If you've ever heard (or even ... uttered) the word "cidiot," to describe an urban transplant, likely that term wasn't used in a positive light. Podcast host Mat Zucker has been doing his best to rebrand the word in a podcast that bears the name. Cidiot is a popular biweekly show about "learning to live in the country," and last year it won "Best Regional Podcast" in the Chronogrammies Readers' Choice Awards. This year, we nabbed that honor, so Mat and I decided to profile each other on our respective podcasts. Cidiot covers the Hudson Valley and a bit of the Catskills, and Kaatscast covers the Catskills and a bit of the Hudson Valley, so we met on neutral ground, on the deck of a waterfront restaurant in Kingston, NY, where we took turns asking questions between bites.
In this episode, hear why Mat is a self-proclaimed and proud "cidiot," lessons he's learned since moving up full-time, and handy tips for newcomers. Then, tune in to Cidiot episode 77 (releases 9/29/22) for Mat's take on Kaatscast, and host Brett Barry's own relationship with the Catskills.
And of course, subscribe to both shows on your favorite platform for continued Catskills/Hudson Valley entertainment every two weeks!
Many thanks to our sponsors:
Hanford Mills Museum
Briars & Brambles Books
Catskill Mountains Scenic Byway
The Mountain Eagle
--- Support this podcast: https://anchor.fm/kaatscast/support
Mat Zucker 0:03
Yeah, I think I'm gonna be a cidiot for a very very long time and and I'm okay with that.
Brett Barry 0:08
If you've ever heard or even used the term cidiot to describe an urban transplant, likely that term wasn't used in a positive light city cidiots don't know that leaving their garbage cans out attracts bears. They hike in flip flops. They buy expensive fishing gear and hire a guide to help them catch that one Instagram worthy rainbow trout. Do they even know how to pump their own gas into the car with that stupid rubber bumper guard? Well put all or some of those stereotypes aside because this week, we're in conversation with Mat Zucker, host of the popular podcast city at covering the Hudson Valley and a bit of the Catskills. Kaatscast covers the Catskills and a bit of the Hudson Valley. So we met on neutral ground on the deck of a waterfront restaurant in Kingston, where we took turns asking questions between bites City, it was the winner of last year's Chrono-Grammys for Best Regional podcast. And as you probably know, we nabbed that honor this year. So this week, we decided to profile each other in our respective award winning podcasts. Cheers, cheers to me and you. I've heard cidiot used before, but it was not in a positive light. So tell me what a cidiot mean to you. And how are you using the podcast as a foundation for that definition?
Mat Zucker 1:33
Cidiot, the term came in because people were being called idiots, and fools and jerks. And the term actually came from Montauk, there was a term being used as an insult for people that moved from the city. And some people have really bad memories of being called a cidiot in the driveway or on the road. For me, it's got a more innocent definition. It means the naivete. It's kind of like the cluelessness not the jerk, the cluelessness. And so I find it as a term to give people a little bit of space to be less of an idiot, less of a moron, a little less naive and become acclimated, but not in the jerk way. I can't do anything about that. But what I can do is help people be less jerks or better behaviors, and in better, stronger understanding of what it means to be in a new place. Where did you move up from and when? So my husband, I moved up from the city in 2014. We started as weekenders as many people do coming up on Fridays and going back Sunday nights very tearfully in our eye. We don't want to go back hating the drive back down the Taconic. And then we started adding time to it. We added coming up on Thursdays going back Monday night. Could we wait and go back Tuesday morning, you know adding days on because we just loved it so much and be able to split time. And then about six months before COVID in 2019. In the fall, we moved up here full time. What do you and your husband do for work that you're able to do it seamlessly from here, I work in marketing. So a lot of the work is either travel, or I can do remote and I don't have to be in the office quite as much. So I think it's important to have easy access to a city. But I have the privilege of being able to work from home and my husband is now becoming a wellness coach. So a lot of that can be done from almost almost anywhere. Where do you live up here and what initially drew you there? I never really knew upstate. I knew New Jersey. I knew West I knew the Poconos. I knew there was this thing called the Berkshires. And my inlaws spent a lot of time every summer in the Berkshires, so I got to know some of those towns up there. And then they moved to Hillsdale which is in the Hudson Valley, but on the New York side of the Berkshires, so we got to know those towns. So when we decided to explore the idea of first having a weekend place, we tried all different towns. And actually I developed this rule the city of rule about how to shop for a town called the 10 three, one, and the 10. Three and one is about looking at 10 towns and all the places you want to drive through them and see them choose three towns. So this is what we did. And we rent it in those different places for like a summer, you know, or a couple long weekends to experience whether you really want it to be there and then settle on your one. So we had explored Spencertown in Columbia County, Ghent in Columbia County. And then the third one was Rhinebeck. We really liked the Rhinebeck area, and we discovered Red Hook, which I never even knew of, I thought it was only in Brooklyn, and Tivoli and Bard College and this whole environment, and that's where we found a place to live. And we bought there. So you've been here since 2014. Do you feel settled? You know, every time I feel settled, I feel unsettled. You know, I feel comfortable people wave to you in the street. You know something about someone. I've seen myself in some of the history so that makes me feel more
comfortable and more local. So there's always something, another town another road, you need to drive down. That reminds you you're still either new, or you're still not exploring enough. There's so much more.
Brett Barry 5:12
Do you consider yourself a cidiot now?
Mat Zucker 5:14
Yeah, I mean, I think I've been, do you ever graduate? Yeah, it's unclear if you graduate, I think you could graduate. I think I'm in that in between things. So I'm kind of just a high school cidiot, where I'm still a little naive is still a little clueless but informed enough to help pave the way for others or cheerlead others into doing it too. I don't know if we'll ever graduate I think, you know, you're always new at something. So in theory, if you ever become not a cidiot maybe you're stale. But every time I keep learning about new towns, look, I'm learning about the Catskills from you. I'm going further west and further north, I just discovered SPAC up at Saratoga. So yeah, I think I'm gonna be a cidiot for a very, very long time. And I'm okay with that. I'm Mat Zucker. And this is City, learning to live and love life in the Hudson Valley.
Brett Barry 6:04
And when Mat Zucker discover something new, like the Saratoga Performing Arts Center or SPAC as it's known he shares with his city at audience
Mat Zucker 6:12
SPAC is just about half an hour north of Albany, which makes it just about an hour and a half or so, for most places in the Hudson Valley and Catskills this cidiot, it didn't just speak to someone, at SPAC. I spoke to Elizabeth Sobel, President and CEO of SPAC. You know, I love to learn about new places upstate and new people. In this episode, we do both. I lived in New York City for 25 years in Manhattan too I didn't even go to Brooklyn. And I was really into the rhythm, I was into the convenience. I was into having someone else do my laundry and fold it for me. And that was amazing. And going to theaters, I miss some of the trappings of the city the convenience of being able to walk down the street and pick something up. I'm not having to drive everywhere. Theater and culture can be a challenge. But I found you can also discover them up here. I mean, I feel lucky to live near Bard College and so much that surround us with with great quality stuff and not you know, obviously you can go into the city or you can travel anytime you want. You just make more of an effort into it too. I miss a little bit of the energy sometimes. But most of the time, I just don't. I think I'm exhausted. I think I love the quiet. I think I love the beauty. I love the views and the mountains. I discovered animals, I had no idea how much I would love animals. I live next door to an orchard, a sheep farm and a goat farm. And I could just look at the sheep and goats all day. I mean, they're hilarious. And it makes me really happy. And I didn't get that in the city. So I guess I feel lucky to have both chapters in my life. Could I split time? I guess. So I found splitting time became a challenge. Because I wasn't really able to connect well with the city anymore. And I wasn't making a lot of friends here. And believe me the second we decided to go full time. It's amazing how differently you're treated. All of a sudden, you're invited to dinner parties on Tuesdays, you didn't even know existed, you are treated differently. Oh, you're now you're from here. No, you're not. You're well, you're never really from here, but they're treated like maybe you're not a city person anymore. So there's kind of a warmth and an embrace. You can join things and become a part of the community. And you feel more responsible. So I miss less and less about the city. There will always be items I will try to either recreate, or do. I think Brian feels the same way. But I'm really excited to be here. I'm still excited. I'm still giddy after eight years episode four making friends. Unless you're looking for a quiet weekend getaway and don't want to speak to anyone at all. You'll want friends, Brian and I decided early on that we were building a life here. So people dinner parties and people to exchange recipes and gossip with we're high on our to do list. Sure there are similarities to making friends in the city. But it's hard to break in as a weekender. This episode shares a little bit of what we have learned. The first thing to know is you will need different kinds of friends for different reasons. Here are four types, one, activity, friends, people to do stuff,
Brett Barry 9:10
will there be a time when you cringe a little or look down on people who are coming up from the city in a protective way like this is my space. And we don't need more people? Or do you think you'll always be encouraging of people making that move like you did?
Mat Zucker 9:25
Well, I would encourage anybody who really wants to do this and make this a part of their life, whether they become a weekender or full time. The people I wouldn't encourage are the ones that come up just to escape and then stay in their house and don't become a part of the community that only do the bad driving up, you know, real estate prices, all the backlash, you hear about the people that have become a part of the problem rather than part of the solution or being a contributor. So I don't really want to encourage them as much because I don't think it's that helpful, but I think I will always be a champion for more for people discovering about it. And I think there's nothing wrong with bringing more people up here and more If I can do this minor service of helping people get acclimated and be less of a jerk I think I will have done my my duty.
Brett Barry 10:08
More from Mat Zucker in a moment. But first a few bars of the cidiot's own anthem, and a word from our sponsors
Unknown Speaker 10:16
down in the valley from the city. It's a new way of living and I'm trying to gauge the way one pop quiz was ever an ounce of an idiot in order to Manhattan and they call me a cidiot
Unknown Speaker 10:25
At first it hurt my feelings but it's kind of got a ring to it move to the better they can tell when you're new to it. looking at a place but I'm trying to keep on the beat up and down on the city.
Brett Barry 10:44
Hey, Mat, have you discovered Hanford Mills yet? You'll definitely want to add this one to your list. Because at Hanford Mills museum you can explore the power of the past as you watch a waterwheel bring their working sawmill to life. Bring a picnic to enjoy by the millpond. For more information about scheduling a tour or about their new exploration days, visit Hanford mills.org or call 607-278-5744 You can get there via the 52 mile Catskill Mountains Scenic Byway following New York State Route 28 through the heart of the central Catskills for maps, itineraries and links to area restaurants, shops and accommodations, visit scenic catskills.com And if you take route 23 On the return trip, be sure to stop at Briars and brambles books, the go to independent book and gift store in the Catskills located in Windham, New York, right next to the pharmacy just steps away from Windham path open daily. For more information, visit Briarsandbramblesbooks.com or call 518-750-8599. And now back to our meal at the Rondout in Kingston, New York. Tell me about the inspiration for your podcast and what's the format.
Mat Zucker 12:04
So the second, I moved up here and I was everything was, you know, falling into crap. And I was breaking things and we were flooding out, I was like, I gotta write this down because I have to write everything down. So it was intended to be a blog or a journal. And then luckily, a lot of platforms in audio like anchor where I host my podcast, which now Spotify owns, became available, and it became so easy. And I always loved audio. I grew up in the radio biz, you know, doing radio commercials, and writing for ads and things like that I got into podcasting really early. So the second I could do audio, I was like, well, maybe this is a better way to document my experience. So I started to do it. And it became quite addictive. It took off pretty early on because there weren't that many podcasts about the area. It's a funny name. It was self deprecating. And a lot of people tuned in both that I knew, you know, my colleagues, my family, friends, other people that saw us move up here, locals, but then other people, you know, and I started to get to know people through it, I just celebrated the fourth birthday of it.
Brett Barry 13:04
What are some of the lessons learned that you feel would be particularly useful for future transplants or future cidiots,
Mat Zucker 13:10
I think people should learn how to use a wrench, because it's really hard to get anything done. And you're better off just doing stuff yourself. The second is you need a generator, it's really expensive, but you really need it, because you just don't want the freezer to go bad. Like it's just the storms are gonna get worse. And one thing I was really surprised to learn was, you know, it's hard enough to make friends. And I've got all the rules about how to make friends and I did a whole episode on that the thing I didn't realize was, friends come in waves. So your first year, you might make a group of friends. But those may not be your friends forever. So you need multiple circles or friends and you graduate to different groups. And that's okay. And I think that was hard to learn because you think you finally made it and then all of a sudden the group disappears or the group goes to Florida or you move on or you have a new interest. So you've got to keep working at it. And I think that's natural.
Brett Barry 14:03
And now that Mat's been a Hudson Valley local for almost a decade, I asked what changes he's seen.
Mat Zucker 14:10
I think things have changed a lot here. And there's positives and negatives to it. You see a real tough time with anyone I see it on Facebook, people looking to rent two rooms to rent for a certain budget to that their kids need to go to school in this district. Can they find any place so the the scarcity of housing at different budget points is really alarming. And people are starting to crack it, you know, they're starting to get their heads around it. But wow, is it late and you have to open your eyes to see it you have to really read and pay attention to it. On the positive side you see access to different kinds of food and and interests and cultural activities. And what I'm still waiting for is like better services like it's terrible to move here from New York City and you have these expectations around service. And then you're here and like people don't call you back and they say they're gonna come with an estimate. And it sounds so narcissistic and terrible and awful and I'm like, is that so terrible and awful? Like, is it like you I don't know, there's something really maddening about getting anything done. It's not an area that is got it together as a as a region, it's still a disparate set of communities have very different counties and very different governments. And this complete Byzantine Hamlet town village thing, which is so confusing if you're not from New York State about how these governments work, and how they don't coordinate anything together. We're sitting right now on the rondout, which is super charming, but there's like four restaurants on the water. Isn't that crazy? Wouldn't it be nice if there was more of an embrace of the river it's so beautiful. You see very few boats out on it, and people enjoying it. So I have so many wishes for what could still be that I don't think destroy or detract from the area. You know, I'm still getting to know the west side of the river. I think I've only gone as far as Phoenicia. I haven't gone out to Livingston Manor or Margaretville or all all the places where I used to think the world ended. What I'm really curious to do is to go further west, past the Phoenicia diner to see more of what's what's out there and experience some of the not just the land but the towns and see what it's all about.
Brett Barry 16:23
Cidiot is produced by weekly and it's available wherever you get your podcasts or at Cidiot.com. You just heard my questions for Mat. And if you want to hear the other side of that conversation, tune in to Cidiot episode 77 Thanks again to our sponsors Hanford Mills Museum, the Catskill Mountains Scenic Byway, Briars and brambles books and the mountain Eagle, covering Delaware Green and Schoharie counties, including brands for local regions like the Windham weekly Schoharie news and Catskills Chronicle. For more information, call 518-763-6854 or email email@example.com. Tune in next time for a hike with Glenn Kreisberg. And an investigation into Native American archaeology on Overlook Mountain Kaatscast is a production of Silver Hollow Audio. More at Kaatscast.com I'm Brett Barry, thanks for listening and we'll see you again in two weeks.
Unknown Speaker 17:30
Yes, please upstate and chill me later. We microbrewed in our cup. Weekenders just came and stayed up with the traffic to the city on a Sunday really sucked and I'm trying to convince them that this is better limit of time pay my dues but now starting to fit in I could show you around it could change your life
Unknown Speaker 17:47
if one woman tried to stay tonight
Unknown Speaker 17:49
so it may go right at the traffic light there's only one of them in each town quiet night for social life when the boss shut it down at a quarter to 9
Unknown Speaker 18:15
down in the valley moved up from the city it's a new way of living and I'm trying to gauge the when one does have an ounce of an idiot auditor and they call me a cidiot. At first it hurt my feelings but it's kind of goit a ring to it move to the country they can tell when you're new to it i'm looking at a place takes too long to be a local, so for now I'm a cidiot.
Transcribed by https://otter.ai/ / AA