Every year, local reporters and photographers head to Scotia — a place typically avoided unless there’s a murder or a particularly interesting fire — to cover the opening of Jumpin’ Jack’s Drive-In, the ad hoc beginning of spring in the Capital Region.
You know what would be news? If Jumpin’ Jacks DIDN’T open — yet every year we get the same damn story. Here’s an example from last year. Sorry in advance for the terrible video player.
I’ll admit, it’s not a bad piece — but for Christ’s sake, what are you going to say about Jumpin’ Jack’s that hasn’t been said a hundred times? By EVERYBODY IN TOWN:
Whatever — it’s not a crime to be lazy. Everyone should have a day a to just Jack off once a year. Sorry, I had to go there,
In that video, one of the people who lined up for the opening day festivities pretty much summed it all up: “We don’t have much going on here.”
A group of Siena College students staged a protest this week over a billboard put up by a local contractor. It shows a posh kitchen with the headline, “Your Wife Wants Me.” The students claim that the billboard’s message is sexist, and they felt so strongly about it that they stood out in the cold for hours to express their opinion.
You can decide whether it’s sexism — but it’s certainly plagiarism.
That headline, “Your Wife Wants Me,” is riffing on a campaign by a Baltimore area jeweler in 2007 with the headline, “Your Girlfriend Wants Me.”
Since then, the clever creative has been ripped off all over, sometimes substituting girlfriend for wife like in the kitchen ad. In fact, it appeared on a local jewelry billboard within the last year.
Borrowing ideas is nothing new in advertising. I suppose it becomes stealing when you claim it as your own, but there’s something else going on here: the jewelry ad is funny and surprising. The kitchen ad is neither.
They took a great concept and sapped all the wit out of it, which to me is more offensive than any sexist overtones. If you’re going to rip something off, at least do it well.
There was a nice piece about the passing of Don Weeks in the Gazette — and Mark McGuire, who used to write about TV and radio for the Times Union, was the perfect guy to handle the job.
It used to be that the dailies had someone writing regularly about TV and radio, but now coverage of the local media has pretty much vanished. At WNYT we had scrapbooks filled with stories about the station’s performance in the ratings, the comings and goings of reporters, puff pieces about anchors and more.
Now it’s very rare to see stories like that, and even the Business Review, which used to follow TV and radio ratings like they were the Dow Jones average, has given it up.
It’s funny because there would be so much to write about today. There’s more local TV news on the air than ever before, stations are big in social media and the radio business has changed dramatically.
I’d guess we’ll never see local media covered again. Local papers are doing more with fewer people — and in many cases, the people doing more are doing it for less money, like the crew at the Times Union who haven’t had a raise in seven years.
Maybe someone should write a blog about local media. Wouldn’t it be interesting to read critiques of local TV and newspapers, or have someone writing about the imbecilic ranting of local talk radio hosts?
Nah, that would never work.
There’s a little known route that takes you from Menands to downtown Albany with few traffic lights and little traffic.
It’s that road that runs past Huck Finn’s Warehouse — Erie Boulevard, but I’ve always called it Huck Finn Street — and it delivers you into the heart of Albany without all the hassle. Now, the northern end has been extended all the way to Simmons Lane in Menands so it’s better than ever.
Simmons hooks up with Broadway within spitting distance of the old Montgomery Ward building — but this is so new that it’s not on Google Maps yet, which shows a gap in the road near the sewage plant.
Some of you are saying, “That’s great, Rob, but why not just jump on 787?”
Excuse me, but that’s not the point of awesome shortcuts! The point is to amaze your friends with obscure routes that get you around town like a magic portal. They won’t be very amazed if you take 787.
The Subway at State and Pearl is mobbed as usual, so what does one do about a quick lunch?
Around the corner, just off the lobby in the Bank of America at 69 State Street, there’s a little lunch counter run by one of the nicest people you’ll find downtown: the $2 sandwich lady.
She puts out a simple selection of lunch basics, but as you may have gathered, the $2 sandwiches are the highlight.
What do you get for $2? Well, don’t expect things like roasted red peppers, pesto aioli and crusty ciabattas. No, these are the sandwiches your mother used to stick in your lunchbox: two pieces of bread a few slices of meat and/or cheese, and a smear of mustard or mayo. Period. They’re waiting for you in a flap-top baggie, not those new fangled ziplock ones, so grab a bag of chips or a little container of salad and you’re good to go.
I swear that the whole thing makes you feel like a kid again when you sit down and open your brown paper bag. This isn’t just downtown’s least expensive lunch, it’s a trip back in time. And if you close your eyes, that simple sandwich tastes a little like love.
I don’t expect you’ll find that at Subway.
There are three things that will send me to Price Chopper at 5am: cat food, coffee and toilet paper. I’ve been in the store at that hour buying those items — or some combination of those items — on many occasions. Sometimes all three of those items.
Not such a big deal; Price Chopper is just five minutes away and open all night.
There’s a guy who’s worked there forever on the third shift who I think of as “The Russian.” He could be from any number of places, but to my American ear he sounds Russian — and at 5am that’s close enough.
He looked down at my bag of pet food and said, “The cats must be fed.”
Now, I want you to say that out loud in your best faux Russian accent and hear how cool it sounds. Pretty deep, huh? Now say it in your American voice. Yes, ridiculous.
I don’t know anything about The Russian, but chances are he is not some sort of exiled philosopher or poet making ends meet on the supermarket’s overnight crew, but he sure sounds that way. Gotta go. The cats must be fed.
So, the dogs have been coming in with snow on their snouts from rooting around in the yard.
It seems they’ve been spending a lot of time under the bird feeder, and at first I thought they were munching on spilled sunflower seeds. That would be damn odd, dogs eating sunflower seeds. But after watching a while, I think what they’re doing is much more doglike: scarfing down snow that’s sprinkled with bird droppings.
Yes, that sounds revolting but we’re talking about dogs here and to a dog, that must be like a delicious snow cone.
I suppose there’s only one thing to say when they come trotting into the house after their snacking: “Go give mommy a kiss!”
Since high school I’ve loved taking photos, and over the years have fooled around with many cameras, had a darkroom in the cellar and still shoot with film sometimes. I wouldn’t call myself a serious amateur, because I’ve seen serious amateurs and they are far more serious than I – but enthusiast would be fair description.
So, I was thrilled when on my birthday, my wife handed me a gift certificate good for a day-long workshop with Adirondack photographer Carl Heilman II. You may not know his name, but you’ve seen his pictures. Heilman has been photographing the Adirondacks for 40 years in a way that only someone who embraces the outdoors can do, going wherever and whenever to capture the perfect image.
Yeah, you could learn a thing or two from a guy like that, so I signed up for his Winter Light photo tour scheduled for the middle of February. You may have noticed it’s been cold outside, so the weather was certain to be a challenge.
The first stop was at Buttermilk Falls near Long Lake. Our group took an easy trail to the icy shore where the water flowed despite temperatures hovering around zero.
We stopped at several spots that afternoon. Here on this bridge a woman in a fur paused in her Mercedes if ask if we were crazy, bundled head to toe as we scrambled around with our tripods. She may have had a point.
By 7pm we’d made our way to Saranac Lake with plenty of time to set up for the Winter Carnival fireworks. It was 12 below zero with a -28 wind chill but it didn’t seem bad until you’d peel off your mitten and screw around with your camera. Then it was cold – but that was forgotten when the fireworks ignited.
Overall, an amazing day. What did I learn? That after all these years I still need to work on my skills and knowledge, but that with patience – and proper layering – you can get great results.