Monthly Archives: April 2010

Will the real CNY please stand up?

You might not have heard, but a couple of tinhorn Utica-area politicians with nothing better to do have, with their mighty and authoritative voices, changed the fate of a region.

State officials agreed Sunday to officially rename the Greater Utica area to “Central New York” after retiring the name “Central Leatherstocking Region.” Senator Joseph Griffo (R) and Assemblywoman RoAnn Desito (D) announced that for tourism purposes, the seven-county region will switch to the new name that is used more frequently anyway. The former “Central Leatherstocking Region” encompasses seven upstate counties of Oneida, Otsego, Madison, Chenango, Montgomery, Broome and Schoharie Counties. The Chairman of Empire State Development Corporation, Dennis Mullen, notifies the region’s tourism partners that the name has officially been changed after careful consideration and meetings with consultants.

At this point, don’t we have to consider “consultants” to be useless boils on the butt of humanity? Do they ever produce anything of actual value or insight? (Emerald City, anyone?) It’s not like they actually asked the people living in the actual Central New York that has been called that by the locals for decades, if not more. Onondaga County — the only county in America shaped like an actual human heart — is no longer the heart of Central New York, but rather a far-flung corner of the Finger Lakes region, according to distant people who have probably never visited here in the first place.

Our petty regional names are kind of important. New York is one of the least homogenous states in the country, and we’re all uncomfortably bound to “New York” as the name of a world city that often we feel has emotionally and economically nothing to do with us. We cling to a shallow “Upstate-Downstate” divide partly as a means of ego defense, and to avoid having to deal with the scary reality that “Upstate” is really fragmented and always has been.

You can see the map of the new Central New York over at New York Traveler, which has some wistful thoughts about the banishment of the term “Leatherstocking Country.” (Note that – like everything else in our economy – the geographic location of Central New York has now slid downstateward.)

This name game reminds me of another game you might have played when you were a kid. Remember those puzzle boards covered with numbers, which one had to shift around (up, down, right, left) until the rows added up correctly? Since there were only limited numbers of empty spaces to slide the numbers to, it was often a frustrating or even pointless exercise. One began to suspect that the game came from the factory rigged for unsolvability. It’s gotten to the point where our economic guardians have decided that calling one economically empty space by the rightful name of another economically empty space is the solution to the intractable problem of New York’s future existence. (Here are some more name and number solutions recently tried.)

I know how the numbers game always ended at my house: dug out with the fingernails, and then discarded for a new game.

New York’s Deadliest Ex-State Parks

From the shores of Long Island to the mighty Niagara Falls, New York’s plethora of ex-state parks offer countless opportunities to escape from the bounds of gravity (briefly), experience exciting new adventures in agony, and become one with your natural environment (forever)! Wondrous new worlds of pain await you at…

Clark Reservation. If you’ve always wanted to go look for the caves, now you can! Best experienced after dusk after a long day of drinking with local guides, the cool, rushing sensation of discovering Jamesville Quarry is not unlike the feeling of biting into a York peppermint pattie… which is what you’ll also look like after they scrape you off the bottom. Clark Reservation’s trails are sure to bring you to the very edge of excitement – and beyond!

Old Erie Canal State Park. New York’s first dedicated play space for methheads offers peerless privacy in a peaceful rural setting for all your drug dealing needs- the only place you can dump the body AND the gun where no one will hear the splash. (No concrete ballast needed – just use one of the thousands of limestone blocks handily available in the park!)

John Boyd Thacher. If you’ve experienced all the joy that New York’s ex-state parks have to offer, but still aren’t satisfied, make John Boyd Thacher your final destination. It’s 3.2 seconds of vertical plunge you’ll remember for the next 3.2 seconds of your life!

(Okay, okay…

Gee, I thought I wasn’t going to have to resurrect this post from the Virtual Spike, but since the state can’t get its budget act together, I’m publishing the above as a public service… and as a way to get myself out of my curious blogging hiatus. And here I had wanted to come back when things had changed…)

State park admission hikes

The latest news on the parks situation is that car entrance fees will be raised at 28 of the most popular parks (including our own Green Lakes), and golf course fees will also be raised. The most interesting news is that, like many other states have done for a long time, New York will now charge higher camping and cottage rental fees for out-of-state residents. I was always kind of proud that NY didn’t have to do that, but times have changed.

BTW, it’s interesting to see which Upstate parks are considered “flagship parks” worthy of fee raises: Green Lakes, Letchworth, Fair Haven, Southwick, Westcott, Watkins Glen, Fort Niagara, Moreau Lake and Saratoga Spa.

I don’t know how statistics run on how many out-of-staters use New York campsites, as a percentage of total users. I do know that quite a few people who use the campsites regularly feel they have been a pretty good deal already, pricewise. I know I have always felt this way. In fact I’ve been surprised that they haven’t raised campsite fees more dramatically in the past few years. There are always people who will prefer to pay $30 a night for the privilege of being in a highly electrified, Wi-Fi’d private RV resort with pink flamingoes and swimming pools, but I’m not one of them. That said, I personally would accept a $3-4 campsite fee hike even for in-state residents… but it looks like just out-of-staters will now be asked to pay.

I do wonder where the new revenues are specifically going, though. I’d like these new fees to help the park staff do their jobs.