Thomas Dimopoulos

Thomas Dimopoulos

City Beat and Arts & Entertainment Editor
Contact Thomas

SARATOGA SPRINGS - Live staging of renowned entertainers, a Playwright’s Jam, and a plethora of Open Mic nights for musicians, poets and storytellers alike fill the calendar at Caffe Lena this month. 

Janis Ian will appear for a three-night run and host an additional masterclass mid-month, Christine Lavin returns for a show April 22, Livingston Taylor stages two performances April 24, Rochmon celebrates Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers on April 19.

The month kicks off with concerts and events featuring Henhouse Prowlers (April 1), Alash (April 2), and Russel The Leaf (April 3). 

For more information about Caffe Lena and upcoming events, go to: caffelena.org.      

Thursday, 31 March 2022 14:07

Spring Forward: New Month, New Stuff To Do

SARATOGA SPRINGS - Indie Rock from Albany, New Wave/Electro from Ballston Spa, Melodic Punk from Louisville, KY, Cybercore from Philadelphia, PA., and Experimental Electronics from Troy are some of the band categorizations who have staged shows during the March Super Dark Collective showcase in Saratoga Springs. Who knows what April will bring? 

What it is: Super Dark Collective presents its Super Dark Monday series, Monday nights at Desperate Annie’s, located at 12 Caroline Street. Show time starts at 9:30 p.m. 

When people talk about an original and vibrant art scene in Saratoga, this is what they mean. For updated information, search “calendar‚ on superdarkcollective social media channels. 

SARATOGA SPRINGS - Longtime New Yorker staff writer Ben McGrath will visit Northshire Bookstrore on Broadway in Saratoga Springs, where he will read from his new book, “Riverman: An American Odyssey."

The event takes place 6 p.m. Friday, April 8. McGrath’s debut book- published by Knopf on April 5 - presents the riveting true story of Dick Conant, an American folk hero who canoed solo thousands of miles˛and then disappeared near the Outer Banks of North Carolina. 

McGrath met Conant by chance in 2014 paddling down the Hudson River, headed for Florida. McGrath wrote a widely read article about their encounter, and when Conant’s canoe washed up a few months later, without any sign of his body, McGrath set out to find the people whose lives Conant had touched--to capture a remarkable life lived far outside the staid confines of modern existence.

For more information on this and other events at Northshire Bookstore, go to: northshire.com. 

Thursday, 31 March 2022 13:03

Missing: Vulnerable Adult

CLIFTON PARK - State Police are looking for help locating 20-year-old Bilal Ashfaq. Ashfaq was last seen at his residence in the North Pointe Apartments on State Route 9 in Halfmoon at approximately 3 p.m. on Wednesday, March 16. 

“He doesn’t drive, he was on foot," says his brother, Mohmmad. Mohmmad, who is 22 years old, said he and his 20-year-old brother had gone to school at Shenendehowa High School and that Bilal doesn’t have a previous history of having gone missing. 

Police said Bilal may be in need of medical attention and is considered a vulnerable adult with schizophrenia.  He is described as 6 feet, 2 inches tall, and weighing approximately 225 pounds, with black hair and brown eyes. He was last seen wearing a light green hoodie, blue jeans, and red sneakers. 

“In the past, he liked the internet and technology. There was a time he liked social media. Recently he isolated himself more," Mohmmad said. 

Bilal is believed to be in the local area, according to state police. 

“We have no idea where he is. He could be anywhere," said his brother. “The more different areas that people can look in, the more helpful it will be." 

Police ask anyone with information to call State Police Clifton Park at 518-583-7000. The New York State Missing Persons Clearinghouse is also publicizing Bilal’s case in its list of active missing persons cases as a vulnerable adult. 

Thursday, 31 March 2022 13:01

Matt McCabe Honored on Broadway

SARATOGA SPRINGS - Beloved local man Matt McCabe fi who for a quarter-century operated a number of Saratoga Guitar shops, hosted The Capital Region Guitar Show, and from 2004 to 2007 served as city Finance Commissioner, was posthumously honored with a plaque fixed to a bench on Broadway bearing his name.   

The bench stands at the northeast corner of Broadway and Caroline Street, a few yards from the spot where McCabe opened his first shop - a small 160 square-foot space fitted with 48 used guitars and 10 amplifiers in June 1994. 

He would subsequently grow to a bigger space, increase the number of his Saratoga Guitar shops, and expand inventory to include the sale of new, used, and vintage instruments, a plethora of accessories, sheet music, vinyl records, and where he and his staff would conduct instrument repairs. McCabe also became the host of The Capital Region Guitar Show - one of the longest-running guitar shows in the country - in addition to performing his own shows and serving as a two-term city Finance Commissioner. McCabe died from complications of COVID-19 in January 2021. 

“Matt McCabe had provided remarkable services to the city as a commissioner of finance as well as his unflagging assistance of city events, the city’s downtown business organizations," outgoing Finance Commissioner Madigan told the City Council in late 2021 while bringing a resolution to the table to commemorate McCabe. A variety of plans were discussed. Ultimately a bench fixed with a plaque bearing McCabe’s name standing on Broadway was decided as the best course of action. Madigan, who served as city finance commissioner from 2012 to 2021, said before she left office that a bench would be placed on Broadway in the spring. This week, that promise became a reality.    

SARATOGA SPRINGS - At this week’s meeting of the Zoning Board of Appeals, the board is anticipated to hear proposals for the construction of an addition to the principal building at 168 Lincoln/Siro’s to serve as restrooms for courtyard patrons during track season, and an area variance to permit the construction of a mixed-use development at 126 West Ave. 

The proposed project on West Ave. consists of the construction of a mixed-use building containing 4 townhouses, office space, and a third-floor apartment unit on a µ-acre site. The property contains an existing single-family residence.

The ZBA meets 6:30 p.m. on Monday, April 4. 

Other Saratoga Springs city meetings: the Planning Board hosts a workshop at 5 p.m. Thursday, April 7 and its full meeting Thursday, April 14; the Design Review Commission hosts a caravan at 4 p.m. on Wednesday, April 6 and its full meeting Wednesday, April 13. 

The City Council hosts its pre-agenda meeting 9 a.m. Monday, April 4, and its full meeting Tuesday, April 5. Full council meetings typically begin at 7 p.m. and are generally preceded by a series of topic-specific public hearings. A list of specific topics was not immediately available.   

Saratoga COUNTY committee meetings this week: Buildings & Grounds (April 5); Economic Development (April 7); Government Efficiency (April 6); Health & Human Services (April 6); Human Resources & Insurance (April 7); Legislative & Gaming Affairs (April 5); Public Safety (April 6); Public Works (April 6); Sewer Commission (April 7); Veterans’ Affairs (April 5). Times and respective agendas not immediately available. For updated information, go to: saratogacountyny.gov, and click on 2022 Meetings. The monthly Board of Supervisors meeting is scheduled to take place on April 19.   

Thursday, 31 March 2022 11:52

Open Case: Break-In, Vandalism, Hate Crime

SARATOGA SPRINGS - The first indication something was amiss came in the form of an anonymous complaint someone made with the city, says Heather Chevally. A few days later the hard evidence showed up literally fixed to the interior walls of the house. 

“I have no idea if the two things are correlated, but the timing is suspicious," she says. “To me, it feels like someone is watching."

Chevalley works in software sales. She grew up on Long Island, where her family was employed in the home-building industry. Chevalley’s wife Adrienne grew up in the Geyser Crest neighborhood of Saratoga Springs - where her mother still resides. They recently embarked on a side project buying and rehabbing houses. 

“It’s something I’ve always wanted to do. Our goal is to make a living doing this eventually, and to be responsible people in real estate‚" Chevalley says. “Eventually, we’d love this to be our full-time job." 

There is another home in Saratoga they are rehabbing and are also involved in a project in the Rochester area fi “similar, but (in that instance) we’re going into lower income areas, to get the bad landlords out and give people a better quality of life and a home they could be proud to live in." 

Given Adrienne’s background and familiarity with Geyser Crest, they purchased a home in the neighborhood and are undertaking a $100,000 rehab with the purpose of re-investing in the community.

The home is settled in a residential community, a short song’s serenade south of SPAC, in a neighborhood comprised of single-family homes, accented by driveways and an occasional attached garage. An American flag flies here. A portable basketball hoop stands there. A cross-section of roads swoop into one another, bending around soft turns.    

“We feel like there’s a right way and a wrong way to be successful. We’re big believers in good karma and I think when you give back to the community and do things in the right way, the community and people give back to you as well,‚ she says. “I feel the same way about our realtor and our contractor. I really like these guys, trustworthy, just making sure everything they’re putting their name on is being done right.“

Five weeks into the project came an unexpected visit from the city. “Last week, the building department showed up because of a complaint fi which we thought was weird. We had talked to all our neighbors, and everybody seemed really friendly. The guys working are very friendly and the job site is kept very clean. Nothing in the house needed to be permitted, but they got a complaint and made us stop working, until I went down to the city‚" says Chevalley, adding that the complaint was made by an anonymous person, or, at least by someone not known to her. An engineer visited the home and confirmed that given the work being, done a permit was not needed. After a two-day pause, the project resumed. It was Friday.   

On Saturday morning, when the contractor entered the house, he noticed someone had broken in after the crew had left the previous day. The windows were all open, the heat turned off. A roll of blue painter’s tape was peeled off and used to create a large message that spread across two interior walls. One read: “GET OUT." The second one: N-word, plural. All in caps. 

“The crew are all people of color. It was very clearly directed at them. We were devastated. To walk in and have to look at that? They’re such good guys. I was sick to my stomach," Chevalley says. 

“Someone specifically broke in the house to send a message. There was thousands of dollars of tools and equipment there. They didn’t steal anything. They wrote on the walls in painter’s tape. They shut our heat off and left the windows open - it was a cold night and the pipes froze and busted. Honestly, it was creepy. They broke in and entered just to send a message.

Police were called and initiated an investigation. They unfurled painter’s tape from the wall hoping to secure fingerprints, dusted the windows, and found a hand-print on the wall, Chevalley says. “The police seem pretty committed. Obviously this is appalling, so hopefully they can figure out who did it."

One of the steps involves learning whether the person who initially called the building department with the complaint is connected in some way to the person or persons who broke in. The break-in occurred the first day after the crew returned to work. 

“It’s being taken very seriously because of the nature of the incident‚" said Public Safety Commissioner Jim Montagnino. He confirmed there was a search at the scene for fingerprints and that an investigation is underway. Potential charges could include offenses related to the break-in, as well as to the intentional targeting of persons regarding their race or color, by definition a hate crime.   

“I’m sure there are more hateful people out there than I want to believe, but I just can’t imagine this is how people think," Chevalley says. “I do generally feel this is an isolated incident. That not the way of the community. The community has really seemed to rally around the guys. They have been stopping by and bringing the guys lunch; people said they want to hire them for more work in the neighborhood," she says.  “You really have to have nothing going on in your life to break into someone’s house because you hate someone so much over the color of their skin. I can’t even start to try to understand that."  

SARATOGA SPRINGS – There were 83,931 bowls of chowder served by 74 vendors in last weekend’s chowder festival, attended by more than 30,000 people, according to Discover Saratoga President Darryl Leggieri.   

“After two challenging years, it was great to get back to some sense of normalcy. The support of our members, community and city officials is truly appreciated,” said Leggieri. Discover Saratoga, known as the Saratoga Convention & Tourism Bureau, is promoter of the annual event.

The Saratoga Chowder Fest ‘N Tour was held Saturday, March 19, through Saturday, March 26. Chowder lovers had the opportunity to dine-in or purchase pints and quarts of chowder to-go at participating locations throughout the week.

The 24th Annual Chowderfest celebration took place March 26. Event-goers sampled a variety of chowder from participating vendors for $2 each and voted for their favorite. The 2022 Saratoga Chowder Fest ‘N Tour winners are:

  • People’s Choice 500 bowls or less: The Mill on Round Lake, Bubba Gump Chowder
  • People’s Choice 501-750 bowls: Dizzy Chicken Wood Fired Rotisserie, Brazilian Smoked Seafood Chowder
  • People’s Choice 751-1,000 bowls: Ribbon Cafe, Southwest Shrimp Corn Chowder Topped Tequila Lime Bacon and a Wonton Popper
  • People’s Choice 1,001-1,500 bowls: Wheatfields Restaurant & Bar, Crawfish Cajun Corn Chowder
  • People’s Choice 1,501- 2,000 bowls: Henry Street Taproom, Bacon and Pickle Buffalo Chicken Chowder
  • People’s Choice 2,001-3,000 bowls: Parting Glass, Luck of the Irish Chowder
  • People’s Choice 3,001-4,000 bowls: Cantina, Creamy Chicken Jalapeño Chowder

People’s Choice 4,001+ bowls: Jacob & Anthony's American Grille, Jacob’s Chowder

Monday, 28 March 2022 12:05

Sting Returns to Saratoga in September

SARATOGA SPRINGS – Sting will stage a show at Saratoga Performing Arts Center on Sept. 7.

Sting was most famously part of the three-member ensemble The Police – which got their start as the backing band for Cherry Vanilla in spring 1977. He has since gone on to a successful solo career.

The Saratoga show is billed as Sting’s “My Songs” concert and is scheduled to featuring tunes from his solo career as well as his time with the Police.  

Sting will be accompanied by an electric, rock ensemble, and son Joe Sumner will appear as special guest.

Tickets go on sale 10 a.m. on Friday, April 1 through Ticketmaster.

SARATOGA SPRINGS — Architectural plans were submitted to the city March 10 regarding a proposed addition to the Weibel Avenue ice rink. The project includes a 3,700 square foot addition on the northern side of the existing building to serve as a locker room for the Skidmore College hockey team. 

Skidmore College entered into a license agreement with the city of Saratoga Springs last October allowing Skidmore to construction the addition to serve as the college team’s locker room, pending an advisory opinion from the city’s Design Review Commission. The terms and length of the license were not immediately made available. The licensed area will continue to be owned by the city and will be turned over by the college to the city at the end of the license term.   

Representative of Skidmore College are scheduled to present the project to the Design Review Commission this week.

Page 16 of 81