Ithaca Blog

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Ithaca Festival Inside, A First This Year

Ithaca Festival is unofficially, and informally, but fervidly, expanding into a nighttime event, too, with many clubs and other public spots hosting music and arts events after the free daytime events on Friday and Saturday.

An easy way to partake of the gamut, called "Ithaca Festival Inside," is with a pass that provides admission to all dozen-plus events for one low price of $20.

The passes are laminated ducats on a lanyard you wear around your neck, so you get to feel like a V.I.P., which of course you are.

The passes are available at Angry Mom Records, in the basement of Autumn Leaves Books, on the Commons. They are also available online at

Steve Burke
for Ithaca NY Blog

Sunday, May 23, 2010

A Catholic Way to Diet?

I went to Farmers Market this morning with my friend JD and her daughter Emily, who is 20. They told me they are on a diet, together, for support.

They told me they are allowing themselves a restricted amount of calories daily, which they will tabulate loosely, but no junk food, and no eating between meals, except healthful things like produce, and dessert just once a week.

They said one aspect of the togetherness thing is that if one goes off the diet, they have to tell, and then the other gets to go off, for the same amount, or thereabouts, and then they start over.

I had to think about it but I knew right away something was wrong with this strategy. Then I realized what.

"That's no good," I said. "It should be that if one of you goes off, you have to tell, but then the other one gets denied that amount of food or calories. So say Emily has a second dessert this week. She has to report it, and the consequence is that J. gets no dessert. Emily ate yours. Or if J. eats Doritos or donuts in the afternoon at work, Emily gets kale for breakfast, and has to run three miles. Something like that."

Probably there are lots of good ideas that stun listeners into silence. That happened here.

"What is wrong with you?," J. said.

"Hmm," I said. I had to think. "Catholic school, I guess. But let's say, what is different about me, shall we?"

You have to admit, this Catholic way, if that's what it is, would work much better. But some people don't react well to guilt, or even the idea of it. At the Market, I bought a bag of lettuce. They bought a burrito.

Steve Burke
for Ithaca NY Blog

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

GrassRoots Fest 2010 Announces Schedule

The schedule for GrassRoots Festival 2010 has been posted on

Highlights include Merle Haggard on Thursday, Rusted Root and Oliver Mtukudzi on Friday, and Burning Spear on Saturday.

Advance sale tickets are available at the web site, or at various locations in Ithaca, including Autumn Leaves Books, home of Small World Music, where you can find recorded music of many GrassRoots musicians and their ilk(s).

Small World Music shares space in Autumn Leaves' basement with Angry Mom Records, and opens at noon, 7 days a week.

Steve Burke
for Small World Music and Ithaca NY Blog

Bonus Day Today at Small World Music

It's Wednesday, and we don't know what that means to you, but to us it means the day we staff Small World Music/Angry Mom Records, in the basement of Autumn Leaves Books, at 115 The Commons.

Last week we made an offer we reprise today. Come in today, Wednesday, and pick up not one, not three, but two free CDs from our table of used bargain bin CDs. No purchase necessary. See details at last week's posting, if you must, because you don't believe the magnanimity of this gesture, and need more confirmation.

Then, come in! We're here til 8 p.m.

Steve Burke
for Small World Music/Ithaca NY Blog

Monday, May 17, 2010

Waffle Frolic Pleases

We finally made a trip this weekend into Waffle Frolic, the new eatery on the Commons, and happily issue a report of good favor.

The place offers homemade waffles in variety (classic buttermilk, buckwheat and hemp, etc.), with toppings a la carte you order specially.

We had had a light and healthy breakfast, and no lunch, so we had some nutritional room to manoeuvre by late afternoon, which meant we felt fine going for the most dietetically border-line combo we could contrive, the buttermilk waffle with whipped cream and chocolate chips.

The ingredients (also, the coffee) were fresh and first-rate. The prices reflect this but are not onerous and, you know, there's that old saw about knowing not just the price, but the value, of things. We were happy to pay what we paid for fun, fine food in a nice, clean spot that we are delighted to have unvacanted on the Commons by a bright and pleasant crew who laughed at our jokes, which of course is the simple but salient barometer of good service, all you people thinking about starting your own business.

Our friend had a panini-style sandwich, also great.

We hear there are further menu developments coming, such as chicken and waffles, which is a classic of southern cuisine, and we think would be a first on any menu in Ithaca.

Congratulations and good luck to the nice people at Waffle Frolic.

Steve Burke
for Ithaca Blog

Saturday, May 15, 2010

I Could Be An Oil Technician

The oil industry guys trying to stop the geyser they made in the Gulf of Mexico remind me of me. I can't fix anything, either.

The NY Times today reports, "Companies will try a method that involves pumping items like plastic cubes and knotted rope into the well's safety device."

They got that one right out of my book. That's pretty much how I try to fix anything that's leaking, too, whether it's a car or household plumbing. I never thought to refer to it is a "method," but I will from now on.

What I would like to know is how did they decide on plastic cubes and knotted rope. But I think the answer is in the phrase, "items like." In other words, "any scheiss we have laying around, of which plastic cubes and knotted rope is at the moment the most plentiful."

Steve Burke
for Ithaca NY Blog

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Free CDs For Fans Of Ithaca Blog/Small World Music

Ithaca Blog operates largely out of 115 The Commons, in the basement of Autumn Leaves Bookstore, while we keep shop for Small World Music, our other enterprise.

You might remember Small World Music from 614 W. State St., in a stylish garage. Well, we've moved on up, while also down (basement), but we're doing very good in this new space, which we consign with (from?) the best place around, by far and even farther, for music on vinyl: Angry Mom Records.

But not everybody knows we're here. We want everybody. We want you.

We have so much to offer. Oh, yes indeed. All the best newest releases: Pat Metheny, Shelby Lynne, Mary Chapin Carpenter, Drive-By Truckers, Yeasayers, Gil Scott-Heron, David Byrne, music from the upcoming Doors movie soundtrack (with Johnny Depp), Willie Nelson, Merle Haggard (of GrassRoots Festival, this year), and the proverbial much more.

Busy Steve Burke of Ithaca Blog/Small World Music currently serves the store's public - that is, personally staffs the store - only on Wednesdays. That's today. So:

Come to the store today, and pick up a used CD, from our bargain bin containing hundreds for $5 and less, Absolutely Free. Tell you what: pick up two.

Where else you going to go today for an offer like this? Are you kidding me? Nowhere.

Come on in. It will be fun.

Steve Burke
for Ithaca NY Blog & Small World Music

Monday, May 10, 2010

Cavs May Put LeBron on Rondo

The headline above is not original, and does not pertain to anything here.

It's a headline I saw in a paper today and really liked, because it means someone got a headline past an editor that many people will not understand one bit.

Tomorrow's lead story: It's Crackers To Slip a Rozzer the Dropsy in Snide.

Steve Burke
for Ithaca NY Blog

Wednesday, May 05, 2010

New Era For Car Sharing?

Everyone but Geico agrees that there are too many cars in the world. Too many for the ozone layer. Too many for the roads. Too many for safety.

Or even for nice attitudes. Usually in my life I never utter the words "Way to go, douche bag," but I did yesterday. When driving, of course. It can turn Jekylls into Hydes.

Car sharing efforts have developed in the past decade to help people let go of extra cars. It's good, but it's not enough.

Such operations tend to be in larger cities. Ithaca is among the smallest cities to have one, largely due to participation of the colleges.

A new era in car sharing is, perhaps, about to begin. The idea is to let individuals share cars they own, on their own, as an alternative to car sharing businesses.

The main hurdle is insurance regulations. As things stand, there is no legal provision for sharing a car that is not registered for commercial use.

Legislators in California are trying to change that now.

There may be a leadership role for us here in Ithaca, too, as there has been in car sharing already.

Steve Burke
for Ithaca NY Blog

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