Public Official: Mayor Brian Stratton.
Public Official (Tie)
Stratton deserves applause for his dogged efforts to get rid of
the bad cops that have long given the Schenectady Police Department
a less-than-stellar reputation. This year, his administration has
made real headway—and Stratton has promised there is more to come.
It should also be noted that Stratton has taken a balanced approach
to managing the finances of a distressed city in distressing times,
and he should be commended for this.
Public Official (Tie)
sitting executive for Albany County has a list of enemies as long
as any labor-union roster, and we dig him for it. (His chief opponent
being Mike Conners speaks volumes, we say.) He has fought hard against
a legislative body more concerned with embarrassing him then working
with him to right our fiscal ship of state. And his bold stand on
the nursing-home debacle—in the face of a hyperbolic and well-orchestrated
opposition—is a testament to his fact-based, no-nonsense and, yes,
compassionate leadership. Plus, it doesn’t hurt that he is right
on the issue. Fight on, Mr. Breslin. We got your back.
Friend of Barbecue and Enemy of Children
talk-show host Paul Vandenburgh for asking the right question: Who
is it in Troy that can provide tax giveaways to an out-of-town barbecue
chain and make sure Troy Pig Out happens, but can’t get the swimming
pools open in time for the city’s children to enjoy them? We’ll
answer that one: Mayor Harry Tutunjian. Seriously, the dude has
pork on the brain. When the lame-duck mayor’s term ends, we suggest
someone have a bottle of Dinosaur Bar-B-Que sauce bronzed in lieu
of a gold watch.
Pandering City Councilman
has been a tough first year for the freshman councilman—so much
proposed legislation and so many embarrassments. And while the fact
that he has proposed more legislation than any of his colleagues,
maybe even all of them combined, might suggest a hard-working ethos,
we don’t see it that way. Most of the legislation that he has proposed
has been recycled feel-good bills that amount to little but a headache,
and his substantive pieces have been ill-informed and tone-deaf.
And when it really mattered—on the vote to bond the landfill—he
was a great big disappointment. When we endorsed his opponent last
year, we noted that Konev seems more concerned with political pandering
than with thoughtful policy, and nothing he has done so far has
changed our minds.
Yeah, yeah, he might be the driving force behind much of what the
Republican Tea Party crowd is up to in the Capital Region, but we
gotta admit it, we like this guy. We wish that his sincere curiosity
and intelligence were the hallmarks of his movement (and not crazy
racist ranting.) Sure, he is a conspiracy nut, and loves him some
John Birch Society, but show us a liberal activist without some
kooky theories, k? We were at the last Tea Party rally held in Albany,
and listened as he educated the crowd on the illnesses in the Republican
Party. It certainly wasn’t a crowd-pleasing speech, but it took
guts, brains, and honesty. And that’s what we ask for in an ideological
York State Assembly
say that there are a lot of issues for a legislator to address at
the Capitol these days is an understatement. The budget deficit,
unemployment, corruption, campaign finance reform, etc, etc. Apparently
Reilly hasn’t got the memo as he spends most of his energy ranting
against the legalization of mixed martial arts or Ultimate Fighting.
We wonder if Reilly, a Democrat, keeps all the clips of himself
bashing the sport on Fox News to watch them over and over again.
Regardless of whether you want to see the violent sport legalized
to bring tourism dollars upstate or not, you would think Reilly
would have something better to obsess over. . . . But then again,
it gets him on TV and really connects him with those old-timey values
voters. This guy is running for reelection after all.
Remember that guy who ran for mayor last year? What was his name
again? You know the guy who gave Jennings the biggest challenge
of his long, long, long, career as mayor during the Democratic primary.
Where did he go? Oh, apparently he’s got a sweetheart, federally
funded job paying $53,000 a year as a legislative liaison at the
State Department of Labor. Well at least his protégé Anton Konev
is out their standing up for progressive causes! Wait, what’s all
that laughter about? Oh right, Konev is the guy who caved on the
dump bonding . . . and wants prayer in the council. Boy Albany,
you sure know how to pick em.
Reality Show Victor
We’ve always known chef Ric Orlando—of New World Home Cooking in
Saugarties and New World Bistro Bar in Albany—was a winner, but
now it’s official. On Tuesday’s episode of the Food Network’s improv-cooking
competition, Chopped, Orlando bested his three rivals and
left the judges “speechless” with his Jamaican jerk quail with coconut
rice. The impromptu twist on a local favorite won Orlando $10K—and
a Metroland Best of. Congrats, good sir.
Use of Public Funds
Through the recently completed $29 million Branch Improvement Plan,
the Albany Public Library defied the economic climate plaguing other
institutions. The APL opened two new branches, expanded and renovated
three existing locations and overhauled its collections. The city
and its residents are the better for it.
Infusion of Corporate Dollars Into the Capital Region
Since February, eight Capital Region organizations have earned themselves
generous Pepsi Refresh Grants for a total of $400,000 in funding
to better our communities through art, education and smart business.
Better Late Than Never Public Accomplishment
Jennings Fixes the City Hall Clock
Jerry Jennings has said for months that he’s been working on getting
the damn clock fixed, and he finally did. Give credit where credit
Park: Central Park.
Central Park may not be as renowned as it’s Big Apple namesake (both
designed by master park architect Frederick Law Olmstead), but we’re
pretty fond of ours. It may not have a zoo, but you can ramble along
the walking paths, stop and sniff the rose garden, paddle on the
pond, clamber through Tiny Tot Land, splash in the pool, play tennis
or take in a Music Haven concert. What more could you need?
the concrete jungle of Colonie, there is an oasis called the Crossings,
a beautifully manicured park that is perfect for running, biking,
rollerblading or just walking the dog. A great farmers market on
Saturday, lots of events through out the spring, summer and fall
the Crossings is the perfect destination for outdoor exercise or
relaxation. With many picnic tables and the best playground for
kids around—and you might get lucky and see the cows all grazing
in the farm that border the Crossings.
Plain State Park
there invariably makes you think you’re hopelessly lost (or else
you discovered it for the first time when you were hopelessly
lost), but the reward at the end of your drive into the hills of
Rensselaer County is a beautiful, serene, low-key park where you
can relax for the day without battling the unruly hordes. A great
spot for a family picnic, a rowboat ride, or a refreshing swim in
the cool, clear lake.
Boyd Thacher State Park
Gov. Paterson announced his plans to close our parks the impassioned
response to save Thacher Park—and the history, memories, beauty
and learning the gates hold—was heard statewide. Thankfully, those
gates are open again.
National Historical Park
history, spectacular views and a vigorous bike ride are what your
looking for, then the Saratoga National Historical Park is the best
bike ride in the region. Stop first at the museum and see the movie
memorializing the turning point battle of the American Revolution.
Explore the museum and gift shop. Speak with the park rangers about
the park and its history. Then embark on your 11-mile ride that
dissects the park. You’ll experience great biking conditions, beautiful
scenery and views of the Hudson River valley, deer all over the
park, and if you’re lucky, maybe that day they’ll have a Revolutionary
a walk through Center Square and the Empire State Plaza offers everything
from quiet contemplation to a history lesson. Taking the side streets
and looking at all the old brownstones and townhouses, with their
rehabbed beauty and date plaques on the wall, is always part of
the fun on these walks. You get a sense that you’re not even in
the city, but a quiet old neighborhood where you can still picture
the horse and carriages trotting down the cobblestone. Then hop
over to the Empire State Plaza. Take in the flower garden hidden
in the corner before you come to the vastness of the main site.
The large pool and constant breeze offer a calm refuge, especially
on a warm summer’s night.
has changed over the years at this downtown rink, which offers covered
open air skating, just like we remember. Their free learn-to-skate
and hockey programs are a huge hit with the family set, plus they’ve
got snacks and hot chocolate to warm you up after a spin on the
not a huge mountain, but it’s a good mountain, and it’s so close
compared to the higher peaks of Vermont and the Adirondacks. With
some of the most affordable lift-ticket packages you’ll find in
O’Neill Road, Albany
(if) the snow comes, Albany’s municipal golf course becomes a multi-use
facility; acres of well-groomed trails offer a healthful and serene
retreat for cross-country skiiers; you may also see snowshoers,
as well as plenty of kids hurtling down the hills near the entrance
on their tubes.
Ontario St., Albany
like our bowling like we like our grandmas: old-school. And it just
doesn’t get better than the Playdium for the perfect blend of campy
character and modern lanes.
Family Fun Park
North Greenbush Road, Troy
repeat winner for good reason. Well-tended greens amid, well, an
oasis of waterfalls and shaded woods, the Oasis offers good challenge
to the avid mini-golfer. And then there’s the delish ice cream at
the 19th hole . . .
Swimming Pool (Neighborhood)
doesn’t quite capture the essence of this weird, wonderful and wildly
popular urban swimming spot. A huge circular dish that gets deeper
the further out you wade, with plenty of lawn to sun on, the pool
feels a bit more like the beach. Sure, there are tons of kids and
the interminable song of the ice cream truck parked outside the
fence, but isn’t that and a thick glaze of sunscreen what the summer’s
Swimming Pool (Destination)
Spa State Park
repeat winner, this is the pool for families. Your toddler
can wade in on the gently sloping entry side, or frolic under the
fountain in the kiddie pool, while your teens race down the corkscrew
slides. And you? You could keep half an eye on them while reading
your book, but you just know your 14-year-old wants to take you
on in a slide race . . .
Refuge from the Coming Zombie Apocalypse
and Montgomery streets, Albany
hesitate to reveal our super-secret plans, but the vacant cold storage
building is big enough for a crowd, and all the stores necessary
to sustain them through a plague of the undead. It even offers direct
access to the railroad and charming views of our (now-zombie-riddled)
city. We’ll see you there at the first signs of brain munching.
Bar: Wolff's Biergarten.
wasn’t just the World Cup that made Wolff’s the No. 1 bar destination
in Albany—but boy was that awesome. Anyway, aside from the soccer
geekery, a number of us around these parts love Wolff’s because
it delivers that European pub feel, with good imported beer, a great
bar, wood shavings on the floor, German food on request and the
kind of camaraderie you want out of your favorite local bar. It
is a meeting place for beer aficionados of all ages, sports fans,
partiers, tourists, college kids, the arts crowd, the ever-drinking
journalisto, politico or anyone else you might want to grab a pint
with. Damn you Baumgartner, you’ve done it again.
Bar (Saratoga Springs)
Maple Avenue, Saratoga Springs
outdoor patios at Hattie’s and the Adelphi Hotel would win the prize
for best bar atmosphere in Saratoga, and the delicious mixed drinks
at Max London’s would take the honors for best cocktails. But overall,
no bar in Saratoga is on par with the intimate jazz club 9 Maple,
where the martini menu is 250 choices long, the single-malt scotch
selection is unrivaled in New York, and the service is always top-notch.
River St., Troy
Wake is a classic-looking bar right out of the roaring twenties.
Owner Chris Ryan has developed a Cheers-type atmosphere and
classy pub that endears everyone who graces the premises. College
students, lawyers, politicos, working-class folks and hipsters,
all mingling to create the a great bar vibe. Want an amazing view
of the Hudson River? Grab your cold one and chill out on the beautiful
N. Broadway, Schenectady
is a great little bar that opened quietly almost two years ago.
Great wings, great sandwiches and additional menu specials complement
the beers on tap, full bar, and TVs showing various live sporting
events. It is a nice place for a late snack and drink where many
patrons seems to know each other, but you do not feel out of place
if you know no one yourself. Also known to be a late-night gathering
place for bar workers who have finished their shifts and are looking
to relax here. It is a nice, friendly place with good food, something
that is hard to find done well in Schenectady later in the evening.
Lark St., albany
Bar is a Lark Street neighborhood institution. With its beautiful
patio, great drink specials, friendly bartenders and dedicated clientele,
Oh Bar is a gay bar that is welcoming to everyone. Check out DJ
Chrome on Friday nights.
Central Ave., Colonie
popular image of a gent—what the hell, strip club—is one
of skanky dancers, sleazy backrooms and bad, overpriced drinks.
But DiCarlo’s breaks the mold. It’s as much friendly neighborhood
bar as erotic emporium, presided over by the avuncular owner, Sal
DiCarlo. The dancers are cute and personable, the drinks are well-made,
and the club itself is clean and seasonally decorated (horses in
August, shamrocks in March) as innocently as an elementary school.
There’s even a massive fish tank, and who ever heard of a strip
club with landscaping? Lunch at DiCarlo’s surpasses all expectations
as well. What have we left out? Oh yeah, there are half-naked girls,
Bar With the Worst Name
1st St., Troy
is one great drinking hole. The bar is beautiful, the stage is fantastic.
There are multiple game rooms with darts, skeeball, and other games.
In the back there is a classy room with tables to lounge in as well
as a fenced-in terrace for the smokers in the crowd. But that name!
Egad! We suggest that everyone just start calling the place Magoos,
and leave the footsy for flirting.