Sunday, 20 August 2017

Grossinger's




There’s graffiti in the ballrooms where Johnny might have taught the cha-cha, and the ceiling is falling down in the dining room like the one where Baby was fatefully seated in a corner.

But the long-defunct Catskills resort that served as the inspiration for ‘Dirty dancing’, the fictional Kellerman’s in which Baby and Johnny had the time of their lives, stands to be reborn after the owner applied for state help to clean up the contaminated ruins. It is the first step in a plan to bring a glamorous resort back to the site, and perhaps, with it, a bygone lustre to the storied but tattered Catskills itself.

The resort, Grossinger’s Catskills Resort Hotel, began its life in the 1910s, and in its heyday was the fulcrum of the swirling mid-century vacation scene in the Catskills. It was a region where New Yorkers, predominantly Jews, spent their summers in one of more than 500 hotels that thrived in the area. All are now gone.

In the spring, Louis R. Capelli, a Westchester-based real-estate developer who has owned the complex for 2 decades, applied to the State Department of Environmental Conservation requesting that a portion of the property be designated a brownfield, or contaminated site. The former resort is now a hodgepodge of scores of crumbling buildings on hundreds of acres, land he says is laden with chemicals spilled by dry-cleaning and machine repair shops. Such a designation would make the property eligible for state funds to help with remediation of the soil and groundwater, a necessary first step, Mr. Cappelli says, to bring back the world-class resort. 


Grossinger’s was considered the most glamorous of the Catskills’ resorts. It was visited by politicians and celebrities and was where Eddie Fisher and Elizabeth Taylor were married. And while it never in fact hosted Jennifer Grey or Patrick Swayze, the stars of ‘Dirty dancing’ (the movie set was in fact spread out across several Southern resorts), it was among the resorts that are said to have inspired the writer of the film, Eleanor Berstein, cementing its reputation for another generation.


Today its swimming pool and gazebos sit in ruin outside the village of Liberty, N.Y. Vines and grass are reclaiming it, fighting with graffiti to cover the tumbledown bungalows.

‘It was much grander than anyone could imagine today, especially looking at what remains here,’ said John Conway, the historian of Sullivan County, where Grossinger’s is.

According to Mr. Conway, it was the advent of the ‘three As’ that caused the demise of the region and the hotel. ‘Airfare’, he said. As flying became more accessible, the Catskills could not compete with more exotic destinations. ‘Air-conditioning’. Who needed to escape the city heat when you could just push a button for a cool breeze? And ‘assimilation’. The Catskills as recreation centre was born, Mr. Conway said, because ‘Jews were not welcome in a lot of areas, so they created their own’. The need for the Catskills diminished, he said, as Jews became more accepted into general society. 


Mr. Cappelli, who bought the place in 1999, more than a decade after the Grossinger family had ceased operations, envisions a grand future: a conference centre, housing, spa and chalet-style lodging. It is a bet that piggybacks on the crowds that he hopes will come to the Resorts World Casino, a $750 million complex opening next year in another former ‘borscht belt’ destination, the Concord Resort Hotel in nearby Kiamesha Lake.


‘For 17 years I’ve been a lone wolf trying to do this, and I really haven’t been able to accomplish it because of the enormity of the taks,’ Mr. Cappelli said. ‘But now that the casino is in fact going to be opening up there, I think the opportunidy now exists to have this kind of original dream come true.’ 


A first step, he says, would be cleaning the soil. To qualify the land as a brownfield, developers must demonstrate that certain contaminants are present up to a certain threshold. The designation allows developers to get tax credits to offset the cost of cleanup.

Remediating soil and groundwater is a complex task, according to Robert Schik, who directs the conservation department’s environmental remediation division. To rid soil of chemicals like perchloroethylene, or perc, used in dry-cleaning, air is sucked out of the earth to extract the contaminant, he said. To treat groundwater contaminated with gasoline, workers force oxygen into aquifers, which causes the gasoline to break down into less harmful components.


The application for remediation at Grossinger’s is still pending, said Julia Tighe, the department’s chief of staff; Mr. Cappelli’s company applied to have 72 acres designated brownfield, but has not sufficiently demonstrated that all of it was contaminated, she said. On July 26, the state sent a letter asking for more information. 

But Mr. Cappelli’s plans continue – the golf course is already undergoing refurbishment – tough what shape the future resort will take is still in flux.

‘Do you want to bring back the old and have some flavor of what was there in the 1950’s?’ he said, referring to the options he has considered. ‘I want to build what is a 2017 model of Grossinger’s – with some sort of memories still there.’ Instead of bungalows where Baby and Johnny carried out their romance, he imagines Napa Valley-style chalets set deep in the woods. Recreation would be more like yoga than the rumba.

As Max Kellerman, the fictional resort owner in the 1987 film, said, ‘You think kids want to come with their parents and take fox-trot lessons?’


Owner hopes to remake resort that inspired ‘Dirty dancing'  

by Sarah Maslinnir – 
The New York Times, 9 August 2017.




Friday, 7 July 2017

1972 Jan., Feb & March


War's 'Slippin' into darkness', 11 March 1972.
Todd Rundgren's masterpiece 'Something/Anything' double-album, 11 March 1972.


1972 April, May, June

'Tumbling dice', 1st April 1972; the 'Candy man', 15 April 1972.
Janis Joplin, ; Procol Harum's Live in concert, 13 May 1972.
Raspberries, 13 May 1972; Donny Osmond's Puppy love', 27 May 1972.

13 May 1972 - a raspberry perfumed sticker adhered to the cover. They're a Canadian based group that has a sound which will probably draw parallels to that of the Bee Gees. They are buoyantly engaging and appealing romping through their repertoire. 'Don't want to say goodbye'. 
Bill Withers' 'Lean on me', 27 May 1972.

Wings' Mary had a little lamb, 27 May 1972. 

Archie Bunker, 27 May 1972.

1972 July, August, September


Raspberries' 1st album, 1st July 1972. On the 13 May 1972 issue, Billboard wrote; the first Raspberryes album had a perfumed-sticker adhered to the cover that exuded a strong raspberry-smell that usually took over record-bars environment. They're a Canadian based group that has a sound which will probably draw parallels to that of the Bee Gees. They are buoyantly engaging and appealing romping through their repertoire. 'Don't want to say goodbye'. 

Leon Russell's 'Carney', 11 July 1972. It featured 'Tight rope', Russell's best recording ever... 
Elton John's latest album: 'Honky Chateau', 15 July 1972. 

'Brandy', 'Long cool woman in a black dress', 'Hold your head up', 15 July 1972.
Curtis Mayfield's 'Freddie's dead', 9 September 1972.
Mac Davis' 'Baby, don't get hooked on me', 16 September 1972.
David Bowie on tour, 23 September 1972.
Danny O'Feefe's 'Good time Charlie's got the blues', 23 September 1972. 

1972 Oct. Nov. Dec.

Grand Funk 1972 tour; 7 October 1972.

Al Green's 'I'm still in love with you', produced by Willie Mitchell, 10 October 1972.

Singles, 7 October 1972; Albums, 25 October 1972.
Ricky Springfield's 'Speak to the sky', 19 October 1972. 
'All in the Family' comedy-album; Neil Young's 'A journey through the past, 25 November 1972.
Raspberries' 2nd album; Helen Reddy's revolutionary 'I'm woman', 25 November 1972.

Carly Simon recorded 'No secrets' in London. Mick Jagger shared the refrain with her in 'You're so vain'. 9 December 1972.
Carly Simon's 'No secrets', 9 December 1972.
Leon Russell, 9 December 1972. 
'All in the family' comedy-album, December 1972. 





Saturday, 24 June 2017

1970 seen by Billboard's ads

'Bridge over troubled water', 31st January 1970; 'Try' Janis Joplin, 7 February 1970. 
'Instant Karma!', 21st February 1970; Leon Russell, 28 February 1970.
'Je t'aime... mois non plus', 7 February 1970.
Marmalade's 'Reflections of my life', 14 Feb. 1970; Young Blood's 'Get together', 7 March 1970.
Cassette was King, 21st March 1970. 
B.J.Thomas in Times Square; The Beatles' 'Let it be', 21st March 1970. 
Joe Cocker's Mad Dogs & Englishmen, 28 March 1970. 
Bill Cosby's Grammy for best comedy album, 28 March 1970; Memphis is not Abbey Road, 4 April 1970.
1970 was Columbia Records bumper year (11 April); Chuck Berry is back at Chess Records, 11 April 1970. 
Tom Jones was king in 1969; Burt Bacharah had his best year ever too.