If I had My. . .

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.

Reflections . . .

Hey cyberspace! Welcome back to my blog!

 

Sumer is over and its back to Saratoga and back to Skidmore.  Now that the first week is over with, and people have finally stopped asking, “How was your summer?” and have stopped screaming, “Oh my gawd! I haven’t seen you yet!” with only feigned interest, the real post-syllabus-day classes can start to flow.

 

This time of year is always a new one.  Even though all go through it at least four times, each new school year brings about specifically new challenges.  Theres the new room or house, the new room mates or living arrangements, the fridges to fill, the schedules and routines to create and master, and then the new class and professors present their own challenges.

 

For me, however, this year has a set of completely different difficulties.  I took a semester long break during the latter half of my sophmore year.  What that means is that all of my closest friends and certainly and those I consider to truly be my classmates at Skidmore left in cap and gown in mid May.  What I am left with is a group of people who I have not spent four full years getting to know, and the sudden feeling that I do not feel so at home on my campus anymore.

 

With the peoples of my grade gone there is now a palpable distance between the Skidmore of my college experience, and the Skidmore of my hanging chad of a semester that is my reality.  Looking back, as cliche as it sounds, there was really quite a long and difficult journey that I went through.  It was the people that made that journey worth while.  My relationships defined my experiences.  Honestly, all were important.  The relationships that drove me away during the first year and a half were just as important as the ones that brought me back.  Every cycle of relationships that I experienced here each played their own part in my collegiate saga.

 

Bah.. I don’t mean to get all soppy and corny on y’all, but I hope the gut-wrenching sentimentality of this post can be an inspiration to the new generation of Skiddies just getting used to the campus now.  Don’t let it get you down.  Everything will come out o.k. To conclude this pep talk I’ll leave you with two quotes. Both are form movies; the first comes from “The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel” (which is a miserable movie, but for some reason this quote stuck) and the other is from “Aladdin” (this quote is one that my mom never stops whispering in my ear when I complain to her about things).  I do believe that the growing and changing that happens in college will always be beneficial. But, the only way I think it can happen is if you do it the way you do it, not the way you’re expected to.

 

(….then it’s not the end)

(BeeeeEEE Yourself!)

Find an egg, get some chocolate, find some matzoh, get $100 (choose wisely)

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!

Students Speaking Out

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

On Common Ground

Let’s stick with the Saratoga theme, shall we? I wanted to zip out a quick post about a great downtown spot that is, duh, a fav of Skidmore students, faculty, and staff alike.  THe place is a massive coffee shop called Uncommon Grounds.  This place has great bagels, great bagel toppings, great iced chai, and has coffee.  There is also mad other stuff on the menu, check the pic below.  This place is really just a chill place to come and hang out, work off a hangover, or enjoy a bagel,

Sooo mucch stuffff

and there is coffee.  Additionally, the place is huge!  Check the next pic out.  This means that you can always find a table to sit at.  SIKE!  this place is bigger than every other coffee shop in town combined (almost) and is still consistently mobbed.  It must suck to work here. As an example, they put out the day old bagels at 9 o’clock for free and there are always a good amount of them, I’d say like 30-40 bags of a half dozen bagels each.  If you dont come and get yo free bagels within an hour of them being put out youll lose out.  As an example They were put out half an hour ago and there are exactly 10 bags left.  And remember, these are stale bagels… The atmosphere in the place is wrapped up by the young twixter staff who show off eclectic tattoos and obscure metal band concert tees. But dont ever try and relate to them about anything because they wont like it.  They dont seem to like anything besides working with each other really… I guess that is positive.

Whoa, you could fit a whole coffee shop or two in here

Just to keep it even, this is really the mini van of coffee shops in town.  So, like all great minivans there is a great sedan that you’d rather drive on some days.  There is Coffee Traders which offers up a penny candy bar at the back, and a cowboy wearing owner who is nice, or maybe not, or maybe he is.  Then there is also Virgil’s which is a comfy yet sophisticated place tucked away at the back of town.  All are great places to hang.  So, forgive the awful metaphors and check out one/all of these places the next time your head splits open at 7am.

Vegetarians Beware

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.

Adventures in Albany

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. .

 

Saratoga Music meets Skidmore

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

Falstaffs: The Perfect Student Space

Falstaffs is Skidmore’s very own student performance space.  IT is sweet.  Its nice enough to trick you into thinking your at some sort of club-like place, but grimy enough to remind you that you dont give a hoot about it anyway.  No matter what time of day the event you are attending is, there are always blacklights on in the rafters, there are always dingy forgotten coats on the weird couches and chairs off to the side, and without exception there always seems to be an absurd amount of dust hanging about in the air.  Regardless, many a Skidmore student will forge unforgettable memories in this place every semester.  It is the place to get sweaty, stupid, and silly.  WHat more do you need from a collegiate memory? Forget a full ride and a six figure job.

 

Anyway, Falstaffs is relevant now because one of the all time favorite Skidmore bands finally played there. They are RubleBucket. I am not the most enthusiastic fan, but they do kind of rock a whole lot.

Playing with them this time was a student band called Los Elk, they rocked too!  Seems like there is a likely heir to the Slim Charles throne at Skidmore.  Here is some footage of the concert, Los Elk first, followed by RubbleBucket.

 

coming soon: Dryer and Company of Thieves!

 

 

Academic Council

Last semester I joined Academic Council.  I was elected by my department chair (and advisor) to represent the Sociology Department at the council.  The council is a representative student body that tackles academic issues on campus.  We do things like promote programs to the administration, develop new academic ideas, promote academic resources, and we are generally responsible for the student-to-academia relationship on campus.

 

Last semester I developed a proposal for the development of the IGR program as a curricular mainstay at Skidmore.  (if I havent talked about IGR yet, I will in a future post)  It was great.  I worked in a small committee, drafted the proposal, we all edited it, then I met with Skidmore bigwigs to talk and flesh out the ideas.  This semester promises to be alot more.  As a vice-president I am in control of essentially five sub committees.  We meet weekly and discuss our projects and the potential directions we could take them in.

 

Working and producing with a group of students is so great.  Especially as a leader/coordinator for those groups.  Not only is it fun to use my authoritatively low voice, but it is nice to know that even though I have the title of leader, I am treated that way (just to be honest).  It is not a position of great power, nor of great respect.  But serving as a point-person for a project is empowering no matter how important the task is.