Tuesday, August 7, 2007

Benny Zable Climbs Monteverde

I picked up Australian anti-nuclear performance artist Benny Zable at the Peekskill train station on Sunday morning. We headed off to the Bear Mountain Powwow in Harriman State Park to deliver a message from Harold One Feather who is attending the Southeast Convergence for Climate Action before coming up North to join the new FUSA USA coalition.

Benny took his peaceful earth flag inside the prayer circle... while I met some wonderful people, like Tchin and Sealy... and discovered the book Indian Tribes of the Hudson's River published by Hope Farm Press & Bookshop in Saugerties, NY.

We got lost a few times on the way there and back... all these tall trees, all these winding roads... but we made it back in time to meet up with an artist/documentary film maker who has asked for anonymity and Heyoka magazine publisher John LeKay at the Peekskill Coffeehouse. Sherwood Martinelli, of Green Nuclear Butterfly, joined us.

The Rock The Reactors poster I had placed in the window earlier in the day had been pulled down, and the flyers I had left by the door were all gone. We suspect friends of Entergy go around Peekskill systematically removing anti-nuclear literature from public view.

We headed off to Indian Point hoping to find an appropriate place for a vigil... a few people in Buchanan saw our short caravan drive towards the plant with bumper stickers clearly stating our point of view. By the time we got to the guard house, they knew we were coming.

What I did not realize, since I had not physically been to the plant since April 2006 when I photographed Betcee May... I try to stay as far away from Indian Point as possible... is they extended the perimeter with brand new barbwire fencing, Guantanamo Bay deja vu, the domes barely visible from the road. There was no place to shoot with a good view in the background, so we decided to look for another vantage point.

Someone suggested this restaurant on the hill which I did not know called Monteverde, meaning green mountain, in the Town of Cortlandt. I couldn't beleive the vista... the eerie sense of pending doom in the valley below, the irrepressible noise of freight trains... and yet... Monteverde is the home of a Yoga and Spa center, which won Best of Westchester award for "Most Transcendental Facial."

The next day I called and asked the receptionist, how does it feel to do yoga on this beautiful lawn, with a nuclear power plant in the background? She said: "People who come here to do yoga really don't want to think about negative environmental issues." So I contacted Yoga and Global Activism to see if perhaps they'd be interested in hosting an event on Monteverde at Oldstone Manor's grounds.

A recent review of the restaurant put it this way: "The carefully positioned trees on the left of the property hide a view of the Indian Point nuclear power plant on this side of the river. The land would be great if Amtrak didn’t run right next to it every few minutes. On the other side of the river there is a freight train line that runs less often, but is usually even louder."

We weren't allowed to enjoy the view for very long... The managing director asked us to leave... so we regrouped at a kayak landing for a wonderful sunset... finished the evening in Peekskill at Ruben's Cafe, Governor Pataki's favorite Mexican restaurant.

But not everybody loves living in Peekskill, as expressed by this, if somewhat funny, rather depressing video on YouTube. Seems there's always an underbelly... Despite this, looking through the official Peekskill website, I see a warm and thriving community, doing its best while living in the constant specter of impending doom. It's interesting to note that I could not find a single mention of Entergy or Indian Point on the website, in either the press releases or the 145 pages of photographs. The elephant is in the room, and yet nobody pays attention to it.

I left Benny in Sherwood's good care and bid everybody farewell... On Monday morning, when Benny called to check in with the EcoFest office in New York, he was told they had received an anonymous threatening phone call... All the caller said, in an intimidating tone, was: "So, EcoFest is involved with Indian Point now, hey?" and hung up.

Nothing like hundreds of Union Workers standing guard around Peekskill and Buchanan making sure nobody gets out of line... Little do they know, their families, their children, their friends, are all suffering the effects of low dose radiation... every new day that goes by, we are all at great risk for allowing Entergy, NRC and the political leaders in the state of New York to take such risk and liberty with the lives of millions, for just the sake of a few electrons more we can easily make up with conservation and Light Emitting Diode bulbs.

Shame on you Hudson Valley, for failing to shut down Indian Point over so many years... It takes a man from Australia to ring your wake up bell? Get it together for Pete sake. Shut that sucker down! Screw the independent safety assessment and the relicensing period. Just demand the plant closed... now, before we're all sorry... The USA is still a democracy... use it before you lose it... what are you waiting for... Isn't that what you all elected John Hall for?

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