Posts Tagged ‘Newburgh’

Back Page for Gary; Two Bits for 50 Cent

Tuesday, August 30th, 2016

By Bob Gaydos

Gary Sanchez ...future star?

Gary Sanchez …future star?

Back page stuff: Last week, I wrote about my need in this time of negative news to find a feel-good sports story, one worthy of the back page in a tabloid newspaper. The baseball gods must have read my plea and felt my angst.

They delivered Gary Sanchez, a gift to Yankee fans like myself, in particular, and baseball fans in general. Sanchez, 22, was liberated from the Yankees’ minor league affiliate in Scranton, Pa., as part of the major league’s club purge of aging veterans and infusion of young, potential stars.

Sanchez has been with the Yankees for two weeks and has been named American League player of the year both weeks. No rookie has ever earned that honor back-to-back, never mind in his first two weeks. In fact, the last time an American League player won the award in consecutive weeks was 18 years ago and that was an established star, Albert Belle of the Chicago White Sox.

Sanchez was installed as the Yankees’ starting catcher and immediately started hitting home runs, a Yankee tradition. He has not stopped hitting them yet. He has 11 home runs in 23 career games. No Yankee slugger got to that number that quickly and the Yankees’ roster of sluggers boasts such names as Ruth, Gehrig, DiMaggio and Mantle.

That’s not all. Sanchez is batting .398, driving in runs and throwing out would-be base stealers routinely with a cannon of an arm. He has energized a slumbering Yankee offense. His at bats have become must-see TV, or, in my case, must-hear radio. The other day, listening to the Yankee game on the car radio, I parked in the driveway at home as the Yankees were batting. Sanchez was due up next. I waited to hear what he would do. No way I was going to miss his at bat. He walked. He has been walked a lot, too, a sign of respect from pitchers who haven’t yet figured out how to get him out.

That will come, of course. The pace he has been on is impossible to maintain, but that’s what makes it back-page material. That’s what is at the heart of the appeal of sports — the wholly unexpected happening. Will he do it again? Oh my god, he did it again! The drama, the amazement, the shared joy of fan and player. The lure that first made me want to start the day by reading the paper from back to front,

The Yankees’ obviously had high hopes for Sanchez when they signed him to a $3 million bonus as a 16-year-old in the Dominican Republic. But no one could have predicted what his first two full weeks as a major league player would be like. The hope, of course, is that he doesn’t flame out just as quickly as he ignited, but that he settles in and becomes maybe another one of those legendary Yankee catchers. The ones who provided plenty of back page material themselves. Yogi, Thurman, Elston, Jorge. … Gary?

Meanwhile, back in the front of the paper:

50 Cent ... two-bit star

50 Cent … two-bit star

When I read that the rapper 50 Cent was coming to Newburgh, a small city on the Hudson River that is struggling to regain its former glory, I had the same reaction as many other residents of the area: Newburgh? Really? He’s big time. Why’s he coming to Newburgh?

When I got the answer to that question, I had another question. Vodka? Really? He’s coming to Newburgh to shill vodka?

I have since asked myself numerous times whether my reaction to this appearance was somehow exaggerated or misplaced or unfair or even old-fashioned. I have decided that, in fact, my reaction was entirely appropriate and I can’t believe no one else has voiced it.

So … The idea that a world-famous black performer would come to Newburgh, a minority majority city that has had to battle drugs, gangs, drug-related shootings, crime in general, poverty, a sullied reputation and a revival effort that at times smells strongly of gentrification to sell, of all things, vodka in a company in which he is a shareholder struck me as ludicrous and incredibly tone deaf.

And talk about crass marketing. For a $40 bottle of vodka, a fan (more than 100 showed up at the liquor store) could get a bottle with 50 Cent’s signature. (I don’t know if he signs 50 in cursive.) For $240 — the price of a six-bottle case — one could get a photo with Mr. Cent. As far as I can tell, all the money stayed with 50. There were plenty of smiling faces. After two hours, he left, presumably to hawk his vodka at another liquor store.

This left a really bad taste in my mouth. Did he not know anything about Newburgh? Does he not remember his past in Queens? The drug-dealing as a teen. Being raised by his grandparents. Serving time in a juvenile detention facility. Being shot. Did he not have the sense even to say that any money collected from his appearance would go to efforts to fight drugs and alcoholism, to help after-school programs for children, to buy computers for the schools, to fund neighborhood cleanup programs, to promote cultural awareness programs, to help a shelter for victims of domestic abuse, to fund scholarships for talented students who might want to pursue a career in music? Pick one.

He doesn’t need the money. His appearance helped only the liquor store owner and the company that sells the vodka. They’re entitled to want to succeed. And 50 Cent is entitled to want to help make his shares in the company appreciate. But Newburgh deserved better. Be a source of inspiration for Pete’s sake, not a liquor salesman. You’re a star; act like one. Give a performance; raise money to promote revival of Newburgh beyond the waterfront.

On the same day as Mr. Cent hawked vodka, New York State Attorney General Eric Schneiderman also visited Newburgh to “unveil a new affordable housing program in which residents can take over properties at little to no cost and get money for renovations,” according to the local paper. Unfortunately, more people were aware of the vodka event than the housing event.

By the way, the name of the booze 50 Cent is pushing? Effen Vodka. Yeah, it’s not funny.

And so it went …

People Power in the Neighborhood

Tuesday, November 1st, 2011

Genie Abrams

By Genie Abrams

During the power blackout in Newburgh last weekend, the whole city was without electricity, heat, hot water, traffic lights, street lamps, gas pumps, and a lot more items that are usually considered necessities. I took the opportunity to walk around the neighborhood in the almost cruelly bright, icy sunshine Sunday morning and found a whole lot going on …

Preachers preached, flocks flocked and even some businesses plowed ahead despite lacking electricity and heat. Two dozen workers’ cars were parked at Dickson Street’s Unitex laundry plant, a seven-day operation. A semi-tractor trailer driver, who had backed up to the loading dock at about 11 a.m., said, “They’re washing the laundry by hand in there, and we’re trucking it to other plants to be dried.” It’s crucial that the work gets done because Unitex supplies linens to hospitals throughout the region.

At Iglesia de Dios, a large church on the same street, worshippers flowed through its open doors to attend the morning service with pastor Joaquin Pena. “It’s wonderful to be able to worship together, even without power,” said one young woman who was herding three children inside.

The Sunoco station and convenience store around the corner, at South William and South Lake streets, was open. The gas pumps weren’t pumping and, since that’s what draws many customers, who then duck in for coffee and a hard roll, it was a bit lonely there. But by the light streaming through its wide-open door, clerks added up purchases using handheld calculators like the kind displayed, along with lip balm and tire gauges, on the shop’s walls.

Down the street, on South Lake between Broadway and Washington Terrace, Jessi’s Mexican-American Diner was doing a brisk business, thanks to a generator that enabled cooking to continue. “The place is packed,” said a man who was leaving with a large takeout bag. That assessment was confirmed by a line that extended out the door and down the steps.

“Praise God, from whom all blessings flow,” the congregation was belting out at Grace United Methodist Church at about that same time. “Praise Him, all creatures here below!”

Nearly 35 people attended the two services there Sunday morning. Why didn’t they just snuggle under the covers and try to stay warm?

“They come in any conditions, to celebrate who we are – children of the One God,” said the Rev. Dr. Evelyn McDonald, pastor at Grace. “Even after a night that was challenging to the people of Newburgh, we awoke to a day that is bright – a day that is God’s day. We came to sing, to praise and to be spiritually renewed for the week ahead.”

The congregation stayed to enjoy one another’s company after services, along with cups of hot tea made on the church’s gas stove, which needed only a match to be fired up.

In sum, I found what I suspected I might in my neighborhood — a little thing like a lack of power wasn’t going to keep Newburghers from keepin’ on.

Genie Abrams is a longtime resident of Newburgh. She is a copy editor for the Times Herald-Record and author of the novel, “Louey Levy’s Greatest Catch.” Her website is