An empty yellow-and-white lounge chair graces the ungroomed grass and ferns surrounding the mildewed indoor pool at Grossinger’s. Not so long ago the grass was terracotta tiles and there were rows of chairs, a guest on each.
Young photographer drawn to Catskills’ ruins and relics, and to Elul’s existential questions.
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Ruins harbor demons, says the Talmud. The sage Reb Yose dared to pray in a ruin and later was asked by an apparition of Elijah, “What did you hear in there?” Reb Yose replied, “I heard a Divine voice, cooing like a dove…”
New documentary tells the story of the Catskills hotels and the comics who ‘went to school’ there.
Special To The Jewish Week
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The evocative term “baggy-pants comic” has its roots in burlesque, but you could apply it with some justice to the new documentary film “When Comedy Went to School,” which opens on July 31 in New York City and Aug. 2 on Long Island. The film, directed by Mevlut Akkaya and Ron Frank, tells the story of the Catskills hotels as a training ground for stand-up comedians and, like the burlesque funny man’s trousers, it’s rather shapeless. But, like the guy inside the trousers, it is also very funny.
The former Brown’s Hotel, once a popular resort in the Catskill Mountains, has burned down.
The fire, which began at approximately 6 p.m. Saturday, destroyed seven of the nine buildings in what are now the Grandview Palace condominiums in Fallsburg, N.Y. About 100 people were evacuated; no injuries were reported.
Earlier this year, the town of Fallsburg had condemned the complex for fire safety and other building code violations. An investigation into the cause of the fire reportedly is underway.
One of the great miracles of the Catskills resorts was always their ability to make the ordinary into something exciting. Like playing shuffleboard at the side of an unspectacular pool or listening to second-rate comics in a run-down casino. Or watching an old man play a kids’ game with guests in the lobby.
As I write this, we are packed for another weekend up in the Catskills, a place where it's still considered pretty safe for small kids to roam unattended within the confines of bungalow colonies. This is why The Mountains continie to draw tens of thousands of New York area, mostly Orthodox families, to leave their comfortable homes for broken-down shacks that list to starboard like a sinking ship, have broken appliances, leaky roofs, bad ventillation and are shared with all manner of crawling things.
Summer is fully here, with the heat settling into the city’s concrete, not planning to leave until Labor Day. But just two hours away, children have started sleep-away camp, catching salamanders after the rain. The first visiting day is already this coming Sunday, the bungalow colonies have returned to their languid timelessness, and Jewish shops have reopened in Woodbourne and Woodbridge, Monticello and Loch Sheldrake, villages whose very names resonate like shtetls with private memories and public history.
Monticello, N.Y.: Strolling up to a line of waiting golf carts at Kutsher's Country Club, Mark Kutsher recalls a crucial decision by his late father, Milton, in the early 1950s.
Other hotels in the Catksills were pooling their resources to build golf courses in towns like Loch Sheldrake, which would be available to their guests. Milton Kutsher wanted his resort to have its own course.
"We didn't really have the money for it at the time," said Mark Kutsher. "Everyone was focusing on indoor pools. He thought a golf course was more important."