Thomas Dimopoulos

Thomas Dimopoulos

City Beat and Arts & Entertainment Editor
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SARATOGA SPRINGS – David Cassidy famously traveled the globe yet maintained Saratoga as his favorite place in the world. Plans are underway to honor the popular singer and actor this summer with a special memorial race at Saratoga Race Course, according to former Cassidy girlfriend Maura Rossi.

Plans call for the memorial race to be held Saturday Aug. 18 – a day that will also feature the Alabama Stakes race and which was among Cassidy’s favorite days to attend during the summer meet, Rossi said.  

Cassidy - best known for his portrayal of Keith Partridge in the early 1970s television sit-com “The Partridge Family,” as well as for a series of chart-making hits during the same era, passed away last November at the age of 67. His passion for equines frequently brought him to Saratoga, where he bought his first yearling and where in 2001 he purchased a home.

The specific Cassidy memorial non-stakes race will be determined in the days leading up to the Aug. 18 date.

Rossi, who reached out to the New York Racing Association to name the race, said she is also coordinating a schedule for the winner of the race to be given a trophy in Cassidy’s honor, as well as for fans and friends of the singer to be able to have their picture taken in the Winner’s Circle. A Facebook page related to the event has been posted at: https://www.facebook.com/davidcassidymemorialrace/.

Cassidy has an ardent fan base. Samantha Cox, one of Cassidy’s fans, coordinated from her home in Indiana a successful social media effort shortly after the singer’s death that raised in excess of $2,500 to have placed a memorial bench in Cassidy’s honor at the National Museum of Racing and Hall of Fame. Cox also initiated a “Celebration of David Cassidy’s Life,” event that was staged in Saratoga Springs on May 20 and drew fans to the local community from across the world. Cox has since said she plans to stage an annual event celebrating Cassidy’s legacy every May 20 in the Spa City.

Meanwhile, a David Cassidy Tribute Concert – featuring members of Cassidy’s band – will take place 8 p.m. Tuesday, Aug. 14 at the Horseshoe Inn, located at 9 Gridley Ave., in Saratoga Springs, and will benefit the Thoroughbred Retirement Foundation. Tickets to the concert are available via the TRF website at: https://www.trfinc.org/event/david-cassidy-band-special-guests/

SARATOGA SPRINGS - Her songs have been covered by everyone from Ray Charles (“Look What They’ve Done to My Song, Ma”) and Mott The Hoople (“Lay Down: Candles In The Rain“) to the Dollyrots (“Brand New Key”), and her rendition of the Rolling Stones’ “Ruby Tuesday” is arguably the only time anyone has out-muscled The World’s Greatest Rock ‘n’ Roll Band on their own turf.

Melanie – who alongside other iconic music-makers like Cher, Beyonce and Adele is quintessentially illuminative to be able to get by on a first-name-only basis – will perform two shows at Caffe Lena on Aug. 2.

Her discography counts dozens of releases and spans several decades, but perhaps is most notable for a song she wrote after her appearance at the Woodstock Music and Art Fair in 1969, capturing the mood of the moment and providing a theme for a generation. Getting to play on the bill at Woodstock seemed simple enough.

“It sounded like camping for three days out in the country, so I asked the promoters, 'Can I do it?’” Melanie recalled, during an interview with this reporter when she visited Saratoga Springs to perform at Caffe Lena a few years ago. “They said: Sure, kid.” She was 22 years old at the time and as showtime grew near, the reality of performing in front of hundreds of thousands of people brought with it a dose of anxiety.

“I thought, 'Oh my god, there's Janis Joplin. I could hear Richie (Havens) singing: Freedom...Freedom...Freedom... It was scary. I'm just a girl with a guitar, they're never going to put me on that stage,” she said. “I started getting this real deep bronchial cough. Joan Baez heard me coughing and she sent an assistant over with a pot of hot tea. It was like nectar of the Gods.”

Shortly after Ravi Shankar performed, the sky threatened rain. “People from the Hog Farm, or some other group were saying some inspirational things about lighting candles to keep the rain away,” she recalled.

As the candles began to flicker, Melanie was told it was her turn to take the stage.

“I had to walk the plank and I watched the hillside completely lit up with candles, like the flickering millions… I had an out of body experience.” A few days later, she put the experience to song. “I started thinking about it, about what literally was right in front of me.”

A year later the song she’d written about the experience - “Lay Down (Candles in the Rain)” - was being played on radio stations across the country. It sold more than 1 million copies, showcased the singer with the childlike, yet other-worldly voice, blessed with reams of slicing vibrato, and began a longstanding concert tradition of audiences striking matches and thumbing lighters and holding the flame aloft in music halls across the world.

Melanie’s Woodstock moment spawned a music career with sprinkled with high points – she was introduced to a crowd of 600,000 at the 1970 Isle of Wight festival by Keith Moon after she took the stage immediately after The Who – and strung together a number of hits through the 1970s. More than 80 million copies of her records have been sold to date, she's had her songs covered by singers as diverse as Cher, Dolly Parton, and Macy Gray.    

Melanie performs at Caffe Lena Thursday Aug. 2. Shows at 6 p.m. and 8:30 p.m. Tickets: $45 general admission. $40 café members, $22.50 students and kids.

Thursday, 28 June 2018 13:37

"Days of Awe" in Saratoga

 

SARATOGA SPRINGS - A.M. Homes has been coming to Saratoga for nearly 30 years. During that time, she has published a dozen books - novels, memoirs and story collections among them - created a variety of original television pilots and saw the screen debut of a then pre-teenage Kristen Stewart in the film adaptation of her book “The Safety of Objects” – which also featured Glenn Close in a starring role.

Homes’ newest release, the short story collection “Days of Awe," was published earlier this month and the links to this region, she says, are substantial. “As much as this is a work of fiction - which took many years—in my heart it is set in Saratoga.”

The ties to local geography and events are sprinkled throughout the book’s 12 stories, albeit disguised at times beneath the cloak of fiction. There are visits to local ice cream shops, journeys to go apple-picking and trips to the mall; there are inferences – though neither is named - to the City Center during the staging of a gun show, and to Temple Sinai, which in “real life” stands directly across the street on Broadway. Segments of Homes’ work have also been scribed in Saratoga Springs, during her many residencies at the Yaddo arts colony.    

 

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The town has climbed out of a depression by branding itself, ‘America’s Hometown’. Flags fly from the lampposts. Signs announce the autumn harvest celebration, a film festival, and a chamber‑music series at the Presbyterian church. She parks behind the conference center and slips in through the employee entrance and down the long hall to a door marked THIS WAY TO LOBBY - “Days of Awe” 

 

“I’ve built a relationship for myself with the town: going to the library, going to the Farmers’ Market, going to the YMCA. People and places have always meant a lot to me and have always been very inspirational,” Homes says. “In the new book, there’s a story about an ‘everyman’ who’s nominated to run for president that’s set in a big box store. In my mind that is somewhere over where Target and all those stores are.”

The story, “A Prize for Every Player,” depicts a man introduced to shoppers as candidate for President of the United States. The announcement is made over a microphone appropriated from a karaoke machine in the electronic section. As reporters descend upon the store, the local high school cheerleaders welcome the candidate by performing their rah-rahs outside, in the Keep Clear fire lane.

The strip mall location marks a literary return to the parcel of land Homes first discovered during a Yaddo residency early in her career.

 

 

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“The Pyramid Mall floated in a sea of parking spaces…” – from “The Safety of Objects.” 

 

“Some of the works that I got done during the early visits to Yaddo were in the book the ‘The Safety of Objects,’” Homes says. “I was fairly young (when I first came to Yaddo). It was before my first book was even published. I grew up as a writer hearing about Yaddo and being a huge fan of John Cheever and one of my teachers, Doris Grumbach, had been there before and knew all the people. It was thrilling and intimidating. There was a sense that being invited to come to Yaddo was a vote of confidence in you as a young person of exceptional promise. It’s a question of going to dinner at night with all the artists and we were terrified, hoping to sit next to somebody who didn’t reveal you to be a total fool, or a fraud.”

While in residence at Yaddo, Homes met Jay McInerney, who had a few years earlier achieved fame with his first published novel, “Bright Lights, Big City.” They decided to visit the Pyramid Mall.

“At one point I went over there with Jay McInerney. I guess we were going to the movies or something and they had one of those contests, you know, where you keep your hands on a car for as long as you possibly can. I found it just riveting. And that’s in one of the stories in “The Safety of Objects” - set in the old mall - the one they tore down - that used to have Jo Ann’s Nut House and a bible supply shop called Praises,” Homes says. The Pyramid Mall, which opened in 1973 with 50 stores, was demolished in September 1999 and later replaced by a strip of big-box retailers such as Target. The story, “The Bullet Catcher,” features a fact-meets-fictional world where characters go shopping at Sears, the Wire Wizard, and King Pin, and listen to the radio, which is tuned to Z-100.

“An even stranger thing happened 10 years later when that story was made into a film. I remember being in a shopping mall in the middle of the night in Toronto watching Glenn Close and a bunch of different people who were in the film re-enacting this scene.”

 

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“I had a vanilla-and-chocolate twist with a dip into the chocolate that hardens. They called it a Brown Cow… the Farmer’s Daughter” – from “Days of Awe” 

 

“I really do just love the history of places. Saratoga is obviously very important to me. And North Adams (Massachusetts) is where my grandmother’s family grew up, so it’s fun for me to play with all those things,” says Homes, whose work has been translated into 22 languages. “I’m a local in heart and spirit. When I’m there what I do is I drive from Saratoga (Springs) to Schuylerville, out to Greenwich and all over the place,” Homes says. “And I love a good thunderstorm in Saratoga, in the afternoon, when it gets so warm and there’s this intensity… these incredible cracks of lightning.”    

With “Days of Awe,” characters embark on a fictionalized journey that local residents may recognize as markers along state Route 29, from the Spa City through Schuylerville and across the Hudson River to Greenwich. Characters go apple-picking - “the orchard is ripe with families and children and bumblebees buzzing… they buy a bushel basket and head into the fields,” writes Homes - cross a Revolutionary War battlefield with rolling hills, and pause to refresh at a shop reminiscent of The Ice Cream in Greenwich – “the ice cream stand is set back from the road in the middle of nowhere… scoops are like a child’s fantasy of what an ice cream cone might be” – as well as at The Farmer’s Daughter, which is mentioned by name.

 

1,32,33- D awe 3.jpg“As she drives over the hills on a two‑lane country road, the sun is dropping low on the horizon. There are cows making their way home across fields and self‑serve farm stands with fresh eggs, tomatoes, and cut flowers, and free zucchini with every purchase. The sky is a glorious and deepening blue. It’s just past sunset when she pulls in to the tiny town. The raised wooden Star of David and the mezuzah are the only outward markers on the old narrow building... the synagogue is small and lost to time. There are about thirty people between her and the rabbi. ‘What is it to be a Jew?’ the rabbi is demanding of the group. ‘Has it changed over time?” – from “Days of Awe” 

While staying at Yaddo, Homes has also spent time at Temple Sinai on Broadway in Saratoga Springs with Rabbi Linda Motzkin and Rabbi Jonathan Rubenstein, who have served as co-rabbis since 1986 - the first rabbinic couple to share the sole rabbinic position in a synagogue.

Homes attended services, baked bread with Rabbi Jonathan and brought Yaddo residents to meet with Rabbi Linda, who talked with the group about her work writing a Torah Scroll. In “Days of Awe,” the rabbinic couple are noted as “very good friends, whose hearts have supported me” in the book’s acknowledgements, alongside local history writer and independent scholar Amy Godine, musicians Laurie Anderson and Rosanne Cash, and grateful nods to Yaddo President Elaina Richardson, and Candace Wait, among others.

“I did move the synagogue out of Saratoga and to somewhere around Schuylerville,” explains Homes. “It’s what I do in my imagination. That’s what fiction writers do.”

The difference between writing short stories, such as what appear in the new collection “Days of Awe,” and the longer novel form – which comprises the majority of her literary canon – comes down to the sustainability of the story over the long term, Homes says.

“Some stories wouldn’t be sustainable in a novel, so that’s one of the ways you sort-of know. Whether it’s the tone, or the intonation of the story, whether you know what’s going to happen in it. I think they function differently. Stories have a specific compression to them in a sense that something’s already happened by the time the reader gets to the story. So, there’s a lot of history, filling-in in a story. In a novel, I think there’s a much more leisurely unfolding.”

Readers of Homes’ books will be interested to learn that one of her most memorable characters – a teenage girl named Chunky who first appeared in 1989, re-appears in “Days of Awe.”

“Chunky sort of appears in the second book of stories, in a story called ‘Raft in Water, Floating,’ and then she appears in the new book. There are two very big stories in the book called ‘Hello Everybody,’ and ‘She Got Away.’ What’s fascinating to me with Chunky, (who first appeared) 30 years ago, is that it’s really taken this long from being a 13-year-old or so in the backyard to now being a freshman or sophomore in college. And oddly those stories are part of an opera I’m writing now that will open in New York, maybe next June. I’ve never written a libretto before, so this will be the first and it’s based on those stories.”    

Many of Homes’ fictional characters are male, which she scribes in convincing fashion. “I think as a fiction writer, it’s probably in many ways easier for me to write from a male point of view than just to write from some mom’s point of view, or some lady’s point of view,” she explains. “That’s just not as much fun for me. I live in that world, and I know what that is. But, to really, truly inhabit other characters: that’s the good stuff.  

 

 

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A.M. Homes, posing in front of the Yaddo mansion, shortly after the release of her novel “May We Be Forgiven,” in 2013. Photo by Thomas Dimopoulos.

Homes’ many visits to Yaddo have inspired what she calls “a very active literary part of my imagination, in part because it’s been part of me for so long.” For the past five years, Homes has served as co-chair of Yaddo’s Board of Directors and involved in projects to both historically preserve the 19th century mansion as well as help get new studios built, with an eye one the future.

My relationship to Yaddo as an artists’ colony has changed, because when I go now I’m more aware of everything: Oh, the lightbulb has burned out; we’ve got to take care of the paint on the porch. It’s like it’s your house,” Homes says. “But, the nice thing is you get to see, since (first visiting in) 1989, is that the fundamentals of the place haven’t changed. There is this place where artists from all over the world come to do their work, and I’m always amazed at how good they are – inspired and brilliant - and that there’s this wonderfully nice mix of people who are at the very beginning of their careers, and other people like me, who have been doing it for a long time.”    

Homes was born in Washington D.C. Some of her earliest writings took the form of letters penned to people she admired.

“I was absolutely a rock and roll kid growing up. Pete Townshend was my pen pal (while I was) in high school, which is kind of amazing,” she says. “I wrote to these people and it wasn’t like: ‘Oh, I think you’re so great,’ but more like: ‘today, at school, Isabell was mean to me’. And he’d write back: ‘I’m having a terrible time with my record label.’ So it was nice, people out in the world who would talk to me. And it’s interesting because I sometimes wrote to women writers, women musicians and they would write back very curt responses: ‘Thanks, now go away.’ I realize now, as an adult, that women are probably much more protective and feel that they could be stalked, or, whatever. And that men were, in that sense, in the world in a different kind of way. But, I feel very lucky because I’ve have a lot of non-visible mentors along the way who helped me grow up as gracefully as one can - which is not very graceful at all.”        

 

 

Friday, 22 June 2018 15:51

Neighbors: Daniel Chessare

WHO: Daniel Chessare

WHERE: Just off Broadway,
W
here he plans on opening a Jewish deli next month.

Q. You’re a chef?
A. I am. I’ve been working in town for a very long time. I worked at Scallions for about nine years, I was a sous chef at the Wine Bar of about a year-and-a-half, and I was the head chef at Merry Monk for almost two years.

Q. Is opening your own business a goal you were always working towards?
A. I didn’t at first, but after working for other people for so long, I felt like I was ready to work for myself.

Q. When do you plan to open?
A. The first or second week of July, hopefully.

Q. Why a Jewish Deli?
A. Saratoga doesn’t have one. In a town that has so many restaurants you have to get super-specific with your business. You need to be very niche and a Jewish deli is something Saratoga doesn’t have.

Q. Are you Jewish?
A. On my mother’s side of the family.

Q. What are some things you’ll have on the menu?
A. Corned beef, pastrami, smoked salmon, potato pancakes, matzo ball soup, and then we’ll do the more obscure stuff like chopped liver and tongue, and knish and stuff like that. We’ll be doing breakfast and lunch, probably closing around five o’clock every day.

Q. Knish is obscure?
A. Around here it is. Where can you go downtown to get a knish?

Q. Where are you originally from?
A. Jersey. My family moved up here in ’97 or so, but my step-mother’s family is from up here.

Q. So, you’re pretty familiar with Saratoga?
A. Oh yes, I started washing tables and busing tables at Little India when they were on Broadway when I was 17, then I worked at Professor Moriarty’s when I was in high school and just worked my way up.  

Q. What’s the biggest change in the city you seen since that time?
A. Condos and offices everywhere.

Q. What do you do for fun?
A. I read a lot of books, and sometimes I make video games on the side. My college degree is in video game design.

Q. Who would play you in a movie about your life?
A. Jeffrey Goldblum.

  

THE RAIN FALLS in Los Angeles, on average, once every 10 days. And despite this being one of those days, Lindsey Stirling is undaunted.

The musician, composer, dancer, performer, author, and YouTube Superstar is in the City of Angels in preparation of a two-month-long trek across America which kicks off July 6 in Kansas City, Missouri and lands at the Saratoga Performing Arts Center on July 28. Also appearing are co-headliners Evanescence. This will be no ordinary tour.  

“We’re trying to create something that’s brand new, and the only time people will be able to experience it, is during the show,” Stirling says.

She plans on delivering everything her fans are accustomed to seeing her provide - dancing and singing and the playing of music, often simultaneously – as well as injecting some moments of spontaneity that involve Evanescence. “You have two very unique artists who have very different shows but are very similar as well. That’s why I think it’s a perfect pairing. At points during the show there will also be some collaboration. There’s going to be a lot of creativity and It’s going to be really cool.”

Stirling’s self-titled debut album was released in 2012 and followed by “Shatter Me” two years later. “Brace Enough,” her third album, was issued in 2016 – a year which also saw the publication of her memoir “The Only Pirate at the Party.” An album of Christmas songs was released late last year. Exhibiting a variety of talents, Stirling recently lent her likeness to a new comic book series called “Sparrow,” has competed on the TV shows “America's Got Talent” and "Dancing with the Stars," and counts more than 10 million subscribers on YouTube.

This summer’s journey has her sharing equal billing with her musical heroes. “It’s really big for me: getting to go on tour with them and every night sharing the stage. It might sound like a cop-out, but Amy Lee and Evanescence were huge heroes of mine growing up. I had a poster of them on my wall. I remember sitting in my parents’ car the first time I heard ‘My Immortal.’ I remember being so touched by her voice, and how they combined an edgy sound with this beautiful soaring melody. As a young teenager I really think that was a huge inspiration to me and kind of the reason I wanted to make my own music,” Stirling says.

“When I started writing my own music, I took a page out of their book. I was doing dubstep and I thought: OK, how can I make this really edgy electronic music meld with my classical background? And so, a huge inspiration to me was Evanescence,” says the classically trained violinist, who grew up in Arizona.

“I had played classical my whole life – I played since I was six – and everything I played pretty much was on a white piece of paper with black notes. I was taught how to play it and how to articulate it. It was the same music that had been played for hundreds of years on an instrument that was hundreds of years old, and I was playing it the way it had been played for hundreds of years. I just got burned out,” Stirling explains. “I thrive on creativity and so I think I had just gotten bored. So that’s why I strayed from classical. I thought to myself: I’m not going to quit, I just need to re-find my passion, play the kind of music that excites me, the kind of music that I love. That’s why I started playing in rock bands and adding classical elements - not taking away from classical, but just adding my own vision to dubstep and pop and rock. It made it come alive for me. “

Making a leap from the classical world was not without judgmental repercussions.

“There are haters out there, for sure, and they’re very loud sometimes, but there are way more people that are appreciative, loving and kind to me and my art,” she says. “With the negative comments, I have to remind myself why I’m doing this. I like to tell stories, I like to make videos, I like to perform. I’m not going to be the best classical violinist in the world. I’m a violinist who gets to do what they love, share it with a lot of people and make them smile. I’m much happier doing that. “

Stirling’s memoir, which was published in 2016, has been largely hailed as an inspirational journey demonstrating her persistence, her humor, and as an inspirational tale, openly taking about her own struggles with anorexia - a life-threatening disorder due to the effects of weight loss and starvation on the body and brain.

“It wasn’t an easy struggle,” Stirling says. “I’ve been in recovery now for several years and it’s something that I know – the same way that anyone who has had an addiction knows – there’s always that tinge in the back of your mind. Most of the time I’m unaware of it. Occasionally it will come forward and remind me it’s there and would like to come forward again, and I’m like: ‘No. You’re not allowed to be a part of my life.’ I have the tools necessary now and I know how to use them to say: No. Just go away. I’m very happy where I’ve gotten to now, and I’m doing really well in that area.”

She says she shares her story with people to help provide a message that as difficult as things may appear in the moment of struggle, recovery is possible.

Not surprisingly, Stirling says getting involved in the field of motivational speaking and creating “a brand of positivity” is one of her future goals.

“I will write a Broadway musical at some point. And I’m also going to have a Vegas show,” Stirling says. “As for right now, I’m really trying to get into motivational speaking. I feel like that’s my next calling in life. I want to go out and share my message in a very upfront way and through that I want to raise dollars for charity. Those are my big 10-year plans.”    

  

West Side Affordable Housing Development Update

The Missouri-based Vecino Group seeks to develop one three-story building and three four-story buildings just east of the Saratoga train station and near the Washington Street post office.

The council last August unanimously approved a resolution authorizing a payment-in-lieu of taxes agreement regarding the Intrada Saratoga Springs Affordable Housing Project. The PILOT Agreement calls for the company to make annual payments in lieu of taxes to the city. The tax exemption will begin on the date when the city issues a final certificate of occupancy and extend for 31 years. The annual payment in lieu of taxes will start at approximately $84,000 and increase each year by two percent.

The development proposal calls for the construction of 158 “affordable” multi-family rental units. For renters, the one, two and three-bedroom apartment units break down in this way: 24 will be available for persons with an AMI of 50 percent or less, 109 will be available for persons with an AMI of 60 percent or less.

A change was unanimously approved by the City Council June 19 regarding the remaining 24 units. The 24 units were initially targeted to be made available for persons with an AMI of 80 percent or less. That top-tier threshold was adjusted to 90 percent.  

AMI, or the Area Median Income for a family of four in Saratoga County is approximately $84,000, according to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.

 

Proposed Bike Lanes on Lake Avenue

The City Council hosted a presentation June 19 regarding proposed bike lanes being added to Lake Avenue.

There are concept drawings available, however the exact location yet to be determined, although it is estimated Lake Avenue will be painted with five-foot-wide bicycle corridors on each side of the street, from Regent Street to Henning Road. The city may receive up to $50,000 via a state grand to prepare an engineering plan detailing the exact location, after which, with council approval, the striping of the lanes may begin. A vote to move forward with the proposal as well as a public hearing regarding the matter will take place July 3 at City Hall.

The 13-minute presentation on June 19 may be viewed on the city’s website at: http://saratogaspringsny.swagit.com/play/06192018-1988.

 

Sonic Reducer

A 10-minute Public Hearing will take place 6:40 p.m. on July 3 at City Hall regarding a proposal to amend the City Code regarding “noise” on Sunday through Thursday nights. The current maximum decibel level is 90 decibels – “as measured from any point along the boundary line of the real property on which the sound pressure is generated,” according to City Code definition. Public Safety Commissioner Peter Martin, who is proposing the change, is seeking a lower threshold for Sundays through Thursday nights by instilling a maximum volume ceiling of 85 decibels. Fridays and Saturdays will remain at 90 dbs.

 

Pavement

The following streets are scheduled to be paved according to the following schedule:

Monday/June 25 - Mill Sherwood Trail from the eastern entrance off Grand Ave to 100 feet past Friar Tuck Way; Tuesday/June 26 - Prep Work Sherwood Trail from the eastern entrance off Grand Ave to 100 feet past Friar Tuck Way; Wednesday/June 27 - Pave Sherwood Trail from the eastern entrance off Grand Ave to 100 feet past Friar Tuck Way; Thursday/June 28 - Pave Sherwood Trail from the eastern entrance off Grand Ave to 100 feet past Friar Tuck Way.

Paving will begin at 6 a.m. and should be completed by 2 p.m. There is no parking of cars on the street during these hours, and driveway access/egress will be limited with potentially lengthy delays.

               

  

SARATOGA SPRINGS - More details are available regarding a special David Cassidy Tribute Concert to take place in Saratoga Springs Aug. 14. 

The concert was first reported here, in the aftermath of a fan celebration which brought Cassidy fans to the city from across the globe last month. Organizers of that inaugural event say they plan to make May 20 an annual David Cassidy celebration day in Saratoga Springs.  The 1970’s teen heartthrob - best known as Keith Partridge in the television sit-com “The Partridge Family,” passed away last November at the age of 67. 

Cassidy, who owned a home in Saratoga Springs, had a passion for Thoroughbred racing, and was ardent in his support of TRF and its mission of saving former racehorses from abuse and neglect.

The David Cassidy Tribute Concert will take place 8 p.m. Tuesday, Aug. 14 at the Horseshoe Inn, located at 9 Gridley Ave., Saratoga Springs, N.Y., and will benefit the Thoroughbred Retirement Foundation.

Members of Cassidy's band - Terri Cote (drums), Craig Snider (keyboards/vocals); Dave Robicheau (guitar/vocals); Matt Sullivan (guitar/vocals); Vance Brescia (guitar/vocals) and Darrell Craig Harris (bass/vocals), are anticipated to perform at the event.  

Tickets are $50 and available by calling TRF at 518-226-0028 or online at https://www.trfinc.org/event/david-cassidy-band-special-guests/

SARATOGA SPRINGS - Jill Perkins knows the odds are not exactly in her favor, but as long as there’s a chance she’s all-in for a potential win. Regardless, there was a fun time to be had.

“it was a blast,” said the local resident, who attended Wheel of Fortune’s Wheelmobile event, which was staged at Saratoga Casino Hotel Saturday and Sunday.

The popular TV show, which first broadcast in the 1970’s, is co-hosted by Pat Sajak and Vanna White, pits contestants against one another with a goal of winning cash and prizes - determined by spinning a carnival wheel – and by solving word puzzles.  

“I’m a ‘Wheel’ watcher. I’ve liked ‘Wheel of Fortune’ since I was young, and for about 25 years now,” Perkins said. “It was my grandmother’s favorite show and I like mental skill games. My grandmother helped to make me a fan. I think she liked it because she had a crush on Pat Sajak.”  

Several times a year, show representatives dispatch the Wheelmobile - the show’s 36-foot Winnebago promotional vehicle - to destinations across the country in search of future contestants who they say, are good game players as well as being energetic, enthusiastic and fun.

“The event was open to fans from 12 to 4. I had a feeling the line would be long, so we got there about 10:30,” Perkins said. “It was a full house. People were in Vapor (lounge) upstairs and downstairs, and it was a great production. They have traveling hosts who are very animated and there was a lot of audience engagement. There was a mock game that was a lot of fun, with people getting up there and doing very funny things. The host basically told the crowd: this is your time to shine, so we had people dancing and singing and playing air guitar.”

Since its inception in 1999, the Wheelmobile has logged over 375,000 miles and visited more than 300 cities. The majority of contestants who appear on “Wheel of Fortune” come out to Wheelmobile events in their hometowns. Last year, of the more than 1 million people applicants, 600 were selected.

“They’re doing this all over the country, so you go and hope you get called to eventually be on the show,” Perkins said.

Event attendees at Saratoga Casino filled out applications. Perkins said her understanding is that those applications are taken back to the show’s main headquarters, and potential contestants are chosen from among the applicants to go through a round of auditions. “It’s definitely a three-to-four step procedure,” she said.        

SARATOGA SPRINGS – Performance artist. Writer. Poet. Experimental theatre maker. Penny Arcade has authored 10 scripted performance plays and hundreds of performance art pieces. Her work has been produced everywhere from London to Vienna.

Born Susana Ventura in the small factory town of New Britain, Connecticut, she named herself Penny Arcade at age 17 while living on her own in New York City, where her mentor, photographer/artist Jaimie Andrews, introduced her to legendary director John Vaccaro and The Playhouse of the Ridiculous. She was subsequently recruited, while still a teenager, by Andy Warhol to be a Factory Superstar.

Arcade and longtime collaborator Steve Zehentner are in Saratoga Springs this week on a 10-day residency for The Orchard Project – which supports artists’ new work and the development of shows in the theater world.

Arcade says she recalls visiting the city decades earlier with Louden Wainwright, who was performing at Caffe Lena. A clothesline of words and typed scenarios depicting their current work-in-progress, tentatively titled “Old Queen,” clings in blue painters’ tape to the walls of the apartment where she is housed – a converted apartment complex on the city’s east side which once staged major music concerts as the Great Saratoga Music Hall. Arcade, appropriately enough, wears a T-shirt that reads: Love Saves the East Village. Here is some of what was said:

“The first time I came to New York I landed right across the street from the Village Gate. I’m from a factory town, New Britain, Connecticut and I ran away when I was 16. I went to Provincetown, then to Boston.”

On her name: I had the name ‘Penny Arcade’ since I was 17 years old. I named myself and it was supposed to be a joke. I was saving Susana Ventura for when I did something good. Unfortunately, it’s taken so long, haha, I’ve gotten stuck with Penny Arcade.

On the ‘60s: I’m part of the original youth culture. it was a very philosophical time. That’s one of the things we want to bring into the show. While there was a lot of low energy in the sixties, there was also a lot of high-mindedness: Paul Krassner, Abbie Hoffman, Lenny Bruce, James Baldwin. I come from an era when Gore Vidal was on television. Maybe if you were a bright kid, you were tuned in to these kinds of things. Regardless of what brightness you had, the mentality that was being driven was that of a seeker. You talked about how you were going to change things. You were metaphysically connected to a group of people. It was about evolution.

On Performing: I work improvisationally. Steve and I have worked together for 26 years. I improvise directly to Steve, and Steve writes it down. I can go anywhere and improvise an hour show, just off the top of my head by drawing from different shows of mine. I have 12 full-length plays and hundreds and hundreds of hours of performances.

On Andy Warhol: It’s taken me years and years and years to understand Andy. He was a very complex figure. I kind of resented him because I viewed him as a user.  You have to remember Andy Warhol did not become famous until he became shot. He was not the most important Pop artist. He was not Claes Oldenburg, he was not seen at that level. He was seen more as a freak. And he was kind of a prankster. Andy’s greatest feat was convincing the art world that he was a painter, when what he actually was, was an art director. We see the results and high impact of Andy Warhol not in art, but in advertising. That’s where you can see his influence. Over time, I’ve come to appreciate him as a conceptualist.

When she was 17: I took a $25 shuttle from Boston to New York City. I met these very kind of bizarre drag queens who are in this play. In Provincetown they said: you belong in New York. Eventually I re-met Jamie Andrews, who’s also in this play and who I’d first met in Provincetown. With him, I met John Waters and all these people. When Jamie saw me in New York, I was living on the street. I was definitely an at-risk teenager, like many, many teenagers who were there. Jamie saw me one day on the street, quite by accident, and he said: you don’t look too good. He goes, ‘I think you should come live with me.’ And he took me in. And as I say in the show, show me the 27-year-old gay man who’s taking in the 17-year-old girl off the street. Jamie is a fascinating person in his own right. He was the person who first brought me to the Playhouse of the Ridiculous. 

The Playhouse of the Ridiculous: All the elements in my work come from the Playhouse of the Ridiculous, except I do costumes. (Playhouse founder) John Vaccaro’s work is still not understood. I am his protegee. Vaccaro’s work was political. He wasn’t interested in Man’s struggle against Man, he was interested in society.

On Patti Smith: I was very close to Patti in 1969- ‘70. When I met her she had just become a poet. But first, was her paintings. She used to write on her paintings which she’d show me, and they were extremely interesting. I was in the first play she was in, (Jackie Curtis’) “Femme Fatale.” There was something that was transferred between the two of us. Patti’s an interesting person. Recently I’ve come to realize that Patti and Robert Mapplethorpe kind of heralded, in 1969, the first wave of young people where fame was more important than accomplishment. Patti wanted to be famous. We had a joke at Max’s (Kansas City) one night which went on for several weeks that Patti and I were going to start a band. She and I really bonded at being working-class girls in a scene of debutants.

On Bowie: Angela Bowie, from what I heard back then, was really the interesting figure. David Bowie was this boring kind of folk singer and then they started dressing David like Angela – and the rest is history.

On Punk: Wayne County to me is the most important person in the punk scene and far more important than Patti, Richard Hell or any of them...rock and roll was our religion, and Wayne County was the person who took it to heart. What else can a poor boy do except play in a rock and roll band?

On The Orchard Project: “We like the way Orchard Project works. It has a core of 15 kids interested in theater, in performance, so we like having those conversations. We’ve worked a lot with young people in our video projects. Steve and I have a video project we’ve been doing for 19 years called Stemming the Tide of Cultural Amnesia: The Lower East Side Biography Project – which anyone can watch. (Website: http://pennyarcade.tv/) . This is my way of injecting inter-generational voices into the culture, because it’s not 1980 or 1990 or 1970 for that matter when young people move to New York and meet older artists. The whole idea of lineage has changed. The whole idea of what it means to be an artist has changed. Those ideas have been gentrified.

On Purpose: “I think we all glom onto whatever resonates with us personally on a spiritual level, on a metaphysical level. We come here with purpose. I believe that we are born with purpose. That we all have certain lessons we are here to learn. That’s the purpose of life: for evolution. And it’s not a complete evolution. Whatever my standards are of who I think I should be, I’m not attaining them in this lifetime, you know? I think evolution continues.”

    

    

    

Paul Schrade stood atop the platform in the ballroom of the Ambassador Hotel. A few feet away, Bobby Kennedy delivered his speech.

A few hours earlier, the polls closed on the California Democratic presidential primary and the feeling of victory hung in the air. As Kennedy made his way off the stage to meet with the press, the ballroom filled with the exuberant chanting of his joy-filled supporters: RFK. RFK. RFK.

“As he walked off into the pantry area, heading for a press conference, Bobby said: ‘I want you with me,’” Schrade recalls. Once inside the hotel kitchen pantry area, he watched Kennedy extend his hand to greet workers. “Then I got hit,” Schrade says. “I started shaking violently. I didn’t even know that I’d been shot.”

Schrade was shot in the head and taken to Los Angeles’ Kaiser Hospital. Just over 24 hours later, at 1:44 a.m. on June 6, 1968, Kennedy was pronounced dead at Good Samaritan Hospital. After recovering from his injuries Shrade moved out of Los Angeles and into the desert. He set aside the memories of that tragic night for a long time.

Paul Schrade grew up in Saratoga Springs where as a young man he worked nights and weekends at the family floral business, the descendant of which maintains the Schrade name and today stands on West Avenue as the Posie Peddler. “Slave labor,” he says with a laugh. He had a busy scholastic career that included writing for the school newspaper, Oratoga, and being involved in the speech club and photo club, among other organizations. He graduated from Saratoga Springs High School in 1942 and studied at Yale College, later becoming a union organizer and getting involved in the nation’s political scene.

During John F. Kennedy’s election campaign in 1960, Schrade struck up a friendship with J.F.K.’s younger brother, Bobby. “We had a lot of great experiences together,” he says.

The year 1968 was one of conflict in America. “Bob was facing a lot of crises,” explains Schrade. “The anti-war movement, rebellion on campuses, rebellion in the black community; Dr. King had been shot and killed. The country was in horrible shape at the point and Bob provided some hope during this terrible time.”

Vice President Hubert Humphrey would later emerge from a turbulent Democratic National Convention in Chicago to represent his party. Republican candidate Richard Nixon would win the presidency in the general election.

Asked whether he can imagine how the world might be different had Kennedy survived and been elected president, Schrade says, “well he was against the war in Vietnam. He would have ended the war.” One person’s life making such a big difference. “One small bullet made a difference,” he replied.  

Sirhan Sirhan was convicted in 1969 of the assassination of Kennedy and sentenced to death in the gas chamber. The sentence was commuted three years later, when California abolished the death penalty. Sirhan became eligible for parole in 1986 but has been repeatedly rejected.

During the past several years, Schrade has re-focused his attentions on the assassination. Convinced there was a second gunman, he has been pushing for a thorough investigation. “There never was an investigation. They just grabbed Sirhan without evidence or witnesses and refused to go after the second gunman.

“I’m not going to get into conspiracy theories – whether he was programmed or not. Sirhan was there and fired (the first) two shots, missing Kennedy and shooting me. The gun was two to three feet in front of Robert Kennedy according to the prosecution’s own witnesses,” Schrade says. As he was being subdued, Sirhan wildly fired off a number of more shots. In all, six people were shot. The Los Angeles County coroner determined that three bullets struck Kennedy's body and a fourth passed harmlessly through his clothing, CNN reported in a 2012 story sub-titled, “There Was A Second Shooter,” following a 2012 interview with Nina Rhodes-Hughes, a witness to the murder. Rhodes-Hughes said she heard two guns firing during the shooting and that authorities altered her account of the crime.

“It was an eight-shot revolver and Kennedy got shot four times in the back. Sirhan didn’t have the bullets,” Schrade says. ”He was captured out of position. The gun was two to three feet in front of Kennedy and Kennedy got hit at point-blank range in the back. It couldn’t be Sirhan. It had to be a second gunman.

“The prosecution knew this, knew there was a second gunman and didn’t do anything to investigate it. They just did a quickie on Sirhan and sent him to the gas chamber. They were going to murder this guy,” Schrade says. “It was a well-planned investigation in order to convict Sirhan. They falsified the evidence right from the beginning.”

Asked for his thoughts on motivations behind the assassination, Schrade says, “we can only guess at the motivations because we never investigated the second gunman. And I don’t guess at things anymore, only facts and truth. They decided to go after Sirhan. I don’t know why. It could have been for political reasons, but ‘why’ has not been answered.

“I’m 93. The only thing I can do at this point is make a public declaration and try to get the people that have some influence involved,” Schrade says. “Hopefully it will move these organizations to do the right thing, by Kennedy, and by Sirhan.”

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