Press 'n' read. (And come to the show on Monday!)Karan Casey Concert to Support Anti-Drone Protests - Ithaca Times : News
Wednesday, March 05, 2014
Monday, February 17, 2014
I started thinking about my health care with all this talk about Obamacare, even though the act doesn't affect me, and I decided to look for a new doctor. My old one was okay, because at my check-ups he never asked if there was anything wrong with me, but on the couple of occasions that there was, and I told him and said I did some research online, he'd say, "What did you find out?," and start taking notes.
He has a diploma on the wall but it does not say where he graduated, class level, thus me looking around.
I had a recommendation from a friend about a different office, so I went over there last week. But the exchange was disconcerting.
When I explained my situation (without so much detail), the office manager smiled sweetly. "I'm sorry," she said. "We're not taking any new patients at the moment. Try back in a month or so."
Which basically made me wonder what was happening this month. Are they expecting some patients to die?I imagined myself as their patient, and a new one coming around. "Well, we've got a guy named Steve Burke who might die. Check back with us in a month. It might be sooner if he forgets to call us back on this report."
Forget that, you know? I want a place that will either take me right now, or tell me come back in a year. That they've got some people who might die, but they're scheming on saving them.
Monday, February 10, 2014
Possibly the only thing more "impenetrably boring" (quoting ourselves) than the summer Olympics is the winter Olympics. Here's a reprint of a posting on the summer, '08 gamut.
Luckily, the Olympics Are Boring
As a big baseball fan, including televised baseball, I don't need any more reasons to waste my time, so it is lucky I find the Olympics impenetrably boring.
As far as I can tell, the Olympic games take place every day, all day, for an arbitrary period of time, once every four years. An untold number of athletes, more than you can imagine exist, participate in a cavalcade of games, races, and other events that are not that easy to categorize. The best three people in a competition stand on a box at the end of it, and get a medal on a string to put around their necks.
The Olympics reward excellence, which is part of the problem. Excellence is not as engaging as failure.
Baseball is based on failure. Even the greatest hitters fail two times out of three. A championship team can be one that only wins 4 times out of 7, which is just one better than coin-flipping.
There's a lot more to talk about with failure. And of course, more to anticipate. Maybe next time the ballplayer will get lucky. Luck doesn't play much part in the Olympics.
As a result, there's not much to say about an Olympic champ. How did Michael Phelps do? He swam very fast. Really? Did anyone swim faster? No. Okay. Anything else? Well, he did it 8 times. No kidding. Could he have done it 9? Yeah, maybe.
Horse racing is good because you can bet on it. Also, it is very difficult to predict who will win. Nobody wins 8 races in a row, ever. And of course, you don't know if the horse really knows what's going on, so there's an air of mystery.
Baseball is less like the Olympics than it is like soap operas. It's on every day. Nothing much happens. The interesting thing is the foibles of the players. Listen to baseball fans talk sometime. It's like they're talking about Melrose Place. "What the hell is wrong with Billy?" "Do you think Willie is going back to the Yanks?" "These guys got no chemistry."
What baseball and the Olympics have in common, of course, is the aspect of much ado about nothing. But baseball is a lot lighter on the ado. Not so much flags and fervor. Certainly, no surveillance and military. In the 7th inning, you all get up and stretch together, and sing - not an anthem this time, but a sort of lullaby. Soon you go home, and hope tomorrow will be about the same, if you had a good day, or maybe a little better, if you didn't. And that maybe Billy will work out his problems, soon.
Monday, February 03, 2014
It is sort of a macho joke with me, or maybe an anti-macho-mindset joke, that guys never get colds, we only get the flu. Macho or not, you will never hear of me calling in sick to work or complaining about a mere cold.
But the flu is different. I'm just getting over a big bout.
The trouble is, at first you can't tell which you've got. You just feel poorly. By the time aching muscles set in, you have an idea, but you use optimism to thwart it. This works as wonderfully well as denial, which is the same thing.
Bed and the onset of hallucinations are the peaknockle and the epitoam. Now you know it is the flu, because you don't know anything else besides the profusion of heat in your body and brain. Time is buried in sand as it takes you 15 minutes of thinking of how possibly to move from bed to the bathroom. Your body doesn't work anymore, too bad, and the reality occurs to you that you are actually the outlaw Jesse James and have been shot and left to die here. This is as plausible a reason for your demise as anything else, and if you weren't so hot, you could think. Think, Jesse, think.
By day two your identity (Stephen Burke) has re-established itself, and you recognize your surroundings, by the grace of God, whose name you've been intoning since you resumed brain function, and realized you might run out of Poland Spring pretty soon, and need divine intervention.
By day 3, you start to contemplate the day you will be able to shower without physical collapse, and you swear you will never complain about shaving again, anymore than you would about moving or breathing.
By day 4, you are recovering, and you have to check the news online to see if all those stories you heard, or think you heard, on the constantly-playing radio (tethering you to reality) were real. (They were. I'm glad about the Super Bowl; sorry for Philip Seymour Hoffman and his family.)
I just checked my records from work. I hadn't had a sick day since this exact time last year. I see I wrote a message to my boss in the middle of it that I would need to stay home from work because I had turned into a poisonous reptile. Jesse James is a step up, I guess, but guess what: next year, a flu shot.
Tuesday, January 28, 2014
Pete Seeger to the House Un-American Activities Committee, in 1955:
"I am not going to answer any questions as to my association, my philosophical or religious beliefs, or how I voted in any election, or any of these private affairs. I think these are very improper questions for any American to be asked, especially under such compulsion as this."
The congressmen indicted him on 10 counts of contempt. He was sentenced to a year in prison.
The conviction was overturned. The congressmen are long-forgotten. Pete Seeger is remembered forever.
Tuesday, January 21, 2014
There was a big, two-page ad in the NY Times recently with archival photos and newspaper clippings of the Beatles' arrival in America 50 years ago. It was to promote a new re-release of some kind. The Beatles were always good at publicity.
Here's our attempt to be the same: an excerpt about them from our new book, "Brooklyn 3, New York", about the life and times in the borough back then . Available at Buffalo Street Books or from me directly.
>Our dad ran the print shop at Pan Am - a pretty big job. They generated a lot of paper at the biggest airline in the world.
Along with all the other copying, they created a memo packet each morning that amounted to a daily newspaper. Trucks ran it out to LaGuardia and Idlewild every weekday. The Pan Am building itself was a town, going up instead of out.
Our dad started working there at age 16. He knew - and cared - a lot about the place.
One winter day, he came home with a record album in a Pan Am bag. "Ever heard of these guys?," he asked.
It was four guys called The Beatles. They looked strange.
Never, we said.
"You will soon," our father said.
They were from England, which we associated with wars, not music. But apparently they were popular there, and coming to America. They would be flying on Pan Am.
They would be on the Ed Sullivan Show, our father said, and if they became as popular in America as in England, it would be good publicity for Pan Am, having carried them.
That seemed strange to us, that Pan Am would care about publicity from flying four guys in weird suits and haircuts, but our father said so.
"Listen to it and see what you think," he said.
They didn't look like musicians. Musicians had straight teeth and hair piled up high. Like the Everly Brothers. That's who we liked.
Apparently, though, the Beatles liked them, too. That's what we found out when we listened.
They sang like the Everly Brothers. Those kind of harmonies. Except louder.
It was all loud, but we liked it. Every song on the record was good.
Soon, you started hearing the Beatles on the radio. The two songs they played the most were the ones we liked the least. But they were as good as anything else on the radio, or better.
Before you ever heard them on the radio, you would see bumper stickers on walls, saying "The Beatles Are Coming." Who?, kids asked. We knew, but failed to generate much interest when we explained they were a music group from England who were flying on Pan Am.
When they arrived in New York, two days before the Ed Sullivan show, they were met and interviewed at Idlewild by a mob of reporters and photographers. The Pan Am logo was behind them, on the wall above their heads. Job well done, somebody.
Tuesday, January 14, 2014
Pizza Aroma is still number one in our booklet, but we also like Casablanca's pizza on the Commons. It is only about a 6.5 (a 7 when we are really hungry), but it is right downstairs from the Ithaca Blog office, and that counts pretty nicely for them with us.
We also like that they are weisenheimers down there, in true New York fashion. The guys (they are all guys) do not seem New York-born, and maybe not U.S.-born, but wherever they are from, they have that NYC thing of joking with you, if they feel like it. Recently I asked for the only thing I ever get, "Two plain slices to go, please," and the guy said to me, "Plain slices, or cheese slices?," and did not smile, but did not have to, because I know a wise remark when I hear one, so I said, "Give me one plain and one cheese." Then he cracked.
Currently, the place is closed for renovations and has a handmade sign on the door. "Closed for renovations. Sorry for any convenience," it says, and because these guys are so wise, I can't tell if they made a mistake or not.