Adirondackers have no self-image hangups

This week we welcome a new columnist/correspondent, Jessica Kane. Reading her first column, she seems to have a keen sense of observation and a deep appreciation for the fun, quirky things about life. Shell have a lot of subjects to write about, considering theres plenty of off-the-wall things going on up here in the Adirondacks. When interviewing Jack Higgins of Brant Lake last week, Jessica was intrigued by the fact he routinely wears his T-shirts inside-out and backwards. While this is definitely worth a chuckle, its also a reflection of North Country culture. People up here do what they want to, without worrying about what other people think about it. This attitude is expressed in a lot of ways. Its more than not fretting about the rust-encrusted fenders of your pickup flapping in the wind as you drive down Route 9. I know, I drive a 1991 Dodge Dakota with plenty of rust. Its far more than not caring whether neighbors see you shopping in Family Dollar. It can be a matter of feeling comfortable storing a couple of broken-down washing machines on your front porch, or parking several vintage vehicles in your yard that you intend to fix up some day. Or being at ease picking up a couple useful things left off at the town dump. This attitude can have a practical side. Have you wondered why so many Adirondackers have put up siding on only three sides of their homes, leaving tar-paper or Tyvek exposed for 10 years or more? Its not that the homeowners lazy. Its because he gets a big discount on property taxes if his home isnt legally finished. I heard a new example of this spirit just yesterday. Try raising a couple of goats alongside your house, even though you live near the center of town. This do-it-my-own-way approach is a way of life in Stony Creek, where I hear those goats arent annoying anybody much. Talk about an independent spirit. When Stony Creek town officials proposed an anti-junk ordinance last year, the town hall was packed with protesters, and the law was shot down. Its just a matter of savoring the simple joys of living life your own way. Years ago, Town supervisors here in Warrensburg were renowned for this attitude. Take Charlie Hastings. Hed do what he wanted to, while letting the advice of his town board members go in one ear and out the other. I can picture him now in his town-hall office. When folks would give him any guff about anything, hed just blow smoke from one of his stogies in their direction. Speaking of smoking in the town hall, even after the no-smoking laws in public buildings were enacted, Stony Creek citizens and town officials ignored the restrictions. Thats apparently why the historic town hall went up in flames not too many years ago. And how about Maynard Baker, who followed in Charlie Hastings footsteps as Warrensburg Town Supervisor a few years later. During Maynards early years in office, he slugged a man half his age in a bar-fight at Ashes Hotel, sending the muscular guy sprawling across the pool table. I heard the guy had suggested one of Maynards daughters got a job because of his connections as a town supervisor. He also decked an environmentalist in a property-rights showdown at Crane Pond Road. Theres no question that Maynard never let worries about his public image get in the way of his objectives. Well, back to our new feature writer and correspondent, Jessica Kane. It seems she likewise follows her own path, without fretting about what others think. Just look at her offbeat sculpture or listen to her nouveau-punk-country songs she wrote and sings on her album Messy Jessy. Both are on her website -- you can find it on your own. The title of one of her love songs -- I Dont Like You -- should give you an idea of what to expect. She may have grown up in the Midwest and attended an Ivy League college on Long Island, but I dont think that held her back any. She fits in just fine up here.

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