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Monday, July 16, 2007

From Buffalo to Albany

Mr. Byzantium's Shores, the guy in the overalls from Buffalo, was generous enough to give, not only me, but a bunch o' folks five questions. Here they are. I did consider answering with two or three words, but since he seemed to work so hard... Still, in the ALT sections, I'll give the terse answer.

1. So what's it like living in Albany and reading other bloggers like myself who gripe about "the folks in Albany"?

See, "Albany" is two things, really: the dysfunctional state government, and the dysfunctional local government. Those of you not from NYS might not be aware of the tiff between Gov. Spitzer and State Senate Majority Leader Bruno; o, that I were one of them. However we've come to this place where we've long had a difficult time passing a budget on time (though the last one was, shockingly, only a half day late), where the Democratic Assembly and the Republican Senate can pass all the one-house bills they want, because they are inconsequential. The only stuff that DOES get passed is "feel good" stuff.

Now, the city of Albany is a somewhat different animal. For decades, this town was run by a Democratic machine that the original Mayor Daley of Chicago would have envied. We had one mayor, Erastus Corning, for 41 years, until his death in 1983. The progressives have slogged against the empire, even as the current mayor, Jerry Jennings, who ran as a reformer back in 1993, has become more autocratic, with a weak (and by that, I mean structurally) city council. There was a move for reforming the charter that had popular support, yet, through what I can only call chicanery, failed to make it to the ballot.

All of that said, I like Albany. It's the right-sized town for me. It has some decent mass transport - could be better, but I've experienced worse; it has an educated population, due in part to the colleges here and nearby; and it has so much potential to be a lot more.

ALT- It sucks.

2. What made you choose librarianship as a career?

Nothing better to do. This is largely true. I had quit my job at Blue Cross, which I HATED, HATED, HATED, and my friends Jendy, Judy, and Broome, two librarians and a lawyer, all nagged me to go to school. Actually I wrote about this in my second post ever in this blog. It does fit me.


ALT- Boredom.

3. To what extent do you want to slap people upside the head when they suggest that in the day and age of the Internet, public libraries are dispensable luxuries?

I'm a pacifist in action, but I drop 1500-pound boulders on people's heads mentally when I hear that. In fact, Albany had a vote on funding libraries in February, and some ying-yang said essentially that. I didn't bother to find his letter, but here's one response of many; BTW, the budget passed.

ALT- Big time.

4. What's the strangest request you've ever had to field from a library patron (to the extent that you can write about it)?

You know, we get this question all the time, and we never have a ready response. Back in 1993, it was emu and alpaca ranches, but after a few of them, well, maybe they're not so strange. I suppose what *I* find weird are those requests where somebody doesn't have a clue what they want, but just want to make lots of money. I find these peculiar, because if you're going to work 60, 80 hours a week on something, you damn well better love it.

ALT- They're ALL weird.

5. You're offered a paid vacation that is to last as long as it takes you to read five books that you've always wanted to read but never had the time. What are the books?

I'm going to pick books on the shelves I can see right now; otherwise, I'll agonize over this.
The Bible, the New Revised Standard Version - I've read the King James and the RSV once each.
Personal History by Katherine Graham. She's interested me at least since Watergate.
Mayor Corning: Albany Icon, Albany Enigma by Paul Grondahl. I've read parts of it, but not all the way through. There's a scene in the book I heard Paul read that I was present at.
The Power of Babel: A Natural History of Language by John McWhorter
The Black New Yorkers: the Schomburg Illustrated History

ALT- YOU choose.

Now, per the social contract, here's where YOU come in. If you hast a blog, I am supposed to come up with five tailor-made questions for you. If you want me to delve into your heart and soul, let me know by leaving your request in the comments box.
Jaq, am I to assume that you want five questions from me?

ROG

15 comments:

ADD said...

I'm in, Roger -- hit me!

Roger Green said...

OK, ADD:

1. When you tell people that you do criticism of comic books, and they giggle or say something inane, after you sock them in the jaw, what quick-and-dirty response do you give to explain that comics are worthy of serious exploration?

2. You used to listen to Q-104 in the day, didn't you? If you did, explain to someone who never heard it why it was such a great station? (And if you didn't, why the heck not?!)

3. You've been writing about customer service, et al., in comic book stores. How would FantaCo have fared?

4. How many FantaCo publications did you own, and how many do you still have?

5. Beside the counterfeit Cerebus story, what are two or three of your fondest FantaCo memories?

ADD said...

1. When you tell people that you do criticism of comic books, and they giggle or say something inane, after you sock them in the jaw, what quick-and-dirty response do you give to explain that comics are worthy of serious exploration?

Maybe I only tell people that already know or respect me, because I can't remember ever feeling I have to justify comics being worthy of criticism.

2. You used to listen to Q-104 in the day, didn't you? If you did, explain to someone who never heard it why it was such a great station? (And if you didn't, why the heck not?!)

I did. I think what made it a great station was the sense that the DJs had some input into what music they were playing. The closest I think any station in the Albany area comes these days to that era is probably WEQX.

3. You've been writing about customer service, et al., in comic book stores. How would FantaCo have fared?

I don't remember anyone ever being anything other than friendly and helpful at FantaCo, except maybe toward the very, very end of its run, when unfamiliar faces were manning the cash registers. Not a week goes by that I don't wish the store was still there, so that's got to count for something.

4. How many FantaCo publications did you own, and how many do you still have?

Whoo. At one point I probably had 75 percent or more of them -- I bought all the Hembeck, Chronicles, Gates of Eden and stuff like that. The horror magazines/books never really appealed to me. I still have most of the Chronicles, which I find to hold up really well, and Gates of Eden #1, which more than anything really takes me back to those days, when it seemed like anything was possible in comics. Kind of like now, except back then there was far less evidence.

5. Beside the counterfeit Cerebus story, what are two or three of your fondest FantaCo memories?

The first day I shopped there, I was 15 years old and my family had just moved back to upstate New York after living in Florida for most of the 1970s. When I told whoever was working that day (might have been Mitch and Raoul?) that FantaCo was the first place I wanted to go when we got back in New York, and that FantaCo had seemed like Mecca to me from the ads I saw in comics, I was more or less treated like royalty.

Also: Being amazed that cartoonist Raoul Vezina had to work in the shop; I thought he'd be living it up off the huge profits from SMILIN' ED COMICS. Little did I know what the realities of comics were!

Also: The copy of World War III Illustrated (#1 or 2, I would guess) that I had in my pile when I checked out on my first visit in 1981, only to find somehow I left it behind in the store. It would be nearly two decades before I crossed paths again with the work of Peter Kuper.

Also: Seeing Wendy and Richard Pini at a signing there and being surprised at how normal they were. It was as if the people who made comics were just, you know, people.

Also: The copy of Metroland I would always grab from the left side of the door on my way out every week; FantaCo is gone, but Albany's free alternative newsweekly is still chugging along. I wish I was still picking it up at FantaCo every week!

Thanks, Roger!

Greg said...

Sure, I'll do it. Why not?

Roger Green said...

Greg-
1. There was a lot of conversation about whether or not to rebuild New Orleans after Katrina. Should we rebuilding in the desert after these annual fires, with water at such a premium?

2. All-time favorite pitcher and position player, and why.

3. How many major league sporting events have you attended, roughly?

4. How has Seinfeld held up? What still works and what feels dated?

5. Your analysis of the Phillies' 10,000 loss. Did you know that Harry Kalas broadcast 29% of them?

Johnny B said...

I'll try, Roger!

Roger Green said...

Johnny-

1. In your comic collecting, did you ever come across any publications from FantaCo? What did you think of them?

2. Your 10 (or more) least favorite Beatles songs.

3. Your 10 (or more) least favorite solo Beatles songs.

4. Your 5 (or more) favorite Sly Stone songs.

5. Though usually thought to be tacky, why ARE those DC go-go checks so appealing? I wasn't even collecting DC then, but I think of them fondly.

Jaquandor said...

Sure, set me up.

Roger Green said...

1. So what ARE the other bloggers, other than yourself, specifically griping about when they talk about "the folks in Albany"?

2. There's a new movie, You Kill Me, with Ben Kingsley as a Polish mob hit man from Buffalo. Is there a Polish mob in Buffalo, and will you see the movie?

3. How do you think the current and upcoming restrictions on travel between the U.S. and Canada affect the border economies, particularly the Buff/NF area?

4. How do you feel about the image of Buffalo as a loser? Four Super Bowl losses in a row (four more games than some teams have ever been in), snowy (even though Syracuse, on a year-to-year basis gets more), economically depressed (well, OK, there's something to that).

5. Do you know the lyrics to "Erie Canal"? Did you learn them in school, or where? Have you heard the Springsteen version? Does it sound different to you from the one you learned?

Johnny B said...

OK, Rog, here ya go!

I put it on my LJ, where memes get breating room.

Johnny B said...

I don't know if you've read my responses to this yet, but hold on- I misread your Beatle questions, and now I'm going to have to change my answers.

Roger Green said...

JB- I DID see it. What I want to know: what IS it a list of, if not your least fav solo Beatles songs. I'm confused, too.

EM said...

Yo, Roger! Is it too late to play?

Johnny B said...

You asked my LEAST favorite Beatle and solo songs; I misread it as my FAVORITE and least favorite Beatle songs! Anyway, all fixed now!

Feel free to comment!

Roger Green said...

Eddie, for you:

1. What’s your relationship with technology? Are you an early adapter or a Luddite? Do you find you like technology but that it doesn’t always like you?

2. How did you first get into comic books? What is your favorite character, your favorite stories?

3. Would you get married, if you could? What do you think of the alternatives, such as domestic partnerships?

4. What are your favorite soap operas, current and all time?

5. Last, but certainly not least, what the heck does "Flee the yellow" mean?