Categories
Photography Roadside America

Gnome Mountain in High Falls, New York

Ellenville-based artist Sam Tufnell created this colorful display of illuminating garden gnomes in April 2017. He told Hudson Valley One, “I wanted to do something satirical on some level, but a little more playful. The gnomes and the still-lifes are pretty much my reaction to public art, figurative art, high-end art in general; sort of taking things down a notch, ‘de-elevating’ it.”

There are 13, 32-inch tall resin gnomes on the mountain. Each lights up at night in a different color. The gnomes are located on a bluff at the intersection of Highway 213 and Old NY Highway 213, in High Falls, New York along Rondout Creek.

Categories
Historic America

Saratoga National Historical Park in Stillwater, New York

Saratoga National Historical Park preserves the ground on which two strategically important Revolutionary War battles were fought. The Battle of Freeman’s Farm was fought on September 19, 1777 and the Battle of Bemis Heights was fought on October 7. Collectively, they are known as the Battles of Saratoga. They are considered Benedict Arnold’s greatest victories, before his traitorous defection to the British.

In 1777, British General John Burgoyne marched south from Canada down the Champlain Valley in a plan to cut New England off from the other American colonies. He didn’t get far. At the Battle of Freeman’s Farm, Burgoyne confronted Generals Horatio Gates and Benedict Arnold and the Continental Army with 9,000 men to 7,200. Though technically a British victory, the engagement cost them nearly 600 casualties. The Americans suffered approximately 300 killed and wounded. Burgoyne decided to forgo an immediate pursuit.

Categories
Photography

Hudson River Valley in Summer

Bear Mountain Bridge I

The Hudson River flows 315 miles from the Adirondack Mountains to the Atlantic Ocean at New York Harbor. It’s named after Henry Hudson, a seventeenth century English navigator, and its beauty inspired an entire school of landscape painting.

Hudson River Valley in Summer II

The Hudson Highlands are particularly picturesque in the vicinity of Bear Mountain, Peekskill, and Fort Montgomery, where I took these photos.

Hudson River Valley in Summer I
Categories
Historic America Photography

McCann’s Pharmacy

McCann’s Pharmacy
McCann’s Pharmacy at 166 Main Street in Hudson Falls, New York. Joseph McCann opened a pharmacy at this location in 1896. It remains a family business to this day.
Categories
Mysterious America Reviews

Super Dark Times: A Harrowing and Tense Coming-of-Age Thriller

In Super Dark Times (2017), a teen must come to grips with his increasingly psychotic friend in this harrowing and tense coming-of-age thriller. Written by Ben Collins and Luke Piotrowski, and directed by Kevin Phillips, this indie film’s competency highlights why Hollywood is failing. Younger, more creative filmmakers are using technology and innovation to craft solid, beautifully-rendered films that put big-budget studios to shame.

Director Kevin Phillips is mostly known for his short film cinematography, and he’s spent the past twelve years honing his craft. Nearly every scene in this film is beautiful, but it’s not another example of “style over substance.” The movie is structurally sound, competently written, and the dialogue is believable. It reminds me of films from the ’80s and early ’90s, which tried to ground fantastic or extreme situations in reality.

As Super Dark Times opens, a buck has accidentally crashed into a high school and severely injured itself. Two police officers clear the scene and put it down. This dramatic and brutal scene sets the tone for the rest of the film. Enter four acquaintances, childhood friends Zach (Owen Campbell) and Josh (Charlie Tahan), Daryl (Max Talisman), and an 8th-grader named Charlie (Sawyer Barth). Zach and Josh both have a crush on classmate Allison (Elizabeth Cappuccino), but she eventually chooses Zach.

The kids discover a bag of marijuana and a samurai sword in Josh’s brother’s bedroom and take it to a park to mess around. Josh and Daryl get into an argument and Josh accidentally stabs him in the neck, killing him. The teens hide Daryl’s body in the woods and try to forget about the crime, but Josh’s increasingly erratic behavior stokes Zach’s guilt and paranoia. The film’s sickening climax is disturbing and difficult to watch, but the entire film has you on edge from start to finish.

Categories
Roadside America

All-American Diner Tour: Center Diner in Peekskill, New York

Situated on Peekskill Bay on the Hudson River’s east bank, Peekskill is a small river town with a modern downtown. The Center Diner, opened in 1939 on Bank Street off Route 202 (Main Street), is a classic greasy spoon wedged between an alley and a plasma center. It is a rare, true diner. Classic diners were prefabricated buildings modeled on train dining cars and mass produced by companies out of New Jersey. This model is called a “National diner,” and it inspired the Sunset Diner in Little Lulu comics.

On my visit, I ordered the Golden Brown French Toast, which came with two sausage patties and a can(!) of Coke for $5.95. Restaurants selling cans of soda, rather than having a beverage fountain, is a pet peeve of mine, but it came with the meal so I guess I can’t complain. Two potbellied old men sat at the counter, talking about politics while an industrial fan whirled in the background. My waitress was a grandmotherly lady who, if she was the same waitress mentioned in countless reviews, had been working there a long time. The French toast was good, price was reasonable, and service efficient.

The Center Diner has a typical menu with a few surprises. There is a small Greek section, offering gyros, balboa, and something called chicken souvlaki served in a pita. According to Wikipedia, souvlaki is a popular Greek fast food consisting of small pieces of meat and sometimes vegetables grilled on a skewer. I’ve eaten this before but never knew what it was called. That’s only $6.50, or $8.50 with French fries.

Center Diner has a 4.3/5 average out of 34 Google reviews and 4.0/5 average on Yelp. Customers generally enjoy the nostalgia and affordable prices. In a typical positive review, Google user Jeff Altorfer wrote, “This place is downright great! It’s the real thing: This is an OLD fashioned NY diner. I mean that in every way. Run down, neglected, NO artifice what so ever. Hard working almost painfully efficient staff that have ZERO patience for modern customers that have no idea what they want, how they want it, or that need 50 options on everything…”