Wednesday, September 7, 2016




I've heard this family story for years. It surrounded the breaking of a plate by my sister-in-law Ginger. I may have some of the details wrong, but bear with me.

It was a cold snowy day, just after deer season back in the 70's. My brother Bird had hunted hard another year without any luck, and it was starting to get to him. He'd been working for Savage Lynch, doing construction and had recently purchased a piece of property from Ginger's folks, past The Big Ten, off 17k, down Youngblood Rd. It was a tiny house, situated on a table top flat piece of ground, backed up against a nice little piece of hardwoods- perfect deer woods.
    People forget that back in the 70's Orange County wasn't over run with deer, like today. The herd was just starting to bound back from decades of logging, poor management and subsistence hunting. So the fact that Bird had hunted hard for what was going on 11 years without pulling the trigger was all but Bird. So when he dusted the snow off his boots, a full week after the season had ended, he had to admit he was still brooding over an empty freezer and another dry year. Now, let me just say that Ginger and Bird are the sweetest, most loving couple you'd ever meet. But even in the best of relationships, nerves will fray, tempers will flare.
   So on that snowy day, so many years ago, Ginger at the sink washing dishes, Bird knocking the snow off his boots.......something was said, and a dish ended up broken. And this was not just any dish. This was the dish commemorating the hanging of two people tried and convicted for the murder conspiracy of my great, great, great grandfather Richard Jennings. This family heirloom, now sadly shattered on the kitchen floor, was all that held us to our salacious past. And typical of our family, nobody knew much about it. Well as of today i know a lot more.

Reading Michael J.Worden's book THE MURDER OF RICHARD JENNINGS, was on the one hand really fun, because of the kin angle, and on the other hand extremely disappointing because our kin was completely ignored. This is nothing if not a story of family, real estate and the mess both can make of each other's lives. Yet Worden barely touches on the Jennings. All the other players, the murderers and maybe-murderers are fleshed out. Yet the victim, poor Grampa Dick, is portrayed as somewhat of an asshole and then forgotten in the circus of 1818 justice. Reportedly 20,000 people showed up for the hanging in 1819. That's like Woodstock for the time. The Jennings family name (directly descended from Richard) is almost gone now. Our cousin Lay (born with MD) and having no children, is the last male bearing the Jennings name, of our kin. Worden did us (the Jennings family), and his readers a big disservice.
   What happened to the plate you ask? Ginger patched it up and gave it to Nina Snyder, our family historian. Did Bird ever shoot a deer? If I remember correctly, the next year he took a scraggly Youngblood road six and has scored every year since. Oh wait,I think he came up empty last year. Now that this book has come out, it's got the family talking. Inevitably someone will ask Ginger where the plate is? And we all laugh. God's honest truth.    

Wednesday, August 31, 2016


A couple of days ago i was in Home Depot buying some string and springs for my big upcoming art show at CAS. When I went to check out my card was refused. Now these cards don't last long in my wallet, so I wasn't too concerned. I paid my bill in cash and went on my way. Since i was near my bank i decided to take the time to order a new card. I parked the truck and strolled into.........WAYNE'S BANK? There was one guy in line. I looked around completely confused, trying to take in what had happened. WAYNE'S BANK looked at me in bad graphics from every wall. "What the fuck?" I said out loud, to the guy in front of me. "This used to be my bank." He smiled. I continued more to myself than to him. "First it was Bank of America. Then it was NDBCD or NBDD or NBDC bank. Now it's fucking WAYNE"S BANK?" Now the guy laughed and a strange girl called to him to step up. I just stood there, dazed, waiting.....

   These days I'm wired a little tight. I never show in galleries. It's not that I have anything against them. They just never ask, so I do what I do without them. Galleries need artists, not the other way around. So when i was asked, I was as excited as my inner 13 year old girl would allow. I may own a church, but to me the  gallery is the church. I take this shit very seriously. The Catskill Art Society may as well be Hauser & Wirth, Gavin Brown and Zwirner rolled into one. If I'm gonna show in the gallery context, I'm gonna kick ass.
   So, as you can imagine, WAYNE'S BANK received the wrath of Osti. Shout out to Tariq and all my crew at WB. These guys talk me off the ledge with each name change. It's never pretty, but in the end I stay resigned to every corporate ass reaming by forces unknown, just because of the people at MY bank.
So we got it all worked out, ordered new checks and card, etc. and I went on my way. I headed onto the on ramp and traffic stopped dead. Six cars ahead of me was a Shortline bus stopped dead. Off to the side there were two cars pulled over and in the middle of the road danced at least a dozen Orthodox Jewish men, hands in the air, fingers snapping, squatting, and grinning ear to ear. WTF! AGAIN! I leaned on the horn. No vehicle moved as the men twirled and vogued in front of the bus. I'd had enough. I pulled over to the right, passed the line and pulled up alongside the dancing Jews. "What the fuck are you idiots doing?" I asked. They all looked at me, smiled wider and one guy reached out to the truck. "Come dance!" he beckoned "Join us!" I could not stay pissed. I almost got out of the truck.....but went on my way....smiling.
    I asked Pigpen if I'd missed a holy day? He said it was probably just an end of the summer celebration. If this is true I have a whole new respect for the Orthodox. I wish I felt that good about anything. Next time I do I'm stopping the truck in the middle of the ramp......and dancing!


Thursday, August 25, 2016

HOLLIE WITCHEY in my old kitchen



I have a Yahoo email. It's the only email I've ever had. It mostly works and I get all my crap news when I chk. my email. This is a blessing and a curse. Mostly it's about the latest "famous" lion being killed in Africa and kids with no limbs "doing amazing things!" I know when the "most famous lion" dies there's always another in the wings and kids with or without limbs will always surprise you, but I'm still a sucker for the Yahoo feed. Today was a doozy. Binghamton University is offering incoming RA (resident alien?) training on how to deal with unruly, ill informed, aggressive, self-righteous "white people" in the dorm environment. This is the most straight forward, call a cracker a cracker, truth in advertisement approach to higher education I've ever seen or heard of. In fact the tag line began: Not Onion-#stopwhitepeople2k16.
   Misguided and hilariously inappropriate, it's like refusing to serve watermelon to your black friends, on a hot summer day, for fear of being somehow misread. I wholehearted agree with the sentiment of this introductory course offered to those in charge, by those in charge. White people should've been stopped eons ago, but that course was never available. The fact that BU put this in print, shows on the one hand extreme courage, and on the other complete, bone-headed ignorance. I love it! This is what you look for, and so rarely receive, from academia. The backlash will be extreme and all too predictable. "What if they said #stopblackpeople"?" they scream. Dude, that class has been popular since 1636- the year Harvard was founded. It's an easy B.
   In my humble opinion "White" connotes so much evil, misery, thievery, and oppression, it should be actively "stopped" at every corner. You can't help your color. But you can recognize the burden that goes along with the hue. Whites, in general, and American whites in particular, have such a false sense of their kin's role in oppression that we find ourselves in a world where we see such a hashtag.
We conveniently forget history, or make up our own. Here's an excerpt from a little of my personal history: "The negro sprang upon and seized her, when she screamed and a large dog she had rushed in at the door and seizing the negro by the throat, there was a severe struggle between them. She then fastened the door and taking my father, then an infant, in her arms, went to the second floor, drew up the ladder, and with child in her lap and cutlass in her hand, kept watch all night at the window"- an account of what was done and suffered by the women of our American Revolution"- Rev. Charles Rockwell THE CATSKILLS AND THE REGION AROUND 1867 Chapt. 7 The Osterhout Narrative.

Wednesday, August 24, 2016


Tuesday, August 16, 2016