The Dead White Guy in Crystal Lake

Today I did something different: I saw a dead white guy floating face-down in Crystal Lake. I mean, usually i don’t.

Tim and i were out there because we’d just visited the Snake Hill Cemetery where, i’m proud to say, i put the padlock on the newly-built gate last week. When we pulled up in my car, there was a white city police SUV parked at the trailhead on Temple Ave., and another, unmarked, car next to it. I parked behind them. We only spent a few minutes there because Tim had to get back to Long Island, but on the way back to the car, right about in the middle of the path to the cemetery (in other words, at just about the middle of the long shore of the lake), there were two tall young men wearing black T-shirts and jeans. They were just hanging out, no fishing poles or anything, and the wording on the T-shirt one was wearing was very juvenile and 8th-grader-ish (something about, “Your girlfriend told me to tell you…”) and i figured they were just two hoods from the ‘hood, enjoying the sunny afternoon. We all said hello to one another, and one very pleasantly asked us how far up the trail we’d gone, and i said, “Just to the cemetery,” and he said he didn’t even know there was a cemetery there, but the other one did. So i started telling him all about our Jewish cemetery that we had finally cleaned up and fenced off, and they seemed greatly interested in it, its age, etc.

Then i asked them what they were doing there and Tim, always observant, said, “Genie, they’re policemen! Don’t you see their guns?!” And only then did i notice that they had police pistols on their hips. They looked at each other and one said to the other, “Is it OK if i tell them?” And the other one just shrugged and smiled and said, “OK, sure,” and so the first one said, “Well, look over there: There’s a man in the lake.”

Sure enough: There was a dead white guy with no shirt, floating face-down, near the opposite shore, and on that shore stood about 5 uniformed officers and three guys dressed in regular clothes. Then our two cops asked us if our car was the blue Civic at the trailhead, and i said yeah, and one said, “You probably better move it, because there’s gonna be a lot more cars parking there in a few minutes.”

So we ran the remaining 30 yards or so to the trailhead, but: Too late! We’d been hemmed in by about 8 cop cars, marked and unmarked. So i ran back to them again to ask them to move a car or two so we could get out, which one of them very quickly did.

Of course, i asked Tim to drive home, so i could call Doyle, the Record’s ace Newburgh reporter. Doyle thought it was very cool, and I’m sure he’ll have the whole story by the time i get to the office tonight.

For a moment there, the idea crossed my mind to not brag about how i’d seen a dead body, but that idea was — much like the white guy — dead in the water.

Back in the Snapple Again

I have recently taken up again with an old love, Snapple.

I first tried it because I liked its ads in the 1970s and early 80s: “Made from the Best Stuff on Earth.” It seemed to be appealing to environmentalists, and touting the fact that it was healthful, in some way. And its bottles – its very heavy bottles – were made of thick glass, with pretty leaves embossed on them.

And it tasted good. I liked it.

Then in the ’90s, I guess it became a bit passé, and, not being a really big tea-drinker anyway, I sort of forgot about Snapple. In recent years I have been keen to try cool new “hip and healthy” drinks like those made by Harney & Sons, Honest Tea, Tazo, Fuze and other “green” companies. They’re all so darned expensive, though! Meanwhile, I’ve been buying Arizona-brand tea in those tall, 20-oz. cans with “99 cents” printed near the top of them. They have very pretty artwork, and flavors like “ginseng and honey.” How healthy-sounding can you get?! So I figured: Good deal, right?

Then the other day I read a report about new research on BPA, the crap they incorporate into a lot of plastics. Seems BPA-infused plastic bottles can cause cancer. This was pretty well-known; that’s why we all switched to stainless-steel water bottles a year or so ago, and are using our plastic ones as planters.

But the new research showed, depressingly, that BPA is also in most CANS, as well! Like, canned tomatoes, tomato sauce, tomato paste, tuna fish … you name something in my pantry, and it’s in a BPA-riddled can. Most horrifyingly, it’s also in cans of infant formula! I guess BPA in the lining of cans prevents them from rusting, thereby dramatically prolonging shelf-life, and that’s why most food companies use it. There’s one, called Eden Foods, out of Ann Arbor, Mich., that uses some kind of wax-based alternative to BPA. But other than Eden Foods products, lots of luck finding any kind of foods OR drinks that won’t kill you, on your grocers’ shelves.

So I’m listlessly gazing at the refrigerated section of my favorite gas-station/convenience store a week ago, when I notice my old pal Snapple! They still sell them in those heavy, ornate glass bottles. I hoist one out of its row and inspect the ingredients, sure I’ll see corn syrup or its high-fructose cousin. But – YAY! – I’m wrong. It’s got just filtered water, cane sugar, tea leaves, and citric acid (which I think is a good thing).

Best of all, their caps still have “Real Facts” printed on them! Among the things I have learned lately, thanks to my re-acquaintance with Snapple: Neither emus nor kangaroos can walk backwards; and Tennessee was once called “Franklin.”

Snapple: BPA-free, corn syrup-free, a wealth of information and Made from the Best Stuff on Earth.