All Politics Is Local, Indeed

This is an endorsement of my friend Alexandria Wojcik’s campaign for re-election. I reside in the Town of New Paltz, not the Village of, so I hope the anecdote that I share below means more than my current street address.

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In December 2021, my landlord informed me that he wanted to move from New Paltz, New York, to North Carolina, which meant that he needed to sell the house we both resided in. He estimated that this process would take three months or so. It actually took only three weeks for him to find his next home and receive an offer from someone to purchase the home we both resided in. In the current real estate environment, this should not have been a surprise.

In those three weeks, I placed an ad for myself as a renter/housemate (I live on a limited and fixed income, as I am disabled, which longtime readers know) in various venues like Craigslist and Facebook and others, and I responded to every ad I could find. There were no legitimate rentals—not in mid-winter, not in the middle of a month. I have friends in real estate, and they utilized their resources and knowledge on my behalf; it was obvious that a good solution would be eventually available, but not in the desperately brief window of time I was in. I started to research how to place myself in a homeless shelter. (It is not as easy as one may think.)

Two public officials stepped up on my behalf: New Paltz Village Trustee Michele Zipp, who offered me temporary space in a relative’s home, and New Paltz’s Deputy Mayor, Alexandria Wojcik. New Paltz is a small village, and these two brought this to life for me in the best possible way. I have not yet met either of them in person, yet help was offered. Online, I must come across as a good person; I hope I live up to that thought both online and in real life.

Michele Zipp announced last week that she will not run for re-election. Alexandria Wojcik has started to campaign again. As she embarks on a re-election campaign as village trustee and gathers signatures to re-qualify for the November ballot, I write here something I have said to my friends one-on-one for the last year: Alexandria exemplifies the best in our community and even helped me re-acquire a sense of hope at that difficult moment last year.

As I wrote above, Alexandria and I have not yet met even though we have many friends in common and it is likely we have lived in many of the same apartments in our New Paltz histories. I also write this as a voter in the Town of New Paltz and not the Village of New Paltz (for those in New York State, this makes sense; and for those not, it does not), so I can not vote for her or serve as a signature on her ballot petition.

Alexandria and Michele did something unique in my experience, and I share this small anecdote as something that is not unique to Alexandria—others with whom I have spoken share similar stories—and as something that I hope becomes ever more frequent among all public servants. Part of our national problem right now stems from the fact that most political figures are characters on a TV show from most voters’ perspectives and are thus viewed through our emotions rather than our experiences. Our current political climate is closer to road rage than problem-solving, but we can change this, one experience at a time.
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I’ve Always Depended on …

Angry, barking angry. “Ass-hat angry,” neither of my grandfathers would have called it, because neither of my grandfathers ever said “ass-hat.” The kind of angry that both of my departed grandfathers in the hereafter would have been forced to come up with pretend back-country colloquialisms to describe their grandson, also known as me. That frustrated and angry.

The story has a happy ending, of course. And the anger departed the moment it was expressed at the anonymous Newark-ian who knocked me over. It was a night in which Jen and I discovered that there are no short-cuts on the path to meeting good people.
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Opus 40: An Update

In March I wrote a column about a fundraising campaign to help restore one of my favorite places, Opus 40, in Saugerties, NY. There has been plenty of good news since March.

Built in an abandoned bluestone quarry in upstate New York by one man, Harvey Fite, Opus 40 is a contemporary American version of Stonehenge or the collection of Easter Island moai.
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