The last week's worth of items on AOA

Crisan to close cafe

Crisan front window 2013 October

Sad news for Lark Street today: Crisan, the bakery that has become part of the neighborhood fabric over the last six years, will be closing its cafe. Neighbors were notified this weekend that starting January 1 the bakery will close its storefront and focus on wholesale orders and weddings and custom cakes.

From the note: "What was once a place to socialize, to ponder, to read and to work, will be transformed into a cake decorating workspace and a private tasting room." (An image of the full note is after the jump.)

We're hoping to talk with the owners later today and we'll update if we do.

Crisan was one of those places that made living in the Washington Park/Center Square neighborhood lovely. It will be missed.

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The Airing of Grievances 2014

festivus pole peppermint pigs

Once again we're celebrating Festivus with a traditional Airing of Grievances.

So, what are your small annoyances, complaints, or frustrations?

Gather round the unadorned aluminum pole, let it rip, and let it go. You'll feel better. And it's good to get it out before facing your relatives and that one uncle who gets all his news from Facebook shares and email forwards.

But here's the deal: grievances can not include personal attacks, nastiness, or creepiness. (You'll know it when you see it.)

To balance the bitter with the sweet, as is tradition, we will give Peppermint Pigs to two people who air their grievances in the comments. The winners will be picked randomly.

The Editors have begun the Airing with their grievances, after the jump. We're looking forward to hearing yours.

Merry Festivus.

Important: To be eligible for the Peppermint Pig drawing, your comment must be submitted by 5 pm on December 23, 2014. You must include a working email address (that you check regularly) with your comment. Normal commenting guidelines apply. One entry per person, please. Winners will be notified by noon on Wednesday and must respond by noon on Monday, December 29.

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Cousin charged with murder in death of Kenneth White, Schenectady mayor projects property tax reduction because of casino, plans for new amenities at Thacher State Park

On Friday Tiffany VanAlstyne -- the 19-year-old cousin of Kenneth White -- was charged with second-degree murder for the death of the 5-year-old boy. Authorities allege she strangled the boy, carried him down the road, and in the words of Albany County Sheriff Craig Apple, threw his body over a guardrail "like a piece of trash." The situation surrounding White's death was originally reported as a kidnapping, but Apple says investigators responding to the case started getting indications the pieces didn't fit that story -- and a police dog found White's body about 40 yards from the home where he was staying. That home has been shut for code violations and two other small children have been placed in foster care, according to authorities. Brenda VanAlstyne -- mother of Tiffany, aunt of Kenneth -- tells News10 that they're fixing the code violations and referred to the boy's death as an "accident." [TU] [Daily Gazette] [TU] [TU] [TWCN] [News10]

Rotterdam police say they're investigating the death of a 20-month-old boy in September as a homicide after autopsy results indicate the child died of asphyxiation. RPD say the boy's mother and her partner are not cooperating with police. [TWCN] [TU]

Schenectady police say a pedestrian died after being struck by a vehicle on Albany Street near Fairview Ave Saturday evening (map). It's the fourth incident in the Capital Region in the last month in which a pedestrian has died after a crash with a vehicle. [Daily Gazette] [TU]

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The week ahead

Elf stage show

Elf is at Proctors this week.

Here are a few things to keep in mind, look forward to, or keep busy with this week, from the weather (warm, wet), to Christmas, to Christmas films, to an oversized elf, to hoops, to museums...

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This week was brought to you by

Fred Astaire & Rita Hayworth.jpg

Gift Certificates to the Fred Astaire Dance Studio for the holidays

This week was brought to you by gifts, latkes, donuts, candles, sparkly lights and a partridge in a pear tree. It was also brought to you by AOA advertisers like The Fred Astaire Dance Studios on Troy Schenectady Road in Latham. Learn to dance in 2015. Gift certificates available.

You'll find more of the advertisers that make AOA possible in the list below. Please patronize them when you can, and thank them for their support. If there's something you want to pass along to the AOA crowd, we can help get you started. It's easy and affordable. Just send us a note at advertising@alloveralbany.com.

Ways to get where you're going

CDTA, sponsors of the AOA holiday lights in honor of Make-A-Wish Foundation. This holiday season CDTA can get you where you're going and safely back home again. It's like a one horse open sleigh, but enclosed. And with wheels. And heat. And a motor instead of a horse so you get there faster. So it's even better than a one horse open sleigh.

Keeler Mini, sponsor of AOA's Tournament of Pizza to end all Tournaments of Pizza.

Stuff to do

miSci, The Museum of Innovation and Science in Schenectady. Their annual holiday Toys and Trains exhibit runs now through January 19.

Saints Basketball
Get your tickets now for one of 14 Siena home games at the TU Center.

The Mop & Bucket Improv Company. MopCo offers a new improv show every Friday night at Proctors with music, scenes and improv games based on audience suggestions. They're also teaching classes in improv and creativity for adults and kids at MopCo World Headquarters on Union Street in Schenectady, and they are now booking holiday parties and special events.

Beverage Trail tour
Check out the wineries, breweries and distilleries along the Columbia County Beverage Trail.

Albany Institute
The Albany Institute of History and Art, presenting the 2014 Exhibition by artists of the Mohawk-Hudson region,highlighting the work of the best visual artists in the region.

Troy Music Hall
Troy Music Hall presents an evening with Lily Tomlin, March 7 at 8pm.

Demetri Martin
Live Nation, presenting Demetri Martin at The Egg, January 29.

See a movie
Spectrum 8 Theaters--because the holiday movie season is underway.

The Secret Garden
Capital Rep, presenting The Secret Garden through December 21.

Places to live
Brian Brosen and Reggie Monroe at The Capital Team at Realty USA,created a bonafide tournament of pizza miracle, when they bought out all of the tickets to the TOP final at Shmaltz brewing and gave them away to 100 hungry readers. In addition to being pizza philanthropists, Brian and Reggie can help out with your residential and commercial real estate needs in the Capital Region. Because that's how they roll.

Food and Drink

the Albany Chef's Food and Wine Festival. Wine, spirits, craft beer and innovative chefs and restaurants, January 15-17 in Downtown Albany.

Honest Weight Food Coop. Honest Weight has all kinds of local deliciousness for your holiday table.

Beer
Shmaltz Brewing, host of the All Over Albany Tournament of Pizza People's Plate tasting event.

Farmie Market
Farmie Market -- Farm fresh food delivered right to your door.

Cider
Nine Pin Ciderworks in Albany, sourced entirely from Capital Region apples.

Cider donuts, pies and other deliciousness
Lakeside Farms in Ballston Lake: breakfast, lunch, gift shop, cider donuts and pies for the holidays.

New World
New World Bistro Bar, named #1 Best Restaurant, according to Times Union 'Best of the Capital Region' Readers' Poll and also listed as one of 'the 13 Best New York Restaurants, not in NYC' according to Thrillist.com.

Now Open
Broadway Plaza Liquor is now open at 418 Broadway, next to Coulson's News.

Kimchi fries
+ Mingle on Delaware Ave in Albany. Be on the lookout for Fin the Fishmonger's "Fin"-tastic specials, including fresh haddock fish tacos & pan-seared whole trout. Their chef will be using local products to create new specials daily to keep the menu fresh. Try the Kimchi fries.

Fine wine
Capital Wine at the corner of State and Lark Streets, with a wonderful supply of wines from around the world.

Food and beer
+Brown's Brewing


Holiday Shopping

Central Avenue
The Central Avenue BID, shop local this holiday season.

Enjoy Troy
Enjoy Troy hats, shirts and other great stocking stuffers.

Stuff to learn

UAlbany's History Department, offering an M.A. and Ph.D. in Environmental History. Explore the human connection to nature.

The College of Saint Rose, offering 52 Graduate Programs with a purpose. Programs include: MFA in Creative writing, MBA, Computer Information Systems and more.

Helpful stuff

Healthy food
Capital District Community Gardens. CDCG is seeking help from the community to fund its Urban Grow Center in Troy .

Historic home help
Historic Albany's architectural parts warehouse -- the Capital Region's only not-for-profit architectural parts warehouse.

Taxes
April 15 has come and gone, but Staff Ciampino & Company, P.C. can still help you with your business and personal tax needs. They're also the sponsors of the All Over Albany Start Up Grant business contest.

Banking
Berkshire Bank, providing the $1,500 prize money for this year's AOA Startup Contest. Great rates on home equity loans.

Libraries
The Albany Public Libraries. Their mobile app helps you find library locations and hours, check your library card account, learn about upcoming events, download eBooks, audiobooks, music and more. You can even check ISBN bar codes on books, DVDs and CDs to see if the library owns what you need.

A quick recap of the week

week review 2014-12-20

Here are a few highlights from the past week on AOA:

+ Daniel and the Best Dozen stopped in at Stewart's for donuts.

+ Christina asked about good sledding hills.

+ That time an Albany druggist made and sold cocaine toothache drops

+ Paul asked about good neighborhood holiday light displays.

+ Miss Pearl was back with some advice about how to respond when being called "sweetheart" at work.

+ What was up in the Neighborhood this week: Capital Hills, snowy day photos, a music venue, surveying calamari, restaurant week, The Ugly Rooster, Hot Chocolate Run, cookies and booze, cupcakes, the Myers Store, the fancy people drink, the legend of Jamario Moon, and pre-emptive record straightening.

+ The pick for the Capital Region casino: Schenectady.

+ Xina asked about where to get latkes.

+ Deanna suggested some local food gifts, and people shared some good ideas in the comments.

+ The state released high school graduation rates for 2014 -- we pulled together the Capital Region numbers into an easy-scan list.

+ 10 comments about 10 things in 10 words or less.

And more holiday gift lists -- this year we're asking people about what they'd like to give, what they'd like to get, a charity they'd like to support, and a favorite gift from their childhood. From this week:

+ Food writer Deanna Fox
+ Daniel B. from the FUSSYlittleBLOG
+ Erin Pihlaja from the Troy BID
+ Lauren Hittenger Hodgson from AOA and The Thrifty Ginger
+ Sean Desiree from South End Pallet Works

Here's the whole week all lined up.

Thanks to everyone who posted a comment or shared an idea or photo this week!

10x10: Casinos, John Oliver, new spots

beer belly albany interior retail

The Beer Belly.

A while back we did a thing where wrote 10 reviews/comments in no more than 10 words each. People seemed to like it, and it was kind of fun way to concentrate some thoughts.

So, here's another batch...

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Holiday gifts: Deanna Fox

Deanna Fox

Deanna didn't get the baby brother she asked for. But she did get a Baron.

Gifts and giving are on most everyone's mind this month. So we thought we'd ask a few people to share some thoughts on presents, past and present.

Today's thoughts on gifts and giving come from food writer, cooking instructor, AOA contributor and all around lovely person Deanna Fox.

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NY Thruway Guide

ny thruway guide app screenshotMight be worth a look: NY Thruway Guide, an iPhone app that's pretty much what it sounds like. It provides access to the lineup of Thruway exits and travel plazas, along with alerts and more than 150 traffic cameras.

We tried the app out today for a few minutes and it's smooth. The listing of travel plazas (including what amenities are at each plaza) and easy access to traffic camera pics could be helpful. It also lists the parking pull-off areas between plazas, which is nice.

A few things could be better. One that stuck out to us: The listings for nearby places at each exit -- which look like they're pulled from Google -- weren't great while we sampled local stops. An example: The first restaurant listed for Exit 24 -- the 1-90/I-87 interchange -- was the Albany Pump Station, which is more than five miles away. It'd be great if the app could incorporate more sophisticated food/place listings.

NY Thruway Guide is 99 cents, and currently only available for iOS. The app's creator -- Dan Wheeler, an Albany native who now lives in New Jersey -- tells us via email that he's looking into making an Android version.

Stuff to do this weekend

It's a Wonderful Life

Playing this weekend at The Palace in Albany and The Bow Tie in Saratoga Springs.

There's lots going on the the Capital Region this weekend -- both holiday and non-holiday. So if you're looking to take a break from all of the shopping and baking and wrapping and meal planning and whatever else is keeping you busy these days, after the jump you'll find a list of stuff we thought you might find interesting.

Got something else planned? Let us know about it in the comments.

And whatever you're up to, have a fantastic weekend!

Saint Rose Stuff to Do This Weekend in-post ad

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Sheriff: Body of Berne 5 year old found, kidnapping story was false; state committee recommends opening police records, CDTA adding accordion busses

The body of 5-year-old Kenneth White was found by a K-9 unit near the home where he had been staying in East Berne, according to Albany County Sheriff Craig Apple. The sheriff says White was initially reported missing by a caretaker who said the boy had been taken by two masked men -- a report that Apple says was false. Apple says he expects a suspect to be charged in the case today. Update: Authorities say 19-yr-old Tiffany VanAlstyne -- White's cousin, and the person who had reported the kidnapping -- has been arrested and will face a murder charge. [WGY] [WNYT] [TWCN] [News10] [TU]

In a letter to the chancellor of the state Board of Regents and the state education commissioner, the Cuomo admin indicated (through a series of questions) it will be pushing for a slate of reforms, notably to the teacher evaluation system. NYSUT called the letter "clueless." [Cuomo admin] [TU] [NYSUT]

The Cuomo admin has released draft rules for the medical marijuana program. Medical marijuana advocates say the rules are too restrictive. [Cuomo admin] [Capital]

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Capital Region high school graduation rates 2014

chalkboard eraser chalk

photo: Flickr user alkruse24 (CC BY 2.0)

The state Department of Education released its annual collection of data about high school graduation rates around the state on Thursday. The statewide graduation rate for 2014 (that is, the 2010 cohort of students) was 76.4 -- up a little more than a percentage point from the year before.

As we do every year, we've pulled out the stats from Capital Region school districts.

Sorted stats (including notes and qualifications) after the jump.

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Holiday gifts: Daniel B.

Daniel B.jpg

Be careful what you wish for...

Gifts and giving are on most everyone's mind this month. So we thought we'd ask a few people to share some thoughts on presents, past and present.

Today's thoughts on gifts and giving come from Daniel B., proprietor of FUSSYlittleBLOG, AOA contributor, and connoisseur of donuts.

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Warmth with flair

johnson geer cox cast iron stove Albany Institute

Historical object gawking: We came across this photo of a 19th century stove in the Albany Institute collection. It was made by a Troy company -- Johnson, Geer & Cox -- based on a design by Troy resident Ezra Ripley, probably around 1844. At the time it was advertised as as a "cheap and beautiful article for offices and parlors."

It's a gorgeous object -- as a stove, or even as art. The Google Cultural Institute viewer allows some very close closeups of the details.

From the Albany Institute description:

Cast-iron stovemaking reached its highest level of artistic achievement and technological advances between 1840 and 1870. Stove designers borrowed from architectural and cabinetmakers's design books, bringing Greek, Roman, Gothic, Egyptian, and Rococo revival motifs, along with patriotic symbols and lavish floral designs, in stoves. The technical design of this column parlor stove included a small rectangular firebox to which were connected four vertical flues (or columns). All were connected at the top by a horizontal pipe or second chamber. The increased surface area and greater air circulation of this design enhanced the amount of radiated heat.

Troy and Albany were prominent centers of the stovemaking industry during the 19th century, with hundreds of stove manufacturers trying to stake out a spot in the marketplace over the century.

Sometimes it's easy to romanticize the past and look past its negatives. Sure, there were gorgeous parlor stoves -- but they were often manufactured by people working in terrible conditions. And there are so many things -- in terms of people's rights, technology, and so on -- that are so much better now compared to then (even if there's still room to improve). But objects like this stove were made with a certain flair.

photo: "Four-Column Parlor Stove" via Albany Institute collection

Crisp Cannoli storefront closing

The Crisp Cannoli in East Greenbush -- you know, the bakery that makes croissant donuts, including an apple cider version -- is closing its storefront on Columbia Turnpike, citing increased costs for ingredients and utilities, as well as a lack of walk-in customers to the store. The last day is December 24. But the bakery's wholesale and mobile catering business will continue. [via Table Hopping]

Local food gifts

cornelius applejack bottle

Well, it would be a very heavy -- and happy -- stocking.

By Deanna Fox

We're into the stretch run for December holidays, so we asked Deanna for a few stocking stuffer-type local food gift ideas.

Stockings are my favorite part of Christmas morning. In my family, you are not allowed to open any presents until everyone is awake and in the living room, around the tree. Stockings, however, are fair game. As soon as you wake up, you can tiptoe to the mantle, un-hook your stocking, and dump out all the goodies that are crammed deep into the toe.

Here are some local treats I'm hoping to find in my stocking this year.

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Where to get latkes?

latkes on plate Flickr Sarah and Jason CC BY-SA 2.0Xina emails with a seasonal question:

Where can I get some excellent latkes in the Capital region? I have had no luck making good ones on my own, but I would love to eat some. :)

We get the sense that latkes tend to fall into the category of "foods people usually make and eat at home" -- in part because it's a holiday thing for a lot of people. But there's gotta be a place in the Capital Region that Xina get score some good not-made-at-home latkes. Or maybe you can share some advice on how she can make good ones at home.

Got a suggestion? Please share!

photo: Flickr user Sarah and Jason (CC BY-SA 2.0)

Reactions to casino & fracking decisions, Feds seeking money from Saratoga drug bust, tickets to visit Cuomo

Andrew Cuomois headed to Schenectady today to congratulate the city on winning the bid for the Rivers Casino. [TU][AOA]

Some reaction to the casino decision:

Schenectady is celebrating its win in the casino competition.[TWCN]

Rensselaer Mayor Dan Dwyer on losing the proposal for a Hard Rock Casino: "I don't have $40 or $50 million. We're in trouble. Our system is collapsing like a lot of cities are. I was hoping to really use that money for development,"[TWCN]

The developers for the planned Rivers Casino in Schenectady say the prep work that went into making the site shovel ready was a main reason they project won its casino bid. [Gazette]

Opponents of the proposed East Greenbush casino are celebrating the casino decision. [TU]

Glenville officials say they will need infrastructure improvements to prepare for the effects of a Schenectady casino. [Gazette]

Union College is concerned about having a casino so nearby. [Gazette]

Saint Rose MB in post ad 2014-fall

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Holiday gifts: Erin Pihlaja

Erin Pihlaja photo credit- joe putrock.jpg

A Range Rover would be nice. Or socks.

Gifts and giving are on most everyone's mind this month. So we thought we'd ask a few people to share some thoughts on presents, past and present.

Erin Pihlaja is the mother of two girls, a Troy resident, and the executive director of the Downtown Troy Business Improvement District.

She envies people who can make their own gifts, but knows herself well enough to not try to knit or bake cookies.

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Peck's Arcade

Over at Table Hopping, Steve talks with Heather LaVine and Vic Christopher about their plans for Peck's Arcade, the restaurant they're opening in the space at 217 Broadway in downtown Troy. Opening day is January 7. (Oh, and the Tavern Noodle pop-up returns to the space this Thursday, December 18 starting at 5 pm.)

Rivers Casino and Resort in Schenectady picked for Capital Region casino

Rivers Casino Schenectady rendering front small

A rendering of the project.

The state Gaming Facility Location Facility Board has picked the Rivers Casino and Resort project in Schenectady as its recommended site for the Capital Region. The $300 million proposal is part of the Galesi Group's Mohawk Harbor mixed-use project at the former Alco site.

Ahead of the announcement, chairman Kevin Law explained the board sought to select applications that both fit the guidelines laid out in the state law allowing the casinos -- 70 percent economic development, 20 percent local impact, 10 percent jobs -- and also held the most promise of long term success.

Strengths of the Schenectady proposal cited by the board:

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Fracking to be banned in New York

The Cuomo's administration's long-awaited decision on whether to allow hydrofracking in the state arrived today during a cabinet meeting -- and it will move to formally ban the method of extracting natural gas from the earth. [NYT]

The decision was pegged to the long-delayed state Department of Health study of the issue. A key clip from Capitol Confidential:

While [acting state health commissioner Howard] Zucker took pains to point out that the data on long-term impacts of hydrofracking is not fully conclusive, he turned personal in his decision.
"Would I live in a community with HVHF (high-volume hydraulic fracturing) based on the facts I have now?" Zucker said. "Would I let my child play in the school field nearby, or my family drink the water from the tap or grow their vegetables in the soil? After looking at a plethora of reports ... my answer is no."

Allowing fracking had been pitched as potential economic development for the Southern Tier, which sits atop natural gas deposits in the Marcellus Shale formation. Pennsylvania allows fracking, and a large swath of the state has natural gas wells now. The Southern Tier has some of the highest unemploymen rates in the state. [NPR State Impact]

But fracking also appears to involve some significant environmental risks, especially for ground water, and environmentalists and other advocacy groups have been pushing hard on the Cuomo admin over the last few years to not allow fracking.

What's up in the Neighborhood

The NeighborhoodAmong the topics in this most recent spin around the Capital Region's online neighborhood: Capital Hills, snowy day photos, a music venue, surveying calamari, restaurant week, The Ugly Rooster, Hot Chocolate Run, cookies and booze, cupcakes, the Myers Store, the fancy people drink, the legend of Jamario Moon, and pre-emptive record straightening.

Broadway Plaza Liquor in-post ad

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Miss Pearl: Who you calling honey, sugar?

bowl of sugar

"Miss Pearl" is AOA's advice columnist. She offers advice here once a month. Got a question for Miss Pearl? Send it along to MissPearl |at| alloveralbany |dot| com.

Dear Miss Pearl:

I'm a woman in my 30s working in an office setting. Recently, I was partnered with an older guy (maybe in his 50s) to work on a short-term project. He often referred to me as "hon" and occasionally "sweetheart" when he wanted to change it up a little. And when said it he wasn't being condescending or anything like that. He's a nice man, a bit odd, perhaps a bit clueless.

I didn't really mind that much, given his personality and, ummm, oddness.

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Casino decision expected today, man who reported Hudson Avenue murder now a suspect, pot wrapped as Christmas presents mailed to Desmond, Pataki 2016?

The decision on where a new casino will be built in the Capital Region is expected to come down later today. [WNYT][TWCN]

A man who walked into the Albany VA Medical Center and informed them that there was a body in his Hudson Avenue apartment on Sunday is now a suspect in the murder. Robert Lake is in police custody and charged with the murder of Latisha Alzaid. [WNYT][TU]

The uncle of a Schenectady woman who was murdered on State Street over the weekend called police to his home and threw a bottle at an officer's head in an attempt to get arrested so he could got to jail and seek retribution against the man charged with her death. The victim's father was pepper sprayed by police when he charged at the alleged killer during a court appearance on Monday. [TU][Gazette]

A Colorado man was arrested at the Desmond Hotel after postal inspectors in Colonie found more than 16 pounds of marijuana, wrapped up as Christmas presents, addressed to himself at the Desmond.[TWCN][WNYT][Saratogian]

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Good neighborhood holiday light displays?

holiday lights in the park 2014 snapshotPaul emails:

Have you ever done a story on good neighborhoods in the Capital District to view holiday lights? I know there is the Washington Park Lights, but I think there are specific neighborhoods that go over the top. My 10 yr old son loves to see the lights and was going to do some cruising this weekend with him.

There was an Ask AOA question about this years ago with a few suggestions. But things change. Some people get realllly into Christmas. Others fall out of it. So it seemed like a good time to pick it up back.

Got a suggestion for good holiday light display -- specific house, neighborhood, or street? Please share!

That time an Albany druggist made and sold cocaine toothache drops

cocaine toothache drops ad 1885 lloyd manufacturing albany

There's a (in)famous vintage ad for "Cocaine Toothache Drops" produced by the Lloyd Manufacturing Co. of Albany, dated to the mid 1880s.

It's one of those people-in-the-past-were-so-crazy kind of items, the sort of thing that prompts smiles and laughs now. So much so, that this particular vintage age is seemingly everywhere online. And someone sends it to us here at AOA at least once every year.

The ad popped up in our inbox again recently, so we figured we try to find out the backstory.

Or, to put it another way: How did a pharmacist in Albany end up selling cocaine intended for teething children?

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New Amsterdam State

new york map broken into upstate and downstateNoted: There is yet another effort to split up New York State, this time upstate and downstate -- or "New Amsterdam" and "New York." The effort frames the contrast between the regions as one of "generally conservative values" and one of "significantly more liberal leaning in their values." [AP/Syracuse Post-Stadard] Earlier: What if Upstate New York and Downstate New York were separate states? | What would you call a New York State without New York?

Holiday gifts: Lauren Hittinger Hodgson

LHittinger personal photo.jpg

Lauren's answer about her favorite gift from when she was a kid includes a photo and some powerful cuteness.

Gifts and giving are on most everyone's mind this month. So we thought we'd ask a few people to share some thoughts on presents, past and present.

Next up in the series is Lauren Hittinger Hodgson, a local freelance writer and regular contributor to All Over Albany. She also maintains her own blog, The Thrifty Ginger.

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Neighborhood That Disappeared screening at The Madison

Thumbnail image for corning tower constructionThe local documentary The Neighborhood That Disappeared, about the neighborhood replaced by the Empire State Plaza, is screening at the Madison Theater Tuesday-Thursday this week at 7:30 pm.

The doc, directed by Mary Paley, aired on WMHT this past Friday, and is set to air again December 29 at 8 pm and January 1 at 10am, 3:30 pm, and 9:30 pm.

Hoffman's Playland: One More Ride: The Hoffman's Playland Story is set to air again on WMHT this Thursday, December 18 at 7:30 pm.

Those beady little pink eyes

Odd wildlife of the day, an apparently ongoing series:

Maybe downtown Albany should have its own enclosed nature preserve.

Earlier on AOA: Behold, the white squirrels at play

APD investigating death of woman at senior apartment building, father charges at suspect accused of killing his daughter, Cuomo admin trying re-classify a thousand PEF employees

Albany police say a 56-year-old woman was found dead, with stab wounds, in an apartment at the Parkview Apts senior housing (map) Sunday evening. APD says a suspect is in custody, and as of yesterday the suspect was admitted at Albany Med for non-life-threatening injuries -- investigators are trying to figure out if the injuries were sustained during the same incident in which the woman died. APD says the woman and suspect knew each other, but the nature of the relationship is unclear. Tenants tell TWCN that the two had been in a relationship. Another neighbor told WNYT that the suspect had talked about the "rocky" relationship: "He kept coming to my apartment and talking about it. Harping on two subjects, sex and betrayal and I just told him let it go and he didn't listen to me." [APD FB] [News10] [TU] [TWCN] [WNYT]

In court Monday the father of the Markia Booth/Harris, found shot to death in Schenectady Saturday afternoon, charged at Jamell Modest, the man accused of killing his daughter -- he was tackled by court officers and hit with pepper spray. After order was restored, Modest pleaded not guilty to the charges against him, including second-degree murder. (Also: The Times Union is now referring to Booth/Harris as "Markida" -- other outlets are continuing to identify her as "Markia.") [Daily Gazette] [WNYT] [TU]

Among the groups pushing for a piece of the state's $5 billion surplus: a coalition called Rebuild New York Now, which includes leaders from the Capital Region, wants the money put toward fixing infrastructure such as roads and bridges. And the state Board of Regents is looking for more than $300 million of the surplus for a range of programs. [TWCN] [TU x2]

Andrew Cuomo said in a statement released Monday that the state's targeted inspection program of oil trains and rail continues to find "critical safety defects that put New Yorkers at risk." Among the most recent batch of identified problems: a faulty switch on a line at the Northeast Industrial Park near Vorheesville. [Cuomo admin] [TU]

Saint Rose MB in post ad 2014-fall

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Holiday gifts: Sean Desiree

Gifts Sean Desiree has in mind this year: things made and used.

Gifts and giving are on most everyone's mind this month. So we thought we'd ask a few people to share some thoughts on presents, past and present.

Next up: Sean Desiree shares her holiday gifts and causes.

Sean is a self-taught furniture maker who uses reclaimed wood at her business, South End Pallet Works. She's also a performer under the name bell's roar.

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ComFest 2015 headlined by Tig Notaro

comedian Tig Notaro

Tig Notaro

The National College Comedy Festival -- ComFest -- is back at Skidmore February 13-14. And the headliner for this year's festival is Tig Notaro.

Notaro is a standup comic and writer who's appeared a bunch of places, including Comedy Central and This American Life. In recent years, she's been recognized for a set in which she announced she had breast cancer -- Louis C.K. called it one of the "truly great, masterful standup sets." And this past November, Notaro -- who had a double mastectomy and didn't get reconstructive surgery -- performed a set topless.

Other headlining acts for this year's ComFest: Chris Thayer, the sketch comedy troupe Gentlemen Party, and improvised musical Baby Wants Candy. And, of course, there will be many college groups.

ComFest annual festival is a showcase for up-and-coming comedy writers, performers, and improv troupes -- and many past performers have gone on to great success (example: the festival's founder, David Miner, worked on 30 Rock and Parks and Recreation). Here's a good piece on the festival and its history over at Splitsider from a few years back, and a feature about an earlier festival in NYT.

The festival always sells out. Tickets for the general public go on sale online February 10.

photo via Tig Notaro FB

Good sledding hills?

sledding at capital hills albanyChristina emails:

Where are the best sledding hills? I know of the public golf courses in Albany and Troy, and there's another hill (privately owned by a family southwest of Albany?) but how about something further north in the Saratoga region?
I'm itching to grab a lunch tray and feel like a little kid again!

This topic came up a handful of years ago, and there were handful of answers that pretty much all focused on Troy and Albany. In part, we suspect -- because they have some good spots, like Capital Hills in Albany and Frear Park in Troy (as Christina mentions).

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