Posted by: David Giacalone | August 12, 2018

Orleans closes the Harbor Jam concert series


The last concert of the free Harbor Jam series at Mohawk Harbor’s amphitheater took place Saturday (August 11, 2018). It featured the Woodstock era band Orleans. This was my first time attending a Harbor Jam concert in this inaugural season, and I brought along my twin brother, Buffalo attorney and gadfly Arthur Giacalone, who enjoys a good live concert. [If unfamiliar with the location, see our posting, which has many images of the Mohawk Harbor Marina and Amphitheater photos]

IMG_8107 Known for songs such as “Dance with Me,” “Still the One,” “Let There Be Music,” and “Dancing in the Moonlight.” Orleans has had many personnel changes over more than four decades. The performers on stage last night included two of original band members: former Congressman John Hall and Lance Hoppen.

In an article posted at the Gazette website this evening (Sunday), “Orleans delivers the hits in closing Mohawk Harbor series,” reporter/reviewer David Singer wrote: “In general, the group had a nice sound. Three guitarists and vocalists, Hoppen’s brother on keyboards and a drummer. They took several guitar solos, never more than one round each — Hall even played slide on a few. They moved through some decent rock and blues, sounding less like the AM radio band that many expected, at the same time performing their hits as we all remembered them.”

Singer concluded the review with a nice summary of the band and concert:

“Still the One,” “Dance With Me,” and hard work on the road has been enough to sustain the band for decades. They earned it Saturday night.

The series has been attracting healthy-sized crowds, as described in the Gazette article, “Harbor Jam heats up in Schenectady” (by Indiana Nash, Aug. 2, 2018). However, a rain that lasted all afternoon surely kept crowd size from reaching the prior attendance numbers. Nonetheless, the Harbor throng was large enough and enthusiastic enough to make seeing a favorite old band an enjoyable event.


David Singer makes a fascinating point in his Gazette article, about the lack of any political statement by politician and environmentalist John Hall:

IMG_8102 Interestingly, Hall never mentioned that he served as a representative for New York in Congress years ago, and has since returned to the band. He stayed away from any political messages as well, perhaps knowing how to read his crowds after all these years. The closest they came to any political message was with the song “Lady Liberty.”

Hall wrote the song for his parents, who came to the United States to escape persecution — his mother from then-Czechoslovakia and his father from Scotland. Each band member took a verse, singing about their family members. This was a tough song to get through musically for the listener, but it served to deliver a clear message on the value of immigration to their lives.






The success of this inaugural Harbor Jam series should ensure its return next year (“if the river don’t rise, or the GGR fall” too much). Sponsor Rivers Casino and Resort says at its website, “Stay tuned for what’s coming in 2019!”

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Posted by: David Giacalone | August 2, 2018

the Rose Garden satisfies again


Why don’t I get to the Central Park Rose Garden more often? If I could figure that out, I’d try to tackle my CPS (Chronic Procrastination Syndrome) in earnest. Fortunately, there’s nothing like wanting to impress visiting relatives with the delights of Schenectady to get me over to Central Parkway and Wright Avenue to see the Central Park Rose Garden. Thus, and to wit, I brought my sister and niece to the Rose Garden on Monday, July 31, and we enjoyed the visit greatly — right from the surprising fragrance as we entered the Garden through an archway.

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Click on any photo in the mosaic below for a larger version. And, please enjoy.


Posted by: David Giacalone | July 22, 2018

a mini-Garden Tour

IMG_7978 (1) I wish I had started out earlier in the day, yesterday (Saturday, July 21, 2018), so that I could have seen all of the gardens presented in the Stockade Association’s 2018 Stockade “Art & Nature” Garden Tour.  As it is, I only visited 5 of the 8 private gardens on the tour. See “Tour art and nature in the Stockade” (Schenectady Gazette, by Indiana Nash, July 19, 2018).

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. . above and below: 32 Front St.; Garden of Robert Woods; art by Kathy Klompas . . 



. . below: Peter Rumora’s conifer garden, 31 Front St. 


The Slideshow below follows my path around the west end of the Stockade, with over 40 photographs. The images are repeated in the Thumbnail grid at the bottom of the posting; click on any of those images for a larger version.

IMG_7984 . . IMG_7983

. . above: Garden of Armida Rose, 101Front St, with felting art by  Joyce Muller-McCoola 

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Posted by: David Giacalone | July 18, 2018

mid-July at the new train Station



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Since I visited the site of construction for the new Schenectady Amtrak Train Station in March of this year, at Liberty St. and Erie Blvd., abutting our “Wall Street”, things are chugging along, it seems. (see “progress at the new train station” March 23, 2018). The photos above and in the Slideshow were taken on July 12 and July 17, 2018.

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I had hope that the front façade of the Station would be fully bricked when I headed back on July 17, but that may take a few more does.

One thing that did disappoint me (which will be no surprise to those familiar with my preoccupations) can best be shown by putting a photo from March 23 and one from July 12 side by side. No words needed:

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. . and, here is one more tribute to that lost tree:




Posted by: David Giacalone | July 14, 2018

another early SummerNight (2018)


IMG_7929 Like last year, yesterday (July 13, 2018), I got to the Schenectady County SummerNight right at the 5 PM start, and left before the crowd became pressing. Also like last year, I enjoyed the sights, seeing old friends and acquaintances, and snapping photos during my 90-minute visit.

The slideshow below, with 34 photos, will hopefully give you a taste of the sights, although not the suds, sweets, or sweats.



 . .  As always with our Slideshows, for a larger version of an image, pause the show on the image, right-click and then choose View Image in New Tab, and enjoy.

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. . above: Phil Singer’s sand sculpture again got a lot of attention and smiles; Chewbacca was featured this year, and last year, he brought us stately sand version of Wonder Woman . .

  • I left long before the Fireworks, but I did catch shows from Jumpin’ Jack’s (here) a couple weeks ago, and Rivers Casino (here) on the 4th.
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  • The Times Union has two galleries, with a  hundred photos each, by Gary McPherson; Part I and Part II.
  • Gazette photographer Peter Barber has a cozy and pleasing set of 33 photos in his Summer Night Gallery.


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Posted by: David Giacalone | July 6, 2018

my camera took some liberties with the Casino fireworks


I hope you got to see this year’s Independence Day Fireworks from Rivers Casino at Mohawk Harbor in person. Like the first version, in 2017, it was a fine show. And, like last year, I saw them with a just-right-sized crowd in Riverside Park.

IMG_7841However, my camera, monopod, and shutter finger continued their fireworks revolt, as I tried to capture the Mohawk Harbor July 4th display, with unconventional results. (See JJF 2018, for another recent example) The randomly fashioned images are, nonetheless, like my children, and I appreciate them for their unique attributes and beauty. They’re fun to play with, too. I hope you enjoy the inadvertently pretty, and pretty strange, images

Click on any of the photos in this posting, including those in the mosaic below, for a larger version whose details I hope will please you.



  • All the photos were taken from Riverside Park, near the play lot, looking east toward the CSX/Amtrak trestle and Mohawk Harbor.  I got to enjoy them with Julianna, Richard, Laura, Finnegan and Jim. Plus, Good Doggie McKee, who agreed that the distance made the explosions a lot more tolerable. A slight dip in temperature and breeze even made the historic heat wave bearable.

Next year, maybe I’ll experiment some on the shorter, July 3 fireworks show from Rivers Casino. Then, on the 4th, work to capture a good portion of the fireworks as they actually look in the sky. And, also see what serendipity and a shaky monopod yield to surprise my inner child and Independence muse.





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Posted by: David Giacalone | June 30, 2018

still missing the view from WGB

IMG_7382cement parapet on the western side of the Western Gateway Bridge [WGB] has blocked the view of the Mohawk River for those in passenger vehicles since the summer of 2013 [image on right]. WGB is NY Rt. 5 and connects Schenectady with Scotia/Glenville, passing over the Isle of the Cayugas.

But, let’s take a peek over the parapet:

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. . [above] the Schenectady side and [below] the Scotia side of Mohawk River channels created by the Isle of the Cayugas, as seen from the sidewalk of the Western Gateway Bridge, on June 15, 2018, near sunset: 


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How the heck did that happen? Scenic river views are treasured everywhere, and bridge views are protected by statute in many states!

If you have lived near or used the Western Gateway Bridge for less than five years, you may not know the sad tale. You see, WGB was “rehabbed” in 2013, at a cost of $16.9 million. It previously looked like this for about 40 years:


No, the cement walls were not utilized for safety reasons, nor to save money. Instead, decision-makers at the NYS Department of Transportation decided that the “embossed” cement parapet was “aesthetically more pleasing” than steel or wooden rails, and myopically forgot about the view. Really. And, our local politicians and civil servants did not monitor the design, and then came up with lame excuses for not Demanding our Scenic View Back.

GazBenasIllus2013DetDon’t get me started. For the full story, see our posting “DOT, give us back the sidewalk guardrails and scenic view on WGB” (Oct. 3, 2013); and more concisely, my Sunday Gazette View-Point piece “Loss of scenic vistas and guardrails on Western Gateway Bridge falls on shoulders of local leaders” (Nov. 17, 2013). To the left is a detail from my favorite Gazette editorial illustration ever, by Jeanne A. Benas, which accompanied the OpEd piece. (Nov. 17, 2013; click on the detail to see the full image).

Nonetheless, our pleas for a return of the view, and for the safety of guardrails along the roadway, apparently did help the folks who use the Rexford Bridge, where the views were preserved, and the bike-ped path was raised and given a guardrail. See the Gazette photo, by Marc Schultz, taken when the Rexford Bridge opened in November 2017.

On June 15, 2018, after bemoaning the lost view when driving across the bridge for the past half decade, I took my camera to the west side of the Bridge, without a ladder or black cat.

Here are a few more images of the western view from the Western Gateway Bridge, taken that evening. (click on a photo for a larger version)


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IMG_7366 . . . .



LOOKING EAST. Thanks to a Gazette editorial and public outcry in 2013, DOT quickly reversed itself and installed steel rails rather than another cement parapet on the east side of WGB (but would not remove the west wall). The scene toward the east is not as “natural” or “scenic” as the westward view, but here are more pictures taken from the Western Gateway Bridge during that June 15 photoshoot, looking east.

IMG_7383 . . Scotia’s Freedom Park bandstand



IMG_7370 . . no, that’s not a high school or office building, it’s our “international tourist destination” Casino, above a steep rip-rap rocky bank

IMG_7391 (1) . . the Riverside Park “esplanade/overlook”

IMG_7347 . . yep, part of WGB is over Rotterdam . .

IMG_7346 . . IMG_7345

. . above: view from Schenectady end of WGB of Binnekill, with Fr. Carlito’s pontoon . . 

My Home Block: I also focused on the rear of Washington Avenue and Cucumber Alley properties, as seen from the WGB.

IMG_7390 . . happily, still mostly a natural riverbank . . 

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. . above: [top, L] 4 Washington Ave., with retaining wall above bank; [R] 1 Cucumber Alley, with lawn carved along riverbank, and new doorway atop roof (see image below left) . . 


IMG_7357 . .

Finally, I snapped quite a few shots that evening from the County’s Gateway Park, f/k/a Gateway Landing, and was surprised to see it was posted with a No Trespassing sign. (Perhaps an over-reaction to its dock being destroyed in the Jan-Feb ice jam flooding.) Its lovely gazebo was empty, but some geese ignored the signs and enjoyed the Park and riverbank.


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Posted by: David Giacalone | June 30, 2018

jumpin’ fireworks



My camera must have been jumping a lot last night, as I tried to capture the 2018 Jumpin’ Jack’s Fireworks from across the Mohawk, standing at the end of Cucumber Alley. “Photo-realism” was not on the menu, it seems, as you will see in the Slideshow below. On the other hand, I enjoyed the company and the pleasant breeze a lot.

  • IMG_1617 For a more customary blend of focus and art, including reflections of the fireworks on the River, see our webpost from 2018, “Jumpin’ Jack’s fireworks a tardy treat” (July 22, 2018). Click on the Fireworks Category in the right-hand margin for more Stockade views of fireworks.


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