Thoughts While Shopping

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At my local Price Chopper yesterday, i saw a “shower cleanser” that’s for, it says on the label, all bathtubs, showerheads, tub enclosures and, get this: shower curtains, too. I thought, “Oh, goodie! Now i can cleanse my shower!”

Then i read on to the instructions, where Step One (of 3) says, i swear to God: “Start with a clean, dry tub enclosure.” (Yoohoo: If my tub enclosure were clean and dry …)

i also saw a bottle of lemon juice whose list of ingredients included “artificial lemon flavoring” and, two aisles over, a bottle of dish detergent whose ingredient list included “real lemon juice.” Memo to dish-detergent manufacturer and lemon-juice bottler: Maybe you folks could profitably get together? Just saying.

10 Things i Want to Look Up

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Things i’ve been meaning to look up when I get a minute but always forget when I’m in front of my computer:

  1. difference between “sewage” and “sewerage,” so I can show colleague I was right in changing her headline when I put it on the Web
  2. whatever happened to Fred Savage, the cutie from “The Wonder Years”
  3. Is Nikki Yanofsky, my new favorite jazz singer, Jewish, or what? And how can I get my younger son to marry her? He’s creeped out by the fact that she’s only 16, but I’m trying to convince him that she’s not stuck at that age, and that by the time he meets her (she’s from Montreal) and learns French so he can speak with her, she might be, like, 21. (At which point, Sam would be 26. Not a bad age difference, I say!)
  4. Why do they say it’s good for the stock market when there’s high unemployment?
  5. Why can’t we outlaw the buying and selling of loans? When somebody lends you money, they should not be allowed to exchange that loan for dough, nor for other people’s debts, nor to “bundle” it with other debts and sell them all together, etc. If you have a loan, the only thing you should be allowed to do is pay it off; if you don’t, the lender should be allowed to own part of any money you make for the rest of your life till you do pay it off. How is that not fair?
  6. True or false: The US can “denaturalize” a naturalized citizen.

7. Whatever happened to Dion’s Belmonts, Gladys Knight’s Pips, Herman’s Hermits, Freddie’s Dreamers, Maurice Williams’ Zodiacs, Smokey Robinson’s Miracles? Did their 1960s songs make them enough money to live on? Did “oldies radio” rescue them?

8. Where is the guy who sang “Wooden Heart,” who fascinated and enchanted me by breaking out into German in the middle of the song?

9. Do we want the dollar to be “strong” or “weak” against the yen, euro, yuan, etc., and why?

10. Whatever happened to the disk jockey Lee Gray, who worked at the Albany, N.Y.-area WTRY (980 AM) in the 1960s and called himself “Beatle-Buddy” Lee Gray? He looms large in my legend because it was by calling his show within the allotted 98 seconds that I won a ticket to see the Beatles at Shea Stadium on Aug. 23, 1966 – the highlight of my life so far (no offense to my husband and offspring, whom it was a thrill marrying/delivering).

My Two Cents

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On May 12 (Wednesday), a long piece ran in the New York Times about Newburgh’s drugs/gangs/crime/violence problems. It was quite good, for the Times — nothing that the Record’s Doyle Murphy hadn’t written 148 times in the past, but a decent summary of it all. The next day, federal, state and local cops launched a HUGE sweep here, busting into houses at 6 a.m. and arresting 78 gang members on federal charges. (i teased Doyle about it: “See? When the New York Times does a story, they get results!”) But a lot of people were upset about the “negative picture” the Times story painted of Our Fair City, and i was drafted to write a “rebuttal.” Since neither the Times (“Letters to the Editor must be 150 words or less”) nor anyone else will ever run my 750-word reply, i will paste it below, lending credence to the saying that “the power of the press belongs to those who own one.” ( i guess anyone with a blog “owns one.”) Oh: To be completely tedious, i also sent it to David Shipley, the Times Op-Ed page editor. Here it is:

May 12, 2010

Ray Rivera did a good job in these pages (“In Newburgh, Gangs and Violence Reign,” May 12) of pointing out the violence in my “dilapidated” hometown of Newburgh. I know he was taking a snapshot, not producing a travelogue. But he must have shut his eyes to many of the city’s treasures in his search for the all-too-obvious evidence of gangs, crime and drugs. Many of us are wondering how he could possibly have missed:

Washington’s Headquarters, a major tourist attraction and the nation’s first state historic site;

The Karpeles Manuscript Museum, an eccentric surprise situated in an imposing former bank;

the Ritz Theater, where Sinatra played and Lucille Ball got her start in vaudeville;

the Downing Film Center, an independent, locally-owned-and-operated movie theater showing foreign and art films;

the Dutch Reform Church, a magnificent Greek-Revival-style national historic landmark;

Downing Park, designed by the landscape architects who designed New York’s Central Park and named for their mentor, Newburgh’s Andrew Jackson Downing;

Caffe Macchiato, a Zagat-rated restaurant with European charm;

the Wherehouse, offering beers from every single microbrewery in the state, as well as pub-fare lunches and dinners; and

the plethora of first-rate Peruvian, Mexican, Guatemalan, Colombian and Italian restaurants throughout the city (plus one taco cart that was featured on the Food Network).

These are just a few attractions Rivera could have at least mentioned. But most stunning was his silence on the friendliness and kindness of the city’s residents, perhaps developed through our long years of grief, or by having to communicate across cultural and linguistic barriers. Beyond talking to one mother and one former gang member, did he not stop to even ask directions? He talked about our “narrow avenues,” but failed to say that Broadway is the widest main street in America.

By the way, he seemed baffled by Newburgh’s nickname, “The 6th Borough.” Of course, it was never intended to refer to the city’s size or density, but rather to its ethnic and racial diversity – a fact of which we are proud.

We’re also proud of our excellent schools and thriving arts community. Newburgh Free Academy routinely sends its seniors on to Ivy League colleges and universities. NFA’s physics students win the national solar-car Race Across America just about every year, in a car they designed and built themselves. And our boys’ basketball and boys’ and girls’ track teams are our pride and joy.

The Greater Newburgh Symphony Orchestra produces a full season of concerts in the high school’s auditorium, featuring performers whose “other jobs” are with the New York Philharmonic but who choose to live in the beautiful Hudson Valley.

Has Rivera never heard of Newburgh’s ReadNex Poetry Squad? They perform their socially-conscious form of rap all over the world, and were recently welcomed by cheering youths in South America. Our homegrown band The Morning Of is starting a nationwide tour, and Perfect Thyroid plays to standing-room-only crowds.

Local artists’ paintings, drawings and sculptures are on display at many Newburgh galleries and businesses, as well as at City Hall. Book clubs and poetry and literary societies flourish here, holding regular meetings at the top-notch Newburgh Free Library, which not only serves the city and surrounding areas with its books, e-books, videos, newspapers, magazines and DVDs but also lends laptops to those who have none. The Newburgh Actors Studio puts on experimental plays and classics that the entire community enjoys.

Perhaps most importantly, we have a collection of civic-minded, good-government groups determined to eliminate the city’s raging crime problems. Among them are the Newburgh Lyceum and the newly-formed Mothers and Others and Mothers for Upward Movement.

With our deep-water port on one of the widest stretches of the Hudson River, Newburgh still has the recreational, transportation and scenic chops that inspired Henry Hudson’s first mate in 1609 to write in his journal that this would be “a pleasant place to build a town.”

“Dilapidated?” Sure, but we’re coming back! Newburgh, named an All-American City in the mid-1950s, is like a beautiful woman of whom people say, she has “good bones.” That’s the real story of our city, and future coverage should not ignore it.

(Ms.) Genie Abrams, 32 Bay View Terrace, Newburgh, N.Y.

845-569-2075 (home); 845-764-0635 (cell)

What About the Pit Bulls?

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Now that, thank the good Lord, the FBI, the ATF, the state police, the Regional Gang Task Force, the Orange County Sheriff’s Office and the Newburgh City Police have captured 78 drug dealers in Thursday’s raids, i wonder what happens to all their pit bulls.

These doggies loyally guarded their drug-dens day and night, and you could see young black men walking their pit bulls on the bluff (how sweet!) while arranging deals on their cell-phones 24/7. But when they busted into 44 homes at 6 a.m. Thursday, did they take the dogs, too? The SPCA should have been part of the sweep, pulling up right behind the paddy-wagons.

(Do they have the right to stop barking ’til they hire a pit-bull lawyer? i know a few they could call.)