Mar 22, 2007

The Maha what?

The RPI Armory, like all those other old urban fortresses scattered throughout the region, is pretty neat. Driving past it today brought me on a nice trip down memory lane...

I think the four of us were sophomores in high school, but one of us was a year older because he had taken a year off for sports-related reasons. In fcat, he might have been the world's first red shirt athlete. But his value to us on this spring night was the fact he had a driver's license --and wheels.

The destination: Troy, of all places. I doubt that any us had ever been to the Collar City prior -- the thought of going down there had even freaked our parents out a bit. But there was a rock and roll show to be had, a triple bill at that. When you are were a teenager back in our day, nothing could stop you from paying homage the Boogie Monster.

That's when I got my first glimpse of the aforementioned Armory--at the time it was actually called the Troy Armory. I still recall pulling up to the building; somehow getting a parking spot right in front of the joint. I then proceeded to collapse on the front lawn, sick to my stomach and moaning in agony.

No, it wasn't a medical problem, nor was it an overindulgence in the cheap beer we were often accused of indulging in. Instead, I was suffering from my introduction to the high class world of cigar smoking. Being it was just that -- my introduction -- I was unaware of the fact that you were not supposed to actually suck the stogie into your lungs as you would a cigarette. Which I did, all the way down the Northway. So there I lay: Welcome to Troy, you dumb ass.

My buddies had been smoking a different substance, and everything was a hilarious big joke to them. Especially me. I guess you had to be there.

But young bodies are good at speedy recoveries, and I was up and about in twenty or so minutes. Just in time to catch the last half of the opening act--some guy that had just left one of my favoriye bands a tthe time --Humble Pie -- to go solo. Some guy named Peter Frampton, who would go on to make quite a bit of noise some years later.

Mr Frampton served as good support for the headline act--The J. Geils Band--who my friends and I were realy getting into that spring. This was their Full House tour, so we likely caught these Boston bad boys at their very peak.

But it was the middle act, that looking back, was the most intriguing of the show, from an historical perspective at least. John McGlaughlin and the Mahavishnu Orchestra came on stage and proceeded to fill the old room with a cacophany of electic noise that our virgin ears never heard before. Electric violins screeching, synthesizers wailing, drums pounding and a rapid fire guitar that pierced through the air. Crazy stuff--we just looked at each other and asked one another "what the hell is this shit?"

After the show, we hit that joint with the famous mini hot dogs. Inside was an old drunken Irish townie yelling about all the hippoies roaming the streets that night. Waiting in line next to me was one of those hippie types, a young guy tthat went on to tell me how "blown away" he was by Mahavishnu, calling it "the most incredible piece of music I've ever experienced in my life." I didn't get it, and told him so. He seemed offended.

Looking back reminds me of how we are apt to change our outlooks and opinions on certain bands. Like: "how the hell could I listen to that shit?" (ex: the aforementioned Humble Pie). Or: "Now there's someone I didn't appreciate back then that I sure do now" (as in Mahavishnu).

So, here's a belated message to that guy in the hot dog shop in Troy, albeit thirty years too late:

"Right on brother."

Mar 19, 2007

Water --- the new oil

The water business is a funny business -- or should we say monkey business.

In Saratoga, the long running debate has been over the plus/minus analysis of constructing a government-sponsored pipeline down the middle of the county. The anti camp claims this project will do nothing more than induce more sprawl. The pro side claims that it will do nothing more than induce more sprawl.


Yes, that's about the size of it: the difference of opinion really comes down to a question of whether sprawl is a good thing or not! Now, does anyone around here still think there's a chance of ever seeing REAL regional planning in this area when we can't even come to a consensus on sprawl?

Now come news of a different kind of water controversy in the Spa City. It is now known that those pricey mineral baths at the Saratoga Spa State Park do not contain 100% pure mineral water. Instead, the private sector operator of the complex has admitted that it mixes in good old fashioned tap water. To some, this is akin to the dishonest barkeep that adds H2O to the bottles of gin and vodka sitting on his shelves.

Not to mention those bottles of designer water we all look so kewl drinking. Read the labels closely---most are nothing more than tap water themselves!

Maybe having a water well in your back yard will soon be equivalent to striking black gold in Texas.

TVT and open source

It's always fun to read about ourselves in some of the other media outlets. Yesterday, TechValleyTimes was featured in the Schenectady Gazette's piece on open source computing in the local area.

Implementing a Joomla! content management system is certainly a major component of our "TVT 2.0" strategy -- but it has not been without its share of headaches.

T'was a good piece by reporter Mike Mullaney -- go read it. Unfortunately, The Gazette doesn't make their content available online gratis, so you'll need to go round up a print version in the neighbor's trash.

Mar 13, 2007

Nice try, Noche

Guest Submission
I received a couple of e-mails this week from Noche Lounge. So how did I get on their mailing list, somebody tell me?
Anyways; they felt obligated to inform me of the fact that they would be closed down for a week for some renovations and would return as something even more glorious than what they think they already are. Whoop dee shit, right?
Well, it turns out that the reason they're REALLY closed for the week is because the NY State Liquor Authority has suspended their booze license. So much for somebody's bright idea of a Damage Control plan.
Personally, I'd shut them down for the hip hop schlok they play.

Mar 12, 2007

This notebook smokes

A quick city-fix seemed like the perfect cure to my recent bout of laziness. So it was All Aboard Amtrak for just that mission.

A couple of things hit me on the ride down. The first was the ever-escalating cost of a ticket from Albany to Manhattan. After checking some old records, I discovered that the price I paid this Saturday was slightly more than three times what I paid back when I first started taking regular trips back and forth in the mid-80's. Three times!

Amtrak is a lifeline, along with the NYS Thruway, for economic commerce between the Capitial Region and the largest market in the world. The more unreasonble the cost of traveling between theese two locations becomes, the fewer travelers will actually do it, resulting in fewer opportunities and attempts by local businesses to tap into this pot of gold just two hours and twenty minutes to the south.

The other thing I noticed is the AC outlets that are available throughout all cars on the newer trains. But here's a bit of free advice before plugging your notebook into one of them:

Bring a surge/spike protector with you.

I witnessed a most unfortunate incident that drew me to that conclusion.

Mar 8, 2007

Anyone need 100 tons of cement?

Mega congrats to Troy Mayor Harry J. Tutunjian for broaching the subject of selling City Hall to a private developer, who in turn would demolish the structure and replace it with a mixed use building.

Such an event would be great news for the Collar City. The current building, which is smack dab in the middle of the downtown Momument Square district, is an absolute eyesore of of Urban Renewal-era bunker architecture. What makes it even worse is the fact that its stands out in such sharp contrast to its neighbors, which are predominately beautiful old school examples of Troy's semi-glorious past.

I would think (and hope) that this proposal is seen by all involved as an absolute no-brainer. Assuming, of course, that an appropriate design is part of the equation.

Readers Picks = self promo opportunities

Guest Submission
Yeah, yeah, yeah. Now, I love Metroland and all. A a great paper and surely one of the best support mechanisms for Albany's music and arts scene. I hope they prosper and continue on forever into the future.
But, please, Metroland: get rid of the yearly READERS PICKS. This is nothing more than ballot stuffing, as various cafes, restaurants, rock bands as so forth figure what great publicityit it would be to win one of these categories and then brag about if for the next 15 years.
If you need proof, here's one example: the area's "Best Local Alternative Band" is.....Sirsy!
Just to clear the record here: Sirsy is not "alternative," nor are they a "band" (rather they are a duo), but I guess they ARE "local." But unfortunately, they're not really too good. Actually, they kind of suck.
But they obviously know how to get out the vote. Maybe there's a day job here for them as election campaign managers. Someone give them John Sweeney's number. Can you say "COMEBACK," ba-by?

Mar 6, 2007

Big Media to TVT: "not in my house!"

Team TVT has long been intrigued by internet webcasting, which empowers every Tom, Dick & Harry (or Wayne & Garth) with the ability to play the part of a Radio DJ with a low-cost means of entry. We all love music, so wouldn't it be cool to own your own radio station? The web hands this wish to us.

In this era of media consolidation -- which has drained any concept of integrity and innovation from the traditional broadcast industy -- the best stations out there today are internet webcasters. If you're not tuned in to this phenomenon, take a listen to Radio Paradise, one of the best known examples.

We've long been planning our own entry into this field, with a locally focused station featuring both regional music and regional business stories. We've reserved a couple domain names, bought the software, assembled an inventory of music and lined up the bandwidth. We're all set to go.

Well, not quite. Nothing's easy in this world, after all.

Before one launches a business -- even a micro business such as a web radio station -- he or she should strive to get a pretty good idea of what the operating costs of the enterprise will be; upfront. That's a Business 101 concept, after all. We'd be ill-advised to go wandering into this thing not knowing such data.

But that's where this whole thing falls apart. We've been in pause-mode for the past two years: we simply do not know what our PRIMARY COST will be to webcast a simple mix of tunes and business-talk segments to an estimated audience of...well, several (if we're lucky).

That's because the question of ROYALTY RATES has been a moving target during that timeframe. How much money should we expect to pay as a means of justly compensating the artists whose music we will be playing on our micro-station? The rate has changed several times, fluctuating wildly between "something reasonable" and "something absurd." Until this issue is settled, we'd be nuts to jump into this potential minefield.

Well, today comes word that a call has finally been made by those in charge of one aspect of these royalties. The U.S. Copyright Royalty Board issued its long awaited decision on this matter: here's a good read on it.

Without getting into the specifics, let me summarize: this new payment structure stops people like us from joining the party and will shut down just about everybody who's already in it. Our venture will never make it online; Radio Paradise will have no choice but to pack it in and turn off the switch.

It's obvious what's going on here: the Music Police (i.e, the recording industry / RIAA) is teaming with its Axis of Evil partner (Big Media) to freeze out what it perceives to be a major threat to their current stranglehold on the music business. The Board's decision, in fact, reflects the exact recommendation offered by the Axis' highly financed legal and lobbying teams.

The result: the same old "lowest common denominator" garbage spewing from radio broadcast towers coast to coast is protected from competitors offering alternative playlists, genres, artists and content. The mind-numbing gentrification of America continues, while creative innovation is shortchanged in its ability to enter the competitive marketplace.

Write your Congressman. Send an email to your Senator. Better yet: boycott Corporate Radio.

Why we golf

Just back from a quick mid-winter round of golf down in the mid-south. I'm pleased: I shot a 70. But I didn't do as well on the back nine! Ha!

But a two-digit scorecard is not what this sport (?) is all about. Instead, there are two primary reasons we love to golf:

1) It's fun dressing like we're living in the 70's.

2) Where else is it socially accepable to drink beer at 9AM?

It might be time to put together a TechValleyTimes Open Golf Tourney this year. Who's in?

Mar 5, 2007

Great customer service -- another example

With the new passport requirements kicking into effect for air travel between the US and Canada -- today seemed ike a good idea to head down to the Saratoga Springs Post Office to start the process of getting my papers up to date.

The noontime hour seems like the perfect time to make such a run, doesn't it? Being caught in the middle of another of my typically crazy, event-filled days, I was willing to skip lunch just to get this headache taken care of.

But, silly me. I forgot that post office workers need to have their lunch too, but they aren't as willing to give it up as I might be. The result: "I'm sorry sir, but the person that is in charge of processing passports is on his lunch hour. He can help you at 1PM."

Wouldn't you think that someone calling the shots here would figure out that this "new" postal service would receive its biggest onslaught of customers during the lunch hour? Wouldn't you think that they would therefore re-schedule their personnel so as to better serve ......

Ah, forget about it. What's the use, right?

Rants to Soares:"huh?"

(Originally published on Albany Rants)

Will somebody help me out here?

I've listened to the explanations several times over, but I still don't get it..

What is the exact connection between David Soares / the Albany County DA's office and this Florida online steroids bust?


TechValleyTimes welcomes Albany Rants

We always got a kick out of this guy's local blog. After all, why wouldn't we admire the work of a fellow student of the "journalism is a contact sport" school of publishing?

Therefore, after long, drawn out negotiations --- at least ten minutes, anyways ----we are pleased to announce that the ALBANY RANTS blog will now be part of NANO BURGH - THESE TECH VALLEY TIMES.

Our phone operators have been warned. The liability coverage has been increased. All systems are go.

Look for the first new contributions from Rants, starting next week. In the meatime, we've peppered a handful of his previous gems throughout this blog.

Welcome aboard, Rants ---- now let 'em rip! And remember these words from a wise man:

"Sacred cows make for the tastiest hamburgers."