Author Archive

Cycling the Erie Canal Path From Albany to Buffalo ( Part 2)

July 27, 2018

The following photographs were taken on the second half of my journey on and around the Erie Canal Trail.

href=”″ rel=”attachment wp-att-3890″> FDR’s Four Freedoms

Port Byron

The open road.

In Seneca Falls

Inside Woman’s Rights National Historical Park

An image of Sojourner Truth

Wesleyan Chapel where the first formal demands for woman’s right were made.

Inside Wesleyan Chapel.

From a bridge exiting Seneca Falls

Seneca Lake outside Geneva

Geneva City Hall

Stone house outside Geneva

Entering Palmyra


Joseph Smith and angel

Good eating!

Palmyra Village Hall

Entering Fairport

Entering Rochester


Mount Hope Cemetary

A man.

One of the greatest men and greatest writers born on American soil.

A developed soul.

Rochester underground

Kodak Building

The High Falls

At the High Falls

Mr. Douglass and Ms. Anthony at tea.

Susan B. Anthony Museum

Blue skies.

Drawbridge over the Canal

Brockport, where Ivory soap floats

Bridge at Brockport

Downtown Brockport

“Borrow a bike – it’s free.”

Leaving Brockport


A home in Albion

Strange claim to fame.

A church in Albion




On the way to Medina, evening falls on the Erie Canal.

On the way.

Entering Medina


A spooky old house in Medina

No relation

Once the Medina Opera House

Hart Hotel in Medina

Main Street

St. Mary’s Church, Medina

Entering Lockport

The “Five Flights.”


End of the line.

Cycling the Erie Canal Path From Albany to Buffalo ( Part 1)

July 26, 2018

This was my third adventure cycling along the Erie Canal; the first, however, in which I managed to cycle its entire length. My first go, from Syracuse to Albany, some nine years ago, was a thing of farce. Clueless, I managed somehow to do just about everything wrong – I got lost, I got caught in storms, I miscalculated everything — and consequently spent hours riding through darkness in desperate attempts to get to the flee bag motels I had booked myself into. I arrived at them, at length, exhausted, filthy, famished, and (for a bonus) sometimes soaking wet.

An observation: you know you are too hungry when Denny’s looks heavenly.

A tip: Cycling 90 miles a day through unknown terrain while stopping to take in any and all sights is neither reasonable nor wise, that much the more when you do not have a cell phone.

You learn.

My next two attempts were better, much better, but still, there were bumps on the road and time constraints kept me from completing the entire trail.

So…in the wake of a life-threatening incident, I was determined this time around to do what I had not done in my truncated previous adventures on the Trail: to cycle it in its entirety from Albany to Buffalo.

And so I did.

The Canal itself, even as it is now but history, remains, economically, technologically, and socially on several levels, a thing of wonder. Consider this: to accommodate the 568-foot change in elevation from Lake Erie in Buffalo to the Hudson River Valley, 18 aqueducts, and 83 locks had to be built across 363 miles. It was an immense public and very physical and much-derided undertaking of the kind, hostage to the savagery of Neoliberalism as we are, we no longer even seem capable of contemplating, never mind enacting and funding. Follow the Canal and you will follow the history of New York and to a significant degree the history of the non-violent aspect of the westward expansion of America. Completed in 1825, the Canal created prosperity and wealth all along its way: and not merely prosperity and wealth but prosperity and wealth that (unlike the internet) were widely, if not exactly fairly, divided. The Canal provided work – albeit, backbreaking work – to thousands and thousands of newly arrived immigrants, among them the Famine Irish, who were allowed a toehold in a country in which many wanted nothing to do with them. The Canal transformed towns into cities and created towns the length of its way. Some of these towns, such as Medina, grew so prosperous that they had their own opera house. Some of the cities, principally Rochester and Seneca Falls, established themselves as centers of the most progressive politics of the times, where figures as huge as Frederick Douglas, Elizabeth Stanton, and Susan B. Anthony lived and died. Harriet Tubman lived in nearby Auburn.

No such prosperity is evident now. On the contrary. what the Canal gave, the railroad and then the highway took away. What remains now in many of these places are the ghosts of prosperity in architecture, beautiful architecture, and public spaces amidst a sense of resignation and hopelessness. Such ghosts are haunting. It seemed sometimes that everyone I saw, no matter what age, chained smoked and was covered in tattoos. Politically, this is largely Trump land.

Logistically, this time around I was much better prepared.

My lodging was divided into motels and the hospitality of fellow cyclists from the excellent Warm Showers, the latter of whom could not have been kinder or more generous and whose kindness and generosity I hope to return in kind. Finally, when I, at last, reached Buffalo, I was welcomed with open arms by the parents of an old friend, lifelong Buffalonians who provided the perfect ending to my little journey.

Here and there (as in Mike’s Diner in Schenectady and the Iron Kettle in Rome) I feasted in greasy spoons, that much the more poignant since such former New York City institutions have gone the way of the pterodactyl, replaced by Duane Reade and the like.

All in all, I took in a spectrum of sights and sensations, some majestic ( the Capital Building in Albany ) some personal ( visiting graves at the Shrine of North American Martyrs in Auriesville ) some goofy ( the Yellow Brick Road of Chittenango, birthplace of L. Frank Baum, author of the Wizard of Oz ) some awesome, (The Five Flights in Lockport ) and a great deal in between.

I set out early in the morning when there was still dew and, save the voices of nature (such as occasional bullfrogs who in the morning stillness sound like barking dogs ) and the sound of my rolling wheels, a sacred silence: a sacred silence allowing and inviting a kind of moving meditation, reflection, prayer.

And these things did I do. And, here and there, a fleeting reminder or a glimpse of the Always Something More.

Enjoy the pics.

A ghost of old Albany.

Uncle Dan’s childhood home.

“Uncle Sam” in Troy

Big dog in Albany.

Lombardi’s of Albany

The King’s Highway


Sunday morning in Schenectady.

Nott Memorial at Union College

A friend.

A friend.


A school in Canajoharie

Abandoned church in Fort Plain.


Union Station, Utica

Bagg’s Tavern, Utica

The Stanley Theater, Utica

Elvis in Utica

In Rome, NY.


Downtown Oneida

In Canastota


Yellow Brick Road in Chittenango, birthplace of L. Frank Baum who wrote The Wizard of Oz

“Follow the Yellow Brick Road.”

A fellow traveler

I’m not usually a supporter of the AOH but I am here.

Greasy spoon in Syracuse.

Downtown Syracuse, 7:00 am.

A church in Syracuse.

Halfway there.

Scenes for the March For Life in New York

March 24, 2018

Central Park West Looking North.

And so they came and came by the thousands, flooding Central Park West with citizens of all ages, all races, all creeds, all who have had enough of insane gun laws. And so they spoke from the stage of their loss and sorrow and rage: a survivor from the slaughter at a concert in Las Vegas, a mother from Harlem whose two children were gunned down in the streets, a leader of Black Lives Matter, a librarian who survived the massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary, student survivors of the carnage at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, and parents of the dead. A great beginning. May it proceed and grow.

Following are scenes from the day.

href=”” rel=”attachment wp-att-3781″> Approaching The Dakota and Central Park West.

A Horrific Reality

A Lonely Trump Guy

One Man’s Perspective

Let Freedom Ring


Let Freedom Ring


Tired of Thoughts and Prayers

The Kids Are Alright

[caption id="attachment_3797" align="aligncenter" width="380"] An Activist

A Warning

Arming Teachers: Trump Proposes Making an Insane Situation Even More So

February 22, 2018

One week after the most recent American school slaughter, which left 17 dead, Donald Trump took time off from writing appalling and infantile tweets to gather together teachers, family members and survivors of the recent horror at the White House. In what was billed as a “ Listening Session,” Trump sat silently, wearing an expression meant to signify some approximation of empathy while holding a cheat sheet of handwritten questions and sympathetic expressions, including one that read “I hear you.”

The televised event was difficult to watch. Survivors and parents of the dead from multiple school shootings in the past decade or so, including Sandy Hook, alternately pleaded with or demanded that the man who declared that the “American carnage” would stop on his Inauguration Day use his immense power and influence to finally do something to end the insanity of allowing the sale of weapons of war that lead to yet another completely preventable bloodbath, this time in an American high school.

When at last Trump spoke, he babbled on incoherently about hero football coaches and “cowardly” gunmen. Gone for the moment was Trump’s previous concern for the mental health of the shooters, which was all he talked about when discussing the last few mass murderers. Then, as casually as if the idea just welled up in his brain, Trump floated the following astounding proposal: to allow teachers and school administrators to bear arms with which to shoot down future would be mass murderers before they rampaged yet another American school.

“That,” said the President of the United States, “might solve the problem.”

It would and could do no such thing, of course, as it doesn’t even begin to address the problem on any level, even as it pretends to answer any number of questions that haven’t been asked, principally, why can one purchase a weapon of war? True to form, Trump, the con man par excellence, played the grieving, still numb crowd like the master card artist who tells his mark to pick a card, any card, while cleverly slipping the very card he wants you to have into your hand.

Trump then asked the group what they thought of the idea, acknowledging that it was “controversial” but only one of many that his administration would be “looking into.”

While Trump’s exceedingly dangerous idea (instantly echoed by the NRA, who likely first vomited it up) would do nothing to stop the problem of a lunatic with a weapon of war in a school, and very likely exacerbate it, it would certainly help to solve Trump’s problem- he whose campaign received no less than 30 million dollars from the National Rifle Association, and also the problem of every one of his confederates who is owned, body and soul, by said organization, and have been busy dissembling or hiding or crowing all over the country.

Those who are crowing are crowing the following: “the solution to a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun,” which is, of course, the logic behind Trump’s proposal, even as it is proven to be an infantile, macho fantasy – a lie and a blood-soaked lie — on an hourly basis in the most murderous nation on earth.

Without outright declaring it, the proposal states the following: there is nothing to be done or nothing that should be done legislatively to end the outright insanity of selling weapons of war under the pretense that they are somehow protected by the Second Amendment.

This afternoon, amid more banter about homicidal “cowards” going into “gun free zone schools” as if “going in for an ice cream cone, ” Trump came out with a full-throated endorsement of the idea.

As a public school teacher who has chaired safety committees and Building Response Teams for years and participated in many an, albeit, non-lethal emergency situation, I have tried to imagine how such an arrangement would work, never mind work well, and I cannot. By definition, there is simply no time for retrieving locked away weapons so as to shoot down would be mass murderers. Moreover, of the hundreds of teachers I have worked with and known, I can think of no one, myself included, who could instantly transform into what amounts to a member of a SWAT team. Although I’m certain there is a minuscule percentage of teachers who might feel comfortable doing so, I am absolutely confident that the overwhelming percentage of teachers would not and could not react in such a manner. You would not ask the same of doctors or nurses or architects or whomever. That is not why they became teachers. Only those who have no idea of what sort of people become teachers or how schools are run or what a school emergency looks and feels like could conceivably come up with such an insane solution to such an insane problem.

As a public school parent, I am filled with rage and disgust that we have so defiled and degraded our political reality that such proposals are even being discussed.

What Trump and the NRA are saying to America is this: there is nothing that can be done to stop such situations and all we can do is prepare for our worst nightmares, always and everywhere. Deal with it. What they are doing with this lunacy is solving their problem and not the unspeakable reality of American children being gunned down in their classrooms and hallways. What they are revealing is that they could not care less.

A Horrifying Continuum:Trump Encourages Police Brutality.

July 29, 2017

Another day, another deranged declaration from our diseased Commander in Chief and with it yet another effort to divide America between those who adore Trump and those who are disgusted and alarmed by him. On that level, at least, the speech to a group of Long Island law officers could be said to be a rousing success, not unlike his grotesque babbling to the Boy Scouts, his “slice and dice” oration in Ohio, and his whimsical ban of transgender personnel in the military that took place earlier in the week.

Ostensibly, the visit to Long Island and the speech to law enforcement was about Trump’s plan to “eradicate” the notoriously violent gang MS-13, who in yet another example of blowback, emerged out of America’s savage policy toward El Salvador under Ronald Reagan, and are responsible for several brutal murders in the area. But, as with everything this man speaks of, the visit and the speech were really about Trump and his base.

Thus, the purpose of the visit was largely to plant or reinforce in the mind of the American public the idea that American immigrants are made up not of the millions of hard working, decent, and law abiding peoples that have built and rebuilt the country since its founding, but horrific criminal organizations such as MS-13, and thereby build support for the Trump administration’s expansion of it’s mass detention and deportation agenda.

Addressing the law enforcement officers, the President of the United States said the following: “When you see these towns and when you see these thugs being thrown into the back of a paddy wagon, you just see them thrown in, rough, and I said, ‘Please don’t be too nice.’

“Like when you guys put somebody in the car and you’re protecting their head, you know, the way you put their hand over, like, don’t hit their head and they’ve just killed somebody, don’t hit their head, I said, ‘You can take the hand away, OK?’

Implicit in the words is the belief that the president has the power to simply negate protocol and the law. Implicit in these words is the message that the accused are guilty until proven innocent. Implicit in these words is a message that the President of the United States approves of police brutality.

Once again, there is no precedent for a president making such appalling statements.
Disturbingly, the statements were met with vociferous cheering from the law enforcement officers present, this at a time in which reports of police brutality, especially against people who happen not to be white, are a ceaseless national disgrace; and to be sure they were cheered just as enthusiastically by Trump’s deranged supporters across the country.
And that, I fear, is the point. In his first Inaugural Address in 1861, peering out at a nation enthusiastically set to slaughter each other wholesale, Lincoln implored and beseeched Americans to contact and embrace the “better angels of our nature. ”
Such is what great leaders do.
Conversely, like some demonic cheap rent parody of an anti-Lincoln, Trump has, from his incredible emergence as a politician, continually urged and encouraged the exact opposite of Lincoln’s sublime exhortation. To wit, he has ceaselessly, recklessly, and with absolute immunity encouraged, explicitly or implicitly, Americans to not merely embrace but valorize our basest and most brutal impulses: greed, mendacity, jingoism, violence, racism, xenophobia, vulgarity, and cruelty.

Yesterday’s remarkably repugnant statements are merely part of a continuum that has stepped up in the past week to fever pitch; merely another attempt to rile up his base and divide the nation into two irreconcilable camps: supporters of Donald Trump and The Enemy who is everyone else. There can be no middle ground because there is none meant to be. And there is no purpose, political or otherwise, other than the apotheosis of Donald J. Trump.
This is our current civil war: the dividing of Americans against the “better angels of our nature.” And, as this is all that he can understand, this is what Trump desires. This is what happens – what MUST happen—when a nation invests a toxic, malignant, astoundingly ignorant mega-narcissist with immense power. Trump does not know how to do anything other than what he is doing and is wholly, characterologically incapable of learning or even conceiving of anything that does not glorify Trump. Trump is narcissism incarnate. Trump’s war is not about Conservatives against Progressives, or Democrats against Republicans or any other recognizable political affiliation. Trump has no more loyalty to Republicans as he has to anyone or anything he has ever been connected with.
Trump rants and raves about “ loyalty,” a word in understands to mean subservience to Trump and his family and nothing more. Trump’s war is about the domination of his “movement” which consists entirely of the cult of Trump. And as he is increasingly showing, he will do and say anything to “win.”

Further, with the cowardly refusal of the members of the United States Congress to unambiguously condemn the purposefully divisive, anti- democratic, and vile statements of this ridiculous and all so dangerous figure, it may only be the beginning.

In the end, Trump will fail and fall but he will not go easily and the damage he and his will do in the process may be enormous.