Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Peak Color . . .

2008-1015-1266p 2008-1015-1264p
Catch it before it disappears!


clipper said...

I assume that the photos were taken from Valley View golf course. How can anyone look at those photos and dispute any claims that the Utica area is a beautiful place.

Those that are negative and critical of our hometown, don't seem to realize that the problems that face Utica, with crime, job loss, and declining neighborhoods, are not unique to Utica. MOST older small municipalities in the Northeast are suffering the same maladies and suffering the same urban decay.

I would still rather live in Utica NY than many of the newer, smaller, more politically corrupt snob farms in the suburbs.

I will repeat once more, my opinion that Utica is not on it's death bed. It is simply "evolving." What it evolves into is entirely up to us. What Utica looks like in the future depends on whether we sit and bitch or get out and act. Community service and community action will be the salvation of the city.

The economy will restrict how fast and how efficiently the city can be rehabilitated, but community pride and a positive attitude will go a long ways towards bringing the city back.

Just maintaining the city at this point instead of allowing it to be taken over by druglords and slumlords is a very important start.

Thanks for the photos Strike. I open this page every day, eagerly awaiting your take on all of the important issues. Keep up the wonderful work you do for us all.


Anonymous said...

Beautiful shots from a beautiful city! Here's a little historical tidbit about Utica...

Anonymous said...

Clipper... just want to note a few things. If it is indeed a golf course, that is artificial outdoorsy stuff. Something you can see in any other region of America, but you'll be paying less taxes, living in a better and newer home (for the same price -or lower- and quality), meeting younger people (important to me since all my friends have left the area), have more stuff available to do and stores to go to, and be surrounded by more job availability.
I've gone hiking in the adirondacks, and personally it was very underwhelming. If you want to see the great outdoors, go the Canadian northeast, Northwest (Washington state parks and mountains!), Southwest (Grand Canyon!), or the forests of Georgia, the Beaches of Florida, etc etc. The "nature" in the Utica area sucks in comparison.
As someone who has lived here for almost a decade, I have just awoken from my CNY stupor and I'm finally starting to tell the truth... this area sucks, and we'd all benefit to look outside in the real world to see how much better it can be.

clipper said...

Obviously a decade is not long enough to develop a wider field of vision. Wherever you live you are going to focus on the negativity. Yes the golf course may be an artificially created landscape, but those with a true vision for beauty, looked at the photo and looked to the reservoir, and the autumn colors beyond the golf course. If you truly hate the area that badly, you would probably benefit yourself AND the area by renting a U-haul and moving on.

I was born and brought up in the Mohawk Valley and Central NY area. I served in the Navy and traveled the world while working for 25 years for the US Air Force. I presently live in Bristol Tn where I moved in my retirement, to care for my elderly and ailing parents.
I have every intention of moving back to the Utica area when my dad has passed on. We lost my mom in 2004.

I don't mean to be hostile, and I hope you don't take it that way, but it is sad that so many folks have the sad outlook that you seem to exhibit. It seems that ya'll could sit in the middle of a rose garden and not notice anything but a high pollen count.

The COUNTRY is undergoing hard times, not just Utica. Urban decay is not just in Utica. It is in all older cities. Crime is not just in Utica. Actually the crime rate in Utica is quite low compared to other areas.

Those of us who have lived our whole lives in the area are able to look beyond the boarded up buildings, and look beyond the criminal and the lazy, to see the wonderful and fine people that STILL live in those "decaying" neighborhoods.

If you cannot look beyond the golf course and see the beauty of the area, you most likely will never look beyond the negativity that lives within your being, and that is part of what stifles renewal in the area. Too many people are willing to plow under the field of flowers because they have noted a few weeds.

When Griffiss AFB closed in the 90's everyone said "woe is me, the area is going to go down the toilet". Well I did not see anything in the classified ads that interested me. I didn't want to leave the area. What did the area have room for? A service related business. I started a cleaning business with an 8000 dollar truck mounted carpet cleaning system. I was very successful the first summer. When fall came, people don't clean their carpets as much in winter and fall, so it dropped off. Hmmm. What to do. I started doing floor maintenance also. Soon I had a crew of 11 stripping and waxing grocery store floors, I had two guys and myself, cleaning carpets in restaurants and department stores at night, and all was good. I fell and broke my back, and decided to retire. I moved here to care for mom and dad. Yes, cleaning carpets and buffing floors is not comparable to my transportation management job at the AF Base, but it was a business that was needed in the area. I found a niche that I could serve and make a good living. I was the ONLY carpet cleaner that served the area from Alder Creek to Long Lake, and I did every motel and restaurant in that area. I also was the only one that would serve Speculator are and Wells.

Just a long winded way to say if you are given lemons, you make lemonade. I succeeded in business and was able to stay in the beautiful Mohawk Valley area and my hometown of Utica.

Anonymous said...

Uh, how much longer must I stay here before I become one of you happy shiny (and blind) people? I started off optimistic... I made excuses and thought I was going to stay here forever... but then all the things I appreciated went away along with the friends I made. As time went by, I became more and more depressed by the area, and I finally snapped into reality when I visited a few places... Las Vegas, California, Toronto... Each time I came back, I would almost cry myself to sleep because it is so disappointing here.

Benefit the area by leaving? This place should be tons better by now because almost all of my friends have left the area... the accumulated positive effect of each one leaving should make this place a veritable paradise. Boston, Colorado Springs, Denver, Philadelphia, Chicago, Maine, Rochester, Syracuse, Milwaukee, NYC, Seattle, China, Tokyo, even Central Asia(!), etc etc. So far nobody has lamented about how much they miss the Mohawk Valley.

Positive thinking is not whats going to improve this area. When life gives you lemons, you'll make some pretty horrid lemonade... because good lemonade requires water and sugar. We don't have water. We definitely don't have sugar. And sometimes I even question if we have any lemons at all.

clipper said...

Las Vegas, California and Toronto? How about Disney World and Sesame St. I would not give you 10 cents for ten acres of California with their taxes, mudslides, earthquakes,illegal immigration and a governor that can't speak english although he has been here most of his life. Las Vegas isn' bad if you don't mind living where you step out of the city and into a giant cat box of sand and scrub brush. Toronto??? Hey dude, I am an american, I was born here, I fought in our armed forces, and I will die here. If you want to be an expatriot, suit yourself.

Let me get this straight. You would rather move somewhere where someone else has made life viable, and not have to contribute, than to stay in Utica, quit bitching and get involved in making it better. LIfe is a big vacation. I gotcha now.

Every time I mention how beautiful the adirondacks and central NY are, I get some negative talking pessimist griping and moaning about the area. Maybe when all the pessimists have moved to disneyland, and there is nobody left here but us old goats and loyal Uticans, the dope dealers and criminal element will follow you guys to utopia. Shazamm, we have a new and revitalized Utica. We have gotten rid of all the crime, drugs AND the "negatarian party" that is dragging us down.

Get some ambition my friend. If you can't find a job, find a business or skill that IS needed and start your own. Make yourself a job. Otherwise follow the work to the South where in a few years you will be replaced by illegals or your job with be outsourced to Hong Kong or someplace. Did you happen to visit Hong Kong on your quest for the perfect city? I have been there. If you get away from the tourist district and the business and financial district, it is a slum, and way crowded. But they DO have work. Maybe you can live on a Hong Kong houseboat ( a junk) in the marina district (the polluted harbor) and cook out every day (no stove, just a metal pan and charcoal.)

clipper said...

I just have one more question Anonymous. You have been in Utica for a decade? What brought you there, and where did you come from? It must not have qualified for Utopia either, or you would not have moved to Utica NY to begin with.

I live presently in East Tennessee, sandwiched between the Smokies and the Mountains of SW Virginia. It is beautiful, but I moved here strictly to care for my aging parents. My mom died in 2004, and my dad is presently in hospice care, and may not make it through the weekend. When my dad is gone, I will be looking at property in Upsate NY over the holidays to either purchase a permanent home there again, or purchase a summer place on a lake and winter here in the south.

The extraordinary beauty of this area just plain does not compare to the beauty of the Upstate NY and Adirondack Mountain areas. It is all in the eye of the beholder my friend.

Anonymous said...

Wow. This has been the most re-donkey-lous arguments that I've seen in a long while.
My replies are coming soon, and this is helpful because I've never had to be this organized and systematic about my grievances against this area. Also, when people start arguing with me, I just point them to this blog discussion, and I have instant converts. It's different when people can read my points instead of having to listen and try to remember them. I think something in the water gives Uticans short-term memory loss or something.

clipper said...

I simply don't understand why anyone so disillusioned with the area would stay there.

As for your converts, when you get to the magic number of 47, that is the capacity of the average charter bus. Maybe you can all kick in and leave together.

I am 62 years old. When I was young, there was a minor recession, and my dad was laid off from his job. He packed our stuff in a home made trailer, hooked it behind a 1950 Plymouth, and we moved to Arizona for a spell, where there was employment opportunities. When the recession eased, we moved back to the area that the whole family has roots in, and loves. Can I help you build a trailer?

We love the area where are roots were established. Wherever your roots may be, is most likely where you belong, if you are not happy with our area. Go there and bloom, and don't be a "weed" in OUR garden.

What is happening in Utica is not unique to Utica alone. You just don't seem able to "get it". Please move on in your quest to find Utopia. When you find it, send us a post card and we will send you an apology and a congratulatory message.

Anonymous said...

Please forgive me as I'm still crafting my response to previous points. Work has been busy.

I am almost 30. I am NOT looking for Utopia. However, I will not deceive myself anymore into thinking that this is a viable, sane place to live.

You know what I want? I want peers so that I can make friends. I have no peers. Anyone that is still my age around here, are either married, single mothers with three kids, drug addled, or have some sort of mental hangup/disorder. Whenever I find someone normal, within ten minutes of our first conversation, I find out that they're LEAVING IN TWO MONTHS. It never fails. Then begins the rush of trying to hang out for lunch while they're very busy boxing/packing their apartment up to leave.

I like to play Paintball. That is gone. I like Go carts. Gone. Church coffeehouses? The only ones left are fit for senior centers or middle schoolers! Computer stuff? CompUSA (syracuse) is gone, and the local stores around here are all a joke. I like to work on electronics, but there are no electronic components stores around except for Radio Shack, which is a joke. The list of disappointments goes on and on.

Some of these things are possibly still in Syracuse, but I've already spent the past five years pouring my wallet into Citgo, entertaining myself in the flagship leatherstocking city. I had to stop because it was costing me more than twenty dollars each week (sometimes 60 if I was more bored) to just leave the area and to unwind. (note: When I was Downstate, I could bike to the LIRR and take a train for 5$ to NYC. And I would go with an entourage of friends that I would meet up with. Friends MY AGE.)

I am not going to spend thousands of dollars on a boat. I am not going to spend thousands of dollars on a four wheeler, or a jeep, or a jet ski, or a snowmobile. And I am definitely not going to buy any of the sad shacks that you people here call an "affordable house." However, that seems to be the major way that people keep themselves entertained (aside from popping out babies one after the other)... people go into debt buying massive amounts of toys and house renovations. Very sad, and very dangerous too.

I'm not looking for a Utopia. I'm not looking for a job either because I have one. I'm just looking for a place where I won't spend my days renting movies because I've done it all, and it all hasn't been impressive enough to do twice... especially alone.

As for roots, I grew up downstate, but my family has left that region... NY was killing everyone with taxes.

I'm sorry, but everyone, from high schoolers, to college students, to middle aged co-workers, to the elderly, have been constantly asking me when I'm leaving for a better place... (they thought I was too nice, too skilled, cultured, etc for this area) and this was beginning during my "stupid self-deceiving optimism" phase about three years ago. I told them that I wasn't going to leave, I had plenty of friends, I was going to plant my roots here, blah blah blah... and then everything went down the toilet. My friends left, my favorite businesses, events, recreational places, etc etc... all left and/or went downhill.

So yes, I'm putting my feelers out and I've found several promising regions that I'm going to target.

Oh yeah... and my local friends here who didn't live here all their life... they're all reconsidering their decision from years past of coming here, and they're seriously looking at moving back to where they came from. If floridians are willing to risk the hurricanes; Texans the swarms of snakes, hicks, bigots, ants and other critters; Californians the high taxes and hippie-snob attitude; Coloradoans their lack of green plant life and grass;... etc etc etc... then it says something about this area. They left the other regions for a reason... and those reasons suddenly seem small compared to how boring and cruddy it is here, and they decided to go back.

Anyway, maybe you should go travel around America a bit. Take a deep breath and open your eyes. The migrants have been snickering behind the backs of Utican Apologists for years, and it's only been recently that I've picked up on the hobby due to recent epiphanies... I'm just being more vocal and obnoxious than my fellow realists.

So when you come back... get a dollar out of your pocket and ready for action, because there will be lots of ratty real estate for you to purchase.

clipper said...

Well, I worked for the Air Force civil service system for 25 years in a job that had me traveling constantly to locations both nationwide and world wide. I also drove a tractor trailer for several years and there are few places that I have not been at least once.

I am sorry you are so disillusioned with the area. I see now why you feel the way you do. People who are from the city or from the Island, are not satisfied without the convenience of the public transportation systems and all the venues for entertainment in the downstate area.

I drove for Walmart for a while. I delivered to Center Reach and Middle Island, 5 nights a week. Personally, I think it is all in what you are used to. I used to call NY City the "rectum at the mouth of the hudson", and Long Island and New Jersey the butt cheeks.

It is all in what you seek in life. I am 62 and retired. I might feel different if I were your age. I feel sorry for you looking for a job ANYWHERE in today's economy.I wish you luck.

Your dim view of the economics and the urban blight however doesn't detract from the beauty of the majority of the area. I don't know where you would have found anything comparable on the Island, and I have traveled the island from Riverhead to the Verrezano Narrows Bridge.

Good luck in your search for a place that is to your liking for a home and career. Two of my sons live in Central Ohio, but they still love the Mohawk Valley and Utica area, and don't waste their time on negativity.

I will assume that with the age you list, you came to Utica to attend college. I DO wish you luck in finding a place and a career. I wish you success and a good life, but you need to lose the negativity or you will find fault with wherever you live.

Strikeslip said...

I've stayed out of this conversation, preferring to let both sides air their views. My views are pretty simple (eg., my Val Bialas post): Utica may not have the Biggest (watering can and chandelier excluded), or the Best, as Much, or the Most Famous of This or That . . . but we seem to have a bit of Everything here -- enough to let you sample the good things life has to offer. I lived in the Washington DC area (Alexandria) for several years, and while there were great cultural facilities there, restaurants, etc, it was not a very easy place to live. Commutes were long, expensive, traffic was a nightmare. Planning and getting to a cultural event at the Kennedy Center was a big ordeal. But here, I can leave from my suburban house and get to my seat in the Stanley Loge in 15 minutes. The good things are more easily accessed here.

Now if we could just get the good jobs back in town and get rid of our moronic, expensive government (at all levels), Utopia would be spelled U-T-I-C-A.

Anonymous said...

I appreciate both your comments, but seriously... this area does not have "a little bit of everything" unless you include going to Syracuse or Albany... which is seriously a bad way to spend your time in the Utica area... that is, to stay away from it during the weekends.

I can say with certainty that it's not just my age group either. I have parents in their late 30's with kids that are wanting to leave, and I have elderly folks that want to leave because they spend way too much time driving to albany or NYC and back every weekend.

As for the Stanley... every time I go to an event there, it's always packed so I MIGHT be able to get there in five minutes, but it takes me about 20 minutes to find a parking spot... mostly because people here are so bored, they'll go to every event that the Stanley hosts. It would explain why there are so many disrespectful and drunk audience members heckling the performers from the Loge. It gets so bad, that one time Wynton Marsalis actually stopped between songs and calmly said, "I know your mother taught you better [manners] than that."

I grew up in Long Island, and although I didn't appreciate it all that much there (I still wouldn't live there because it's still part of NY) they did have very nice and well kept parks and ocean side beaches. Long Island also had a plethora of real colleges with real college campuses.

And the big thing is this: my peers have gone away. People that migrated here and left, people that grew up here, etc etc... they've all left. So now on Friday nights I am in a coffee klatch debating politics against 50-something year old hippies. I've been barely able to tide myself over with friends that are way older than myself and the busy married couples my age sometimes have me over on rare occasion... but it's been unfulfilling. That, and all the businesses I used to frequent (see above post) have closed down, except for Blockbuster (Thank God I didn't have a Hollywood Video membership instead!) So that statement of "a bit of everything here" became less and less valid for me during the last four years.

When the only thing that people can tell me to do around here is to eat, hike, and water slides (yeah, imagine that, going to a water park in the winter) you can't help but be a bit negative about the area, especially if you're not following the trend and popping out babies like a fully automatic baby machine gun.

Oh yes, and another common complaint is the quality of women around here. Utican Apologists will state that foreigners always see their locals as less exotic than the place they're visiting, but the moment I came here, I noticed that there is a plethora of really really fat women. As I tried to get over their physical handicaps, I also noticed that most of the women here can't read words beyond five letters in length, and they can't spell to save their life. For example, I had an email that I used to forward to people because one girl mixed up "most of" and "must have" in her letter! (At first people thought it was only a typo, but she repeated the mistake THREE TIMES in one paragraph!) My friends and I have also noticed that young women here also tend to be single mothers (some times if we're lucky, they've had multiple kids from different fathers), or socially unstable (meaning some form of aspergers or lacking in some other form of self control, or just super introverted and lacking in normal social skills). I've personally met a few normal women here, but usually just before they get married (and the couple eventually moves away to Albany or Syracuse). The "women" problem here is so severe, that lots of guys in their mid-twenties are staking their claim and marrying teenage girls on their 18th birthday! (CREEEEPY...) Another bad omen is the plethora of single 35 year old Christian guys that have moved away to find a girlfriend. (The old advice of finding a girlfriend at church doesn't work very well here.)

Also your assumption of laziness and my lack of community contribution... is waaay off. I've done volunteer work here, I've tried to help set up college and career ministries at churches, I've worked with Carenet Pregnancy Center, I've worked with youth groups, I've DJed for events, I've helped clean houses, I've visited the elderly in nursing homes, I've sung Christmas Carols at senior centers, I've debated liberals over politics and coffee, I've evangelized to pagans and ravers and atheists, I've volunteered for student clubs at Hamilton College and SUNYIT and Utica College, I've tried recruiting my out-of-state friends for jobs at the company I work at... Most importantly, I've prayed for this area for eight years. I've contributed a lot. I've contributed way more than most people my age in this area. So you can't accuse me of sitting back and waiting for something to fall on my lap. Doing all these things used to be fun too... until my friends slowly trickled out of the area. I'm not going to perform one-man shows in senior centers anymore. Sorry. And yes, it would be nice to go to a city where the younger culture has already been established. I think I at least deserve a vacation by now.

Is the government moronic and expensive? Yes. I agree. Could Utica be a utopia someday? Maybe. Anything is possible, but it would happen so far in the future that I wouldn't reap the benefits. I'm tired of paying taxes so that the lazy would benefit from my work, I'm tired of volunteering my time so that families and the elderly would benefit from my work, and I'm tired of giving and giving and giving only to get kicked in the face by people telling me that I'm too negative when I critique something. Little do they realize, I was the MOST POSITIVE person out of all of them from 2000 to 2007. Although I knew better, I defended Utica to the craziest degree. I defended the women, the lack of TV channels, the lack of radio stations, the plethora of historical society monuments, the elderly church coffeehouses, the immense cost of living, the closing businesses, the shrinking population, etc etc. It all was for nothing. I lost my 20's to this region, and I'll never be able to get it back. People (from all walks of life, religions, age groups, class, in Utica, out of Utica, etc) are begging me to not waste my 30s here as well. My parents are actually willing to throw me a LOT of money to help me move out of the area, despite my job security. (They never said why, but I'm suspecting that they want me to find a nice, normal, intelligent girl to marry and to bear them some intelligent, normal grandchildren)

I know that there are other regions that are MUCH worse than Utica... but I'm not looking at living at those places. I may come as being a bit strong, but my friends (from Oneida county natives to brief visitors of the area) have found that my assessments have been very fair and truthful, and read very similar to other people's constructive criticisms. Also, many of my friends that have moved away from here four to seven years ago are still loving the contrast that their new home has presented in comparison to Oneida County. Meanwhile my newest friends that recently moved up here will say that they "sort of" like it here, but have huge exception clauses on their assessment.

Oh, and when you buy the CNY home and start rebuilding it (as all homes here require), I recommend building a large wall with broken glass and barb wire and machine gun turrets on top first, because there has been several occurrences of home invasion robberies here, and it's not only in Utica either.

Yes, the MTA/LIRR was very convenient going from the 'burbs to NYC. If Utica had a train that would run every half hour and could get me to syracuse for less than $8 each way, I would really appreciate it... That way I could just take a nap or read a book instead of driving on I-90... But unfortunately that is financially impossible for the region.

I'm sorry if this is all "too negative" for you... but take it as a warning or constructive criticism of the area. If an enemy aircraft is right behind you, and your instruments are going crazy because your on-board radar just detected an Air to Air heat-seeking missile heading for your jet engines, would you just shut off your HUD, shut off the audio alerts, shut off the radio, and say that the radars were "being too negative?" Or would you appreciate the truth you're being told by your equipment, so that you can assess the situation and figure out a maneuver to deal with the problem? Similarly, if you want to bring young people to the area (actually you need to KEEP the ones already here first) would you like to know the shortcomings of the region and the opinion of the young people that have a broader world view?

Thanks for your wishes on my luck. I have two other friends that are leaving soon that you should keep in mind also. I've written enough. The more I type, the less time I get to help pack up my friend's apartment.

Thank you for the discussions though. Clipper: Good luck with your move back to Utica. Just a few pieces of advice... don't get burned by the arsonist, don't get shot by home invasion robbers, don't get into a car accident at intersections, and don't approach a crazy-looking woman pushing a very heavy baby carriage.