by Bill Batson
Today is the eighth anniversary Nyack Sketch Log. Since 2011, I have published nearly 400 columns. The flow of ink forming essays and illustrations almost entirely about a person, place of interest or policy matter related to Nyack, New York.
There have been occasional repeats, and I admit the edge of my creative quiver has not always been as sharp as I would wish. However, I have sought to faithfully fulfill a self-imposed mandate, that eventually, became a covenant with my readers. Every Tuesday, for the last eight years, I have tried to bring forth something compelling.
Spinoff events and experience have emerged from the Nyack Sketch Log. Several flash sketch mobs have gathered, a public art event where dozens of residents create a collective perspective landscape portrait. Sam Harps staged a play based on one entry and a sketch log about the underground railroad led to the dedication in Nyack of a Toni Morrison’s Bench by the Road.
Two compilations of 55 short essays and sketches each have been published and are for sale, and thankfully, still sell. You can purchase volume I and II here.
I am a different person from when I began this odyssey on August 23, 2011 and the world is a different place. Here are the titles that appeared every time I hit publish these last 8 years. They say something about me, and the community that make this village unique.
Passing milestones helps us take measure of where we’ve been and how far we are from where we want to go. But there are invisible forces — a psychic physics– that creates momentum and direction in our lives. This project now has a life of its own. Round and round it goes, where it stops, nobody knows.
8 years of ink
- Liberty Street (8/23/11)
- Wet and Wild Rogue Elephants (8/30/11)
- The Lights Are Back On. (9/6/11)
- I Remember John Perry (9/11/11)
- Jen White For Mayor (9/12/11)
- Alien Archeologists (9/20/11)
- Straight Lines Ruin Everything (9/27/11)
- The Bull of Wall Street (10/4/11)
- NSL Vs. Google Maps (10/11/11)
- Brinks Robbery (10/18/11)
- The Tappan Zee Bridge (10/25/11)
- #RipVanWinkle (11/1/11)
- A “Dirty Rat” of Route 59 (11/8/11)
- To 10960 With Love (11/15/11)
- Post Occupied Wall Street (11/22/11)
- Soup Lines to Soup Angels (11/ 29/11)
- Nyack Center (12/6/11)
- Amazing Grace Church (12/13/11)
- Pickwick (12/20/11)
- Village Hall (12/28/11)
- Warts and All: 1884 Map (1/3/12)
- Vincent’s Ear (1/10/12)
- Fellowship of Reconciliation (1/17/12)
- Couch Court (1/23/12)
- Save our Green House (1/31/12)
- Hoppermania (2/7/12)
- Pilgrim Baptist Church (2/14/12)
- St. Philip’s A.M.E. Zion (2/21/12)
- Nyack Water (2/28/12)
- Nyack Library Part I (3/6/12)
- Nyack Library Part II (3/13/12)
- Maura’s Kitchen (3/20/12)
- Nyack’s Little Schoolhouse (3/27/12)
- The Rotary Clock (4/3/12)
- Flash Sketch Mob (4/10/12)
- Nyack Village Theatre (4/17/12)
- Versus Walgreens (4/24/12)
- Wright Bros. Real Estate (5/1/12)
- Hacienda (5/8/12)
- Underground Railroad (5/15/12)
- Pie Lady… & Son (5/22/12)
- Streamstudios (5/29/12)
- The Office (6/5/12)
- Hook Mountain Yacht Club (6/12/12)
- Came, Saw, Sketched (6/19/12)
- Flash Sketch Mob Finale (6/26/12)
- Fire Department (7/3/12)
- The Corner Frame Shop (7/10/12)
- The Orchards of Concklin (7/17/12)
- The YMCA (7/24/12)
- Hollingsworth Memorial (7/31/12)
- Hopper House (8/ 7/12)
- Hopper Happens (8/14/12)
- One-Year Anniversary (8/21/12)
- Hudson House (8/28/12)
- Elmwood Playhouse (9/4/12)
- Koblin’s Pharmacy (9/11/12)
- Rockland Center for the Arts (9/18/12)
- Carson McCuller’s (9/25/12)
- Amazing Grace Circus (10/2/12)
- Historical Society of the Nyacks (10/9/12)
- Art Café (10/16/12)
- William Prime Batson (10/23/12)
- 1 Poltergeist Place, Nyack NY (10/30/12)
- Brave New Normal (11/6/12)
- Vets Rock (11/13/12)
- Year Round Farmers’ Market (11/20/12)
- Main Street Revival (11/27/12)
- Helen Hayes MacCarthur (12/4/12)
- The Folk Art of John Rossi (12/11/12)
- Hickory Dickory Dock (12/ 18/12)
- 25 Days Since Newtown (1/8/13)
- Dr. King and Guns (1/15/13)
- Health Care Reform (1/22/13)
- Last Armoire Standing (1/913)
- Int’l Order of Odd Fellows (2/5/13)
- Sam Waymon Lived Here (2/12/13)
- Kenya on the Hudson (2/19/13)
- Anderson and the SS Columbia (2/26/13)
- Local History on Map (3/5/13)
- Fracking Finds Fresh Foe (3/12/13)
- Mayor Jen White (3/19/2013)
- Couch Court (3/26/13)
- Planning for New Playgrounds (4/2/13)
- Towering Treasures (4/9/13)
- Postcard From Antarctica (4/16/13)
- Frances Pratt and the NAACP (4/22/13)
- Oak Hill Cemetery (4/29/13)
- Stop on The Trip To Bountiful (5/7/13)
- S. Nyack Mayor Tish DuBow (5/14/13)
- Art Puts Nyack on the Map (5/21/13)
- Community Agriculture (5/28/13)
- It’s Bike Season, Be Safe (6/4/13)
- Strawtown Studio (6/11/13)
- Mandela Meditation (6/ 18/13)
- Amazing Grace Circus (6/25/13)
- Vincent’s Ear (7/2/13)
- Piermont a la Paris (7/9/13)
- Requiem for a Barn & Barge (7/16/13)
- NSL Turns 100 (7/23/13)
- Two Row Flotilla (7/30/13)
- Solomon Northup (8/6/13)
- Let Freedom Ring (8/13/13)
- Small Business Cultivation (8/20/13)
- Volunteer Fire Department (8/2713)
- Yoga Reborn Here (9/3/13)
- John Perry (9/10/13)
- West Gate (9/17/13)
- Tappan Zee Playhouse (9/24/13)
- Hannemann’s (10/1/13)
- New York’s Next Mayor? (10/8/13)
- Nyack Boat Club (10/15/13)
- Grace Church (10/22/13)
- Hand House (10/29/13)
- Sandy Still Stings (11/5/13)
- Active Shooter (11/12/13)
- First Reformed Church (11/19/13)
- Pie Lady and Son (11/23/13)
- Support our Nyack Center (12/3/13)
- Mandela 1918-2013 (12/7/13)
- Indoor Farmer’s Market (12/10/13)
- Avispa (12/17/13)
- Living Christ Church (12/24/13)
- Didier Dumas (1/7/14)
- Martin Luther King Jr.’s Dreamcatcher (1/14/14)
- Vytlacil (1/21/14)
- William Prime Batson 1922-2019 (1/28/14)
- Teagevity (2/4/14)
- GW Bridgegate (2/11/14)
- Carson McCullers (2/18/14)
- St. Charles AME (2/25/14)
- 12 Years a Slave (3/3/14)
- African American Entrepreneurs (3/4/14)
- Green Mountain Energy (3/11/14)
- OK Records (3/18/14)
- Houses with a Secret (3/25/14)
- The Hopper Years (4/2/14)
- Mount Moor Cemetery (4/9/14)
- Piermont Station (4/14/14)
- Palisades Imperiled (4/22/14)
- Jazz Age Speakeasy (4/29/14)
- Neighborhood Knife Sharpener (5/6/14)
- Hillburn Case (5/16/14)
- Revolusun (5/20/14)
- Gardens of Civic Virtue (5/27/14)
- Gay Pride (6/3/14)
- Women in the Military (6/10/14)
- Liberty School (6/17/14)
- O’Donohue’s (6/24/14)
- Southtown Farms (7/1/14)
- Hip Hop Horray (7/10/14)
- Farmer’s Market Doubles Down (7/15/14)
- Nyack Hospital’s New Chapter (7/22/14)
- Hummingbird Ranch (7/29/14)
- Maria Luisa (8/5/14)
- DSZ Barbers (8/12/14)
- Towt House (8/19/14)
- House Haunted by Art (8/26/14)
- West Gate (9/2/14)
- America’s First Yogi (9/9/14)
- Amazing Grace Circus (9/11/14)
- Gluten Free Goodies (9/16/14)
- Congregation Sons of Israel (9/23/14)
- Fairy Tale Home (9/30/14)
- United Hospice of Rockland (10/7/14)
- Nyack on the Map (10/14/14)
- Legally Haunted House (10/21/14)
- Hitchcock Meets Hopper (10/28/14)
- Tools of Many Trades (11/4/14)
- Jerry Donnellan (11/11/14)
- Toni Morrison Bench by the Road (11/18/14)
- Rockland Non-Profits (11/25/14)
- Nyack Sketch Log: The Book (12/2/14)
- Hickory Dickory Dock (12/9/14)
- Squash Blossom (12/16/14)
- Guide to Giving (12/23/14)
- Sam Waymon Soars (12/30/14)
- Warts And All (1/6/15)
- Goat Herding Tale (1/13/15)
- Sweetpea Market (1/20/15)
- Helen Hayes MacArthur (1/27/15)
- NAACP President Frances Pratt (2/3/15)
- Local History on the Map (2/10/15)
- Art Cafe (2/17/15)
- Flash Sketch Mob 2015 (2/24/15)
- Women of Leadership (3/3/15)
- Didier Dumas Redux (3/10/15)
- Richard Anderson (3/17/15)
- Strawberry Place (3/24/15)
- Earth Day Edition (3/31/15)
- Lent House Demolished (4/7/15)
- Hand House (4/14/15)
- School Street Syllabus (4/21/15)
- Welcome Toni Morrison (4/28/15)
- O’D’s Last Call (5/5/15)
- Kendell Brenner (5/12/15)
- A Bench By the Underground Railroad (5/19/15)
- Flash Sketch Mob is Back (5/26/15)
- John Green Preservation Coalition (6/2/15)
- Art Walk Founder (6/9/15)
- Amazing Grace Still Soaring (6/16/15)
- Summer Jazz (6/23/15)
- Vytlacil Artist Residency (7/7/15)
- Boat Builder (7/14/15)
- International Order of Odd Fellows (7/21/15)
- Neighborhood Knife Sharpener (7/28/15)
- Hummingbird Ranch (8/4/15)
- Nyack Needs A Skate Park (8/11/15)
- Jazz Age Speakeasy (8/18/15)
- Nyack Center Turns 25 (8/25/15)
- Historical Society of the Nyack (9/8/15)
- Piermont Happenings (9/15/15)
- Avispa (9/22/15)
- Elmwood Playhouse (9/29/15)
- Pickwick Book Shop (10/6/15)
- Pie Lady and Son (10/13/15)
- Waymon Salutes Nina Simone (10/20/15)
- Legally Haunted House (10/27/15)
- FOR 100 Years Old (11/3/15)
- Gallery of Metal and Stone(11/10/15)
- House Haunted by Art (11/17/15)
- Teagevity (11/24/15)
- Orchards of Concklin (12/1/15)
- Guide to Giving (12/8/15)
- Tappan Zee Bridge (12/15/15)
- Nyack Library Part I (12/22/15)
- Nyack Library Part II (12/29/15)
- Hillburn School (1/5/16)
- ROCA (1/12/16)
- YMCA (1/19/16)
- Strawberry Place (1/26/16)
- Hopper House (2/2/16)
- Local History Scholar (2/9/16)
- Couch Court (2/16/16)
- Maura’s on the Move (2/23/16)
- The Office (3/1/16)
- Towt House (3/8/16)
- Skate Board Wizards (3/15/16)
- Year-Round Farmer’s Market (3/29/16)
- Green Mountain Energy (4/5/16)
- Oak Hill Cemetery (4/12/16)
- O’Donoughue’s Rides Again (4/19/16)
- Congregation Sons of Israel (4/26/16)
- Fairy Tale House (5/3/16)
- Nyack Village Theatre (5/10/16)
- Amazing Grace Circus 5/17/16)
- Gay Pride Rockland (5/24/16)
- Oratamin Pool Club 5/31/16)
- Art Walk (6/7/16)
- DSZ Barber (6/14/16)
- Piermont Happenings (6/21/16)
- Squash Blossom (6/28/16)
- Historical Society (7/12/16)
- Waymon Makes History (7/19/16)
- Jazz Week (7/26/16)
- Bell ans (8/2/16)
- My Own Little Gallery (8/9/16)
- Maria Luisa (8/16/16)
- Hollingsworth Memorial (8/23/16)
- Siren Song (8/30/16)
- John Perry (9/6/16)
- Carson McCullers (9/20/16)
- Segregated Cemetery (9/27/16)
- Support John Green House (10/4/16)
- Yoga Reborn (10/11/16)
- Brinks Robbery (10/18/16)
- Legally Haunted House (10/25/16)
- Organization of Global Impact (11/1/16)
- Metal & Stone (11/15/16)
- Last Armoires (11/22/16)
- Indoor Farmer’s Market (11/29/16)
- Hip Hopper Hooray (12/13/16)
- Hickory Dickory Dock (12/20/16)
- Warts & All (1/10/17)
- Nyack Library Part I (1/17/17)
- Nyack Library Part II (1/24/17)
- St. Philip’s AME (1/31/17)
- Mandela Bio Pic (2/7/17)
- St. Charles AME (2/14/17)
- Hillburn Case (2/21/17)
- Art Walk (2/28/17)
- Pickwick (3/7/17)
- Celebrate McCullers (3/21/17)
- Elmwood Playhouse (3/28/17)
- Chamber of Commerce (4/4/17)
- Congregation Sons of Israel (4/11/17)
- Earth Day (4/18/17)
- Pie Lady & Son (4/25/17)
- YMCA (5/2/17)
- House Tours (5/9/17)
- Didier Dumas (5/16/17)
- Amazing Grace (5/30/17)
- Mostly Myrtles (6/6/17)
- Art Council of Rockland (6/20/17)
- RoCA (6/27/17)
- Avispa (7/11/17)
- Kendell Brenner (7/18/17)
- School Street Syllabus (7/25/17)
- Bell ans Turns 120 (8/1/17)
- Karenderya (8/22/17)
- Straight Lines Ruin Everything (8/29/17)
Thanks to Dave Zornow for investing over a decade of his life to build NyackNewsAndViews.com. Few communities have a daily digital platform for thoughtful, curated local content.
I thank the Nyack Chamber of Commerce for helping me find work that accommodates all of my art forms.
And most importantly I thank the love on my life Marisol Diaz, for sharing and shaping a household that accommodates tons of content and constant deadlines.
Special thanks to my sponsors during these eight years: Hal Parker, owner of The Corner Frame Shop, Lisa Hayes, founder of Creative Financial Planning and Sabrina Weld, of Weld Realty. Weld has been with me for the last six years. Without their support, I would not have been able to stay the course.
And to everyone who has read a word, seen a sketch, or bought a card, book, t-shirt, mug, or hat, thank you for your time, attention, consideration and patronage.
As a guide to how I view this collection of sketches and short essays, I have selected one favorite per year. I’d be curious to know which are your favorites.
My Eight Favorites from Eight Years of Ink
This house and this street are the remnants of Nyack’s oldest middle class black neighborhood. In the early twentieth century, when Edward Hopper was a teenager, a group of African American families bought homes in Nyack. Homeownership by blacks in Nyack was a stunning achievement when you consider the fact that merely fifty years earlier blacks owned nothing: blacks were owned.
2012: warts and all
In 1884, Nyack, NY was a bustling river community and the commercial heart of Rockland County. This sketch is from a widely circulated map made by L. R. Burleigh. The bird’s-eye view rendering depicts a jumble of homes, businesses and churches. When you take a closer look at this historical document you’ll discover that our 19th century republic on the Hudson was not as indivisible as the promise made in our pledge of allegiance.
2013: Yoga Reborn Here
Pierre Bernard, America’s first yogi, lived on an ashram he called the Clarkstown Country Club in Nyack from 1920 until his death in 1955. The complex of buildings is now the campus of Nyack College. Equal parts Harry Houdini and Howard Hughes, Bernard achieved degrees of success as a yogi, animal trainer, baseball manager, and aviation expert. But millions knew him by his dubious tabloid title, Oom the Omnipotent.
2014: House Haunted by Art
When printmaker Sylvia Roth moved into her home in South Nyack in 1977, she had no idea it was the birthplace of a major figure in American art, Joseph Cornell. This house on Piermont Avenue seems to have its own designs, selecting artistic occupants for over a century.
2015: Last Call at OD’s
After operating under the ownership of an O’Donoghue for 63 of the last 65 years, the pub near the corner of Main Street and Broadway in Nyack served their last call on April 23. There has been an O’Donoghue behind the bar since 1949, when Paul O’Donoghue Sr. started working as a night barman for what was then called Charlie’s Bar & Grill.
O’D’s reopened under new management and is thriving and continuing the legacy of music, food and libation.
2016: Skate Board Wizards
Before we had a skatepark, Nyack was home to one of the first skateboard teams in New York, The Wizards. Acclaimed photographer Charlie Samuels is launching an Indiegogo campaign to complete his documentary that will feature the Wizards and the Village of Nyack called Virgin Blacktop. There will be a fundraising party tonight, Tuesday, March 15 at Nyack’s Pour House, 102 Main Street from 6-9p to launch the online fundraising effort.\
The intersection of Midland Avenue and Main Street has become a reliable incubator for new family-run restaurants in Nyack. Once the home of Maura’s Kitchen, that recently moved to South Broadway, the crossroads now boasts Cuñao, a taqueria and across the street Karenderya, which was launched this month by Paolo Mendoza and Cheryl Baun.
2018: Main Street Beat
While the name of Nyack’s only record shop has changed, the staff, stylings and singer/songwriter owners remain the same. Amy Bezunartea and Jennifer O’Connor announced this weekend that their store will no longer share the name of their record label, Kiam. Main Street Beat is now emblazoned on the door where music fans can find new releases from the indy label, previously owned classic vinyl records and an eclectic offering of books and clothing, curated by Amy.
I have to chose my words very carefully, because of the extremely litigious history of this topic. Simply put, because I am Billy Batson, I am Shazam.
by Bill Batson
“We die. That may be the meaning of life. But we do language. That may be the measure of our lives.” These words, uttered by Toni Morrison when she received the Nobel Prize for Literature have gone viral since her death on August 5, 2019. Not only do they capture the blunt style of her prose, they boldly invite us to judge her by her own high standard. In a verdict delivered by countless voices, as an editor, educator, novelist, scholar and public historian, Toni Morrison gave her full measure.
On May 18, 2015, Morrison traveled only minutes from her home to Memorial Park in Nyack to dedicate a monument in the form of a bench to abolitionist heroine Cynthia Hesdra.
Nyack is one of 25 locations around the globe that host a Bench by Road, a project that the Nobel Laureate inspired that commemorates significant sites of the African diaspora. With our Bench by the Road, and our proximity to where she lived and worked for almost five decades, Nyack is a place where people might one day visit to honor Morrison.
Special Guest Essay
Lori Latrice Martin, PhD
We have a Toni Morrison Bench by the Road monument in Nyack because of the scholarship of Dr. Martin. In addition to salvaging the story of Cynthia Hesdra from obscurity, she was responsible for a second Bench by the Road in Baton Rogue Louisiana, where she is Professor, Department of Sociology and African & African American Studies Program
Louisiana State University.
TONI MORRISON, BATON ROUGE’S BENCH AND ‘SEEING MYSELF’
Posted by Jozef Syndicate on August 12, 2019
Toni Morrison’s work impacted the lives of many people, including my own. As a Black student at predominately White university, it was hard for me to see myself on the required texts by Chaucer, Shakespeare, and Milton. It wasn’t until I took a course called, “Toni Morrison and Others,” that I saw myself.
The Black women, Black men, and Black children were complex. The ways in which Black people, both as individuals and as a community, responded to the restrictions placed upon them by the dominant white society were dynamic.
For Morrison, whiteness was neither normalized nor virtuous. White theories, White concepts, and White methodologies were not the only, nor the preferred way, for understanding the social world. The White imagination was not the only lens through which Blackness was seen.
One of the many important gifts Toni Morrison leaves us with is an appreciation for memory: who and what is remembered, and in what ways. Morrison often addresses the issue of memory in her works, particularly in the book, Beloved. Memory can take us places intentionally and unwillingly when summoned and when avoided.
Morrison’s remarks about Beloved led a group of dedicated scholars to create an outdoor memorial to the Black experience–A Bench By The Road. While the stories of Black people are often told from the perspective of White historians drawing largely from the artifacts of wealthy White elites, the Bench project provides Black communities with opportunities to tell and share their stories from their own experiences and their own perspectives. The celebrations surrounding the bench dedications are designed as celebrations of community, which is another theme commonly found in Morrison’s works.
Through the living memorials, Morrison gives new life to forgotten moments in Black history and to Black scholars whose work is often discredited and discounted by predominately White reviewers, White presses, and a White public who think race no longer matters and that there is nothing to be gained from reliving a painful Black past.
Morrison consistently showed how a painful past informs the painful present. She also showed how Black people have resisted in passive and aggressive ways. She revealed ways Black people tried to create spaces where they could imagine a time and place where they controlled their own images and determined their own destinies and destinations, destinations which could be found within and/or beyond the material world.
We owe, I owe, Toni Morrison a debt of gratitude.
I thank Morrison for helping me find myself and for helping me to help others find themselves in the stories of people like Cynthia Hesdra and the people of South Baton Rouge. Hesdra, an ex-slave, became a wealthy woman and owner of property used on the Underground Railroad in Nyack, New York. In the early 1950s, the South Baton Rouge community set the stage for the modern-day civil rights movement with the city’s 1953 bus boycott, which provided guidance for the organizers of the 1955 Montgomery bus boycott.
Nyack and Baton Rouge are home to two of the 25 benches placed by The Toni Morrison Society worldwide.
Lest we forget.
At an event at the Nyack Center on August 7, 2019, where residents read passages of Morrison’s work in the author’s honor, Village of Nyack Trustee Donna Lightfoot-Cooper recalled the affection the author had for the Nyack Library. Trustee Cooper, who is the Head of Circulation at the Nyack Library, described ways that Morrison found to support the institution during the completion of their annex in 2011.
Maybe the place were we do language in Nyack, our public library, could one day take Ms. Morrison’s name. Maybe a second Morrison-inspired monument could be erected, this one in front of the Toni Morrison Library with a sculptural representation of the late author, eternally seated in repose on a bench.
Here are some of the passages selected by those who gathered to honor Toni Morrison’s memory by reading her words to each other. Hopefully, there will be a permanent place in Nyack one day, full of books, dedicated to language, where people can contemplate her legacy, taking guidance from her words on race and gender in the tough times ahead for our country.
From her 10th novel, Home, published in 2012
Whose home is this?
Whose night keeps out the light
Say, who owns this house?
It’s not mine.
I dreamed another, sweeter, brighter
With a view of lakes crossed in painted boats;
Of fields wide as arms open for me.
This house is strange.
Its shadows lie.
Say, tell me, why does its lock fit my key?
Excerpt from her 1992 Nobel Lecture:
“The systematic looting of language can be recognized by the tendency of its users to forgo its nuanced, complex, mid-wifery properties for menace and subjugation.
Oppressive language does more than represent violence; it is violence; does more than represent the limits of knowledge; it limits knowledge. Whether it is obscuring state language or the faux-language of mindless media; whether it is the proud but calcified language of the academy or the commodity driven language of science; whether it is the malign language of law-without-ethics, or language designed for the estrangement of minorities, hiding its racist plunder in its literary cheek – it must be rejected, altered and exposed.
It is the language that drinks blood, laps vulnerabilities, tucks its fascist boots under crinolines of respectability and patriotism as it moves relentlessly toward the bottom line and the bottomed-out mind. Sexist language, racist language, theistic language – all are typical of the policing languages of mastery, and cannot, do not permit new knowledge or encourage the mutual exchange of ideas.”
From Making America White Again, New Yorker, November 14, 2016
All immigrants to the United States know (and knew) that if they want to become real, authentic Americans they must reduce their fealty to their native country and regard it as secondary, subordinate, in order to emphasize their whiteness. Unlike any nation in Europe, the United States holds whiteness as the unifying force. Here, for many people, the definition of “Americanness” is color.
Under slave laws, the necessity for color rankings was obvious, but in America today, post-civil-rights legislation, white people’s conviction of their natural superiority is being lost. Rapidly lost. There are “people of color” everywhere, threatening to erase this long-understood definition of America. And what then? Another black President? A predominantly black Senate? Three black Supreme Court Justices? The threat is frightening.
In order to limit the possibility of this untenable change, and restore whiteness to its former status as a marker of national identity, a number of white Americans are sacrificing themselves. They have begun to do things they clearly don’t really want to be doing, and, to do so, they are (1) abandoning their sense of human dignity and (2) risking the appearance of cowardice. Much as they may hate their behavior, and know full well how craven it is, they are willing to kill small children attending Sunday school and slaughter churchgoers who invite a white boy to pray. Embarrassing as the obvious display of cowardice must be, they are willing to set fire to churches, and to start firing in them while the members are at prayer. And, shameful as such demonstrations of weakness are, they are willing to shoot black children in the street.
To keep alive the perception of white superiority, these white Americans tuck their heads under cone-shaped hats and American flags and deny themselves the dignity of face-to-face confrontation, training their guns on the unarmed, the innocent, the scared, on subjects who are running away, exposing their unthreatening backs to bullets. Surely, shooting a fleeing man in the back hurts the presumption of white strength? The sad plight of grown white men, crouching beneath their (better) selves, to slaughter the innocent during traffic stops, to push black women’s faces into the dirt, to handcuff black children. Only the frightened would do that. Right?
These sacrifices, made by supposedly tough white men, who are prepared to abandon their humanity out of fear of black men and women, suggest the true horror of lost status.
It may be hard to feel pity for the men who are making these bizarre sacrifices in the name of white power and supremacy. Personal debasement is not easy for white people (especially for white men), but to retain the conviction of their superiority to others—especially to black people—they are willing to risk contempt, and to be reviled by the mature, the sophisticated, and the strong. If it weren’t so ignorant and pitiful, one could mourn this collapse of dignity in service to an evil cause.
From conversations with Oprah Winfrey
“I tell my students, ‘When you get these jobs that you have been so brilliantly trained for, just remember that your real job is that if you are free, you need to free somebody else. If you have some power, then your job is to empower somebody else. This is not just a grab-bag candy game.’
“This is the time for every artist in every genre to do what he or she does loudly and consistently. It doesn’t matter to me what your position is. You’ve got to keep asserting the complexity and the originality of life, and the multiplicity of it, and the facets of it. This is about being a complex human being in the world, not about finding a villain. This is no time for anything else than the best that you’ve got.”
Special thanks to Dr. Lori Martin for her scholarship, Dustin Hausner, Judy Whidbee and Jeff Rubin for their photography and Josh Wolfe for his great renaming idea.
by Bill Batson
After Adam Lanza used a rifle and handgun to kill 26 people, including 20 children between six and seven years old and six adult staff members at Sandy Hook Elementary in Newtown Connecticut, I was certain that we had come to a crossroad in our nation’s history. The owners of the Soft Cloth Car Wash on Route 59 seemed to agree. They flew their giant American flag at half-mast for over two week, an honor typically reserved for the passing of a president.
The reason we fly a banner at half-mast is to allow the invisible flag of death to ceremonially occupy the top spot.
I was convinced that we would get up from the violently horrific event forever changed. Sensible gun legislation to prevent the wholesale slaughter of children in their classrooms would be enacted.
Special Guest Short Essay
I asked my new research assistant, Clyde Lederman, to help me draft a sketch log about recent mass shootings by “looking for more than just raw numbers, but statistics that tell a story.”
Clyde is a student at The Masters School in Dobbs Ferry
Please read the “research memo” he submitted 27 hours later:
In the aftermath of mass-shootings, some prominent, a renewed groundswell of support for gun-control has percolated to the fore of American discourse. Yet, with 7,089 people injured since 2015 in mass-shootings little has changed.
This increased stagnancy has affected not only legislative process (although it remains startlingly inactive with only one law passed during the 116th Congress, which provides for increased public dollars for shooting ranges), but also the fear and horror that grip the American imagination. Sandy Hook, the supposed wake-up call and the many shootings that have followed it have inoculated to the fear of being gunned down.
The phrase “Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting” remained in the winter of 2013, at one-hundred of one-hundred possible ‘interest points’ on Google Trends, a website that tracks internet search trends on the Google browser or elevated search activity above the average for nearly three and a half weeks. Four years later and after Orlando and Las Vegas and San Bernardino, when a gunman fired into a crowd of parishioners in a church in Sutherland Springs, TX killing 24, the term “Sutherland Springs shooting” remained above its average of zero interest points for only seven days.
This shift indicates a new trend in the American psyche, from being consumed with mass-shootings to our being increasingly uninterested in their effects. This is not to say the media does not spend a significant amount of time covering the aftermath of a mass-shooting, with nearly twelve days needed before coverage returns to normal, (a far cry from the seven days of search abnormality after Sutherland Springs).
This could demonstrate an increasing disconnectedness and disinterest in mass-shootings as Americans acclimate to shootings as part of the fabric of this country.
Even with the casualties and injuries of gun violence all told in statistics, those that cannot be told are the many uncounted traumatized by mass-shootings.
Nearly 3 million children each year are estimated to have seen an act of violence carried out with a gun.
This is an underreported story that affects millions of young people, yet few solutions have been offered.
I was very wrong. “This American carnage” seems unstoppable.
Two thousand one hundred and eighty people have died since Sandy Hook.
Eight months into 2019, 63 have been killed in a public place by gun fire.
Nyack, New York almost joined this sorority of sorrow. In May, 2018, an arsenal was found in the home of a man who threatened the Summit School on North Broadway.
A friend reviewed Twitter in the aftermath of El Paso and Dayton. She compiled this inventory of unease:
- Shoppers are not safe at malls
- Children are not safe at schools.
- Students are not safe at colleges.
- Churchgoers are not safe at churches (or Synagogues or Mosques)
- Moviegoers are not safe at movies.
- Music fans are not safe at concerts.
- Diners and socializers are not safe at restaurants, bars and clubs.
My fiancé and I were standing in line at Ikea on Saturday, the night of the shooting (before learning of Dayton). I read an article on my phone that suggested it’s safer to turn-off your ringer when targeted by an active shooter, least a spam call reveals your hiding place. With sober urgency, I relayed the information.
For a fleeting second, our mouths went dry as we scanned the floor of the Swedish furniture store in search of threats. We swallowed the bitter pill of our new reality and managed to eat our meat balls, trying as best we could to prevent fear from transforming the most mundane errand into feeling like a death-defying risk.
President Obama’s regulatory response to Newtown, that restricted access to guns for people with mental illness, was reversed by President Trump on February 28, 2017.
A month earlier, President Trump used the phrase “American carnage” in his inaugural address. He spoke of “crime and gangs and drugs” stealing “too many lives.”
“This American carnage stops right here and stops right now,” said President Trump.
According to the Washington Post, there have been 20 mass shooting since Trump took office.
Yesterday, the President finally denounced White supremacy. That was the headline. As for the guns and ammunition that White supremacists used to steal too many lives, the President was silent.
Whether we fly a banner at half-mast after each mass shooting or not, the invisible flag of death will ceremonially occupy the top of every flag pole in our nation until we have an occupant in the oval office committed to stopping “this American carnage.”
by Bill Batson
Do you know the origin of the phrase “rule of thumb?” It was the maximum thickness of an object that a man in 18th century England could use to legally assault his wife. Yes. That is how pervasive violence against women is on our planet. It is a part of our language.
In 1979, a group of volunteers launched the Center for Safety & Change (formerly the Rockland Family Shelter) to protect women and children from the devastation of domestic violence.
Special Guest Sketch Log Artist
Julie Craig, a student at Tappan Zee High School, was the 2014 winner of the Center for Safety and Change Student Art Competition. I saw her drawing displayed, along with other winners, in a hallway at the Center’s offices. Julie perfectly captured the despondency one would imagine a victim of domestic violence must feel. If my column about the Center was to have an illustration, this was it.
I was honored to meet an incredible group of advocates, tour their facilities and interview their Chief Executive Officer, Elizabeth Santiago on the occasion of their 40th anniversary.
What was it like before 1979 for victims of domestic violence?
Victims of domestic violence before 1979 did not have anywhere to go. Police would be called to homes by neighbors to intervene in a domestic violence occurrence. It was routine for police to tell the abuser to take a cold shower or take a walk around the block to calm down.
Today, Center for Safety & Change trains many businesses, non profits, schools including Police Academy on how to recognize domestic violence and on to manage this safely for all parties involved.
How much demand was there for your services when you started?
We started out with a 15 bed house, 24 hour rotary and a few concerned citizens ready to answer the phone. They brought board games to pass the time because they truly didn’t believe the demand was that great. On October 5, 1979, we officially opened the doors to our shelter and filled 11 out of the 15 beds. The second day the remaining beds were filled. And the phones have not stopped ringing since then.
Center For Safety & Change:
A story in shocking statistics
15 bed facility opened Oct. 5, 1979 and has been filled to capacity since the day after opening
24 hour a day hot-line starts at same time and has run continually for 350,400 hours
19,000 calls per year
Every 15 seconds: how often a woman is battered
1 in 4 women reports experiencing violence from a former or current intimate partner;
1 in 5 women report being raped in their life time
1 in 71 men report being raped in their life time
50% increase in likelihood of child abuse in home with battery
71% of pets in these homes are harmed or killed
Women who earn 65% or more of their
households’ income are more likely to be
psychologically abused than women who earn
less than 65% of their households’ income.
18% of female victims of spousal rape say
their children witnessed the crime.
Between 10 and 14% of married women will
be raped at some point during their marriages.
Only 36% of all rape victims ever report the
crime to the police. The percentage of married
women who report a spousal rape to the police is
even lower. Marital rape is the most underreported form of sexual assault.
In 2012, 924 women were killed by intimate partners.
40% of female murder victims are killed by intimate partners.
Almost half of intimate 1 in 3 female murder victims and 1 in 20 male murder victims are killed by intimate partners.
72% of all murder-suicides are perpetrated by intimate partners.
19.3 million women and 5.1 million men in the United States have been stalked.
66.2% of female stalking victims reported stalking by a current or former intimate partner.
Between 2005 and 2006, 130,000 stalking
victims were asked to leave their jobs as a
result of their victimization
500%: the increased likelihood of homicide for a women if a gun is present in a home where there is domestic violence.
The most important number: the 24 –hour hotline for victims of domestic violence:
You can also call (845) 634-3344 to volunteer in 2018, volunteers donated close to 12,000 hours of services, a cost savings of about $270,000
You can also click here to donate or call 845.634.3391 to donate by credit card.
Last year, our volunteers donated close to 12,000 hours of services, a cost savings of about $270,000
What services do you currently provide to the victims of domestic violence and their families?
We have an emergency residential shelter that has 15 beds. On average, this shelter provides safe nights to about 100 victims of domestic violence on a yearly basis. In addition, we had to turn away close to 400 victims because there was no vacancy.
When this happens, we work with other sister agencies in other areas to provide housing options, as well as safety planning tactics to keep families safe. We help them think of options on staying with a family member, or friend, etc. Although the shelter is the heart of our agency, it only accounts for about 20% of the work that we do.
The bulk of the work is through our non-residential services. Center for Safety & Change’s Domestic Violence Non-Residential Services was developed and implemented specifically for domestic violence victims who do not require or desire residential placement.
Non-Residential services, include, but are not limited a 24/7 crisis hotline; individual and group counseling; support and empowerment groups; advocacy and accompaniment; safety planning; legal services and court assistance; information and referral services; community outreach and education; children’s services and school advocacy; education programs for professionals, for teens, and for others; transportation and translation services, as needed; and comprehensive crime victim services including assisting with applications to the New York State Office of Victim Services.
How has your organization grown over the years?
The Center has grown in so many ways. Our children and youth department has literally more than tripled in size starting out with a Director, Jean Roemer, who implemented Creative Arts Therapy. Before the program, we were seeing at maximum 100 children and youth on an annual basis. We see close to 500 children and youth, with staff of 6 employees – and there is a current waitlist of about 40 children.
We added our Sexual Assault Forensic Examiner Program in 1984 but added on our partnerships with Nyack Hospital (Montefiore Nyack) in 2003 and Good Samaritan Hospital in 2005. We have specific rooms in each Emergency Department dedicated in supporting victims of rape and sexual assault by our specially trained medical examiners.
Our legal department consisted of two lawyers about three years ago and has literally quadrupled in size since 2016. The legal department has six attorneys including matrimonial, family, immigration and anti human trafficking lawyers, as well as four legal advocates and two paralegals. The legal department provides legal advice, assistance and court accompaniment for victims of violence and abuse. They help them fill out orders of protection, explain what their rights are and provide them with options.
What are some of the ways that women and children find out about your services?
We host trainings to youth in all of the high schools including all private schools. We host trainings to corporations and local businesses on a variety of issues such as sexual harassment, domestic violence in the workplace, etc. We host many outreach events and attend many events in the community. In addition, we have 11 locations in the County. We recognize that there is a stigma that comes along with our home office on 9 Johnsons Lane in New City. A victim may feel intimidated or may not want someone to see them in that area. We strategically placed satellite offices throughout the County including Haverstraw, Nyack, Spring Valley to help preserve anonymity, confidentially and geographically availability.
Would you say that incidents of domestic violence are increasing or decreasing?
This is a tough question to answer. Although the number of victims we help annually has remained steady, the number of times we help victims achieve safety and seek services has increased. Last year alone, we helped close to 2,000 victims of gender-based violence, close to 30,000 times
I understand the 71% of pets in homes where domestic violence occurs are harmed or killed by their intimate partner. What does a victim do with their pet(s) when escaping violence and abuse?
We know our pets are family. In fact, the bond is so strong that 48% of domestic violence victims delayed leaving their intimate partner out of concern for their pets’ safety.
In partnership with the Hudson Valley Humane Society, Center for Safety & Change established the Paws for Safety program in 2011. This unique program temporarily places animal victims of domestic violence in a loving and confidential location while their owners make safe living arrangements and escape the abuse. Paws for Safety provides victims with the security of knowing their pets are safe and handled with care until they can be reunited. If you are in a relationship, where you and/or your pets are being abused, harmed and/or threatened, please call the Center’s 24-Hour Hotline 845-634-3344. No one deserves to live in fear of violence, abuse and trauma.
Center for Safety & Change 40th Anniversary Weekend celebration in Rockland
Center for Safety & Change is celebrating 40 years of supporting victim and survivors in Rockland.
In recognition of this momentous occasion, the Center for Safety and Change will be inducting 40 honorees into the first ever Rockland Women Leaders Hall of Fame, curated and hosted at their home office in New City.
The doors to their Emergency Shelter opened officially on October 5, 1979 and a rotary phone was turned on. The first day 11 beds were filled out of 15. The second day the house was filled to capacity and the phones have not stopped ringing.
Today, their shelter remains a safe haven for thousands of children and families.
This ruby celebration of service is guaranteed to be one to remember as they reflect on the rich history of their beloved Center, their founders, and those that have made contributions in ending gender-based violence.
Beginning on Friday, October 4 through Sunday, October 6, you are invited to attend the largest weekend celebration in Rockland and here are three ways to support:
Founder – Becoming a Founder will carry high level legacy benefits for donors making a financial commitment over a five year period while sustaining the Center’s life-changing programs and services for generations to come. Founder sponsorships can be paid off over a period in a manner that works best for you.
Patron – Celebrate and support 40 phenomenal women leaders by becoming a Patron Sponsor. From $25 – $10,000, your donation can support one or multiple honorees, securing long-lasting recognition on our Hall of Fame Wall.
Supporter – For as little as $1 dollar a day, donors can support the 40th Anniversary by making a monthly donation.
Your monthly donation ensures that the Center remains strong serving thousands of children and families escaping violence and abuse. As well, monthly donors will receive special benefits if the commitment is for five years of more.
You are helping to give the gift of safety and comfort to victims and survivors of domestic violence, sexual assault, human trafficking and all crimes like Maritza and her three children.
Maritza and her family received support from the Center through counseling, support group, and safety planning to cope with trauma from years of experiencing emotional, verbal, physical and financial abuse.
Make your donation online at http://www.centerforsafetyandchange.org/40th
For more information, please call Tracie McLee at 845-634-3391 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
What impact has the #metoo movement had on your work?
We believe the #metoo movement has created a safe space to allow victims to come forward and tell their story and seek services.
How does the current climate towards immigrants impact your work?
A) Immigrant survivors are afraid to report crimes and seek the protection of the courts, and are more vulnerable to domestic violence and other crimes as a result. The reason for this fear is that immigration enforcement priorities no longer exist – during the Obama administration, people with more serious criminal histories were prioritized for removal and people who were simply out of status were not. ICE presence in courthouses has increased by 1700% and victims have been swept up in court raids.
Also, many victims want to bring their abusers to court to get an order of protection but do not want them deported. Many are afraid for fear of impact on the father of their children. For example, one of our domestic violence clients was recently arrested at the Ramapo Justice Court and detained – ICE knew she was the victim and still arrested her.
B) Immigrant survivors are afraid to serve as witnesses for the same reasons above. We like to use voluntary witnesses in our trials and are being hampered in calling undocumented witnesses – we cannot give them the assurance we once did.
C. Immigrant survivors are more afraid to file for immigration status. Under former policies, if humanitarian applications were denied, the applicant simply reverted to being undocumented. Now, if a survivor’s application gets denied, they will be put into removal proceedings. Also, scrutiny of applications has become heightened and negative discretion is exercised far more harshly. For clients with children especially, they put a lot on the line. USCIS statistics reflect significant declines in filings.
I understand that you do outreach in Middle Schools. What is your message to young people?
Our message to young people is teaching them what healthy relationships look like, and defining what consent is. It is no longer no means no but yes means yes.
What should a person do if they know of a friend or family member who is being abused?
They should call our 24-Hour Hotline at 845-634-3344. We can answer any questions or address any concerns.
What are your goals for the organization’s 41st year
We need to change the way society normalizes victim blaming and social norms. We want to engage men on the issue because it starts with them as well. We want to reimagine Rockland and making this a safer place for women, children and men. If we can make this changes, it will be a safer place for all. Ultimately, we want to put ourselves out of business eradicating gender based violence.
What are some of the ways that they public can help. The public can help in many ways.
First, they can sign up to volunteer. There are many jobs, tasks that need to be done. Last year, our volunteers donated close to 12,000 hours of services, a cost savings of about $270,000. We encourage everyone to start changing social norms, let’s begin to create a safer space for victims to continue to come forward by believing them. The Center starts by believing victims. Finally, donate. From making a one time donation to becoming a monthly donor, your donation will continue to sustain our programs and services for generations to come. We also encourage friends of our agency to attend community and fundraising events.
by Bill Batson
A Karenderya is a road-side restaurant in the Philippines that serves meals from wooden benches. Nyack’s rendition, launched two years ago by Paolo Mendoza and Cheryl Baun at the intersection of Midland Avenue and Main Street, has already attracted national attention. In 2018, Karenderya was selected one of the 20 best new restaurants in America by Esquire Magazine.
Paolo and Cheryl spoke to Nyack Sketch Log about how they came to open their version of the populist eateries and invite you to experience a cuisine that fuses Malay, Chinese, Spanish, and American flavors and ingredients.
What is your earliest memory of a Karenderya?
(Paolo Mendoza) Walking through the streets of Manila growing up, I would see them every day, walking to school, either on the sidewalk or, even right on the street!
What inspired you to be a chef?
(PM) I like eating and cooking! I see cooking as a form of creative expression.
Who cooks for the family?
(Cheryl Baun) Everyone thinks that when you have a chef in the family that they do all the cooking. It’s not true! I cook simple food, and we eat a lot of takeout. Also, I guess Paolo does still cook for the family because we also eat at the restaurant A LOT!
How old are your kids?
(CB) Our son is 8, and our daughter is 4.
Have they been bitten by the culinary bug?
(CB) The 8-year-old loves to eat and is starting to be more open-minded about food, and the 4-year-old is super-picky, but she loves to help bake and cook.
Cheryl tells me that you liked to watch cooking shows as a kid in the Philippines. What was your favorite cooking show when you were a kid?
(PM)I used to watch “Yan Can Cook” with Martin Yan.
What is your favorite show now?
(PM) I don’t have time to watch cooking shows now, but I do like watching “Top Chef” and food documentaries like “The Search for General Tso” and “Jiro Dreams of Sushi.”
What was your first job in a kitchen?
(PM) I worked at a friend’s restaurant in Nolita as a dishwasher/salad/prep cook.
Is this your first restaurant?
What ways has the community has supported your business?
(CB) Members of the community have shared widely on social media, posting in various groups, Yelp, etc. Before we even opened, I would bump into acquaintances in town and had people coming up to me saying, “Do you need help painting or carrying furniture or anything?” We’ve always loved Nyack, but we never imagined how welcoming and generous folks would be. We are truly grateful for that!
What are the influences of Filipino cuisine?
(PM) So many, from Malay/indigenous cuisine to Chinese, Spanish, and American.
Five years ago food writer Andrew Zimmern predicted Filipino cuisine would be “the next big thing.” Was he right?
(PM) Well, he was right in that Filipino food has finally gotten the spotlight, but I don’t like thinking that the food that I grew up with is a “trend.” It’s always been around, although many people are only just discovering it now, which is a great thing.
If someone was going to order a tasting menu to sample the scope of Karenderya cuisine, what would you prepare?
(PM) I would include a dish like sinigang (meat or fish in a sour tamarind broth) to showcase the use of sourness, found in many dishes. Also a kakanin, which is a snack/dessert, made from glutinous rice or rice flour. I might also do pancit, a popular noodle dish. I would also feature something prepared with coconut milk, as well as something featuring bagoong, which is a fermented shrimp or fish paste.
If someone is having the cuisine for the first time, what would be the best appetizer, entree’ and dessert to order?
(PM) Probably lumpiang shanghai, adobo, and halo halo.
What are some of the challenges of opening and running a restaurant?
(PM) Opening a restaurant: getting the word out, making sure all of the legal aspects are covered, and securing funding. Running a restaurant: hiring the right people, controlling costs, and the administrative work.
(CB) There are so many details to consider when opening a restaurant. You have a huge checklist. I think one of the most challenging parts of our journey so far was the anticipation leading up to the opening. There was so much anxiety around knowing whether or not people would actually even come. “What if no one comes? What if they don’t like our food?” Thank goodness they came and liked our food!
In terms of everyday running the restaurant, it is like a 24-7 job. It’s not glamorous, but if you love it, it doesn’t feel like work. We’re working harder than we ever have, but we’re also having fun. And it’s rewarding to welcome people into our place and to share our culture and our food with them.
Cheryl, can you describe your non-profit work in the Filipino community?
(CB) I’m not currently doing any work with organizations serving the Filipino community, although going back more than 10 years ago, I sat on a couple of boards of Filipino organizations in NYC and Jersey City that focused on immigrants’ rights, workers’ rights, and youth.
Which do you prefer Filipino or Philipino?
Is there a little Manila in the region?
(CB) Filipinos are everywhere! But, I guess Bergenfield, NJ or Woodside in Queens would be some of the closest enclaves of the Filipino community.
How would you describe the community-based presence that you want to build for Karenderya?
(CB) Creating a sense of community is important to us. We don’t want to be just a restaurant; we want to be a gathering place, where people feel welcome. Nyack has been so good to us, even before we opened our restaurant, and we intend to give back. We hope to be in a position in the near future where we can offer our space to local groups for events, as well as to do some fundraising for causes we care about.
Paolo and Cheryl met in 1997 while working with a Filipino indigenous performing arts troupe. Twenty years later, on a stage that caters to all five senses, they have collaborated to create a venue that will thrill the audiences fortunate enough to be seated.
(Editors note: In 2018, Cherly became the Executive Director of the Arts Council of Rockland.)
Their gastronomic production, which is open to the public six days a week, will introduce your palate to the diverse influences of filipino cuisine.
The culinary curtains open:
Tuesday – Thursday 5-8:30p
To learn more visit karenderyany.com
Why It’s Great That Karenderya Was Named Top 20 Restaurant , by Ben McCarthy, Published on NyackNewsAndViews, December 2, 2018
Mabuting gana (Bon Appetit)
by Bill Batson
Hartell’s in Upper Nyack has always been the kind of deli and market where the owner knows your name, and your favorite foods. There has been a neighborhood eatery on the spot for over a century. When Hartell’s closed its doors in 2016, there was a collective sense of mourning. That melancholy lifted in March 2017 when Frank DeNardo was entrusted with the responsibility of reopening the beloved institution.
Upper Nyack historian and neighbor Win Perry marvels at how the corner of North Broadway and Castle Heights Avenue seems to stand frozen in time. “The remarkable thing is that the neighborhood has changed so little, particularly our Van Houten’s Landing – the old downtown part of Upper Nyack – is really very much the way it was when I was a child. What’s now Hartell’s Deli was Gerhart’s Ice Cream Parlor.,” Perry reminisced in an oral history recorded by the Nyack Library.
Louis “Bubby” Hartell opened a venue at this address in the 70s and was famous for Friday fish sandwiches and mac and cheese. Now days, Bubby watches over his legacy from his adjacent liquor store, that shares an interior window with DeNardo’s reboot. And through the glass he observes a community market taking root.
Even though there is a course by the name at colleges across the country, you can’t teach hospitality. In a world where we have all become foodies, the palate might steer some of our spending, but you become a regular in a place where you feel welcome. Just like that proverbial potato chip, I bet you won’t have just one visit at the new Hartell’s.
Nyack Sketch Log spoke with the Hartell’s Frank DeNardo.
How long have you lived in Upper Nyack?
Did you frequent Hartell’s
Yes I did. I would come in for the bacon wrapped cheese dogs and Mac and cheese.
Is there a lot of pressure being the only eatery in downtown Upper Nyack?
The only pressure is to satisfy my customers. There is such a varying mix of patrons that come in and we always try to satisfy everyones taste. I try to make many healthy dishes while still appealing to the customers that want more comfort food type dishes. You can often find a tofu dish right next to a beef meatloaf
I once told you that someone recommended the salmon and you said “Betsy.” Are you on a favorite food basis with all of your regulars?
I am. We have a good amount of regulars and more times than not we have their egg sandwich and coffee ready as soon as we see them pull up in their car. There are also regulars that will just tell us to make them something that they will like and leave it up to me.
What was your first restaurant job?
As a young teenager I worked as a dishwasher/shelf stocker at a deli in Peekskill NY. I worked there throughout high school and eventually started cooking there as well.
I saw your son behind the counter. Any other DeNardos in the operation?
My boys love to help around the deli. Stocking , drinks, cleaning up and speaking with the customers.
This place used to be Gerhart’s and then Hartell’s, why not DeNardo’s?
During the renovation so many people kept referring to the deli as Hartell’s so I figured “why change it?”
Where did you study the culinary Arts?
The Art Institute of New York City.
What did you like most about your training?
I loved the process of creating dishes with what items were available and on hand. Every Friday at school the chefs would give us a milk crate filled with a variety of vegetables and proteins and we had to make as many dishes as possible with what we were given.
How do you keep ahead of an increasingly health conscious food-literate public?
My family has always eaten fairly healthy. I try to give my kids healthy meals and snacks as well so I’m always reading food magazines, trade papers and cookbooks.
What’s the most popular sandwich?
Our most popular sandwiches are the Italian combo and the hot roast beef on garlic bread with melted Swiss and Russian dressing.
Find any Hartell’s artifacts?
We use the original deli slicers and the same griddle that Bubby cooked countless egg sandwiches on.
by Bill Batson
Every second Friday of the month, sound waves unleashed from a back room at Casa del Sol bounce off buildings, creating a samba-line sensation that move your feet toward the vibrations.
Inside, animated by a digitally syncopated light show, participants are both rythym section and spectator. The music and movements are choreographed through the call and response style vocals of Glenn Schloss, the creator of For Vibration, a popular activity that equally enthralls adults and children, fusing percussion, electronics and soul into a post modern drum circle
As co-founder of Flavorlab, a sought after New York City music and sound design facility, Glenn has composed countless soundtracks for NBC, A&E, PBS, VH1, ESPN and HBO Films, including the theme song for ABC’s The View. Here’s an invitation to attend the next for vibration event, this Friday, July 12th at Casa at 104 Main Street and an opportunity to learn more about our Glenn and his groove.
Is it true that all you want to do is bang on a drum all day?
100%. I just love rhythm and how it makes me feel in my body when I’m playing. I feel free and unstoppable.
When did you start banging the drum?
I think I was 7 years old when the rhythm really hit me. I remember hearing Honkey Tonk Woman on the radio and being completely mesmerized by the cowbell and the Charlie Watt’s drum intro. It all felt larger than life. As far as actually jamming? My first experience was playing pots and pans with my older sister’s high school band in our living room. It was such a great introduction into the world of music.
How did Drink and Drum start?
In 2012, I started creating what I called, “rhythm journeys” for my wife, Elena in our living room. I combined ambient soundscapes, percussive drumming and sound bytes from philosophers and thought leaders, while Elena chilled on the couch and listened. It really felt hypnotic for both of us. Almost like a brain massage.
At some point, I decided to invite six of our closest friends to experience this drumming/sonic meditation while encouraging them to drum along as well. Thus the drum circle was born. The rule was, if you enjoyed what we were doing, our six friends would each have to invite another couple the following week. Pretty soon, we were hosting drum gatherings in our living room every Sunday morning.
Drink and Drum
at Casa del Sol
Next Session: Friday, July 12 at 7pm
If you love to drum or just want to dance to some tribal beats, then Nyack’s Drink and Drum drumming circle is for you.
You don’t have to be a drummer to take part….. All you need is passion, a free spirit, and love for music.
A small hand drum will do.
Most people like to bring African djembes because of their volume and sound…. but you’ll also see bongos, congas, tambourines, cajons, doumbeks, tarbukas, snares, sticks, and anything else that makes a sound.
This event does not judge or discriminate….so bring any kind of drum that you can find, and check your ego at the door. You’ll leave with sore hands and a rejuvenated spirit.
The drumming circle is free and starts at 7pm.
From Wright In Nyack, a blog post from 2/9/18 by Wright Bros Reality
We quickly outgrew our space and took the circle to Memorial Park where I built up a following of dedicated drummers and dancers. It was a magical, adventurous and experimental time for all of us. I remember being out in the freezing cold with the wind beating off the Hudson River and we would play all morning and afternoon. Then as the circle started to grow even more in the park, the police showed up and shut us down because I didn’t have an official permit. Luckily, a few weeks later, I was invited to play with the Nyack Art Collective on their First Friday in the gazebo on Main Street. It was an amazing feeling, playing in the middle of town with a real permit! It felt like finally, no one could stop us, until it started to down pour! That’s when the owner of Casa Del Sol waved us in across the street to finish our set inside. He fed us, gave us beers and we never left! It’s been 6 beautiful years playing at Casa Del Sol every 2nd Friday of the month.
Why are you For Vibration?
I was always drawn to the word vibration and the meaning behind it. Each and every one of us is made up of vibration. How we resonate, how we communicate, how we move our bodies, how we think, and how we speak is all based on the concept of vibration. I think the drum circle is a big, colorful manifestation of that concept. My old mantra was…awaken your mind, body, spirit and groove – the four vibrations. Then I realized it was something much bigger than that. More than four vibrations, it was for all of the vibrations that make us truly who we are. It’s For Vibration.
Don’t you have a family band?
We’ve had a couple of family bands in the past. My wife Elena and I created a kids band called, The Hiccups! We got inspired when we started having kids, so we played a ton of events and parties and it was such good fun. I also have a band called, Schlango Doss with my brother, Danny and my dear budd, EdP. I would say, my family jams as much as possible in the house on a daily basis. All of our instruments are scattered around the house so it’s easy to just pick up and start playing guitar, drums, bass, mandolin. Connecting with my kids through music means the absolute world to me. It is the most connected I feel to my kids when we’re playing and locked in a groove.
When did you sit in your first drum circle?
The circles in my living room were where it all began for me.
Describe some of the tech you use?
I’m a big fan of fusing acoustic and electronic instruments when I’m on stage. From a live perspective, I have a Mac laptop running Ableton Live which allows me to play and mix tracks over the course of my set. I have an XP-30 Roland keyboard with some cool pads and fender rhode-type sounds as well as two Roland Hand Sonic HP-15 pads which allows me to drum with my right hand and play melodies with my left hand on either side of the keyboard. It’s fun having two sets of pads on stage as it really gives me a crazy amount of options.
I also have a kick drum trigger on the floor set up. A lot of folks think the drum circle is playing to pre-recorded loops, but we’re actually playing everything live against my kick drum trigger. It allows the drum circle to weave in and out of different tempos and yet it feels like a solid sampled foundation with the foot pedal, which is so cool and fun to play with. I also have a wireless vocal microphone with interesting EQ and reverb settings, so I can jump in and out of the circle and I’m not constrained to a hand held microphone. One of my favorite things to do is run around the circle, do back-flips and get people moving.
Favorite circle ever?
Tough question! I would say every drum circle is so rich with nuance. It could be a certain dancer in the middle of the wave or a certain drum moment where everyone is peaking and playing as the OM waves are hitting us from the speakers. It’s really tough to say though as a guest and passenger, my favorite drum circle was up at Peace through Play with Allan Berger’s group. It was an unforgettable moment that just clicked for me one night. Watching all of these people play in perfect unison without any preparation. Then the dancing started and it was just absolutely hypnotic, a tour de force. I wanted to take that energy and that experience as a guest that night and bring it back home with me to Nyack and then do my best to add my own spin. I have such reference and respect for what Alan Berger‘s doing with Peace through Play.
Tell me about some of the drummers?
The drummers that come to Casa Del Sol are some of the most eclectic, awesome, colorful individuals you will ever want to meet and play with.
To get a flavor for my crew, I suggest checking out A Drink and Drum Story, on our website, forvibrations.com and Facebook. My wife Elena started a video diary highlighting some of their stories and why they come to play.
What other ends of the music biz do you find yourself?
My partner Erik and I got a lucky music break in ’97 composing music for a TV show on VH1. From the success of that show, we created several audio companies and we currently co-own Flavorlab, along with our third partner Brian Quill. The three of us have been partners for over twenty years and we’ve been making some beautiful music and mix for television and film. I’m really proud of what we’ve all created together.
A nicely tuned 10″ rack tom with a coated emperor on top and a remo ambassador on the bottom of the head. It’s such a beautiful, resonant sounding drum. I can listen to that tone over and over again.
Minuano (Six Eight) by Pat Metheny
Another tough question Bill! There are so many greats. Some of my all time favorites are Iron Maiden, New Order, Tears for Fears, Earth Wind and Fire and China Crisis. From an artist perspective, I’m in love with Jeff Buckley, Jimmy Hendrix, Stevie Wonder, John Coltrane, just to name a few.
Anything played by John Bonham
Keep on sharing my love for rhythm with the world. Continue to motivate and inspire people to want pick up a drum and learn how to express themselves. It is such an incredible, empowering feeling to play a hand drum and the great news is, everyone can do it.