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Whoa Saratoga!  Where’d your facelift come from!

There are now at least three new eating establishments downtown! Woohoo! There is a local food centered Comfort Kitchen that is a little bit out of the way, and has good prices… if your in NYC.  No report on the food yet.  There is also a new tapas style restaurant that is run by a Saratoga restaurant mafia or something.  The food there has to be at least decent other wise the family wouldn’t be driving around in bespoke mercedes benzs…

 

Stylin designs

BUT, the place that excites me the most is the new brewery and beer garden that is craftily tucked away down an alley.  It’s called Druthers, as in, “If I had my druthers I’d…”  I took my girlfriend there when we got back in town to check ‘er out.  I’ll evaluate it in three categories I felt were most important to the place, 1) Beer Garden 2) Food and 3) Beer.

 

1) Beer Garden: A

Before Druthers came to be the plot it exists on was a small vacant lot inhabited by only scrubby plants and garbage.  What they did with the space is nothing short of magic.  The erected a beautiful timber-frame(?) building with a cobble stone … beer garden.  Along one wall are some fairly comfy benches while along the other are cocktail table with awnings.  In-between are tables and umbrellas for the sun etc.  I think it really had a great atmosphere!  Because it is in an alley and has the high walls of the buildings on either side, it has a feel somewhere in the middle of an outdoor patio and an indoor family style restaurant.  The point is that it is a bright, airy, and exceedingly comfortable place to have a beer and eat dinner.   What else could you ask for in a beer garden?What makes it even more awesome is the fact that they plan on bringing out fire-pits in the winter.  My suggestion?  Blankets would really bring that vision to fruition.  Check out how this special Skiddie explains how great hygge is in Denmark, with the public blankets and all…

New Pretty Buildings

2) Food: A-

Nowadays it seems as though if you don’t have an exciting and fresh menu, you don’t have a chance.  I believe, the Food Network has taken the foodie movement to a whole new level in the last 5 years.  Shows like Diners, Drive-ins, and Dives, and Chopped (some of my personal faves) have shown people that they can realistically expect adventurous, and restaurant specific food instead of the regular hamburger with lettuce, tomato, and onion, for example.  From what I saw on the menu, and from what we ordered proved that to me.  For example, I had the “Something Sweet” burger.  It’s a “marinated turkey burger with smoked pineapple, sweet potato chips, baby greens, heirloom tomato, and sweet roasted garlic aioli” It was totally fabulous.  Pair that with a nice light beer and your set.  My girlfriend had the burritos, and they left a little bit to be desired, but over all, well done.  Check the menu out for yourself! (<– Click there)

. . . you’d drink beer

3) Beer: C- (or worse)

I love beer.  After living with two meticulous brewers and beer tasters, I have developed my own tastes in beer.  For example, I love hops.  Therefore IPA’s are my bread and butter.  Some breweries focus on these hoppy beers, while others simply use them as fillers to round out their offerings. Within that range some produce incredible beers, while others just do it solidly.  Druthers did not seem to be able to do that.  I had their IPA and could not taste a single hop, it seemed.  With each sip I searched and searched for the delicious bitterness, but it never surfaced.  I had their hefeweizen next.  Now, I am not a wheat beer fan by any means, and I ordered this beer by mistake as much as anything, but it was a step up from the IPA.  It was done with some professionalism.  Druthers has not been open for a full year, so perhaps it isn’t fair to judge their beers, but I was so disappointed that I had to be harsh.  I look forward to the continued evolution of their product, let’s hope it evolves soon.

 

Over all, I would still go back to Druthers in a heartbeat.  The food and the atmosphere contributed to an exceedingly enjoyable experience.  What’s more is that Druthers offers an experience that no other place on Broadway or downtown can offer.

I attended my first passover this weekend! Does that mean I am finally a man?  Or wait… is that a bar/at mitzvah…  Anyway, I had a phenomenal time going to my girlfriend’s family’s celebration of the ten plagues coming and smiting the Egyptians.  The holiday is great, make no mistake there.  Its like thanksgiving, except instead of having leftovers the day after, YOU HAVE ANOTHER FEAST!!  Two straight days of eating and drinking is a serious type of holiday that the Christians are unwilling to go near.

Passover, from an outsider’s perspective, is a pretty interesting thing.  The focus is on tradition, tradition, tradition, but, it changes from year to year.  For example and one seder I attended there was an orange on the seder plate.  It turns out that it is the representation of the role women play in Judaism.  (apparently a rabbi once replied when asked about the role of women in the Jewish faith that women had as much place on the bema as an orange on the seder plate, given that is a ridiculous thing to say, this family now incudes an orange symbolizing the importance of women in Judaism–by the way, it looked pretty at home between the shank bone and haroset)  Also, we sang songs to the tune of Clementine and Take me Out to the Ball Game.  Needless to say this family was reform.

But even though the focus was on tradition, the event had nothing to do with it.  The event was focused, much like thanksgiving is, on sharing fun times with family and friends.  Traditional prayers are sung etc.  but no one seems to care for them.  Passover was so wholly different from my easter experiences it makes me wonder why the christian church decided to adopt that pagan tradition instead of this one.  Happy Pesach everyone!

I wanted to write another quick fire post to alert everyone’s attention to the great work that Skidmore’s student body is doing in tackling issues.  A while ago I wrote about Skidmore Unofficial,  and they have caught my attention again.  On campus we have been grappling with internal issues of misunderstanding as well as issues of misunderstanding regarding our community (Saratoga Springs).  Skidmore Unofficial  has been doing an exceptional job at monitoring and facilitating a better informed and directed discourse on the issues at hand.  To be quite honest, the writing staff there upholds a much more positive image of the Skidmore student body than the student body does generally.  Check them out period.  Check out Skidmore Unofficial

God Save Skidmore Unofficial

Last saturday I went to Troy.  What did I do there? Oh, thanks for asking.  I went to a BOMB BBQ place called Dinosaur Bar B Que.  How was the food? It was great I tell you, great.

Tres Hombres

I had a Tres Hombres combo meal (seen above).  It had 1/4 rack o’ ribs, heaping of pulled pork, some brisket slices, and two sides-I got cajun corn and some beans.  Top all of this off with some of Dino BBQ’s phenomenal dipping bbq sauces and you have a BBQ meal you’ll never forget.

Not my plate, but looks pretty similar

The atmosphere inside the place was great.  The industrial flare is backed up with the mohawk/hudson river flowing off the back of the dock and a steel drawbridge as a backdrop.  There are also like 25 beers on tap fot those of you who are of age.  I had a Victory HopDevil and a Crossroads Outrage IPA, both regional beers (the latter coming from nearby Athens Ny.).  They dont really serve dinosaur, but I’m sure they’d let you pretend if you really wanted.  If your ever near Troy, go here.

One great thing about Skidmore, and Saratoga Springs for that matter, is that it is close to a few major North Eastern cities.  We’re between three and four hours away from New York City, Boston, and Burlington Vt. However, there are other great things even closer by!  Albany, it turns out, is also a great and fun place.  Recently I went to a show a a bar in downtown albany called Jillian’s.  What I was doing there was seeing a really great band that I learned about from local radio station 102.7-EQX.  That band was Company of Thieves. They’re an indie rock band with the most rockin/amazing/beautiful/fun/great front woman I have ever seen.  She really can belt it out, and does so on the reg. If you dont like the music, you should go see them for her performance anyway…

There were also some great local bands there.  The Erin Harkes Band was the first opener, and between Erin singing like she invented it and the guitarist (Named Blaze/Blaize) shredding at every opportunity, they killed it.  There were also Saratoga locals, Wild Adriatic who will melt your face with rock juices live, but kind of fall flat on recordings.  Regardless, I highly recommend them.  They are also looking for some lady actors to be in their upcoming music video, I’d do it… 

Here are some flavorful clips from my adventure down albany way…

 

Erin Harkes->

 

Company of Thieves

 

 

My Favorite COT Song. .

 

So here is a long over-due post about Dryer.  Dryer is a band, they play music, and. . . they do it really well!  A punkish band from the 90′s they consist of a Saratoga native (Bob Carlton) and two Skidmore alum.  They played a few weeks ago in their 2012 reunion tour of the area (other stops included the area surrounding the stage at Putnam den).  Dryer was popular enough in its heyday to warrant performances at venues in huge festivals and other large events like the X-Games.  They were the real deal, but never the center stage real deal.  BUT, Bob Carlton is still around.  He works in our student store, and he runs that issh.   He runs a great blog in addition to providing the Skidmore community with free food, give aways, and great events.  I own an iPad because of an event that he organizes every year, for example.  Anyway, here are some videos I shot of Dryer at Putnam Den in Saratoga!

 

 

coming up–> Company of Thieves at Jillian’s in Albany

Let me first outline a disclaimer for this post: I am not an informed News consumer.  With the little that I do consume I do my darndest to construct viable ideas about the happenings in the world today.  With special consideration to the “economic crisis” which began in “2008″ I know little other than the hearsay.  However, the gist that I get is that there were a lot of greedy men at the helm of many finance, consulting, banking, or hedge fund type organizations that sucked up all the cash in the U.S. economy while the rest of American Citizens picked up the dividends.

————–

 

Where that disclaimer come to importance is in regards to this NPR story.

When our system of education is looked at this way, as the story quietly suggests, we all lose.  If this story is to be believed, then we all lose by missing out on the inovations that the graduating cohort could have been creating.  Skidmore College is, unfortunately, well within the grip of this recruitment system.  As a sociology major I am consistently disapointed with the wealth of opportunities for business or economics majors, and the lack of depth in opportunities suiting my skill set.  What I think this trend says is that we, as a culture/society/nation/group of people have lost touch with what education can be used for.  Education is here so that we as sentient beings may expand our ability to think, create, write, build, reconstruct, reform, or any other action one may learn from academic pursuits.  We are here today because we have started to look at education as a resource.

 

Education is undoubtedly a resource.  Education has been the resource that has fueled The United States accession.  But, when we treat our educational system as such, we miss out on its true potential.  Instead of encouraging students to enter into higher education for societal and self betterment, they begin to enter into higher ed to make money.  We as a student body, nationally, are OBSESSED with what comes after school.  Should a student ever be insecure about their academic pursuits?  The answer, I can say as a confident and proud sociology major, is NO.  People like me should not feel pressure to engage in careers that are not in areas where we have spent years developing ideas, and strategies for thinking and writing.  What we need to be encouraged to do is to engage with our peers across disciplines.  We need to have students from the business department coordinating with students in the sociology department, who then may need to work with others from the english, art, environmental science, or chemistry departments!  Why would we ever feel encouraged to do this if we are worried about post-grad jobs?  It is not so much of an issue, then, of what happens at the end of college (in regards to recruitment of our best brains) but what we think about going into college.  The issues about what is happening at the end of our college years are just a signal that we have a warped perception going in.

 

That being said, think about the power places like Skidmore have!?! They bring together people not only with different academic interests, but they bring together people with different backgrounds, perspectives, and brains!  So in an atmosphere of receding finance from government agencies, what are we to do?  What is to happen to our educational system, and our nation?

 

At Skidmore, we are not some group of lilly-livered good-for-nothing wimps.  We don’t need no stinking October break! We start in September and trudge straight through until Thanksgiving.  We don’t even get the the Monday and Tuesday off before the Great Feast.  We’re fricken AWESOME!

 

If you detected a slight hint of sarcasm in my opening, good job.  We at Skidmore suck very possible day of learning out of our academic calendar.  But, what that means is that once Thanksgiving hits, the thinking caps fly off, the feet go up, and the beers crack open (if you are at least 21 years of age, of course).  It feels great to get a full three weekdays off towards the end of the semester.  It turns out to be the deep breadth that you need in order to cope with the onslaught on finals, papers, and projects that await us when we get back to campus.  I love the TTD.

 

Whatever your tradition over the Thanksgiving break is, have a happy one, and get prepared for the work that’s waiting for you when you get back.

 

Happy T-Bird Day!

 

Yesterday was the Choreo II showcase performance in the dance studio.  This class is for enthused dance majors to try their skillz at choreographing and staging their own dance performance using dancers other than themselves.  Yep, this is an even run by students, filled by students, and had art completely and utterly made by the students, the department, aside from holding the class, really only endorsed the event.  And it was awesome.

 

Now, I don’t really like dance.  I took intro to dance and that was o.k., but dance isn’t for me an neither is watching it.  HOWEVER, I don’t miss this show anymore.  Watching my friends/classmates/random people I see watching youtube in the library at 1am, perform complex routines of dance is awesome.  Modern dance (from my view point) seems to have two methods.  There is the jerky up and down type of modern dace that is usually set to music with radio static in it, and a smooth flowing lateral movement type of dance that has to be set to music with sing-song strings in it.  The choreo II show ran the gamut of these styles.  IT WAS GREAT!!! (P.S.  If you want to see some cool modern dance, check out Beyonce’s video for Countdown, it’s sweet. its the flowy kind)

 

Another thing about the modern show is the costumes. They don’t always just use leotards or colored shirts with spandex, although there is some of that.  The best performances have custom made costumes that add to the performance in kind of weird ways.  My friend Michela Simmons, for example, had an awesome idea for the costumes of her show.  What they were were these loose skin colored dress/pant things.  When I first saw them I have to admit I thought, “Really Michela?”  In other words, at first they looked like crap.  BUT, the way Michela had the lights set up it made the dancer’s body outline show through the material of the dress/pant things.  It was awesome.  Furthermore,  Michela had choreographed these really cool poses into her performance were one dancer would be leaning on one or more other dancers.  The nature of the cloth made the dances merge together, it was sooo cool!

 

That’s all.  Skidmore Dance always delivers.  Always.

Working on campus is awesome.  The pay is.. average and the hours are fine.  In fact the hours are restricted to just 11 hours a week and you can generally choose when to work.  I am currently employed here, writing this blog, and also as a research assistant to the chair of the sociology department.  I bring in a substantial enough wage every pay period (every two weeks) so that things like food and drink can get paid for without me drawing from savings.  I think i even get to save a little bit each period..

 

Also, working at the sociology department has its own worker’s benefits.  What I mean is that I get to get really involved with the department and I always have this sense of what is going on in the department.  For example, I think it was my job with the department that landed me my position of Academic Council.  Academic Council at Skidmore is a student organization representing the student body’s concerns in academia.  Faculty from each department choose 2 or 3 representatives (depending on the size of the department (soc is small but environmental science is big)) to serve on the council and interact with their department directly by going to department meetings etc.  Academic Council is actually pretty exciting.  Since you must be sponsored by a faculty it is a somewhat honorable position to hold.  We work on school wide policy changes, approve new construction projects, and help develop curricular changes to things such as all college requirements.  Also, we interact closely with the student government (SGA) in order to combine our efforts in many things.  One thing we are working on right now is a resolution of support for a program going on right now in the sociology department.  We like this program so much we want to make it permanent, so we are drafting this resolution to pressure administration to get ‘er done!

 

Ehm,… nothing else to report this morning! Stay classy ________ !  (fill in the blank with your town)

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