in love, friendship and dreams while facing all of these obstacles and the consequences of our choices.

If this synopsis has piqued your interest, you can learn more at the website http://www.standinpilot.com.  Once there, click on the lines on the upper right corner to see the drop boxes which detail the story, cast, characters,crew, gallery, the shoot, and other information.

Full Disclosure: Vincent Parker, besides being a great school teacher and all-around good guy, is my cousin.

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Writing Competition – I need your Votes to win

Icon - Richard Frisbie in Macau

Me in a Chinese garden in Macau

PLEASE VOTE FOR ME! Last week I was invited to submit an entry to the magazine International Living for a competition to become a writer for them. Winner gets a month or more in the ex-pat haven(s) of his or her choice and a transportation allotment, blogging about how life really is in these places.

I’m one of 20 finalists. Part of the competition is to see what social media support each contestant has by asking their friends and followers to vote for their entry. Please follow the link below to vote for my entry, and then share the link on your social media channels so your friends and followers can vote for me as well. The contest ends Nov 20th. Thank you in advance for your support.

http://internationalliving.com/2015/11/the-sparkling-streetlights-of-puerto-vallarta/

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Largest publisher in the world refers to me as a “most notable food expert”

Savoring Gothan cover image

Cover image of new book my writing is included in.

Savoring Gotham : A Food Lover’s Companion to New York City

This new book from Oxford University Press, the world’s largest publisher, weaves the full tapestry of the city’s rich gastronomy in nearly 570 accessible, informative A-to-Z entries. Written by nearly 180 of the most notable food experts, Savoring Gotham addresses the food, people, places, and institutions that have made New York cuisine so wildly diverse and immensely appealing. (Richard Frisbie is one of the 180 “most notable food experts” to contribute to this publication) Publication date Nov 2015 760 Pages | Approx. 100 illustrations 7 x 10 inches $35.00

I contributed 4 pieces to this compendium of NYC food!

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A Note on Diversity – Exploring My Roots

(From my Jan, 6th, 2003 newspaper column)

With so many black people killed and black churches burning or burned down it is time to revisit this call to embrace our diversity.

I receive a lot of strange things in the mail. I think the oddest thing I’ve received was an unsolicited poster of Martin Luther King. It is a stunning photograph, nearly life-size, and simply a beautiful portrait of a remarkable man. Some branch of New York State’s government sent it to me. Why, I do not know, but I’m glad they did.

I get many comments about it. It hangs on the wall in my book shop window and literally stops traffic. It is so lifelike, people do double-takes. Eight weeks of the year it is covered by one of Thomas Nast’s famous Santa Claus drawings, so if you only come into the village at Christmas time you probably missed it. The rest of the year it hangs there, next to a sign that reads, “Hate is not a family value”.

In the four years it’s been there I’ve only had 2 people say something negative about it. One was the proprietor of a short-lived shop in the Village who said he met the man several times and didn’t like him. Well . . . that’s OK. I didn’t know Martin Luther King, so I can’t say what he was like personally. I  respect him for what he stood for. It was the other comment that was more troubling to me.

One fairly warm day just after I put the poster up, someone I knew called into the open door of my shop, “Hey, Frisbie. What’s his picture doing hanging there? This is an Anglo-Saxon town.” For better or for worse, I have to admit that I’m rarely at a loss for words. (HA! That qualifies me for an honorary membership in the Understatement Of The Month Club! ) This time, however, it was close, but I tersely replied, “I’m exploring my roots.” That remark was meant as an end to the exchange, but anyone with the nerve to ask such a question was not to be silenced. He yelled back, “I know your mother, and I knew your father. Those aren’t your roots.”

What can be done with such an insensitive lout? I quietly explained that I liked the picture and my customers liked the picture, and if he didn’t like it, he didn’t have to come into my shop. His witty retort? “Ah, Frisbie, you know I don’t read. What would I want to buy books for?” With that, he was gone, and I was ticked off. Was it just a bad joke? Or a smart remark half meant in jest? I don’t think so. I know the guy. I think he meant it in all its ugly connotations.

“Exploring my roots.” I use that phrase a lot now. I enjoy ethnic diversity in people and in food, too. Whenever I am cooking a Mexican, Asian, or some other culture-specific dish, that’s what I say I’m doing – exploring my roots. So, on the following Thanksgiving, when 12 or so of my immediate family members were finished with dinner, I offered them some of my sweet potato pie. Now, it wasn’t the stringy, rural Southern dish I remember having in my youth, dark with molasses like the kind I used to bake. No, this is a smooth, refined, almost “white-bread” (if you’ll excuse the expression) version that many people mistake for pumpkin. It doesn’t compare to the real thing, but there is much less of it left over, so I guess everyone else likes it better. Anyway, I mentioned exploring my roots again, and because everyone at the table knew him, I told the story about so-and-so and his Anglo-Saxon town.

Didn’t that liven up the conversation around the table! Everyone had a story to tell about this guy. None of them laudatory. And then my mother floored us with the statement, “He was wrong, you know. You are exploring your roots. My grandmother was born in Africa.”

My mother always had something to say, God rest her soul. This time was no exception. If you knew her, you’d know I didn’t lick it off the wall. Once she was sure she had our attention, she told us the story I’ve condensed below.

She said that her great-grandfather and mother were part of the British colonial presence in Africa. I knew her mother was from England, but little more than that. Anyway, while they were there, they had several children, her grandmother among them. When the fighting with the indigenous people took a bad turn, (that’s not exactly what she said, but there is no reason to perpetuate a 150 year old racial slur that I’ve never seen in print – suffice it to say it was the only term she ever heard to describe those fierce warriors) it was decided the family would return to Great Britain for their safety. On the way home, one sister died on board the ship and was buried in the Indian Ocean. The rest made it home safely and, after a few more branches were added to  the family tree, we were all sitting around the holiday table thankful for their fecundity.

So, while I don’t exactly have African “Roots” (with apologies to Alex Haley) I have ties to the African continent. I also have the sensibility to embrace the diversity of cultures drawn to this melting pot of a country of ours. Heck, only a few generations back, we were part of the wretched refuse ourselves. So, a word to the blowhard bigots out there –  Get over it!

This weekend we have a National Holiday celebrating the birthday of Martin Luther King. Shortly after that will be St. Patrick’s Day, then Passover and Easter. Before you know it we’ll be celebrating Cinco de Mayo. When you look at the rest of the calendar year, you can see that it, too, is rich with ethnicity. Let us explore it, embrace it, and make peace with it.

Shalom.

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Embracing my spirituality on the Route of Santa Teresa de Jesus

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Many years ago I followed a route through Spain of the Camino de Santiago, the road to Santiago, or Saint James Way – the path of pilgrims that leads from all over Europe to Santiago de Compostella and the Cathedral of St. James in Galicia, in northwestern Spain, where tradition has it that the remains of the saint are buried. I was troubled and unsure of my future, seeking the indulgences from St. James a completed pilgrimage promised.

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The Way is not just for pilgrims. It is a great hike, or bike ride through beautiful scenery populated by the kind and caring folks of Spain’s backcountry. Hostels dot the route and accommodations are plentiful, if sometimes rustic. It has become a tourist attraction and the subject of many books and movies.

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The path I followed led down from the north, through San Sebastian to Pamplona, then Burgos in the Castilla y Leon region and on west to Galicia, stopping at every religious site along the way. The spiritual impact was strong and somewhat unexpected, a phenomena many pilgrims experience – some even before they realize that they are pilgrims – but, for me, the specific places were somehow forgotten, the trip blurred by time to just the glorious highlights.

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So it was with real surprise on my recent trip to Spain following yet another religious path, the Route of Santa Teresa, that my present and past selves stood on the same spot and a flood of spiritual memories engulfed me. The traditional scallop shell design set in the pavement in front of the Cathedral in Burgos triggered the memory – instead of me at the end of my present journey, my old self was a long way from Santiago de Compostella, tired and hungry, but the happiest I can remember ever being.

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I suppose that’s why I take these trips, why I travel at all. Beautiful scenery, great food, warm friendly people, those are all good reasons by themselves, but when taken as a whole, especially when there is a religious theme to my travels, they combine to transcend the material world, leaving me dazzled with the spirituality of the experience. It is an epiphany of sorts, and well documented in all the literature, but still singularly unique to the person experiencing it.

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I saw the me of years ago, paused in front of the Burgos Cathedral, and it was as if he almost saw me too. Then, with a wondrous look of surprise in his eyes I saw he recognized the reason for his pilgrimage – and the surety of its outcome. I remember that eureka moment so many years ago, but not what caused it. Did I see the future me, or feel my presence? I have no idea. Then the old me took up The Way again with a lighter step, one I have to this day.

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Saint Teresa was born Teresa de Cepeda y Ahumada on March 28, 1515 in what is now Avila. She was one of the first female saints of the Roman Catholic Church and one of the most famous religious, historical and literary figures in the history of Spain. To celebrate the 500th anniversary of her birth, an art exhibit illuminating her life and achievements titled: Teresa of Avila, a Master of Prayer runs through early November, 2015.
The Catholic Travel Center “The most trusted name in religious group travel”, offers a tour highlighting the life of Saint Teresa of Avila, also known as Saint Teresa of Jesus. From her birth in Avila, Spain, a UNESCO World Heritage site for its amazingly preserved medieval fortifications and buildings, to her death in Alba de Tormes.
For more information see www.spain.info and http://www.turismocastillayleon.com/turismocyl/en

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