Nyack Sketch Log: Karenderya

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.

Yan Can 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?  

(PM) Yes.

With Chef Margarita Fores after filming a segment for her show The Crawl New York. The episode will air in September 2019.

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?  

Young Paolo in the blue shorts on the left

(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.

Mini Duck Empanadas

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.

Beef Tapa Rice Bowl

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!

Sketch Log creator Bill Batson and Nyack Mayor Don Hammond at a Chamber of Commerce Networking Social in April 2018 hosted by Karenderya

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?  

Cassava Cake

(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?  

(CB)Filipino

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.

Burger with “adobo” onion jam, sambal, mayo, calamansi potato chips

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
Friday 5-9:30p
Saturday 11:30-9:30p
Sunday 11:30-8p

To learn more visit karenderyany.com

Also read:

Why It’s Great That Karenderya Was Named Top 20 Restaurant , by Ben McCarthy, Published on NyackNewsAndViews, December 2, 2018

Mabuting gana (Bon Appetit)

Bill Batson is an artist and writer who lives and sketches in Nyack, NY. Nyack Sketch Log: “Karenderya“ © 2019 Bill Batson.  To see more, visit billbatsonarts.com 


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Nyack Sketch Log: Hartell’s

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?

9 years

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.

An artist and writer, Bill Batson lives in Nyack, NY. Nyack Sketch Log: “Hartell’s” © 2019 Bill Batson. Visit billbatsonarts.com to see more.

The Nyack Sketch Log is sponsored each week by Weld Realty.
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Nyack Sketch Log: Monthly Modern Drum Circle at Casa del Sol

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.

Favorite drum?

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.

Favorite song?

Minuano (Six Eight) by Pat Metheny

Favorite band?

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.

Favorite sound?

Anything played by John Bonham

What’s next?

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.

for more information visit forvibrations.com or on Facebook here.

An artist and writer, Bill Batson lives in Nyack, NY. Nyack Sketch Log: “Monthly Modern Drum Circle at Casa del Sol” © 2019 Bill Batson. Visit billbatsonarts.com to see more.

The Nyack Sketch Log is sponsored each week by Weld Realty.
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The Source of Our Water

by Bill Batson

Every summer, we ask what our water can do for us: Hydration for our selves, our pets and our plants, a recreational venue for swimming, boating and fishing. And when frozen and cubed as ice, our H2O is the ultimate refreshment that makes the hottest day bearable. But when will we ask, what can we do for our water?

This July 4th, as we celebrate our independence, residents of Nyack can also applaud the fact that we have public control over our water supply. In Clarkstown, our neighbors have been doing battle with Suez Water Company, a monopoly utility that controls the flow of water.  An ill-conceived desalinization proposal was defeated, but public opposition to their efforts to relocate their headquarters to a site uphill from a regional water source, Lake DeForest, continues. And then there’s the 18.6% rate increase Suez has requested from the Public Service Commission.

Excerpt from Earth Matters:

The Suez Saga and Why You Care

By Susan Hellauer

Suez announced plans to relocated their headquarters from 360 Clarkstown Road, in West Nyack, to a 26-acre site at 162 Old Mill Road, in Valley Cottage, leased from Tilcon.

Local residents, along with the county’s most diligent water-watchers were present at three recent meetings of the Clarkstown Planning Board, which needs to review and decide whether to green light Suez’s plan. Concerned citizens voiced objections to removal of 270+ mature trees, as well as to asphalt paving of extensive parking areas, increased traffic, a pair of on-site fuel storage tanks, and a diesel generator. All of these parts of the plan could create both everyday pollution in the reservoir from stormwater runoff, and a disaster for the county’s drinking water in a superstorm. Suez agreed to nix the above-ground fuel-storage tanks, but public comment at these meetings harped on the same refrain: Find a better place for all this stuff!

The process is now stalled in a disagreement over the generator, a traffic study of local roads, and the need—or not—for a State Environmental Site Assessment.

By Susan Hellauer

Nyack Sketch Log Suggestion!

Contact Clarkstown Supervisor George Hoehmann and ask that he does everything in his power to make sure that Suez Water Company acts responsibly in their capacity as the steward of Lake DeForest.

You can reach Supervisor Hoehmann at g.hoehmann@clarkstown.org
or (845)639-2050

The overreach and arrogance that Suez has shown toward local government and rate payers should only redouble the resistance of those who live in Nyack to even consider the privatization of the life giving and sustaining resource of water.

Here’s a short history of the Nyack Water Department and an update on the status of the Suez Lake DeForest site building permit process.

The Source of our Water

When we turn on the faucet or flush the toilet, the water always flows. We may not know the exact source, or where the mains and pipes are buried, but we can reliably depend on the quality and availability of water in our village.  Nyack is fortunate to have a publicly controlled water department that has met our needs for 116 years.

From 18th century cisterns to the controversy over fluoridation, from political intrigue in the Leonard Cooke era to the desalination proposal of Suez Water (formerly United Water,) here is brief history of the water supply in Nyack.

Hackensack River

Our water is drawn from the Hackensack River after it passes through Lake Deforest Reservoir.  The reservoir has a capacity of five billion gallons. The water filtration plant that treats our water is operated by the Nyack Water Department and is located approximately one mile from the reservoir in West Nyack.

For ten years my father, William Prime Batson, worked for the Nyack Water Department, which supplies water to Nyack, South Nyack, Central Nyack and part of West Nyack. (Currently, I live in Upper Nyack and make a monthly payment to Suez Water.)

Nyack uses approximately 1.5 million gallons of water per day.  This number rises in the summer and drops in the winter.

The treatment plant cost one million dollars to construct when it was built in 1970.

Cooke named, unnamed and renamed

Leonard Cooke, an African American civic leader, was the chairman of the Nyack Water Department when the treatment plant was constructed. Cooke was widely recognized for securing a grant of over a half a million dollars from the US Dept of Housing and Urban Development that made the project possible.  The deal was negotiated between Cooke and HUD Secretary Robert Weaver, the first African American cabinet member.  Cooke and Weaver first met through their work with the NAACP.

Although the plant was named for Cooke when it opened in 1970, the Nyack Village Board removed his name from the building and refused to reappoint Cooke, a long time Democratic Committeeman, when a newly elected Republican majority assumed control of the Village Board in 1973.

In a subsequent electoral cycle, Cooke was returned to his position and his name restored to the filtration plant.

From Private to Public to Almost Private Again

The Honorable William Voorhis chartered the Nyack Water Works Company on March 28, 1873.  At first, the company provided water from springs and wells.  As demand grew the water company added capacity with three reservoirs. Eventually, population growth required the construction of a steam powered pump house to take water from the Hackensack River near the location of today’s treatment plant.

Before Voorhis, water was obtained through wells that were sometimes shared with neighbors or cisterns that collected rainwater.  Many health and conservation conscious people today are promoting a return to the cistern.

The village established the Nyack Water Department after using eminent domain to purchase the Nyack Water Works Company from the heirs of Voorhis in 1896 for $107,000.

In the early 1960’s, the Nyack Civic Association, with Leonard Cooke at the vanguard, successfully fought off efforts to sell Nyack’s water supply to the Spring Valley Water and Supply Company.  Opponents argued that the sale would drive up rates.  Spring Valley Water was eventually taken over by United Water.

To fluoridate or not to fluoridate

In 1980, Nyack failed to comply with a Rockland County Health Department mandate to fluoridate the water supply.  Ignoring pleas from then Mayor Alex Caglione, the Village Board refused to approve fluoridation. Legal maneuvering ensued, but the Village Board eventually prevailed.

In Stanly Kubrick’s epic work of political satire, Dr. Strangelove, a deranged General Jack D. Ripper, suggests fluoridation was a communist plot.  I am not sure that Kubrick and Ripper are to blame for our fluoride free water, but the wound of the battle is still evident.  In a Q & A on the Rockland County Department of Health the question, “is my water fluoridated,”is answered: NO!

Desalination

The safety of our water supply made headlines when sides were drawn over Suez 2012 (then United Water) plan to open a desalination plant on the Hudson River in Haverstraw.

According to the Nyack Water Department, Nyack residents would not consume desalinated water if the plan were adopted because our water supply is separate from the United Water system.  However, during emergencies, we do rely on United Water’s reservoir.

The Rockland Water Coalition argued that the adverse health effects from exposure to desalinated water are not the only issue for the people of Nyack.  The generation of unlimited river water through desalination would spur over development jeopardizing our water supply through increased pollution and run off.

There was also concern about the environmental impact of a desalination plant.  There is concern over how the removal of millions of gallons of water per day for desalination will impact the Hudson River.  Haverstraw Bay is a major nursery for many species, some of which are endangered.   Finally, the large amounts of electricity required to power the plant will pollute the air and warm the globe.

In December 2015, the NYS Public Service Commission agreed with the activists and said the plant was no longer needed, directing Suez, the company formerly known as United Water to focus, on conservation instead of desalination.

To keep informed about the unfolding Suez saga, visit the Sierra Club.

Thanks to Brian Jennings, the Librarian Supervisor at the Nyack Library for his time, energy and insight.  Special thanks to Win Perry and Harry Williams, Nyack Water Department Superintendent.

An artist and writer, Bill Batson lives in Nyack, NY. Nyack Sketch Log: “Nyack Water Department” © 2019 Bill Batson. Visit billbatsonarts.com to see more.

The Nyack Sketch Log is sponsored each week by Weld Realty.
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Nyack Sketch Log: JLP & The Very Bad Ideas

 

by Bill Batson

Nyack has its own super group. Playing from a reggae and ska song book, JLP and The Very Bad Ideas are drawn for different bands, including some well known figures on the local music scene. After rave reviews from gigs at Casa del Sol, Nyack Earth Day and some charity events at RoCA and Grace Church it is time you meet JLP and The Very Bad Ideas, introduced by the man who formed the band, Bob Timm.

Who are JLP and the Very Bad Ideas?

The Very Bad Ideas is a new assembly of Nyack musicians who all share a love of foundation era reggae music, all the pre-Rasta, 60s/70s sounds of rocksteady, ska and old school, pre-digital reggae. It’s myself, Bob Timm, on piano, Jeff Rubin and Jason “Big Dread” Smith on guitars, Joanne Louise-Paul on bass, Brian Bongo Davis on drums, and Jason Torres bringing it together out front on lead vocals. Key to the music we play is we all get microphones and try our best to get those sweet harmonies.

What are some of your other favorite reggae bands?

We love mixing it up with our Nyack reggae compadres in I Anbassa and the Word Sound Power Movement. The great thing about reggae is the universe is so diverse. If you ask all of us, you’ll  get 6 different sets of favorites just from NY/NJ area.

My personal favorite New York bands are my brothers and sisters in the NYC ska/rocksteady family: The Slackers, Far East, The Frightnrs, Jah Point and Boomshot.

Bob Timm

Bob Timm

When did you develop a love for reggae?

I absorbed Bob Marley like everyone else in the modern world, but my entry point was more from Two Tone ska, then digging original Jamaican ska and coming at reggae from the early days. I love all the mashup from mid-60s/70s as all these studios popped up and they took soul/motown and rock from the pop charts and blew it up with Jamaican flavor.

Did you ever attend the world famous Reggae Lounge in the lower east side?

No, I was still too suburb fanboy to hang there at its height. My favorite spots were Wetlands for regular ska/reggae bills and the Ritz to check bigger touring bands.

What was your first reggae band and what instrument did you play?

JLP And The Very Bad Ideas

Live at Olive’s

Thursday, June 27

 

Nyack has a new collective. The Reggae collective premiers on Thursday, June 27 at 8p at Olive’s. Supporting the release of 86 Supreme’s new banger 18 Strikes.

The Nyack Reggae Collective includes:

  • I Anbassa
  • JlP And The Very Bad Ideas
  • Wadada the Love Movement

Brooklyn based 86 Supreme brings high intensity reggae and hip hop. There arrival occasions the first ever of the Nyack Reggae Collective.

Olive’s is located 118a Main Street, Nyack

I’ve been drumming most of my life, and my first reggae-flavored band was a ska band called The DeFactos. We were one of a gazillion NY ska bands in the Moon Ska Records community that flourished here most of the 90s. The New York Times had declared ska music as “the sound of New York“and you couldn’t throw a piece of corn in the city on a weekend without hitting a checker-shirted trumpet player in the head.

What are the origins of Ska?

Original ska music is essentially Jamaican jazz music. It developed in early 60s around the time Jamaica was moving toward independence and musicians were looking to forge a distinct new Jamaican sound of their own. It’s a brilliant mix of jazz, New Orleans, Latin and Caribbean flavors. Ska then evolved into rocksteady style and then reggae, and has its own distinct branches in British Two Tone and 90s/Third Wave.

What are some of the challenges of getting a band off the ground?

The toughest is always scheduling and communications, especially when all of you are balancing music and life. What makes The Very Bad Ideas especially enjoyable is that we are friends and neighbors first, and we just happen to all love reggae. It’s a true Nyack-So-Nyack story.

In JLP you play keyboards, but your were formerly a percussionist. How was that transition?

Still in progress. Piano is essentially a percussion instrument, especially for the music we play, so my focus is mainly on learning a lot of chord inversions and then finding the right style of chops, bubbles and flavors for each tune.

Horns anytime soon?

Possibly. We’re mainly a guitar-based sounds, but would love to get some extra flavors in there soon.

Any plans to take the show on the road?

No plans to “get in the van” regularly, but we’ve got some offers we’re working on to take the show out of Rockland later in the summer. We’re booking private parties, festivals, day and evening gigs. Excited to see what mess we can get into over the next year, and just mainly enjoy the Very Bad Ideas vibe.

What’s in the water at Casa? There seems to be so much great music coming out of there.

Casa del Sol is so great for music in Nyack. Tom Lynch supports all different styles of music and art, sharing the Casa space with the community. And it’s become a beacon for bringing more people into town.

Jason “Big Dread” Smith

How often do you rehearse?

We try to meet up once a week, either for full band rehearsal or just acoustic guitars and vocals.

Is it true you have Bongo Fries after every performance?

No, I think Bongo is quite happy to switch gears and just play the drums when it’s VBI time.

Have you seen Bongo skank?

Mostly on his Facebook selfies. We keep him chained to the drum stool so everyone else can dance.

Joanne Louise-Paul

Is it true that Jeff Rubin builds pedals that make grown men cry?

Jeff Rubin is a musical treasure chest in so many wonderful ways. His artistry with Jeff Rubin Electronics is like a whole other level of magic.

Tell me the journey of Big Dread to Nyack?

Big Dread comes down to us from the mountain. Bear Mountain by way of Japan, Texas and Cape Cod. He brings us this whole other energy from countless reggae journeys around the world and I’ve heard rumors that local high school kids are already forming some kind of “spirit animal” cult around him.

Jason Torres

Who’s out front?

Jason Torres, a great afro-cuban percussionist, and has a great voice with a lot of sweetness and style.

The JLP in your name is your bass player. How did she join the band?

We have Dave Reiss to thank. He plays bass for I Anbassa, and I asked him for another reggae bass in the area. Joanne was his first and immediate reference and she’s a powerhouse on both the bass and when she takes the mic.

What is your favorite song in your set?

Selections like My Conversation or the Answer. “Riddim” that brings all the best elements of what we do together.

Brian Bongo Davis

Favorite Reggae lyric

“One good thing about music, when it hits you feel no pain.”

I want to avoid a knee-jerk Bob Marley reference, but he’s hard to beat.

Favorite Reggae group

The Ethiopians

Jason Torres and Jeff Rubin in the foreground

Favorite show you’ve attended

Favorite recent show was seeing Toots Hibbert front and center for his acoustic show in New York. All-time favorite probably Skavoovie tours from early 90s where you had all history on stage in one night: the original Skatalites, members of The Specials and The Beat, and some of the best American ska legends. Those kinds of shows are never gonna happen again.

I understand you are a poet, so I’ll let you conclude this interview in verse

A Nyack Reggae Haiku

For pure joy run come
dance with JLP and the
Very Bad Ideas

You can follow Nyack’s “Homegrown” reggae/ska band on instagram @jlpandtheverybadideas or on Facebook.

An artist and writer, Bill Batson lives in Nyack, NY. Nyack Sketch Log: “JLP And The Very Bad Ideas” © 2019 Bill Batson. Visit billbatsonarts.com to see more.

The Nyack Sketch Log is sponsored each week by Weld Realty.
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Nyack Sketch Log: Rotary Club

by Bill Batson

On Thursday, June 20, The Rotary Club of Nyack will install a new President, a former teacher and Special Education School District Administrator Renae Leeming. Recent past presidents, including Jane Marino, Russell Grant, Kim Cross and Jo Lore, names familiar to all who interact with the business and non-profit sectors in Nyack, will be on hand at 6:30p at Joe and Joe’s Restaurant on Main Street. Together, these professional colleagues form a network for commercial and civc advancement, unknown by many, yet hiding in plain sight.

Here’s the story of this 95 year old organization, that gathers each week, asking of its members four profoundly simple questions, seemingly absent from our modern public discourse: Is it the truth? Is it fair to all concerned? Will it build goodwill and better friendships? Will it be beneficial to all concerned?

The first four Rotarians: (from left) Gustavus Loehr, Silvester Schiele, Hiram Shorey, and Paul P. Harris

These questions, known as the four way test, are spoken aloud at each meeting of the Rotary, a global organization that is both ubiquitous, and to some, mysterious.  A survey by Rotary International found that in some countries, up to 90% of the population have heard of the Rotary, but know little of the purpose and history of one of the world’s oldest service organizations.

Attorney Paul F. Harris founded the Rotary Club on February 23, 1905 in Chicago.  The group’s name comes from the practice of rotating meetings among the offices of its founding members.  Harris wanted to establish a professional association that would reflect the spirit of mutual support and friendship that he remembered from the small town America of his youth.  These ideals found an ardent following in Nyack, where a Rotary Club was established in 1923.

Rotary Club of Nyack Annual Installation Dinner

Thursday, June 20 6:30p

Joe and Joe’s Main Street, Nyack

Former teacher and Special Education School District Administrator, Renae Leeming will take the helm from former Nyack Library Director, Jane Marion at an installation ceremony on June 20, 2019.

Leeming lived on the West Coast for 62 years before moving to Nyack to be closer to her daughters. After traveling and living in Alaska (in a bush Eskimo village), Montana and Nebraska she settled in Seattle, Washington where she raised her three children for 25 years

Moving to Nyack 3 years ago without knowing anyone, Leeming started attending Rotary meetings. “Best thing I did, as it helped me build connections to my new community,” said Leeming.

Officers and Directors of the Board that are also being installed are:
  • Heather Haera, President Elect
  • Barry Dorfman, Vice President
  • Johnnie Malloy, Secretary
  • Julie Wendholt, Treasurer
  • Jane Marino, Senior Director
  • Kim Cross, Director
  • Glen Keene, Director
  • Alan Englander, Director
  • Wayne Henry, Director

Tickets for the installation are $60 per person/$95 per couple and includes dinner, drinks, fellowship, awards & prizes.

Reserve your spot by emailing kim.cross@nyackcenter.org

 

 

Some things about Rotary are timeless.  A similarly scripted agenda is acted out in 34,000 service clubs by 1.2 million members around the world when Rotary clubs meet for a weekly lunch.  In Nyack, the meeting is held on Tuesdays at 12:15 at La Fontana.

Members, who are business owners, employees, community and civic leaders, proceed with a meeting that seeks to focus their combined energy, talents and finances into four avenues of service:

In other ways, today’s Rotary is radically different.  For more than three quarters of the organization’s first century, it was a males only club. Women were relegated to a wives auxiliary called Rotary Anns.  The surreptitious acceptance of a woman into a California club with an androgynous first name brought about a lawsuit that eventually overturned the Rotary International ban on female membership in early 1980’s, at least in United States.

Howard Hellman, past Nyack club President and owner of All Bright Electric, will tell you that his greatest claim to fame was recruiting Judy Martin into the Rotary.  She was not the first woman to join, that was Joan Moffett, but Martin’s tenure is legendary.

Rotarians Judy Martin and Dr. Brett Caminez

Several years ago, Martin received a pin for 19 years of perfect weekly attendance. This feat of dedication and discipline was not accomplished without some very close calls. Since the Rotary is international, you can make up a missed local meeting by attending a session any where in the world. When in Rome with her husband Mac, Judy had to make a quick change in a restroom to make herself presentable for the only meeting available. In Rome, the Rotary’s weekly lunch is attended by the cabinet ministers of the Italian government.

Howard Hellman has a second claim to fame.  He was the driving force behind the Rotary clock in Veterans’ Park.  During a trip to Cape May, New Jersey, Hellman saw a stately time keeping monument.  The Mayor of Nyack at the time, Terry Hekker, informed Hellman that there had once been a public timepiece in Nyack.  The Rotarians collectively raised the funds and the fixture was dedicated in September 2001. Hellman thought the clock would hearken back to Nyack’s past grandeur and promote the service philosophy of Rotary.

Current Rotary programs that the clock symbol celebrates include the organization’s decade long commitment to introduce every Headstart and elementary student in Nyack to the joy of reading by giving each child their first book.  Barnes and Nobles now donates the books that they distribute. Rotarians also engage middle school students through their partnership with Junior Achievement, a program that stresses the importance of financial literacy through a Rotary-modeled Interact Club.and Rotarians distribute food through Meals on Wheels to seniors in Depew Manor and Nyack Plaza.

The clock in Veteran’s Park is a perfect metaphor for the Rotary club. During the last nine decades, the Rotary has been a constant servant, looking out for the interests of the Village of Nyack. We can only hope that like the inner workings of this landmark, the heart of service that beats within Rotary will keep on ticking.

Special thanks to Win Perry

Photo of founding Rotarians Courtesy of Rotary Images

An artist and writer, Bill Batson lives in Nyack, NY. Nyack Sketch Log: “The Rotary Club” © 2019 Bill Batson. Visit billbatsonarts.com to see more.

The Nyack Sketch Log is sponsored each week by Weld Realty.
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Nyack Sketch Log: The Triumphant Return of the McCourty Twins

by Bill Batson

Courtesy of the New England Patriots/Eric J. Adler

History surrounds the McCourty twins. Devin and Jason are the first twins to win a Super Bowl after the New England Patriots were victorious in 2018. In May, 2019, they gave the commencement address at their alma mater, Rutgers University on the 100th anniversary Paul Robeson’s graduation. And next week, on June 15, 2019, they will be Grand Marshalls for the African American Day Parade in their hometown of Nyack, New York as their community commemorates the 400th anniversary of the introduction of slavery in America. The celebration of the McCourty’s achievement and the remembrance of the first slaves arriving in Jamestown, Virginia in 1619 captures the breathtaking sweep of American history, from land of oppression to opportunity, on parade in one procession.

Nearly 100 children who participate in after-school programs at the Nyack Center will march, carrying McCourty-inspired posters they created for the event. Photo by Kellie Walsh

For the last eleven years, Nyack has commemorated the presence of a substantial African American community with a parade. The African American Parade Committee is chaired by Village of Nyack Trustee Louis Parker.

The African American history in Rockland County that parade organizers acknowledge goes back to the arrival of the first non-Native Americans to this part of the world in the late 1600s. In his seminal volume, Nyack in Black and White, Carl Nordstrum writes that three original shareholders of the Tappan Patent, the earliest legal document from this county were designated as “free Negro” and named John De Vries, his son John Jr. and Nicohlas Manuels.

Some of the members of the African American Parade Committee. Photo by Kellie Walsh

According to census records from 1723, nearly one fifth of the 1,244 inhabitants of the county were African slaves. Mount Moor Cemetery, a segregated burial ground islandized by the Palisades Mall, was established in 1849, 22 years after the New York State Legislature abolished slavery in 1827 and 13 years before President Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation in 1863.

The celebration of the McCourty twins in Nyack, for their achievements on and off the football field, reflects the pride of a community that is centuries old.

Regarding family history, the person responsible for the athletic careers being heralded never stepped on the field of play. After her husband Calvin died in 1990 at the age of 34 from a heart attack related to complication from asthma, Phyllis McCourty became the sole guardian of the twins, Devin and Jason and an older brother Larry. Phyllis guided the twins through Upper Nyack Elementary and a move to Nanuet where the the boys eventually played football for St. Joseph High in Montvale. They were both recruited to Rutgers University from St. Joseph’s.

11th Annual African American Day Parade in Nyack

Saturday, June 15th at noon

Photo by Kellie Walsh

The McCourty Twins will serve as Grand Marshalls for the 11th annual African American Day Parade that steps off at noon on Saturday, June 15th

The parade route, which passes through the neighborhood where the McCourty twins lived as children is:

  • West on Depew Avenue from Memorial Park
  • north on Franklin Street,
  • East on Main Street,
  • south on Broadway,
  • east on Depew Avenue back to Memorial Park

Excellent viewing opportunities along the route

The twins will march with nearly 100 children who participate in after-school programs at the
Nyack Center, who will be carrying McCourty-inspired posters they created for the event

The procession will include marching bands, classic cars, elected officials, community leaders and village residents.

The parade is followed by a festival in Memorial Park, including food trucks, jewelry and clothing vendors, and African art — along with live music throughout the afternoon. Bounce house, face painting and other activities will be available for the children

In their commencement remarks at Rutgers on May 19, 2019, the twins name-checked Paul Robeson, Bill Belichick, Cardi B and Jay-Z among others. The procession of graduates marked the 100th anniversary of Robeson’s 1919 graduation from Rutgers.

Paul Robeson was world famous for his cultural, civic and athletic contributions to America. Not only was Robeson a major figure in the Harlem Renaissance, he was literally a renaissance man. Robeson graduated with a Law Degree from Columbia University, played in the National Football League, recorded and released 276 songs, and performed an iconic version of Old Man River in the 1936 production of the film Show Boat. Robeson’s career was tragically curtailed by the racism of his time and controversies that swirled around him relating to his outspoken political positions on race and economic inequality

From the podium, the McCourty’s reflected on their path from Nyack to the national stage and on the significance of what Robeson accomplished 100 years earlier. “I know chasing goals can be scary. You may be doing things for the first time in your family’s history. You may be following in the footsteps of someone great. But do you think we’d be standing here, celebrating the 100th anniversary of Paul Robeson’s graduation, if he let fear and doubt step in the way of being great?, said Devin.

The McCourty’s are exceptionally qualified to lecture on the topic of success. Jointly, they are the first set of twins to play in a Super Bowl together, and the first to win, as they did in Super Bowl LIII.

Individually, Jason played for the Tennessee Titans and the Cleveland Browns before joining the New England Patriots. He graduated from Rutgers with a degree in information technology. Devin was selected by The New England Patriots in the first round in 2010 after graduating with a degree in Sociology. Devin has won three super bowl rings with the Patriots.

Photo by Kellie Walsh

Working with the New Brunswick, New Jersey based Embrace Kids foundation, the McCouty’s have established the “Tackle Sickle Cell” initiative in honor of their late aunt, Winnie. They are also active participants in the NFL Players Coalition and speak out on issues ranging from criminal justice reform, fair educational funding and racial equity.

During their Rutger’s address, Jason said, ““when they mention our legacy, I sure hope they don’t only mention football.” Their appreciation for history suggests not.

An artist and writer, Bill Batson lives in Nyack, NY. Nyack Sketch Log: “The Triumphant Return of the McCourty Twins” © 2019 Bill Batson. Visit billbatsonarts.com to see more.

The Nyack Sketch Log is sponsored each week by Weld Realty.
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