Ithaca Blog

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Call State Theater For Free Amy Goodman Tix

The State Theater will save people a trip to their box office and, with a phone call, reserve free tickets for tonight's appearance by Amy Goodman - "if you're sure you're coming," we were told.

We are, and they did.

Call the theater at 27-STATE to reserve tickets for the 7 pm event.

Steve Burke
for Ithaca Blog

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Amy Goodman and Glenn Greenwald Speak At State Theater, Tues. 31 March

Amy Goodman of the "Democracy Now" news broadcast and blogger Glenn Greenwald will appear at the State Theater this Tuesday, 31 March, at 7 pm, to receive the first annual "Izzy" Award from Ithaca College for pioneering journalists.

The award is named for the late independent journalist I.F. "Izzy" Stone.

Admission is free, but tickets are required. The free tickets are available at the State Theater box office.

Steve Burke
for Ithaca Blog

Ithaca in DC Protest Online

Local views, including text and video, of the recent DC rally against war in the Middle East are now available at

Steve Burke
for Ithaca Blog

Friday, March 27, 2009

Ein Klein Beruhmtheit For Ithaca in Germany, Through Ithaca Hours

Joerg Pfeiffer, a video journalist from Germany's "Der Spiegel" magazine, came to Ithaca this week on a cross-country trip he is documenting about notable places in the U.S.

His main focus was Ithaca's local currency, Ithaca Hours.

The video, viewable at, features interviews at Alternatives Federal Credit Union, Silk Oak Clothing, and Small World Music. There is also footage of Ithaca Bakery, GreenStar, Autumn Leaves Books, and Cayuga Medical Center - all Hours participants - as well as the Commons, Stewart Park, Cascadilla Creek, and area neighborhoods.

The Ithaca Hours website usually averages about 100 hits a day. Today it is about one per minute.

Danke and gut Arbeit, Joerg -

Steve Burke
for Ithaca Blog & Hours

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Is Your Facebook Information Being Marketed?

You know those fun little quizzes you take on Facebook about your real biological age, or who you were in another life?

With permission you give in order to take these quizzes, the information you provide becomes legal for sale to marketers, drug companies and, presumably, anyone willing to pay for it.

You might consider it personal that you take antidepressants, have two drinks a day, are sexually active, or consider your marriage unhappy. But you lose your right to privacy about such information when you provide it to these online quizzes, and companies such as Pfizer, GlaxoSmithKline, and others are buying it.

Has your own personal information been compiled for marketing? Thirty-seven guesses, as an old teacher of mine used to say about simple questions.

Steve Burke
for Ithaca Blog

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Alash Meets the Evil City String Band at the Lost Dog Lounge

It sounds like a wrestling card or a grade-B movie. But it is actually a fine and unique amalgam of world music, presented in Ithaca this Friday, 27 March .

It is a bill that spans the globe. Alash is a group of cowboys from Mongolia who sing in an eerie but captivating style called throat singing. From the diaphragm and throat, the singers create multiple notes simultaneously. The sound, once assimilated by the listener, reveals sounds of nature as its ultimate inspiration. Like traditional American cowboys, these men spend a lot of time in remote country, and their art reflects that.

Rounding out the worldly tableau is Ithaca's own Evil City String Band. To Alash, maybe this music sounds exotic. But it has similar strains of remote, country lonesomeness, tempered by jubilation that comes because it has to.

The double bill is presented at the Lost Dog Lounge at 8 pm. Tickets are $15 and will probably sell out for the small venue, so get yours soon. They are available at Small World Music.

Steve Burke
for Ithaca Blog

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Distracted From Our Lives

Today brings news that four major cities in Michigan are losing daily newspapers to insolvency, as Denver and Seattle have recently.

Many papers in the Gannett chain are said to be in trouble, including the Ithaca Journal.

Buying a newspaper is now old-fashioned as a system of communication. On-line is quicker and cheaper.

It is not necessarily better. The New York Times is a worthy site. So is the website of the "Democracy Now" broadcast by Amy Goodman.

There are not many others, especially considering the amount of time people spend on line. Much of what is offered is distraction - attractive, but empty.

Much media is also largely repetitive, with the 24/7 news cycle. The stories one hears on NPR are much the same in content and tone from one day to the next. Similarly, the guests and topics on even such commendable efforts as the Rachel Maddow and Keith Olbermann shows repeat from night to night.

Old-fashioned newspapers - the type that are fading away - dealt with local issues, of interest to a defined audience. Today, websites and other media have essentially limitless audiences, so the content is less specific - and so, ultimately, less useful to any particular place, or any community other than "virtual."

Maybe that's all we'll be left with soon, as we get less news about the real world, and more about created ones.

Sandra Day O'Connor made the point in the New York Times recently that most Americans cannot name the three branches of the American government, much less what they do. Probably a greater percentage has discussed, in the past week, the new format changes on Facebook.

Steve Burke
for Ithaca Blog

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Learn About Ithaca Hours, and Some Italian, on YouTube

An hour-plus video about Ithaca Hours, the local money, by Italian filmmakers
has been edited down to a digestible ten minutes on YouTube.

You can find the interview with Hours board president Stephen Burke (yes, the same) by searching on YouTube for Qui New York Libera Monete.

The interview is presented in English, with Italian subtitles. So you can learn a little lingo at the same time. Italian reads well, although of course spoken it is among the loveliest of languages. Maybe the next version will be dubbed.

Stephen Burke
for Ithaca Hours and Blog

Protest in DC: As Often, With As Many, As It Takes

We don't know how many people are at the anti-war rally in DC right now, with no comprehensive coverage of it on line yet.

We were surprised to see no mention of the rally at all in the Washington Post.

There are at least 100 Ithacans there. We congratulate and thank Nevin Sabet and her colleagues who organized bus and van transportation there from Ithaca.

The message for President Obama is clear: stop the war. Today it is loud and clear, we hope.

Every three days, Americans numbering more than the population of Ithaca lose their jobs. In the same three day span, the U.S. spends $2.5 billion on this war, now in its seventh year.

Now - right now - is the time for Mr. Obama to use his considerable talents and authority to end the war. Nothing else is as important. Only two months into his tenure, he is receiving that message. Let's hope he is also getting it.

Steve Burke
for Ithaca Blog

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

A Few Seats Available on Van From Ithaca to DC Protest

The bus from Ithaca to DC for a march on the Pentagon this weekend has filled, but organizers have contracted for two vans more. At this writing, there are 10 seats left.

The trip starts at midnight Friday the 20th to arrive in DC early Saturday, and returns to Ithaca Saturday night.

Round-trip fare is approximately $50, with a sliding scale. You can call Small World Music for information and reservations: 256-0428.

Here is information about the event for the organizers' literature:

March on the Pentagon, Saturday March 21
From Iraq to Afghanistan to Palestine, Occupation Is A Crime
March 21 marks the 7th anniversary of the war in Iraq. As the war in Afghanistan escalates and the situation in Gaza worsens, it is crucial for those opposing war to speak. Join us in an historic protest telling President Obama that war and occupation under his direction are unacceptable.


Stephen Burke
for Ithaca Blog

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

In England, Maeve Binchy Discovered Her Irishness

We don't let St. Patrick's Day go so easily, around here.

We saved for today these excerpts from an essay the Irish writer Maeve Binchy wrote for the New York Times on her calling. Like James Joyce and others, she had to leave home to discover the treasure of her own voice.

I have extracted the excerpts rather freely - that is, cloddishly, for expediency. You can see the whole piece on the NY Times site simply by searching "Maeve Binchy." It was published on 4 November 2002.

The Irish don't really think about writing, it is just a natural extension of what we do all the time, which is talking. In Ireland talk was always great, any old kind of talk.

Why be anywhere unless you could say something? Why pause and wait for an important thought to arrive? Suppose it didn't arrive?

When I moved to England, I knew I presented a bit of a problem to them because of all this incessant talking. Particularly at bus stops. In Ireland it is discourteous not to greet your fellow travelers as you wait. In London it is something done only by the insane.

If you address people at a London bus stop, they think you are going to follow them home and live with them, and they begin to panic and move away. Similarly, if you wait in a line for theater tickets or to be served in a store, Irish manners would insist that you talk briefly to whoever is beside you. English manners demand that you stare ahead as if you were alone in the middle of a hundred-acre field.

Those amazing etiquette books that advise four talkers and four listeners at a dinner party have no place in this land. Where would you find the listeners? And why invite them anywhere?


We hope you had a good St. Patrick's Day with much laughter and talk. Any old kind of talk.

Stephen Patrick Burke
for Ithaca Blog

Monday, March 16, 2009

"St. Patrick's Day Four" Film at Cinemapolis, March 17 & 18

Cinemapolis will screen "The Trial of the St. Patrick's Day Four," a documentary about the Ithaca peace activists Peter DeMott, Clare Grady, Teresa Grady, and Danny Burns, on St. Patrick's Day, Tuesday the 17th, at 7 pm.

With a large crowd expected following the untimely death of Pete Demott last month, a second screening was announced today, for the following night, also at 7 pm.

Stephen Burke
for Ithaca Blog

Friday, March 13, 2009

Music in Ithaca, March 13 - 15 (and a bit beyond)

Friday 3/13: Andy Culpepper plays flamenco guitar at the Smart Monkey Cafe on Elmira Road. 6:30 pm.

Mu-Tron Warriors and Solstice play Afro-beat and funk staples and originals at Castaways, 9 pm.

* * *

Saturday 3/14: The return of alt-country rockers Hubcap, at the Chapter House, 9 pm.

* * *

Sunday 3/15: The George Reed Trio plays trad jazz at Maxies, 6 pm.

* * *

Heads-up for next week: a couple of non-Celtic bands try St. Patrick's Day music next Tuesday: the Hogwashers at Maxie's, 6 pm; and the Orbiting Art Ensemble at the Lost Dog Lounge, 9:30. For the tried-and-true, there is a Traditional Irish Session at the Chapter House, 7 pm.

Friday, 27 March, Tuvan throat-singers Alash come to the Lost Dog Lounge, with opening act (from considerably nearer) the Evil City String Band. Advance tickets are $15. Fewer than 100 are available for this intimate venue, so quick action is recommended. Tickets are available at Small World Music.

Steve Burke
for Ithaca Blog

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Two Questions About the Bathroom

Cleaning the apartment the other day brought forth two questions about household plumbing.

1. Why does the bathroom sink have an outflow slot to prevent overflowing, but the kitchen sink doesn't?

2. Why is "cleaning" the toilet no more than putting cleanser in the toilet, swirling it around and scrubbing with a brush, and flushing? It's better than nothing, but essentially you are trying to get something clean using toilet bowl water.

Why not heat up some water in the tea kettle and pour it into the toilet for this scrubbing? We use hot water to clean everything else - why not for the germiest thing in the house?

I talked to my friend JD and told her about this brain attack. She didn't wait too long before saying, "Now I know you are really crazy."

I don't think so. I know it is an odd thing to think about, but there was the toilet, and there was I, and there was the cold toilet water. And then there was the bathroom light bulb over my head.
I wouldn't have thought of it at all had I been thinking about the tax forms in the kitchen I was supposed to be working on. But of course generally no one cleans the house except when they're supposed to be doing something else they want to do even less.

Steve Burke
for Ithaca Blog

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Small World Music Featured In "Tompkins Weekly"

We're grateful at Small World Music for the article in the new issue of Tompkins Weekly that features our business - a local, independent music store.

(The picture of us was not the daffiest-looking they took, probably. We look a little Cheshire-catty, but we could look worse.)

As the article notes, "Burke makes sure to have music by artists performing shows in town, such as Sharon Jones and Emmylou Harris." Right now, that also includes George Thorogood and Joan Baez.

"At the same time," reporter Stephen Kimball continues, "he offers the latest releases. That includes recent Grammy-winners Robert Plant and Alison Krauss, and Pete Seeger." Right now, it also includes U2, Neko Case, Fleet Foxes, Animal Collective, and Van Morrison's new re-working of "Astral Weeks."

The article concludes, very simply, "Shop there." Nice!

Thanks again, Mr. Kimball, and photographer Skip Thorne.

Steve Burke
for Small World Music and Ithaca Blog

Modest George Thorogood at State Theater Tonight

As noted here on a recent post, there have been a lot of benefit concerts in town lately, even for our perennially cause-oriented populace.

So tonight could be a good change of pace as veteran guitar-slinger George Thorogood comes to town with his band, the Destroyers, with no agenda other than loud but light-hearted rock and roll.

Thorogood and band - nee the Delaware Destroyers, from greater Wilmington - emerged from that smallest of states with modest ambition, entertaining bar crowds with covers of Chuck Berry, Bo Diddley, and blues songs.

The landscape widened with a record contract and some hit songs, still heard on radio today. The first was an amalgam of two songs by John Lee Hooker. Another was a faithful version of Bo Diddley's "Who Do You Love."

Under pressure from his record label to write some material, Thorogood protested. "Why should I try to write songs when Chuck Berry and Bo Diddley already wrote them all?," he said.

When he tried, he had some success. The material sounds a lot like his mentors. But this is not unusual in art, nor commerce.

However modest his reach, he is good at what he does, and has been doing it a long time with essentially the same band he started with, 30 years ago.

The show comes to the State tonight at 8.

Small World Music is featuring GT & the DD's Greatest Hits CD, and CD/DVD, along with a number of the band's old LP's.

Steve Burke
for Ithaca Blog

Thursday, March 05, 2009

Weekend Music, March 6 - 8

Friday 3/6: Joan Baez is celebrating 50 years as a performer with a tour and a new CD. Her State Theater show is her only appearance in upstate New York. It will be crowded. 8 pm.

"Iraqi Oud Masters Together" is a great example of thinking globally and acting locally. The show is a benefit for a local effort to help Iraqi refugees - particularly, Iraqis who acted as tranlators and interpreters for American forces in Iraq, and now need help extracting themselves and their families from danger there.
Yair Dalal and Rahim Alhaj play the oud, the classic stringed instrument of Middle Eastern music. The music is transporting in an aesthetic way - the cause in a practical way.
Tickets are $24 and all proceeds go to the Iraqi Refugee Assistance Connection of Ithaca. The show is at 8 pm, at the Unitarian Church downtown. Tickets are available at Small World Music and the Ithaca Guitar Works.

* * *

Sat. 3/7: Canadian folk band Tanglefoot are on a farewell tour after 25 years. They play at 8 pm at Sage Chapel at Cornell in a Cornell Folk Song Society show. Tickets are available at Small World Music, $15, or at the show for $17.

The Gunpoets create an original blend of hip-hop and reggae that plays out as energetic dance music. At the Chapter House, 10 pm.

* * *

Sun. 3/8: Ithaca Underground presents a triple bill at No Radio Records on E. Seneca Street: Why The Wires and Quietime from Ithaca, and Microwaves, from Pittsburgh. 7 pm. $5 cover.

The Johnny Dowd show (his band, Black Elastic) scheduled for Felicia's tonight has been cancelled.

Babik plied their gypsy jazz at the State Theater, previously. Tonight, they play around the corner, at the Lost Dog Lounge. 9 pm.

have fun -
Steve Burke
for Ithaca Blog

Wednesday, March 04, 2009

March 21 March On the Pentagon: Bus From Ithaca

A march on the Pentagon is planned for Saturday 21 March to oppose more war in the Middle East.

On the sixth anniversary of the disastrous invasion of Iraq, Americans are awake to the futility and costs of war as a response to trouble in the region. Fewer than half of Americans who give President Obama favorable ratings approve of his plan to send 17,000 troops to Afghanistan. 82% of Afghanis oppose it.

A bus will make a round-trip from Ithaca to DC for the protest, leaving Ithaca at 4 a.m. and returning at 10 p.m. The cost is $60, subject to sliding scale.

More information about the trip is available at the web site

Stephen Burke
for Ithaca Blog