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Is “Undercurrent” the Celebrity Contribution to the Climate Crisis?

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Is “Undercurrent” the Celebrity Contribution to the Climate Crisis?
Aluna Francis photo by Charles Reagan

New Yorkers are a sticky, fickle breed — we regard new “experiences” and white-walled restaurants with suspicion and sighs of “are you even from here?” I emitted a similar sigh when I received an invitation to see “Undercurrent,” a 60,000 square foot art “event” featuring contributions from high-profile musicians like Bon Iver, The 1975, and Grimes

“Undercurrent” positions itself as an audiovisual art experience created to “inspire positive impact around the Climate Crisis,” per its website. It has “farm-to-cocktail beverages” (Suntory Whiskey and Rosaluna Mezcal, as far as I could tell) and “climate positive” $45 tickets. It takes up three floors on an otherwise nondescript Bushwick warehouse, a glowing ode to celebrity activism in a historically impoverished neighborhood, now the victim of over-policing and slim housing options.  

This physical and social context must be acknowledged, especially for an art show that urges you to think critically about the earth you inhabit, the resources you take up. Soon after walking into the exhibit, you see an unceded land acknowledgement, which might have felt more genuine if a portion of profit went directly to Indigenous people, who are disproportionately affected by the climate change they have routinely warned against. From the large, paned windows, you could see a red billboard proclaiming in bold white letters: “New York City is everything. Except affordable.” Like it knows you’re about to reach for another farm-to-table cocktail. 

Even through my “Undercurrent” misgivings, it’s difficult to deny the tenderness and thought that many of the participating artists put into their installations. In general, they created large colorful things that you could enter and think in. Artist statements seem integral to these exhibits, placed in front of entrances in giant black-and-white text. For music, most artists opted for watery synths and soft voices, brittle ambient and New Age, all generally useful sounds for conjuring up a healthy crunch of fear or quiet meditation. 

1631730797 494 Is Undercurrent the Celebrity Contribution to the Climate Crisis
Jayda G by Charles Reagan for Undercurren

The most moving exhibits felt the most personal, brief chances to witness another person’s most secret climate anxieties made real. For the most part, we don’t go around every day telling each other how scared we are, how we sense that our flooded New York summer is just a whimper of what’s to come. We don’t acknowledge the plastic in the storm drains or the dripping faucet even if we feel it, even if it’s true. The installation by British singer-songwriter Jorja Smith and visual artist Erin Corrian-Alexis, “In the Cupboard Under the Sink,” seems to address this feeling. The multi-room installation references the space “where Caribbean homes in the U.K. often keep plastic bags,” according to the artist statement.

To enter each room in the installation, you have to part a weighty vinyl strip, like you’re entering a meat freezer. The walls are made of plastic — painted water bottles, take out containers, cups, spoons — and each room is made hotter than the last with hanging orange heaters. The last room is blue and white, a trash igloo. It isn’t very subtle, it’s a sped-up walkthrough of our own garbage-made heat death and melting. But the reference to Caribbean homes, something nostalgic and loving, coupled with this aggressively on-the-nose walkthrough felt like a complicated admission. Will my own plastic bag-strewn cupboard bring us on the fast path to hot earth? Will my mother’s? Even though all these bottles, all this trash isn’t mine, Smith and Corrian-Alexis’ installation hammers in individual responsibility and cultural duty. 

A mossy bedroom by electronic musician Aluna Francis and producer Peder Losnegård abstracted a similar feeling. Titled “Aluna’s Magical Forest,” the installation imagines a place “both mythical and plausible,” where “plants, trees, and humans all speak the same language.” It consists of laid-to-waste technology like computer cases filled with dirt, a TV strapped to the ceiling while moss crawls out the walls. A video game simulation of the room plays on dual monitors while Francis speaks in a raspy hush; “When was the last time you really saw us? We live here with you.” Presumably, in this audio, Francis speaks for plants, forgotten and crushed under our sneakers. But the sentiment works just as well in the reverse, a hushed human plea, still desperate to feel like we can conquer nature. 

Like “In the Cupboard Under the Sink,” “Aluna’s Magical Forest” comes with a touch of softness and love. But “Magical Forest” challenges its viewer in a different way; it’s less concerned about consequence than it is about possibility. It asks you to dream of talking plants and hope they have something kind to say to us. It’s a romantic, idealized vision, and another way people cope with climate anxiety. 

1631730797 506 Is Undercurrent the Celebrity Contribution to the Climate Crisis
Jorja Smith by Charles Reagan

The rest of “Undercurrent” is more tangibly anxious, sometimes in a way that feels unhelpful. Grimes, for example, held “A.I. Meditations,” a hot pink room where Grimes’ online baby and alter ego WarNymph guides a humanity-free meditation. “I will not be restrained. I’m hungry. I’m bored,” the little bald fairy dictates in a looping video. According to the artist statement, this installation imagines “the wellness landscape […] on a planet void of human life,” an imagining I find defeatist (however intriguing) in an art show supposedly dedicated to climate solutions. 

A shoddy installation by British pop band The 1975 felt similar. This installation was shining video for their song “The 1975” (you can watch a similar one on YouTube), with Greta Thunberg imploring listeners to “please wake up” over Getty and Shutterstock images, watermarks intact. Although Thunberg is, of course, a rousing speaker, in the context of “Undercurrent,” a place that seeks to acknowledge our planet’s limited time, “The 1975” felt fatalistic and redundant. And as lovely and moving as some of “Undercurrent” is, “The 1975” brought me back to the exhibit’s mission and context, which clash with each other. 

I asked myself: What are you supposed to feel after spending $45 (nearly double the price of The Whitney, more than double the price of The New Museum) to look at supposedly activist art made by people who could change real lives with their real money?

Yes, art is invaluable. “Undercurrent” has some world-saving properties, I’m sure it can inspire solidarity, creativity, and empathy. But displaced people and flooded apartments can’t be saved by beautiful synth and beautiful lights alone. People need money, they need resources; these celebrities have it, they can give more than their art.

“Undercurrent” hopes that celebrity and influence is enough. And as frustrated as it makes me, for many people, it could be. Remember the voting registration spike after Taylor Swift urged her fans to “educate [themselves]”? On the explicitly climate front, thanks to sustainability influencers and enviable Depop girls, secondhand clothing is on track to outpace the resource-gorging H&M’s and Zara’s that once ruled everyday fashion. 

So it’s certainly possible that listening to an impassioned Greta Thunberg at “Undercurrent” will force someone to reassess their priorities or hand in climate change, and that’s what they’ll take away (cocktail notwithstanding). Even as I sat skeptical and unimpressed in “The 1975,” I started thinking of what more I could do to live sustainably. Maybe it’s good to feel guilty — in the end, climate change hurts us all. It’s impossible to ignore, though, that some are guiltier than others. 

Is “Undercurrent” the Celebrity Contribution to the Climate Crisis?

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$6M awarded to local schools to expand internet access

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$6M awarded to local schools to expand internet access

ALBANY, N.Y. (NEWS10) — Congressman Paul Tonko has announced that nearly 20 schools in the Capital Region will be receiving over $6 million to help expand and improve internet access for students and teachers. The funding is part of the American Rescue Plan to help schools and libraries update services for remote learning during the pandemic.

“Throughout this COVID-19 crisis we have heard about the hardships millions of Americans are facing without access to broadband,” said Tonko. “We have heard from students unable to connect to their classes and submit assignments, and from educators who have to drive to parking lots with public Wi-Fi and teach from their cars.”

The funding is available for the purchase of laptops, tablets, Wi-Fi hotspots, modems, routers, and broadband connections for off-campus use by students, school staff, and library patrons in need.

This is the first round of funding from the Emergency Connectivity Fund Program established under the American Rescue More than $1.2 billion will go to schools and libraries across the United States during this first round.

The schools in the Capital Region receiving funding include:

  • Albany City School District, Albany, $1,329,750
  • Schenectady City School District, Schenectady, $1,382,500
  • Amsterdam City School District, Amsterdam, $740,000
  • Shenendehowa Central School District, Clifton Park, $342,764
  • North Colonie Central School District, Latham, $94,707
  • Rensselaer City School District, Rensselaer, $41,908
  • Watervliet City School District, Watervliet, $241,240
  • Menands Union Free School District, Menands, $86,800
  • Albany Public Library, Albany, $59,144
  • Scotia-Glenville Central School District, Scotia, $299,424
  • Mohonasen Central School District, Schenectady, $449,314
  • St. Anne Institute, Albany, $6,792
  • Brighter Choice Charter for Girls, Albany, $146,589
  • Henry Johnson Charter School, Albany, $46,560
  • Commission on Economic Opportunity Administrative Offices, Troy, $3,955
  • Green Tech High School, Albany, $238,540
  • Albany Leadership Charter School, Albany, $166,000
  • Kipp Albany Community Charter School District, Albany, $340,000

Applications for a second round of funding will open September 28 and close October 13 and will provide funding for eligible equipment and services received or delivered between July 1, 2021 and June 30, 2022.

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John Hinckley, who shot Reagan, to be freed from oversight

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John Hinckley, who shot Reagan, to be freed from oversight

By BEN FINLEY

A federal judge said Monday that John Hinckley Jr., who tried to assassinate President Ronald Reagan four decades ago, can be freed from all remaining restrictions next year if he continues to follow those rules and remains mentally stable.

U.S. District Court Judge Paul L. Friedman in Washington said during a 90-minute court hearing that he’ll issue his ruling on the plan this week.

Since Hinckley moved to Williamsburg, Virginia, from a Washington hospital in 2016, court-imposed restrictions have required doctors and therapists to oversee his psychiatric medication and therapy. Hinckley has been barred from having a gun. And he can’t contact Reagan’s children, other victims or their families, or actress Jodie Foster, who he was obsessed with at the time of the 1981 shooting.

Friedman said that Hinckley, now 66, has displayed no symptoms of active mental illness, no violent behavior and no interest in weapons since 1983.

“If he hadn’t tried to kill the president, he would have been unconditionally released a long, long, long time ago,” the judge said. “But everybody is comfortable now after all of the studies, all of the analysis and all of the interviews and all of the experience with Mr. Hinckley.”

Friedman said the plan is to release Hinckley from all court supervision in June if all goes well.

A 2020 violence risk assessment conducted on behalf of Washington’s Department of Behavioral Health concluded that Hinckley would not pose a danger if he’s unconditionally released from the court-ordered restrictions.

The U.S. government had previously opposed ending restrictions. But it took a different position Monday, with attorneys saying they would agree to unconditional release if Hinckley follows the rules and shows mental stability for the next nine months.

Kacie Weston, an attorney for the U.S. government, said that it wants to make sure Hinckley can adapt well to living on his own after his mother died in July. Another concern is the impending retirement of one of his therapists and the looming end to a therapy group, which has provided a lot of support and social interaction for Hinckley.

Hinckley was 25 when he shot and wounded the 40th U.S. president outside a Washington hotel. The shooting paralyzed Reagan press secretary James Brady, who died in 2014. It also injured Secret Service agent Timothy McCarthy and Washington police officer Thomas Delahanty.

Jurors decided Hinckley was suffering from acute psychosis and found him not guilty by reason of insanity, saying he needed treatment and not life in prison.

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Troy man charged for allegedly possessing handgun

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Rochester man charged in hatchet murder back in custody after ‘Less is More’ release

TROY, N.Y. (NEWS10) – According to the United States Attorney Antoinette and Special Agent in Charge of the Albany Field Office of the FBI. Justin Smith, 21, of Troy, was ordered detained on Friday, September 24 while he awaits his trial on unlawful possession of a firearm as a felon charge.

Smith, a felon, allegedly possessed a handgun in Troy on or about March 5.

The charge carries a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison, a fine of up to $250,000, and a term of post-imprisonment supervised release of up to 3 years.  

This case is being investigated by the FBI and the Troy Police Department, and is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Dustin Segovia. 

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  • President Biden to get COVID-19 booster shot Monday
  • Dunkin’ donates 300 pounds of coffee to Regional Food Bank of Northeastern New York ahead of National Coffee Day
  • Pfizer testing COVID-prevention pill
  • Fall fun! Nine Pin Cider and Samascott Orchards to host popular cider events

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What are the odds of winning Monday’s $545 million Powerball drawing?

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What are the odds of winning Monday’s $545 million Powerball drawing?

ST. LOUIS (KTVI) — You have a chance to become a multi-millionaire Monday night when a near-record Powerball jackpot goes up for grabs.

Monday night’s drawing is worth an estimated $545 million. If the winner chooses the upfront cash payout, they will receive $392 million. The drawing will be done at 10:59 p.m.

The odds of winning the jackpot are 1 in 292.2 million.

Here are five things more likely to happen:

  1. Being killed by hornets, wasps or bees. The odds are 1 in 59,507.
  2. Becoming president of the United States. Those odds are about 1 in 1 million.
  3. Becoming a movie star. The odds are 1 in 110,501.
  4. Going to the emergency room with a pogo stick-related injury. Those odds are about 1 in 115,300, according to Deseret News.
  5. Having conjoined twins. The odds of birthing conjoined twins are about 1 in 200,000, according to the University of Maryland Medical Center.

If hit, the jackpot would be the 10th-largest in the game’s history.

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  • Dunkin’ donates 300 pounds of coffee to Regional Food Bank of Northeastern New York ahead of National Coffee Day
  • Pfizer testing COVID-prevention pill
  • Fall fun! Nine Pin Cider and Samascott Orchards to host popular cider events
  • 13-year-old girl missing in New York believed to be suicidal

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Broncos Fifth Quarter: Pass rush gets cranked up (five sacks) against Jets

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Broncos Fifth Quarter: Pass rush gets cranked up (five sacks) against Jets

Upon Further Review

1. Pass rush cranks up. After a non-descript start to the season, the Broncos’ pass rush got going against the New York Jets. The Broncos had 11 total disruptions (three sacks, five knockdowns and three pressures) in Weeks 1-2, but a whopping 16 against the Jets (five sacks, four knockdowns and seven pressures) of Jets QB Zach Wilson. The sacks came in 2.75 (ILB Alexander Johnson), 4.82 (DE Shelby Harris), 3.26 (OLB Von Miller), 3.95 (OLB Malik Reed) and 3.03 seconds (Johnson). The Broncos rushed at least five players at Wilson on 10 of his 40 drop-backs (25%) and he was 4 of 10 for 37 yards against extra rushers.

2. Stretching the field. Broncos QB Teddy Bridgewater was 4-of-8 passing on attempts that traveled at least 16 “air” yards, but those completions accounted for 110 of his 235 yards. The plays were 28 yards to WR KJ Hamler and 27, 24 and 31 yards to WR Tim Patrick. A downfield attempt negated by penalty was WR Courtland Sutton drawing a 19-yard pass interference penalty on Jets CB Brandin Echols on third-and-10; RB Melvin Gordon scored on the next play.

3. Moving Miller around. Minus OLB Bradley Chubb (ankle surgery), the Broncos shuttled Miller on at least five snaps to go against LT George Fant. Another cool wrinkle by coach Vic Fangio was using Johnson as a defensive end (three-point stance) for a third-and-1 play in the first half. Johnson was a part of the pass rush on the play that gained six yards.

4. Penalty script flipped. The Broncos flipped their penalty script, from defense in Week 2 to offense in Week 3. The offense had only two penalties in the first two games, but was called for six against the Jets — two on TE Noah Fant and one apiece on LG Dalton Risner, RG Graham Glasgow, Sutton and Bridgewater. Risner’s penalty was for taunting S Marcus Maye after Gordon’s touchdown. Risner told Fangio he didn’t do anything, but replays clearly showed him jawing toward Maye instead of, you know, celebrating with Gordon and Co., in the end zone. The defense had no penalties.

5. Few big rushes. Fangio wasn’t exaggerating when he said the Jets’ defense sold out to stop the run. The Broncos had 37 carries for 121 yards, but didn’t have an attempt of longer than 14 yards. We booked the Broncos with 10 “bad” run plays (gain of one or fewer yards) and 3 1/2 went to unblocked players. Risner and C Lloyd Cushenberry had 1 1/2 apiece and RT Bobby Massie one.

6. Strnad’s debut. ILB Justin Strnad made his first NFL start in place of Josey Jewell (season-ending chest injury). Strnad played 41 snaps and made four tackles. In man coverage, he allowed two completions for eight yards in four targets.

Four Key Numbers

3,288 — Consecutive snaps streak for safety Justin Simmons, dating back to Week 1 of 2018, that ended Sunday.

+50 — Point differential for Broncos in Weeks 1-3, tied with Buffalo for best in NFL.

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Ballston Spa National Bank hosting drive-thru food pantry

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Ballston Spa National Bank hosting drive-thru food pantry

BALLSTON SPA, N.Y. (NEWS10) — Ballston Spa National Bank (BSNB) is teaming up with the Regional Food Bank of Northeastern New York to host its 16th contactless drive-thru food pantry. The event is September 28 at 9 a.m. at 990 Route 67 in Ballston Spa.

The pantry is open to families and individuals in need of food assistance. Food is on a first-come, first-served basis while supplies last.

BSNB says an anticipated 18,000 pounds of food will be distributed during the event. Items include produce, dairy, frozen meats and non-perishable items. Since spring 2020, BSNB food pantries have distributed 270,000 pounds of food to people in need.

BSNB has also received donations from the community totaling $34,000. With the money raised from the bank, the Regional Food Bank has received more than $109,000 to combat food insecurity.

The bank is matching new community donations up to $5,000 through September 28.

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The Two Degree Difference: Warming fall temperatures

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The Two Degree Difference: Warming fall temperatures

Break out the sweaters, boots and pumpkin spice because fall is here! And while we will still get to enjoy all that fall has to offer in our region, the fall season has seen some major changes over the last few decades, all because of climate change.

Across the country, the most drastic changes regarding fall season warming can be felt in the western United States and the northeast. Some locations have seen multiple degrees of warming since 1970.

In Burlington, the average fall temperature has climbed by about four degrees in the last 50 years according to Climate Central. Along with an average of 18 more days above normal.

Fall warming can have many impacts including an extended mosquito and tick season, pollen allergies and worsening air pollution.

For the northeast, this can impact the fall foliage we have grown to know and love.

“We have had summer like weather linger into early fall, that tends to make it more of a gradual development” said Michael Snyder, the commissioner for Vermont Forests, Parks and Recreations.

Warmer temperatures are known to delay the foliage season and higher than average rainfall totals can act top keep leaves healthy and green for longer.

“All factors are in place right now and if we have that classic fall weather, bright sunny crisp days, cold night and a little bit of moisture that is when you see it go up to that next level of vibrancy throughout the state.” said Snyder.

For more on how climate change is impacting fall foliage, you can head here.

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Video of NYC sanitation workers tossing produce from street vendor sparks outrage

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Video of NYC sanitation workers tossing produce from street vendor sparks outrage

NEW YORK (WPIX) – New York City’s Sanitation Department came under fire after videos showed workers throwing away fresh produce from an unlicensed street vendor.

The videos, posted by the Street Vendor Project on Saturday morning, showed at least two workers tossing individual fruits and vegetables as well as crates of produce into the back of a garbage truck.

The organization, which advocates for street vendors in New York City, alleged that thousands of dollars in fresh produce were trashed.

CONTENT WARNING: The video in the tweet below contains strong language.

An official with one of the involved agencies told WPIX the sanitation workers had no choice but to trash the produce due to New York City regulations and protocol regarding fresh food.

The Department of Consumer and Worker Protection was issuing a violation to the unlicensed vendor when they abandoned the items, the official said. The NYPD called in the sanitation workers to dispose of the crates of produce left behind when the vendor failed to return, according to DCWP.

City law states agencies should attempt to donate confiscated fresh food items, however, a Department of Health representative must first certify the food is safe.

The official said the Department of Sanitation had to trash the produce because the chain of custody of the food could not be verified as safe to consume, but the workers were forced to leave after a crowd of angry residents gathered at the scene.

When the workers returned later in the day, most of the food had been removed from the location by unknown individuals, the official said.

The video sparked outrage on social media and quickly went viral. A rally was held Sunday to condemn the city’s actions and call for fewer restrictions on street vendors.

“This video shows a small portion of an unfortunate situation, where abandoned material needed to be disposed of for the safety of the community. The Department of Sanitation is committed to our mission of keeping streets and neighborhoods safe, clean, and healthy,” the spokesperson said.

The Department of Consumer and Worker Protection told WPIX it would work with the involved city agencies to ensure this doesn’t happen again.

“The results of this multi-agency vending enforcement are not in line with the city’s policies. DCWP and its sister agencies who assist with confiscations when necessary will work together to ensure this type of wastefulness does not happen again,” the spokesperson said.

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Schenectady man found guilty for intentionally crashing car into ex-girlfriend’s parent’s car

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Schenectady man found guilty for intentionally crashing car into ex-girlfriend’s parent’s car

Posted: Updated:

David Soares

ALBANY, N.Y. (NEWS10) – According to District Attorney P. David Soares, on September 23, Dustin Donovan, 30, of Schenectady, was found guilty after a jury trial on multiple charges.

Found guilty of:

  • Count of Criminal Mischief in the Second Degree (Felony)
  • Count of Criminal Mischief in the Fourth Degree
  • Count of Reckless Endangerment First Degree (Felony)
  • Count of Criminal Tampering in the Third Degree

After hearing testimony at trial, a jury concluded that on November 9, 2019, Donovan tampered with the property of a dating partner with the intent to cause her substantial inconvenience after she ended their relationship and was trying to leave their residence.

The next day, Donovan drove to the victim’s parent’s home in Colonie and intentionally crashed his car into the victim’s car, which was parked in the road. The force of the crash severely damaged the victim’s car, and resulted in Donovan’s car catching on fire. Donovan also crashed into a National Grid utility pole, causing over $15,000 in damage.

Donovan faces up to 7 years in State Prison when sentenced on November 23, 2021.

Assistant District Attorney Caroline Murray of the Special Victims Unit handled the prosecution of this case.

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State police looking for individual involved in alleged stabbing

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New York suspect killed by gunfire during struggle with Marshals

ALBANY, N.Y. (NEWS10)- New York schools are required to submit the number of positive COVID cases to the New York State Department of Health during the 2020-2021 school year. Those numbers were made available on the state’s COVID-19 Report Card website.

The site was temporarily taken offline at the beginning of the school year while undergoing updates, making case information unavailable to the public. The site was back online on Monday. On September 23, the DOH said it would be available to the public no later than September 27.

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