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Syracuse NY

10 Unique Central New York Scenes

Well… at least these are unique to me. I’m sure everyone who lives in the area has pictures that are unique to them, and some of them might look exactly like some of these. What I’ve tried to do is highlight some of what’s unique to central New York in a different way than many other people might do. I know that a couple of these will look exactly like a picture someone else took but, except for one of these, all of these were taken by me. One is from my friend Scott Thomas, but since it’s not a high definition shot and he’s getting attribution I don’t think he’ll mind all that much.

This is also day #29 of having a new post on this blog, and since it’s Sunday I know most people don’t want to read a bunch of content. So sit back and just enjoy the images. 🙂

Carrier Dome

This is a picture inside the Carrier Dome before a Syracuse Orange basketball game. It’s not easy to capture a great shot of the crowd from the inside; trust me, I’ve tried. 🙂

Green Lakes

Central New York is known for its lakes, and Green Lakes is no exception. I took a bunch of beautiful shots one day when I walked around the lake… almost killing myself!

Lights On The Lake

Every winter we get the Lights on the Lake presentation alongside Onondaga Lake. I think it’s best when there’s snow on the ground, but getting individual shots like this one are pretty fun.

NBT Bank Stadium

The stadium where the Syracuse Chiefs play baseball. I love the look of a baseball diamond and maybe if I hadn’t hurt my arm freshman year in college I’d have had a shot at a major league career. I can dream can’t I?

I probably have hundreds of shots of Onondaga Lake during the day but I don’t have a shot like this. I’m betting few people have thought about shooting this one; we’ll find out I suppose.

Lake Ontario sunset

Oswego counts as central New York which means we get to claim our piece of Lake Ontario. Renown as the location of one of the top 5 sunsets in the world, I have lots of these shots as well. This one I’m sure lots of people have taken.

sand sculpture NY State Fair

This is one of my favorite sand sculptures ever from the New York State Fair, which is held right here in Syracuse. I could have chosen from dozens of shots but this one seemed to be the most fitting.

Stella's Betty Boop's

Stella’s gets a mention meanly because of its affinity for Betty Boop dolls. I’ve always been a Betty Boop fan and there’s probably few places around the country so enamored with her.

Syracuse City Hall

This is another shot that I’ve seen a lot of pictures that look like it. I only hope it’s slightly unique when compared to the others. It’s one of the coolest city halls in the country in my opinion.

hockey game Syracuse War Memorial

I’ve been to a lot of events at the Syracuse War Memorial but lately I’ve been going for the hockey games. The Crunch are fun to watch and now I have a 3-game winning streak after having them lose every game I’d been to for over a decade. 🙂

That’s all I have; I hope you enjoy these shots.

9 Short Central New York Videos I Shot In 2016

I’m writing a post a day in January but I figured that since it was Sunday that I’d change up and share something that won’t require a lot of reading. I take a lot of pictures wherever I go, but sometimes I like to shoot a bit of video of what I’m seeing. Many of these end up on Instagram or start there, but I’m never quite sure how many people really see them.

This will probably be the least seen of all my posts for this month, and that’s saying something. Still, it’ll also be the easiest to consume, even if it’s not the shortest; one can’t have everything. I’m only sharing 9 because… well, because I like the number 9! lol

Let’s get started:

1. This was a shot outside my living room window last February when it was -5° and snowing… one of the few snowy days we had last season.

2. I don’t make it to a lot of Syracuse Crunch games, but they won this one, breaking my losing streak of 7 in a row.

3. I call these the stairs of death, Hendricks Chapel at Syracuse University, walking up for the only game I saw at the Dome last year, which was…

4. The Syracuse Orange woman’s team, which won their regional tournament and eventually ended up making the final game. I wish there had been more people here but it was the 3rd largest crowd they’ve ever had.

5. The only bigger deal at Onondaga Lake than the eagle (which I was late in shooting) was the first sign of the swans. This was the best video I got of one of them; so cool!

6. The attack of the geese at Onondaga Lake Park; tons of them!

7. This is the largest flag I’ve ever seen, so big that the winds couldn’t lift it any higher than what you see here. This was in the town of Macedon.

8. This was my first visit to the playground at Onondaga Lake Park, mainly because I never had a kid with me until my wife & I got to play with my great niece one summer day.

9. Out with the old, in with the new on Buckley Road…

That’s it, my top 9. I hope you got a little bit of joy from these.  

My 40th Year In Central New York

Today marks the 40th year I’ve lived in central New York, most specifically Liverpool. I don’t remember what time I saw the place we were going to live but we moved into Grenadier Village some time in the afternoon on this date, July 8th, which was just a few days after Arthur Ashe beat Jimmy Connors in tennis, spawning a tennis revolution of sorts for black players because that’s when I started playing tennis.

college graduation picture

college graduation picture

As much as I love central New York and Liverpool now, living here initially wasn’t all that great.

When I knew we were moving back to the Syracuse area (we’d lived here from ’66 to ’69) I thought we were going to be living in North Syracuse. That’s where I’d gone to elementary school for a few years when we first lived on Taft Road, then on Hancock Field. I thought I’d run into a few people I knew back in the day, and it eventually happened, but not as soon as I had hoped.

Instead I ended up at Liverpool High School to start 11th grade, which was both a curse and a blessing.

It was a curse because Liverpool was not only NOT welcoming to black people, but to people who it didn’t consider as “residents”. By the time I graduated the best friends I had were all people who had moved here within the two years I went to the school, and years later those are most of the people I still talk to for the most part. At the very least these are the people whose politics mirror mine; not sure what that says about the Liverpool HS I went to at the time.

The reason I said it wasn’t welcoming to black people back then wasn’t because anyone was mean to me for being black. It’s that, out of a school of over 3,800 students, if there were 50 black people it was a miracle. And most of them didn’t know what to do with me either; yeah, I was kind of a social misfit.

I really was young once

I really was young once

That was the curse part. The blessing part was that I got to totally reinvent myself once again. Being a military kid, every time I moved I got to become someone else, exhibit a different part of my personality.

Before I left Maine I was someone who most people thought was pretty talkative but a pretty good athlete. When I got to Liverpool I realized I was still pretty good, but there were a lot more people I had to go through to be even somewhat recognized.

I only went out for one sport, my senior year when I went out for the baseball team. I didn’t make it… because the coach pulled me into his office, said I was better than the guy he had but that guy was a sophomore on a team that won the championship the year before and I was a senior and he didn’t think it would be fair for me to sit on the bench behind someone I was better than; so be it.

Merobyn2Regardless, I achieved a lot of stuff in high school anyway and went to school in Oswego; what a blast! I support SUNY Oswego as often as I can and visit a few times a year, heading to Wades or what we called “the stands”, and I love driving around seeing all the changes. But mostly I love visiting and looking at Lake Ontario… wow! I remember going out to look out over the lake in springtime to watch the Northern Lights, something an astronomy major showed me freshman year that many people living there still don’t know about.

Other than college I’ve lived in Liverpool my entire adult life, one apartment over another. I’ve never found a compelling reason to leave. Everything I could ever want is within 10 minutes of wherever I’ve lived in this city, whether it was considered the town of Clay or Salina.

Now I live on a street that, when I first moved here, I had the sneaking suspicion that the neighbors called each other to tell them to come out and see “what’s” riding a bike up the street because it happened more than once. And, oddly enough, people we don’t know know that we live in this house; just sayin’… lol

Merobyn7Yet, I love it. I share a backyard with Wegmans, live less than a couple of miles from Onondaga Lake, 10 minutes from both Destiny and Great Northern, have all kinds of restaurants (though not a good Chinese restaurant anymore; sigh…) and fast food places, a library and a Barnes & Noble… if it wasn’t for visiting other people I know I’d never have to leave.

But I truly love all of central New York. I love telling people when I travel where I live, and I love to talk about the snow, the Dome, the mountains, the lakes, the food, the Orange and the soft ice cream; did you know that there are few places outside of central New York that have a lot of soft ice cream places? I mean, what’s up with that?

I’ve lived in a lot of places, visited way more, but I can’t think of any other place I’d rather live than here. I feel sorry for those who complain about this place; it’s on them. I hope I never have to leave; I hope no one I like leaves either. 😉  

A Saturday At Destiny USA

A few weeks ago I had an occasion to go to Destiny USA to see a movie. I was intent on seeing the movie Ender’s Game on the IMAX screen. What was supposed to just be going to see a movie turned into a little bit of an adventure.

IMG_20131103_193803The adventure started outside, where I actually had to drive around 25 minutes before I could find a place to park. I knew that the mall now had valet parking, but I’ve been away so long I couldn’t remember where it was. And when I found a place to park I pretty much had to wait five minutes for the person in the car to decide to finally start the car, pull out, and go home so that I could have her spot. That was miserable, but I can deal with that sort of thing.

I went to the box office to buy my ticket for the movie, and had to ask where the IMAX screen was, and it turns out that it’s on the opposite side from where the other theaters are, but not very far down on the left. It also turns out they have more than one screen; I hadn’t expected that. What I forgot to do, and the rest of you will have to remember this, is ask whether the movie I wanted to watch was in 3-D or not; turns out it wasn’t. IMAX works really well for 3-D, and even though I still enjoyed the movie it never occurred to me that something was missing until it was over. I probably need to find an occasion to go see the movie Gravity at some point and possibly see Ender’s Game again on a smaller screen for that 3-D effect.

IMG_20131103_194156When I came out, it just seemed like the place was packed with people everywhere. After I sat down for a bit to get my bearings, where I noticed that short black skirts with black stockings must be back in fashion, I took a walk around the new section, where almost everything is now filled in. I went into the new entertainment / restaurant place called Revolutions, where they have the bowling alley that has big screen TV’s over the bowling pins; that would take some getting used to after all these years of not having anything moving in front of me like that.

IMG_20131103_193911There was a concert going on downstairs, which is a new twist because there used to be small groups that would play in the middle section where the elevators are in the original part of the mall, but this was something different because they had flashing lights and you could hear the music everywhere. As a matter of fact, one of the differences between the new part of the mall and the older part of the mall is that music is consistently going, upbeat and frenzied, and it felt like a club atmosphere.

After stopping at a few restaurants and finding each of them had a waiting list of more than an hour, I eventually made my way back to the food court, which was also packed. I couldn’t figure out what was going on since the holiday wasn’t upon us yet, until one of my Twitter friends mentioned later on that it was Parent’s Weekend at SU and both the basketball team and the football team had played games that weekend, which I knew about but hadn’t made the connection. Still, I did have a chance to grab some food and sit down at a table as someone else was getting up.

IMG_20131103_193341Then I decided to take a walk down into the old section to try to get some ice cream at Cold Stone Creamery. Unfortunately the line was longer than I wanted to wait, which was probably just as well because I was going to get a milkshake but it would have kicked my behind (literally lol), but what was funny is that only the ice cream place and the pretzel place next to it seemed to have a lot of people. I took a quick walk through Best Buy and was kind of stunned at how quiet it seemed. I was also stunned that Best Buy doesn’t carry the DVD TV recorders that we can buy to replace what we get from Time Warner; that was disappointing.

If the mall was this crowded while it was still October, I’m wondering what kind of morass it’s going to be after Thanksgiving. I can honestly tell you I’m not looking forward to going to the mall during the holidays, and if I have to do any shopping whatsoever I will probably go up to Great Northern Mall on Route 31 and buy whatever I need there. I love the idea of having the big mall in the Syracuse area, but the issues with parking are enough to make me a bit more selective.

What do you guys think?  

Route 81 Et Al

From what I understand, the decision on what to do about Route 81 has come down to 2 choices. One involves it becoming a boulevard, at ground level of course, so that it doesn’t eliminate access to the city, the mall, or the northern suburbs. Another is to replace what we have now with another high rise, designed differently in some fashion, and still have some sort of access to street level that helps bring back some life to the area that separates the hospitals from “the people”, if you will.

route81I have to admit that I’m totally lost in this entire discussion. I understand that the road has become kind of costly to maintain and yet my thoughts are that it’s only the section that involves the area between just before the university area and just before the Court Street area; don’t quote me on that. In other words, it’s not all of Route 81, but maybe 2 miles at best.

I don’t have an official dog in this hunt, but I do have a participatory presence as someone who often has to drive that section of road. My preference would be that nothing impedes my drive from one side of the city to the other when I’m ready to go towards home, which is the Liverpool area. My preference would be that I not lose access to getting off at Court Street, or not being able to easily access either direction to Route 690, although I acknowledge that right now that’s one of the scariest propositions in the city, whether you’re on Route 81 or coming up from road level.

At the same time, it would be nice having a boulevard of some kind that could take on the type of life that mirrors parts of Erie Boulevard East, with more restaurants and shops, as I believe that could help revitalize the area and still offer local businesses a better chance to thrive as well.

Part of this already seems to have been answered, as the county legislature rejected the boulevard idea as the ultimate solution. Without them, I can’t figure out how it remained an option to begin with since, according to Mayor Miner, the city’s on the brink of bankruptcy. It’s too bad the tunnel idea was too expensive to explore further, but I had a feeling that wasn’t going to happen.

Frankly, I’m both excited and troubled by what could be coming. Whereas I think major improvements can and need to be made to what we have now in both safety and economical prospects, the possibility of not being able to get home quicker disturbs me. I think at this point any decision made will still leave easy access to the mall and I’m expecting easy access to the state fairgrounds. Not knowing for sure is troubling. I wish I had better vision in seeing this, but I don’t.  

Copyright 2013