Monday, March 14, 2016

北京麻雀 - London - 12

(This was written for a small webzine.)

If you want to fly down the Thruway, going as quickly as possible, that is fine with me. But you would do better going down New YorkState Hwy. 5, and feast your eyes from going from the undulating block of an old mountain range, and gradually making your way to the inner Sea, which is called the Great Lakes.While New York State number 5 often parallels the Thruway, it is all a completely different world, a world that has stopped in time in the 1950s and 1960s. But this is the point of the exercise, because in that iconic landscape you see trees along the alternate path, ending up at a different direction than tearing along to get to your destination.”

It starts the moment you leave the Capital District, by departing Schenectady New York, and reach in to and other worldly region of farm landscapes, and a Vista that transforms your scene from laconic and scrubby mountain, through the hills of Schoharie, which is so named allegedly from the Mohawk meaning 'Floating Driftwood'. Though it claims to be in the capital District, and has one of the last towns associated their, you can feel that the lands are shifting. This is a place where “soda” is replaced by 'pop', and everything moves slower to the beat of a farmers drum rather than the edges of a city dwellers home. Instead of cities with factories running huge distances, even if dilapidated or dismantled, there are towns with maybe a brewery. Instead of looking south to the city, they look to themselves.”

The landscape is gentle, but by no means flat. Instead incurs to and fro with grassy landscapes alternating with oak trees and the occasional chunk of white pine. Here and there there are villages with the latest addition built in the 1870s, but most are older, back when the Greek Revolution was in full swing. People came here to forget, forget about urbanization, forget about schedules, and forget that there was a time where time was measured. The routes in the towns are tree-lined and during the spring through early fall, verdant with the last mix of New England mixing with what will come to be the Midwest.”

Winding through the Mohawk River Valley, entwined with New York State 5, there are stretches which go towards the horizon, but they are short by comparison with the longer stretches to the West. But you can feel that the landscape is changing from Mountain, to a long stretch of plain. If you look and see the Mohawk River, it feels wider than its short stretch of being in existence would imply. Over the banks there are tree lined cobs, mainly maple and mak, which run down as far as your high can see. You are in a different world then an hour ago when Albany, New York said 'Imperial.' The capital of a state which prides itself on industry. Here there is very little of that. If you glance your eyes down to the map, you see it is a place known as Amsterdam, but in saying the word you have exhausted all of the connection with Amsterdam, Netherlands. There are still buildings reminiscent of Greek architecture and Roman façades with tall columns guiding you to the front of the building, with brick of a particular kind forming the back. Then you pass by a castle, for forming a tower in the great construction of the civil war, to protect the inhabitants should the rebels get this far, because the first priority in that war was to defend against, not to take the offense.”

But above you lies the blue sky above, reminding you that those were different times, and people wanted nothing to do with the war which was cast upon them.”

As you go out further West, you see things like Dairy Bars along which line narrow streets and short front yards, but longer than you saw them in the Capital District. There is also a slowness to peoples walking which was not there before, a kind of easy relaxation which is foreign to Albany. Here in just a view towns up, the architecture is wildly different. It is truly Victorian, with people moving back much further in to the past, which with each corner that you turn, is more probably displayed. Towns here have names such as Fonda and Fultonville, names which meant something once upon a time, and to their residences still mean something.”

You stop your car at a streetlight, and only the cars would tell you that you are not in the 50s, with Dollar Buildings, and the sort of paraphernalia which proclaims them a proud member of the community, rather than where the poor people shop. It is a different way of life then a town masquerading as a city, this is natural, rather than being cloyingly artificial. It does not need to have minor league teams associated with it, or trumpeting up delusions of shopping. This is where town has not the need for townhouses to line the streets with, but instead tall twin story buildings, made to look Victorian but instead were assembled in the modern style. Their is plenty of room here, another piece of saying that they are not the Capital District.”

You have given slightly more than an hour and have, and the scene around you has completely changed. They are not making things to be used by others, whether manufactured goods, or knowledge, or law – but instead are just being as they came in to the world. And would rather not know too much about the rest of the world, should truth be known. Just the trees - and occasional fields with cows - are more than enough for this tract of people, living in a past - that suits them just fine. They have scenery to contract enough people, and enough gas stations to fill them up, and go on their merry way. And leave them to do their business, which is generally wholesome, but has under side that they do not wish to talk about.”

When finally you get to Utica, along with what passes for skylines in this part of world – a Radisson Hotel, and other forms of landscapes of urbanization – you see buildings from the turn of last century in brick, and even granite, glowering that they are a city, even if very small. But you notice something else, there is no sloping mountains in the background, no hills that reach up, no hint of anything resembling the land over the horizon. You have reached the beginning plains that will carry you through a new frontier, called the Midwest. And it started here in New York.”
Scott Morgan is a working database consultant. He remembers quite well upstate New York, though he has not lived there since he was a boy.”