Items tagged with 'people'

Tea with Jack McEneny

Jack McEneny and a Christmas tree

Last week we were fortunate enough to spend a few minutes with Jack McEneny -- former state Assemblyman, unofficial Albany historian, and genuinely nice guy.

Jack visited the AOA downtown office for tea and a quick conversation. If AOA were continuing, we'd make this a regular feature, just because it's fun to spend time with Jack McEneny.

On this visit, he shared stories about getting into politics, his favorite job in his 48 years of public service, and what he thinks makes Albany a great place.

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Everything changes: AJ Jones

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AJ Jones

Everyone has a moment in life when things change. Sometimes we know it right away, other times we only recognize it looking back. With the turning of the year, we're taking some time to listen to people's stories about the moments that changed them, and what they've learned.

Many of us think there are things that we're good at -- things that are for us -- and things we're not good at. Those things are for other people.

AJ Jones is a student at Hudson Valley Community College. He started there as a home-schooler, working toward a GED, and then began working toward a degree in English. He was always a writer. Everyone said so. And he had no talent for art. He tried. He just wasn't good at it.

Then he took a chance and learned a lesson he shared with us.

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Everything changes: Rachel Person

Rachel Person

Rachel Person

Everyone has a moment in life when things change. Sometimes we know it right away, other times we only recognize it looking back. With the turning of the year, we're taking some time to listen to people's stories about the moments that changed them, and what they've learned.

Rachel Person has spent her life surrounded by stories.

From the time she was young, the Albany High alum has been passionate about books. She spent six years working at Symphony Space in New York City as the associate director of the public radio program Selected Shorts: A Celebration of the Short Story. And today she's the events and community outreach coordinator at Northshire Bookstore in Saratoga Springs.

Her life's work has been about sharing stories with others, in part because books, like people, can change your perspective -- which in turn can change your life.

We talked with Rachel about the childhood book series, and the person, who helped guide her in her youth and still helps her out in a pinch today.

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Everything changes: Taína Asili

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Artist Taína Asili

Everyone has a moment in life when things change. Sometimes we know it right away, other times we only recognize it looking back. With the turning of the year, we're taking some time to listen to people's stories about the moments that changed them, and what they've learned.

Taína Asili's work is hard to define. The internationally-known Puerto Rican singer, songwriter, documentary producer, bandleader, artist, and activist, who calls the Capital Region home, acknowledges that her work is unique. Influenced by Latin music, nueva canción, Afro-Latin, opera punk, flamenco, and rock n' roll, much of her music and art is connected to social justice issues and connects to the musical and artistic traditions of her ancestors.

From her earliest days, Asili says, there was never a time when she didn't identify as being a singer or an artist. But when you're forging your own path, when your style can't be easily defined, can be an incredible hurdle in a business that wants to package your work for sale.

In college, and for a few years after, Taina was part of a punk band, releasing albums and touring the world. But she felt like her voice had more to say than the punk genre would allow.

When her parents died -- and she herself was a single mom -- Asili says she went through a period where she felt lost. She traveled to Mexico where a trip to a town she never planned to visit set her back on her own unique path.

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What's up in the Neighborhood

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Among the topics in this most recent spin around the Capital Region's online neighborhood: Christmas and love, the beauties of winter, Julius Wendt, becoming a driver, talking about the scary things, life with a toddler, a moral dilemma in the supermarket, remains of a cemetery, a milestone -- and many, many thanks.

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Albany Barn in post ad 2018

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Everything changes: Michael McDermott

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State employee by day, Santa by night

Everyone has a moment in life when things change. Sometimes we know it right away, other times we only recognize it looking back. With the turning of the year, we're taking some time to listen to people's stories about the moments that changed them, and what they've learned.

By day, Michael McDermott works in training for the New York State Attorney General's Office, but for one month out of every year McDermott trades in his jacket and tie each night at 5 pm for a beard and red suit to play Saint Nicholas on Santa's Magical Express.

McDermott has become an expert in change. In a former life, he helped two publishing companies move from legal pads to computers, and he moved into a job helping state workers tackle change in their work lives. That was a temporary position and a few years ago he was left looking for work again.

Losing a job can seem like the end of the world, but for McDermott it ended up being a life saver -- literally. And it gave this part time Santa a new lease on life.

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Everything changes: Robyn DeSantis Ringler

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Robyn is the one on the left.

Everyone has a moment in life when things change. Sometimes we know it right away, other times we only recognize it looking back. With the turning of the year, we're taking some time to listen to people's stories about the moments that changed them, and what they've learned.

Robyn DeSantis Ringler began her career as a nurse in Washington DC in the early 1980s. Today, she's a lawyer, volunteering her time to help refugees being held at the Albany County jail.

The journey from nurse to activist to lawyer began with a VIP patient: President Ronald Reagan.

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Everything changes: Jonathan Lajas

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Mr. Lajas

Everyone has a moment in life when things change. Sometimes we know it right away, other times we only recognize it looking back. With the turning of the year, we're taking some time to listen to people's stories about the moments that changed them, and what they've learned.

Jonathan Lajas is known as Lajas to his friends -- and Mr. Lajas at the place where he spends most of his time: Albany Community Charter School.

Lajas is a social studies teacher, baseball and track coach, and mentor who says he "bleeds red and black," the school colors. He firmly believes the school has been a key part of bringing new focus to Albany's South End neighborhood.

He's also a dancer and performer who once chased Lin-Manuel Miranda into an elevator to get an audition for the tour of his musical In the Heights. Lajas says his passions are education and performance, and one of his goals is to start a performing arts high school in the Capital Region. He has a boundless energy and a love for his scholars.

Lajas's love for learning came later in life, after being introduced to the students and teachers at Albany Community Charter School. But his passion for performance, something he carries into the classroom every day, was influenced by someone he met in the eighth grade -- when he was sent to detention.

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What's up in the Neighborhood

The NeighborhoodAmong the topics in this most recent spin around the Capital Region's online neighborhood: a day in Troy, Thai food, pizza on the road, chili and chowder on Lark Street, tailgating at the Bills game, the baker's dozen, St. Paul's on Lancaster, William Seward, relaxing in the sauna, an attempted spa day, and a rainbow art piece.

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Albany Barn in post ad 2018

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Everything changes: Alicia Lea

Alicia Lea

"I wanted to be accepted by everybody in all these groups. I wasn't pleasing myself. I was trying to please these other people."

Everyone has a moment in life when things change. Sometimes we know it right away, other times we only recognize it looking back. With the turning of the year, we're taking some time to listen to people's stories about the moments that changed them, and what they've learned.

When Alicia Lea was 16 years old, a high school guidance counselor told her that based on her age and family circumstances, she'd have more of a chance of becoming a pregnant teen than going to college.

"That made me angry," Lea said.

And it propelled her to put herself through HVCC and UAlbany. By day she was a model fine arts student -- but by night she was painting graffiti, living a double life that eventually fell apart. She got arrested, and ultimately learned valuable lessons about who she was as an artist and as a person.

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A bunch of photos from this year's Santa Speedo Sprint on Lark Street

Albany Santa Speedo Sprint 2018

People wearing all sorts of holiday-themed attire -- festive speedos, pajamas, costumes, formal wear -- dashed down Lark Street Saturday for charity as part of the annual Albany Santa Speedo Sprint.

The sprint -- now in its 13th year -- is always one of the goofiest, happiest events of the year. It's organized by the Albany Society for the Advancement of Philanthropy, with the Albany All Stars Roller Derby, and is a fundraiser for the Albany Damien Center and the HIV/AIDS program at the Albany Medical Center. Jim Larson -- one of the organizers and the sprint captain -- said this year's event raised $19,000.

Here are many, many photos from this year...

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What's up in the Neighborhood

The NeighborhoodAmong the topics in this most recent spin around the Capital Region's online neighborhood: Phelps Mountain in the snow, ice on the lake, donating children's books, Albany Cake, Utica Club, Greenway, Kirsten Gillibrand, John Sweeney, judging chili, pizza, Two Birds Marketplace, Gracie's Kitchen, and a big goal.

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Albany Barn in post ad 2018

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A few of the 700some stories about the street names of Albany

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Morton was named after Washington Morton, husband of Cornelia Schuyler Morton. (He was the son-in-law of Philip Schuyler.) As for the other street... is that Hawk or Hawke?

There are 785 streets in the city of Albany. And Erik Schlimmer has figured out the backstory for the name of almost every one of them.

That monumental effort -- it took him four years -- is collected in the new book Cradle of the Union: A Street by Street History of New York's Capital City. (Mentioned earlier.) And the result is like a bag of local history potato chips. Once you snack on a few of the street name histories it's hard to stop.

"In all place names -- street, the town they live in, a mountain range, a stream, a pond, a building -- there's usually a story behind the name," Schlimmer told us this week when we met up with him. "And the story is usually pretty good."

Here are a few of those important or funny or surprising or sometimes dramatic stories...

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Chad Orzel: Breakfast With Einstein

Breakfast with Einstein Chad Orzel

Check it out: Union College physics professor/science writer Chad Orzel has a new book out today called Breakfast with Einstein: The Exotic Physics of Everyday Objects. Blurbage:

In Breakfast with Einstein, Chad Orzel illuminates the strange phenomena lurking just beneath the surface of our ordinary lives by digging into the surprisingly complicated physics involved in his (and anyone's) morning routine. Orzel, author of How to Teach Quantum Physics to Your Dog, explores how quantum connects with everyday reality, and offers engaging, layperson-level explanations of the mind-bending ideas central to modern physics.
From the sun, alarm clocks, and the red glow of a toaster's hot filaments (the glow that launched quantum mechanics) to the chemistry of food aroma, a typical day is rich with examples of quantum weirdness. Breakfast with Einstein reveals the hidden physics all around us, and after reading this book, your ordinary mornings will never seem quite as ordinary again.

Orzel's previous book was Eureka: Discovering Your Inner Scientist . And How to Teach Quantum Physics to Your Dog was a Jeopardy! answer earlier this year.

(We're now looking forward to Waking Up With Newton and an explanation of why it's so hard to get out of bed in the morning.*)

Orzel will be at The Open Door Bookstore in Schenectady this Saturday, December 15 for a signing from 1-2:30 pm.
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* Yep. That's a terrible inertia joke. Oof.

author photo via Oneworld Publications

What's up in the Neighborhood

The NeighborhoodAmong the topics in this most recent spin around the Capital Region's online neighborhood: Albany's last Civil War veteran, suburbanization, shoes, mountain biking, NYC, a heron, dogs, tipping, soul food, brunch, lunch, cooking on TV, culinary tours, keeping the brokenness at bay, and recovery.

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Albany Barn in post ad 2018

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What's up in the Neighborhood

The NeighborhoodAmong the topics in this most recent spin around the Capital Region's online neighborhood: The Celery King of Albany, the death of a dry agent, gold in those wheelbarrows, an appeal, the Canadian Pacific Holiday Train, a winter walk along the shore, the Marcus King Band, the only right answer to a gift question, favorite restaurants, breakfast spots, Genesee beers, egg tarts, risotto, and a stuffing incident.

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Albany Barn in post ad 2018

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Michael DeMasi: What They Said

Michael DeMasi What They Said

Check it out: Longtime Capital Region journalist Michael DeMasi has a book coming out that's based on the many stories he's covered around this area.

Blurbage for What They Said: 25 Years of Telling Stories:

A salvager who bought downtown Albany's biggest, ugliest building. An Irish priest lifting spirits at a maximum-security prison. A wealthy socialite whose 40 dogs eat organic chicken. A laid-off farmhand temporarily working as a human billboard. An upstate New York mayor who became the Pied Piper of Guyanese immigrants. A friendly clock enthusiast named Smiley Lumpkin.
They are some of the people Michael DeMasi has interviewed during more than 25 years in journalism. He shares what they and many others said in this collection of his favorite stories.

Mike is an ace reporter for the Business Review, and before that for the Daily Gazette and Post-Star. He is also, in our experience, consistently friendly and supportive toward fellow local media members. (See his 2016 remembrance of Marv Cermak, whom he credits for demonstrating how you can compete with others and still be friendly.)

What They Said will be available to buy starting next week at Market Block Books in Troy, The Open Door Bookstore in Schenectady, and The Book House of Stuyvesant Plaza, and online the following week from Troy Book Makers and Amazon.

Updated: There are also a handful of events lined up:

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What's up in the Neighborhood

The NeighborhoodAmong the topics in this most recent spin around the Capital Region's online neighborhood: a dinner delivery checklist, freeing up a seat, the Gravel Gobbler, the Hundred-Acre Woods, the bridge of the Enterprise, The Suffers, Melt N' Toast, Hank Hudson Brewing Company, deli meat, Dutch roots, Nicky's upper and lower, a family home, and marriage advice.

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Albany Barn in post ad 2018

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What's up in the Neighborhood

The NeighborhoodAmong the topics in this most recent spin around the Capital Region's online neighborhood: the Lady of the Grove, Gertrude Crissey Valentine, WWI, mail and railroads, lockdowns, Megyn Kelly, escarpment fungi, the Syracuse Half Marathon, tall Christmas trees, well prepared vegetables, a bakery, and flannel.

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Albany Barn in post ad 2018

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Music break: Neighborhood of Make Believe

Something to listen to: "Track Names" by Neighborhood of Make Believe. It's embedded above.

The local orchestral folk rock act has a new album -- Two Nighttimes -- debuting November 16 on Five Kill Records. Blurbage:

Two Nighttimes, written slowly in the wake of a previous band's demise, looks forward and backward simultaneously. Frontman Alex Muro resorts to unlikely sources like the surrealist poetry of Vincente Alexandre or the no-stone-unturned history of Robert Caro to find ways to talk about personal questions. Attempting answers indirectly by painting pictures in words.

Neighborhood of Make Believe is Alex Muro, Adam Muro, Louis Apicello, Ryan Stewart, and Richard Nolan. (You might recognize some of the crew from Sgt. Dunbar and the Hobo Banned.)

The night of Friday, November 16 they're playing the annual B3nson Family Funsgiving at The Linda and The Low Beat in Albany. Joining them in the lineup: NXNES/Pink Noise, Oceantor, Bear Grass, Abyssmals, Groupie, Burly, and Secret Release.

What's up in the Neighborhood

The NeighborhoodAmong the topics in this most recent spin around the Capital Region's online neighborhood: the beginning of the end of the machine, 200 years in business, a short marriage, motorcycles, Faso/Delgado, locked down, the Saranac 6er relay, Bog Meadow, toddler activities, Phish, a musical, immigrants, choices, a bad customer, good pizza, Mexican food, Election Bread, and votes.

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Albany Barn in post ad 2018

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"I've always wanted to be able to animate"

You might remember last month we shared a few beautiful animated shorts set in Albany that were created by local artist/animator Jordan McClendon.

And check it out: He and his work are being featured on the upcoming episode of WMHT's AHA! A House for Arts. The clip is embedded above. It includes McClendon talking about his career and some behind-the-scenes looks at how he creates the animations.

Fresh Neighborhood Market

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The Fresh Neighborhood Market -- a new corner grocery that's aiming to offer healthier options in Albany's West Hill neighborhood -- is now open on Judson Street near Clinton Ave.

Said owner Dileep Rathore when we stopped by this week to talk about the new store: "Come in, enjoy, and I hope I got it. And if I don't, I'll get it for you. I want to be a neighborhood deli."

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What's up in the Neighborhood

The NeighborhoodAmong the topics in this most recent spin around the Capital Region's online neighborhood: feeling safe at religious services, not the enemy of the people, a threatening time that felt different, foliage, Sleepy Hollow, the South End, Dr. Woodbury's soap, Hoffman's Ferry, the joy of sports, tipping, pizza on the road, borek, salt potatoes, and a nice thing.

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Albany Barn in post ad 2018

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The winner of the 2018 AOA Startup Grant is...

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The Dilly Bean's Abigail Rockmacher, Sleep in Heavenly Peace's James Welch, and Hannah Johnson and Ben Smith from ZeBra Bras.

There were a bunch of interesting, worthwhile projects submitted for this year's $2,500 AOA Startup Grant.

But we could only have three finalists.

And one winner.

The 2018 AOA Startup Grant is sponsored SEFCU, CDPHP, and the College of Saint Rose

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What's All Over Albany?

All Over Albany is for interested and interesting people in New York's Capital Region. In other words, it's for you. It's kind of like having a smart, savvy friend who can help you find out what's up. Oh, and our friends call us AOA.

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Thank you!

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Last week we were fortunate enough to spend a few minutes with Jack McEneny -- former state Assemblyman, unofficial Albany historian, and genuinely nice guy.... (more)

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