Ithaca Blog

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Ithaca Free Clinic Concert: The Show Goes On

The benefit concert for the Ithaca Free Clinic will go on this Saturday, 3 February.

The show was jeopardized because its original venue, Club Euphoria, has been denied a liquor license and will close.

The show will relocate to the State Theater.

Some of Ithaca's most prominent bands will play to benefit the Free Clinic, which is celebrating its first year of providing free health care in its clinic on S. Fulton St. Scheduled to perform are the Horseflies, the Sim Redmond Band, Thousands of One, and Trevor MacDonald.

Doors will open at 7 pm and the music will start at 8. Tickets are $10, and Ithaca Hours are accepted.

Stephen Burke
for Ithaca Blog

Friday, January 26, 2007

Weekend Activities, Jan. 26 - 28

The annual Light in Winter Festival, mentioned in our weekly contest, is the big show in town this weekend. Way too many activities to mention, so by all means check their website. We will mention their headline act, the Bang on a Can All-Stars . Their show is energetic and avant-garde, and the music both experimental and classical. It will be mind-expanding and fun. At the State Theater on Saturday at 8 pm.

Light in Winter's roster makes room for some local acts, too. The Burns Sisters and Joe Crookston are both performing in connection with the festival at the Lost Dog Cafe. The Burnses are Friday at 9:30, and Joe is 9:30 on Saturday.

Lindsay Mac is a folkie and/or rockin' cellist who has been called the Ani Difranco of her instrument. We think maybe she is more like Hank Roberts. But anyway, for sure she is Lindsay Mac, and she is playing at Felicia's Atomic Lounge on Sunday at 7 pm.

Remember to check that Light in Winter website for the gamut of activities they are offering, days and nights all weekend, many of them free.

Steve Burke
for Ithaca Blog

Contest: "Light in Winter" Music

This week's contest, sponsored by Small World Music, is inspired by the Light In Winter festival this weekend in Ithaca, a festival celebrating the connections between science and art.

One festival event this weekend features the music, and the physics, of the pipe organ, one of the oldest musical instruments in the Western musical tradition.

Our focus is more recent.

In American popular music, there are three makes of organs that are so predominant that they are commonly known brand names - as Fender, Gibson, and Martin are among guitars, for instance.

One of the three is associated with jazz, one with rock (it was used by the Animals in "House of the Rising Sun", by Rod Argent of The Zombies, and most notably by Ray Manzarek of the Doors), and one with Tex-Mex music.

Name any one, and you are eligible for a randomly-selected $10 gift certificate from Small World Music.

You can post your entry here on Ithaca Blog, or email it to Small World Music (

Please note: we think we have had some problems in not receiving some entries that are sent by clicking to that link. We have been receiving many, but perhaps not all, due to some technical problem that we don't quite fathom. This week we will send verification of every entry received, with a quick email reply. If you don't get one for your entry, we would like to know... either email us by typing out our address instead of using the link, or phone us at 256-0428.

Thank you -
Steve Burke
for Ithaca Blog and Small World Music

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Taxi Driver Cocaine Bust: He's Not a Taxi Driver

A driver for the Green Hornet car service was arrested today for allegedly selling cocaine. A significant fact missed by local media is that the man arrested is not a taxi driver, and Green Hornet is not a taxi company.

Green Hornet is a livery service. There's a big difference.

Cab companies are regulated by the police department. Cab drivers undergo extensive background checks, and receive a special license from the police.

Livery drivers don't. They obtain licensing through the Department of Motor Vehicles, similar to a truck driver.

Green Hornet has been operating for some months now in Ithaca, advertising itself as a taxi company. Customers have no way of knowing that its drivers have not undergone the scrutiny that is mandatory for cab drivers.

Customers also don't know that Green Hornet cannot legally provide the same services as a true cab company.

Green Hornet cannot pick up a customer within the Ithaca City limits for a trip within the city limits. They are only permitted to take fares from the city to outside the city - for example, from downtown to Pyramid Mall, or from Ithaca College to downtown. A Green Hornet car is not permitted to take a fare from one side of the city to the other, or to operate between downtown and Cornell.

You will not get any indication of this, however, from their Yellow Pages advertising, or any of their other advertising.

Nor, unfortunately, does the local media take note of this important detail in this criminal case.

Stephen Burke
Ithaca Blog

New Orleans & Chicago: Contest Winner

M.C. from Ithaca is the randomly-selected winner of the Ithaca Blog contest last week, where we posed a question about New Orleans and Chicago, two entities that had a big (football) contest themselves last Sunday.

Our question was about music, not football. We noted that both cities are noted for their music, but for some reason Chicago is guitar, and New Orleans is piano. How come?

The reason we came up with, ourselves, is that in fact most of the great Chicago musicians came from the south, and the simple fact is that it's a lot easier to be an itinerant guitarist than pianist. So the guitarists moved, and the pianists stayed.

True? Maybe. Plausible? Also maybe!

You didn't have to submit that particular answer to enter the contest and randomly win. But in fact M.C. did have that answer.

M.C. wins a $10 gift certificate to Small World Music. Thanks to him and to all who entered. New contest every weekend.

Steve Burke
for Ithaca Blog and Small World Music

Saturday, January 20, 2007

Contest: New Orleans Vs. Chicago (in Music, Not Football)

The current event focus for this weekend's contest, sponsored by Small World Music, is the football game on Sunday between New Orleans and Chicago. Hang on, you don't have to know about football to win.

We got to thinking about these two cities, and about their musical traditions (much stronger than their sports traditions), and wondered: why is it that New Orleans has the good pianists, and Chicago the good guitarists?

We have what we think is a cogent, if not plausible, answer. Send in an opinion, or even a dissension from the premise, or any kind of comment - cogent, plausible, or otherwise - and become eligible for a $10 gift certificate to Small World Music, where you can, of course, find much good music from both these noteworthy cities.

Send your thoughts to Small World Music directly:

Blow your horn & win ! -
Steve Burke
for Ithaca Blog & Small World Music

Swing to the Left: Ithaca Town Supervisor Stepping Down

Cathy Valentino, Democratic supervisor of the town of Ithaca, announced this week that she will not seek re-election after 12 years in the politically powerful post.

Valentino's powerful incumbency has consistently fended off challengers from the Republican party, as well as from the more liberal wing of her own party. Her tenure had a distinctly conservative cast, and her retirement presents a significant opportunity to progressive Democrats.

Tim Joseph, chair of the Tompkins County legislature, and a leading progressive Democrat, quickly announced his interest in the job.

Although technically the Town Supervisor's position is a lesser position than the one he holds, Joseph noted, "It's in a sense a lower level of government, but a higher office. The town supervisor has executive authority, which is something no one has at the Legislature."

Joseph's initial remarks about the position suggest a progressive agenda. He noted the influence the Town Board has over land use issues, and the importance of such issues in reducing dependence on oil, and protecting the environment - not overt concerns under Valentino.

Town Board member Herb Engman, also a Democrat, has also already expressed interest in the job.

No Republicans have come forward. The seat might be considered unwinnable by the Republicans in a town which is heavily Democratic, and perhaps increasingly liberal.

Stephen Burke
for Ithaca Blog

Thursday, January 18, 2007

Weekend Activities, Jan. 20 & 21

Saturday: Greg Schatz, a.k.a. Schatzy, begins a half-week long tour of Ithaca tonight. Schatzy is an Ithaca native who moved to New Orleans a few years back, and built a good career there with interesting, fun music befitting the Big Easy environment. Tonight he is at the Chapter House, at 8 p.m., with AJ Strauss on bass and Felix Teitlebaum on drums. He'll be at Korova at 9 on Sunday, then traveling to Maxie's for a 6 - 10 pm show on Tuesday.

Sunday: The main event of the weekend is George Carlin at the State Theater. Tickets are dear, but also close to selling out at this moment, so act fast to see one of the greats of modern comedy. See if he will grace us with the Regis Dance. 7 p.m.

At the other end of the expensive spectrum is Bill Staines, performing free at Bound for Glory at the old Commons Coffeehouse in Anabel Taylor Hall at Cornell. Mr. Staines is one of those old- school folk singers who values a good melody and a good tale and exudes niceness in a thoroughly winning way. Arrive early for a seat. The first set is 8:30; a 7:30 arrival time is not too early. They have brownies, etc., and right across the hall is the Alternatives Library, a fine resource for worthy reading material.
You could probably make the third set, at 10:30, and get a seat, as early-birds split. Go there from the Carlin show and you can even-out the cost of a great night's entertainment.
Or achieve the same thing by checking out the Small Kings at Maxie's. There's no cover charge for the "rock, groove and pop fantasy" they perform. The Small Kings start at 8 and go to 11.

Have fun -
Steve Burke
for Ithaca Blog

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

The Real Reason(s) for Our Warm Winters

Winter finally touched Ithaca today. We say touched, not hit, because we haven't really been hit. Not like the Mid-West, and the citrus growers - and, closer to home, Rochester, where almost 150,000 people have lost power.

The difference between our microclimate and Rochester's is lake effect. Cold dry air moving from the north and west passes over warmer air over Lake Erie, picks up water vapor, and dumps it on land after it freezes. Syracuse gets the same effect from Onondaga Lake. Ithaca doesn't, from Cayuga Lake, as our lake is much smaller, discouraging the phenomenon. Cayuga's smaller size also makes it freeze over faster.

Among my friends, there is a theory that the mild winters in Ithaca over the past decade have to do with our friend E., who moved here from NYC in the 1990's. E. is of Puerto Rican descent and was terrified at the prospect of northern tundra winters here in Ithaca.

So he bought every piece of equipment you might think of to ward off winter suffering and to make the best of the season: ice skates, skis, Sterno, an ergonomic shovel, a snowblower, a Coleman stove, thermal suits, flannel sheets, an arctic sleeping bag, battery-powered flashlights, clocks, and radio, wind pants, snowshoes, a toboggan, a tuque, everything but a St. Bernard.

As a result, it has barely snowed since. We reckon we have E. to thank. We don't use his full name, as Greek Peak has him to blame.

Steve Burke
for Ithaca Blog

Thursday, January 11, 2007

Weekend Activities, Jan. 12 & 13

Friday: If you haven't been to a musical Happy Hour for a while, there are a couple tonight. The Purple Valley Band is at Micawber's, starting at 6 pm, and the Coots are at the Haunt at 6:30. Classic rock and other good-time music for your drinking, and perhaps dancing, pleasure.

Saturday: Shtreimel, at Castaways, 8 p.m. Klezmer music is one of the hottest styles right now. Go know, but it is happening. Shtreimel are leading practicioners, from Montreal. Their "harmonica-led, groove-driven" music has also found them a home away from home in some of the hipper hangouts in Manhattan, and even among the elites in Brooklyn.

Stephen Bennett is an award-winning guitar player, an expert flatpicker and finger-picker. He is also renowned for his playing on National steel guitar, circa 1930, and on the innovative harp guitar. The show is presented by the Guitar League, at the Community School of Music and Arts, 8 p.m. $22 at the door, $18 in advance. Tickets are available at Small World Music, and other locations.

Local big shots Crow Greenspun and Sim Redmond share a bill at the Rongo. 10 p.m. These boys are among the best in Ithaca: best performers and best songwriters, and their work keeps getting better, as they continually search for new sounds to keep their music vital. You can find all Crow's and Sim's recorded work at Small World Music. Special offer: mention Ithaca Blog when you come in, and take $2 off any of Crow's or Sim's CDs.

Have fun -
Steve Burke
for Ithaca Blog and Small World Music

Free Citizens Against Guantanamo

What do you do if you are a free person living under a regime that jails people charged with no crime, denies them contact with lawyers or anyone in the outside world, denies them trial, and subjects them to torture?

You say something about it. That's what a group of Ithacans, and thousands of people around the world, are doing now, to protest the fifth anniversary of Guantanamo Prison. The Bush administration operates the prison in Guatanamo Bay, Cuba, away from the United States and its laws.

January 11 has been designated an International Day of Action to Shut Down Guantanamo.

Forty cities around the world will stage protests. A group of Ithacans has gone to Washington to participate in non-violent actions.

This morning, about 100 people were arrested at a peaceful demonstration in the U.S. Federal Court after a march of hundreds more from the Supreme Court. It was the first time political arrests were made at the Federal Court.

Locally, Ithacans will gather at the west end of the Commons at 4 p.m. today for a silent vigil.

The aim of the movement is to enforce American principles of human rights, particularly the rights to humane treatment, and a fair and speedy trial.

For more information, visit

Stephen Burke
for Ithaca Blog

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Last Week's Contest Winner

The winner of last week's "t-shirt contest", so to speak, was J.M. of Ithaca.

The consensus of respondents seems to be that the no-tag tag is alright. Personally, I put my t-shirt on backward this very morning. So I am unconvinced. Of course, I also think that cell phones are a lousy idea.

J.M. gets a $10 gift certificate to Small World Music. Where we might be selling a line of artistic t-shirts, soon. American Apparel, for sure; I don't know if they offer a choice between tagged and tagless.

Thanks to all who entered. New chance to win a gift cert. mid-week, this week, by submitting a political opinion about George Bush and his desired escalation of war in Iraq (see today's earlier posting). Plus, new, regularly-scheduled contest each Friday.

Steve Burke
for Ithaca Blog

Special Contest: Analyze Bush's Plan on Iraq

In a few hours, on Wednesday night, George Bush Jr. will address the nation to say he wants to send 20,000 more Americans to Iraq, to eradicate the chaos and violence there once and for all.

We're looking for your comments. Is President Bush smart? A genius? Is this the inspired policy move that has somehow eluded every other thinker in the world?

Or is it a deluded act of desperation, bordering on insanity? They say one of the indications of insanity is when something doesn't work, and you keep doing it anyway.

Or is it simply a cynical bid to extend the war, for another administration to solve?

Write Ithaca Blog with whatever opinion or comment you might have, at We will randomly select one correspondent for a $10 gift certificate to Small World Music.

We would like to be able to print or excerpt responses. We will couch your identity, unless you tell us otherwise, or will follow any other direction you might give.

Steve Burke
for Ithaca Blog

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

Verbatim Plays: Art Instigating Life (and Politics)

"Guantanamo: Honor Bound to Defend Freedom", a play presented here in Ithaca last month by local peace groups, is a staged reading of testimony by former detainees at the U.S. prison in Guantanamo, Cuba, out of the reach of U.S. law.

The Tricycle Theater in London first presented the play in 2004. It was an immediate sensation, and quickly moved from a 240 seat theater in remote North London to the main theater district in the West End. It subsequently went to New York, and then around the world.

The newly-created form has been dubbed "verbatim theater." It uses real words of real people and dramatizes them. The result, according to critics and crowds, is gripping theater that illuminates real issues.

The Tricycle Theater has announced its next piece, an inquiry into the legality of Prime Minister Tony Blair's engagement of Great Britain into the invasion of Iraq by the United States.

The play, "Called To Account: The Indictment of Anthony Charles Lynton Blair for the Crime of Aggression Against Iraq - A Hearing", is scheduled to open in London in May, in time for Blair's 10th anniversary as prime minister.

The text for the play will come from real-life cross-examinations of a panel of experts, both pro and con, by two leading British lawyers, which will be conducted next month. Twenty hours of testimony will be turned into a two-hour play by Richard Norton-Taylor, a journalist who has done other verbatim plays for Tricycle.

The names of the witnesses will reamin secret until the play opens.

"We are not starting from the premise that Blair is guilty, but from the premise that the whole thing needs to be aired," says Tricycle's artistic director, Nicolas Kent.

At a time when mainstream media has avoided challenging political authorities, non-traditional journalistic and artistic forces are exhibiting new relevance and power.

Specualtion is already rampant that Blair will soon vacate office. His approval rating in Britain is at an historic low, though not as low as President Bush's approval rating in the U.S. of 26 per cent.

There is no word yet whether a U.S. theater group will emulate the offerings of the Tricycle Theater. Perhaps when President Bush goes before the nation on Wednesday to ask for 20,000 more troops for Iraq, some real-life inquiry will begin.

Stephen Burke
for Ithaca Blog

Friday, January 05, 2007

Weekend Conte$t: T-Shirt Opinions

This week, we are interested in your opinion. Of course we are always interested in your opinion, but right now for money.

Send in an answer to our query and you are eligible to win a randomly-selected gift certificate for $10 from Small World Music.

Okay, our question: the new thing with t-shirts, no more tag on the back inside neck. Instead the product information is a print-on label. A boon or a bane?? Are you pro or con??

Send your opinion, in 3,000 words or less, directly to Small World Music at Winning entry selected on Tuesday. Good luck!

Steve Burke
for IB and SWM

Thursday, January 04, 2007

Ithaca Hours: A New Year for Ithaca's Own Money

2007 is the 16th year of operation for Ithaca Hours, the town's own money. Hours is preparing for the new year with its new annual Directory of members and participating businesses.

The idea behind Hours is simple. Like most Americans, most Ithacans live paycheck to paycheck, with not much extra. It doesn't mean people don't have resources and skills, and it sure doesn't mean they don't have needs. There's just not enough cash around to connect them.

That's where Hours comes in. Hours is a currency that looks and works just like cash money. You get them by becoming a member. Annual membership costs one Hour - or ten dollars. For that, you get two Ithaca Hours to spend locally. You also get a listing in the Directory for goods or services you can offer, for which you will accept some payment in Hours.

Some of the most prominent establishments in town accept Ithaca Hours: the public library, GreenStar Co-op, Ithaca Bakery, Autumn Leaves Books, The Bookery, Small World Music, Ten Thousand Villages, House of Shalimar, Sparrow's Wines and Liquors, Finger Lakes Beverage Center, The Frame Shop, Blue Spruce Painting and Decorating, Significant Elements, Renovus Energy, Ithaca Guitar Works, Macro Mama's, Maxie's, Viva Tacqueria, ABC Cafe, Graphic Touch Design and Illustration, 544 Productions Website Design, the Ithaca Health Alliance, Dr. Diane Reppert, Dr. David Cederbaum, Cayuga Medical Center, and hundreds more.

There are over $100,000 in Hours in circulation. Hours help people to supplement their incomes, and help businesses attract and retain customers.

Hours attract interest and visitors from all over the world, including the Japanese government, ABC News, Forbes Magazine, and many others.

Many visitors to Ithaca who are familiar with Hours before they arrive wonder why not everyone Ithaca uses Hours. If you are among these, this is a good time to find out about Hours, and to join. Hours is still in the process of putting together the 2007 print Directory, and it's not too late to be included. Check for more information.

The most recent media attention for Hours comes from the current issue of Communities magazine. Ithaca Blog will publish part of their coverage in a posting soon to come.

Stephen Burke
for Ithaca Blog

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

New Year's Eve Song Conte$t Answer

The answer(s) to our NYEve weekend contest: George Harrison, and "Ding Dong".

The winner: Mike, of Liverpool. No kidding, but it is Liverpool, NY.

Mike wins a $10 gift certificate to Small World Music. Mike, you might be interested in a used copy we have of George's posthumous CD, "Brainwashed". Let us know.

Thanks to all respondents. New contest every Friday!

Steve Burke
for Ithaca Blog and Small World Music