Letters to the Editor – 10/13 to 10/19

In A Trolley

Dutchman is performed in an actual subway car from 1955 at the Kingston Trolley Museum. The audience sits in the car, too. It was an LL car, but the conductor at the beginning of the show, imagines it an A train. (“All aboard, for the A train, making express stops only!” he shouts to the audience, indicating that the show is starting.) Bruce Grund, the director, was in the car with us. At one point Clay (Lerone Simon) pulls the New York Times out of his hands and throws it to the floor.

Dutchman is one of those combustible works of art, like the Battle of Algiers (the movie) or Huckleberry Finn — works that have been banned repeatedly, by Christians, fascists and even liberals. It is offensive, unsettling, cartoonish, violent, unsavory, hard-hearted, wily, taboo-crushing. The plot is quite simple. A good-looking blonde woman walks up to a black man on a subway and begins talking. She smiles at him, she reads his mind, she seduces him. The man, who is named Clay, is flattered, confused. All of us, on the subway, watch helplessly. Lula (Terri Mateer) calls Clay a “n_____.” He flinches.

Amiri Baraka understands an audience. He knows what we want: the satisfaction of bullying. A woman against a black man — it’s an even contest, strangely. She is white, but a woman; he is black, but masculine. Both are victims of history, and neither quite know it. Whom do we root for? The man, certainly. The woman is unacceptable, terrifying, though she grows more beautiful as she sings erotically.


The actors are very fine in this production. Kingston may be the only city on earth whose trolley museum would host this difficult, searching play.




Washburne House Says Thanks

From all of us at Family Domestic Violence Services, an enormous thanks for our wonderful Ulster County community for supporting our annual Gospel Brunch this past Sunday. We raised over $5000 — our biggest fundraiser brunch to date! — to fund the upkeep at the Washbourne House, a shelter and safe haven for victims of domestic violence and every penny we took in will help us offer much needed refuge, supplies and support.

The weather, attendance, the menu and the whole day was simply magnificent and we couldn’t have done it without the very meaningful and generous support of Joni & Rob of Logstock, Yvonne Sewall, the soulful Alexis P. Suter and band and the magical Lex Grey and The Urban Pioneers.

Also thanks to the following local businesses and individuals who so generously offered food and raffle items: Gabriel’s, Red Lobster, Dominic’s, Panzarella of Kingston Farmer’s Market, Market Basket, Cake Box, Olive Garden, Brice Discount Beverage, Mother Earth, Frank Guido’s Little Italy, Christina’s, Vincenzo’s Subway, Fleisher’s Meats, Texas Roadhouse, Hannaford, Starbucks, Mc Donalds of Saugerties, Lox of Bagels, Hudson Valley Dessert Co., Price Chopper, Red Onion, Grey Mouse Farm,

Main Street Restaurant, New World Home Cooking, Max’s Memphis BBQ, Peek a Moose, Maria’s Bazaar, Hurley Ridge Wine & Spirits, Sunflower Natural Foods Market, Cucina, C+C Unisex Salon, Macy’s, The Onteora Mountain House, Escape Spa and Salon, Loominus, The Freewheel Pottery, The Little Bear, Nectar, Walkabout, Pleasures, Bath and Body Works, Yum Yum Noodle Bar, Green Cottage Florist, Coffee Traders, The Sweet Heart Gallery, Lux Hair Studio, A Razor’s Edge, Hoffman House, The Inn at Stone Ridge, 11 Main Bistro, High Falls Mercantile, Candlestock, Jean Turmo, The Copperhood Inn & Spa, Applebee’s, Anka Crafts, Stone House B&B, Elliot Landy, Abbe Does It, Dr. John and The Gipsy Kings, via Impact Artist Management.

Kathleen Welby-Moretti, Family Domestic Violence Services



Complaints About Olive Comp Plan

Thank you for Jon Heppner’s article about the Town of Olive’s Comprehensive Plan (“A Town without a Plan…Yet,” September 29). Your discussion omits complaints about the Olive proposal. First, in government contracting it is normal to conduct an open bidding process. Given the lack of transparency in Olive, the best anyone can ascertain is that the Rudikoff firm was given the contract without one. You allude to past relationships; cronyism explains much. At the August 8 meeting, Supervisor Leifeld stated that the plan cost $15,000. The next evening, after discomfort with the plan had become evident, at a town board meeting with less than 10 percent of the attendance of the previous evening, Supervisor Leifeld stated that the plan cost $47,000, virtually the entire grant.

Second, the announcement of the planning process concerning the plan was minimal and did not reveal that the plan was to propose tax concessions (conservation easements) to large landowners, transfer rights that could harm moderate income homeowners, heretofore unheard of regulations on private homes whose value has been declining, and transfer of local control away from the democratic process to federal and state regulatory agencies. The plan proposes absurdities such as the construction of sidewalks on rural roads and a cluster housing feeding frenzy by large, outside contractors. The logic of peppering the plan with environmentalist jargon and then proposing environmentally harmful rural cluster housing that stimulates automobile use is revealing.

Third, given the parlous state of Ulster County’s economy, the plan would suppress local home building and entrepreneurial startups. Fourth, the town supervisor and several town board members, including Bruce Lamonda, specifically stated that they did not intend or saw no obligation to implement the plan. A plan is what is intended, not what is stated.  The plan should be restated to express the town’s intent. Moreover, neither the town supervisor nor the town board had requested legal opinion as to whether the use of the plan to obtain grant money would create a contractual obligation or whether it is legally permissible to do one thing and say another, an intent that Messrs. Leifeld and Lamonda have expressed. Fifth, the plan would impose heavy costs on local homeowners; it even refers to “retrofitting,” which is a direct threat to the ability of the elderly and moderate income homeowners’ ability to remain here. In sum, the plan would create a two-tier economy.

Mitchell Langbert



Not An Aesop

So this guy is sitting on his front porch, hitting his hand with a hammer. Every time he hits himself he flinches as the pain travels up his arm. A neighbor passing by seeing what is happening says, “If you put the hammer down the pain will go away.” He does and it does. Moral of this story is often an individual creates his own problems.

Howard Harris



For more letters, see print edition