This is just a note to thank the Woodstock Times, and editor Brian Hollander in particular, for over the years being so unstintingly cooperative, and even supportive, in publishing my letters and notices, whether my intention has been to commemorate a life, to voice an opinion, or to publicize an event. A feeling of community and shared values is important to most people, and, at least for me, Brian and the Times have always done yeoman service in promoting that feeling.
I’ve never paid much attention to the Hugh Reynolds column in Woodstock Times. Some things you read, some things you don’t. However, his recent articles concurrent with the retirement of Maurice Hinchey have caught my eye and, to my way of thinking, have raised questions as to Mr. Reynolds’ intentions.
His writing has all the indications of his being on a personal vendetta. To comment on Congressman Hinchey’s aging, medical condition, emotion, and private life, do not advance any journalistic benefit. Reynolds writes about the “natural conflict” between a writer and politician, yet he is more apt to be making these and other personal attacks rather than writing issue-oriented pieces. “Hey, we’re the media,” Reynolds writes, “we’re not here to improve your life,” he points out to his readers.
Woodstock Times criteria for printing opinion disdains writing for “malicious purposes,” “gratuitous name-calling,” “ad hominem attacks,” and disseminating untruths and half-truths. I would hope that the newspaper would maintain these standards with regard to Mr. Reynolds’ articles.
I arrived at the Bearsville Theatre “Tribute to One Love” reggae show as The Big Takeover was playing. I was surprised that all the musicians were white, though the lead singer was black. All looked to be in their 20s, and they moved and gyrated like a Popeye cartoon from 1923. The drummer, Sam Tritto, wore a jaunty felt hat. The other instruments were: tenor sax, trombone, guitar, bass. The trombonist, Andy Vogt, also quietly sang backup vocals. The Big Takeover featured solos, on every instrument except bass (Rob Kissner). “Reggae is a form of jazz,” The Big Takeover believes. Yes, it’s dance music, but its looseness allows for musical elaboration. The sax player (Chas Montrose) was the best; the guitarist (Billy Trimarchi) a little prosaic. I only heard one trombone solo, and though not dexterous, it was delighting. Neenee Rushie, the lead singer, is a young woman from Jamaica in a layer-cake pink dress and silver heels. She seemed to be skating on the stage. Neenee has a high voice, and a gentle, ironic face. She represents the new reggae feminism, with songs like “Walk the Plank” — which she sang with singular pleasure. Neenee reminded me of classic pop singers from the 1960s, like Lulu or Gladys Horton (of the Marvelettes). She is sexy, precocious, teasing. In the balcony, I gazed at her and wiggled. (Late in the set, Neenee announced: “This is another sexy song, so couple up — or triple up!”)
For moments, such as the beginning of their new song “No One Is Gonna Rain on My Parade,” the band is near-punk, but mostly they are pop-reggae. In a better world, they’d have a hit, and gyrate on Jimmy Kimmel Live!
I will be at the legislative action committee meeting this week as well as the board of education meeting at Woodstock. I will tell you honestly I probably have not been as involved as I planned on being because at this point, depending upon the decision of the school board regarding school configuration, I don’t know how much longer my family will be a part of this school district. It occurs to me that this is an opinion that has not been represented in the public opinion forums. I actually just learned how many people are making plans similar to mine. I went to see a real estate agent last week about selling my house and moving into another school district — one that offers a high performing local school. I was surprised to hear that she was doing the same thing and was working for another family selling their house and moving for the same reason. Then I joined in a conversation with some other parents the other day who either had already signed their kids up to St. Joe’s in Kingston or were going to the open house there. All told, casual conversation tells me that 16 kids are leaving the district. This is a very limited sample. These are only people who happened to be around.
Many of us are city transplants. We don’t want our children commuting as planned. Many moved here to be a part of Woodstock. They walk their children to school and the ability to do so was a deciding factor in their moving here. Personally one of the major reasons I purchased my house and was bi-residential was because West Hurley school was within a half a mile. I was unaware that at time they were considering closing the school. By the time my child was old enough the school was closed and she had to go to Woodstock. This has worked out fine and I am very happy with the school. Now as she approaches third grade, that option will probably be closed to her. I know this may sound unreasonable but I feel like I have been a victim of “bait and switch.” I would never have bought this house if I knew that there would be no local school for her.
So I will be there Tuesday and Thursday, mostly for personal education purposes, but I think it is important that the Board know that a many in the Woodstock community have been quiet but that is not for any other reason than because we are leaving.
For more letters, see print edition.