Tag Archives: amphitheater

Statutes Of Limitation

I’ve learned over the years that the statute of limitations for the IRS is seven years.

Around here, a misdemeanor is three years, felony six years and homicide, eternal.

At TripAdvisor I wrote a review they would not publish because I knew a person who worked there forty years ago. I am not a murderer or burglar. I am a writer who writes of memories and things I love and would like to protect. I would never say the organization is “going to the dogs” but that’s just because I love dogs. And cats.

TripAdvisor has denied my voice and it has stolen and monetized 80,000 hits on my reviews but they will not print one review because someone told them not to print it. Luckily I’ve my own venue to do so. And people thought Chautauquans were quiet in the off-season. Never. It’s the book store and post office. If you send the Anti-Smart People there, you’ll have to go door to door and investigate traitors, round them up on the tennis courts and lock them in with no food or water or shelter. Tattoo them with numbers.

Then you might remember one moment in Chautauqua’s history. FDR made his “I Hate War” speech, a radio address, from the Miller Cottage. Chautauqua is doing this to Chautauquans simply because they have the money to do it. Just because one has money to do something does not mean it needs to be done. TripAdvisor has been told by Chautauqua not to air my views.

The Chautauquan Daily was overseen by a wonderful lady, Alfreda Irwin, for years. She’s gone now, but I’ve a lovely photo of hers of the creek where I want my ashes strewn. I bought it at a fund-raiser in Bestor Square to benefit Chautauqua and it took me 30 years to frame it. Her daughter called the Daily and they didn’t know her mother’s name. They didn’t know my father’s name. I hope they remember “Shorty,” as he was a pistol and raised a great family. All three Mediallion recipients were special to me, certainly my Dad.

Book me, Dano. I am never allowed to write a review of a non-profit organization a family member worked for 40 years ago and never took a position on demolition of the sacred amphitheater that even the National Trust for Historic Preservation wants kept intact? I asked their statute of limitation. This is not a restaurant or hotel chain, this is a non-profit organization that people care about, pay to visit and want some peace and harmony in their lives. If I’m 80 and knew my father I am not allowed to write a review. Harsh justice in my book. I’d like a court to see this one.

I used to write laws for a living. Scared me to death, writing for 34 million people at age 21. I hope of learning, knowing, arts and learning how to sail. Arts, religion, education, recreation.

Chautauqua would probably love to string up a gallows in Bestor Square. I’ve no hope of ever writing anything about Chautauqua if I ever knew anyone who lived or worked there. I’m nearing sixty so the ranks are thinning but if I had to disclose everyone I worked with when I was 19 years old and that stopped me from writing a review, what is wrong here?

Please say it’s not me. I don’t deserve life in prison or death by hanging in Bestor Plaza at Chautauqua Institution for trying to publish a review asking people to visit and see the Amphitheater and decide for themselves next season.

That’s all I did and now this is my only option. You. Write in to this blog. Just say “Save the Amp.” Forget the red ruby slippers and just say “there’s no place like home” in your heart.

Home is Chautauqua. The Amp is the heart of Chautauqua and they voted to tear it down to make more money. That tears out my heart. Respectfully, Dee


Stickball in Brooklyn

My father received a medal from a place he led, a place where FDR, Clinton, many literary, artistic, scientific, and political luminaries held court at the palace, the open wooden Ampitheater that is a subject of controversy these days.

I sang in the State choir championships, first time on the Chautauqua grounds and at the Amphitheater at age seven and our choir came in second. That was the first time I ever saw it and remember where I stood to this day.

FDR gave his infamous “I Hate War” speech from the Miller Cottage. Reverends Miller and Vincent created the Institution over 150 years ago. The Millers are my neighbors and I do not live anywhere near the shores of The Bag Tied in The Middle, Lake Chautauqua. That was the name it was given by its former occupants, the Senecas. There is much more history that I am now reading.

My father had a vision decades ago, to restore Chautauqua through program enhancement and building maintenance/restoration and made it come true. I have his speech and he always credits the team, as he has taught me to do in life. No one can make it in life without help from team members.

Yes, my father grew up in Brooklyn and played stick ball in the street. He and a great team did renovations on a decrepit Victorian town. He had to sign every deed and supervise the police as well. All that and do his job. I would like to save the Amp. I’ve walked the cat walk before it was renovated (ladder, stairs, rickety ww2 bridge, balance…., my brother was a sweeper then Amp crew, sister worked landscaping then the garbage truck. We never lived Chautauqua, we worked Chautauqua so had no summer frolics. No friends. Hate letters. Police invasion.

Home for the summer from college, my sister never came home ’til morning and my brother ditched Boys and Girls Club to play chess with the old guys outside local hotels. I worked myself too hard, 14/7 and ran at night with the bats, they were protected and would come out at twilight and once one hit me in the head. I must have been jogging too slow. Never a jogger. It took me a while to figure things out.

I’d stop at the Amp for the performance and stand by the edge before jogging home. Learning is what it was supposed to be about. The Institution. Now it’s only about money. It has always been an inspiration to me and will remain so. Thank you for finally honoring my father for his accomplishments. Dee

Big Ideas, Small Spaces

Chautauqua Institution wants to tear town its historic Victorian Amphitheater to build something larger.

This is an over 150 year-old institution. I sang there at age eight in a state choir championship. We came in second with Panis Angelicus. My father was the Institution’s President from 1978-1985.

Now, the Institution has raised prices that keep rural neighbors out, and are trying to make it their own Disney place with only rich people allowed.

FDR made his I Hate War speech at the Miller (one of the founders) cottage. There are many ideas and speeches and concerts that can be in a smaller space and not spend $35 million to gain 300 seats and eviscerate an historic space.

The Chautauqua Amphitheater is on the NY State list of historic places. Look at what was done years ago for the Athaneaum Hotel, the largest wood structure in the USA. It is gorgeous.

Chautauqua is supposed to be about history, but most of all, ideas. We are about to lose both. Uncomfortable seating and structural poles are Chautauqua. So would have been school teachers from Yonkers yelling “Louda” which means louder in English, before they were priced out of their hotels.

Sometimes history and ideas make the grade. This time, it looks like they will lose this battle with spoiled rich people. Unhappily, Dee

Chautauqua Amphitheater

I haven’t seen it in a few years, but in my college years it was a scary adventure. Steps to the choir loft, shaky ladder upstairs, then two boards with no safety net 100 feet off the floor to the rickety sound booth.

Several people were around to change that, including donors, the board and my father, the new president. We sneaked in, college worker kids, to see the new setup, cool sound and light booth with safe access.

Now the story is tearing the entire thing down or renovating it. I’m hearing a lot from both sides and hear it from the side of safety and preservation. It should be a national landmark for the speeches that have been given there.

It is a venue in which I performed at age seven in the State choir competition, we sang Panis Angelicus and came in 2nd, and I’m still in touch with that grade school music teacher, Mrs. P.

I’ve mixed thoughts especially after meeting old friends last week. A week before that I received an e-mail with the old joke “How many Chautauquans does it take to change a light bulb? “Change?”

Yes, change. Many of us have been instruments of change over many years, me included. If one can preserve historic Victorian structures over the years in a pristine manner, fine. If they sag a foot and need an $8 million dollar renovation (many of them)  because of deferred maintenance that’s another issue that must be addressed for safety.

I believe the boards should be saved, in an appropriate manner, and starting with the last standing at Old First Night, first the descendants of Miller and Vincent, the founders and families with multiple generations.

Truth-telling, I’d build a house with it and wouldn’t even care that it was yellow. I walked, jogged or drove by it and caught snippets of a performance or lecture so many times during my work, before cell phone cameras that I never got enough photos of it. It will be remembered and I don’t know the plans but hope its spirit will be kept, and the entirety missed as someone knew 30, 50 or 80 years ago.

No, I don’t know the plans for it, only that what was done in the early 1980’s to shore up the roof by a foot and make it safe (and paint it, as Mark Russell said, echoed by a flautist, trumpeter and tuba artist all playing “Flight of the Bumblebee” in competition for the shortest version, to get the Amp painted.)

Some things change, some stay the same. It is wonderful to see my cornerstones of that venerable institution. In the meantime, ask before you change any light bulbs. Cheers! Three taps. Dee