Red Goats, Kingston, NY and Eric Francis in the NY Times

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Orignial installation of goats, photographed Oct. 26, 2011.

The New York Times was in town this week doing a spot on the “red goat” phenomenon — some kids painted them on these hideous white planters and caused a global fuss, of sorts. The Times sent Peter Applebome, one of their smartest guys on the Metro Desk, out to investigate. Here’s the story. One proof of astrology in my life is how often in March I get some kind of real publicity — as the Sun crosses over my midheaven. When was the last time you saw someone identified as an astrologer in the Times? It’s been a while.

Eric Francis Coppolino, a local artist, argued that the white planters upon which the images were painted might have been too tempting a canvas. Photo by Jennifer May for The NY Times.

Eric Francis Coppolino, a local artist, argued that the white planters upon which the images were painted might have been too tempting a canvas. Photo by Jennifer May for The NY Times.

I think Peter did a great job, and I’m particularly grateful for his selecting a quote that truly deserved to be immortalized in U.S. history — meet Tom Hoffay, our alderman (rep on the city council), who said: “I would invite the people who were against the Pike Plan to come out” and say “graffiti is wrong,” Alderman Thomas Hoffay said at the time. “This is mocking the community. It is mocking the people of the city of Kingston.” Later, he likened the goats to gang graffiti, saying, “Bloods, Crips, goats — it’s all the same.”

What Hoffay is doing here is accusing people who opposed him on a city project of painting the goats (and being akin to gangsters), even though there was no connection. I’ve covered that issue in Planet Waves before.

The old mayor was so infuriated by the goats that he had two detective teams working overtime five nights, doing old fashioned Joe Friday gumshoe police work. I was questioned, in the spirit of “all the usual suspects.” The cops were annoyed that I would not come out and say that “graffiti is wrong.” I never said “graffiti is right,” but think of it this way. Would anyone even care, if it wasn’t technically illegal? Now suddenly it’s world news.

Fortunately for the kids who were arrested, the goats are not what you would call a high priority in a city where the prosecutors have their hands full with things like, well, Crips and Bloods and a diversity of other real problems. Anyway this is a fun piece in the Times and it’s my first time having my photo in the newspaper (and my sixth time in the newspaper). Here is another episode, from 1993, back when my only involvement with astrology was reading the Patric Walker horoscope.

Eric Francis

About Eric Francis

Planet Waves began in 1998 as the home of the Eric Francis horoscope, a prominent feature in our premium service. Going far beyond what most Sun-sign astrologers even dream is possible, Eric brings in-depth interpretations to his work. He is a pioneer in the newly-discovered planets, including Chiron and the centaurs, and is able to translate their movements into accessible human terms, offering ideas for life, love and work. Discover a whole new world of literary journalism in Planet Waves. We offer free trial subscriptions, discounts for students and seniors, and gift subscriptions for veterans and those on active military duty.
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10 Responses to Red Goats, Kingston, NY and Eric Francis in the NY Times

  1. zerosity zerosity says:

    What a great story about Adam Purple and the Garden of Eden – except the ending. His appearance reminds me of Bill Gibbons (whose 62nd birthday is today) of ZZ Top. The garden design is reminscent of a rosette pattern labyrinth.

    ‘Tis but another example of imposed conformity by the government. Thanks for sharing the memories and the links.


  2. jinspace says:

    My vote goes to the goats.

    This story reminded me of the painted footprints that led to The Garden of Eden on the Lower East Side of Manhattan. The garden was a huge, amazing, beautiful earthwork/urban garden constructed in a series of trashed, vacant lots by a guy calling himself Adam Purple (among other names, one of which was Rev. Les Ego). The L.E.S. was a rotten neighborhood in those days (1970’s/80’s) and this was an extraordinary example of an individual living by the principle that you should leave a place a little bit better than the way you found it. A little! I remember the garden – it was so nice and so HUGE that the first time I saw it I wondered why the city had this big park without any official signage.

    When the city began to make noise about removing it, purple footprints started appearing to draw attention to what was going on. Adam Purple lost to the bulldozers, but New York City lost far more. I remember Adam Purple, too, one very principled and interesting dude that readers of PW who’ve never heard of will love finding out about.

    You can read about him here:

    See the garden and listen to Adam Purple tell the story here:

  3. clinkjet clinkjet says:

    “Each was charged with third-degree criminal mischief, a felony, and making graffiti, a misdemeanor. The charges can bring up to four years’ prison time, though neither has been indicted and severe penalties seem unlikely.”

    If you want to end war and stuff, you gotta sing loud….walk right in, it’s around the back….just a half a mile from the railroad track…

  4. Eric Francis Eric Francis says:

    The numbers were painted on two nights later. There were 32 goats total.

  5. awordedgewise awordedgewise says:

    Rockin’ red goats! Waaaaay better planters now. Congrats, e. on the unmentionable mention of “astrologer”!

  6. alpssmile alpssmile says:

    Such a criminal !! I love that my astrologer is among the (un)usual suspects . . . Maaaa-aaaaah . . . now on to the annual Goat reading. Thank you on all counts . . .

  7. Judith Gayle Judith Gayle says:

    Captain Queeg’s strawberries — I shall wait for reports of the alderman’s head exploding!

  8. luckydriver luckydriver says:

    Do those goats on the planters have numbers on them as part of the stencils?

  9. zerosity zerosity says:

    Red goats? As in “get your goat”? Red as in “anger” or pissed? (See below.)

    Or…just maybe the Aries Ram, and the stellium there: Uranus, Venus, Ceres, Vesta, and Eris? Hmmm. Interesting. Maybe some masculine/feminine energies at work?

    Anway, too fun. Thanks. JannKinz

    Get Your Goat Basic Definition: To annoy you to the point of getting pissed.

    Sub Definition: Goat: The goat is a metaphor for your state of peacefulness. When your goat is with you, you are calm and collected. When your goat is stolen, you become angry and upset.

    Notes: Getting someone’s goat can not be a quick process and must be done by not being directly mean. The best way to get someone’s goat is by means of clever annoyance.

  10. stormilarue stormilarue says:

    baahaha! congrats on the write up and pic. to me, graffiti – not tagging – is an art. i’d rather see red goats than a blank canvas or someone’s chicken scratched initials. a couple of summers ago up north of here we had a similar “incident” with a rainbow warrior.

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