Albany Cops Sound Like Abusive Spouses in Teen Workshop

There’s this pattern that happens with abusive spouses. They often explain to their victims how to behave so they won’t get beaten up again. All the victim needs to do is give them proper respect, not burn their dinner, remember to leave out their slippers at the right place, never buy the wrong brand of toothpaste, never make them feel like they are being laughed at, never give them attitude or make them mad. And then, supposedly, they’ll be safe.

Of course, the abuser is not actually owed any of those things in the first place. And in any case, it’s always a lie. It’s a losing game. The abuse will continue, because periodic reminders of control are necessary and because the abuser will keep finding new things to add to the reasons they were “forced” to administer a beating.

This was one of the first things I thought of when I heard the details of the police portion of a recent “workshop” on police encounters that Albany youth were forced to attend as part of the city’s summer employment program. Continue reading

Homeless Program Opponents Refreshingly (If Terrifyingly) Honest About Their Motivations

They are at it again. The same folks in the wealthier part of Western Albany who don’t want to provide a decent building to educate our children in also don’t like that a church in their neighborhood was participating in a regional effort to help families without homes via a day time outreach program hosted in a church parsonage. Neighborhood ne’er do well and perennial candidate Joe Sullivan, pursuing his vision of segregation and protection from scary people down on their luck, managed to luck into a judge who decided to overturn the zoning decision based on a technicality about whether a parsonage is actually a house of worship. Chris Churchill at the Times Union is right that this was a bad decision; I hope Family Promise and Bethany Reformed Church do appeal.

Wow, You Said That Out Loud

But the controversy also provided a disturbing look at how many residents of wealthier, whiter, single-family-home neighborhoods seem to feel that they deserve the right to decide who can enter those neighborhoods just by virtue of owning homes there. (Yes, I read the comments, so help me God.) They are startlingly direct about it: They feel that anything serving people poorer than they are should be considered a noxious use for the purposes of zoning and banned from their “nice” neighborhood.  Continue reading

Ridiculous Opinion Column Proves Need for Movement

Charlie Kraebel, managing editor of the Troy Record and the Saratogian had a little “showing his true colors” accident in an opinion column this weekend, in which he was mighty distressed at the launching of the Upstate NY Black Lives Matter chapter. Before you read it, I recommend having a cushion nearby for when you feel the desire to bang your head on something hard.

He has basically three main arguments: First, that black people can’t demand that cops stop killing them for no reason until crime committed by black people against other black people is eradicated. Second, that Black Lives Matter activists don’t really care about Dontay Ivy’s family, just their dastardly agenda. And third, that the Black Lives Matter movement nationally has been all about causing riots and defending “thugs.”

Let’s take these one at a time. Continue reading

Not Yet Even Talking the Talk

On Monday, Jan 25., I joined the group of protestors who disrupted the beginning of Albany Mayor Kathy Sheehan’s state of the city speech. It was a very powerful, really well organized action, a demonstration of a community coming together and insisting on being heard. That latter bit is more important than how the mayor reacted. (Hear more from the organizers here.)

However, she did engage the crowd for a while, and a bunch of things have been rattling around in my head about what she said. I wanted to spell them out, especially for people who don’t really understand why what she said met with negative reactions. Continue reading

Fort Kit!

This morning we revealed our Twelfth Night present to the girls—an upgrade in the DIY fort kit Rebecca had brilliantly concocted for them a few years back. An expansion pack, if you will, on a previous roaring success.

They did not immediately give their delighted “ooh ooh ooh!” reaction that they are so good at, which is not surprising given that it was “just” a reboot, and came at the end of the holiday season. And yet, what matters more is that a few minutes later they were climbing all over the dining room, hanging rope, testing suction cups, and demanding that I fetch even more clothespins, and then got teary as we tried to peel them away to get to school on time.

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Industrious fort building, poorly documented

A DIY fort kit is a great way to give a gift that inspires creativity, free play, and civil engineering practice. And it can be really cheap.

Want to build your own? Here are the essential components: Continue reading

Lingering Questions

Having an unexpected chance at a last-minute final column for Metroland, is a blessing and a curse. No pressure, after an almost-12-year run. At first I scrambled to try to assemble a column on one of the topics I hadn’t gotten to, wanting to just continue as I had been, but over the holidays and it being a big topic, I couldn’t pull it together properly.

Instead, I will leave you with a distinctly non-exhaustive spattering of some questions I didn’t get to, or that I (and plenty others) have written about but remain important and unanswered, some rhetorical, some deeply not. Though Metroland was one important place we could have conversations like these, it needn’t be the only one. Continue reading

Rise Again

“This is all because of Joe McCarthy.” John McCutcheon, folk musician and songwriter extraordinaire, was on the stage at Proctors Sunday night. He was talking about the network of folk venues and series like our own Eighth Step, which is now housed at Proctors, and which was hosting a release concert for Rise Again, the sequel songbook to Rise Up Singing, the venerable 1200-song, tiny-print, words-and-chords only songbook that has enabled thousands of groups of people to sing together over the past 25 years.

My nine year old elbowed me. “Who’s Joe McCarthy?” Oh boy. Continue reading