I’m a big fan of the 4th of July holiday. The only thing you really have to do in order to feel accomplished is eat a hot dog and check out some fireworks. You swim, you see family, and hopefully you can escape to a country house, beach house or some other place that you only go to a few times a year when you are willing to brave the traffic for a little R&R. I am lucky enough to have such a place, a family home in the Catskills that I go to every 4th of July holiday to wade in the brook, play horseshoes on the side lawn and debate politics with my Uncle Jon. I’ve been escaping from NYC to the Catskills my whole life and I hope I never stop. There are many things to love about the area, especially how it has been portrayed and referenced in the pop culture space. One movie is particularly associated with the area but others have relied on the beautiful scenery and laid back atmosphere of the region to tell their stories as well. I’m sure you can guess the first one I’m going to talk about…
It’s only the greatest movie ever made! The hit 1987 film Dirty Dancing was set in the Catskill mountains in the summer of 1963. So what if the movie happened to be filmed at resorts in both Virginia and North Carolina. That movie oozed upstate New York sentiment and will forever represent the place where young Francis Houseman grew up. You all know the story, you all know the songs but do you know the lines? Here’s a little game for you – I’ll give an obscure line from the movie, you guess who said it. Ready? Go: “You have sheet music for this stuff?” Give up? That was old man Kellerman to his trusty friend Tito. OK, here is another one: “And I want to thank you for your help with the Penny situation.” Can you guess? It’s not Johnny or Billy… it’s that dirt bag Robbie talking to Baby’s dad at the end. Love that he put his foot in his mouth about the whole thing. OK, enough games, back to the Catskills.
Did you see last year’s indy sensation Martha Marcy May Marlene? If you missed it, rent it, as it is a superb psychological thriller about a girl who escapes a cult in the Catskill mountains of upstate NY. The lead role is played by Elizabeth Olsen, the younger sister of the famous twins and boy can this girl act. I was on the edge of my seat the whole time and the ending (don’t worry, I won’t spoil it) still has me talking and analyzing. The farm where the cult lived and reproduced was located at Livingston Manor, a popular tourist attraction for the area, dubbed the birthplace of American fly fishing and gateway to the Catskill Mountains. It was perfectly eerie, beautiful and green. Go rent!
Finally, I have to give credit to a well known movie with a well known cast, Dustin Hoffman‘s Tootsie. You know the film – Hoffman’s character Michael dresses up like a woman – Dorothy – in order to remain a working actor. There is a great scene in the movie where Michael/Dorothy heads up to the Catskills to meet his love interest’s father. Hilarity ensues when the father takes a liking to Dorothy, unaware of his, um, orientation. Well, one of the upstate scenes was shot at the Hurley Mountain Inn, in Hurley NY. It’s a great bar/restaurant about 10 miles outside of Kingston and the NY State thruway. I was there this past January to watch the Giants win the Superbowl and they have photos of Mr. Hoffman, Teri Garr, Jessica Lange and the rest of the crew adorning the walls. It was quite the hullabaloo for that small town and nothing quite as exciting has happened since the production crew wrapped up back in 1982.
So that is my ode to the Catskills. Now let’s get back to celebrating what is currently happening in the pop culture space. Flo Rida officially released his new album this week, “Wild Ones.” Which song from the PCA winner is your favorite?
For the latest pop culture news and voting, make sure to sign up for the People’s Choice newsletter!