Monthly Archives: April 2008

Under new management

Spring just hit this area with a POW! this week. Everything is strangely accelerated, almost as if summer is just around the corner. I can definitely feel a slowdown in the vibe on the University hill (in summer, everything there slows down). I wonder if this is one of those springs that will make some sort of difference to the area. You know how you can’t get out of bed and get going on a Saturday when it’s gray and blah out? Maybe we find it hard to get going in a year that starts with a raw spring. But on a beautiful day, you feel like getting up and tackling the day. Who knows, could this be a week that changes a year, and maybe a year that changes history around here…?

There are two local businesses under new management this week. The former Kristen’s ice cream stand on West Genesee Street, across from Pizza Hut and Jesus Hut Holy Family, is now Carol’s Polar Parlor, a spinoff of the venerable Peter’s Polar Parlor down on Milton. Word is they are going to be specializing in hard ice cream (yum).

The bigger news is that the empty Pep Boys in Westvale — the former Genesee Theater — has been bought by the Oneida Nation, Inc., for use as a brand-name outlet shop similar to the one they’ve been operating in Chittenango. Yes, they plan to pay taxes, since it is not on Oneida land. (Gov. Paterson wants to finally start collecting taxes from all the reservation businesses; see Danger Democrat for some debate over that.)

This brings some closure to a sad story, and for moribund Westvale Plaza it’s a big deal. It will bring in some jobs, and it is good to know the place won’t be empty forever. Still, one could definitely dream a different dream about that space. (And one wonders if the Onondagas have different dreams for it — the months continue to tick by on the LRA, with no news…) Maybe we can do better than shopping for castoffs. Can the corner of West Genesee and Charles ever become someplace with some kind of cultural meaning again, maybe even something more than it was?

Other people’s blogs: Book and photo edition

New York Cowboy reviews Small is Beautiful, a 1973 book about how to manage growth and sprawl.

Steve Balogh, writing at Groovy Green, reviews James Kunstler’s World Made by Hand, a novel about life after “peak oil.”

Steve has been reading mainly schoolbooks lately and here is his report .

Josh Shear reviews The Lost.

(What I’m reading at the moment… Fiction: Master and Commander by Patrick O’Brian – very much a book for manly men, but once you get past the overwhelming nautical terminology, an enjoyable story; and non-fiction: How the University Works: Higher Education and the Low-Wage Nation, by Marc Bousquet.)

Via Dryden is Home: Some “tilt-shift” photos (they make ordinary scenes look like miniature dioramas), including this illustrated feature on America’s commuting habits.

Melsky, an artist and recent transplant to Syracuse, has a blog, Wandering Through Syracuse, that features lots of photos. (This one is so typically Syracuse, but has a stark beauty that could only be noticed by a newcomer.)

Updated: Via Buffalopundit: a collection of photos of Life Before Death.

Paterson in Syracuse

David Paterson was in Syracuse today for his first official visit as guv. (If you didn’t hear him on WSYR, they’re re-running it at 7 p.m.)

I’m getting the sense that Paterson has a much better public relations staff than Spitzer ever did. Maybe he studied at the Schumer School of Press Releasing, but it’s like there’s something specific and targeted coming Upstate’s way from his office every couple of days, and it’s getting into the blogosphere quickly. Like this one about the Finger Lakes trash truck issue. (Living in Dryden has all you need to know about what’s been going on with that and who the players are.) Some newsworthy stuff, like the big fire in the Catskills, I heard about first from a Paterson press release as opposed to the traditional media.

Paterson will need all his PR skills to overcome the ire of the state employee unions, though, after his ultimatum about state agency hiring. Between his chumminess with Joe, his backing of Bloomberg on congestion pricing, and this, he’s turning out a virtual Republican. Who knew?

And while I know he’s being lambasted lately for being too much of a Mr. Nice Guy who gave away too many details about his personal shortcomings, then there are stories like this one about the realities of being a legally blind governor and I just want to root for him and say damn, I hope he can do it. I’ve been watching Dancing with the Stars this season and one of the competitors is Marlee Matlin, who is of course deaf. She had a great start, but has been running into some trouble now, and she may not have a fairy-tale ending in the competition — not because it’s impossible for her to do (it would be impossible for me to do!), but because she probably could use more practice time than the show allows. I admire how frank Paterson is about his handicap.

On blogs and media

And now, a pause for a “meta” post…

Last Sunday (April 13), the Post-Standard ran a feature on the front page of its Op-Ed section called “Upstate Bloggers, Unite!” The article was by Brian Cubbison, assistant news editor at the paper, and (if you’ve been paying attention to Syracuse.com’s nest of blogs) the person behind their Upstate Blogs aggregator.

Now, RSS feeds are available to be grabbed from most any blog around – and if you run your own blog, depending on what is made available in the feed, you could conceivably re-publish the text of someone else’s blog on your own blog with as much or as little attribution as you see fit. I have some widgets that grab headlines from a couple of RSS feeds. I don’t know that newspapers do this a lot, though, so that makes the Syracuse.com project kind of interesting. And furthermore, I don’t know of too many newspapers that publish actual text from local blogs in the print edition. This happens on page A-2 of the PS often.

As for Sunday’s article, newspaper articles on blogging are usually the sort that “take a look at the phenomenon of blogging” and try to make a story out of that. That’s not what the PS article is about. It’s simply a preamble explaining the Upstate Bloggers online page at Syracuse.com and how it was done, and then excerpts from what bloggers (“independent [bloggers]” as the article stresses) have written. (But the Sunday piece doesn’t seem to have been made available online.)

The execution of Upstate Blogs on Syracuse.com has a not immediately apparent but important feature. It includes “Comment” links that lead back to the independent sites. That is, Syracuse.com is allowing their own reader traffic to move naturally to the originating blog, and off their own site and away from their own advertisers (the traffic may not necessarily come back!). This is not a minor matter. The impulse (or business model, if you will) of most online newspapers or portals is to scoop in the blog readers and their traffic, and to keep the commentariat hanging around their own pages. Online discussion is really the driver of the online “economy,” the true generator of page views — no matter how much a blogger blathers, it’s the comments everyone wants to read. Conversation is what is really desired. And everyone’s surfing time is limited, so you might wonder about such liberality of linking between corporate bloggers and independent ones.

However, it’s not just page-linking that has been going on. Continue reading

Latest Q-Poll

Very briefly: the latest Quinnipiac poll on Paterson, Spitzer, congestion pricing, the 2010 governor’s field… Paterson holding his own. Spitzer still firmly in doghouse of public opinion. NYC residents love Bloomberg, Upstaters couldn’t care less.

P.S. Did you know? The only thing you need to pass your New York State blogger’s license test is to be able to spell “Quinnipiac” without looking.