Saturday, November 2, 2013


The deer have been butchered and smoked. My prescription for antibiotics is done and the hole in my leg has healed. Halloween and Shewho's bday are over. Opening day of gun is over two weeks away and the rut is heating up. I've taken Smokey's double barrel "Jake" out for turkeys a couple of times and even called in about a dozen birds over at WSSP II. After shooting that little doe I didn't want to repeat killing a small animal, so I never took a shot at the two hens and 10 poults. No matter how tender, there just isn't enough meat to justify the kill. Most days I work in the shul and pray the roof doesn't collapse with every rain storm.
    I think election day is Tuesday. This is an important one. A 50 year battle to bring casino gambling to Sullivan County is finally being put before the people of NY state. Voting yes on Prop. 1 would allow two non-Indian casinos in Sullivan County. The answer to our prayers? Well, lets take a look.

    The history of Sullivan County is a rich one. The Eastern European Jews were the first large group of immigrants to join the local hillbilly trappers, lumberman, tanners, and bootleggers in developing the county. Any extra room in dairy and chicken farms, owned by the Jews, were rented out in the summers to city folk sweltering on the Lower East Side. This led to boarding houses, bungalow colonies and eventually big hotels like The Concord and Grossingers. When prohibition came in, the bootleggers, Italian and Jewish mob and the hotel owners joined forces to make the Catskills a hot spot for partying, drinking, gambling (as well as dumping bodies). This was what is now known as our "heyday".
   By the time WOODSTOCK happened in 1969 it was over. Air conditioning and cheap airfares were kisses of death for the tourist industry. By the 70's the hotels looked like seedy old age homes, empty except for the Jewish holidays. By the 1980's property values had plummeted and everyone wanted out. In stepped the Hassidics. This insular group of organized bargain hunters began buying up property and set the stage for the large scale development being proposed today. Child bearing being an integral part of the culture, they understandably need space. Up until now the Catskills has been a summer retreat for Hassidim. This will change. Year 'round residential enclaves are right around the corner.
   This brings me back to casinos. If casinos come in they will bring with them much development- some good.....most bad. All you have to do is look at Atlantic City and Vegas to see what our future may be. Between the min-vans, the buses filled with gamblers and everyone else trying to escape the city, traffic will be hell. And guess what? Gamblers hunt. The deer woods that Savage and I have had to ourselves for years, will be dotted with the "pumpkin army".  The threat of over development is very real. Hassidim, Casinos, Fracking, and even Williamsburg hipsters (I hear Mountaindale is going to be a latte-swilling hipster theme park.) are poised and ready to take over our paradise. How long can we keep these well-heeled forces at bay? Is the "heyday" returning? Only the future will tell. I, for one, find the Hassidics, even with their chain link fences, shoddy construction, Friday evening road rallies and pushy shopping cart practices, the least of the evils. Let your conscience be your guide, but I am voting NO on Tues. and thinking of putting a meth-lab in one of my trailers. The art business sure isn't working. Gotta make the most of our present and not worry too much about the future. Time to get in the woods before some gambler steals my tree stand.          


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