Stephen Kaye

November 19, 2014

A quartet of Bard Conservatory singers graced the main living room of the imposing Vanderbilt Mansion in Hyde Park on Sunday Nov. 9, filling it with songs from the American songbook.   The subhead on their program described their selection as a cultural diversity of American songs.  And so it was.  The singers themselves were bio-diverse, with roots in Chinese, European and American cultures.  

The mansion’s 1888 Steinway had been carefully restored and was impeccably played by Hyanghyun Lee, a Collaborative Fellow at the Conservatory.

Many of the authors of the songs were from the heartland of American literature:  Maxwell Anderson, Charles Ives, John Hall Wheelock, Paul Bowles, Ogden Nash and Ira and George Gershwin.  The composers were equally familiar: Kurt Weill, Ives, Bright Sheng, John Musto, Ruth Crawford Singer, and the Gershwins.  Some were old and some were new. 

October 23, 2014

In an interview in Red Hook last week, Chris Gibson, congressman for the 19th CD, said he thought he was “right where his district is on most issues.” He has traveled to each of the 165 towns in his district and talked to people in small and large groups, and he believes he has a good sense of where his district is on most issues.

He mentioned municipal sewer projects, the agricultural bill, veterans’ affairs, the heroin epidemic and watershed funding as a sample of the kinds of issues in which he is regularly engaged.   

Gibson said he was in Congress to get things done for his district, his state and his country and not to advance any particular agenda. He is ready to make deals, reach across the aisle and govern in a bipartisan way whenever possible. He cited a bill he and Congressman Sean Maloney (D, Garrison) sponsored that was passed by the House that reverses the decision by FERC (Federal Energy Regulatory Commission) to raise electric rates in the Hudson Valley. The congressman expressed hope that FERC would move on its own to reverse its order, since it is likely the Senate will pass the bill.      

October 23, 2014

In a telephone interview on Sunday, Sean Eldridge, the Democratic candidate opposing Congressman Chris Gibson, talked about the themes of his campaign, saying he would like to make the federal government a better partner to create jobs and grow the economy, “investing in things like infrastructure and universal access to high-speed Internet. ” He cited the rural-development programs of the 1930s that brought electricity and telephone service to rural areas as an example of how government might make universal access to high-speed Internet a reality.

October 23, 2014

Terry Gipson was elected to the state senate in 2012, representing the 41st Senate District, which includes Dutchess and Columbia county.  He says he has worked to reduce the cost of living and the cost of doing business in New York.  He has worked on ways to change how public education is funded, recognizing the burden of property taxes on homeowners. Gipson assisted in writing three bills to reduce property taxes.

We interviewed Gipson in his campaign office in Wappinger Falls. 

TMI: What do you think is New York’s most pressing problem? 

Gipson: The people I talk to in my district say it’s the high cost of living and doing business. As well as the lack of good, high paying jobs.  

TMI: What do you think should be done about that? 

On November 4 voters will make some important choices.  The composition of the New York State Senate will be decided.  The issue is whether it will be controlled by Democrats or Republicans.  Our own state senator, Terry Gipson, is a Democrat.  By most standards, he is doing an excellent job.  His office is responsive and well-run.  He receives high marks from many parts of our community.  The letter in the accompanying column is one such example.  Terry Gipson is easy to talk to, well-informed and responsive to his constituents.  His opponent has been difficult to find to talk to and seems to fear the press.  She has no education beyond high school, lists waitressing as one of her qualifications and has little knowledge of the issues or the processes of government.  She has received funding from the Republican Party, which pays for a collection of glossy postcards empty of substance but full of claims and unsubstantiated charges.  She mouths many of the Tea Party slogans.  She is perhaps the least qualified candidate ever to run for state office from this region. 

October 9, 2014

Thinking of Peter Wing evokes memories of an outlandish character who followed his passions wherever they might lead. In the 1970s he carved wooden Indians for stores in the village. They quickly disappeared. (Two survive. One is in his castle, and the other is a mermaid bowsprit over the doorway of the Millbrook Diner.) He designed and built the interior of a barn in Amenia that recreated scenes of the village of Amenia in 1900, each stall being a special store or shop, complete with tack, harness, old tools and old license plates. He painted murals for several restaurants. Two can be seen at the Four Brothers in Amenia. One, of Elvis Presley, on the outside wall, was completed three months ago. He was expecting to start a mural commissioned by a museum in Newburgh.      

October 9, 2014

Museum of the Streets in Millbrook was launched on a rainy Saturday, October 4, with a ceremony in a packed tent at the band shell marking the unveiling of the 29 plaques erected throughout the village, which tell an abbreviated history of the village and of particular buildings.  Barbara Pierce, who led the team that created the installation, was the co-chair, a position she shared with village mayor Laura Hurley.  They put together a program featuring dignitaries, speeches and song celebrating the connection between Millbrook and Italy, where many Millbrook families have their roots.   

Among those who spoke were David Thorne, a former U.S. ambassador to Italy and a descendant of Jonathan Thorne, in whose memory the Thorne Building was built.696 Barbara Pierce, David Greenwood and Laura Hurley at the opening ceremony - photo by Michael Spross

David Thorne is currently a senior advisor to the U.S. secretary of state.  Natalia Quintavalle, Italy’s consul general in New York, mentioned that more and more second- and third-generation Italian Americans are learning Italian and re-connecting with their roots.

“There is not enough of nothing” is something John Cage is said to have said. Nothingness is there, so why not admit it? Time is measured by a digital clock boldly displayed. The time is 90 minutes in Program One and 91 minutes in Program Two.  The spaces in between are carefully measured. Every sound is calibrated to fill just so much space and no more. In Program Two, Sō Percussion performed with precision and with a touch of joy.  A few of the fleeting pieces in “We are all going in different directions” were by others, with works ranging from a collection of compositions from Cage in 1939 to a homage to Cage by Jason Treuting of Sō Percussion in 2011. The emphasis is on precision and sound in time. The program said there were no stable points of reference. Change; shifting: sounds exist and then stop existing. They fill an empty space and then they stop.

Candidates fill mail boxes, raise money, make charges. Joe Torres is running for the 105th Assemb ly seat held by Kieran Michael Lalor (R-Hopewell Junction).  Torres is from Wappinger, where he has been involved in local politics, having run for town supervisor twice. 

We are entering the election season.  This is an off year, and in off years voters tend to stay home. Local races generate little media coverage. Parties sneak in candidates that avoid the spotlight. They expect to get elected by the party regulars, who don’t ask questions.


Democracy only works when voters vote.  If voters vote, they should take the time and effort to learn about who is running and what the candidates stand for. The candidates need questions to be asked. They need to be tested in public forums. We need to see the candidates in person, and we need to see debates. Our state and federal governments are in dire need of leadership. We need candidates who will not follow the party line but who are willing to make concessions and get bills passed that serve the greater public, not just narrow interests.


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