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SARATOGA SPRINGS – There was that week in June 1994 that delivered a series of unusual events that could fill a lifetime.

There was Matt McCabe watching his beloved New York Rangers hockey team win their first Stanley Cup championship in 54 years. There was the buzz all along the Caroline Street storefronts among shopkeepers and customers alike as O.J. Simpson slunked in the back seat of a white Ford Bronco, leading a low-speed chase by police through Southern California. There were the freshly printed calendars pointing to a summer season of music in Saratoga, showcasing performers like The Eagles and Peter Gabriel, Phish, James Taylor, The Beastie Boys, and for the first time to SPAC a relatively unknown songwriter named Dave Matthews.  

“There was a lot going on and I’ll never forget it,” says McCabe, who amid all the external happenings opened the doors of his music shop for the first time.

“June 14, 1994. Flag Day. I started in a little 160 square-foot hole in the wall space on Caroline Street,” recalls McCabe. “It was my first real business venture. I opened with 48 used guitars and 10 used amplifiers.” 

Twenty-five years later, McCabe’s Saratoga Guitar has two locations in the Spa City – at 480 Broadway on the lower level of the Collamer Building next to City Hall, and at 75 Weibel Ave. The sheer number of new, used, and vintage instruments has increased exponentially, and the store has grown to include a plethora of accessories, as well as sheet music, a center for instrument repairs, school band instrumental rentals, and used vinyl records

For more than 20 years, McCabe has hosted The Capital Region Guitar Show, which draws dealers, musicians and fans from across the northeast.  This year’s event takes place at the Saratoga Springs City Center Oct. 4-5, and as a special addition marking Saratoga Guitar’s 25th anniversary, a free concert will be staged in the upstairs room at the City Center Saturday, Oct. 5 featuring live music and an opportunity for the community to give back to several local non-profit organizations. 

His first sale after opening his shop 25 years ago? “I don’t remember specifically. It was probably a couple of picks,” McCabe says with a laugh. “I sold a couple of picks today too. So, pretty consistent!

“Thanks to family and friends I’ve been able to make it work over the years. The city’s been very good to me. The kids were all born here. And the downtown vibe is great. After 25 years, I think I’m looked at as one of the so-called funky stores, the mom-and-pop stores,” McCabe says.

“There are a handful of us still here. Retail-wise today we face struggles with the Internet and with changing technologies, but we’re still here, and we’re still viable. Mom and pop music stores have a very high mortality rate. We are extremely lucky to be in business - and to be here,” says McCabe, who served two 2-year terms as city Finance Commissioner from 2004-2007. He was a popular member of the council and independent of any political party.

“You learn a lot about your fellow citizens and what I learned was how smart I wasn’t. At those meetings when people come up and speak – people from all walks of life and from all over our city – you see how varied our population is. When you listen to the public comments you realize: My goodness, how many passionate people there are; How many qualified opinions there are. And from people out there who are smarter than you. Just because you’re in office, it doesn’t mean you’re smarter,” McCabe says.   

“I think If I had any success at all, or if there is any decent legacy as a business owner or as a politician it is that I’m accessible and willing to listen and to be educated. When people have a problem, when things go wrong, how are you going to correct the situation? We’re all going to make mistakes. Things will happen, no matter how prepared you are, and that’s how it was in City Hall too.  You have to learn: How are you going to handle the tougher times and be as fair as possible? It was a life-learning experience for me,” he says.   

At Saratoga Guitar, his specialty is buy, sell and trade, new, used and vintage guitars. Given the type of business and the location, McCabe says you never know what you’re going to see in product or in clientele.  

“We’ve met some nice people over the years. We had a lot of people this summer stop in. Sheryl Crow’s guitar player, Hutch Hutchinson – who is Bonnie Raitt’s and Jackson Browne’s bass player. Beck stopped in. Over the years we’ve seen Graham Nash and Stephen Stills, John Fogerty. Joe Bonamassa came back in this year. Dave Matthews has always been very nice to us. They come here, they love Saratoga and  they like that they don’t get bothered here. We always take the low key, engage as they want, but you have to know that they’re working people too.”

The Capital Region Guitar Show – one of the longest running guitar shows in the country, takes place Oct. 4-5 at the City Center. Approximately 30 different vendors are expected. From 4-9 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 5 Saratoga Guitar’s 25th Anniversary free concert will be staged at the City Center. The Concert will feature Moonshine Falls, The Rapid River Boys, DIZ, Drew Vanderrhorn, and Matt McCabe & Rick Bolton.  The concert will provide the backdrop for a community fundraiser for five local non-profits. Those organizations include: Wellspring, Katrina Trask Pre-School, Operation Adopt A Soldier, Friends of Music, and Franklin Community Center. Saratoga Guitar requests people attending the free concert bring non-perishable food items for the FCC Food Bank. There will be door prizes in addition to the donated items that folks can take home if they win.

“The concert is free, and the musicians are all donating their services, so were just going to try and make a fun community event,” McCabe says. “We want to give back - that’s always been part of our theme. There are a lot of good organizations in town. We’re hoping to make it a party and we’d like to start making it (the party) a yearly event to work with nonprofits and local musicians, so we’ll see how that grows as we start feeling the next 25 years.”      

Published in News

SARATOGA SPRINGS - His color-filled storytelling murals cling to the walls of Gaffney’s and Siro’s and the Old Bryan Inn, 9 Maple Ave., the Tin & Lint and inside of Saratoga Springs City Hall.

Hud Armstrong’s creations include those happy faces and local scenes brought to life - a different one each year - emblazoned across the annual Chowderfest T-shirts for the past generation. Then there is a near 20-feet-long mural that runs across the lobby of the Mabee Building on Church Street, depicting more than 200 local people – many of whom you’d recognize - done up in the Victorian Era stylings of the 19th century. 

“The purpose is to give a feeling of the era and some of the characters that lived here,” says Armstrong.

His newest project – which he displays in a series of carefully detailed scrapbooks – is coordinating about 300 pages illustrations and accompanying texts he created from 1991 to 2004 for Poor Richard’s Journal into book form, and has begun the process of exploring ways to make such a publication a possible. 

“The area where these take place is often Saratoga, but what’s happening is universal,” Armstrong explains, leafing through the pages of the catalogued works. 

Armstrong started drawing at the age of four while listening to the radio because he wanted to see what things looked like. Some of his earliest childhood memories growing up in South Glens Falls involve visits to Saratoga Springs and marveling at the vintage structures.

 “I remember when I was a kid, we would drive down Route 9 and into Saratoga. You’d take a left on North Broadway where the arterial is, come right into town and you’d see the mansions and the fire department and the theater.”

In the 1960s, he celebrated his 21st birthday by completing basic training, then going to see the company commander who would decide his next move.

“He looked over my file and saw I had a background in art. I don't know what it was about my dossier, but something in there made him think, 'Hey, this guy will be really good in amphibians!' So off I went for amphibian training and ended up being sent to Qui Nhon,” he remembered about his time on the Vietnam coast, south of Da Nang.

His works often straddle a timeline between future and past, offering a respectful nod to those who have come before, imagining what may lie up ahead, and in a few quick strokes of ink explaining the significance of what it all means to us today.   

One of the more playful sequences is a series of cartoons depicting vintage baseball fields - the Polo Grounds, Ebbets Field, the classic Yankee Stadium.

“What you’re looking at is centerfield,” he explains, gesturing to the latter. “On one side you’ve got Joe Torre and his group: Rivera and Jeter. On the other side you’ve got Casey Stengel and Mickey Mantle, Maris and Yogi, even Ruth and Gehrig. When you look further out into the field, from the centerfield flagpole is Yankee Stadium - the way that it was recently, and on the other side Yankee Stadium from the 1920s to the ‘70s.”  

Armstrong likes to keep simple the process of creating his cartoons. “You pretty much form an idea. From that idea you might have a punchline, you might not, but you work up to it, you play it back-and-forth,” he says. “When you get to the end sometimes the punchline will work. If it doesn’t? The best thing to do is flip the whole thing around, and then it becomes funny.”

Published in Entertainment

SARATOGA SPRINGS – A rollicking piano, nicely harnessed by a sturdy rhythm section, channels alongside the vocal sass of Annie Rosen and launches into Tommy Johnson’s 1928 “Big Road Blues,” introducing the sixth album by Capital/Saratoga region favorites Annie and the Hedonists.

Produced by Grammy award winner, Joel Moss and recorded at the legendary Dreamland Studio in Woodstock, the new album - “Bring it On Home” – features 12 vintage blues and jazz tracks from the 1920s through the 1950s, as well as a trio of original contemporary blues songs.    

On Friday May 31, the band will stage a record release party at Caffe Lena.

The Hedonists - comprised of core members Annie and Jonny Rosen, Donald Young and Peter Davis - are accompanied by drummer Jerry Marotta,  who spent two decades Jerry dividing his time between recording and touring with Peter Gabriel, Daryl Hall and John Oates, Tears for Fears, Joan Armatrading, Paul McCartney, and countless others. With “Bring it On Home,” the band is amiably assisted by guest musicians John Sebastian (yes, that one), Dave Davies (no, not that one), and Randy Reinhart. 

“This record differs from the other five,” says guitarist Jonny Rosen, “in that we decided to focus on two related genres of music, as opposed to our previous albums which were an eclectic mix of folk, country, bluegrass, blues and jazz.”  

The 12-song release features tasty renditions of a mid-20th century Parisian waltz (“Under Paris Skies”), a cornet and trombone mating that weaves through the sultry 1924 tune “Prescription for the Blues,” and a musical re-make of the Depression-Era protest song “The Panic Is Own,” whose updated lyrics include themes of the plight of the immigrant, the (lack of) gun control, rising oceans, Russian hackings and the ever-widening gap of economic inequality in a new world.

“Bring it On Home” also features a smattering of original tunes – from the Davis and Moss co-penned 12-bar blues femme homage “Bring It On Home To Mama,” to the love lost sorrow-cholic “Long Distance Call,” and “Who’d be knocking (Knocking on my door/ so late at night)” penned by Davies about one particularly strange pre-dawn awakening when the songwriter was startled from his slumber to find a stranger standing over his bed.  

Annie & the Hedonists album release concert will stake place 8 p.m. Friday May 31 at Caffé Lena, 47 Phila St. Special guests: Randy Reinhart and Dave Davies.  For reservations or more information, call 518-583-0022 or visit Caffe Lena. org. 

Published in Entertainment

SARATOGA SPRINGS – In a unanimous 5-0 vote, the City Council on May 21 adopted a resolution in support of the Paris Climate Agreement. 

“This resolution represents the city’s commitment to the Paris Climate Agreement, in which nation’s around the world recognize the threat of global warming and are committed to take action,“ said Finance Commissioner Michele Madigan, who introduced the resolution during the City Council’s meeting Tuesday night. 

“From the Spa Solar Park to the in-process plans to ensure city buildings are more energy efficient, the City Council has already taken a variety of proactive steps that recognize and address our concerns about climate change,” said Madigan, adding the future-looking statement that with the city’s 2020 budget, she intends to increase the city’s financial commitment to sustainability - specifically referencing a desire to increase the number of electric vehicle charging stations on city-owned property as well as modernizing the city’s fleet of vehicles.

The Spa Solar Park - a 7,992 panel, 2.5-megawatt solar array built on the city's former Weibel Avenue landfill – was energized in August 2017. As of February 2019, 3.82 million kilowatt hours were generated providing more than $66,000 of budgetary savings for the city.

The resolution, Madigan said, commits the city to continue its efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions that contribute to global warming. “The resolution references the creation of a Climate Action Plan and we are currently having internal discussions on how best to proceed,” she said.

The council subsequently unanimously also approved a Local Law to establish a sustainable energy loan program in the city, as well as authorizing the mayor to sign a municipal agreement with the energy improvement corporation ("Energize NY Open C-PACE Financing Program").

The Paris Agreement was adopted in December 2015, according to the United Nations Treaty Collection. In June 2017, President Donald Trump announced that the United States would withdraw from the Paris climate accord - the procedures of which may begin in November 2019.  Earlier this month, the U.S. House of Representatives passed legislation aimed at preventing Trump’s withdrawal from the Paris climate accord.

New York has mandated a statewide reduction of greenhouse gas emissions to 80% below 1990 levels by the year 2050. 

Published in News

SARATOGA SPRINGS – Touching upon themes of the Tibetan Book of the Dead, her love of dogs, her disdain for pop culture and a human planetary existence altered in dramatic ways due to a changing climate, artist/composer/musician and film director addressed a large crowd gathered inside the Tang Museum’s Payne Room where she told them, apocalyptic visions aside, her focus is: How Best To Tell The Story.

“The world is made of stories. Our own stories. Other people’s stories, (so) how do you tell a story like that, where, you know, this is going end?” Anderson said. “We’re the first people in the history of the human race who can see our own extinction coming. The first ones. Stories are things that are told to others but in this case, this is a story that’s told to no one. The first story that is:  Told. To. No one.”

Anderson’s appearance April 17 was the night two feature of the Tang Museum’s three-day Bardo Now series. George Saunders, author of the 2017 novel “Lincoln in the Bardo,” appeared via video chat on night one, in conversation with Donald S. Lopez, Jr., professor of Buddhist and Tibetan Studies at the University of Michigan and author of “The Tibetan Book of the Dead: A Biography.”

The series’ closing night featured a concert by guitarist Tashi Dorji and percussionist Susie Ibarra, performing an experimental duet conceived for the event as a musical bardo exploration.

The 90-minute presentation showcasing Anderson, a practicing Buddhist, was staged as an “in conversation” event with Benjamin Bogin, the director of the Asian Studies Program at Skidmore College.

“It’s the living bardo that’s thrilling to me,” said Anderson, when asked to connect Tibetan Buddhist themes with her creativity. “As a musician, I think the way I can most experience what you would call a bardo is in just this moment - because you don’t know what you’re going to play next,” said Anderson, noting that she doesn’t subscribe to the standard narrative form of beginning, middle and end. “That seems artificial to me. The fractured story is what I do. I respond to work where we don’t really quite know what we’re doing and what will happen next. That’s also why I’m also drawn to virtual reality. You’re making it up as you go along.

“When I first began to (improvise), I felt this incredible sense of freedom in not knowing what was going to come next, in responding to another person in a way that was absolutely in that moment - not in some other moment that you thought might be interesting - but right now. That was a big, big thrill to me as a musician.”  

Anderson screened an 11-minute segment from “Heart of a Dog,” her 2015 documentary which centers on Anderson's remembrances of her late beloved dog Lolabelle, and concludes with an image of husband Lou Reed, who died in 2013.  

“It was a film where my dog died – that was the core of it – but it was really dedicated to my teacher, Mingyur Rinpoche. One of the things I treasure about his teachings is his clarity, things like: it’s really important to practice how to feel sad, without being sad - and that distinction is a very important one because there are many, many sad things in the world and if you try to push them away, or pretend they’re not there, you’re an idiot! They will find you and they will get you,” she explained. “So, (Rinpoche’s) idea is: do not become that yourself.”   

Professor Bogin said he was struck by the film’s exploration “visually, sonically and poetically,” of bardo ideas, as Anderson narrated a series of paintings used in the film depicting Lolabelle’s journey through the 49 days of the bardo, “how memory starts flooding through the mind and you’re suddenly every single being that you’ve ever been in your life; the many beings that you are, simultaneously. 

“I think for most people who experience death, what an incredible privilege it is that that door opens…you get this chance to really look at it and feel it,” Anderson said. “I think sometimes experiencing time and death and love is sometimes easier when you look at what happens with animals and what the effects have on those creatures. You get that in a more immediate way.”

Anderson became a reluctant musical hit-maker in the early 1980s when her song “O Superman” climbed to no. 2 in the UK Pop charts alongside the likes of Rod Stewart, Elvis Costello, and The Police. It was a record she made on a $500 NEA grant in 1980.

“Anytime somebody said, ‘I want a copy of your record,’ I would walk it over to the post office. One day someone called, they spoke with a British accent, and they said: we need some copies of your record. I said, ‘OK, how many?’ They said: 40,000. by Monday.  And another 40,000 by Wednesday. I’ll. Get. Right. Back to you,” Anderson recalled. 

“So, I called up Warner Bros. Records – they’d been coming to my shows and saying: don’t you want to make a record?  I said, no, not really. But, I called them up and said: you know that record you wanted?  Can you make a bunch of them really soon? And they said: well, that’s not the way we do things at Warner Bros Records and Tapes. We’ll sign an eight-record deal. What?

“I got a lot of criticism from artists, for ‘selling out.’ A couple of months later, it was called ‘Crossing Over.’ And everyone wanted to do it.”

The song, based on a prayer by French composer Jules Massenet is about the power of technology, and of loss, Anderson said. “Technology doesn’t save you. If you think technology is going to solve your problems, you don’t understand technology - and you don’t understand your problems,” she said.

“It was really about the moment when we were going to go in and rescue the hostages. And America was going to go in and pull them out and American technology was going to shine. Then the helicopters crashed and burned in the desert,” she said, regarding the ill-fated military rescue attempt in April, 1980.

While that international success of the record made it easier for Anderson to create other things, she warns there is also a danger

“Pop Culture,” she says with disdain. “What happened? Corporate America has entered culture. It’s disturbing to me, because it’s Culture Light. It’s America’s Got Talent culture. Nothing wrong with that except when they come into your neighborhood and go: we love the community you built and now we’re going to buy it, we’re going to brand it, and sell it back to you. And we’re going to curate it while we’re at it and say what’s important and what is not.

 “We have to think about what we’re making. Now, often you see it’s just about the box office -how many people get through the doors – and it doesn’t really matter what the experience is. I do think that there’s art for everybody – but it’s a tricky thing, to make sure that it’s not just so watered down that it’s just feel-good stuff.” 


The Frances Young Tang Teaching Museum and Art Gallery is located on the campus of Skidmore College On exhibit through May 19: The Second Buddha: Master of Time presents the story of the legendary Indian Buddhist master Padmasambhava - widely credited with bringing Buddhism to the Tibetan lands. The exhibit features Tibetan scroll paintings (thangkas), textiles, and manuscripts from the 13th through 19th centuries.

Published in Entertainment

SARATOGA SPRINGS- The statistics: one in six American adults takes at least one psychiatric drug over the course of a year. Hundreds of millions of prescriptions for psychiatric medication are written annually.

Depression and anxiety disorders affect millions of Americans. To that point, Saratoga based psychiatrist Bick Wanck, MD, has authored “Mind Easing: 3-Layered Healing Plan for Anxiety and Depression” - a new book that introduces a holistic approach to mental health treatment. Wanck will lead a discussion about his book and the topic at 7 p.m. on Saturday, April 6 at Northshire Bookstore Saratoga, 424 Broadway.

“It became clear to me when I was about 15 years old that helping to relieve suffering was a mission of mine. I wasn’t sure what that would look like, but I wanted to help people to get out of a bad situation, no matter what that bad situation may be,” says Wanck, who has practiced in Saratoga since 1986.

While at medical school he grew increasingly intrigued in the specifics of how the mind works. “It brings in issues of literature, philosophy, science, biology – everything. That captivated me. I decided psychiatry it would be, but I became disenchanted with medicine, because there didn’t seem to be an adequate focus on healing for my purposes,” Wanck says. “The primary issue in regard to getting well is healing. Healing happens naturally. I said: wow, why aren’t we studying that? Why aren’t we putting more emphasis on how healing works and assist that process, rather than jumping right into treating symptoms. I made trouble for myself talking about that a lot.”

Wanck grew frustrated over the lack of emphasis on healing. “I just got fed up. So, I graduated from medical school, got an old van, fixed it up and hit the road. Eventually I ended up in Peru, in the jungle. I was looking for answers about healing and it was the experience in the jungle with the shaman that put it together for me,” says Wanck, who grew up in a rural area of Pennsylvania and spent a lot of time in the wilderness as well as on reservations. His grandmother was an herbalist.

“Sometimes the psychiatric providers are so rushed that when someone walks into their office and looks upset, the first thing they think about is: ‘I wonder what I can prescribe for this person, so they’ll feel better?’” Wanck says.  “When someone walks into the office of a healing person who takes more time that person sees someone upset walking into their office - and they’re not going to think, what can I prescribe for them; They’re going ask: I wonder what’s wrong? And then take some time to find which of the three essential causes of anxiety and depression might be happening here.”

Wanck describes the three essential causes as: excessive current stress, early adversity and trauma, and genetics. “Two things that mimic them are medical problems like low thyroid, or addiction problems that can look like anything,” he says. “People can have any one of them, or all three of them.”

“Mind Easing” explores, among other things, when medicine might help with anxiety and depression, and when it might hinder the healing process. The use of psychiatric medication, for example, comes in to play when the degree of suffering from anxiety or depression is so severe that it interferes with a person’s capacity to make use of healing methods such as diet, exercise and stress management.

“The subtitle is the three-layered healing plan for anxiety and depression. And I do show in the book how to apply the three-layered healing model to anything: dental, cancer, heart disease…I think it’s an approach that can be helpful and empower people to promote healing,” he says. “I only include the wellness approaches and therapy approaches that have some scientific merit, where there are outcome studies that show it works for a sufficient percentage of people.”

Wanck studied at Penn State and eventually relocated Princeton, New Jersey where he ran the addiction programs for a private hospital and helped start the American Academy of Addiction Psychiatry.  

“I suggest that everybody put together a package of wellness activities for themselves so either they don’t get anxious or depressed or sick in some physical way, or if they do that whatever they do with therapy, or western medicine will be more effective,” he says.    

“The body and the mind constantly heal themselves. You cut yourself, it heals. If there’s some dirt in it: wash it out. It’ll need some help, but it will heal on its own. If it’s a bad enough cut, you might need a couple of stitches - that would be layer three - a medical intervention to assist the natural process of healing,” Wanck says. “It’s the same way with the mind: every day there are times when people feel empty, scared, sad. You might not even know why. But the mind adjusts, it copes. So, there’s a natural healing process that happens all the time. The goal of this three-layered healing plan is to assist that process, to empower the strength of healing.”

Northshire Bookstore Presents: Saturday, April 6 at 7 p.m. - Bick Wanck - Mind Easing: The Three-Layered Healing Plan for Anxiety and Depression.  Author and psychiatrist Bick Wanck will share his book and his healing plan for the three essential causes of anxiety and depression. This book is intended as a guide for both mental health practitioners and for general readers. Bick Wanck is one of the founders of the American Academy of Addiction Psychiatry.

Northshire Bookstore Saratoga, is located at 424 Broadway. Also this month, the bookstore will present:

6 p.m. Monday, April 8 - Pulitzer Prize Finalist Luis Alberto Urrea – “The House of Broken Angels,” Pulitzer Prize-finalist Luis Alberto Urrea will share his riveting novel about the De La Cruzes, a family on the Mexican-American border, celebrating two of their most beloved relatives during a joyous and bittersweet weekend.

7 p.m.  Friday, April 12 - Matt Lesniewsky in conversation – “The Freak.” Author and artist Matt Lesniewsky will celebrate the publication of his debut graphic novel. Lesniewsky will discuss the book and his art with Chris Martinez of the Evil Geek Podcast. The Freak tells the story of a man thought of as the world’s ugliest man.

Noon, Thursday, April 18 - Lunch at Hattie’s Restaurant with Juliette Fay – “City of Flickering Light.” A special lunch at Hattie’s with bestselling historical fiction author Juliette Fay. Her new novel transports us back to the Golden Age of Hollywood and the raucous Roaring Twenties, as three friends struggle to earn their places among the stars of the silent screen—perfect for fans of La La Land and Rules of Civility. Tickets required for this event.

For more information, call 518-682-4200 or 1-855-339-5990, or visit the Northshire Bookstore website at www.northshire.com.

Published in Entertainment
Thursday, 21 February 2019 15:10

"Dream Big": Japanese Resort Sets Sights on Saratoga

SARATOGA SPRINGS – An international resort company with a stated mission to “dream big” is eyeing the Spa City as a place to potentially develop its latest luxury hotel.   

Hoshino Resorts, which operates 37 facilities both in and outside Japan, operates four distinct brands: luxury flagships, hot spring resorts, resort hotels, and city tourism hotels, featuring venues which vary from countrified mountainside resorts to the heart of big-city Tokyo. The company entered into a Memorandum of Agreement of Sale in September as purchaser regarding two parcels of land totaling nearly 87 acres, located just south of Saratoga Spa State Park. A “deed agreement” was filed with the Saratoga County Clerk’s Office on Oct. 3.    

According to the company’s literature, Hoshino Resorts provides “a unique experience focused on the local charms of each destination and a high level of omotenashi Japanese-style hospitality.”

Hoshino Resorts was first established as a traditional Japanese inn in 1914. Today, the hotel management company is run by 4th-generation family member Yoshiharu Hoshino.

The company was formerly known as Hoshino Onsen Co., Ltd. and changed its name to Hoshino Resorts Inc. in 1995, and is based in Kitasaku, Japan, according to Bloomberg.com. An Albany-based attorney representing Hoshino Resorts did not return a phone message requesting information for this story. 

The memorandum of agreement notes two specific parcels: 6.88 acres at Route 9 and Columbia Avenue, and 79.34 acres at 38 Columbia Avenue. The lands are located in a mostly wooded area, just south of the Saratoga Spa State Park and East West Road, just off Route 9. According to the document, the closing and transfer of title is slated to potentially take place within 30 days of the end of the due diligence period, specified as Nov. 1, 2020. Hoshino has the exclusive right to purchase the properties under the agreement. 

Specific plans for the type of development under consideration for development in Saratoga Springs are not known.

Bradley Birge, the city’s administrator of planning and economic development, said formal applications that would signal the potential start of a project – such as a building permit - have yet to be filed with any of the city’s Land Use boards. Salomone and Company – a limited liability company with offices in New York City, is listed as the “seller” of the properties, according to the memorandum of agreement of sale. 

Steven Salomone, whose grandfather Saverio Salomone purchased the property in the 1940s, was unable to confirm or deny anything relative to a potential transaction. He does remember visiting the property as a young man.    

“When I was kid, we would go up there every summer,” recalled Steven Salomone, who is 64 years old. “I remember the State Park being next door. That was exciting to us. There is a small pond or lake on the property towards the back and when it would freeze, Saverio would go out and chop the ice and sell it.  He was apparently running a pretty good business doing that,” Salomone says, with a laugh. “Back in the day people were still using ice boxes up there. I think they used to call it the Ice Lake.”   

In 1949, Saverio was granted Zoning Board approval to erect six cabins off Columbia Ave., according to city records.

“Buying land in Saratoga to my grandfather, it was like buying farmland,” Salomone says. “You know he was an Italian immigrant and owning land was something that was important; having land in the county was important to them. My grandfather and grandmother also put a small hotel up – not a hotel by today’s standards, but they had rooms they would rent out. It was called the Salomone Motel and when the racetrack was busy and people were looking to rent anything that was possible, we used to have people stay in the rooms.” 

As the grandparents got older, the property was used less frequently. The bungalows eventually came down and a main house, which had been rented out, has been dormant for the past handful of years, Salomone says.



Published in News
Thursday, 21 February 2019 14:44

Member of Skidmore Class Wins Grammy

Emily Lazar, a member of the Skidmore College Class of 1993, earlier this month won a Grammy for Best Engineered Album, Non-Classical for her engineering work on Beck's "Colors" album. She is the first woman to win in the category, according to the college.

As president and chief mastering engineer of The Lodge, which she started in 1997, Lazar has worked with a range of groundbreaking music from platinum-selling artists such as David Bowie, Lou Reed, Destiny's Child, The Raveonettes, Madonna, Saratoga Springs' own The Figgs, Missy Elliot, Sonic Youth, The Donnas and Ian Hunter, to name a few.  She has also mastered original sound tracks for feature films including "Training Day" and "Boys Don't Cry" and TV series such as "Six Feet Under."

After studio internships, jobs and a master's in music technology from New York University, Lazar opened up her own space, Lazar told CNBC, after accepting her award.

Lazar was previously nominated in 2014 for the Foo Fighters' "Wasting Light," which was up for Album of the Year, and for Record of the Year for Sia's hit "Chandelier” in 2014. In 2016, she was nominated for Best Engineered Album, Non-Classical for her work on the album "Recreational Love" by American indie pop duo The Bird and the Bee. Lazar completed a major in English and a minor in music at Skidmore.

Published in Entertainment
Friday, 01 February 2019 14:55

The Price of Forever

SARATOGA SPRINGS – When the United States Postal Service first issued its “Forever” stamp in 2007, it boasted a unique commodity. Here is a non-perishable product that would maintain its value in one ounce-weight, no matter how much costs may increase in the future.     

Forever stamps are non-denominational first-class postage, which means that they can be used to mail First Class letters no matter what the postal rate. In other words, if you purchased the stamps in 2007, which cost 41 cents at the time, then they may continue to be used in the present day for a normal-sized letter weighing one ounce or less, even as postage rates have increased. Forever stamps have also gone up in price - to 42 cents in 2008, 46 cents in 2013, 49 cents in 2014.

This week, the USPS raised the price of new Forever stamps up to 55 cents, which went into effect Jan. 27.  

Since their first issue in 2007, a variety of faces have graced forever stamps – from songwriter John Lennon to America’s first woman in space, Sally Ride; from the animated Great Dane Scooby-Doo to TV’s Mr. Rogers. There are stamps which have honored Americans who participated in WW I, and others recognizing First Responders.   

Brand new, or soon-to-be-released Forever stamps include tributes to entertainer Gregory Hines, and to tennis champion Maureen “Little Mo” Connolly Brinker.  

Additions to the 2019 Stamp Program – although not all will be marked as “Forever” stamps, will include: the 150th anniversary of the completion of the transcontinental railroad; multiple works by artist Ellsworth Kelly (1923–2015); a tribute to Marvin Gaye, and one commemorating the 50th anniversary of the 1969 Woodstock music festival. Another will celebrate murals created inside five different post offices during the era of the Great Depression that were designed to add a touch of beauty to post office walls and help boost the morale of Americans.

While not included in the Post Office Mural pane, locals will note the Saratoga Springs post office on Broadway displays two murals titled “Saratoga in Racing Season,” which were painted by Guy Pene du Bois under the Treasury Relief Art Project in 1937.

On another local note, artist Ellsworth Kelly – whose work will be featured on a 2019 stamp - has been exhibited at the Frances Young Tang Teaching Museum and Art Gallery, on the campus of Skidmore College. In 2015, the Tang received a $100,000 challenge grant from the Ellsworth Kelly Foundation for the purpose of supporting the conservation and care of its 7,000-plus-work collection. Additionally, Ian Berry, the museum’s Dayton Director, worked as a studio assistant for Kelly in the 1990s.

As to how the illustrated face of a stamp is chosen, USPS spokeswoman Maureen Marion says a Postmaster General’s Citizens’ Stamp Advisory Committee meets quarterly and is involved in the decision-making process.

 “They look at thousands of recommendations that come through,” she says.  The CSAC was established in 1957. Their meetings are closed to the public.  

One notable proposal floated during the lick-and-stick stamp days was a four-panel beer stein depiction which had a pretzel flavored taste to it when you licked the back of the stamp, Marion says. “But, that didn’t come to pass.”

The Richard Nixon stamp, issued in 1995 after the former president’s passing, was the first stamp on a major scale that moved away from the lick-and-stick variety and on to the adhesive option.  

“Just imagine, there are people graduating college now who have never licked a stamp,” Marion says.

As for the Stamp selection process, the U.S. Postal Service welcomes suggestions for stamp subjects that celebrate the American experience. Any proposal that meets the established criteria will be considered.  That criteria may be found at: https://about.usps.com/who-we-are/csac/criteria.htm. As of January 2018, no living persons will be honored on a stamp. Deceased individuals will be honored no earlier than three years after his or her death.

Published in News

SARATOGA SPRINGS — More than a dozen albums ago, Saratoga Springs High School friends Pete Donnelly, Mike Gent and Guy Lyons first got together to form a musical ensemble they called The Figgs.

Thirty-one years and some 1,500 shows later, Donnelly - who calls Philadelphia and South Jersey home these days – returns Jan. 31 to Caffe Lena, where he will be joined by Fred Berman on drums, Ray Long on bass, and John Cunningham on guitar.

In addition to his founding-member in-standing with The Figgs, Donnelly’s musical path has traveled through Terry Adams’ legendary NRBQ, Soul Asylum, the Replacements’ Tommy Stinson and Graham Parker, among others.  

There was a TV commercial for a luxury car in 2013 that featured the catchy post-new wave riffs of the Figgs’ “Je T’adore,”  and with the song “Your Smile Is a Deadly Thing,” released in 2016, the band showcased THE most addictive guitar riff of the year. Go ahead, give it a whirl HERE

Coming back to Saratoga, “still pretty much feels like home,” Donnelly said, during a phone interview in advance of New Year’s Eve return to perform at First Night Saratoga 2017.

His most recent solo album, 2018’s “Phases of The Moon,” features an all-star combo and signals a departure from Donnelly's past work. While the pop songs remain, the jazz predominates. (As was written in these pages upon the album’s release last year: The piano serves as a driving force, merging seductive jazz riffs laced with a sweet soul muse, topped with the familiar jingle-jangle of an electric guitar).

Ten of the album’s 18 tracks are instrumentals and include recreation of works by Thelonious Monk, Ornette Coleman, Erik Satie, Claude Debussy and Oscar Pettiford.

“As a kid I loved jazz music, Charles Mingus, Thelonious Monk, and I think a lot of people are surprised by that. Those were my idols,” says Donnelly, whose first instrument was the bass - and specifically an Ibanez Roadstar II, purchased at Drome Sound in Albany on his 13th birthday.  Growing up in ‘80s, bands like Hüsker Dü and Black Flag helped inspire his music “counter to the cheesy, schmaltzy ‘80s pop world we grew up in during the Reagan Era. Our music was an affront to that. It was an expression of searching for an identity in a banal world,” he says. “It almost feels like it’s a return to that now.”

Pete Donnelly performs 7 p.m. on Thursday, Jan. 31 at Caffe Lena. Tickets are $20 general admission, $18 members, $10 students and kids. For more information, call 518-583-0022, or go to: caffelena.org.    

Published in Entertainment
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