Remind me never to poke fun at Schenectady. If I do, the next thing I know I’ll be getting a gift basket from the Chamber of Schenectady, formerly the Chamber of Commerce. That’s what’s happening to television comic Steven Colbert.
All the poor guy did was use Schenectady as an example of the kind of place you might want to see by “helicopter only,” and now he’s in for it.
The Chamber is sending him a gift basket via Chris Hunter of the Schenectady Museum and Planetarium, who just happened to have tickets already booked for the studio show, and won’t be satisfied until they actually get the guy up here and show him just what a wonderful place Schenectady really is.
“If you put your feet on the ground you’ve got a great deal to see here,” Chuck Steiner, the president of the Chamber, told me — as if he could fool me. “We’ve got the birth of innovation here, with General Electric, no question about that.”
He went on: “The battery plant is coming up here … the leading R and D center is here … Union College … a brand new energetic arts district,” until I had to stop him.
How about taking him to a school board meeting? I thought. That’s the most entertaining operation in Schenectady these days. Never mind some old turbine factory.
But no, they’re going to stick to the uplifting, if they can get the guy, which is probably a long shot, considering what a celebrity he is, or at least what a celebrity his bombastic, super-patriotic character is.
“How about a key to the city?” I suggested in an effort to be helpful.
“That’s Phase 3,” Chuck said. “If he accepts — keys, proclamations, welcoming committee and the whole deal.”
They might even talk him into doing a show from Proctors, site of the world’s first television demonstration, back in 1930.
“We’d love it,” he said.
Question of colors
Maybe you noticed the story in this newspaper the other day about an Amish farmer in Montgomery County who got a traffic ticket for not having an orange triangle on the back of his horse-drawn buggy.
Apparently it would have violated his religion’s rule of plainness, though that rule does permit a silvery-colored reflective triangle.
This was new to me, and very curious, because I don’t know of any biblical injunction against bright colors, and I even remember a “coat of many colors” in one Bible story.
But the point is that the rejection of bright colors seems to be inconsistent with one of the things the Amish are best known for, and that is quilt-making. There is an exhibit of Amish quilts at the de Young Museum in San Francisco, and they are really spectacular for their design and colors.
What’s more, I noted that the Amish gentleman who was quoted in our news story spoke to our reporter while making a quilt frame himself.
So there you go: Members of this old Annabaptist sect go to great lengths to avoid ostentation in their dress and their vehicles, but at the same time they make quilts of the most dazzling designs and colors.
It occurred to me that maybe they could get around the orange-triangle problem by hanging those quilts on their buggies — I mean, if the triangles violate a religious rule against bright colors but the quilts don’t — but then I decided I better stay out of this little problem.
If I get involved in trying to reconcile contradictions in people’s religious beliefs and practices there will never be an end to it. I could spend the rest of my life at it and not solve the hundredth part of the problem.
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