Saturday, July 24, 2021

New Mural in the PARC Park

The Hudson Police Department announced today, on its Facebook page, the unveiling of a new mural in the pocket park across from Hudson Hall. The park was designed and created by the PARC Foundation, as a gift to the city, and officially opened in the summer of 2007. 
Pocket Park Mural Unveiled . . .
We are excited to announce that, after weeks of preparation and painting, the mural in the Pocket Park on the 300 block between Warren Street and Prison Alley was completed Friday. 
The 30-foot mural was painted and designed by artist and Hudson High School student Eli Carpenter. The artwork is a nod to the founders of Hudson and features symbols of our city's past, including a whale and ship, and a glorious sun, which alludes to the bright future ahead for the city.
The project was a collaborative effort by the Hudson Police Department and Columbia County District Attorney's Office to address a recent rise in graffiti incidents in the park. Hudson police donated supplies, including paint and brushes. Both agencies are proud to work alongside local youth to clean up our city parks.
"We are very glad we could give back to the community in this way," Police Chief L. Edward Moore said. "Eli's mural will deter future vandals, boost civic pride and give residents yet another reason to enjoy the park."
Special thanks to Mayor Kamal Johnson (who approved the project), the Hudson Department of Public Works, and Eli's mother, Katharine.


  1. This artist is obviously talented, but when will Hudson move away from the whale image that is so out of touch? There were never any live whales in Hudson - if the ships didn't return to Hudson from the ocean with the heads of dead sperm whales, it was just the oil from the heads of sperm whales so that the locals could have clean burning candles. How did they get the oil out of the sperm whales' heads? It probably wasn't pretty, and the remainder of the body was no doubt cast adrift. If it weren't for the arrival of petroleum, surely the sperm whale would have long ago become extinct. And for this we have signs all over town of a smiling cartoon whale and city letterhead that shows a live whale in the ocean? It was a cruel, wasteful and unsustainable practice, this whaling industry that Hudson was created from. How is this something to be proud of and continue to associate with? Yeah, it's crazy that Hudson was once a bustling whaling town, but even crazier to keep the idea alive as if it were a good thing or even a neutral thing. It wasn't, and it's time for city hall to acknowledge that the image of a whale is no longer cool or cute. It's no different than the Cleveland baseball team formerly known as the Indians, is it? B Huston

    1. You're missing so much in context that it's no wonder you can only focus on our contemporary awareness of whaling’s cruelty. Is that all you were able to glean from Moby Dick?

      The whaling story that I see in Hudson resulted derived from the fact that the Proprietors were anti-war Quakers. They remained neutral during the American War of Independence, yet they felt ill-treated by both sides. Because of this they were probably more concerned than most Americans that a subsequent war was inevitable ("1812"), which led them to search inland for a new and less vulnerable port to continue their whaling economy.

      It’s a tragic error in our thinking when we project our contemporary sensibilities onto the collective past. That’s not to excuse past evils, but rather than clarifying anything the tendency hopelessly obfuscates historical thinking by treating our forebears as if they’re a distant mirror of ourselves. Worse, by this same bad habit we aggrandize ourselves at our ancestors’ expense, as if we’re aware of all our own flaws and immune to the potentially harsh judgements of future generations.

      By projecting contemporary consciousness onto our forebears, or even onto contemporary foreigners, we engage in an unwitting selection process whereby the focus of our interests (and even our murals!) must fall in line with what’s supposedly correct or incorrect. Our interests soon become doctrinaire and dogmatic, cleaving to what is supposedly virtuous. That’s what we see all around us. I even see it in your comment.

      If you read, or reread, Moby Dick, you'd profit from the experience if you did so with these things in mind.

    2. Moby Dick is a fictional novel. I am talking about reality, and any comparison is a silly waste of time.

    3. Well, now you're floating a theory of literature which requires, for its premise, a particular theory of "reality." I'd have to insult my own literary and epistemological theories to suppose it matters that the central events in Moby Dick were based on a firsthand account from the whaling ship "Essex."

      As I watch a new and probably terminal barbarism sweeping our culture, my warnings about Moby Dick have more to do with the predictable behaviors of the thought police who're already in our midst.

      For example, when Pinochet's fascist regime was rounding up undesirables, many art students were "disappeared" who were found to own books on Cubism. In the minds of uncultured thugs, "Cubism" equaled Cuba.

      I agree, that was very silly. And also deadly serious. (As for the supposed distinction between "totalitarians" and "fascists," it's meaningless in the present context and has been meaningless since Sontag first abandoned it in the early 1980s following a trip to Poland with one of Hudson's own luminaries.)

      For anyone who's frightened enough to brook the current trend, they're like that cat in the Orwell story. Outwardly, they'll support the most fashionable and ludicrous notions, while privately they'll still pursue their own interests.

      Then one day they'll learn that "some are more equal than others." We're already beginning to see this.

      And when that day arrives for good, this thread has shown me it will be time to jettison my copy of Moby Dick.

  2. I'd like to take a moment and applaud the efforts of Eli Carpenter and everyone involved with this project. I find the criticism harsh for an effort that was made to beautify a small piece of property in downtown Hudson. Sometimes it's hard enough to get our youth excited about civic responsibility let along take action as well. Eli embraced both and worked in some of Hudson's history along with it. Let's be honest here. Whaling today is outlawed by the majority of nations and rightly so. There is probably nothing we get from whales today that isn't available synthetically. Whales benefit us more through scientific research then by killing them. Only a handful of nations along with some indigenous cultures still practice whaling. In that sense the world has come along way.

    The City of Hudson and even the world we live in today is far removed from the world we lived in during the 18th and 19th century.
    Before 1859 when fossil fuel was first pulled out of the ground whale oil lit our homes and lubricated the machinery of a young nation moving towards industrialization. At one time it comprised a fifth of our nations GDP The American Whale Fishery employed over 10,000 people, supported countless industries from ship building, marine supply along with countless forms of manufacturing. We can just as easily find fault with fossil fuel, industrialization and it's effects on climate change and the environment today. It doesn't make any of it necessarily bad. It just makes it our history. We seem to have a problem in this country accepting both sides of the coin when it comes to our past. You would think by the 21st century we could reflect on what's happened, acknowledge the flaws along with the benefits to that time period.

    Eli's mural acknowledged that past. Agree with it or not, Whaling is woven into that Fabric of what makes up Hudson today. It's architecture, it's streets and parks as laid out by it's first proprietors. There are many who walk it's streets today in Hudson that have roots in it's early history. Be they decendents of merchants, farmers or the mariners who once sailed the oceans of the world. It doesn't make it bad. It just makes it our history. Let's learn to live with both sides of the coin. Regarding the mural, why not acknowledge the projects positive impact and learn to accept our past, good and bad along with it

  3. I concur with B Huston's sensitive comment. It's brave to define the details of a brutal practice. At the time whales were hunted fiercely for their oil, I'm betting hardly anyone thought of the consequences of this gruesome practice. Did they even know how intelligent, complex and social these animals are? It's time for a new symbol in a new century. Sure there should be reference to the whaling history and the city's growth but considering where we are now facing dire climate chaos and vast extinction, it's time to take another look. The mural is lovely overall and kudos to the artist. A happy whale is one that is free to live in peace in it's natural setting. As a nation we are moving too slowly to address practices that were profitable but oh so inhumane and intrinsically, illegal even in its time. Between slavery, driving Indians to the brink along with many animal species(even deer), let's move forward now. The commercial whaling by certain nations is environmentally detrimental, horribly inhumane and totally unnecessary. Whales continue to be threatened with extinction, some species more than others. Really, it's time to close the chapter.

    1. The whale in the mural looks quite happy and free. Get off the soap box already.

    2. The points made about the mural are not about the young artist. In fact, he drew an excellent depiction of a whale in its natural habitat. Yes, it looks happy because it is swimming in the ocean unfretted, a free spirit. And the scale and color is well done too, which had to be a challenge. It looks like Eli connects warmly with whales by centering it boldly. Much congrats to him.

      As a professional artist with a fine arts degree and years of experience in art and elsewhere, I feel free to make a few keen observations now and then as anyone else rightfully making their own.

      It's shocking that a few in the community are so twisted about a couple of comments that point out the reality of whaling and what Hudson daily life and environment may have been once. Facts are so disturbing to some, isn't that funny? It's telling how some can't handle the truth of important matters like inequity, extinction, climate emergency and use a legit word 'woke' as a slur. That is saddest of all. Hudson's happy whale symbol is not truthful. And perhaps it's time to retire it and create a new one that depicts Hudson as the interesting, creative place in it's beautiful river setting that it is. Have you heard that sports teams and cities are doing just that? Yes, it's very contemporary! It's cool and about time.

      There's NO rewriting history. There's the good and the bad in clear view discussed honestly, factually.
      That IS history.

      Anyone who voices an opinion on Gossips is on a soap box including yourself, MS.

      Isn't that what we are all here for?

      Carole is one of the few people around anymore who understands that we ALL should be heard. We're the lucky ones. The rude comments from professionals or non-professionals alike, should be considered thoughtfully before posting. This is a forum of thought, ideas and information, not knee jerk impulses. There are plenty of venues for that.


    3. You’re correct to bring up venues. There is a time and a place to bring up the city’s symbol and what is depicted on its seal. Now, and in regards to a young teenager’s artwork, isn’t it. Why not address your concerns in a letter or in person to the City Council or Mayor? That would certainly be more effective and tactful. In this forum, your comments have no impact except to kill the spirit of a burgeoning young artist during their first public exhibition.

    4. LS, you have a good point. And following up with city government is where this poignant issue needs to be aired. I felt this discussion in this venue, already in progress, needed context. It followed multiple comments attempting to dismiss whaling repercussions altogether in an insensitive, shaming fashion that you skim past. Are they not the adults in the room? None of that behavior is supportive of the young artist. My comments are entirely supportive of him. The artist depicts a happy place for whales and the city. It's a beautiful thought. What more can you ask for.

    5. Cheviot Views, you are correct, we are all on a soap box. And yes, it was more about the "where" that this subject was being brought up. Didn't seem like the right place to start that conversation. Wasn't at all about disturbing facts. And yes, I am a big sports fan and know about the changes, which I whole heartedly support. I have a degree in art history, and tend to support the artist over all else. Thanks.

    6. It's Cheviot Views' idea of history - what history "IS" - that I find so troubling.

      Indeed Cheviot, you provide less a definition of history than a formula for repeating the worst aspects of it, albeit unconsciously.

      And because you've employed the strawman argument (who said anything about "inequity," "extinction," or "climate emergency"?), I'll be more frank with you than I'd otherwise be.

      To say of history itself that "there's the good and the bad in clear view discussed honestly" is worse than naive, it's the same rationale used by the Inquisition and even by the intolerant Reformers themselves.

      I'm sure that we'd both prefer that the International Whaling Commission be more stringent with countries who continue to justify their ongoing whaling operations as "scientific research." Everyone knows that excuse is untrue.

      But next time, what's to prevent your assumed and "given" morality - in your words "the good and the bad" - against *me* if I want to enjoy a steak?

      To take a lesson from the philosopher Hannah Arendt, when we mythologize what's flawed in human nature, and even what's most monstrous, by projecting it outwards onto others, we're typically inhabiting some sort of inexorable and fixed universe. When the perceived historical infractions are doubly removed in time, then we've placed these acts wholly beyond and outside us.

      This is the very circumstance, wherein we believe we're incapable of the same evil we're naming, that in time we nearly always repeat the same evils ourselves (or new ones, as Edmund Burke predicted of the French Revolution).

      That approach to history is typically "faith-based," though I mean this in the widest sense of the term. Even when it's secularized as a question of progress, rather than "the good and the bad," it can only function psychologically as a faith. That's why Progressivism is aptly seen as the latest expression of America's serial Great "Awakenings."

      Now let's consider a third operation which is agnostic on issues like progress and religion. It's the psychological notion of repression.

      It's often those who project their private ideas of rights and wrongs - whether that implies "sin" or some perceived transgression against historical progress, such as enjoying a steak dinner - who repeat the very wrongs they'd set out to vanquish for eternity.

      In psychology, it's referred to as the return of the repressed.

      Rather than your cocksure notions about the rights and wrongs of history (and beware anyone who gets in your way!), consider Aristotle's notion that Truth is everywhere the same, but not in the same way that fire is the same whether it's burning in Persia or in Greece.

      This is where the *art* of historical thinking come in, a disinterested inquiry which calls for wisdom rather than preestablished formulae of universally applied virtue codes.

      I know you're coming for my steak dinner next! So for me, even though we both decry the ongoing practice of whaling, what you're actually doing is putting a happy face on the Inquisition.

      Sorry, but no thanks.

    7. Cheviot Views, it's not cool simply not to answer.

      You've singled out for ridicule any unbelievers who "can't handle the truth of important matters like inequity, extinction, climate emergency," but that's not the same as presenting an argument. Instead, it's an attempt to shame others into accepting unquestionably your own criteria for determining "the good and the bad" as long as nobody asks any questions. As soon as your "facts" are questioned, though, then your interlocutors are "shocking" for getting "so twisted."

      Someday, on the way to your utopia, when a more extreme version of intolerance starts getting way out of control as it did during the French Revolution, the Chinese Cultural Revolution, and Pol Pot's reign in Cambodia, what have you offered here so that your neighbors will have confidence you'll know how to temper your zealotry?

      During The Terror in France, the crowds didn't need much of a reason to want to see heads to roll. The very next day a new and arbitrary decree would implicate a portion of that very crowd, and then their heads would roll to great cheering, and so on. The criteria keep changing: one day it's 19th c. whaling, the next it's anyone who reads Moby Dick, then anyone who eats any other mammal.

      To achieve your own utopia in which "facts" are self-evident and books like Moby Dick will have to be burned (sounding very like a Cultural Revolutionist, you said that Hudson's "whale symbol is not truthful"), what's your plan to prevent the same murderousness and thuggery we've know from every previous attempt to establish a utopia?

      So now we're talking about history again. The lesson I learn from history - and also from mythology - is that human nature doesn't change.

      I'll acknowledge up front that this is my own *belief*. That said, I hope you'll understand that your most definitive statement on your own philosophy of history is a bit confusing to me. My hunch is that you're being either dishonest or self-deluded. Your unlimited enthusiasm, however, is unmistakable:

      "There's NO rewriting history. There's the good and the bad in clear view discussed honestly, factually. That IS history."

    8. ‘And remember, comrades, your resolution must never falter. No argument must lead you astray. Never listen when they tell you that Man and the animals have a common interest, that the prosperity of the one is the prosperity of the others. It is all lies. Man serves the interests of no creature except himself. And among us animals let there be perfect unity, perfect comradeship in the struggle. All men are enemies. All animals are comrades.’

      At this moment there was a tremendous uproar. While Major was speaking four large rats had crept out of their holes and were sitting on their hindquarters, listening to him. The dogs had suddenly caught sight of them, and it was only by a swift dash for their holes that the rats saved their lives. Major raised his trotter for silence.

      ‘Comrades,’ he said, ‘here is a point that must be settled. The wild creatures, such as rats and rabbits — are they our friends or our enemies? Let us put it to the vote. I propose this question to the meeting: Are rats comrades?’

      The vote was taken at once, and it was agreed by an overwhelming majority that rats were comrades. There were only four dissentients, the three dogs and the cat, who was afterwards discovered to have voted on both sides."

      [From Orwell's "Animal Farm"]

    9. My apologies but it's a beautiful day. It's good to get out once in a while.

      'No re-writing history' refers to Cynthia Lambert's comment - so it really is out of place in this thread ... as for the rest, yes, everyone's got an opinion or more on just about anything. You have your references and favorites and I have mine, accordingly. That's how it goes.

      'History' covers a lot of ground. We're referring to events of the past generally. And, of course, depending on the reliability of the source and whether it's taught in Brooklyn, NY or Alabama, will change facts and emphasis. And that's a topic all on its own.

      We generally assume that our history sources present 'the good and the bad' because that would be an honest accounting... presented as reliable facts. But some of us are getting smarter about it and delving deeper for information that was left out entirely or written with bias. A true accounting of history is one that is trustworthy. There's a lot to question in our history books and various sources. I learned that in Brooklyn in the 60's when education was good. That's all I am saying. When past events need reexamination due to the latest current events like the concerns of inequity, slavery, for instance gets a look over, and in turn, that will become the history of the nation as this evolves further. Reparations may become part of American History. In the same token, extinction and climate are topics of gigantic concern if you've been paying attention. It may not be on your must read/watch list but it's pretty popular and will be around for years, I guarantee.

      Current events are as much as our History as they unfold. Some more than others. I hope you can grant that much. Take 9/11 for instance. Last week's important events are now recorded and are part of history in some form or another. It could be the wildfires, record breaking heat domes, Congressional hearings, The Olympics - you name it.

      I do not have a path or care about my Utopia, that would not be dishonest. That's your thing evidently. As for you and your steak, Karma looks after things.

      If so inclined, you can visit Hannah Arendt and her husband's graves at the Bard cemetery. Her husband had some interesting thoughts too.

      Good day.

    10. Typo corrected- I do not have a path for or care about my Utopia - that would be dishonest of me.

    11. Thank you for your reply, Cheviot Views.

      I emphatically agree that "a true accounting of history is one that is trustworthy."

      But trustworthy in what sense, and to whom? The assumption you seem to be making, and forgive me if I'm wrong, is that the latest thing is usually the most updated and best thing. That has not been my experience, nor is there any reason to suppose that newness alone is a trustworthy characteristic.

      I'd also agree that we should be looking for "information that was left out entirely or written with bias." Except that, for me, EVERYTHING is written with bias, there being no other possibility. Not even for something as fundamental as perception itself. Everything we think and say and see and do is culturally conditioned, and beautifully so. (Others find that "mournful," to use a ridiculous word once used by Annie Dillard. Why did our state of permanent bias disappoint her?) We even misremember and rewrite our own pasts, such lapses being cultural and mythological expressions in themselves.

      So in one moment we seem to agree, pace Aristotle, that "whether it [history] is taught in Brooklyn, NY or Alabama," facts and emphasis will change. They certainly do, which is one reason we ought to foster regionalism (see Wendell Berry).

      But in the next, you speak of "reliable facts," and right there you've hit upon our profound disagreement. Of the two of us, I'm the more relativistic (a.k.a. polytheistic), and less impressed by revelations of supposed "fact." The very idea of historical "facts," which are sufficient unto themselves and require no further reflection, relies on the exhausted trajectory of a misunderstood (because secular) monotheism. Think 17th c. Deism and you get the picture, but also German Romanticism (with a capital "R"). You can find these ideas in Jurgen Habermas, and others of that ilk. My own preference is for Phenomenological Hermeneutics, which is in constant tension with Habermas' views.

      So when you write that "past events need reexamination due to the latest current events," I emphatically agree that all of our ideas, whether they're scientific or historic, must be tested regularly, and will be tested again and again by the next turn of history (or in science, by the next theory).

      That said, to think of this series of events in terms of an "evolution," as you are doing, favors the new for no better reason than its newness.

      To my own quasi-relativistic, quasi-polytheistic, and non-Deistic view, it's your belief in cultural evolution which I'd ask you to defend. Like any Hegelian project, problems arise when the belief system gets too ideal, loses the sense of concrete particularity, and what it is like to actually exist (c.f. Kierkegaard).

      My own sense of history - for which I welcome all tests - is more practical like the latter I've just alluded. It's nothing like idealism, so to me something like "equity" looks like an impossible ideal which, however well intended, can only unravel the fabric of our concrete relations. In that regard it's really more of a slogan, like "Liberté, égalité, fraternité," which will likely culminate in great violence. That will be its tragic reward.

      If I've explained myself well enough, then you probably already realized how much I detest idealism. From your few insulting jibes, though, perhaps you had a different and more fixed picture of what someone disagreeing with you would look like.

      I'm glad for this opportunity to be more particular.

    12. I'm trying to say that there are lots of good and interesting reasons for rejecting this program you've embraced. Unfortunately, the idealism of it tends to make a monolithic enemy out of anyone who disagrees, thus the seeming militancy and intolerance, not to mention the rejection of any less-than-perfect approach to society's discontents such as the suddenly distasteful ideas espoused by MLK. (His ideas still work for me.)

      So there are lots of people of very different mindsets who nevertheless agree that liberal societies are not at liberty to totally overthrow their institutions on the mere hope of some contingent improvement. As history shows, these experiments typically end in the violent undermining of those societies.

      To me, that alone would be a good enough reason to reject idealism, at least when idealisms feel so inspired they must impose themselves on society as a whole. The psychological blindness of of messianism is a dangerous thing, and can come from any quarter.

      It's in that context that I wrote of "utopianism." You don't need to have a specific utopia in mind to be caught in a utopian psychology. In that regard, the whole fantasy of "the trajectory of history" is essentially utopian, ever justified in its disrespect for nonbelievers (again, every fanatic's monolithic enemy).

      To me it's nothing less than amazing that so many ostensibly secular Americans know so little of themselves that they can't begin to see the metaphysical underpinnings of this thinking. It's not that I reject anyone's notions of a telos, and I certainly don't disrespect religion. What I do reject are the compulsions so many now feel free to visit upon their neighbors which ultimately issue from their privately-held telos. The perfection sought can only be achieved when the last nonbeliever finally relents; the last trace of inauthentic consciousness expunged.

      Frankly, it's not the religious-minded who are now reminding us of the counter-Reformation, just as the Chinese Cultural Revolution was produced, ultimately, from out of Christendom's exhaustion.

  4. Bravo Eli!

    I don't see any whales being tortured in this delightful mural. Instead, I think that this balanced composition with its breeching sperm whale and passing ship signifies a new awareness of humankind's ability to live in harmony with nature. Well done Eli and Fie on the mean old grumpy grown-ups who appear to view nearly everything new as "bad" and in need of immediate criticism.

    I wonder what THEIR murals would look like?
    I suspect that we will never know, since it is so much easier to tell people whats wrong with a work of art than to create one. And of course the critic is as powerful as the artist in their minds, so it's OK for them to tell you all of the reasons that you fall below their standards.

    Don't fall for it, Eli. They are sad people who can't do what you do and therefore do what the can- which is criticize the work of others. Keep doing what you are doing so well and they will find something else to bash.

  5. Great job Mr. Carpenter! You've got a good design sense, and you've achieved something very nice for the city. Thank you and your helper(s).

  6. Carole good afternoon. My apology about the anonymous post. This was the first time I felt compelled to respond to a post. I didn't realize that the submitter was suppose to indicated something. For the record thank you for posting my counter balance point of view on the mural in Hudson. My name is Richard Bazelow from Claverack and a lover of all things history. I'll indicate something in future posts and if anyone needs that information for a response your welcome to provide it. Thanks again

  7. Wokeness is so tiresome. We are the sum of our parts and our history. All of history has both bad and good. Closing our eyes to the bad doesn't mean it didn't happen. It's history, and it's all interesting. Let's not re-write it by condemning the bits that weren't good, to be muffled into some politically correct, but milquetoast version.

  8. Thank you, Eli! Your work enlivens the city.

  9. A big thank you to Eli (and everyone who helped execute this project, from his family and helpers to members of DPW, HPD, and the DA's office) for donating some of your time and talent to help make Hudson a more beautiful place for residents and visitors.