Ithaca Blog

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Roller Derby "Wheel-A-Thon" Benefit, Sat. 31 July

Women's roller derby returns to Cass Park this Saturday with a benefit bout featuring Ithaca's new BlueStockings team, mentored by the veteran Suffer Jets.

So far this season, Ithaca teams have played their home bouts in Cortland. Renovations to their true home in Cass Park are now complete.

Special pre-bout events include a group jaunt from the Waterfront Trail, at 5 pm, to Cass Park, with the squads. Bike, skate, roll or stroll with the teams, their publicity says.

At 5:30 there's a Chicken BBQ Tailgate Party. Your $10 donation for dinner benefits the Meals On Wheels program, distributing food to the elderly and housebound.

Music is provided by the Johnny Russo Trio.

Angry Mom Records/Small World Music, 115 The Commons (in the basement of Autumn Leaves Books) are proud sponsors of the Suffer Jets and BlueStockings. We are exclusive sellers of their wide array of fine merchandise.

For more information, see

Steve Burke
for Ithaca NY Blog and Small World Music

Outdoor Bans on Smoking Start August 1

Beginning this Sunday, 1 August, the city of Ithaca begins a ban on smoking on central areas of the pedestrian mall Commons, and in Cass and Stewart Parks.

We own a business on the Commons (Angry Mom Records/Small World Music, in the basement of Autumn Leaves Books), and applaud the move. We think it's the right thing to do, in terms of creating a clean environment and promoting health.

We don't think it will hurt business any. You can't smoke in the Pyramid Mall, either.

We are happy with the idea of no cigarette butts littering the Commons. We once heard that it takes 7 years for a cigarette butt to disintegrate, although we do not know who watched it.

A few years ago, our friend Rafiki was helping us move. We got out of the car and went to my building. Rafiki stopped at the entrance.

"You go ahead. I'll be right up," he said. "I'm going to smoke."

"It's alright," I said. "You can smoke inside. It's February." It was cold.

"That's alright," he said. "I'm used to smoking between buildings and cars."

Now, in Ithaca, it gets a little harder. But a little better.

Steve Burke
for Ithaca NY Blog

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

"GrassRoots Preview" on Ithaca Commons, Wed. 21 July

Keith Frank and the Soileau Zydeco Band will perform free on the Ithaca Commons as a "GrassRoots Festival Preview."

The performance is scheduled for Wednesday 21 July, from 6 - 8 p.m.

Keith Frank, from Lafayette, Louisiana, a leading figure in zydeco music, is a stalwart of the GrassRoots Festival, now in its 20th year.

Mr. Frank first performed at GrassRoots 19 years ago, as a young boy playing guitar in a band lead by his father, accordionist Preston Frank.

Keith Frank has returned to GrassRoots each year since. As a young man he took up accordion, the lead instrument in zydeco, and began fronting his own ensemble.

Mr. Frank will appear multiple times throughout the four days of the festival, from Thursday through Sunday.

Other performers of note at the festival include Merle Haggard, on Thursday; African musician Oliver Mtukudzi, on Friday; and reggae legend Burning Spear, a contemporary of Bob Marley, on Saturday.

Steve Burke
for Ithaca NY Blog

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Last Few Days For Cheaper GrassRoots Tickets

Online ticket sales for the GrassRoots Festival have ceased.

Advance tickets, which are cheaper by about $20 than tickets at the gate, will be available for the next few days at Autumn Leaves Books, Ithaca Bakery Collegetown Bagels, Ithaca Guitar Works, and a couple of other places that don't come to mind, but you can find at GrassRoots web site.

Don't wait, because if a particular locale runs out, they will probably not be replenished at this late date.

Outlets will generally not reserve tickets for you via a phone call. First come, first served, is generally the rule.

Also, you will need to pay by cash or check; not charge card.

Of course, the benefit is cheaper price than at the gate ; plus, avoiding a long line there.

See you at the show -
Steve Burke
for Ithaca NY Blog

Wednesday, July 07, 2010

New Radio Plays on the Commons, Friday 9 July

WITH-FM radio, 90.1 on the dial, continues its evolution into Ithaca's own public radio station, after years for 90.1 as a re-transmission site for Geneva's WEOS.

WITH will broadcast live from the Ithaca Commons this Friday, 9 July, starting at 9 a.m., into the afternoon.

The broadcast will feature live performances by members of Donna the Buffalo, at noon; Mary Lorson, 12:30; Dave Davies, 1:15; and Johnny Dowd and Hubcap, after 4 p.m. (The station will interrupt the Ithaca fun for its regular broadcast of World Cafe from 2 til 4 p.m.)

Festivities will include a drawing for tickets for the GrassRoots Festival, wines from local vineyards, and food from local farms and businesses.

Steve Burke
for Ithaca NY Blog

Monday, July 05, 2010

My Final Childhood Complaint About the Weather

When we were kids, in the midst of heat-wave days like today, we would moan, as kids will about things they don't like and can't control, which is many or most things, of course.

Something like hot weather is a wonderful topic, because your parents don't like it either, and your complaining makes it worse, which helps you a little.

I'm thinking about this as I am trying to write (have been writing) about growing up in postal zone 3, Brooklyn, New York.

To my friends here in Ithaca I can say that as bad as the heat might be here today, it is much, much worse in inner-city New York (or inner-city anywhere, I guess), where there are few trees for shade, little open space, and certainly no water; and concrete and asphalt, which comprise your natural environment, store heat all day and release it at night.

It is a perfect setting for a child to splay on a couch, or a living room floor, and moan. "Mom, it's so hot" is wonderfully evocative and little embellishment is needed.

In our house, however, it was not as fun as it could have been, as my parents were such succinct debaters. "Stop whinging," my mother would say, disarming you with her command of language not strictly English, so far as we knew.

My father, in my recollection, was worse. My mother's parents were from Ireland (thus her enriched vocabulary), but my father was just as robustly Irish-Catholic.

"Dad, it's so hot," I said to him one day.

He looked at me thoughtfully but with utter lack of emotion. And he said,

"It's hotter in Hell."

They gave me pause to think, those two, and as you see, still do.

You can see further at another blogspot here on, called

Steve Burke
for Ithaca NY Blog