Nyack Sketch Log: Indomitable Empire Hook & Ladder Company Number 1

by Bill Batson

Throughout a pandemic that shuttered the American economy and transformed the world, our first responders have continued to answer our calls. This week’s Sketch Log honors Rockland County’s 100% volunteer fire department. Empire Hook & Ladder Company Number 1 of Upper Nyack embodies that volunteer tradition of sacrifice and selflessness.

In addition to responding to emergencies, Empire has hosted the annual Halloween Haunted House and children’s Christmas party for over 30 years. These events are supported with the help of Empire’s two fund raising events, the annual Pig Roast and Christmas tree sale. Sadly, COVID forced the cancellation of this year’s roast.

With an indomitable spirit, Empire has recruited Nyack Sketch Log to offer a limited run of 100 signed prints of this week’s sketch of the iconic Upper Nyack firehouse. All of the proceeds from these sales will benefit Empire. Read more to learn about the firehouse’s storied past, meet Company President David Gottlieb, and find out how you can get a print and support these volunteer first responders.

Empire Hook & Ladder Co. 1 President David Gottlieb, 1st on the left

David, how long have you been the company leader?

I joined Empire in April of 1989, was Captain in 1997, and was elected President in 2001?

What brought you into firefighting?

My brother was a volunteer EMT. I don’t like blood, so he told me to join the firehouse. Best decision of my life!

What’s your day job?

My brother and I operate Goosetown Communications. We sell and service the communications systems for the police, fire, EMS, and businesses in the tristate area.

Any trouble recruiting volunteers for Empire Hook & Ladder Co. 1?

As more and more people move to our area, it is amazing to find out that most people don’t know that the Nyack Joint Fire District is 100% voluntary. It is a time commitment that, unfortunately, many of today’s 18-30 year-old people can’t make.

Circa 1937 – Nyack Library Local History Collection.

I hear you saved a historic truck featured in this photo of an ivy and bunting covered firehouse?

The truck went from Nyack to Cooperstown to the collector and back to Nyack. I bought that truck to celebrate our 150th Anniversary. Smokey Wanamaker and Homer Wanamaker were 16 year old kids who drove that truck during WWII. They were known as the “diaper brigade” since they left school to drive the truck because everyone else was fighting the war. Smokey and Homer both got to see the truck as a surprise before the parade and rode on the truck in the parade. Paul Wanamaker, Smokey’s son, drove them.

Any other firehouses like Empire’s in the country. What makes it so special?

We are on the National Register of Historic Landmarks. One of three firehouses that still have manual wound bells to alert members of calls.

Does the bell still chime?

Yes, part of our Gamewell box alarm system.

How has firefighting changed since the company started?

The drive to make firefighting safer is what has changed the most since we started. In the “old days,” you would fight a fire with pull-up boots, a protective coat, and an air pack. Nowadays, we are equipped with full protective gear from head to toe, as well as thermal imaging cameras and communications that significantly enhance the safety of our jobs.

Could you explain the “Goosetown Against the World” slogan?

In 1909, the Nyack Fire Department accepted an invitation for the Hudson-Fulton parade committee and there was a disagreement about Empire marching in the parade. In the end, we wound up hosting other companies for food after the parade. When everyone was done and left the truck house, there were 6 companies, each with their own band, led by Empire and a jackass with a blanket that had the slogan “Goosetown Against The World.” The slogan remains as part of our company to this day.

Welles Remy Crowther

There are three names memorialized on your building. Could you tell me something about them?

Welles Remy Crowther was an active member of Empire on 9/11/01 and was working in the World Trade Center for a financial company. When the planes struck the tower, Welles sprung to action and was credited with leading 18 survivors to safety. Tragically, he did not survive when the towers collapsed. People he rescued described him as the “Man in the Red Bandanna.”

His father, Jefferson Crowther, who was our past Captain and Treasurer, knew his son was the rescuer since both he and Wells always carried a red bandanna in their pocket. Jefferson passed at 73, on February 13, 2019.

Harry Wanamaker

Harry Wanamaker was a Lieutenant assigned to Marine 1 in the FDNY. Harry was a life member and past Captain of Empire, as well as working for the FDNY. On September 11th, Harry was working Marine 1 and stayed at the scene for over 16 days supplying water and fighting the fires. He spent countless hours working on rescue and recovery efforts in the years after this tragic event. Unfortunately, Harry was diagnosed with 9/11-related cancer in 2010 and passed away on July 20, 2010.

Joseph Stach, Jr.

Joseph Stach, Jr. was also a Lieutenant in the FDNY assigned to Ladder 6 in Chinatown. Joe spent 72 hours at ground zero and spent a significant amount of time assisting in recovery efforts at the World Trade Center as well.

He retired in 2010 after 20 years with the FDNY and was an active member and Captain of Empire. He was diagnosed with 9/11-related cancer in 2017 and passed away on January 7th, 2018.

I understand that you had to cancel one of your major fundraising events. What’s another way people can support Empire?

This year, because of COVID-19, we canceled the Pig Roast for the first time ever.

The company has decided to sell the portrait that you made of our firehouse, Bill, as a way to replace the revenue lost from the Pig Roast. We will be selling 100 signed copies of your print for $60.00 each.

Reserve a Print Today

Each print is signed and numbered by the artist on 16″ x 20″, 315 gram 100% cotton watercolor paper.

If you’d like to reserve a print, email David Gottlieb at DGottlieb@goosetown.com or Bill Batson at wrbatson@gmail.com.

You can also buy a print at the Nyack Farmer’s Market at the Main Street parking lot on Thursdays from 8a – 2p as long as supplies last.

Bill Batson is an activist, artist and writer who lives in Nyack, NY. “Nyack Sketch Log: Indomitable Empire ” © 2020 Bill Batson. ” Learn more about Bill at billbatsonarts.com.


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Nyack Sketch Log: New Memoir Brings Historic Jazz Club Back to Life

by Bill Batson

For a brief beat, one of the brightest spots in the jazz universe was a nightclub in Nyack. The Office was located in the storefront that is now home to the Olde Village Inne, and some of greatest artists of the genre, like Jaco Pastorious, Bill Evans, and many others, would come to Nyack to gig there.

This fall Circumstantial Productions will publish Life Behind Bars, a memoir by Jack De Pietro, the erstwhile club’s owner.  Now 65, De Pietro used music and meditation to reverse the impact of a stroke that imperiled the publication of his life story. Soon we will learn what happened at the height of the club’s artistic incandescence that caused the venue to disappear from the jazz scene.

Until now, The Office has lived on predominantly through folklore: in the memories of regulars, musicians, and fans around the world. But also, on the pages of a pamphlet published by Michael Houghton.

Houghton, who passed away in 2017, was the owner of North Broadway’s Ben Franklin Bookshop–the delight of bibliophiles from 1977 until 2008.  He first compiled the story of the club for an article that appeared in The Hook magazine in November, 2004. Richard Connolly of Circumstantial Productions stumbled upon a copy of Houghton’s short work last year, compelling him to search for De Pietro and subsequently publish his memoir.

Houghton’s elegant essay weaves together jazz and local history. We learn that the bar that would become a Mecca for jazz musicians had only the 100th post-prohibition liquor license to be granted in New York State when it opened in 1933. According to Houghton, employees at the neighboring telephone company, now the Nyack Businsess Center, would claim that they were working late at “the office” when they were really drinking at the bar. Eventually the euphemism became the name.

The Office was purchased by Rocco De Pietro in 1965.  His son, Jack, was attending Berklee College of Music in Boston in 1975 when his father had a heart attack and considered selling the bar. A $10,000 loan from a regular allowed Jack to buy a Yamaha piano and a sound system, prerequisites for a respectable jazz club, and take the helm.

According to Richard Sussman, a celebrated jazz musician and composer, The Office became a farm team for the big league jazz clubs. He described De Pietro, who was an accomplished drummer, as someone willing “to take a chance on younger, unknown players.” Sussman credits The Office with giving him the opportunity to create his first quintet.

The bar was small and the stage was even smaller. The 5 members of Sussman’s quintet would be huddled in the front of the bar with their backs to the front window. The brass section of bigger bands would be seated with the audience.

Houghton believed that The Office deserves a special place in jazz history for its interesting connection to Jaco Pastorius. Pastorious revolutionized the electric bass guitar, musically and physically. By removing the frets from his electric bass he delivered blistering streams of aggressive syncopated riffs and heart stopping harmonics that helped transform the bass from a rhythm section to a lead instrument.

The Office was one of Pastorious’ first appearances on the local jazz circuit after arriving from Florida. His hour-long unaccompanied performance at The Office in 1975 is the stuff of legend. Pastorious’ life was tragically cut short in 1987 when he succumbed to years of drug abuse and mental illness. Jazz fans will have Metallica bassist Robert Trujillo to thank for funding a documentary on Pastorius.

During its heyday, there was music at The Office on most evenings, with headliners appearing on the weekends.  Ironically, the instrument of the venue’s meteoric rise also led to the bar’s collapse. In the late 1970s, De Piertro ran regular ads on New York City jazz station WRVR that resulted in long lines of eager fans outside the club. But at 10:15a on September 8, 1980, WRVR ended its jazz era, playing Charles Mingus’ “Goodbye Pork Pie Hat.” The next song, Waylon Jennings’ “Are You Ready for The Country,” ushered in a new country format.

Later that same week, and just days after performing at The Office, jazz great and De Pietro family friend Bill Evans died. The loss of a dear friend and WRVR in the same week devastated De Pietro. Soon, The Office made its own format change from jazz to blues and rock–and De Pietro sold the club in 1986.

Even though The Office changed its tune in 1980, the jazz sound survived in Nyack. The “Music in the Garden: Jazz Concert Series” at the Edward Hopper House, founded by Ray Wright and nurtured by Bert Hughes, started its summer program in 1981. The series celebrates its 40th anniversary next year. In 2016, David Budway and his wife Brianne Higgins opened Maureen’s  Jazz Cellar on South Broadway. Budway occupies the piano stool at the famed Cafe Carlyle in New York City, a position once held by the legendary Bobby Short. Both Music in the Garden and Maureen’s have continued the tradition of attracting world class jazz talent to Nyack.

Richard Sussman

When Richard Sussman and his wife outgrew their Brooklyn apartment, Sussman remembered the “cool place” where he played as a young musician. A music teacher at Manhattan School of Music for over 30 years, Sussman moved to Nyack in 1997, returning to the place where he composed and performed his underground classic, “Freefall,” with the quintet he formed at The Office.

The Office is now the Olde Village Inne

After late night gig in New York City, prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, Sussman would drop by the Olde Village Inne on his way home because “where else can you find a kitchen open until 3a in Nyack.”

But there might be another kind of gravity that draws Sussman to his old haunt. It is probably the same invisible energy that keeps jazz music and musicians orbiting around the village where a club called The Office, like a dying star, went supernova and then silent 40 years ago.

You can relive The Office era by sampling some of the music from jazz greats like Jaco PastoriusCharles MingusBill Evans and Robert Sussman online.  To get a sense of how jarring that sudden format shift at WRVR must have been for loyal local jazz lovers in 1980, listen to the first few seconds of Mingus and Jennings back-to-back .

Visit circumstantial.us to buy and advance copy of De Pietro’s memoir Life Behind Bars.

This week’s sketch was based on a photo found in the archives of Hudson River Valley Heritage.

Special thanks to Michael Houghton’s pamphlet “The Office, A Nyack Nightclub, 1975 – 1987.”

Consider supporting the Nyack Sketch Log!

If you have enjoyed my column at any point during the last nine years, I ask that you support the continuation of the Nyack Sketch Log by visiting nyackgift.com and consider acquiring or sharing one of my books or some of my merchandise.

As one of Nyack’s smaller businesses, I thank you for your past support and hope to continue to provide the people of the village that I love illuminating illustration and edifying essays long into the future.

Donations are also welcome through paypal via wrbatson@gmail.com

Bill Batson is an activist, artist and writer who lives in Nyack, NY. “Nyack Sketch Log: The Office” © 2016 Bill Batson. ” Learn more about Bill at billbatsonarts.com.


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Nyack Sketch Log: Black Lives Matter Culture

by Bill Batson

In Nyack, Main Street is emblazoned with the colors of the African American flag and the proclamation, Black Lives Matter. The officially sanctioned piece of street art is a larger-than-life caption for the daily demonstrations that have been taking place in Veteran’s Park since the May 25th murder of George Floyd by a uniformed officer of the Minneapolis Police Department.

The instantly iconic public art work emerged on the morning of Juneteenth, the anniversary of the abolition of American slavery in 1863, which is now a legally observed holiday in Nyack, and a growing number of cities and companies across the country. A cadre of activists, artists and impassioned citizens, of all ages and races, pushed rollers dipped in protest colors, spelling out the assertion of humanity: Black Lives Matter.

While many cars that passed the protest site honk their horns in support, on Saturday, a biker deliberately burned rubber across the block long protest symbol, according to witnesses. Within minutes, residents flocked to the scene to show solidarity with the protest message. By Saturday evening, evidence of the vandalism was erased with a fresh coat of paint.

Dozens of cities now host similar protest messages, some visible by satellite, transforming Main Streets into anti-police brutality banners. A spirit of activism and art are converging in Nyack and across the country, creating a Black Lives Matter culture. Here are some of the musicians, filmmakers and visual artists, some familiar, some anonymous, who are giving this movement the legs and heart to endure until meaningful reforms are secured.

Nev Cadesca

Over one thousand people gathered on South Broadway on June 1, for a march in memory George Floyd for a march organized by the Nyack Center Teen Council. As the biggest crowd most had ever seen in the village, an uncertain mood hung in the air when Nev Cadesca took the top-stair stage. His plaintive delivery and the heartfelt plea in his lyric released the tension everyone felt as tears.  7Tre Records just released the song he sang, his second single called “POLICE”. Click here to listen.

A Cadre of Creatives

A cadre of creatives organized by Kris Burns, have been converting the political intentions of protest leader Nikki Hines and the Nyack Center Teen Council into potent cultural and communication tools. Art supplies on-site in Veteran’s Park allow visitors to create their own posters. Images of movement martyrs, including trans victims, form an outdoor gallery. The daily protests in Nyack has a constantly evolving back drop. But the vision of a Black Lives Matter mural carpeting Main Street required a midnight, Amish-barn raising style effort, aided by the large-scale expertise of Kris Campbell and the deft-hand of Dan White.

George Floyd by Anonymous

Andy Minniefield, the anchor protestor,  is not the only sentinel that looks over the protest assembled in Nyack’s veterans’ park. Since a one week in, seven likenesses of George Floyd appeared in the gazebo. The spray paint on metal heads take on the gravitas of totems.  There is no signature, just the iconography of a seven likenesses of George Floyd, frozen in time, as a undying witness to the nation wide upheaval caused by his own murder.

My Black Nyack

Filmmaker Brooklyn Demme has spent more time in Veteran’s park holding a protest sign than a camera. My Black Nyack emerged from the stories of African Americans standing in the center of the village and sharing their experience with systemic racism in the Hudson Valley. I am producing the 15 minute film and Antony Geathers is the Director of Photography. This will be Brooklyn’s second film, after his directorial debut, “The Place Where People Gather,” chronicles the Ramapough-Lenape Nation’s struggle to gather and pray on their ancestral lands.

I Can’t Breathe

This painting was a Father’s Day gift from a daughter supported in her activism. A portrait of vulnerability and innocence forced to fear suffication. The work is by Cecilia Weiss, a junior at Nyack High School, and a 17-year old activist who is passionate about a number of social issues, including racial equality and ending institutional racism.

Black Lives Matter Yard Signs

From Main Street to your street. Join Nyack Center and Harrington Press in spreading this message and supporting the young people who launched this local movement. Funds from the purchase of every sign will go to the Nyack Center’s Teen Council. In just one month, the Teen Council has been the catalyst for the largest march in memory in Nyack, the Black Lives Matter mural on Main Street and the Village of Nyack’s decision to embrace the street mural and make Juneteenth a legal holiday in Nyack. Wonder what they’ll do next month. Stay tuned.

Hands Up! (Don’t) Shoot!

Ruth Geneslaw began work on this piece in 2015, after the shooting of Michael Brown in Ferguson, MO. The six black victims, who include Brown, Walter Scott, Timothy Russell, Rumain Brisbon, Tony Terrell Robinson, Jr. and Charly Keunang, are depicted as targets with the police guns aimed at them.

Bill Batson is an activist, artist and writer who lives and sketches in Nyack, NY. Nyack Sketch Log: “Black Lives Matter Culture” © 2020 Bill Batson.  To see more, visit billbatsonarts.com 


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Nyack Sketch Log: Harrington Press

by Bill Batson

The signs of our times are printed at Harrington Press. The stocks of their trade are posters detailing rules of social distancing (6 feet apart; Wear a mask), banners honoring the names of heroes on the frontline of fighting COVID-19, and placards held at demonstrations proclaiming that Black Lives Matter. Even in this digital age, people who need to reach the local masses with a message continue to flock to this neighborhood print shop.

With the dulcet tones of Grateful Dead floating in the background and their always-going machines buzzing, the Nyack Sketch Log hung out with the brothers Harrington to learn how they keep the presses rolling.

Who founded Harrington Press?

Our dad, Rich Harrington Sr. opened his first storefront in 1979 across the street where Blissful Massage is located. The current storefront came many years later in 1996 on the corner of Washington and Main St.

What is your earliest memory of the business?

Back when it was DanRick Graphics and dad was printing out of the basement at our house on Tallman Place (in Nyack). The smell of ink and fountain solution emanated from the top of the stairs that went to the basement. Dad always told us not to go down there because the ink monsters would get us. His way of keeping his 5 and 3 year old sons away from the press.

How different was the business then?

Everything was much more of a process. For example, in order go to press, you had to shoot the original to a film, develop the negative, align the film to a masking sheet, look for dust and specks on the negatives and use opaquing solution to block them out, then burn the negative to a metal plate, develop the plate and condition it… Then you were ready to mount the plate onto the press, just hoping that everything was perfect so you wouldn’t have to go back through the entire process again. Phew!

Now we are 100% digital and all of those processes have gone by the way of horse and buggy.

What is the division of labor?

We are what we call a “3 man band.” Our colleague of 23 years, Chris Klika, takes care of everything from production to finishing to shipping, and he’s also most likely the first person you’ll speak to when you call the shop.

Rick handles sales/development, scheduling, quotes, and accounts receivable. Dan also handles production, is our in house graphic designer and handles the back end of the business.

Is it true that Blondie (your dog receptionist) is the boss?

According to most customers, Blondie is the overseer of all things Harrington Press.

Who introduced who to the Grateful Dead?

Oh geez! I guess you could say Dan’s first show was back in the late ’80s and he spread the word from there. All three of us are Dead-Heads. Collectively we saw the Dead (with Garcia) over 150 times.

What are some of the challenges in being the second generation team?

The biggest challenge is continuing the legacy of staying relevant in the ever-changing times we live in. So many changes in technology. We also have to compete against online printers, but our edge is the touch and feel of a one-on-one personal experience.

We consult and provide solution. Someone will come in and say “I’m running for council” or “I’m running for school board,” and we show them all the options for a campaign–yard signs, posters, and mailings. We have done this a lot times before and know what works.

What are some of the challenges of business during COVID?

The first challenge was figuring out how to get back up and running. The second was how to stay safe amongst ourselves while working together. And now the third is keeping up with the ever-changing demands of our customers who are preparing to re-open.

Who are your customers?

Our customer base is so varied. We service all customers large and small. Fortune 500 companies, like Dow Jones; the largest mall company in the United States, Simon; our local colleges, banks, and other institutions; the everyday walk-ins who need 50 color copies. We believe we need all to be relevant.

What’s the best part of running a family business?

Having the freedom to come and go without answering to some corporate head. We have young families, and being able to attend all of our kids’ events is a top priority.

What’s next for Harrington Press?

We’ve been working with our web designer on an online ordering system, which we hope to implement over the course of this summer, opening up the possibilities to order some of our most popular products 24/7.

We’re also always looking to add more product offerings based on our customers demands.

If you are a business trying to re-open safely, a candidate for public office, or a non-profit trying to raise money and public awareness, Harrington Press has tools that can help. Address: 207 Main St, harringtonpress.net, (845) 353-1832. They are currently carrying a full range of posters that promote social distancing and mask wearing.

Consider supporting the Nyack Sketch Log!

If you have enjoyed my column at any point during the last nine years, I ask that you support the continuation of the Nyack Sketch Log by visiting nyackgift.com and consider acquiring or sharing one of my books or some of my merchandise.

As one of Nyack’s smaller businesses, I thank you for your past support and hope to continue to provide the people of the village that I love illuminating illustration and edifying essays long into the future.

Donations are also welcome through paypal via wrbatson@gmail.com

Bill Batson is an activist, artist and writer who lives and sketches in Nyack, NY. Nyack Sketch Log: “Harrington Press” © 2020 Bill Batson.  To see more, visit billbatsonarts.com 


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Nyack Sketch Log: Class of 2020 Reflects

by Bill Batson

If our health care system was the sector most upended by the COVID-19 pandemic, our educational systems have been a close second. For students in the Nyack School District, classrooms moved from the schoolhouse to the cloud; rites of passage, like proms and graduations, were ruined and the economy they will enter has ground to a halt.

A group of parents invited Nyack Sketch Log to contribute an illustration to celebrate the Class of 2020, and a signed print was given to all 270 graduating seniors. In it, the Village of Nyack is the backdrop to graduation caps flung high above Hook Mountain. But as much as I like to tell a story with an image, the words that caption the sketch convey my main message. Adults may have rallied during coronavirus, earning the hashtag #nyackstrong, but the students who are being forged by a furnace fueled by a global pandemic, social unrest, and economic upheaval, making them now, and forever, among Nyack’s strongest.

School Board Trustee Election

The School Board Trustee election is being held by mail. Ballots must be dropped off in person at the district office by 5p, today, Tuesday, June 9 or received by the district by mail through June 16th.

The District Administration Building address is 13A Dickinson Ave, Nyack, NY 10960.

Anyone who has lost or not received a ballot can reach out to Linda DeCicco (ldecicco@nyackschools.org) or call 353-7015.

Interviews with 22 students, a parent who organized improvised ceremonies to honor graduates, a teacher and union leader, and Nyack High School’s principal form the content of this Nyack Sketch Log time capsule. On a day when School Board ballots must be delivered to the administration building, take pride in our world-class public school community by voting and finding ways to support the inspiring class of 2020.

Yvianick Saint-Vi, Student Representative to the Board of Education

What are some of the challenges facing the class of 2020?

This year has been transformative for the class of 2020. We’ve had to grow up faster than anyone should while getting some of the best parts of our childhood ripped away right before our eyes. We’re facing challenges like a decrease in jobs–especially for those saving for college–and never truly knowing what normal is.

Yvianick Saint-Vi

We’re forced to step up and create a new normal for not only ourselves but for generations to come–and with all this responsibility, there is an increase in pressure and the feeling of the world on our shoulders.

What are your hopes for the future, both personally, for the community, and for your classmates?

Ultimately, my hope for the future is: change. I hope that I will be able to live my life without fear. That I can enjoy my time seeking higher education, that my family’s well-being doesn’t invoke worry every time they go outside. And that I’ll be able to find my place in a world that has accepted its need to change.

For my community, I hope they continue on the path of creating an education system rooted in telling the stories of all people. That they realize how rare a place like Nyack is, and that we continue to use our community to educate, reform, and extend our influence on places that may not be as lucky.

And for my classmates, I hope that we are able to realize that even though we have missed out on so much, we are the leaders now. It is up to us to create the change we want to see, fight for all people, speak up for those society has wished to silence, and to take care of one another. That is the only way we will move forward.

What has been the toughest aspect of this year for you?

Not being able to tell the people who have had a huge impact in my life how much I appreciate them in person. That so many of my “lasts” were gone before I even knew it. And coming to terms with the fact that I’ll never get a proper send-off with some of the kids I’ve known since I was in diapers.

What moment(s) have you found most inspirational?

When my High School uploaded its “Lean on Me” cover. I just remember seeing all my teachers in the video–many probably going out of their comfort zone–to show their support for us during this time. And also participating in our drive-by “Clap Out” and just seeing how much my school was doing everything they could to make this time just a little better for us. It truly warmed my heart.

What was your favorite part of distance learning?

I think the only thing I liked about distance learning was being able to set my own hours of when I should get my work done. Oh, and getting more sleep. 🙂

What was your least favorite?

I did not enjoy impersonal learning at all. A lot of the time, it just felt like busy work and it was hard to find the drive and purpose to get assignments done. Some subjects in school just aren’t made to be taught online and that really revealed itself during distance learning. And not being able to be in the midst of my peers as we all tried to get through a class was something I missed tremendously.

Any final words for your classmates?

Despite the odds, we still made it! Be proud of yourself and find the time to reflect on these four years of high school. Remember your highs, lows, and everything in between, and just basque in that feeling, because now the real work begins. It is our time to reclaim what we’ve been deprived of, but now on our terms. So try your hardest to live in the moment and fill your time (six feet apart) with family and friends. Take them in, because from now on we call the shots of our own lives, so it’s imperative we make each moment count. Congrats!

Idelyn Caneiro, PTSA and Project Graduation Committee Member

How has your senior been coping with distance learning?

Chris has been coping well.  I think the obvious hardest part has been not being able to interact with his friends and teachers on a daily basis at school. The biggest hardship is not being able to experience the senior moments that he has been looking forward to for so long.

I understand that you’ve been organizing ways to commemorate graduation for the Class of 2020 after commencement was cancelled. How have you done that?

Annie Hekker Weiss

Yes, I am part of the PTSA and Project Graduation Committee. A large group of us has tried to find ways to make this difficult time a little better for the seniors. One of the things we did for them was get lawn signs for all of the seniors so that the community could see who our seniors are and help us congratulate them.

Idelyn Caneiro with her son, Chris

What are some of the life lessons you think our seniors have learned?

That life isn’t easy and that they will have to overcome obstacles that they encounter that are small and life changing. Hopefully they find strength in the accomplishment of getting through this.

How can the community support the Class of 2020?

The community has already been supporting the Class of 2020 by donating towards different events and sponsorships. Parents, local businesses, teachers, administration, and many others have been extremely supportive and generous.

Thomas Burns, English teacher and President of the Nyack Teachers Association

How has teaching changed during COVID-19?

As always, the experience of teaching is dramatically different from individual to individual. The transition to distance learning has been different for all of us depending on subject area, comfort level with technology, and, perhaps most especially, what grade you teach. Secondary teachers can expect a certain level of autonomy from their students when it comes to logging on to live classes and accessing assignments, but elementary teachers need the help of someone at home to be sure their students participate. Secondary teachers contend with poor attendance due to the fact that their students sometimes don’t wake up until noon. And elementary teachers must manage twenty fidgeting first graders each in their own box on a computer screen.

As this has progressed, we have transitioned from learning packets and posted lessons on class platforms such as Google and Schoology, to a hybrid of posted work and live teaching through Zoom. The speed with which teachers have adapted their curricula and methods has been remarkable and we have done the very best we can. But this is, at best, a poor substitute for the kind of teaching we want to do and that our students need.

What are some of the challenges of transforming one’s home into a homeroom?

Again, this varies for each individual. I have the luxury of having adult age children who are out of the house. My only distraction is my dog, but some of my colleagues are trying to manage infants, toddlers, or elementary-age children while planning and executing lessons for their students. I have heard stories of teachers conducting Zoom sessions with children sitting on their laps or students being interrupted by siblings or parents while they “attend” a class. To be sure, there are some advantages: no commute, working in your pajamas, but it is also isolating and lonely.

How have your students been managing?

The district did an outstanding job of trying to make sure each student had a device and a WiFi connection before we shut down, and has tried to keep track of all our students both academically and emotionally. We’ve been using the word “engaged” when discussing whether students were getting work done and showing up for live instruction. While attendance for Zoom sessions is generally not satisfactory, especially at the high school level, most students have been completing and submitting their assignments, and so it is fair to say there is a decent level of engagement. Like their teachers, they adjusted to very difficult circumstances as best they could, but we know this will have some lasting consequences on their learning and we will have to work hard to address that.

One of the most significant aspects of school that cannot be replaced to any degree by remote instruction is the social and extracurricular component. All of us feel horribly for our seniors who have lost out on some memorable moments, and we have heard of frustration, stress, and a whole range of emotions throughout the grade levels.

What are your hopes for next year?

The ideal version of next year would be a return to normal schooling; however, the more realistic but still hopeful version is probably some hybrid of remote instruction and in person. I appreciate how difficult this is and I know the safety of students and staff will guide any decisions the district makes.

Nyack High School Principal, Nicole Saieva

Nyack High School Principal Nicole Saieva

Has leading Nyack High School through the COVID-19 quarantine been your greatest challenge as an educator? 

Yes. As many know, the best aspect of every educator’s job is the students. We chose careers in education to work with young people. Not having the ability to interact with our students daily has been difficult. The laughs, stories, and moments shared were taken away from us.

The warmth of Nyack High School is created by the people who occupy it each day. COVID-19 has taken the in-person richness of our jobs away from us. One of the other challenges we face is providing our students with the things they need to be successful. The needs of our students vary, and include instructional, emotional, technological, and fundamental support.

What are some of your most poignant memories from this time?

My most poignant memories are of the cohesiveness and commitment of the staff at Nyack High School. Weekly department meetings with teachers, counselors, and teaching assistants confirm what I already knew. We are a staff that makes decisions based on our students and will do anything possible to assist and support them as they work to be successful. The learning community at Nyack High School has continued to develop and grow. We have learned new platforms, thought outside the box, and taken many risks to transition quickly to remote learning. Our students continue to demonstrate their ability to adapt and be creative. Collectively, we have remained resilient. However, the most poignant memory for me is the sense of loss I feel and share with the members of the staff.

In what ways has the class of 2020 risen to this occasion? 

The Class of 2020 has risen to the occasion throughout their years at Nyack High School. This year, we supported each other as we mourned the loss of our beloved Ms. Williams. And due to COVID-19, the members of the Class of 2020 have lost the opportunity to celebrate many traditional celebrations. However, they have continued to show their outstanding character.

What words will you offer as your seniors enter a world being transformed by an ongoing public health crisis and social unrest? 

The senior class will be remembered for the sacrifices they have made, but this pandemic and social unrest provide them an opportunity to “transform” the new norm. We have learned and observed systems which have worked and more which have not. My advice to the future leaders of tomorrow is to seize the opportunity
to be a change agent, correct the wrongs, and lead us to a better place.

What will you miss most about the class of 2020?

I will miss so many things about the Class of 2020. I will miss their individual personalities, talents, and interests. The graduating Class of 2020 is comprised of students who have the confidence to advocate for themselves and others while demonstrating empathy for those who are struggling. But their genuine love for one another is what I will miss the most.

In short, I wish the Class of 2020 years of happiness and good luck. I hope the love they have given throughout the years comes back to them multiplied, which they richly deserve.

Reflections from the Class of 2020

Here are 21 responses to the following prompt:

If you could speak to a high school senior 100 years from now, what are three words and one or two sentences you would use to describe your senior year?

Misha Albert
Hopeful. Promising, Relieving.  It was supposed to be one of the best year of my life.

Natalie Carbone
Crazy. Interesting.  Strange
I won’t forget my senior year because of how strange it was.

Andrew Chacko
Confusing. New. Unifying
My senior year was cut short, but I still feel that I made the most of what I had.

Daniel Chacko
Crazy. Unprecedented. Fun
We graduated during a global pandemic.

Alicia Clark
Different. Memorable. Stress-free.
My senior year, I had the ability to take classes that I wanted to take; with the exception of one or two classes needed to graduate. Also, I got a chance to show my talents and perform outside of the normal seasonal concerts. Because of the transition to remote learning, I have not been able to see my teachers, classmates and friends. It taught me to appreciate things and the people in my life even more. I have had great teachers this year and my entire high school career. Also, I have made great friends that will last a long time.

Vincent Cuccia
Surreal. Perseverance. Sad
At first it was surreal that a virus could just end your senior year, but this class adapted and overcame what was happening. I’m proud to be a senior in 2020.

Otho Cox
Surreal. Exciting Brotherhood
Enjoy every second because everything can change overnight.

James Darnae
Realizing. Maturing. Growing.
My senior year was filled with ups and downs. At times, I wasn’t even sure of my own abilities. At the end, I learned my strength and realized how important it is to carry that through life.

Jenna Hart
Robbed. From. Us
We had the rest of our lives to not be in high school yet the last year we had here was taken away too soon.

Kenan Kapetanovic
Abrupt. Disappointing. Lonely
Don’t take your time in high school for granted, it’ll be gone before you can blink.

Brian Magana
Disappointing. Short. Quarantined
Senior year is the best time in high school, unless a pandemic occurs and makes you stay at home for 2 months and miss out on your senior year.

Dereck Mayorga
Unforgettable, Amazing. Enjoyable
It was a challenge I never experienced before and it will be an unforgettable year to remember.

Josseline Mazariego
Time. Distance. No graduation ceremony
My last year was very different then how I had planned it initially. It’s always difficult to say goodbye to the teachers and my friends, but I didn’t even have time to do that because of the virus.

Ryan Rios
Crazy, Insane. Amazing
It was a wild wild time. But we got through it.

Lizbeth Ruballos
To enjoy and to have the best time in high school. May God give you wisdom to fight for your dreams

Isabelle Santos
Unexpected. History-making. Memorable
Never take things for granted because I feel like we really took senior year for granted. We thought senior year was gonna be great and didn’t care much for anything, but now that it’s gone you realize how much you actually do care.

Oliver Schneck
Quarantine, Coronavirus, Relieved
A bunch of milestones then quarantine

Fidalgo Tyler
Enjoy your time
Take in all you can get because you never know what could happen.

Markes Vukdedaj
Fun. Fast. Coronavirus
Enjoy it, do what we couldn’t do

Tyson Walker
Unpredictable. Unexpected. Unforgettable
Enjoy it while it lasts. Mine got cut short, and as much as I did appreciate it while I still had it, I wish I appreciated it more.

Haley Weiss
Short. Unfulfilling. Disappointing
After 13 years of school, the day to day will get boring and annoying and dreadful. But one day you will never see your outer circle friends again, have lunch in the caf, or class with your favorite teacher. And if that day comes any sooner then you expected, it will be more devastating than you realize. So just don’t hate on life too much.

If you have enjoyed my column at any point during the last nine years, I ask that you support the continuation of the Nyack Sketch Log by visiting nyackgift.com and consider acquiring or sharing one of my books or some of my merchandise.

As one of Nyack’s smaller businesses, I thank you for your past support and hope to continue to provide the people of the village that I love illuminating illustration and edifying essays long into the future.

Donations are also welcome through paypal via wrbatson@gmail.com

Bill Batson is an activist, artist and writer who lives and sketches in Nyack, NY. Nyack Sketch Log: “Nyack Sketch Log: Class of 2020” © 2020 Bill Batson.  To see more, visit billbatsonarts.com 


Weld-Sponsor-Graphic_Final


Nyack Sketch Log: 400 Years of George Floyds

by Bill Batson

During a rally of more than 1,000 residents of all races and ages held on June 1 outside the Nyack Center, the crowd took a silent knee for 9 minutes. They were rounding up by 14 seconds the time that Minneapolis, Minnesota Police Officer Derek Chauvin kept his knee on the neck of an unarmed, handcuffed George Floyd, ultimately killing him.

But to understand the convulsion of anger and anguish that this murder has produced across the country, you need to consider another number: 400. Last year was the 400th anniversary of the moment when 20 enslaved Africans arrived in Jamestown, Virginia. The nonchalant manner of Floyd’s killer was more akin to a slave master than an officer of the law. Four centuries of slavery, Jim crow segregation, political assassinations, and mass incarceration in America have found their modern expression. Our lynchings are now broadcasted.

In honor of the ancestors that have endured the relentless scourge of racism on American soil, I’ve listed one name of an unarmed African American killed by the police for each year from 1619 to 2019: 400 years of George Floyds. Speaking at yesterday’s youth-led demonstration, Nyack Pastor Everett L. Newtown said it took the COVID-19 pandemic to uncover the pandemic of racism. Ironically, the community that has the highest fatality rate when exposed to the coronavirus has engaged in mass-mobilization, where keeping social distance is difficult, to demand justice for George Floyd. It is not the first, nor will it be the last time that African American sacrifice has challenged our country to hold true to its founding principals of liberty and justice for all.

Seven nights of protest and unrest have followed in the aftermath of Floyd’s death. The lawlessness of counterproductive rioting rising from lawless environments that were seeded by a litany of recent murders of unarmed African Americans, with some lives stolen by those sworn to uphold the law. The National Guard has been dispatched to over 20 states. Significant protests are being held in over 120 cities. It’s as if our nation went from quarantine to chaos in 9 seconds. 400 years and 9 seconds.

Please note: The list was not easy to compile. According to the Washington Post, the federal government does not compile data on how many people are shot by police officers each year. Think about that. Thanks to my colleague, Clyde Lederman, I found mappingpoliceviolence.org, which draws from 3 databases, FatalEncounters.org, the U.S. Police Shootings Database, and KilledbyPolice.net.

      1. James E. Lewis, 1/1/17, Springfield, MO
      2. Trevon Johnson, 1/1/17, Villa Park, IL
      3. Mark Guirguis, 1/1/17, Allen, TX
      4. James Owens, 1/3/17 Brooklyn NY
      5. Ruben Lamont Randolph, 1/4/17 Pomona CA
      6. Muhammad Abdul Muhaymin, 1/4/17 Phoenix AZ
      7. Jamal Parks, 1/6/17 Deerfield IL
      8. JR Williams, 1/9/17 Phoenix AZ
      9. Davion Henderson, 1/9/17 St. Louis MO
      10. Darrion M. Barnhill, 1/10/17 Reagan TN
      11. Jahlire Nicholson, 1/14/17 Jamaica NY
      12. Herbert Johnson, 1/15/17 Chicago IL
      13. Mohammad Azim Doudzai, 1/16/17 Herndon VA
      14. Marquis Thomas, 1/18/17 Gary IN
      15. David Stroughter, 1/18/17 Los Angeles CA
      16. Joshua D. Jones, 1/20/17 Chicago IL
      17. Sean Revels, 1/20/17 Springhill LA
      18. Ronnie Lee Shorter, 1/21/17 Greenville MS
      19. Christopher Mark Thompkins, 1/22/17 Larimer PA
      20. Armond Jairon Brown, 1/23/17 Kenner LA
      21. Sabin Marcus Jones, 1/24/17 South Hill VA
      22. Arties Manning III, 1/24/17 New Orleans LA
      23. Kevin Darnell Washington,  1/25/17 Southaven MS
      24. Deaundre Phillips, 1/26/17 Atlanta GA
      25. Mi’Chance Dunlap-Gittens, 1/28/17 Des Moines WA
      26. Marvin Washington, 1/30/17 Kiowa OK
      27. Solomon Picart, 1/31/17 Los Angeles CA
      28. Tavis Crane,  2/1/17 Arlington TX
      29. Michael Russo, 2/1/17 Highland CA
      30. Marquez Warren, 2/1/17 Alameda CA
      31. Jamake Cason Thomas, 2/3/17 Lumberton NC
      32. Johnnie J. Harris Jr., 2/4/17 Kansas City MO
      33. Nana Adomako, 2/5/17 Fremont CA
      34. Shelly Porter III, 2/5/17 Englewood OH
      35. Jerome Keith Allen, 2/6/17 Jacksonville FL
      36. Cole Wooley, 2/6/17 Commerce City CO
      37. Curtis Jamal Deal, 2/7/17 Baltimore MD
      38. Wardel Davis, 2/7/17 Buffalo NY
      39. Chad Robertson, 2/8/17 Chicago IL
      40. Quanice Derrick Hayes, 2/9/17 Portland OR
      41. Carlos Keith Blackman, 2/10/17 Greensboro NC
      42. Jocques Scott Clemmons, 2/10/17 Nashville TN
      43. Darryl L. Fuqua, 2/10/17 Bridgeton NJ
      44. Alonzo E. Ashley Jr., 2/11/17 Kansas City MO
      45. Willard Eugene Scott Jr., 2/12/17 Durham NC
      46. Raynard Burton, 2/13/17 Detroit MI
      47. Kenneth Lee Bailey Jr., 2/15/17 Durham NC
      48. Kadeem Torres, 2/16/17 Brooklyn NY
      49. Jimmy Briggs, 2/16/17 Gardena CA
      50. Jean R. Valescot, 2/17/17 Big Lake AK
      51. Keo Crockett, 2/18/17 Efland NC
      52. Chance David Baker, 2/18/17 Portland ME
      53. Christopher Carter, 2/19/17 Kent OH
      54. Don Clark, 2/21/17 St. Louis MO
      55. Morgan Rankins, 2/22/17 Austin TX
      56. Medger Blake, 2/22/17 Conroe TX
      57. Timothy Lionel Williams, 2/23/17 Washington DC
      58. Steven Valenzuela, 2/23/17 Reno NV
      59. Gregory Lamont Childress, 2/24/17 Little Rock AR
      60. Lorenzo Antoine Cruz, 2/25/17 Rocklin CA
      61. Christopher Redding Jr.,  2/28/17 Orlando FL
      62. Earl Donnell Riley, 2/28/17 Houston TX
      63. Epthen Lamont Johnson, 3/1/17 Lufkin TX
      64. Dennis Todd Rogers, 3/7/17 Ladera Heights CA
      65. Clifton Antwone Watts, 3/8/17 Roanoke VA
      66. Sherida Davis, 3/11/17 Milwaukee WI
      67. Brandon Wiley, 3/11/17 Baton Rouge LA
      68. Rashad Daquan Opher, 3/13/17 Gwynn Oak MD
      69. Luke O. Stewart, 3/13/17 Euclid OH
      70. Cordale Quinn Handy, 3/15/17 Saint Paul MN
      71. Jermaine Claybrooks, 3/16/17 Milwaukee WI
      72. Patrick Earl Gatson, 3/16/17 Fayetteville NC
      73. Frederick Ricardo Brown, 3/16/17 Warren MI
      74. Rodney James Hess, 3/16/17 Alamo TN
      75. Desmond Phillips, 3/17/17 Chico CA
      76. Trevor Allen Brice Gingras, 3/19/17 Cape Canaveral FL
      77. Alteria Woods, 3/19/17 Vero Beach FL
      78. Clarence Duane Huderle, 3/20/17 Warren MN
      79. Don Johnson, 3/22/17 Crowley LA
      80. Eddie Davis, 3/23/17 Sheridan AR
      81. William Stokes, 3/23/17 Federal Way WA
      82. Reno Joseph Owens Jr., 3/24/17 Baltimore MD
      83. Leroy Brown Jr., 3/29/17 New Castle DE
      84. Marcus Williams, 4/1/17 Cantonment FL
      85. Kenneth Francis, 4/6/17 Newark NJ
      86. Richard Xavier Summers, 4/6/17 Largo FL
      87. Christopher Wade, 4/6/17 Westerville OH
      88. Jarrad Hill, 4/10/17 Houston TX
      89. Kenneth Johnson, 4/12/17 Reading PA
      90. Zelalem Eshetu Ewnetu, 4/12/17 Los Angeles CA
      91. Roderick Ronall Taylor, 4/15/17 Houston TX
      92. Olugbalah Ridley, 4/15/17 West Memphis AR
      93. Keith Price, 4/19/17 Wilmington DE
      94. Damarius Butts, 4/20/17 Seattle WA
      95. William D. Spates, 4/22/17 Portage IN
      96. Daezion Turner, 4/24/17 Killeen TX
      97. Kendell Wilson, 4/24/17 Houston TX
      98. Gavin Williams, 4/25/17 Lizella GA
      99. Hakim A. McNair,  4/25/17 Newark NJ
      100. Selwyn Aubrey Hall, 4/26/17 Jacksonville FL
      101. Burgon Sealy Jr., 4/27/17 Bear DE
      102. Avery Richard, 4/28/17 Atlanta GA
      103. Caleb “CJ” Jackson Jr., 4/29/17 Newport News VA
      104. Jordan Edwards, 4/29/17 Balch Springs TX
      105. Samir Nicholson, 4/29/17 East Orange NJ
      106. James Edward Ray, 4/30/17 Detroit MI
      107. Derrick Ronald Woolbright, 5/1/17 Jacksonville FL
      108. Rodney L. Henderson, 5/2/17 Irving TX
      109. Malik Carey, 5/3/17 Grand Rapids MI
      110. Tizaya Jordan-Robinson, 5/5/17 Braintree MA
      111. Cedric Jamal Mifflin, 5/7/17 Phenix City AL
      112. Landon Nobles, 5/7/17 Austin TX
      113. Mikel Laney Mcintyre, 5/8/17 Rancho Cordova CA
      114. Terry Percy Campbell, 5/9/17 Jacksonville FL
      115. Robin White, 5/10/17 St. Louis MO
      116. Terrell Kyreem Johnson, 5/10/17 Portland OR
      117. Ronald Singletary, 5/12/17 Philadelphia PA
      118. Tywon Salters, 5/13/17 Geneva IL
      119. Clarence E. Coats Jr5/13/17 Columbia MO
      120. Tashii S. Brown Black 5/14/17 Las Vegas NV
      121. Jonie Block Black 5/15/17 Phoenix AZ
      122. Jaison Fitzgerald Black 5/15/17 Richmond VA
      123. Tristan Long, 5/16/17 Tempe AZ
      124. Rashad S. Wells Jr., 5/17/17 Chicago IL
      125. Deonte Marces Giles, 5/18/17 Columbus GA
      126. Jayden Young, 5/19/17 Glendale AZ
      127. Mark Roshawn Adkins, 5/20/17 Lemon Grove CA
      128. Jimmie Montel Sanders, 5/21/17 Appleton WI
      129. DeRicco Devante Holden, 5/21/17 Converse LA
      130. Maurice Ifill, 5/22/17 Wilmington DE
      131. Adam Trammell, 5/25/17 West Milwaukee WI
      132. Darius Smith, 5/26/17 Arcadia CA
      133. Jamie J. Robinson, 5/26/17 St. Louis MO
      134. Shaquian Tyrone Johnson, 5/28/17 Cary NC
      135. Marc Brandon Davis, 6/2/17 Petal MS
      136. Charles Darnell Baker Jr., 6/2/17 Abbeville AL
      137. Corsean Lewis, 6/2/17 Chicago IL
      138. Quinton Cortez Samuel, 6/5/17 Dothan AL
      139. John Spaulding, 6/5/17 Miami FL
      140. Adrian Maurice Hardeman, 6/5/17 Shiner TX
      141. David Thomas Jones, 6/8/17 Philadelphia PA
      142. Joshua Anthony Barre, 6/9/17 Tulsa OK
      143. Avery D. Metrejean, 6/12/17 Broussard LA
      144. Chazz Brown, 6/13/17 St. Louis MO
      145. Terry Williams, 6/13/17 Milwaukee WI
      146. Jordan Frazier, 6/13/17 Baton Rouge LA
      147. Joshua Terrell Crawford, 6/16/17 Tuscaloosa AL
      148. Charleena Lyles, 6/18/17 Seattle WA
      149. Giovonn Joseph-McDade, 6/24/17 Kent WA
      150. Deveonte Johnson, 6/25/17 Oklahoma City OK
      151. Lawrence Heyward Jr., 6/25/17 North Charleston SC
      152. Phillip Clark, 6/27/17 Baton Rouge LA
      153. Rodney L. Cole, 6/28/17 Nashville TN
      154. Joel Gatu Muturi, 6/29/17 Marietta GA
      155. Aaron Bailey, 6/29/17 Indianapolis IN
      156. Quintec Locke, 7/1/17 Chicago IL
      157. David Leon Bell, 7/3/17 Brunswick GA
      158. Zepp Crouchet, 7/3/17 Antioch CA
      159. Dana D. Dubose, 7/4/17 Vandalia OH
      160. Alexander Bonds, 7/5/17 Bronx NY
      161. DeJuan Guillory, 7/6/17 Mamou LA
      162. Brian Easley, 7/7/17 Marietta GA
      163. Travis Williams, 7/7/17 Clarksdale MS
      164. Euree Lee Martin, 7/7/17 Deepstep GA
      165. Kareem Ali Nadir Jones, 7/7/17 Franklinton OH
      166. Cardell Vance III, 7/8/17 Crescent City FL
      167. Edward Earl Taylor, 7/9/17 Akron OH
      168. Michael T. Ward, 7/9/17 Salisbury MD
      169. Antonio Garcia Jr., 7/11/17 Leavenworth KS
      170. Vaughn Shaw, 7/15/17 Moreno Valley CA
      171. India Nelson, 7/17/17 Norfolk VA
      172. Isaiah Perkins, 7/20/17 St. Louis MO
      173. Aries Clark, 7/25/17 Marion AR
      174. Kesharn K. Burney, 7/26/17 Dayton OH
      175. Deltra Henderson, 7/27/17 Homer LA
      176. Rodney E. Jacobs, 7/28/17 Kansas City MO
      177. Jashod Carter, 7/29/17 Norco CA
      178. Isaiah Tucker, 7/31/17 Oshkosh WI
      179. Dwayne Jeune, 7/31/17 Brooklyn NY
      180. Christopher E. Clapp, 8/1/17 Catonsville MD
      181. Kerry Demars Bradley,  8/1/17 Waco TX
      182. Preston Thornton, 8/2/17 Coushatta LA
      183. Kemonte Cobbs, 8/2/17 Gary IN
      184. Quintas Harris, 8/2/17 Decatur GA
      185. James Lacy, 8/4/17 San Diego CA
      186. Aaron Payne, 8/4/17 Myrtle Beach SC
      187. Thomas Williams, 8/5/17 Fort Lauderdale FL
      188. Danatae Franklin, 8/6/17 Kansas City MO
      189. Darreon J. Neal, 8/8/17 Dolton IL
      190. Eugene Nelson, 8/9/17 Kent WA
      191. Tyrease Carlyle, 8/11/17 Philadelphia PA
      192. Patrick Harmon, 8/13/17 Salt Lake City UT
      193. Hussein D. Hassan, 8/13/17 Kennewick WA
      194. Herbert Gilbert, 8/15/17 Thomasville GA
      195. Kenneth Lewis, 8/16/17 Los Angeles CA
      196. Derrick Rashard Brabham, 8/18/17 Jacksonville FL
      197. Keshawn Wilson, 8/20/17 Brick NJ
      198. Nathaniel Richmond, 8/21/17 Steubenville OH
      199. Kenny “Kiwi” Herring, 8/22/17 St. Louis MO
      200. Scott Mayfield, 8/24/17 Orange NJ
      201. Devin Howell,  8/25/17 Marietta GA
      202. Charles David Robinson, 8/25/17 Woodville GA
      203. Michael Malik Kawon Lee, 8/26/17 Pine Bluff AR
      204. Demond Grimes, 8/26/17 Detroit MI
      205. William Matthew Holmes, 8/28/17 Moundridge KS
      206. Anthony Antonio Ford,  8/28/17 Miami FL
      207. Aaron Brandon, 8/29/17 Hazel Crest IL
      208. Ricky Ard, 8/29/17 Evansville IN
      209. Jarvis Hayes, 9/3/17 Myrtle Beach SC
      210. Antwon “Blind Mack” Springer, 9/3/17 Milwaukee WI
      211. Name withheld by police, 9/4/17 Chicago IL
      212. Miguel Richards, 9/6/17 Bronx NY
      213. Eric Arnold, 9/7/17 Sacramento CA
      214. Ervin Eugene Sweat Jr., 9/9/17 Arcata CA
      215. Brian Ziro, 9/17/17 West Milford WV
      216. Haraesheo Milton Rice, 9/20/17 Huntsville AL
      217. Edward “Eddie” Russell Jr. Black 9/20/17 Peoria IL
      218. Damian Murray, 9/24/17 San Francisco CA
      219. Anthony Robinson, 9/25/17 Palmetto FL
      220. Demilo Trayvon Hodge, 9/27/17 Berkeley CA
      221. Name withheld by police, 9/28/17 Oakland CA
      222. Dominique Tyrell White, 9/28/17 Topeka KS
      223. Stephen Gayle, 9/28/17 Temple TX
      224. Tyrell Dewayne Pinkston, 9/30/17 Palatka FL
      225. Marquis “Bubba” Jones, 10/1/17 Burlington IA
      226. Marquinton T. Brooks, 10/2/17 West Monroe LA
      227. Sandra Guardiola aka Sandy Guardiola, 10/4/17 Canandaigua NY
      228. Jomekia Turner, 10/4/17 Thomasville GA
      229. Corey Antonio Boykin Jr., 10/8/17 Louisville KY
      230. Cariann Denise Hithon, 10/8/17 Miami Beach FL
      231. John Robert Payne, 10/12/17 Birmingham AL
      232. J.C. Hawkins Jr., 10/13/17 Charlottesville VA
      233. Eric Garrison, 10/16/17 Baltimore MD
      234. DeAndre Bethea, 10/17/17 Hampton VA
      235. Dewboy Lister, 10/20/17 Corpus Christi TX
      236. Armando Frank, 10/20/17 Mansura LA
      237. Jamarco McShann, 10/20/17 Moraine OH
      238. Darius Miller Jr., 10/23/17 Baltimore MD
      239. Timothy Earl Jackson, 10/25/17 St. Petersburg FL
      240. Antonio Levison, 10/25/17 Cleveland OH
      241. Jerry Richardson, 10/27/17 Indiantown FL
      242. Eric Higgs, 10/29/17 Senatobia MS
      243. Kalin Jackson, 10/29/17 King of Prussi PA
      244. Dante Holden, 10/30/17 Newark NJ
      245. Tymyr Wilson, 10/30/17 Newark NJ
      246. Luvelle Kennon, 10/31/17 Riverside CA
      247. Vincent Jewan Hall,  10/31/17 Arlington TX
      248. Raymond Davis, 11/4/17 Columbus MS
      249. Augustus Crawford, 11/4/17 Bakersfield CA
      250. Eddie Patterson, 11/5/17 Rockford IL
      251. Jarrett Blakely Varnado, 11/7/17 Las Vegas NV
      252. Paul Jones III, 11/9/17 Salisbury NC
      253. Thomas Aikens, 11/10/17 Phoenix AZ
      254. John Bazemore III, 11/10/17 Denver CO
      255. Name withheld by police, 11/10/17 Edwards MS
      256. Phillip Pitts, 11/11/17 Las Vegas NV
      257. Calvin Toney, 11/13/17 Baton Rouge LA
      258. Cornell Lockhart, 11/13/17 Bronx NY
      259. Keian Jones, 11/14/17 Stockton CA
      260. Antonio T. Green, 11/14/17 Waverly VA
      261. Name withheld by police, 11/15/17 Jackson MS
      262. Chester Randolph Ward, 11/16/17 Brazoria TX
      263. Shady Bell Jr., 11/17/17 West Monroe LA
      264. Lawrence Hawkins, 11/18/17 Prichard AL
      265. Jackie Germaine Ragland, 11/23/17 Pell City AL
      266. Rehyen Bost-McMurray , 11/23/17 St. Louis MO
      267. Name withheld by police, 11/25/17 Detroit MI
      268. Aquoness Cathery,  11/30/17 Chicago IL
      269. Rufus Cedric Baker, 12/1/17 Hendersonville NC
      270. Keita O’Neil, 12/1/17 San Francisco CA
      271. David Facen, 12/6/17 Miami FL
      272. Jean Pedro Pierre, 12/6/17 Lauderdale Lakes FL
      273. Frederick Douglas Wilburn Jr. Black 12/7/17 Tucson AZ
      274. Ira Crawford, 12/10/17 Mobile AL
      275. Zoe Dowdell, 2/14/17 New Britain CT
      276. Willie Floyd McCord, 12/17/17 Bremerton WA
      277. Todd A. Stone, 12/18/17 Oak Park MI
      278. Shaquille Rogers, 12/19/17 The Colony TX
      279. Devan Rachad Stevenson, 12/22/17 Chesnee SC
      280. Dennis Plowden, 12/27/17 Philadelphia PA
      281. Corey Bailey, 12/28/17 Elkhart IN
      282. Isaiah Christian Green, 12/28/17 Dover PA (database did not location and dates for following records.)
      283. Malik Williams
      284. Frederick Perkins
      285. Antonio Smith
      286. Deangelo Rashad Martin
      287. Elray Barber
      288. Romir Talley
      289. Steven DeWayne Haizlip
      290. Kentrey Marquis Witherspoon
      291. Emanuel Johnson
      292. Mohamed Ahemed Al-Hashemi
      293. Louis Patrick Veal
      294. Jamee Christopher Deonte Johnson
      295. Cortez Bufford
      296. Romello Barnes
      297. Taveonte Art Emmanuel
      298. Kreen Cornell Bateman
      299. Montay Steven Penning
      300. Francine Graham
      301. David N. Anderson
      302. Antonio Nichols
      303. Alvern Donell Walker
      304. Lamar Alexander
      305. Ronnie Jerome Hill
      306. Demetrius Williams
      307. Cameron Lamb
      308. Miguel Russo
      309. Jerric Harris
      310. Alejandro Betancourt Mendoza
      311. Mauro Carrillo
      312. Frank Ordonez
      313. Neil Lyle Chiago
      314. Kelly Michael Stephens
      315. John Bott
      316. Patrick Alden
      317. Troy Kirk
      318. Heriberto Rodriguez
      319. John Lowell Dollen
      320. Christopher Camacho
      321. Lori Jean Canada
      322. Harvey Cantrell
      323. David A. White
      324. Richard Ruiz
      325. Kenneth Collins
      326. Brian Lee Mullen
      327. Jason Elliot Waterhouse
      328. Tyler Hall
      329. Paul Jarvis
      330. Erik Lee
      331. Dominick Matt
      332. Michael Lorenzo Dean
      333. Jimmie Phillips
      334. Yemerson Melendez
      335. Eliborio Rodriguez
      336. Derrick Everett
      337. Gerardo Martinez Ramirez
      338. Micduff Lamarco Robinson
      339. Nathaniel Pinnock
      340. Ariane Lamont McCree
      341. Estevon Cruz
      342. Lance Edward Smith
      343. Kenneth Simeus
      344. Luis Cardona
      345. Christopher Terrell Willis
      346. Alex Flores
      347. Raul Antonio Menjivar Saabedra
      348. Dante Redmond Jones
      349. Mark Sheppard
      350. Treon McCoy
      351. Omar Enrique Garcia
      352. Roy McAllister
      353. Michael Kahalehoe
      354. Tammy Pierce
      355. James Aubrey
      356. Eric Reason
      357. Andrew Joseph Roberts
      358. Daniel Thomas Childers
      359. Shelby Gazaway
      360. Gerald Newton Allen
      361. Eddie Ray Maxwell
      362. Treva Smutherman
      363. Raul Casas Campos
      364. Maurice Brown
      365. Daniel Munoz
      366. Michael Austin
      367. Jose Gallegos
      368. Luis Fino Nabarrette
      369. Benjamin Diaz
      370. Luis Morales-Camacho
      371. Edward Roe
      372. John Feggins
      373. Arturo Moreno
      374. Dana Sherrod Fletcher
      375. Earnest Easterling
      376. Luis Arreguin-Lara
      377. Johnathan Wayne Slattery
      378. Kwesi Ashun
      379. Raymond V. Tahod
      380. Anthony Viadero
      381. Matthew James Fleming
      382. Delfon Garnell Kinney Sr.
      383. Victor Hernandez
      384. David W. Shafer
      385. Dominador Araquel Rabot
      386. Adam Martinez
      387. Claudia Nadia Rodriguez
      388. Christopher McCorvey
      389. Steven Day
      390. Ruben Escudero
      391. Rickey Leonard Harris
      392. David Sanders
      393. Christopher Dequan Crosby
      394. Allan Feliz
      395. Cameron L. Bennett
      396. Lazzeri James Frazier
      397. Nasheem Prioleau
      398. Akinyia Malik Jerome Gray
      399. Victor Ervin Jarvis
      400. Christopher L. Brown

Photo credit: Kate McCabe

Bill Batson is an activist, artist and writer who lives and sketches in Nyack, NY. Nyack Sketch Log: “Nyack Sketch Log: 400 George Floyds” © 2020 Bill Batson.  To see more, visit billbatsonarts.com 


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Nyack Sketch Log: Pandemic Pivot, from Barrister to Baker

by Bill Batson

Our global economic shut down has become the mother of all reinventions. Luddites are scheduling back-to-back webinars as manic extroverts seek tranquility and communion with flowering garden plants. When Tina Traster watched her lawyer husband turn off his laptop and turn on a KitchenAid Classic Plus, she encouraged what she called his “pandemic pivot.”

As a lawyer, real estate manager, water safety advocate, and recent candidate for local government, Rick Tannenbaum can skillfully shape words into winning arguments. Now, he’s mixing flour, milk, and eggs into appetizing pound cakes sold under his newly minted commercial banner, Hudson Valley Loafer.

If you’ve found that during this period of pause and reflection, ideas have emerged about a new direction for your life, be inspired by the example of Tannenbaum’s transformation from barrister to baker.

When did you discover your baking prowess?

Fifteen years ago, my family moved to Valley Cottage from New York City. We’d been living in a one-bedroom Upper West Side co-op with our toddler. It had a tiny kitchen that also doubled as an office, a pantry, and a place to park a stroller. We fell in love with an old, ramshackle, uninhabitable farmhouse that could sucker only nature-starved city folks. That said, we transformed our 160-year-old house, planted vegetables, raised chickens–embraced the homesteading life. The kitchen became the center of our life. But my wife drew a line in the sand. She does the cooking. I started baking. I’d never baked before but I’ve always made things with my hands. One day, I found a bread recipe. And I found a natural pleasure in the process of making it. The bread was delicious, and baking became an outlet for life’s stresses.

What are the similarities between baking and lawyering?

Perhaps nothing at all, except the desire to perfect a skill. Lawyering is filled with negotiation, drama, compromise, winning, and sometimes losing. It’s complicated, and though the law is the law, outcomes are unpredictable. What I find about baking is that it really is a science that can be mastered with a predictable outcome loaf after loaf. What sets it apart from lawyering is that customers always feel satisfied with pound cakes and fresh bread. As a baker, you bring someone pleasure. As an attorney, you largely aim for relief.

How has the COVID-19 pandemic impacted your legal practice?

I practiced law through 2005, and then used a combination of legal and real estate skills to manage commercial property. Both are high-stress professions, which provided for my family. The commercial real estate industry has been hard-hit by COVID-19 pandemic. In those early weeks in March, I could feel the momentum of every pending deal heading off the cliff. I felt adrift, and baked a lot–even more than usual. The house started filling up with breads and pound cakes. My wife said it’s time for you to turn this into a business. We’d talked about this before–you know, while on vacation, watching a sunset, and talking about what you’d rather being doing. But this time, we put it on the “white board” at home. We gave it a name and talked about starting with a narrow focus–loaves of cake and breads–and delivering safely to people’s houses while they’re on lockdown. We literally just got started the next day because the demand is there. People want comfort food. They want cakes and bread that truly taste like they’ve come out of their mother’s or grandmother’s oven. We use only the finest ingredients and deliver within 24 hours. What we’re selling is both food and nostalgia. A lot of people have a story about pound cake. It brings them somewhere sweet in their memory.

What are some of the high points in your legal career?

I won an International Human Rights Award from the American Immigration Lawyers Association for work I did helping Haitian refugees secure counsel in immigration and deportation hearings. I also published a companion law review article and broke new legal ground in transnational defamation cases and money laundering.

You recently ran for office [Clarkstown Town Council]. Would you run again?

As you know, I’ve always been civic-minded, whether protecting historic property or the reservoir. I’ve never been afraid to lead, especially as it relates to making the world a better place. I ran on the Green Party ticket, which was a long shot because in our country, third-party candidates have almost no chance. That’s too bad. It was an interesting experience. I mostly enjoyed interacting with constituents who were really supportive about my platform. I can’t say I would or wouldn’t run for an elected office in the future–I suppose that depends on what demands my time going forward.

How has your pandemic pivot been going?

It’s been surprisingly gratifying. I’ve been baking ’round the clock. I’m generally a quick study, so I’ve been figuring out the logistics on sourcing, marketing, writing a business plan as I can. But I believe I began with an edge. I’ve been baking for 15 years and felt confident about the product itself. I have learned that when you’re selling something you love and take deep pride in, there’s a kind of satisfaction that runs deep. I feel responsible for every loaf. Each one is like an offspring. Best part of this whole thing is when someone tells me how delicious it was.

What were the first steps you took?

HV Loafer just came about organically. We put word out on social media, just to experiment, and the orders started coming in. So long as we were consistently messaging, the orders continued. Now we plan to break into farmers’ markets, starting with the Piermont Market this Memorial Day Weekend, and we are gearing up to deliver pound cake and cookies to corporate offices.

How would you advise others who may be considering a new career?

Do it. Do what you love while you’re working another job if you can. Perfect a skill, because that skill may become the thing you rely on at some point in your life. The pandemic has shown us the fragility of life. Sometimes you start a business because you have the luxury to do so. Other times, you do so out of necessity. Any business is a complicated endeavor that requires clarity, focus, good timing, and a bit of luck. I’d say you have a better chance at succeeding if you’re working on something that matters to you.

Any other talents simmering under the surface?

I love woodworking. I’ve built garden enclosures, wooden shutters, benches, and bird boxes. As I said, I like to work with my hands. Woodworking, though, is more forgiving. I view it as an art. Baking is a science. It demands precision.

What’s next for Hudson Valley Loafer?

For now, we are going to continue delivering to Rockland customers, but as the world opens up, we will do more markets, corporate packages, and we may even get a little food truck. We’ve been eyeing ways to make HV Loafer a mobile option. Stay tuned!

To order from Hudson Valley Loafer or to find out which farmer’s market that they will attend next, visit hvloafer.com or find them on Facebook.

If you’d like one of my two published collections of essays, interviews and sketches, or some of my Nyack Sketch Log branded-gear, you can visit  nyackgift.com.

Thanks for your support over the last nine years.

Bill Batson is an activist, artist and writer who lives and sketches in Nyack, NY. Nyack Sketch Log: ” Pandemic Pivot, from Barrister to Baker” © 2020 Bill Batson.  To see more, visit billbatsonarts.com 


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Nyack Sketch Log: Mario the Maker Magician

by Bill Batson

When the Nyack Mask Makers wanted an iconic local talent to serve as spokesperson, they reached into the hat, and pulled out a rabbit… that held the name Mario the Maker Magician, in its furry little paw! Mario is described by America’s most prominent magician, David Blaine, as the greatest kids magician in the world. As a maker, Mario has infused the digital into prestidigitation.

Learn how much magic there is in making and how much making there is in magic, and how he got to Sesame Street. Ladies and gentlemen, let me introduce Nyack’s marvel, Mario the Maker Magician.

What is your earliest memory of magic?

I walked into an antique shop one day, but unbeknownst to me, the antique shop had gone out of business and the location had reopened as a magic shop. As I entered the shop, my eyes were immediately drawn to an old TV set on the back wall, at that moment playing my favorite scene from my favorite movie: Robin Williams, playing Peter Pan in the movie Hook, sitting at a table with no food while a bunch of Lost Boys pretend to eat. Bewildered and frustrated, he picks up an empty wooden spoon and flings imaginary food across the table. At that moment–BOOM–a real dollop of what looks like sherbet ice cream splats right onto Rufio’s face. In shock, Peter is finally able to see that the whole table is filled with food. A feast of magnificent proportions awaits. For me, seeing that scene, at that moment, on that old TV in a shop I didn’t intend to enter, ended up being one of the most important days of my life. I bought a few magic tricks and ended up coming back every other day for the next year and half.

What is your earliest memory of making?

Some of my fondest childhood memories are of drawing with my mom when I was five or six years old. We used to have contests. She’d place an object on the kitchen table and see who could draw it the best. In my teen years, I started exploring anything and everything that sparked an interest. Carving wood, making puppets, floral design… I remember a hair cutting stage, too, butchering willing friends’ heads for a few months. HA!

How much magic is there in making and how much making is there in magic?

There is so much making involved with magic. What makes great magic is usually invisible to the spectator, all the secret moves and gimmicks hidden from the audience. But in reality, to me, sometimes the method of the magic trick is even more fascinating than the trick itself. There can be beautifully complicated mechanical mayhem just to make a single playing card seemingly float in mid air! And conversely, there is a lot of magic in making! I watch my son build cardboard “robots” that have no autonomous movement, but because he made it, it is able to fly between rooms, talk, and interact with the world.

What brought you to Nyack?

The short version, I attended Nyack College for a semester.  But I fell in love with the town, and stayed. I mean, I really fell in love with Nyack. This was 1997. Playing in pop punk bands. Hardcore Sundays at Knuckleheads. Skateboarding at the square. The people, the restaurants, the music, the coffee shops. Damn man, the people… the PEOPLE are what make a place alive. Those same people today keep me here. I left Nyack saying that if I ever get married, I wanted to come back here and raise a family. And here we are.

How did you and your wife meet?

Katie moved to New York as a junior in the high school I had just graduated from. We met briefly a few years down the road through a mutual high school friend, and reconnected a few years after that, after both of us returned to New York from crazy adventures.

How did you get to Sesame Street?

We were pushing so many private shows in the NYC area back then. Apparently, a couple of folks at Sesame Street had seen us at events, passed on our info, and when the idea of a magic episode came up, they sent me an email! I’ll forever be impacted by meeting the likes of Joey Mazzarino and Peter Linz that day. GIANTS in their field. What they do to inspire kids all over the world is so insanely inspiring!

Have you always toured in your VW bus?

We toured in our 1971 VW, the “Little Blue Bus,” all the way to Boulder, Colorado and back a few years ago. It was the best, most memorable tour of our career to date! The breakdowns were all part of the adventure! But now, with busier tour schedules and more at stake, we have moved onto a more reliable modern tour vehicle, our newest baby: an Airstream travel trailer!

What is the allure of the road?

It’s about being free from everything. Not being tied to the traditional school schedule. Homeschooling our kids. Learning life skills along the way. Being able to do what we truly love, and getting paid to do it, is the greatest feeling. Traveling with a camper and not depending on hotels is liberating. “Home is where you park it!”

But traveling is also humbling. Being far from home teaches us so much. It can be scary at times. We drove through some heavy storms this winter… blizzards, detours, hundreds of miles of wilderness, unpaved roads. Man, even so… I miss it deep right now. This whole pandemic has really made me appreciate touring even more.

Why do kids need magic?

Magic starts when we are kids. By teaching a child a simple magic trick, you are giving them tools to overcome fear. Performing in front of people is such a great life skill. Someone said to me recently that magic is just undiscovered science. I feel that! Also, when I was young, my mom taught me a different kind of magic… about the importance in having faith. Hoping for things unseen. Believing in something invisible, eternal. These small seeds can sprout into great things as we get older. Ancient stories that teach us life lessons. I feel that so much, too!

Why do kids need making?

Making, aw man, how I love making. I talk about this in my live show a lot. When you make something, you understand something. And when you understand something, it gives you freedom. That’s all I live for! The earlier we teach our kids to use a sewing machine, to solder a circuit together, to 3D design, to fry an egg, to change the oil on a car, the sooner they will find what their own story is. Maybe that’s the answer. It’s important to make things, because by making things we find out who we are.

Any other makers and magicians in the family?

There are three other makers in our family! Gigi, our eight year old, knits, draws, sews doll clothes, makes jewelry, and is a constant example of resourcefulness, using what she finds to create what she desires. Our five year old, Bear, is a dancer, a robot maker, and a cardboard genius. He makes something new every single day. And Katie is the biggest maker in our family! She is a photographer, a video maker, a genius with branding and marketing, creating the image that the world sees of us online.

You appear in the Nyack Mask Makers video with one of your Arduino driven allies, Mr. Table. When was Mr. Table born?

It’s funny, because there has only been one other time in my career that I’ve had to take a pause from live shows, and that was when I underwent surgery and rehabilitation for a badly broken hand. During that time, while everyone said the world was telling me to rest, I built Mr. Table. It was September, 2017.

He’s an autonomous, interactive and super expressive table sidekick! Ultimately, he didn’t make the cut as an addition to my theater show. But now, in this new season away from the stage, Mr. Table has found a recurring role in my virtual shows. In fact, several former projects that were retired from the show, or never made it in, are now finding new life in the virtual world! It’s been really fun to explore this new avenue and bring them back to life.

How did David Blaine come to call you as the “greatest kid’s magician in the world”?

It started when David hired me to do some private events with him. It was absolutely insane. He’s given me invaluable tips that have changed my performance. And what an AMAZING human, onstage and off. He has given so much to my family. I got to tour with him two years ago, opening his show, and that gave me an opportunity to find myself on a big stage. Without that experience, I’d never be where I am now as a performer.

I know that this pandemic has been particularly scary for your family. How is everyone?

We are well and healthy right now. Katie was pretty sick a few weeks back, but we are all fine now!

We hear you’ve developed a robot kit. Tell us more.

Yes!! We’re coming out with a DIY Electronic Snake-in-a-Can Kit early next month! Keep your eye on our social for more about that.

What was it like working with Nyack Mask Makers on the #masks4all project?

I am beyond honored to have been able to collaborate with an organization that I truly admire… Donna and you, Bill, and all of the mask makers… YOU are why Nyack is so special. YOU are the people who make Nyack what it is. THIS is the type of community we want our children to know.

What’s next for Mario?

It’s hard to know when theater touring will resume. For now, we are continuing to work on virtual formats and live content collaborations. Creating videos and livestream experiences for partners like Make: Magazine has been a primary focus and a huge blessing to us during this time. We are continuing to do our best to stay connected to all of the amazing families and audiences that have been our lifeblood and supported us all of these years!!

Links:

If you have enjoyed my column at any point during the last nine years, I ask that you support the continuation of the Nyack Sketch Log by visiting nyackgift.com and consider acquiring or sharing one of my books or some of my merchandise. As one of Nyack’s smaller businesses, I thank you for your past support and hope to continue to provide the people of the village that I love illuminating illustration and edifying essays long into the future.

Donations are also welcome through paypal via wrbatson@gmail.com

Bill Batson is an activist, artist and writer who lives and sketches in Nyack, NY. Nyack Sketch Log: ” Mario the Maker Magician” © 2020 Bill Batson.  To see more, visit billbatsonarts.com 


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Nyack Sketch Log: 8 North Broadway

by Bill Batson

In the culinary arts, presentation is as important as preparation. With table service precluded by the social distancing measures taken to stop the spread of COVID-19, restaurants must find new ways to present their once plated masterpieces. 8 North Broadway was one of the first kitchens in Nyack to successfully transition from a la carte to cardboard box.

As early as March 12 – ten days before New York instituted the shelter in place order that expires in parts of the state this Friday, Executive Chef Constantine Kalandranis was already serving as many to-go orders as sit-down dinners. My fiancé Marisol and I were there planning the meal for our June wedding that would soon be postponed. We witnessed Constantine stoically absorbing the cancellation of months of reservations and catering gigs, while boxing meals for anxious families.

Here’s how a past natural disaster prepared Constantine to pivot so quickly from sit down to pickup and delivery. You’ll learn whose food he likes to eat as well.

When 8 North Broadway opened in the fall of 2012, just days after Superstorm Sandy, you focused on feeding first responders for several days rather than patrons. How did that influence community relationships in town? And how did that shape your outlook as a business owner?

Yes, it was one of those things where we had bought the building and closed the deal the night before the treacherous storm. We were one of the few buildings untouched by Sandy and for some weird reason, never lost power. We felt so thankful that we had a growing moment where we made chili for people in town and served hot water and lemon and had people come in and charge their phones…it was really cool and we got to meet the neighborhood at a time when we all had to really pull together.

How does COVID-19 feel similar to Sandy?

We have been thorough crises before in our restaurant path. COVID -19 is definitely a more intense and sad story than past occurrences.  What doesn’t change is that these moments are what level the playing field for all of us and help us remember what we have to be thankful for. Taking things for granted, racial and political divides and even terrorism seem to have taken a back seat and people are trying to unite the best way they know how.

What are you doing today that is helping Nyack survive and come together?

We have been doing our part as chefs do. We’ve participated in Nyack Nourishes. We have been cooking for hospitals once a week and trying to send out a donation once a week just to make the world turn. It is not always a first responder that needs the help — it can be a homeless person in town.

What does the future look like for 8 North Broadway and Nyack business generally?

It is a very scary time and I made the decision at a young age to cook and make people happy through food. I stand by that and was just thinking today that although things may never be the same, there is still an oath I made to myself to do my part whether we make money or not.

What were your early food influences and favorite food memories?

Johna and Constantine Kalandranis Photo credit: Julie Stapen

I think the memories of things I associated with comfort, like lemon roasted chicken and vegetables and dips, are things that I am really focusing on now. You may know we do $45 chicken dinner that feeds four people and that is mostly because this was a dish that I remember making me and my family happy. It was just something we always had when we were together — delicious, nutritious and full of flavor and comfort.

I grew up in Astoria, Queens and from a very young age cooked with my grandma and my mother. Family meals were always a big deal and still are.

What was your culinary training and early experiences in the restaurant world?

I have worked in every type of restaurant, from gyro joints to Michelin- starred establishments. I have been a dishwasher and a busboy. I have been a sous chef, partner, head chef and owner. I had a good work ethic at a young age and put myself through 2 schools and paid it in cash with my own money that I made working in restaurants. Other than that, we have dipped into virtual media as well as small cooking programs along the way.

What attracted you to the Hudson Valley?

Farms, incredible veggies, produce and the neighborhood atmosphere were big factors in my immediate love for the Hudson Valley. Those are the very things that I also felt New York City was losing. I graduated from the Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, which is in Dutchess County, and from that time on, the Hudson Valley was irresistible.

How did you come to open your first business in Nyack and what attracted you to the Rivertown?

I had an uncle on my wife’s side who knew of a building in a town that he thought I should look at. I peeked through a dirty window and saw a glimpse of a copper bar. I think that’s when I really fell in love with idea of making a change and investing the time into the neighborhood and Nyack generally. I loved the town, the community and the warmth of the people.

You own 273 Kitchen in Harrison and have also opened other Westchester restaurants and are running a handful of Montauk restaurants. Describe those restaurants and their communities in comparison to Nyack.

We do the same thing in Harrison where we offer a family package of a protein like lemon chicken with all kinds of other goodies for $45.  It is a great value for the neighborhood and we make zero money once all is said and done. But I look at it as our way of helping since we are not doctors or first responders. It is also showing the neighborhood that we are not a selfish restaurant group but one that has always focused on listening and filling the food needs of those who patronize us. We’ve been successful because we listen and care that people feel nourished and cared about when they come to 8 North Broadway or any of our restaurants.

What do you enjoy most and least about the restaurant business?

I enjoy the challenge that every day there is a catastrophe or a problem that makes you think and be creative. I do not like the self- proclaimed critics of food and business who feel it is ok when you make a mistake to go blasting it on social media as if you had done something criminal…I learn to laugh at it. too, but it makes me very sad to see that. I have never seen that done so pointlessly with other professions and I think it is a great way to make a tense situation out of a business that is based on joy and eating. If there’s a problem in a restaurant, deal with it on the spot rather than ranting on social media.

What do you want people to know about you and 8 North Broadway?

I want them to know that we invest all of ourselves in our restaurants.  While we are far from perfect and make plenty of mistakes, the things we do are for our guests and our team are very thoughtful and done with a lot of care. We base all our difficult decisions on careful thinking and the pursuit of a customer base that loves us, patronizes us often and talks up their love for us to colleagues and friends. We want people to feel at home here, well-nourished, cared about and feeling great while here and when they leave.

What do you most enjoy eating?

Well, this is a funny story. Two competing restaurants, one in Nyack, the other in Harrison, are part of this story. In these difficult times, it is important to understand how we are all in this together as restauranteurs and I think a lot of amazing food is coming out of these restaurants because we are focusing on the food and what brought us into the industry in the first place!

Lately, I have had amazing meals at these venues and will continue patronizing them in the future. I feel bonded to them, like we’ve been through a battle together as restaurateurs – we understand each other on a very basic level.

Mumbai Dreams (Nyack) – I got a delivery because I wanted to spend some money on a restaurant as people are with us. It was some of the more creative (Indian tacos) and traditional (saag) Indian food I have had – thoughtful and delicious — in spite of being in a to-go box!

Dimitri’s Grill (Harrison) – I had a traditional beef and lamb gyro that was great — brought me back to my childhood roots.

Learn and read more:

You can view 8 North Broadway’s pickup and delivery menu here

Also, learn more about Nyack Nourishes, a project that 8NB participates in that provides meals for the healthcare heroes working at Montefiore Nyack Hospital and the Nyack Community Ambulance Corps during the COVID-19 crisis while supporting local Nyack restaurants.

With public support, 50 individually boxed, full course meals are sent each day to our community doctors, nurses, medical staff and first responders, prepared by local businesses.

The ten participation Nyack Nourishes restaurants are 8 North, Casa del Sol, Didier Dumas, Hudson Market, Karenderya, Maura’s Kitchen, Mumbai Dreams, The Olde Village Inne, Strawberry Place and Thai House.

To donate and learn more about this community effort, please visit NyackNourishes.com.

If you have enjoyed my column at any point during the last nine years, I ask that you support the continuation of the Nyack Sketch Log by visiting nyackgift.com and consider acquiring or sharing one of my books or some of my merchandise. As one of Nyack’s smaller businesses, I thank you for your past support and hope to continue to provide the people of the village that I love illuminating illustration and edifying essays long into the future.

Donations are also welcome through paypal via wrbatson@gmail.com

Bill Batson is an activist, artist and writer who lives and sketches in Nyack, NY. Nyack Sketch Log: ” 8 North Broadway” © 2020 Bill Batson.  To see more, visit billbatsonarts.com 


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Nyack Sketch Log: Michael Rogozik

by Bill Batson

Although his death was not caused by COVID-19, the complications of our nation-wide shutdown contributed to the demise of Air Force veteran and artist Micheal Rogozik.

Michael was the kind of person that would’ve had a crowded memorial service, but again, the pandemic that has insinuated itself into every aspect of our lives, precluded such a gathering. In keeping with military tradition, however, his compatriots from the American Legion Hall made sure he received his military honors.

If you spent much time in Nyack over the last few decades, you know of Michael. He was on a first name basis with virtually everyone at our weekly, year-round farmers’ market as well countless other shopkeepers and residents. His warmth and gentlemanly manner drew you in.

Mikaela Martin and Kris Burns have found a way to celebrate his life by sharing his unique insights as an artist. Nyack Sketch Log spoke to them about what he meant to them and to Nyack.

How did you meet Mike?

Mikaela Martin: I met Mike about seven years ago, at what was Sweetpea’s, on Main and Broadway. I overheard him talking to someone about his childhood in Australia, which is where I’m from. I eagerly interrupted, and am so glad I did! I had found an expat with so many nostalgic–almost romantic–memories of a small country town in the middle of my native “nowhere land.”

Mikaela Martin and Michael Rogozik

I would soon learn that all of Mike’s tales and memories had one thing in common: joy. He really was full of joy.

Kris Burns: Meeting Michael in the middle of your day was an invitation to meditate on eternal riddles of the universe–could you meet him halfway? Would you linger in the presence of the present? Michael was the gift of Main Street, the prize for walking downtown, for showing up, for remaining.

He was the daily encounter with the divine you forgot you were after. He gave us a glimpse into a pure heart and invited us to marvel in the tarot, Elvis, and Max Ehrmann; to consider what it would look like to live in a constant state of salutation; to be reliably kind, unwaveringly warm, and predictably unpredictable. There was even prophecy, if you could calm your cluttered mind long enough to recognize it.

How prolific was Mike as an artist?

MM: He didn’t stop. The difference between Mike and many artists is that he didn’t seem to have a self-critic. Even though he repeated many pieces, many times over, I don’t think it was because he was trying to perfect something. I think the repetition was a deepening of his love for what he was depicting and creating. The work was without judgement, and without ego. I think that’s evident too when you see it. Like him, it is full of joy.

KB: Several years ago, I had a store on Main Street called Festoon. Michael used to stop by regularly to say “hi,” show me his latest work, and then proceed to knock my socks off with some off-the-cuff bit of profound enlightenment before he sauntered out. I fell in love with his portraits of Lincoln, Elvis, and the Virgin Mary and asked if I could exhibit his work. One day he brought me two entire collections of drawings and we talked about the possibility of reproducing them as a book or cards.

Regrettably, I closed the shop before I had the chance to exhibit or reproduce Michael’s work, and his wonderful collection got caught up in the shuffle of my best, but neglected, intentions. Little did I know that in a parallel universe, Mikaela was also talking to Michael about the possibility of exhibiting his work around the same time she was stopping in to buy flowers at Festoon!  Sigh…

How close was Mike with the local community of veterans?

MM: Mike was a proud veteran, and a recipient of a Bronze Star. If members of the community didn’t know him personally, they certainly knew of‘ him. Just last September he attended the Nyack Legion 100th Anniversary Dinner. He was talking it up for months prior. The Nyack Legion had generously given Mike a scooter last year, and regularly checked in on him. Their generosity and care for Michael went beyond their sense of duty, and I know they had a genuine admiration and fondness for him.

In a time when many restrictions have been placed on funeral services, members gave Mike an honorable farewell, with individual salutes and traditional TAPS.

What would you want people to know about Mike?

MM: Mike was a gentleman… not in the chivalrous or courteous sense of the word, but in that, he was a gentle man. He was a storyteller–and I don’t care if some of them weren’t true, I chose to believe them. He loved The Doors, The Rolling Stones, and I think more than anything, his Mother. In Mike’s home there is a room where he spent most of his time, and the pastel-painted walls are completely filled with his drawings, portraits of family, presidents, cards, iconography, military certificates–and on one wall, a small piece of paper with the letters Z E N. That was my friend: at peace with himself and the universe. Enlightened, and full of light.

KB: For one, the exchange with Michael required standing in place for an uncertain amount of time when you were certainly en route to someplace else.

It meant replacing the urgency you brought with you with the innocence you found.

It meant losing sight of where you were expected, and listening, really listening to a voice that was completely hypnotic and full of enlightenment.

How Great Thou Art

Mikaela and Kris are organizing a series of prints, cards, tote bags, and possibly a puzzle emblazoned by Michael’s work. The collection will be called How Great Thou Art, and will be available soon at Main Street Beat at 95 Main Street. Proceeds from the sales will benefit Soup Angels and the Veterans Administration. The banner above that honors Micheal’s military service will soon hang in The Village of Nyack. To learn more about the life of Michael Rogozik, and to share your own recollections or pictures, please visit this facebook page

Read also: Local Arts Index: Michael Rogozik

If you have enjoyed my column at any point during the last nine years, I ask that you support the continuation of the Nyack Sketch Log by visiting nyackgift.com and consider acquiring or sharing one of my books or some of my merchandise. As one of Nyack’s smaller businesses, I thank you for your past support and hope to continue to provide the people of the village that I love illuminating illustration and edifying essays long into the future.

Donations are also welcome through paypal via wrbatson@gmail.com

Bill Batson is an activist, artist and writer who lives and sketches in Nyack, NY. Nyack Sketch Log: ” Michael Rogozik” © 2020 Bill Batson.  To see more, visit billbatsonarts.com 


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