Sunday, August 22, 2010

Passing the Torch

Hundreds of friends and well-wishers gathered at the Basilica Industria last night to bid farewell to Patrick Doyle and Catherine Dodge Smith, the owners and creators of Basilica Industria, and to celebrate their ten years of activism and contribution to the civic and cultural life of Hudson. The evening of tribute, music, clowning, and dance culminated with Doyle introducing the new owners--Nancy Barber and Bill Stone and their son Tony Stone--and engaging with Bill Stone in a ceremonial passing of the torch. The new owners intend to retain the name Basilica Industria and continue its use as an arts and entertainment venue.

The group then gathered in the courtyard north of the building for a bonfire--a feature of so many events at Basilica Industria over the years. No sooner was the bonfire ignited than the Basilica was descended upon by City of Hudson Fire Police, the Fire Chief, and Engine 30 from the Hoysradt Fire Station on Warren Street. The firefighters extinguished the bonfire.

It wasn't immediately clear to the spectators that the presence of the Fire Department wasn't part of the theater of the evening, but it became clear when Doyle was issued a citation. Doyle had contacted the Fire Department to arrange for a permit for the bonfire, but he was unable to reach anyone and his calls were not returned, so he decided to go ahead with the bonfire anyway. Doyle is scheduled to appear in court on September 8.


  1. The citation and fire department dramatics is a perfect ending to Patrick Doyle's ten-year harassment by the people who run the City of Hudson. He has been a target of a particular nature of insanity practiced by such people as Charlie Butterworth, Richard Scalera, Peter Wurster and many others just to squelch his voice and basically run him out of town. A few others have gotten similar treatment over the years and since it seems to be so successful, it is certain to continue far into the future.

  2. Seems self-indulgent to know that (a) you need a permit for a bonfire, (b) you don't have a permit, and (c) then go ahead and light the bonfire anyway.

    What if there had been a fire someplace else while the firemen were extinguishing this bonfire, and someone had gotten hurt because the fire company was at Basilica Industria?

    How much did it cost for the firemen to make this appearance at Patrick Doyle's illegal bonfire?

    If someone had performed this stunt where I live, I'd be angry at him.

  3. Doyle is and always has been his own worst enemy. He always believed he could do what he wanted and when. The ordeal with the city was one that I remember as he wanting water and sewer brought down to his place at the expense of all us taxpayers and I think Mayor Tracey accomodated him and he still wasn't grateful. Some love the city and some loves what the city can do for them. Sorry JFK but it needed to be paraphrased that way.

  4. It is possible to simultaneously entertain the sentiments of the first two comments above (the incorrect allegations of the third comment notwithstanding).

    As with all great art, onlookers may be provided an opportunity to feel some justifiable anger at a new form that commits a seeming transgression. And it is a fact no less mysterious for being a truism that one can simultaneously recognize a truth-telling even though the form as factual thing may be a distasteful law-breaking. (More common is that the art is just distasteful.)

    To have seen last night's spectacle one couldn't miss certain self-dramatizing themes wafting up amidst recollections of Hudson's unsavory and persistent old ways (comment #1). Such things would be missed by a newcomer or measured with the merest of abstractions by the casual visitor (comment #2).

    Probably an open fire law was broken, but when do we begin to entertain the possible (and ever-seeming) culpability of the unhelpful bureaucrat, or the resentful politician who supplies the required wink beforehand? How could such invisible and "banal" obstructions escape anyone's judgement as transgressions? In other words, take care with that facile blame.

    Last night, Master of Ceremonies Patrick Doyle stumbled into a story which let all of us - all the usual characters - insert themselves into the Hudson story for one last time under his tutelage (or to decide not to).

    Such is the prerogative of Hermes-Mercury, the patron deity of all Masters of Ceremony. But since Hermes is also patron of eye-winkers the question becomes, "What ultimate good do the respective transgressions serve?"

    For me this is the good: by evoking a true story of Hudson's shadows which is then enacted before my eyes as a happening in real time, art and life are fused into a single moment with an unmistakable meaning. The specifics may not have been Patrick's intent, but the experience conveyed the truth of great theatre. I still can't tell if I was partaking in a comedy or a tragedy.

    Only art can do such things, even when it's improvised.

    "The play's the thing/ Wherein I'll catch the conscience of the king."

  5. I appreciate that Patrick Doyle brought a bit of tribal ritual and voodoo to Hudson. There's not enough of that stuff in our bland Protestant-work-ethic society. We need more chanting and barking at the moon and flames and such.

  6. David William VoorheesAugust 23, 2010 at 10:07 AM

    It is too bad that the fiery finale, which many thought was part of the spectacle, has overshadowed the real news of the event, all the incredible talent that was showcased that evening from classical musicians to country to poetry readings to performance art. There are few places in America where so many extraordinarily talented people are gathered in one place as there are in the City of Hudson.

  7. Patrick brought something to Hudson few people understood or could equal: passion & compassion. He always looks for the greater good for Hudson.

  8. Dear Chad --

    Too bad he was proved so wrong.

    Was it a waste of ten years of his life?

  9. Last Anon,

    It's too bad that Patrick was "proved so wrong" about what?

    The thing he offered Hudson which "few people understood or could equal" was probably already obvious to him before he arrived.

    That "he always looks for the greater good" is tragically only something the rare person works out in relation to the obvious.

    To conclude from this that he has wasted "ten years of his life" recommends you as someone who does not "understand or equal."

    Your sad sour note simply proves one person's singular mediocrity (vis-a-vis the obvious).

  10. Anon (at 1:13), I suppose that I missed my own "obvious" lesson which is to keep trying to get you to join in (even if nothing changes after 10 years). My bad.

  11. David William VoorheesAugust 23, 2010 at 8:51 PM

    Perhaps I am missing something in this thread. Whether or not one always agreed with Patrick--and no great showman is ever uncontroversial--he is a moving force in the creation of the dynamic performing arts scene of present-day Hudson. His last ten years were anything but a "waste of time," have greatly altered the makeup of the city, and proved him very right indeed.

  12. It is interesting to note that many posters here felt the need to go on and on and on about procedures and rules when it came to historic restoration of the church, yet it is okay for Patrick Doyle to set a fire, so that the VOLUNTEER firefighters can interrupt their lives for a non-emergency event. WOW. Hope the Judge does not go easy on him. Is he above the law?

  13. As a previous poster who never said a peep about that church one way or the other, I'd like to ask "Anon" - since the question has already been begged - whether the part played by City authorities in the Basilica's non-emergency event didn't enter into your moral equation as well?

    Mightn't the conspicuous failure of the authorities in addressing a proper and timely request for a permit (read: unstated refusal) constitute a potential affront to your decency, too?

    ("Too" meaning also, or as well; "potential" meaning possible, or as-yet unrealized.)

    If you take on that aspect of the question I will at least think you an honest person however you answer.

  14. From "Last Anon" to "Anon 4:40PM" (and others) --

    I think you misunderstand me.

    I fully appreciate Patrick's "passion and compassion" and as one who "always looks for the general good in Hudson." My point was that the people who run Hudson -- I mean REALLY run Hudson -- didn't want it. In fact, they fought him on that goal every step of the way during his 10 years here. And in the end they literally extinguished his fire. These same people are doing simililar things to others who have shown the type of innovation and positive engery that Patrick brought to this town.

    And as far as Patrick's fire breaking laws, as everyone knows there are lots of people breaking laws in this town that go unpunished as the people who tried -- and ultimately succeeded -- in breaking Patrick (and others) look the other way from the serious transgressions of their buddies.

    In short, ultimately Hudson was undeserving of Patrick's presence. He was unwanted and he was told that viciously over and over and over again. He could have spent those ten years in a community that would have appreciated what he was doing -- and he could have achieved much more. But that isn't the way of Hudson, I fear.

  15. As one Anonymous poster to another - and apparently we're on the same "side" after all - I would ask your permission to speak freely about what I see happening in your posts.

    First, I certainly did misunderstand you, and you were able to appreciate before anyone else that we are actually in general agreement. It's why you wrote again.

    But I see that I was correct about your sourness, even though I could be forgiven for misunderstanding your broader meaning. Now what does that say?!

    I agree that Patrick met with many obstructions during his time here, and that "these same people are doing similar things to others ..." (Believe me, I agree with that!)

    But no one ever extinguished Patrick's fire.

    Instead, did you see our great MC right out in front, getting the crowd to applaud the firefighters! The "hoorays!" became the next material on Patrick's canvas, the next creative fire that replaced the now smoldering, sour-smelling actual fire.

    The contrast between the two approaches to theater (the firemen were themselves obviously acting) was so exhilarating! You seem to have missed where the Art experience moved on next by being overly fixated on the last materials used in the show. More likely you've forgotten, and are now remembering something less interesting from a distance.

    "And as far as Patrick's fire breaking laws, as everyone knows there are lots of people breaking laws in this town that go unpunished ..."

    Well, I'm afraid that I am going to use the preceding comment to showcase something that irritates me to no end about this place, and again ask "Now what does that say!?"

    First, there will always be thugs in the world. There will always be an ample supply of meanness. That's never going to change, so what good comes from pretending?

    Instead, what I witness in Hudson is that the best people, the ones best equipped to learn about and then intelligently act upon something we notice - some lie - instead feel entirely justified in spending their time merely complaining, ad infinitum, and all too often with their facts wrong.

    Rather than applying your research abilities to the demonstrably false accusation in the third comment above, or by taking the second comment to task by finding out how a timely request for a permit was frustrated by a false (and perhaps illegal) pretense, you conclude that "Hudson was undeserving of Patrick's presence." And that comes only after making a snide, sour comment which an otherwise agreeable reader misunderstood by 180 degrees!

    Hudson deserves better than that.

    Patrick is a midwife of the theatre of the world. That fire is not only not out, the very same show is continuing: "Who knew what and when" ... "the request was made a full eight days in advance?" ... "was so-and-so standing close enough to hear that at the time?" ... "Your Honor, may I present the case."

    For Patrick the soul is in the world, and his best art is produced from the materials of this world.

    Your world strikes me as more theoretical, which is why you grant yourself the leisure to sit back, pass judgements on others and sourly sound off. (Believe me, I do the same thing.)

    In that case, aren't we at least as much a part of the problem as the thugs? And yet we should know better! Aren't we only foisting a different kind of pathology on the Hudson?

  16. Oy vey -

    To the 10:34PM Poster - thanks but I'm pretty good about comprehending, in context, short, simple words.

    This is my point: I think we are all lucky to have volunteer firefighters in this county, whether you live in Hudson, Greenport, Claverack or out in the county.

    Yes - before you go there - they choose to become volunteers - but I for one, probably representing many, know that I am grateful that there are physically capable, energetic, trained firefighters who are willing to get out of their beds in the middle of the night, regardless of the weather conditions, or leave their jobs (God bless them if they HAVE a job around here that they can leave, with penalty.)and rush to a fire scene, risking potential injury.

    Were we to have PAID firefighters, our taxes would be much higher, and at this point, I don't know alot of people who can afford higher taxes.

    Was the average firefighter involved in whatever below the radar goings on you allude to? Probably not. Did some of them leave activities in progress at home on a Summer's night to respond to a fire call? I'm certain some did.

    And for what?

    To probably not be treated with very much respect while they were doing their job and to probably not receive a thank you or a donation.

    So yes, I hope the Judge socks it to Patrick Doyle.

    Isn't that a big conversation these days in Hudson and on this blog: that everybody has to live together and be aware of how their decisions affect others?

    Or is that only for some part of the population?

    So to Poster at 10:34PM, how's my spelling, vocabulary and syntax?

    Once you get past that, maybe you'll consider the content.

  17. Anon at 1:29, thanks for your honesty and frankness.

    I have pretty good bona fides when it comes to the emergency services (at least in the immediate family), so I do appreciate where you're coming from and have all along.

    I am also a great proponent and defender of American voluntarism, and I really worry for our society to think that that spirit might ever peter out. The utter absence of that spirit is what I most detest about Europe.

    And just like yourself - oh, I can tell - I also despise hypocrisy.

    So despite the way you prefer to frame it, I'm not blaming the rank-and-file at all, nor do I take them for granted. Instead, my personal b.s. meter usually starts to quiver much further up the chain of command - and that goes for any organization.

    In this case, I want to know what series of decisions sent these first responders and firefighters out there to begin with? That's what I'm trying to address in my comments.

    Without making any excuses for the decision to go ahead and light the bonfire match (that is one transgression), the request for a permit was made eight days prior to the event. Everything was done correctly by the citizen, just as it was successfully done before. But someone in the bureaucracy obviously meant that event to whither. The chief bureaucrat in question claims that his city phone was out of order for an entire week. Now don't you find that insulting to your intelligence? I sure do.

    So I agree that the volunteers and the emergency services and the cops were ill-used, but may I suggest looking "below the radar" if you are serious about weighing and apportioning blame - not to mention fixing a problem with Hudson! I hope that you are concerned about hypocrisy and transgression there, too.

    From what I saw the firefighters were treated with respect. I saw Patrick's spirit of camaraderie towards individual firefighters reciprocated, and the crowd actually cheered as the fellows dowsed the flames (with a little coaching). Undoubtedly there were resentful individuals on both sides, but I was not one and my impression is that you're barking up the wrong tree here. (If you weren't there please give some credit on this one, it's due.)

    Not that the firefighters will be receiving any donations for it though! I hadn't thought of that - funny. But with the bitter element of politics injected into what was really a fun, wholesome event for Hudson, well that kind of ruins that line of thought, don't you think? It also ruins the volunteer spirit that I value so highly.

    After seeing the way the City handled this affair (the actions of the citizens involved being another matter), I lost respect for the apparently ungenerous manner with which business is conducted here. Based on the reasoning you present, I think that any firefighter might resent it, too.