Ithaca Blog

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Something In Ithaca Loves A Benefit

There is something of the boulevardier mixed with benefactor in many Ithacans, loving to go out, and also loving to support good causes.

Saturday holds a mix of literature, music, and help for a worthy organization, with a book release party for Bob Proehl's "Gilded Palace of Sin." Music by Proehl's subject, the Flying Burrito Brothers, will be performed by Mary Lorson, Johnny Dowd, and others. Proceeds go to the Cancer Resource Center, on W. State Street. The event is at Castaways. Our understanding is that doors open at 8 for a scheduled 9 pm show; you might want to call. Castaways' phone is 272-1370.

On Sunday, GrassRoots Festival musicians play a benefit at the Rongo for Timmy Brown (see Ithaca Blog posting from Sunday 15 February for details). The show goes from 2 - 9 pm. The Rongo's phone is 387-3334.

On Friday 6 March, a Benefit For Iraqi Refugees presents Yair Dalal and Rahim Alhaj, master oud players and composers, whose own families are refugees of Iraq. All proceeds go to the Iraqi Refugee Connection Program, which aids former Iraqi translators and interpreters seeking refuge in the United States. Tickets are $24 ($16 in advance for students and seniors) and are available at Small World Music (256-0428) and the Ithaca Guitar Works.

Finally, as reported previously in Ithaca Blog, a benefit for the Ithaca Catholic Worker peace and justice group by Irish singer Karan Casey has been cancelled due to the sudden death of Catholic Worker member Peter DeMott, husband of concert organizer Ellen Grady. Support can be sent to Ellen Grady at 133 Sheffield Road, Ithaca NY, 14850.

Stephen Burke
for Ithaca Blog

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

"Be joyful, though you have considered all the facts": A Poem From Peter DeMott's Funeral

Peter DeMott's daughters went to the pulpit at his funeral Monday and spoke of their father, and read one of his favorite poems, by Wendell Berry. The title, I believe, is "Manifesto: The Mad Farmer Liberation Front."

Love the quick profit, the annual raise,
vacation with pay. Want more
of everything ready-made. Be afraid
to know your neighbors and to die.
And you will have a window in your head.
Not even your future will be a mystery
anymore. Your mind will be punched in a card
and shut away in a little drawer.
When they want you to buy something
they will call you. When they want you
to die for profit they will let you know.
So, friends, every day do something
that won't compute. Love the Lord.
Love the world. Work for nothing.
Take all that you have and be poor.
Love someone who does not deserve it.
Denounce the government and embrace
the flag. Hope to live in that free
republic for which it stands.
Give your approval to all you cannot
understand. Praise ignorance, for what man
has not encountered he has not destroyed.
Ask the questions that have no answers.
Invest in the millennium. Plant sequoias.
Say that your main crop is the forest
that you did not plant,
that you will not live to harvest.
Say that the leaves are harvested
when they have rotted into the mold.
Call that profit. Prophesy such returns.
Put your faith in the two inches of humus
that will build under the trees
every thousand years.
Listen to carrion - put your ear
close, and hear the faint chattering
of the songs that are to come.
Expect the end of the world. Laugh.
Laughter is immeasurable. Be joyful
though you have considered all the facts.
So long as women do not go cheap
for power, please women more than men.
Ask yourself: will this satisfy
a woman satisfied to bear a child?
Will this disturb the sleep
of a woman near to giving birth?
Go with your love to the fields.
Lie easy in the shade. Rest your head
in her lap. Swear allegiance
to what is nighest in your thoughts.
As soon as the generals and the politicos
can predict the motions of your mind,
lose it. Leave it as a sign
to mark the false trail, the way
you didn't go. Be like the fox
who makes more tracks than necessary,
some in the wrong direction.
Practice resurrection.

- Wendell Berry


Stephen Burke
for Ithaca Blog

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Karan Casey Concert Cancelled

Ellen Grady announced the cancellation of a concert by Karan Casey planned for next month in Ithaca.

The concert was planned for March 23. Ellen and Karan announced the show last Thursday. Ellen's husband, Peter DeMott, died suddenly later that day.

At present, there are no plans for re-scheduling.

The concert was planned as a benefit for Ellen and Peter's group, the Ithaca Catholic Worker.

Donations to the DeMott - Grady family can be sent to Ellen Grady, 133 Sheffield Road, Ithaca NY, 14850.

Stephen Burke
for Ithaca Blog

Friday, February 20, 2009

Peter DeMott, Man of Peace, Rest In Peace

Peter DeMott of Ithaca died yesterday in an accident while working. He was 62.

Peter was a veteran of both the U.S. Army and Marines who became one of the leading anti-war activists in America.

Peter once told the New York Times he could not remember how many times he had been arrested for civil disobedience. "I usually round it off to a couple of dozen times," he said.

Most recently, Peter was imprisoned for participating in a non-violent protest on March 17, 2003, at the start of the Bush administration's invasion of Iraq.

The protesters, known as the St. Patrick's 4, included Peter's sisters-in-law, Clare and Teresa Grady, and Daniel Burns of Ithaca.

Peter leaves behind his wife, Ellen Grady, and their 4 daughters.

News of Peter's death was broadcast nationally this morning on the Democracy Now program.

A memorial service is planned for Sunday, from 3 - 7 pm, at the Women's Community Building. A funeral Mass will be held at the Immaculate Conception Church on Monday, at 12:45.

Stephen Burke
for Ithaca Blog

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Irish Singer Karan Casey In Benefit Concert In Ithaca, March 23

[Please note: this concert has been cancelled, as explained in a subsequent Ithaca Blog posting. We leave this initial posting up, to clarify the chain of events.]

Irish singer Karan Casey will perform a concert to benefit Ithaca Catholic Worker, the peace and justice group, om Monday 23 March.

The concert was announced today by Ellen Grady of the Catholic Worker.

The event will be Ms. Casey's sixth performance in Ithaca to support peace and justice work. The first was as singer with the Irish group, Solas. Since then, she has appeared with her own quartet.

The concert will be in the auditorium of Anabel Taylor Hall at Cornell.

Ithaca Blog will report ticket details as soon as they are set.

Stephen Burke
for Ithaca Blog

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Benefit Concert For Timmy Brown

Timmy Brown, #1 reclusive mainstay of the Ithaca music scene, suffered a brain aneurysm some months ago, and continues to recuperate in hospital in North Carolina, near the GrassRoots Festival outpost there.

A benefit concert has been announced to help with Timmy's expenses. Some of the biggest names in Ithaca music will participate, at the Rongovian Embassy in Trumansburg, on Sunday, 1 March.

Featured performers will include Sim Redmond Band, Jennie Stearns, Evil City String Band, Paso Fino, Chicken Chokers, and Who You Are.

The event is scheduled from 2 - 9 pm.

Steve Burke
for Ithaca Blog

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Hard Times At the Downtown Post Office

We don't blame the dedicated (and over-worked) staff there, but the paucity of service at the downtown post office is reaching critical proportions.

It's bad, and will get worse, with new shorter hours this month.

On a trip there Monday afternoon, the line was the length of the building, and would have gone out the building, except people turned around and left rather than wait outdoors. There were 20-plus people on line, and 2 clerks. The wait was over half an hour.

On a trip this morning, it was better, though not good: a 15-minute wait for service.

The only way to avoid this postal purgatory is to arrive after the last delivery truck leaves at 5:25 pm. This is kind of beside the point, of course, to go a day before your mail will move, but that's the way it is.

Now, however, this will no longer be possible, as the office will no longer stay open until 6:30, but will close at 5.

Of course, if you get there at 5, there is no guarantee you will be served before the 5:25 departure of the truck.

We guess the new cuts, and the usual short-staffing, has to do with the deficit the post office incurs. It is hard to imagine, however, that this particular branch loses money. It is understaffed by at least half, with captive customers who will stay and provide business even if it means wasting a significant part of their work day.

We think it's time for local officials and business leaders to talk with the bosses at USPS.

It's becoming a municipal issue, considering the loss of economic productivity caused by what is essentially a utility, or at least a vital public service.

Surely the USPS has figures that show the amount of business at this branch - our sole downtown facility - cannot be handled by two staffers (which goes down to one, when one goes on break).

In the meantime, we recommend you do like we do. We bring books. Big, big books. And crossword puzzles. (The Sunday puzzle. The dailies are too short.)

If the USPS bosses can't or won't do anything, maybe we can stave the losses to the local economy by creating some ancillary businesses out front: news stand, lunch wagon, shoeshine booth, watch repair? And inside, chair massages, ear piercing, tattoos?

Steve Burke
for Ithaca Blog (and Small World Music's mail order division!)

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

February 14 Alert

Okay, lover-men and -women, get moving. February 14 is 3 days away, this Saturday, and you don't want to suffer from procrastination.

Jewelry stores are like other stores - they run out of good stuff. Wait too long, and what you're likely to find are things you either don't like, or can't afford.

We recommend Mickey Roof's shop, the Jewel Box, as a place with interesting goods. They are neighbors of ours here at Small World Music, in the enthralling West End of Ithaca.

We would be remiss if we didn't mention beautiful music as a natural expression of romantic ardor. The new CD by Robert Plant and Alison Krauss is nice (and also just won the Grammy for album of the year). Small World Music also has sultry Jazz, lively Latin, and the proverbial Much More.

For you unsigned soldiers of love, let us recommend a way to turn this otherwise tough day into a day of opportunity. Go to the "search" function here on Ithaca Blog and type in Valentines Day to see our posting from last year, where we boost a scheme ("Valentines Day Tip For The Unattached"). It couldn't hurt.

Steve Burke
for Ithaca Blog and Small World Music

Saturday, February 07, 2009

Movies For The Possibly Shallow (Three Cheers)

I had to tell my movie (and other) friend JDD today, no and Holy Toledo, I do not wish to go see this picture, "Let The Right One In."

I never heard of it, and didn't need to, once I saw the website. The decision process took 20 seconds, or as long as it took me to read the words "dark" and "disturbing," and to see the promo picture of a young woman looking haggard yet bored as blood trickles out her mouth.

No, thanks. I know movies are an art form, and I don't mind being edified, but I don't want to be horrified. In most circumstances, I will prefer to see people not bleeding, and in the best situation, making jokes.

As Bob Dylan wisely noted long ago, it takes a lot to laugh, and just a train to cry (they take people away; they blow lonesome - emblematic, see).

We saw "Frost/Nixon" last night, and that was smart and serious, yet without any torture (except maybe Nixon, of himself).

Life has plenty of darkness and disturbance for me without inventing more. "Let The Right One In" is an ironically good title. It ain't me, babe. Likewise, I will prefer good dreams over nightmares, tonight.

Steve Burke
for Ithaca Blog

Friday, February 06, 2009

Things To Do in Ithaca, Feb. 6 - 8

There's a lot to do, and possibly warmer weather for it.

Fri. 2/6: The Hogwashers at Felicia's happy hour, 5:30 pm.

The Small Kings, at the Community Center Cafe in Dryden, 7 pm.

Stars, indie pop from Canada, at the State Theater, 8 pm.

Bob Marley Birthday Celebration, with Kevin Kinsella. Castaways, 9 pm.

* * *

Sat. 2/7: Paint-Off Benefit for the Ithaca Festival. Instant masterpieces while-u-wait by area artists. Music by Eric Aceto, Kevin Kinsella, and Hank Roberts. Center Ithaca, 7 pm.

John Specker, GrassRoots Festival favorite, in performance for the Cornell Folk Song Society. McGraw Hall, Cornell, 8 pm. $15 advance tickets available at Small World Music; $17.50 at the door.

Candypants, with the Ones, Chapter House, 10 pm.

* * *

Sun. 2/8: Jennie Lowe (formerly Stearns), with Chris Seeds and Erin Arin, at Felicia's, 7 pm.

Long John and the Tights at Bound For Glory, Anabel Taylor Hall, Cornell. First set, 8:30 pm.

have fun -
Steve Burke

Awesomeness in the Modern World

From what I hear around me, there is a surplus of awe in the world today that is practically phenomenal.

Almost every day, I achieve an act of awe. At least one. People tell me so.

It happened today at the store. The cashier told me what I owed, and I said, "I'll give you cash." And the cashier said, "Awesome." I got the same response the day before when I told the cashier I would pack my groceries in the bag I brought.

I'm not trying to awe people, which I think might hinder their duties or ability to concentrate, but it doesn't seem to, so I guess it's alright.

It's funny that so many people are so awed in an era when radical innovation is so commonplace, and the people who express the least awe are the ones who ostensibly should feel it most.

If my father, for instance, who still has a rotary phone, is awed by the fact that people today have private conversations in public spaces, including rest rooms, for example, on devices that can also take pictures, and are out and about in public rest rooms, he hasn't let on.

Maybe it is just younger people, who are naturally exuberant, although when I was younger, there still was not so much awe. I do recall there was a certain appreciation of "excellence," and maybe a surplus of that.

I do remember probably awing this kid Frankie DeRizzo, once, when a group of us were walking through the park, and I spat, in an arc in front of me, and kicked the expectoration with the toe of my boot into another arc of perhaps 25 feet. Frankie didn't realize that it was an ice cube, and not a gob of saliva, so the laws of physics and chemistry had not really been circumvented, as he thought. But he didn't say it was awesome. He said something unprintable, and then something incoherent, and I soon came to realize that his perception of the situation was affected by some plant matter he had smoked. I do, however, think he was pretty much awed, at least momentarily.

I don't mean to suggest that all these awed people are smoking plant matter. I hesitate to think what things would be like, if they did. Phantasmagorical, I guess.

Steve Burke
for Ithaca Blog

Tuesday, February 03, 2009

John Specker Fiddles In Town This Saturday

Another harbinger of yearly summertime fun at GrassRoots Festival (advance tickets go on sale at Small World Music and other locations on Valentine's Day) is a rare other appearance by festival favorite John Specker, this Saturday, for the Cornell Folk Song Club.

John is a mighty big man at GrassRoots, where he appears every year, from the enclave in Vermont which he rarely leaves, otherwise.

Usually it's just John, his fiddle, his chair, and his stomping feet, tapping the primordial to summon the sublime - the John Lee Hooker of mountain music. Sometimes, lately, he is accompanied by his two daughters, in whom he clearly delights.

The show is at 165 McGraw Hall at Cornell. We suggest getting tickets early. They are available at Small World Music now, for $15 ($17.50 at the show).

Steve Burke
for Ithaca Blog & Small World Music