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Ralph Gardner Jr.

  • Columbia County is throwing its first ever climate carnival on Saturday, July 16th. It’s happening from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the Columbia County fairgrounds in Chatham, N.Y. But as I write this I’m waiting for the other shoe to drop at the Supreme Court. So many shoes have dropped lately that I’ve lost count. But this is an important one.
  • I can’t recall what prompted Ray Graf – the host of Vox Pop, WAMC’s afternoon call in show, news anchor, and resident humorist – to take pity on me. Or more accurately to take pity on the haggard state of my stereophonic life. Perhaps I wrote something about it or just mentioned in passing my futile efforts to get my venerable 1968 KLH Model 11 portable record player repaired.
  • As a lifelong New Yorker I have mixed feelings about riding the subway. You’d have to be a fool not to. Don’t misunderstand me. The Metropolitan Transportation Authority has invested lots of money and raised its game in recent years. Some of its stations and hubs – such as the Q line that now runs down Second Avenue, the Fulton Street complex redesigned in the wake of 9/11, and the extension of the 7 line to include the new 34th Street – Hudson Yards station (contemporary art sprinkled all over the place) might almost be described as splendid.
  • You may have gotten one in your mailbox or inbox, too. It’s a flier from the United States Postal Service announcing that June 5th through June 11th is National Dog Bite Awareness Week. I had no idea. I assumed every week was National Dog Bite Awareness Week. I was taught early on that you don’t pet a dog without the owner’s permission and then only after letting the pooch smell your hand.
  • My wife and I agreed that the salmon we bought from Zabar’s in Manhattan and had for dinner Wednesday night was tastier than the salmon we buy locally. There’s not a huge difference between one piece of farm-raised salmon and another – part of that flaky fish’s allure is that it’s predictable, rarely rising far above or falling far below your expectations. But the Zabar’s fish tasted fresher, subtly more flavorful.
  • I was amazed to discover, after a month on the West Coast, that the spring-cleaning chores that waved goodbye to me as I left hadn’t completed themselves before I returned. Nature can be nasty and, if anything, tried to punish me for my neglect by festering while I was away.
  • The New York Times ran a long story last week, an expose really, dragging former New York City Mayor Ed Koch out of the closet. Koch, who died in 2013, denied his homosexuality throughout his life.
  • As we’ve made our way up the California coastline into Oregon and now Washington State friends and strangers have expressed their admiration for our adventure but also trepidation affecting their own travel plans. After two years of a pandemic they’re eager to indulge their wanderlust but some people are rusty and intimidated by the prospect of traveling to new places. It’s not just fear of catching Covid. They’re afraid they’ve lost their touch.
  • I like to think of my first redwood encounters as an amuse bouche. After a few days in Napa we’re heading several hours north to two famous stands of coastal redwoods – The Avenue of the Giants at Redwood State Park and the Grove of the Titans at Jedediah Smith Redwoods State Park. As boastful as their names sound, I suspect the trees will more than live up to their billing.
  • California’s majestic redwood trees – I know that’s a cliché but you come up with something more indicative -- were the inspiration behind the month-long trip we’re taking to the West Coast. Not to put too morbid a point on it but I want to see them while I still can. I’m not expecting anything horrible to happen to me. It’s the trees I’m worried about.