The Stars over the Hudson Valley

If you’ve known me for a few years, especially in person, you may be familiar with a monthly habit that I have. And no, I don’t mean my time of the month habits… I mean the habit that I have had since 2015, on the first of every month.

Monthly Horoscope Readings!

I live in the Hudson Valley. It’s New York, USA’s most reputable river valley and has been home to many of the country’s greats: Jimmy Fallon, Billy Joel, FDR, Willem DeFoe, Liam Neeson, Emma Roberts, and maybe even Snooki in addition to so many more. I don’t know about them, but living here makes me a little more interested in reading local publications. One such publication, which I’ve been reading since 2015 is Chronogram.

Chronogram is a culture, news, art, etc. magazine that comes out once a month. In the summer of 2015, I was introduced to it through it’s groundbreaking horoscopes section. My good friend Elizabeth and I, at the time, travelled the Hudson Valley working as canvassers for the New York Public Interest Research Group (NYPIRG), trying to save the environment, we enjoyed stopping at local, organic, and vegan cafes around the region for our lunches.

We weren’t alone, as our team at any time consisted of two or three other people about our age, so we would sit at a table together and read our horoscopes aloud.

They were ALWAYS on point and breathtaking.

Up until recently, June, the horoscopes were written by Planet Waves’ Eric Francis Coppolino. (Planet Waves, not to be confused with the album by Bob Dylan, another prominent figure of the Hudson Valley.)

Coppolino wrote brilliantly about the stars, moons, and planets, and how they interacted with each constellation of the zodiac. Every. Single. Time. We would read those horoscopes aloud, each one had it’s own weight in each of our chests. They spoke directly to our own experiences and feelings either at the time that we were reading them, or sometime down the road during the month.

They became a ritual for reflection, not only for myself, yet, very likely, many others. And while it was possible to reflect over the words being viewed on a screen, there really is nothing like feeling the large pages of a magazine, and reading them, and keeping them chronologically on a shelf for later annual reflection.

What happened in June?

That’s the question now, isn’t it? In June, Eric Francis Coppolino fell off the Chronogram map. Not on pages, as far as I could tell online, I had to turn to other methods of monthly horoscope such as Horoscope.com or Astrosofa. While these were wonderful, they certainly didn’t have the power in their words that Coppolino had in his.

This month, August 2018, a new writer has taken up the mantle left by Coppolino in Chronogram: Lorelai Kude. With her, less artistic representations of the twelve signs have also been installed. Read your horoscope in Chronogram here.

We’ll have to investigate further for next month’s post, what happened to Coppolino and why the post was left vacant by the writer.

Criticisms


Planet Waves

While you can sign up for Planet Waves’ newsletter, read the weekly and monthlies online, and maybe even still read some of Coppolino’s work in other publications such as the Daily News, Marie Claire, Harper’s BAZAAR, and others, there’s still something missing when it no longer appears in local print. The feeling simply isn’t the same.

Chronogram

Although it’s a really great thing to have someone back in the horo-sattle, I’m not impressed with the work of Kude. In comparison there’s a lot to be desired — call me spoiled by Coppolino.

For instance, my horoscope begins cute: “Fun fact: Virgo is the largest constellation of the zodiac, and the second-largest (next to Hydra) constellation in the Milky Way galaxy!” By the end however, it feels as if you’ve been listed at. It’s not so much cold and calculating as it is a drag in comparison to the almost personal style of Coppolino, that felt as if he knew more about you than sometimes you did. It’s scientific to the point of boring. There’s no story that goes with it suggesting more of a scientific approach and less of a writer’s touch out drawing out a reader’s interest.

After looking at other horoscopes, it’s possible that, after this or next month’s, readers may start losing intrigue and yearning for their Chronogram horoscopes. Readers want the story of their lives, not recommendations or matter-of-fact advice from their horoscopes. At least, that’s what I’ve noticed in groups, with friends, and in myself.

Let me know what you think about your monthly horoscope from Chronogram in the comments!

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Mirrors for Mayors: The Press, Opinion, and Freelance Writers

PORT JERVIS, N.Y. — Less than a week after his hopeful State of the City Address for a Port Jervis “that still needs nurturing to succeed,” Mayor Kelly Decker has, as many in the city would characterize, came out of his face.

Monday, in a letter-made-public-rebuttal on his Facebook Page, to a Sunday piece by the Times Herald-Record under the editorial tagline “Our Opinion,” entitled “A methadone clinic is not a crime scene,” Decker not only calls out the Record’s editor, Barry Lewis but also calls the newspaper in.

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While plausible arguments are made by the Port Jervis Mayor, he goes on to completely flout arguments such as this one:

“Numbers, percentages, and statistics can be skewed in many different ways depending on the presenter’s angle.”

Mayor Kelly Decker

By leading with this aside before what should be the meat and potatoes staple of his argument, Decker builds up a strawman, an easy target to set ablaze. A simple reframing to make the dominoes fall easier, per se.

Nonetheless, those dominoes fall in both directions.

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As Decker goes on to “assert that [Lewis’s] math is wrong” he has already given readers contrary to his viewpoint an out. Whatever math he cited, became all methed up, when he cast doubt upon mathematics as a whole prior to playing the Texas sharpshooter. He lost those that he needed on his side as he attacked the publication.

Yes, the letter was “a response” to the editor of the Times Herald-Record, Lewis, regardless, here a few factors that make this more of a political attack:
  1. It was an opinion piece, and as such, didn’t necessarily merit such an official response as taking to the Elected Official Page that his Facebook is. Perhaps simply a letter-made-public-rebuttal on his personal page would have sufficed.
  2. Decker’s political, elected official position put him at a disadvantage for a fair fight against the editor of a counterbalance of government.
  3. Decker’s logical argumentation in his letter is riddled with fallacies.

Lewis, the editor of the Times Herald-Record deals in a world of changing opinions and changing headlines. It’ll be perceived as a political attack from the Mayor’s office not only because of these three factorss but most of all because of public opinion.

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One: Opinion

In the end, shouldn’t matter to the Mayor, as many who read opinion pieces have already made up their minds, they’ve already voiced their own opinions and they have already signed their positions’ petitions.

“Once formed,” the researchers observed dryly, “impressions are remarkably perseverant.”

The New Yorker, Feb. 27, 2017

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Two: Authority

Now the inseparable quality of their positions immediately puts Decker at a disadvantage: Mayor of Port Jervis versus Editor of the Times Herald-Record. Not a pretty fight. Nor a fair fight.

Though it didn’t have to be a bout.

The majority of Port Jervis constituents would likely agree, that Donald J. Trump as President could teach mayoral successors a thing or two about responding to the media:

  • When put into a defensive position, don’t show it:
    Deny, deny, deny.
  • When refuting statements, as there’s no option for denial: use keywords that fire up your base and monosyllabic words and arguments that are guaranteed to win public opinion.

 

Don’t do as Decker did. But don’t do any of the above either. The media is wise to it all. Readers, listeners, and viewers, too.

Not responding at all, would have been the denial. Yet, Decker chose to tear off his suit, snap his Port Pride singlet and dive headstrong into the muddied ring for a political King-of-the-Hill match.

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Three: Logic

Although the location has already been ruled out, there were, and still are, three positions available in the methadone clinic debate. As a reporter, here not discussing either of the former, being of the latter position: for the clinic, against the clinic, and neither for nor against the clinic.

This writer puts aside the journalist hat now and dons the hat that she studied in college: philosophy and linguistics. Mostly philosophy as logic is delved into here past the Texas Sharpshooter data cherrypicker argument. This is the writer’s playground, and those in politics could learn from this and avoid unnecessary future debate and compunction.

Editor of the Times Herald-Record, Barry Lewis: making positions for the cure of addiction, for the clinic.

Mayor of Port Jervis, Kelly Decker, coming from a position of the war on drugs: on record, against the clinic.

While most readers opposite to Decker’s view may stop at his first paragraph, they’re surprisingly not alone. Even those that agree that a methadone clinic is unnecessary in the city stop at the argument that he presents. It’s a no true Scotsman argument that precedes a genetic argument.

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Paragraph-by-paragraph

A genetic argument is one that means most of the following logic relies upon the first clause. That first clause here is an argument similar to an ad hominem, or an attack on one’s character rather than their argument: it’s a no true Scotsman argument. It’s an argument that focuses on the purity of one’s position, which sounds a lot like Nikki Minaj.

That’s not even including the child-human shield appeal to emotion argument ending the tu quoque “Let’s begin with this question” paragraph where the critique is turned 180 from Decker to Lewis.

“What do you know about Port Jervis? Clearly, you hardly know nothing about us at all! Except for one public forum about the opioid epidemic in our community, you have been non-existent in this community for at least the last 4 years. You didn’t even have the decency to respond to an email that I sent to you back on June 12, 2017 that said how dismayed I was with your paper and their lack of coverage for our Soap Box Derby. This is a kid-friendly event that brings thousands of people to our city each year and there was not one mention of it in your paper. However, now you feel compelled to write about a free or reduced pay clinic that wants come to our city? Your priorities are clearly miscued.”

Mayor Kelly Decker

To the point within the no true Scotsman argumentation by Decker, I have to insert my agreement. Indeed, the newspaper requires more coverage of the “city that is on the move.” If it’s of any solace to either party in this regard, I offer my services as a freelance writer and reporter.

Paragraph Two

Again, Nikki Minaj. Since she’s so relevant here, enjoy a video:

The following paragraph is the foremost example of the Texas Sharpshooter logical fallacy. The one referenced above is a muddled example to heat up the conversation about logic. Decker would have been better off simplifying this letter down to, or at least, leading with this second sentence in his fifth paragraph:

“I have never said ‘No.’ I said put it in a medical facility, especially one with detox and mental health.”

Mayor Kelly Decker

Decker may have also done very well leading with the knowledge that he personally has. Rather than trying to chop up the data that was served against him. For instance, without condescension:

“… your [claim] that I am making the situation more dangerous. […] it’s called Mens Rea, or the guilty mind of criminal intent, and then acting on that criminal intent is Actus Reus. The majority of Cornerstone’s clientele are heroin attacks. Heroin is illegal. [….] Therefore, these patients not only have Mens Rea but also Actus Reus and those are the people I don’t want invited to our city […]”

Mayor Kelly Decker

The next few paragraphs are called a bandwagon argument. It’s not that critical and really only acts as a public support rallying cry. Trump is great at using this, however, Decker should steer clear of it, and stick to the simplest of facts. He doesn’t need to reassert his position as an elected official in this way, especially not so deep into an already messy argument, but perhaps could have opened with some of his own facts rather than refuting those offered by Lewis.

Before his closing paragraph, he sets up a nice strawman argument against the Editor. The alcohol and criminality strawman. If the Mayor had used alcohol and criminality statistics, along with his own facts, in a second paragraph, he would have solidified a solid logical argument.

In closing, Decker uses another purity, or, no true Scotsman argument. He follows it with my favorite logical fallacy: the loaded question. This writer is going to do him a service, free of charge: reorganize and rescue what can be in a whole new letter:

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Letter to the Editor:
re: “A methadone clinic is not a crime scene.”

For starters, “I have never said ‘No.’ I said put [the methadone clinic] in a medical facility, especially one with detox and mental health.”

“Your [claim] that I am making the situation more dangerous [is unfounded…] It’s called Mens Rea, or the guilty mind of criminal intent, and [to then act] on that criminal intent is Actus Reus. The majority of Cornerstone’s clientele are heroin [addicts]. Heroin is illegal. [….] Therefore, these patients not only have Mens Rea but also Actus Reus[,] and those are the people I don’t want [to be] invited to our city[.]”

“[I invite you to hire more reporters for our growing city to see that there’s more than only an] opioid epidemic in our community[. For instance, there could be more coverage of city revenue-driving events, such as] our Soap Box Derby. This is a kid-friendly event that brings thousands of people to our city each year[.]”

Short and sweet.

Poetry Response to a Friend’s Article

delaware_river_night
Is Print Media really dying?
Either way, I’m already crying.
No way the few papers are lying.
No doubt for this fact     Time’s Up.
Reverse of Times, sign a planet’s dying.

New Addition of Vaczine Magazine reaches Port!

PORT JERVIS, New York – Last Thursday morning, in the hours before dawn, Vaczine Magazine #3 by Walt Cessna arrived in the care of two agents of art. The piece, free to one of the contributors and residents of Port Jervis, Owen Tate, is the third in a series of photography magazines that curate and showcase works of LGBT artists from all over. The magazine is now on display at The Space in Port Jervis.

For more information on viewing the magazine or purchasing a copy for yourself, please contact Owen Tate. His recent photographic ensemble, Celso by Owen Tate, is still on display at the Mount Vernon Public Library in New York City. All business inquiries can be directed to the artist, whom is always eager to work with new and returning artists.


Featured Image of Gwen with U Project CD, Horns Magazine, and Vaczine Magazine by Owen Tate.