David Becker released "To Be Forever Wild," a documentary film about the Catskills, in the summer of 2014. The project has been four years in the making—we interviewed Becker back in 2012 about his plans for the film, which was shot and edited collaboratively with the help of a large crew of volunteers. This fall, Jenna Scherer, our arts correspondent, got to watch the finished product. Here's her review. - Ed.
The Catskill Mountains are hundreds of millions of years old, formed by eons of sedimentary accumulation, continental collision, glacial erosion and deforestation. But for every new generation that claps eyes on the region, it’s something brand new.
That sense of novelty and aw-shucks wonder is the engine that fuels "To Be Forever Wild," filmmaker David Becker’s new documentary about the Catskills and the way they make people feel.
Left: Director David Becker, photographed at Dibble's Quarry in the Catskill Mountains.
The film covers 12 days in the lives of Becker his crew, a group of young artists, filmmakers and musicians—mostly from New York City—as they head north to do the mountain thing. Along the way, they rub elbows with knowledgeable locals versed in everything from geology to fly-fishing—and, of course, Sullivan County homeowner and movie star Mark Ruffalo.
As a director, Becker goes out of his way to capture a sense of motion and life, taking the camera on cliff jumps off the edge of waterfalls, on zip-line rides through the tree canopy, and careening down scenic sunlit highways.
The in-between moments in this movie are about the crew finding creative inspiration in their surroundings: folky jam sessions around a campfire, sketches at Artist Rock in Greene County, and antique-camera photos of swimmin’ holes.
This can all feel a little precious at times, but fortunately, that’s not the meat and potatoes of the film. That would be Becker’s motley mix of interview subjects, who all get jazzed about the Catskills in different ways.
Among them are natural historian Michael Kudish, who leads the film crew into the woods as he cores a bog; Ellen Kalish of the Ravensbeard Wildlife Center in Saugerties, who rehabilitates injured owls and hawks; and Lama Karma, a monk from Woodstock’s Karma Triyana Dharmachakra Monastery, who emigrated to the region from Tibet. The diversity of perspectives gives you an appreciation of just how many different ways there are to look at a place like this.
Becker's muse is 19th-century naturalist John Burroughs, the Catskills’ own famous essayist and conservationist. But "Forever Wild’s" spirit is closer to that of a group of little kids who appear early in the film, waxing rhapsodic about sticks.
Republican Congressman Chris Gibson kept his seat in New York's 19th Congressional District with large leads over Democratic challenger Sean Eldridge on Tuesday, Nov. 4.
In a statement emailed to the press at 10:42 p.m. on election night, Eldridge conceded the race to Gibson, saying that he was "proud of the issues we focused on in this race."
Gibson had a hefty lead over Eldridge in early election results: at 10:30 p.m., with fewer than half of the precincts in the 19th District reporting, Gibson had 62 percent of the vote overall, while Eldridge had 35 percent.
In the Catskills counties that reported unofficial results before 11 p.m., Gibson won by even larger margins: 61 precent of the vote in Sullivan County, 74 percent in Greene County, and 79 percent in Schoharie County.
Gibson emailed a victory statement at 11:01 p.m., thanking voters and citing broad support for his campaign "across party lines." Gibson said that his first act will be to shepherd a Lyme Disease bill into law.
Here are the statements from the two candidates in full: Read more
Gibson, who was first elected in 2010, once represented a territory that was solidly Republican. But after New York's congressional lines were redrawn in 2012, his district shifted to include some of the left-leaning Hudson Valley lowlands once represented by former Congressman Maurice Hinchey.
The new 19th District is now a swing district. Democrat Barack Obama won it in the 2012 presidential race, but Republican Gibson beat Democrat Julian Schreibman for its congressional seat that same year. Read more
Above: A promo for Haunted Huguenot Street, New Paltz's annual spookfest, featuring "Mrs. Gertrude Deyo-Brodhead’s infamous Murder Mystery parties at the Deyo House." Tours, spirit readings and ghost stories all weekend.
It’s the darkening evening of the year, and the veil between the worlds has thinned. Venture out into the mountains and valleys for some resonant Halloween fun, costumed or otherwise, beginning this weekend. There’s a little of everything going on, whether you’re looking for pumpkins and not-too-scary spirits for the little guys, contemplative historic ghost-walks, or smokin’ hot dance parties into the wheeee hours.
Here’s our guide to the fearsome and frolicsome times for Oct. 24 - Oct. 26. We'll have another one next week, to cover the many festivities scheduled across the Catskills for Halloween itself.
A long-stalled conversation about sharing school services is being revived at a meeting on Wednesday, Oct. 22 in the Delaware County village of Margaretville, prompted by the departure of Margaretville Central School's superintendent this fall.
The meeting, initially intended as a discussion about Margaretville's next superintendent, has become an impromptu regional summit on the painful issue of rising costs and declining enrollment in Catskills schools. Officials from four Catskills school systems in three counties will attend.
No one in Margaretville has seriously considered sharing services since 2010, when a proposal to share sports teams with the neighboring Andes Central School caused an uproar. Read more
Up here in the Catskills, in the heart of New York City's vast rural watershed, it's impossible to forget that one lives in the middle of the city's water supply. The city's huge reservoirs dominate the landscape. Watershed affairs dominate local politics. New York City's watershed police patrol along sleepy back roads a hundred miles from Manhattan.
Flooding on smaller tributaries and streams may occur in Delaware and Sullivan counties in the western Catskills throughout the night on Wednesday, Oct. 15 and into the following morning, according to NY-Alert and the National Weather Service in Binghamton.