They Might Be Giants' John Flansburgh: "The Catskills is the new Williamsburg"

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Video: They Might Be Giants performs "Canajoharie," a song off their new album Join Us, at the Kennedy Center in Washington, DC, October 2, 2010.

In an interview with Gothamist yesterday about They Might Be Giants' new album release, legendary alt-rocker John Flansburgh let it slip that both of TMBG's Johns have Catskills hideaways:

We both have little weekend retreat laboratories in the Catskills. The Catskills is the new Williamsburg. There, I said it! There is more artisanal pork being butchered there than anywhere else.

Oh no! Not another "_____ is the new _____"! Somebody call Ivan Lajara!  Read more

Saugerties drops plans to buy Opus 40

Photo of bluestone sculpture at Opus 40 in Saugerties by Flickr user Insignifica. Published under Creative Commons license.

In the Daily Freeman today: A letter from the supervisor of Saugerties announced today that the town is pulling out of an effort to buy Opus 40, the legendary homestead and life's work of bluestone sculptor Harvey Fite.

The town had been trying since last year to find a way to buy the bluestone sculpture park on Fite Road and make it a public venue, and a non-profit corporation called the Committee to Create Opus 40 Museum was formed to work with the town to turn Opus 40 and its assets into a museum chartered by the state Board of Regents.

[Supervisor Greg] Helsmoortel’s letter states the town’s decision to withdraw acceptance of the $400,000 state Environmental Protection Fund grant and no longer seek ownership of Opus 40 was made after consulting with the Committee to Create Opus 40 Museum.  Read more

Catskills bus incident dubbed "gay Rosa Parks"

Ari Gold, a gay pop star, was the target of homophobia on a Catskills-bound Short Line Bus last weekend in an incident that is being compared to Rosa Parks' famous stand in Montgomery.

According to the Village Voice's Michael Musto, who broke the story, Gold was holding hands with his boyfriend in the front seat of the bus when the bus driver asked him to move to the back. When Gold said no, the driver called the police:

"Then he pulled over," says Gold. "The state trooper came and asked what the problem is, and he said that the way were were sitting was making him uncomfortable and he wanted us off the bus. "The trooper said nothing was illegal and he needs to continue to drive." Gold made an announcement to the other passengers, explaining that they had been pulled over to wait for the state trooper because he was holding hands with a man. They all seemed deeply pissed at the blatant homophobia. Gold -- the gay Rosa Parks -- will be filing charges.  Read more

Theaters are cropping up across the Catskills

Photo by Flickr user Alina Sofia.

It's a renaissance weekend for theaters in the Catskills. At the Woodstock Playhouse, the first summer stock season on the safe side of foreclosure continues.  In Tannersville, the expansion and renovation of The Orpheum Performing Arts Center is on the brink of completion. In in Oneonta, the Oneonta Theatre is in its 114th year of operation. If you want to spend a night out this weekend, all three venues have big plans in store.  Read more

'Psychobilly' by Pitchfork Militia to shake Bearsville Theater tonight

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Video: Pitchfork Militia plays Jason's Upstairs Bar in Hudson, 2009.

Tonight's lineup at the Bearsville Theater: Too much rock for one band.

Fred Perry, owner of Reservoir Music Center in Shokan, is celebrating the fifth anniversary of his store's opening. And he's lined up at least five acts to mark the occasion with a blow-out at the Bearsville Theater tonight. 

The headliners, Palenville band Pitchfork Militia, play a high-energy mashup of rock, blues, country and punk, dubbed 'psychobilly' (or even 'apocabilly'). "It's fun, fast and loud," says frontman Peter Head.  (Bonus punk-rock points for shredding with a firetruck.)  Read more

Ann Epner leaves RAG; takes executive job at Pine Hill Community Center

Tonight, Ann Epner, the program and community arts funding coordinator of the Roxbury Arts Group, announced on her Facebook page that she is leaving RAG to become the new executive director of the Pine Hill Community Center, which will lose its current director, James Krueger, at the end of the month.

Here's Epner's Facebook status announcement:

I have a wonderful new job ast he Executive Director of The Pine Hill Community Center, a terrific organization. I'll begin officially in August, and I'll change my status, etc. then, but I'm SO excited! I'm sad, too, to be leaving Roxbury Arts Group and all my friends there. RAG has been central to my making a real home in the Catskills, and I'm looking forward to continuing to work together in many ways.

7/14/11 update: This post has been corrected. I mistakenly wrote that the Pine Hill Community Center "lost its previous director, James Krueger, last month." Krueger will not leave his post until the end of July.

Two Dark Birds plays for the Woodland Playhouse

This Friday, the rock-soul-folk band Two Dark Birds is holding a benefit concert for the Woodland Playhouse preschool in Phoenicia. The band's front man, Steve Koester, emailed us about why the preschool, which his daughter has attended, it so great:

Woodland Playhouse is a community minded, play-based pre-school just outside of Phoenicia run by an incredible group of women. Our daughter spent the last 3 years there and we are so grateful for the experience that we wanted to help them a bit with next year's arts & science budget.


Resurrecting the "Bedell NY" sign

Quick: Where is Bedell, NY? 

According to the Historical Society for the Town of Middletown's Tin Horn blog, there used to be an enormous sign with letters 20-feet high answering that question for strangers approaching the intersection of Little Red Kill Road and Big Red Kill Road in the town of Middletown in Delaware County. 

(Have no idea where that is? It's nestled between Fleischmanns to the south, Roxbury to the east, and Halcott to the north. And you're excused for wondering -- this part of Delaware County is very confusing. My attempt at mapping its location is here.)

The Bedell sign was on Linda Kelly Armour's great-uncle's land in Bedell. Armour was intimately familiar with just how much effort it took to keep the sign's giant letters visible, she writes:  Read more

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