Attention, All Ye Annoyed Albanians! It is time for us to stand up and be heard! Now, at this moment of widespread political spazzing, with Mr. All-Powerful Lugubrious Speaker Man arrested on federal corruption charges and EVERY JOURNALIST EVERYWHERE BUT HERE using “Albany” as an all-purpose synonym for “corruption” as though anyone with a foot in this fine city must somehow, simply by association, be double-dealing dirtballs with all 10 fingers and all 10 toes in at least 20 pies!
NOW, dear people, is the propitious point in time when we must rebel and say: “WAIIIIIT A MINUTE. I live in Albany, too, and I’m not venal! I’m not making alleged shitloads of money hand-over-fist in alleged convoluted business deals that no one can allegedly understand!”
For me, Albany is a place not of money-grubbing politicos but a haven for honest, generous, agreeably quirky and unpretentious folk whose worst crime is they might be a little scruffy at weekend social events. The most egregious scofflaws I encounter regularly are the drivers, AND YOU KNOW WHO YOU ARE, who blow red lights as though A) no one actually sees them, B) it isn’t actually illegal, stupid and dangerous and C) children don’t actually live here. But maybe some or all of these same scofflaws are also being investigated by U.S. Attorneys for making alleged shitloads of money in alleged schemes. It’s possible.
Otherwise, the Albany I know is synonymous with decent and unostentatious. It’s synonymous with chill, both in weather and in attitude. It’s synonymous with diverse, open, nonjudgmental; maybe The Paper of Record should start using “Albany” as shorthand for “two-mom families at school concerts” or “who cares what anyone does in the bedroom, so long as they shovel their sidewalk.” It’s synonymous with “Stewart’s ice cream and cawfee” and “warm cider donuts” and “shockingly fine eating establishments in neighborhoods where people from the suburbs would rather not park.” It’s synonymous with “skiing at the golf course” and “skating at the Plaza” and “tight, friendly, walkable neighborhoods with sunsets over peaked roofs in winter.” It’s synonymous with “lots of Dutch names you’re probably mispronouncing” and “William Kennedy is OURS, ALL OURS, BACK OFF” and “we’re not nearly as dorky as downstaters assume, and by the way, WE’RE MUCH CLOSER TO NEW YORK CITY THAN BUFFALO, CHECK THE MAP.”
It’s synonymous with colleges, hospitals, cultural institutions, more history than anyone truly comprehends, more arts and music than anyone knows how to consume. It’s synonymous with people who say exactly what they think, especially when you need it most but would rather not hear it, and these same people will give you their right arm in the process if you need that, too. It’s synonymous with affordable, liveable, do-able, close to nature, close to other, bigger cities — and close to the modest thumping heart of everyone who lives here. It’s synonymous with everyday. It’s synonymous with home.
I am Albany. You are, too. So say it with me, people: I am Albany! I am Albany!
More than that other guy, for sure.