When I first came to live in the Catskills, it was a bit of fulfillment
to a long ago dream that I sometimes had while growing up on the
eastern shore of the Hudson River. Memories of journeys
to picnics on Overlook (reached by ferry before the bridge was
built) and other experiences put a yearning in me to be nearer
to those mountain meadows and wilderness trails with their strange
little trees. Some sort of feeling about it, hard to explain.
At the time I arrived and bought a small woodland house here,
it was still pretty sparse in terms of local amenities like supermarkets
and gas stations and whatnot, and the initial hope was that it
would sort of stay that way in some form or other. I say
Œhope' because unfortunately there is no way in this
culture of ours that any place that has any charm to it can make
a rule that says enough people are here now, thank you, roads
closed (and I guess I should quickly admit that I, too, however
modest in my designs, was once one of the Intruders).
And now we have calls to attend meetings to try to somehow put
a brake on things before it all becomes just another growing suburban
"hideaway" for the noovoo-reach and their prodigious
needs. One lives uneasily with the possibility that a wealthy
stranger could indeed come along and build a great, looming eyesore
edifice close by on the lot next door that shouts to the world,
"you WILL put up with ME!". I've had actual
disturbing nightmares about just such a thing.
It reminds me of the situation on a small Massachusetts summer
community at the end of a long spit of beach, where as a youth
I had relatives who used to invite us to their bungalow for cookouts
and overnight visits. It was an isolated spot, no electricity
or phone, reachable only by jeep, and back then only a few rustic
cabins and a lighthouse/coastguard station graced the picturesque
location. Nowadays, though, they play a game there which
might be called "Block That View". It begins
when someone builds a Clamshack Moderne with high clerestory windows,
smugly oblivious to the protests and stirrings of his immediate
neighbors who now can't sit in their quiet living rooms
and meditate upon the trackless sea anymore. Then, a few
years later, yet another new resident arrives and does the same
thing in front of his place, turning the former I-can-do-whatever-it's-a-free-country
owner into a raging nimby activist. On and on it goes, in
a kind of reverse domino effect, until she's all filled
up. There oughta be a law, dammit! (or at least some kind
of ethic). And now they've improved the sandy road
out there so that folks won't have to worry about getting
stuck in their Navigators etc. Ah, the good old days.
I would suspect that places like the Catskills (and indeed the
entire upper Hudson Valley) will finally reach a critical mass
towards outright Hamptonization or Martha's Vineyardosis
when members of the metro glitterati and their hangers-on start
whispering to one another that famous people are now living here
in large numbers. If you watch carefully you can spot a
Big Name attempting an incognito stroll on the streets of Woodstock,
or sneaking around the snack racks at the Hobo Deli. It's
the place to be! The Hamptons themselves will suddenly become
abandoned back to potato farms. And up here they'll
have to begin issuing a new type of hunting license-for
So, is there any way at all to prevent vainglorious developers
and power-trip mansion builders from clogging up the peaceful
Catskill venue with their doings? A Soviet Union style bureaucracy,
perhaps? (in which surely only they would be allowed in).
It doesn't look good, folks. All I can say is, tell
your city friends and everyone else you meet that this is a TERRIBLE
place to live, the winters freezing and the summers sweltering
and bears and snakes will try to move into your house with you.
The once-famous trout streams have been ruined. No movie
theaters, either. And rumor has it that the NYC DEP is trying
to push through a regulation to force all residents to build their
own private sewage treatment plants (veddy expensiiive!).
You don't want to drink your own effluent when you're
back down there in your big city apartment, do you? Hey,
I hear Manitoba is pretty interesting-
A great many Americans are very disturbed about developments in
Iraq, such as the absence of weapons of mass destruction and the
finding that there was
no connection between the Baghdad government and 9/11 or al-Qaeda
(the alleged justifications for the invasion and occupation).
They are also deeply concerned about the guerrilla war that's
killing GIs every day without an end in sight, and the considerable
taxpayer money being spent on this unnecessary and unjust war.
Now it is possible - on March 20 - to do something in a big way
to register doubts or opposition to the Bush administration's
war and occupation. One
that day, the one-year anniversary of Bush's invasion, there will
be concerted major peace marches and rallies throughout the world
and in a number of major U.S. cities, including New York City.
America's two main peace coalitions are uniting to make the New
York demonstration one of the largest in history — and Mid-Hudson
residents will have the opportunity to travel in style in chartered
buses leaving from Kingston and New Paltz after breakfast and
returning home before dinner. The Mid-Hudson National People's
Campaign is chartering the transportation at a roundtrip cost
For reservations, email firstname.lastname@example.org or call (845) 255-5779
and leave a message with your name, phone and email address if
you have one; then make out your check to MHNPC and mail right
away to MHNPC, P.O. Box 523, Highland, NY 12528. Contributions
are welcome to secure seats for
low-income people and students.
Jack A. Smith
Upon returning to Olivebridge yesterday I found amongst our mail
a yellow "Postal Patron" brochure outling most of the
type of activity and damage that would ensue in constructing and
operating the "Atrocity on the Mountain", the Belleayre
Resort. I usually airmail these "crackpot" missions
such as "Olive" had a few years ago, to file "13".
The writer(s) of this missal to the immediate and surrounding
area residents presented an excellent and comprehensive
impact outline but left a few holes in the "consequences"
column. They didn't reach out far enough with their traffic report
and/or the negative results that are sure to follow. There will
be accidents. There will be "road rage". There will
be auto and personal law suits. There will be casualties (deaths).
There will be many new millionaire lawyers created along with
the established "ambulance chasers". There will be Tort
reform alright. To a new level.
Let's start with the NY Thruway North. Somehow, as on weekends
or the day before deer hunting the northbound lanes will be more
congested. These people come from different locations and do not
go to one central attraction as the Resort folks will be doing.
The southbound lanes upon return will be less hectic. Drivers
going north are more aggressive and their brains are wired with
anticipation. Returning to the "Big Apple" is a downer;
ie: "it rained, no deer, kids acted up and the wife never
wanted to go in the first place". Going north who wants or
needs to eat or make a "pit" stop. Going home everyone
is fighting so why stop.
Getting off the thruway and going into Kingston will be a new
adventure. If you think the new "merry-go-'round" traffic
circle has mezmerized you wait until the Resort construction and
operation begins. You'll think your head is in a blender. And
going into Kingston means you have to come back out and do it
Now we're on 28 west and there's a Long Island Expressway situation
developing. You just left the LIE, remember? But one can always
run on the shoulder with their "right" turning indicator
"on". More confrontation. And then we come to West Hurley
where the transportation geniuses forgot the other two lanes.
That has to be rectified or adjusted. Don't forget the local and
state Police raking in the fines for being in the wrong lane,
not to mention the over 45 [mph] group. And the potential for
two accidents a day as two vehicles duel for the one remaining
lane. Can you see Mr. and Mrs. Local Geriatric tooling along at
30 mph and someone up their exhaust pipe?
Enter, the politicians. I know those folks will not be just
spectators. They are "facilitators". Widening of Route
28 will be placed on the "express" agenda. There will
be hearings, posturing, condemnation procedings, lawsuits and
other court actions. Lifelong residents will lose their homes
but who cares where they go? The sick, disabled or infirm will
be graciously and gratuitously moved to a "better place".
So? We have all been preparing for a "better Place"
all our lives, haven't we? The politicians will be our councilors,
advocates; our benefactors. The Police will be working overtime
to "keep order". It's called "organized confusion".
And of course the highway widening will begin after the Resort
is up and running. It's more fun that way, don't you know?
We're getting closer to our destination and it's opening day.
As we move through Boiceville there is a "Welcome Wagon"
that invites us all to go back where we came from. People are
waving at us with four fingers in a closed position. They have
Now we arrive; well, not quite. We are some distance from the
Resort; about eight miles or so and crawling. Gee, this is like
going to a Giants game at the Jersey Meadows. Even the adults
have brought their "Are We There Yet?" coloring books
and some unfortunate "local" made the mistake of going
for milk and bread. But he knows an old skid trail if he can only
get to it. Oh, oh. A "blowdown" has it blocked.
But look; there's a Casino. The Podunk Tribe mysteriously uncovered
an old typewritten treaty which designates the area as reservation
lands. They have everything for a healthy, pleasant and wholesome
visit including prostitutes, liquor, "loan sharks" and
other "hustlers". Great family activity.
Can anyone see where we who have seen the future is going with
this? A nightmare will be pleasant relief after any one of the
above adventures. To be sure, there are more but they haven't
been invented yet. Every occassion generates it's own peculiar
experiences with appropriate analytical jokes.
Let us not forget that a barren mountaintop or mountainside, for
whatever reason; clear cutting or fire is a prime setting for
mudslides and/or abnormal erosion. A local climate change is not
a remote possibility; and what was once pristine would sure look
like Hell. Remember California?
Glenn T. Anderson