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The Train Has Left the Station

To the Editor:

A little more can be added to why Amtrak no longer goes to Albany [“Questions That Bother Us So,” June 27]. In the late ’60s, I was a relatively new employee of what was then called the state Department of Public Works (now the state Department of Transportation). On visits to my hometown, we preferred to take the train. When highway plans threatened the station, I wanted to testify at a public hearing. Management advised this more technical writer that a headline like “DPW Aide Opposes Station Closing” would be likely—and unwelcome.

So my wife came with me to the hearing and stated her opposition. A lawyer representing New York City picked up on her testimony, several times referring to her as “the lady from Peyster Street,” which left many wondering “Where’s this Peyster Street?” At the hearing, a DPW engineer (also hardly at the “aide” level) testified that $62 million in contracts depended on abandoning this station. (Many years later, he was said by then to be agreeing that the station should not have been relocated across the river.)

Also, I hope someone will explain that the landfill cannot generate 1.9 megawatts of electricity “per hour.” It can and does generate megawatt-hours of electricity.

When a “force” moves something, “work” is being done; the amount of work done in a length of time is termed “power.” Watts are a measure of how much power is being produced or used. Your watt-hour meter measures how much power went through the meter to do work or heating (which is equivalent to work). But now I see that a rather more complete explanation would be needed to help the layman truly understand work, energy and power.

Donn Fichter

Rush to Judgment

To the Editor:

Acknowledging Neil Peart’s facility with “speedy roto-tom fills” [Noteworthy, July 3] is like praising Duane Allman’s mastery of slide mandolin. Your moldy indictment of Rush lyricist Peart’s reliance on Ayn Rand and sci-fi found favor with rock critics when Gerald Ford was President. J. Eric Smith described Rush’s Oct. 19, 1996, Knickerbocker Arena show as “stunning, captivating and very, very immediate,” even though “the super-secret Working Music Critic’s Manual of Hip” dictates that “I’m supposed to . . . dismiss Rush contemptuously with the rest of the ’70s sci-fi concept-album crowd.” (See Concerts/rushcon.htm.)

Hey Spanky, put away the manual and open your eyes. Or perhaps even your ears.

Jim Kerr

Editor’s note:

The quote cited by Mr. Kerr from J. Eric Smith’s review of the Oct. 19, 1996, Rush concert is incomplete and therefore does not reflect Smith’s message accurately. The full passage from the review reads as follows:

“I know that per the super-secret Working Music Critic’s Manual of Hip, I’m supposed to sniff distastefully about the whole arena-rock thing and dismiss Rush contemptuously with the rest of the ’70s sci-fi concept-album crowd—but I just can’t do either. Rush are cool. They put on a cool arena concert. I was glad I went and wasn’t ashamed to sing the line: ‘We are the priests of the Temples of Syrinx.’ Best of all, I was not alone.”

To the Editor:

I had to write after seeing the Noteworthy entry for the Rush show at SPAC. While I’m glad that the band made your short list, it seemed that their entry was there more to gently ridicule the band and its fans.

It seems that as a newsweekly, someone in the music staff might have done something to find out what the band is up to these days, rather that recycle some old-and-tired critique of the band.

I will be the first to admit to the unevenness of many of the band’s releases since their creative and commercial breakthroughs of the early ’80s. However the band has returned from a five-year hiatus—during which their continued existence was in doubt—with their finest and freshest album in nearly 20 years. Rush fan or not, it’s well worth a listen.

Why the hiatus? Neil Peart’s only daughter died in a car accident in 1997 after their last tour, and his wife died of cancer the following year. He emerged after years of relative seclusion with a desire to play the drums again and resurrect the group.

This type of human-interest story might have given the writer of the preview something to write about without having to bring into question his/her hipness vis-à-vis Rush, since that seemed to be the writer’s primary concern.

Mike Lopez


In our Summer Fashion issue [June 20], we incorrectly credited Albany County Parks and Recreation for the use of Heritage Park. The credit should go to the Town of Colonie Parks and Recreation. Metroland regrets the error.

Metroland welcomes typed, double-spaced letters (computer printouts OK), addressed to the editor. Or you may e-mail them to: Metroland reserves the right to edit letters for length; 300 words is the preferred maximum. You must include your name, address and day and evening telephone numbers. We will not publish letters that cannot be verified, nor those that are illegible, irresponsible or factually inaccurate.

Send to:
Letters, Metroland, 4 Central Ave.,
4th Floor, Albany, NY 12210
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