Monday, February 20, 2012

Scratch My Italian What?:

   Marcia Pascarella passed away on February 17. I don't usually write about people passing, but Marcia is a special case. And boy was she special!!!!!!!!!!!!
   I first met her when I  became active in my community, back in 1996, and began attending city council meetings. Her group, Trojans for Troy, was a vocal, pro-active, political watchdog, and the grandmothers of the wave of community groups which sprung up soon after, following their lead. I used to watch in amusement as the Marcia, Pam, Marcie & Janet show took place, once a month on the Monument Square stage.       They came armed with legal documents, a strong desire to keep the politicians in their place, and sometimes well, they wore pig noses to get their point across.      
   Marcia didn't know how to take me back then, so we sometimes clashed. Including the time I told her to, "scratch my Italian backside" (I used another term though). Jim Franco, being the roving reporter he is, wrote about it the following Monday in Tailspin - bless his heart! Over the years, we developed a friendship though She used to call me quite often at city hall for this or that. We always took care of her concerns the best we could. The Island  in front of her home on River St., was one of her pet peeves. So, every now and then, I would go over with a jug of Roundup, and spray the grass and weeds for her,  put flowers in the planters, or get the flag changed.. 

  But Marcia had a caustic way about her if you got on her wrong side, and believe me, I caught her wrath many a time. All she wanted was for some normalcy in her neighborhood. She took more chances with some very scary people, than she should have sometimes. Marcia was born in a time when houses were mostly owner occupied in Troy. She watched in horror as a once proud and beautiful neighborhood decayed. A neighborhood she loved, and fought for. Marcia never stopped fighting for, or believing in North Central. The last time I spoke to her was about 4 months ago, and when I approached her she said, "Oh look who just crawled out from behind a rock"! That's the Marcia I'll remember -- the fighter, the woman who I watched take on any politician you can think of. The woman who drove John Hedley so crazy he wound up giving Marcia, Marcie, Pam, & Janet rides in a limo. There will never be another like her. Sleep well Marcia -- you've earned the rest.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Life Is A Cabaret Old Chum - For A Fee:

   Just when you think politicians couldn't get any dumber, the Albany City Council is proposing a Cabaret Tax.  Under the proposed local law, any nightclub, or establishment offering entertainment using musical instruments  plugged into amplifiers, would be required to pay a $150 fee. Now they want to tax the music too.
   You would think that in this depressed economy, lawmakers would be looking for ways to ease the burden on their constituents. You would also think that they would see the need  to work with their local businesses, which includes a bustling Albany night club scene. Imposing this fee isn't going to shut anyone down, but the way I see it, it's just another way of picking the pockets of those who can pay it. Taxing music is morally wrong in many respects. Music for many is relaxation, for some a profession and a passion.  
   The local music scene has always been fragile over the years, but it's been on the rebound over the last decade. Cities, town and villages all over the Capital District offer free entertainment throughout the Summer season, and into the early Fall. Nightclubs all over see a down-slide in business during these months, unless you operate in Lake George or Saratoga. So during the cold months, these businesses get the opportunity to catch up, so to speak. Hitting them up for ANOTHER TAX  is just not fair. The musicians are also directly effected by it. I've dealt with club owners for four decades, and can tell you first hand that most travel a fine line between staying open, and going bust. Every dollar helps. The more they make, the more generous they are when dealing with musicians. 

   But it's not just the music scene that would be effected by this, the arts in general, plays and other artistic expression's would be forced to pay if using amplified music. Church's & other not for profits would be exempt for this lunacy. 
If you live in Albany, send an e-mail to the members of the city council that support this nonsense, and tell them no thank you, I'm already taxed to death. Leave the damn music alone!