Ithaca Blog

Friday, July 27, 2007

Weekend Picks, July 27 - 29

Friday, July 27: Traonach, who are leading a burgeoning of Celtic music in this area, play a free, happy hour gig at Felicia's Atomic Lounge. In the enchanting alleyway, 5:30 pm.

Two (more) free shows, up east hill. The Burns Sisters perform at 6:30 at the Cornell Business and Technology Park, on Brown Road, near the airport. The Destination plays at 7:30 on Cornell's Arts Quad.

Saturday, 28 July: The Sim Redmond Band plays at Taughannock State Park. $5 to park, otherwise free. Prepare for a rare, slight traffic jam at the entrance on Rt. 89!

Sunday, 29 July: Johnny Russo, Ithaca's ambassador of jazz, will play at the Farmer's Market, 11 am. Pick up a copy of Johnny's new CD. Also, a Jollyburger, Ithaca's newest meatless taste sensation. Tell them Ithaca Blog sent you.

Steve Burke
for Ithaca Blog

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Standing Room Only for "St. Patrick's Four" Film

Last night's showing of a new documentary on the St. Patrick's Four, the Iraq war protesters from Ithaca, drew a capacity crowd to Cinemapolis, despite a lack of advertising for the event.

An extended run seems like a good idea. Ithaca Blog has contacted Cinemapolis but has not received a reply. We will let you know as soon as we do. Meanwhile, if you want to see it, consider calling them, too.

Steve Burke
for Ithaca Blog

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

"St. Patrick's Four" Film at Cinemapolis, Tonight (Only)

It is late notice, but Ithaca Blog just received word that tonight, Cinemapolis will host a screening of a new film about the St. Patrick's Four, the Iraq war protesters from Ithaca.

The film will screen at 7:15.

On March 17, 2003 - St. Patrick's Day - four anti-war protesters engaged in civil disobedience against the impending invasion of Iraq at a military recruitment station in Ithaca. The four were exonerated by a hung jury at trial in Ithaca, but were subsequently brought up on the same charges in federal court in Binghamton, where they were again found innocent of the most serious criminal charges, but imprisoned for lesser ones.

The film tells their story, and examines the rights of non-violence advocates to protest meaningfully in our democracy.

Ithaca Blog will report on possible future showings of the film.

Stephen Burke
for Ithaca Blog

Monday, July 23, 2007

GrassRoots 2007 Breakout Artist

Reporting back from GrassRoots Festival:

We love GrassRoots as much as anyone, and appreciate with amazement how, for four days, the Trumansburg Fairgrounds becomes a beautiful, intensified reflection of this creative, loving community.

We also appreciate how four days of camping can rekindle your love for your bed, your routine, and porcelain.

The most exciting thing each year at the festival is to see who the breakout artist will be. In the past two years it has been the Avett Brothers and Musafir. This year it was no newcomer, but Hugh Masekela, the veteran jazz trumpeter from South Africa.

Most people who know Masekela at all will know him for his sole hit song, from the 1960's, "Grazing In the Grass." But his performance Saturday night showed him to be a consummate composer, bandleader, trumpeter, singer, stage presence, and ambassador of world music.

Masekela's playing, and even moreso his voice, had the strength and passion of someone decades younger. Our friend and keen appraiser of such things, Hollywood Joe, said, "It was like hearing Miles Davis and James Brown, at the top of their game, in one person."

Masekela enthralled the crowd with stories of defeating aparetheid in South Africa. He performed "Mandela," his anthem to his friend.

He elicited laughter with casually risque stage patter, and enthusiasm with talk of togetherness and love.

It was a great performance - and a lesson that newness, freshness, and impact are not provinces exclusively of the young.

Stephen Burke
for Ithaca Blog

Friday, July 20, 2007

Ithaca Blog on Vacation

Ithaca Blog will be on vacation, or at least hiatus, until after the GrassRoots Festival.

Thanks and see you soon -

Steve Burke
for Ithaca Blog

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Decline of Stewart Park Reaches Notice of Ithaca Journal

We were happy to see the Ithaca Journal's piece today about the decline of Stewart Park and possible remedies. A similar piece ran in Ithaca Blog on 29 June ("Stewart Park: Big Park, Lean Budget").

The Journal noted, as we did here, that the park's decline is largely a matter of fiscal priorities.

We bet that the city pays a lot more maintaining parking areas, for example, than Stewart Park. The park runs on an annual budget of less than $100,000. That's labor, materials - everything.

Of course, it you don't maintain parking lots and garages, they get run down, and more expensive to fix, eventually. But the same is true with the park.

If there was insufficient money in the budget to maintain parking areas, we would simply raise their budgets so they wouldn't fall into disrepair. We should do the same for Stewart Park.

The time, it would seem, is now. We look forward to the Journal following this story in the months leading up to city elections, as we will in Ithaca Blog.

Stephen Burke

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

GrassRoots Tickets Information For the Last-Minute Buyer

1. Today (Tuesday, 17 July), GrassRoots Festival advance sale weekend tickets are still available at Small World Music., 614 W. State St., 256-0428. We are open until 6 pm.

Tickets may still be available here tomorrow. But at some point GrassRoots people will be here to collect them. We open at 11 am.

2. Advance sale weekend tickets are $85.

3. Weekend tickets sold at the gate cost $110.

4. Cash or check is necessary for advance sales purchase. (There is an ATM at Alternatives Credit Union, down the street from Small World Music.)

5. Tickets for individual days are not available in advance. They must be purchased at the gate.

6. Tickets are no longer available on the GrassRoots web site. It is too late for orders to be processed. There is good info at the site, though, including programs for all 4 days:

see you there -
Steve Burke

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Ithaca Weekend: More Free Shows, 13 and 14 July

Summer is the time for fine music in splendid settings, for free. There were three nice shows last weekend; and this weekend, too.

Friday the 13th: Chad Crumm and Friends at Felicia's Atomic Lounge, 518 W. State St., 5:30 pm. Chad is one of the seminal architects of that elusive "Ithaca Sound" (cf. Horseflies, Donna the Buffalo, Johnny Dowd). A Happy Hour show in the elegant alleyway between Felicia's and Gimme Coffee.

Traonach is the reigning Celtic band of Ithaca, and well beyond (see previous Blog posting, "Ithaca, Capital of Celtic Music?"). They do a free show on the Cornell Arts Quad at 7:30 pm. Bring picnic & outdoor accoutrements.

Saturday 7/14: The Crow Greenspun Band play their original folk-rock-soul-hip hop at Taughannock Falls. $5 to park, otherwise free. Another picnic opportunity. Finger Lakes Wines for sale by the bottle or glass, or BYOE. 7 pm.

What's not to enjoy -
Steve Burke
for Ithaca Blog

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Ithaca Hours on NPR's "Morning Edition"

"Morning Edition" on National Public Radio ran a segment this morning on Ithaca's local currency, Ithaca Hours.

"Ithaca, N.Y. Forms Currency For Local Use" is the title of the segment. The reporter visits Small World Music, Autumn Leaves Books, and Littletree Orchard's booth at the Farmers Market, all of which accept Hours, and Starbucks, which doesn't.

You can hear it by visiting Find out more about Hours by visiting

Stephen Burke
for Ithaca Blog

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

GrassRoots Tickets Are Available at Advance Sale Price!

GrassRoots Festival tickets are available for sale at a discounted, advance-sale price, despite contradictory information around town.

Advance sale tickets are $85 for the 4-day festival, which starts on Thursday, 19 July.

Tickets at the gate are $110.

The confusion apparently stems from the fact that advance sales on-line from the GrassRoots website will stop on Wednesday, 11 July, since the festival can't guarantee on-time processing past then.

But tickets will be available at outlets around town, until they run out, which they won't necessarily, but it is a good idea not to wait until the last day (or last few days, even).

There's a lot of festival info at, or feel free to call us here at Small World Music/Ithaca Blog, at 256-0428. We have tickets for sale here and are open 11 am - 6 pm, Tuesday through Saturday.

Steve Burke

Friday, July 06, 2007

Weekend Picks: Three Free Shows, July 6 - 8

Three great shows, one each night, all free.

Friday 6 July: The Contradictions play fiddle-based old-timey tunes in a free show on the Arts Quad at Cornell. 7:30 pm.

Saturday 7 July: The Burns Sisters play their heralded brand of folk-rock-country, heavy on the harmony, in a free show (except for parking) at Taughannock Falls State Park. 7 pm.

Sunday 8 July: Ithaca's sweetheart, Mary Lorson, leads her band Saint Low in at Maxie's restaurant, 6 pm.

Have fun -
Steve Burke
for Ithaca Blog

Thursday, July 05, 2007

Open Letter to Friends and Readers on Independence Day

We, and a few other people, got an e-mail message from our friend Nick on Independence Day, about the latest blatant malfeasance of the Bush administration, in the Scooter Libby case.

Like a lot of people we know, Nick would like to see impeachment proceedings against Bush and Cheney. In the realm of things we can control, Nick was calling for diligent citizenry on Independence Day - and beyond, of course - as our democratic prerogatives are beseiged by officials who find them inconvenient.

We wrote back to Nick with emphatic empathy, with similar thoughts on the subject. We thought we'd open that letter here to Ithaca Blog readers, as it explains a bit what we are trying to do on this site:


I agree completely, that our country is threatened by our own officials, subverting our laws.

In the Libby case, which stems from the war in Iraq, we see that the administration lied to the U.N., to intelligence officials, to the press, and to American law enforcement.

When found guilty in a court of law, they commute their own sentences, and close the case.

I'm glad you took the time to write. It's important for all of us to talk about what we see. Otherwise we get caught in the apathy and hopelessness of thinking no one else notices or cares.

Fifteen years ago I was in Washington preparing for a career in journalism. What I found there among the media were a lot of people of middling ability and ambition who were primarily interested in easy work, in corporate jobs, rather than careers dedicated to serving the public with intellect and nerve.

While I thought about leaving, I talked to an older reporter and teacher. He said, "Steve, if you want to know the truth, don't talk to the government. Talk to your neighbors." It was like a grade-B movie scene: get out, kid, while you can. There's still time for you.

So I got out. He was right. Look at our own senator today, Hillary Clinton. Obviously a person of great intelligence and skill. But when we needed her leadership on the question of war, she ducked. She hid. She says now she didn't know enough then to know the war was wrong. Who was she listening to? Who was she talking to? Not to me or my neighbors. We all knew. That's what my teacher was telling me. Your neighbors can see the truth and will tell the truth. Your leaders might see the truth, but they won't tell you.

Now I'm trying to do my litle bit with Ithaca Blog. We write about local things, but also larger issues. I try to write in a way that respects the truth as the ultimate goal. I try to do it in a way that repects the reader - no rants or raves here. No foul language. Using whatever skill I can muster in trying to see, think, and talk straight.

Do me a favor and tell your friends about the Blog. Maybe together, the little bit we each do will be magnified and make a difference.

Meanwhile, take heart and have faith and find pleasure in the effort.


Tuesday, July 03, 2007

Libby Case: Justice is Blind-Sided

The New York Times says President Bush's commutation of the jail sentence of I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby "came as a surprise."

Maybe not, if one considers the president's earliest words about the case in the right light.

Libby was sentenced to prison for lying to a grand jury about leaks from the administration that were designed to punish Joseph Wilson, an early critic of the war in Iraq, and intimidate other critics. The leaks revealed the identity of Wilson's wife, Valerie Plame, as an undercover agent of the CIA.

Early in the investigation, on Sept. 30, 2003, President Bush commented on the proceedings:

"There's leaks in the executive branch; there's leaks in the legislative branch. There's just too many leaks. And if there is a leak out of my administration, I want to know who it is. And if the person has violated the law, the person will be taken care of."

Mr. Bush was true to his word. Mr. Libby was taken care of.

Usually, according to Justice Department standards, "requests for commutation generally are not accepted unless and until a person has begun serving that sentence," which Mr. Libby hasn't, and are generally not granted to those appealing their convictions, which Mr. Libby is.

Margaret Colgate Love, the pardon lawyer at the Justice Department for most of the 1990s, said, "I can't think of a recent commutation that was granted before at least some prison time was served."

Additionally, cooperation with prosecutors is an important consideration in granting commutation. It seems clear that in this case, past non-cooperation is the requirement, and its continuation the goal.

Stephen Burke
for Ithaca Blog