Ithaca Blog

Wednesday, May 05, 2010

Lack of Big Mac Downtown Draws Film Maker Note

From Europe to Ithaca came a guy last week making a documentary on these global economic issues.

He had been in Boston, to talk to Noam Chomsky, and was going to Princeton, to talk to some cat there, whose name we didn't quite catch.

He was in Ithaca to film a segment on Ithaca Hours, and to ask questions about local currencies in the wide, wide world, and whether they could do any good. It was us he was asking. We're on the Hours Board of Directors.

Our position, in sum, was that the world might come around. You know, there aren't many sharp places to go, these days. Goldman Sachs turned out to be not so great.

We mentioned buy-local movements, and the locavore phenomenon, as indications that people were investing and spending explicitly within their communities as a way forward.

We mentioned the fact that there is no McDonald's in downtown Ithaca, although there used to be, right on the Commons.

This he found to be the most amazing thing of anything we discussed.

"On this Commons was a McDonald's? And it close?"

"Yeah," we said.

"But that is impossible. McDonald's opens. It does not close."

"Yeah, but here it did."

He looked around furtively, like he had just found out a big secret, and he didn't want anyone to hear.

"Listen," he said. "You are absolutely sure of this fact?"

"Sure," I said. "It was right: there," and I pointed.

"Why do they close?"

"Nobody went there."

"Why do they not?"

"It's no good."

"If you can assure me with your personal guarantee of this knowledge," he said, he was going to make this a big part of his film. So I did.

Then I took him to the Gimme Coffee outpost on Green Street. I waited til he took a sip of his drink to tell him that, in downtown Ithaca, Gimme Coffee outnumbers Starbucks three to one. I wanted to see if this knowledge would provoke a spit-take. It didn't. But maybe it will provoke another segment for the movie.

Steve Burke
for Ithaca NY Blog

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