Ithaca Blog

Monday, June 29, 2009

Could Bernie Madoff Not Cheat An Honest Man?

In wondering where Bernie Madoff got the chutzpah to swindle $65 billion from friends and associates, he must have thought they had it coming.

"You can't cheat an honest man," the saying goes. Did any of these people not occasionally suspect they were part of a swindle? Mr. Madoff never gave any information about any investments their profits were coming from, since there were no investments, except investments into his personal lifestyle.

Apparently the swindle is alright with everyone as long as it pays. Someone was getting cheated, but everyone figured it was someone else, which is fair, it seems, in such circles.

We know a lot of hard-working and honest people got caught up in this. We're not saying anyone deserved it, even those who perhaps reckoned it out. We're just speculating, you should pardon the expression, on Madoff's mentality.

The one thing we can't figure out at all is why Mr. Madoff never thought, hey, I could get in a lot of trouble for this.

Maybe it's like smoking. You figure it's going to kill you. But you also figure this particular cigarette is not going to kill you. So, strike a match. Maybe Madoff got ensnared that way: it hasn't hurt me so far. When it starts to, I'll deal with it.

He must have been charming, because he doesn't seem smart. He hired for his defense a lawyer whose parents once invested money with him. He gets a sentence of 150 years. I could have gotten him that. Maybe this particular lawyer, for some reason, wasn't trying too hard.

Steve Burke
for Ithaca NY Blog

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Ithaca Music, June 25 - 28

Thurs. 6/25: It's raining sweet peas and horseshit, as Grandma used to say, which probably puts the kibosh on tonight's free music on the Commons by Jimkata, scheduled for 6 pm. But it should clear up in time for Steve Selin and the Creek Dippers, 7:30 at Six Mile Creek Vineyard; and a 10 pm triple-bill at Castaways, of Driftwood, Hee Haw Nightmare, and Nate & Kate.

* * *

Fri. 6/26: Free music on Cornell's Arts Quad by Sim Redmond Band, 7:30 pm.

Modern rock - not the WVBR kind, but the Brooklyn/Baltimore sort - with Magic Markers, Mouthus, and American Sphinx, at the Lost Dog, 9 pm.

* * *

Sat. 6/27: Boy With A Fish and Mary Lorson at Castaways, 10 pm.

* * *

Sun. 6/28: a winery gig by Urban Horse Thieves, at Americana Vineyards, 4 pm.

Dee Specker and Tres Swing at Maxie's, 6 pm.

Johnny Dowd Project at Felicia's, 7 pm.

have fun -
Steve Burke
for Ithaca NY Blog

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

TCAT To Accept Ithaca Hours

After a meeting last month with the Ithaca Hours Board, TCAT has announced the county's bus system will start accepting Hours for fares.

Details are still unformed. Most likely, Hours will at first be accepted as partial payment for passes, rather than in the fare box.

Time magazine is researching an article on community currencies across the country, and suggests that this is the first collaboration between a community currency and a government entity.

The Time article is scheduled for publication this month.

Developing details about Hours and TCAT will be posted on

Stephen Burke
for Ithaca NY Blog

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Music Writer Jim Catalano Leaves Ithaca Journal

Jim Catalano announced in his music column in today's Ithaca Journal that he is leaving the paper, "due to the continuing cutbacks."

Jim has edited the Journal's weekly "Ticket" entertainment section since 2003, and written about music for the paper since 1992.

Jim has been a major contributor to the local music scene, as a champion of local musicians and venues.

It's a sad and pound-foolish move by the Journal. A lot of local businesses - many of them Journal advertisers - relied on Jim's press. A lot of readers only consistently buy the Journal on Thursdays, for the Ticket.

Jim's work was always constructive, instructive, and comprehensive, and will be missed.

Steve Burke
for Ithaca NY Blog

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Ithaca Observations By Outsiders

You know how it is, that other people can sometimes see your situation clearer than you can. It goes for cities as well as people, we reckoned, in the midst of a visit this week from some friends who moved away from Ithaca five years ago after a brief tenure here, and were making their first return.

The observations are pedestrian rather than poignant, maybe, but usually we prefer that.

1. There is a lot of good food, close together, in Ithaca. On Tuesday, we bought an early take-away lunch from Collegetown Bagels on Aurora Street. We also wanted some fruit, so we went a block, to GreenStar Oasis in the Dewitt Mall, and got organic peaches and local apples. We noticed that the Farmers Market was setting up at Dewitt Park, so we went there and bought strawberries from an Amish vendor. Then we noticed the beautiful offerings from Macro Mama. So we bought another whole lunch. Why not? Dinner was hours away.

2. Restaurants are noisy. Lost Dog, Viva, and Maxie's all had decibel levels that challenged conversation. At Lost Dog, it was the piped-in music; at Viva, the structure: close-together tables, and brick walls with bad acoustic properties; Maxie's, live music that was a little too amplified (but was ultimately adjusted). On the other hand, Moosewood is quiet - the cafe part, at least, where the seat-spacing is generous. (We discovered there a killer house specialty tea, of ginger, with a splash of lemon and orange juices. We went back for it a second night.)

3. Cops can be genteel. We were misery-lighted down for, oops, driving without lights (at 10:30 pm). The driver, a high-strung type (charmingly so, though) started "shit, shitting" as she pulled over. The passenger, who comes from cops, partly, said, don't worry, just explain it's a rental, and you're unfamiliar with it. All he really wants to know is if you're drinking. (We weren't.) The officer asked for license and registration, and the driver couldn't produce the registration for the rental (for her nerves); so the cop just asked if she had a clean record. She said yes. "You haven't had anything to drink, have you?," he asked. She said no. He said, turn on your lights, and have a nice night.

4. Politics Pervade. There is a Peace and Justice Gift Shop on the Commons. The 10,000 Villages fair-trade franchise in Ithaca is, per capita, the organization's highest-grossing store. Gas stations have organic coffee. Every friend our guests called had to check their meeting schedules, for various political, civic, and volunteer groups, before making plans.

I have a GreenStar meeting to attend now. (True!) And I'll be coming back with triple-filtered water, in a refilled gallon jug, for 25 cents, to brew locally-roasted Gimme coffee in my local/world music shop (oh, yes, another observation: there is a lot of music here).

Thanks to our friends for their good-natured subjecthood -

Steve Burke
for Ithaca NY Blog

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Free Movies Tonight at New Cinemapolis

Tonight, Cinemapolis celebrates the opening of its new, bigger theater with free screenings of 5 classic movies.

In betaalphacal order, the movies are The Last Waltz, Little Miss Sunshine, City Lights, Cinema Paradiso, and Chinatown.

Check for screening times, and details about the new facility, located behind Ithaca Center, on the street level of the Green Street parking structure.

Steve Burke
for Ithaca NY Blog

Friday, June 12, 2009

Ithaca Weekend: Outsiders Looking (and Coming) In

We have a couple of friends, ex-Ithacans, visiting this week, and we thought it might be instructive to tell some of what erstwhilers plan to do while here on a long weekend.

Friday 6/12: (1) June Drucker and Friends at Felicia's happy hour, 5:30 pm. (2) NHL Stanley Cup final, and Mets vs. Yankees, at Benchwarmers.

Saturday 6/13: (1) Lunch from GreenStar and Wegman's for trip to Buttermilk Falls. (2) Short winery tour, as far as Sheldrake, at least. (3.)Movie at new Cinemapolis?

Sun. 6/14: The Hold Steady at Castaways, 8 pm.

Mon. 6/15: Benefit Dinner for ABC Cafe, 6 pm.

Tues. 6/16: Maxie's Shuck'n'Jive, with music by Crow Greenspun, 6 pm. Traditional Irish Music at Chapter House, starting at 7 pm.

gia sou -
Steve Burke
for Ithaca NY Blo0g

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Roxana Robinson, Award-Winning Author, Reads in Ithaca, June 20

Acclaimed author Roxana Robinson comes to Buffalo Street Books in Ithaca on Saturday 20 June for a reading and signing of her novel, "Cost", which is newly issued in paperback.

"Cost" was named among best books of the year by the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Chicago Tribune, and Washington Post, which named it #1.

"Cost" is the story of an accomplished family in idyllic Maine suddenly confronted with the heroin addiction of a son in Brooklyn.

We find Ms. Robinson's writing elegant and pleasurable even when her subjects are discomforting. The Wall Street Journal says it is "both lyrical and unsentimental" and "of uncommon stature."

We are told that her public readings are, similarly, exceptionally good.

The reading is at 3 pm. For more information, contact Buffalo Street Books - the new name of the Bookery II in the Dewitt Mall.

Stephen Burke
for Ithaca NY Blog

Lou and Peter Berryman: Fun Music at New Venue in Old Church

A folk music duo featuring a guy on guitar and a woman on a piano accordion probably ought to be very serious or else very funny.

Tom Paxton says of Lou and Peter Berryman, "They don't come any funnier." Garrison Keillor of Prairie Home Companion (where they have been repeat guests) calls them "a couple of wonderful songwriters."

L & PB come to Ithaca on Thursday 25 June for a 7:30 pm concert.

Or, actually, to Enfield. Yes, Enfield, at a new performance venue in an old church, at 7 Enfield Center Road West.

The performance is a benefit for the new locale, called the McMillan Art Center.

Tickets are $15 at the door. There are no advance tickets. Cornell Folk Song Society members get a 20% discount.

For more information, check or, or call 277-3147, or 330-1892.

Steve Burke
for Ithaca NY Blog

Thursday, June 04, 2009

Super Sale at Small World Music for Ithaca Blog Readers

From now (3:45 pm Thurs.) through the end of our weekend here at Small World Music (6 pm Saturday), we are offering you, dear Ithaca Blog readers, sale prices of 25% off all new CDs, and 50% off all used CDs, and all LPs.

This means literally thousands of titles, you know. It could really blow your mind. But not your bank account.

The only fine print exception is new CDs by local artists. We can't mess with their monies. But we will take 10 % off local CDs, out of our modest cut.

One more bit of fine print - the sale is for you Ithaca Blog readers, and not advertised anywhere else, including in the store. So, just mention the offer to get it. Ask and receive, so to speak.

We hope to see you here at Small World Music, down the driveway (not facing the street) here at 614 W. State St., between Meadow and Fulton Streets, across the street from Kinko's and Finger Lakes Beverage. You can save enough here to go buy beer and make copies, too.

Steve Burke
for Small World Music
and Ithaca NY Blog

Weekend Picks in Ithaca, June 5 - 7

Fri. 6/5:

ABC Cafe has benefit performances tonight and tomorrow for itself, trying to pay off some debts before its closure this month. Tonight is a bayou dance party with Zydeco Trail Riders. 9 pm.

* * *

Sat. 6/6:

GrassRoots favorite and emerging star (or emerged, already) Eilen Jewell, at the Rongovian Embassy, 8 pm.

The Macgillicuddies reunite, at least for the night, at Castaways. 9 pm.

Another benefit performance for the ABC, at the ABC, with Les Forces Atomique, Johnny Dowd, Rocket Morton, Ken Hallett, and Cosmo Alpern. 10 pm.

* * *

Sun 6/7:

Teachers Lounge provides extra incentive for making a foray to the wine trail. At the Americana Winery, which features a comfortable listening room with modest food offerings and good libations. 4 pm.

Steve Burke
for Ithaca NY Blog

Wednesday, June 03, 2009

Bikes, Yikes: the Extremes of Expertise

In his new book, "Pedaling Revolution: How Cyclists Are Changing American Cities", Jeff Mapes suggests that the growth of biking for ordinary people is thwarted somewhat by the image of bikers as spandexed gearheads obsessed with equipment, paraphernalia, and feats of endurance - more a cult than fellow travelers.

Not that our own personal bike is like an Irish farmer's, which it is, nor that we ride about as fast as one coming from (not going to) the publican's (we're just trying not to make everyone else look shabby). But we understand Mr. Mapes's point.

It hit home today when we saw an ad for a bike on Craigslist. It advertised a Fuji Espree, with "steel-lugged, 45-centimeter frame", "12-speed Sountour ARX derailleurs", and "Dia-compe 500 brakes".

Because we don't know what any of that means, except "brakes," we figured this is probably a $500 vehicle. Right?

Wrong. It is an $80 bike.

To us, these are the specs for an $80 bike:

"White. Wobbly. Upright handlebars, not the curled-over kind. Brakes on handlebars, plus on peddles."

We would feel comfortable buying that. Not the one we have to study on before climbing on.

It reminds us of an interview we read once with Paul McCartney, the prominent bass guitarist, in a specialty magazine for musicians. They asked Mr. McCartney what kind of strings he used.

"Silver, I think," he said.

Steve Burke
for Ithaca Blog