Buy Hudson River Zeitgeist's 2015 Book of Interviews

This year, since April, there have been fifteen interviews published on this site. In order to ensure proper archiving and to gauge whether I can raise money to continue growing Hudson River Zeitgeist next year, I've decided to seek a short-run publishing of a book of this year's fifteen published interviews (plus two previously unpublished ones). To order the book, learn more about it or to view a video trailer for the book, please visit:

Thank you, readers. It's been a pleasure thus far.

~William Shannon

From the Horse-and-wagons to the Automobiles

I grew up just uphill from Cheviot, one of Germantown’s riverfront neighborhoods. Over the years, I often walked the family dog down to the town park and boat launch at Cheviot, an area which used to be a bustling shipping center. One usual feature of the trips was that, as the dog and I would saunter up the hill on the way back, Rita Rifenburgh would open the front door of her house, offer a piece of cake that she’d baked and we would catch up for a few minutes. Her house is perched half-way up the steep hill looking out over a gorge that a small creek carved from cascading down sets of rocks as it spills into the Hudson River.

As time’s gone on, and I’ve moved to different places, the routine’s been interrupted. But, recently, as I was again walking up the hill, she stopped the dog and I and we caught up for the first time in quite a while. I told her of the interviews I’ve been doing and, though she had a videotaped interview a couple years ago shown at the local library, I asked if she’d be willing to do another for the record. She agreed. The following is a transcription of our recent talk.

Read More

Coping with a World that will Eat your Spirit

Chief Richard Earl Grimes, known also as Altar Man, led a group of a few dozen people last week as they participated in a Lakota ritual called Hanbleceya—Crying for a Vision. The ritual spans many days and is also called a vision quest. It was held in High Falls, New York. There are many aspects to it, but its core feature is that some, called questers among the larger group, go to their own spot deep in the woods, after much preparation and ceremony. There, they spend the next one, two, three or more days, alone, reflecting, considering their place in the universe and welcoming any epiphanies that occur. I arrived in High Falls on the final day of this Hanbleceya, in time for a ceremony designed to cleanse the spirit and bless the parting feast. After sharing in the passing of a peace pipe, and other aspects of the ceremony, I spoke with the chief.

Read More

From the Vantage Point of Major Vince Wallace

The following is a transcribed interview with Vince Wallace, a decades-long National Guardsman, maintainer of the Civil War soldiers’ section of Hudson’s Cedar Park Cemetery, a survivor both of the Great Depression and at least two brushes with death, and a former hot air balloonist who, nearing his eighty-fifth year, continues to embrace chances to get into the clouds.

Read More