Monthly Archives: June 2008

Bruno’s retirement: Dream on

Anyone get the feeling that the props are being knocked out from under the decaying old manse? I’m talking about Empire — the Empire State, that is. Bruno’s retirement was surprising, but also not. The old structures are falling, with nothing to replace them. The Ithaca Journal, in its editorial on how Upstate is now “losing its voice,” is pretending that Bruno really spoke for Upstate. He didn’t. The appearance that he did so, was part of his racket. As for Libous’ exclusion from power, this quote is telling about the lack of a vision for Upstate even among the natives:

“It would have been huge” for Binghamton if Libous, who has represented a Southern Tier district since 1989, had won, said Assemblywoman Donna Lupardo, D-Endicott, Broome County. “It certainly would have meant more state resources coming to the Southern Tier.”

In other words: “Plunder! Spoil! Slobber, slobber — Oh, darn.”

Now the Downstaters — perhaps the most self-referential, unimaginative, navel-gazing politicians on the planet — are fully in charge. What strange new political creatures will evolve in their vast, unweeded back yard? Now’s their chance…

Updated: Check it out! Our own Senator DeFrancisco is going to save us! (Well, not you down there in Binghamton or over in Geneseo; I mean, us here.) But how?

State Sen. John DeFrancisco said today that newly elected Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos is one of his closest friends in the state Senate and that relationship will help Central New York. “It was good with Joe (Bruno), but I think it can be even better with Dean because we are friends,” said DeFrancisco, R-Syracuse.

Yes, it’s always good to be friends first.

Real news from Albany

Joe Bruno won’t be dying with his boots on: he’s not running for re-election. A post at TAP notes that it’s unclear if Bruno will even serve out his term.

I wish I could work up excitement over it all, but I mainly got into this state-political-blogging business in hopes of witnessing a coup sometime. It’s kind of disappointing that won’t be happening, as Bruno was the one most likely to be forcibly dislodged. But he’s too smart, and I dare say tired.

Skelos (of Long Island) and Libous (of Upstate) are thought to be the frontrunners for the position of Majority Leader (and, Acting Lieutenant Governor as well, I suppose?)

Or, perhaps you could be the frontrunner. My thought is that New Yorkers of both parties who are disgusted with Albany should just form their own state government-in-exile (in their own state!), and run it like Boys’ State for grownups. A fake legislature with real people could be better for New York than a real legislature with fake people.

Today’s forecast: Dark

For some people, a signpost of time’s passage is the death of a politician or a movie star, perhaps because they grew up in a time when politicians and movie stars mattered. For my generation, the signposts may be the passing of TV and standup comedians. Recently we lost Harvey Korman, and now George Carlin is gone. They were two very different sorts, but was Korman’s caricature of Rhett Butler really much different in spirit from Carlin’s Seven Words You Can’t Say? In the Seventies, pop culture began to earnestly mock itself in a subversive way (back then, Gone With the Wind was still sanctified as The Greatest Movie Ever Made). Korman’s fits of unscripted laughter also broke a wall.

Mad Magazine and Cracked were also still big during the Seventies and greatly enjoyed for their relentless mocking of pop culture. As a kid, I consumed a steady diet of skepticism both pointed and silly. (Mad is still at it, but Cracked has evolved into a sort of “Book of Lists” format — another formative book in my education, incidentally.)

American life today has become so breathlessly Serious even while simultaneously becoming soullessly (as opposed to soulfully) irreverent. Carlin became too curmudgeonly for my taste in his latter years — but as he said, behind every cultural satirist you find a frustrated idealist. Although his career had been on the downswing for a while, his passing still feels like a milestone, like popular sanity has lost a champion.

(This post also represents a milestone of sorts for me. It’s the first time I’ve ever expanded a Twitter posting into a full blog post. This must be like what happens when Sean Kirst or Bob Niedt turns a blog posting into a column.)

Other people’s blogs

Frugal Upstate on a core concept of frugality: playing the hand you were dealt.

Everyone’s favorite punching bag, Richard Florida, gets a closer listen at CNY Ecoblog. (I wonder what Florida thinks about playing the hand you were dealt…) Quote:

Florida’s contributions to urban planning and economic geography are undeniable, but some of his ideas about the “creative class” and mega-regions have just always rubbed me the wrong way; and I’m never exactly sure why. But listening to him yesterday finally brought into focus what bothers me the most; its this perspective that a city or region is like a economic commodity that can be “purchased” like a car – used up and thrown out when it no longer suites our needs. There is an inauthenticity in this commodification of community that brushes aside the very real, existential commitments we have to our “place” in this world.

Syracuse Nostalgia is a blog focusing on North Syracuse and local mall culture, particularly Penn-Can Mall. Lots of links to old local news reports.

I-Saratoga covers Joe Bruno’s ride on the B.S. Express.

This guy is a Dutch student at SU who apparently works as a naturalist. If you’ve ever wanted to see our local birds up close and personal, he catches them and bands them, and takes good photos.

(By the way, did you know that starlings can talk? And on the phone?)