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Photo by:John Whipple

Cassandra Speaks

It was her world, and we got a chance to visit it when smart, snarky New York Times columnist Maureen Dowd (pictured) read from her new book Bushworld: Enter At Your Own Risk on Tuesday, Sept. 14, at UAlbany’s Page Hall. To say that she was greatly appreciated is an understatement. For the first time in living memory—mine, anyway—Page Hall was standing room only, with people packed in up to the last row of the balcony. (I can verify this. I was in the last row of the balcony.) The evening was indeed a lovefest, and a smashing start to the New York State Writers Institute fall program.

It was a lovefest with a palpable undercurrent of anxiety, however. The swankily dressed Dowd read one essay from the book, and then opened the floor to questions. New polls showing a substantial convention bounce for George W. Bush had just been released, and one nervous questioner after another asked variations on “How can John Kerry be screwing this up?”

This was the kind of audience that accepted, as a point of departure, that W. is a dangerous moron. There was even a woman peddling anti-Bush buttons in the balcony.

Dowd was witty and charming, and pulled no punches in her analysis of the political venality and overwhelming sense of entitlement that make the Bush dynasty what is: a danger to the republic.

After an hour or so of question time, a table was set up onstage for Dowd to sign copies of her book. Too bad the Writer’s Institute indicated that it was a “reading-only” event on their Web site, or yours truly would have brought enough money to buy one and get it signed. Even journalists can be starstuck on occasion.

—Shawn Stone

Photo by: Martin Benjamin

Homecoming King

Last Saturday (Sept. 18), Schenectady native and world-class filmmaker John Sayles returned home for a day of fun, festivities and film to raise money for the ongoing renovation of Proctor’s Theatre. Sayles and his producing partner Maggie Renzi pressed the flesh, sat on a panel discussion of film and politics, introduced their brand new flick Silver City and were feted by the mayor and other local poobahs. Pictured here: (l-r) Proctor’s CEO Philip Morris, Lisa Stratton, Sayles, Renzi and Schenectady Mayor Brian Stratton.


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