Sunday, December 03, 2006

Since We're Talking About Location

I've been thinking about this for a while. I like to be a hands-on researcher, and I've always approached research (at least for my writing projects) as an exciting adventure, not a necessary chore.

But as the about-to-be-fired project managers on The Apprentice always say, I had help with this task.

As you are all oh so aware, I'm working on a novel set in, among other places, a small town in central New York, and in Washington, and in Albany. I've been to Washington enough times that I can remember the landmarks I need for the plot, and if I have trouble, I can always ask Best Man and Godfather (aka the Evil Republican Lobbyist who is evil because he is a lobbyist, not because he is a Republican-- in his party choice he is merely misguided). Anyway, when I need to get anywhere in Washington, BMAG can tell me where to go and how to get there, if I don't know already.

The central New York location... that's a little delicate, but then again, not so much. Delicate because I know the environment (and in my first novel, I based the fictional location on Cooperstown). My current project features another made-up town. It's not based on any real place. I don't have to nail the details because I created the place out of whole cloth.

On to Albany. A real place. Central to the plot of the novel. With real buildings I've lovingly described from my own memories, internet narratives and pictures, books, and Google maps.

What's missing? Right. Recent impressions. My own hands-on research. Last time I walked through downtown Albany, I hadn't begun outlining my current project. I had no idea Albany would even feature in the narrative, let alone play a central role in the plot. I was on my way to and from a Springsteen concert, with the Saint and two friends. I wasn't trying to map out the Capitol, the Cathedral, the Governor's Mansion, the Kenmore Hotel, the Hudson River, the Empire State Plaza. (My late grandfather, a construction foreman on that project, called it the South Mall until the day he died. In this context: "I built the South Mall." Well, he and a few thousand other people, but if you listened to him, he did it himself.)

So I've been thinking for months that I need to go to Albany simply to research my novel. In those months, I've driven through Albany four times on round trips from Boston to Cooperstown.

But I haven't
  • Seen the Capitol from the inside since 1982; from close-up (i.e, not from the highway) since 1986
  • Seen the (former) Kenmore Hotel in a way that I remembered (though on my 2005 trip, I stood directly across the street without realizing I was looking at the Kenmore Hotel)
  • Seen the Cathedral since my 1986 confirmation
  • Seen the Governor's Mansion, next door to the Cathedral, since 1982 (no, I didn't realize at my confirmation that the complex next door was where Mario Cuomo lived at the time)
  • Seen the Empire State Plaza since that same 1982 sixth grade trip where I toured the Capitol and saw the Governor's Mansion
  • Seen the Hudson from the water's edge, ever.
I must learn enough about each of those places that I can't ask my brother, who lives in Albany, to tour them for me. Instead, I've asked him to tour them with me. He'll see my invitation when he checks his e-mail.

The Great and Gifted Jamie Ford (unknowingly) set my plan in motion when he left Big Sky country to go "home" to Seattle, for research on his budding bestseller. He knew exactly what places he needed to see, but last time he'd seen them, he hadn't been thinking, "I need to know about these places for my book."

Ditto with me. Last time I was in Albany, I was thinking, "I never realized the Pepsi Arena is so close to the Capitol." I never even knew that the Kenmore Hotel is not only closer to the arena than the Capitol is, but it's also on the same street, more or less, across from the bar where the Saint, our friends and I partied the night away post-Bruce concert. The Governor's Mansion, the Hudson, the Empire State Plaza and the Cathedral are all within easy walking distance.

And I need to see all of them. I mentioned this to my Mother on Friday night (she happened to be in Albany wating for a flight to Jamaica).

She volunteered to watch the kids for a weekend if the Saint and I need to go to Albany (when the Saint drives, it's 2 and a half hours from Boston, but one and a half hours from Cooperstown, and as I've mentioned, every round trip requires us to go through Albany).

I moved quickly. Not as quickly as the our van does with the Saint's foot on the gas, but quickly enough for my purposes.

Mom doesn't know this yet, but I'm taking her up on her offer. The Saint and I are going to Albany for Martin Luther King Jr. weekend. I already booked the trip. My brother, who has an advanced degree in urban planning, will be accompanying us (as I've mentioned, he doesn't know this yet, either).

Since the Saint has a birthday right after the weekend, this also (bonus!) doubles as a getaway for her. We usually do the birthday escapes around my birthday because I change ages (unfortunately, never in reverse) during the summer. Yes, I'm sure the Saint would choose a place a little more romantic than Albany if the choice were up to her (but Albany is a pretty cool place even if it's not exactly romantic).

Alas, the choice was not the Saint's. I'll be enlisting friends to recommend great, romantic restaurants for a cold midwinter weekend. We'll have the other activities covered.

Adam

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8 Comments:

Anonymous BMAG aka ERL said...

Evil Republican Lobbyist? I merely advocate and give a voice to those who cannot themselves, namely, the men and women of the thin blue line that is American law enforcement.
So be careful or else I tell you with a straight face that the new Air Force Memorial is located in Anacostia (really Arlington) or that the newly empowered Dems have decided to switch the Senate and House sides of the Capitol-just to shake it up a bit or that they have decided to relocate the remainder of the federal government to WVA, just because Bob Byrd is President Pro Tempore again! So you may want to consult an independent fact checker on all things DC. And El Senor can't help, he hasn't stepped foot back in DC since he retired 10 years ago!
Oh and misguided party? As they say, if you are an R before age 35 you have no heart and if you are D after age 35 you have no brain. Since we both crossed the threshhold earlier this year, shouldn't you be coming my way?

10:32 AM, December 05, 2006  
Blogger M. G. Tarquini said...

I wanna be Great and Gift also.

I did the same thing for HINDSIGHT when I went home for Grandmom's funeral. Spent a lot of time cruising around Philadelphia and taking pictures.

12:24 AM, December 08, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hello. Just wondering who your grandfather's name was, who built the Empire State Plaza as a foreman.

11:37 PM, February 19, 2007  
Blogger Adam Hurtubise said...

Anon--

E-mail me and I'd be happy to discuss it with you. My e-mail address is at the top of my links section.

Adam

12:01 PM, February 20, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hello again Adam. I asked you about your grandfather being a foreman at the Empire State Plaza. I tried to send you an email, but a window popped up saying it couldn't establish an email client. Could you post your email on this blog for me to discuss this with you? Thanks.

6:58 AM, March 07, 2007  
Blogger Adam Hurtubise said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

10:19 AM, March 07, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

ok adam got it thx.

11:06 AM, March 08, 2007  
Blogger Adam Hurtubise said...

Thanks. Got it.

11:53 AM, March 08, 2007  

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