Ithaca Blog

Monday, December 24, 2007

New Year's Eve Festivities in Ithaca

Note from December 2008: engine searches for "ithaca new years" and the like have been leading to this page rather than the current one, in 2008. Check there for current info.)

It's still a week away, but we have been getting a lot of inquiries about New Year's Eve action in Ithaca. Here's what we know.

Felicia's Atomic Lounge gets the ball dropping early with a two-hour program of live show tune performance. From 6:30 - 8:30. After that, it's drink specials and whatever can happen in a room full of drinking people after two hours of show tunes. No cover.

The Sonic Planet radio program hosts a performance by gypsy band Gadje at the ABC Cafe, followed by a DJed dance party that figures to be strong on the big-beat world music. Doors open at 9, and Gadje will play at 10. There wil be food and drink available. Admission is $5, or one-half Ithaca Hour.

The Sim Redmond Band will be at Castaways, with Kevin Kinsella. Tickets are $12 in advance, $15 at the door. 9 pm.

Maxie's rolls up the carpet in the Breeze Room to make room for dancing, to DJ music. No cover charge; age 21-plus after 11 pm. The restaurant also has a special NYE Prix Fixe menu. Call for information and reservations: 272-4136.

In Trumansburg, Mudcat and Blue Sky Mission Club play at the Rongo. $5 cover. 9 pm.

cheers -
Steve Burke
for Ithaca Blog

Friday, December 21, 2007

Weekend Activities, Dec. 21-23

Fri. 12/21: Urban Horse Thieves are the bill for a Christmas party at Micawber's. 6 pm.

DJ Nicky Wood brings his Ultimate Dance Party to Pancho Villa, 602 W. State St. We were at a private party with Nicky as DJ last week and people got wacky. Showtime 9 pm.

Sat. 12/22: Jsan & the Analogue Sons at the Chapter House, 10 pm.

Sun. 12/23: It was misreported in some media as occuring yesterday, but the Burns Sisters Holiday Show is Sunday, 3 pm, at the Lost Dog Lounge. Another show has just been added for Sunday evening, starting at 6 pm.

Jairo Van Lunteren at Felicia's Lounge, with guests Johnny Dowd and Jeb Puryear. 7 pm.

And don't forget, music fans, Small World Music is open every day between now and Christmas.
614 W. State St., down the driveway, 11 am - 6 pm.

Have fun -
Steve Burke
for Ithaca Blog

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Extra Days Open at Small World Music

For our faithful I. Blog readers who are also faithful Small World Music shoppers (or thinking about it), we want to let you know that Small World Music will be open every day from now through Christmas, foregoing our usual Sunday & Monday closed days.

If you need music for the holidays, we are much more accessible than the mall (there will be a non-stop traffic jam on Triphammer Road from now through late Monday), and of course much more rikki-tik, in every way.

Pull into the driveway and park a few leg-lengths from our front door. Park on the street and you are still just 90 feet away. There is plenty of good music inside. We are also directly across the street from Finger Lakes Beverage, a very nice beer and soda store, if those things are on your shopping list.

We hope to see you soon. Open from 11 a.m. - 6 p.m.

Steve Burke
for I. Blog and Small World Music

Preserve Your Downtown: Shop There

The director of the Ithaca Downtown Partnership, Gary Ferguson, writes in this week's Ithaca Times, "There 's a generation of people, many in their 20s and 30s, who grew up without a downtown in their lives."

We're fortunate, having one here. It's filled with great shops and restaurants, surrounded by ample parking structures, and centered by a pedestrian mall which frequently hosts entertainment and community events.

Ferguson describes Ithaca's downtown as a rarity in our region, and the envy of other cities. He notes that "Out-of-area visitors are the fastest-growing segment of the downtown marketplace. People from greater Rochester and the Binghamton areas are coming to Ithaca with increasing frequency. Why? It is not because they seek traditional national retailers. They have plenty of those. Rather, they seek the experiential shopping and unique quality that our Ithaca shops have to offer."

At a time when even venerable locales such as Times Square and Harlem are losing their identities to national corporate businesses, Ithaca is still Ithaca. Help keep it intact, with your presence and support.

Stephen Burke
for Ithaca Blog

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Tidings of Comfort and Joy Verifiable

Don't worry if you feel happy at the holidays. It turns out to be normal.

Despite occasional warnings from health professionals about the stresses of gift-giving and get-togethers (and the cinematic image of jittery Jimmy Stewart careening towards the Bedford Falls bridge on Christmas Eve in "It's A Wonderful Life"), studies show that suicide rates approach an annual low in December.

Researchers speculate that nearness to loved ones counters not only whatever stress the holidays might hold, but also the ancillary ailment of Seasonal Affective Disorder, a depressive syndrome brought on by the short days of winter.

So don't hesitate to turn on your love light for friends and family this season. You're doing them quantifiable medical good. Yourself, too.

Stephen Burke
for Ithaca Blog

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Send a Truckload of Relief to New Orleans for Xmas

Love Know No Bounds, Ithaca's grassroots volunteer group bringing relief to post-hurricane New Orleans, is sending its ninth truckload of materials and workers to the city's Seventh Ward this holiday season.

The group is soliciting help with a fundraising concert Sunday, 16 Dec., starting at 2 pm, at the Haunt.

Participating musicians include Richie Stearns, Hubcap, Chad Crumm, Burke and Bone, Vitamin L, Jairo van Lunteren, and others.

Admission is $10 and all proceeds go to the continuing relief effort. Part of LKNB's work is to establish a long-term, sister city relationship between Ithaca and the Seventh Ward. Information is available at

Stephen Burke
for Ithaca Blog

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Those Low Prices at Wal-Mart

The National Labor Committee reports that Christmas ornaments sold at Wal-Mart come from a Chinese manufacturer with 12- and 13-year old workers who are brought with false promises to urban factories from remote rural areas, systematically cheated of wages, and used on overnight shifts of 10 to 15 hours, 7 days a week.

Meanwhile, in the United States, a California court ruled that a case alleging bias towards women workers at Wal-Mart can go forth as a class-action lawsuit covering more than a million women claiming over a billion dollars in illegally withheld wages and benefits.

Stephen Burke
for Ithaca Blog

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Less-Hard Times at the Holiday Post Office

We do many mailings at all times for Small World Music at the post office on Tioga Street, and realized yesterday that at Christmas time many novice mailers are there, having a bad time. So here are a few tips for better post office trips.

1. Leave early rather than hurrying. Actually, this applies always. Hurrying takes a maximum of one-third off your time. Maximum. Usually much less. And hurrying creates stress, occasional injury, and feelings of hatred which, although situational, can become habitual.

2. Carry your postings in a large bag that you can carry on your shoulder or back, rather than by hand. It keeps you from having to hold them in your arms on line, which is likely to be a long time. Last night, the line at closing time was 30 minutes long - no lie. And it leaves your hands free for tip #3, which is ...

3. Bring something to read. Yesterday I knocked off two sections of the Sunday NY Times, showing the guy in front of me how to fold the Times in eighths, like the subway strap-hanger I was for years, which enables you to read the big broadsheet with only one hand. Of course, the post office does not lurch, so this is not really necessary. But it's good to stay in practice.

Follow these simple tips, and you will have an okay and productive time, and appreciate the hard work of the mail clerks, rather than yelling at them, as one woman did, for not staying open as late as Fed Ex. Don't do that, it's gauche.

Peaceful holidays -
Steve Burke
for Ithaca Blog

Friday, December 07, 2007

#1 Shopping Tip: Small World Music

We're not neutral, but we wouldn't be helping anybody if we didn't recommend our humble CD store, Small World Music (physical home of Ithaca Blog, at 614 W. State St.) as a unique and bargain-laden spot for holiday gifts.

Minding money is a must at holiday time, no matter how gleeful a giver one might be. Here's how we expressed it in an ad in GreenLeaf, GreenStar Co-op's monthly newsletter:

Music is your affordable choice for holiday gifts with emotional content! Books are solitary, candles burn away, but music is shared, and lasts. Small World Music has the newest releases, hard-to-find items, gift certificates, everything you need, including prompt special ordering. Everything always below list price. Plenty of good, used inventory, too, at bargain prices. Two blocks from GreenStar, 614 W. State St., Tuesday - Saturday 11 am - 6 pm. 256-0428.

We are also pleased by brief praise in this week's Ithaca Times holiday shopping section, which said,

It's easy to forget Small World Music, because it's so tucked away, but it's your best bet when searching for music that falls in the category of world/folk/jazz/rock.

That's a pretty big category, we reckon, but we should note that we have lots of new, mainstream music, too, such as Alicia Keys, Kanye West, Talib Kweli, Madeline Peyroux, and Amy Winehouse, and old favorites such as Charlie Brown's Christmas.

There's more information about Small World Music in sideboard ads here on Ithaca Blog. We hope to see you and to help you towards a happy holiday.

Steve Burke
for Ithaca Blog and Small World Music

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Senator Al Franken

We prefaced yesterday's posting about Brad Pitt and his new project to build houses in the Ninth Ward of New Orleans with the requisite remark about the widespread silliness of celebrity culture in the U.S., before going on to describe Mr. Pitt's admirable use of his resources.

Today we note another exception to the rule of celebrity vapidity, with the announced candidacy of Al Franken for Senator in his home state of Minnesota.

Mr. Franken is a renowned comic writer and performer, with a long personal history of political activism leading to this candidacy. Unlike Stephen Colbert's candidacy for president, which Mr. Colbert hopes to have sponsored by Doritos, Franken's is serious.

Of course, some observers disparage Franken's suitability for public office, based on his career. But Franken is intelligent (a Harvard graduate) and articulate. He is also funny, and we don't see why that should be disqualifying. If anything, it should be requisite.

One wonders why Mr. Franken's critics are not concerned instead with traits such as greedy, arrogant, mendacious, calculating, hard-hearted, or soft-headed, which one finds rampant among politicians.

I once saw a picture of Al Gore at a party balancing a broom on his chin. If he had done such nifty parlor tricks on the campaign trail in 2000 - or, maybe, had Al Franken writing some of his material (I mean, speeches) - he might have picked up some of the class clown votes which were crucial to Bush's win.

We wish Al Franken success.

Steve Burke
for Ithaca Blog

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Brad Pitt Announces Housing Effort for New Orleans

It's not usually worthwhile paying much attention to celebrities, but it is in the case of Brad Pitt and New Orleans.

This week, the actor announced a project to build affordable, environmentally-advanced housing in the Ninth Ward of New Orleans, where many remain homeless even on the verge of the third Christmas since Hurricane Katrina.

The project, called Make It Right, commissioned 13 architectural firms to design 1,200-square-foot housing that can be built for $150,000 a unit, with green elements to reduce upkeep costs, and architectural features to respond to threats of flooding.

Mr. Pitt, with longstanding affection for New Orleans and an interest in architecture, has pledged $5 million to the project, and is soliciting support from philanthropies, businesses, and the public.

The project website,, has opportunities for contributing by "adopting" a low-flush toilet, a tree, a solar panel, a portion of a house, or a house, or by buying merchandise such as clothing and bags for Christmas giving.

Locally in Ithaca, the group Love Knows No Bounds provides development help to the Seventh Ward of New Orleans, and welcomes involvement and donations:

Stephen Burke
for Ithaca Blog