Ithaca Blog

Saturday, December 31, 2011

Guaranteed Hangover Help

It's the most bibulous night of the year, and a night of joie de vivre will turn into a day of woe is me for many in the morning, but we are here to help with sound advice.

To avoid hangover, do this: pour a glass of club soda. Hold it and occasionally sip it. Eat whatever food you like, but take no other liquids.

The trick is in the timing. Start this process now - about 9:30 on New Years Eve - and continue until bedtime.

May the morning be your friend, along with each day of 2012.

Steve Burke
for Ithaca NY Blog

Monday, December 19, 2011

In Ithaca, NYE = SRB

The Sim Redmond Band has, for years, played shows known as the place to be in Ithaca on New Year's Eve.

This year, the band burnishes its reputation as our town's Guy Lombardo mob, with a few flourishes.

The show is at Castaways, at 9 p.m. Guests are the Mosaic Foundation featuring Kevin Kinsella.

Tickets are available in advance, for $12, and the first 75 orders  get a free CD.

Castaways phone is 272-1370. The bar's Facebook page has a Paypal hook-up for ordering.

There is also a "Sim Redmond rate" at the Comfort Inn that night. $49 is the SRR, and it comes with extended checkout, and free hot breakfast served til noon. Ask for it by name, at 272-0100.

Steve Burke
for Ithaca NY Blog

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Ithaca Authors Dominate NY Times List

In time for Christmas gifting, the NY Times has named its ten best books of 2011. Five fiction, five non-fiction.

Of the five fiction, two are by Ithacans: "Ten Thousand Saints", by Eleanor Henderson, and "The Tiger's Wife", by Tea Obreht.

Both books are debut novels.

Ms. Henderson teaches at Ithaca College. Ms. Obreht lives in Ithaca after taking a graduate degree in creative writing at Cornell in 2009.

We saw Ms. Henderson read from her book at Buffalo Street Books a few months ago. It was not over-crowded.

We wonder if the bookstore might contrive to get these two extravagantly accomplished authors together sometime, for fun and civic pride.

Steve Burke
for Ithaca NY Blog

Tuesday, December 06, 2011

Something For Everyone At "Ithaca Free Barter Market"

Philosophically, at least, there could be something for everyone at the Ithaca Free Barter Market, a new enterprise that starts Sunday 11 December, at noon in Dewitt Park. 

The Market is trying to stimulate the local economy by providing a place for people to trade goods and services, without dollars, although use of Ithaca Hours, the local currency, is encouraged.

In fact, the Market is also trying to stimulate the use of the local currency by making a micro-loan of two Hours, worth  $20, to anyone who attends the event.

You might see a brand-new ukulele for sale for two Ithaca Hours. (In fact, you will, if you go early, as I am bringing one.) You use the two Ithaca Hours the Market is loaning you, and trade them for the uke.

Now you owe the Market two Hours. You can make them back by bringing something to trade, yourself, to the next event: that ironing board, tennis racquet, or solar shower. Or offer a service: bike repair, car service for someone autoless, help on moving day, etc.

Eventually, the Market plans to have a storefront. But they didn't want to wait for that to get started.

For more details, see the Ithaca Free Barter Market page on Facebook.

Steve Burke
for Ithaca NY Blog


Bill watches and waits
It seems he's doing nothing
What are you doing?

Sunday, December 04, 2011

Reading As Slow Amusement

We are fans of the Slow Food movement, and the Slow Money movement, and we think there should also be a movement for Slow Amusement, or Slow Entertainment.

This would involve reading; and doing things with friends.

We think of it as we are reading "Madame Bovary" for the first time. It is a portrayal of the human heart we cannot imagine being rendered any other way but through words.

Movies can give you feelings, even ideas. But it's all over in 100 minutes or so.  A song, the same, but even shorter.

Reading is slow and solitary. So, of course, is writing.

This is all part of the slowness. It takes a long time to do.

And writing takes a long time to learn. Really, no one can teach you how to do it. I can teach you how to write a song in three minutes (three chords; rhymes). But a novel? Forget it. That's up to the person who decides to do it.

We're glad that, for one, Flaubert did this "Madame Bovary". It is about a woman who could exist anytime, anywhere. But it is also about a particular time and place, which live on, because one writer took the time and made the effort to make that happen.

We can also tell you, without getting too deep, that even in translation, this book is French as baguettes.

As for the other form of slow amusement we mentioned, in an hour, we go out for a walk with a friend.

Have fun -
Steve Burke
for Ithaca NY Bog

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Ray Davies's Wink

Ray Davies was at the State Theater last night, and put on a magnificent show. It was the last show of the tour and, so, maybe his last concert ever in America.

I realized last night that he is the only guy who can write a wistful song that I can stand. Generally they are in the form of stories, so they are not about him, so they are not poor-me songs. Also, they are not strictly sad. The characters have hope, although often inspired by delusion. But this is portrayed as better than despair.

Of course, Ray Davies is also funny, and he did a minute manoeuvre last night that floored me; it was so slight, but huge to me.

I had completely forgotten about this thing, from each time I had seen him before, ranging back 30 years.  After playing a lead on guitar, he will flick his pick up and away from himself, with his thumb, maybe two or three feet or so, and then snatch it back from mid-air in his fist. No big deal, but try doing it.

He maybe does it once all night. It is not a theatrical move, like Roger Daltrey twirling his microphone forty feet in the air and catching it. Ray's thing is a parlor trick. Or just a wink. He does it to amuse himself. And you, if you are watching.

I was. Thanks, Ray.

Steve Burke
for Ithaca NY Blog

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Sorry, Coach

Sometimes, professional sport seems as far from real life as any video game or fantasy; but occasionally you are reminded that real people are involved.

Tom Coughlin is the coach of the New York Giants football team. He is an upstate New York guy, born in Waterloo, and despite small physical stature, holder of many records playing football at Syracuse, years ago.

He did it, presumably, through mental stamina and determination. He is famously strict. He once fined a player for being two minutes early to a meeting, because everyone else was already there.

He is slightly Irish, and reminds me of my father, who was a 150-pound-weighing Marine a few years before Coughlin was setting those college records with the same-type physique.

My father's favorite saying, as a father, to us kids was "It's not what you want to do,  it's what you have to do."  Think about it, that covers a lot of ground.

Coughlin and Mr. Burke would probably like one another, although my father has mellowed considerably with the years, and Coughlin not so much, as he is a big football coach and can't afford to; but today we noticed a slight crack, in a comment he made about an off-the-field team matter.

The short story is that a player was at a club, late, celebrating his birthday with teammates and other friends, and there was a shooting. It didn't involve the player, or any players with him, but it is still not a good thing - a distraction, as they say.

The news media makes an issue of it, of course. This is New York, after all, and it wasn't some divey club, but a swanky one, although in New York this does not necessarily mean devoid of wise guys or crime.

Coughlin was asked about the incident at his weekly press conference. A few years ago, he probably would have put a big blast on someone. Instead, he sounded resigned, not angry, just exasperated.

"I don't know what good happens at 2:30 or 3 in the morning," he said. "I've never been able to figure that one out."

Edward Burke, father of four, probably said the same thing many times through the years, although not in the past 30.

Too bad that Coach Coughlin still has to worry. I suppose he gets paid for it. But I bet my father would not trade places.

Steve Burke
for Ithaca NY Blog

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Every State Has A River

The answer to the trivia question in our previous post, How many states in the U.S. neither contain nor border a river, is zero.

We got a lot of answers, and no incorrect ones, even though the Q. was a little trickly, we admit. We have a smart crowd.

The contest winner, selected at random, is Laura C., who receives a $10 gift certificate to Angry Mom Records.

Steve Burke
for Ithaca NY Blog and Angry Mom Records

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Maps, And Rivers

Unlike our friend Gil, in our previous post here, we are not unalterably opposed to GPS, but we prefer maps, and are pretty handy with them.

Hey, some people like the Weather Channel.

Looking at a U.S. map recently, we derived a geography question, that we now pose in the grand tradition of the Ithaca Blog trivia contest:

How many states in the U.S. neither contain nor are bordered by a river?

Submit your answer, and we will select at random, from correct answers, a winner who will receive a  $10 gift certificate to Angry Mom Records, another enterprise of ours.

Smooth sailing -
Steve Burke
for Ithaca Blog and Angry Mom Records/Small World Music

Sunday, November 06, 2011

No GPS For Our Friend Gil

"A GPS? What, I'm not even allowed to get lost anymore?," Gil says.

Steve Burke
for Ithaca NY Blog

Tuesday, November 01, 2011

New Music, Lower Prices at Angry Mom Records

Borders is gone, but Angry Mom Records is alive and well in Ithaca, which makes us very happy, as we are a partner in the place.

Ithacans love music, and our independent, local businesses, which is why we're here, we guess.

So, please indulge us in a little self-promotion here today on Ithaca Blog.

Angry Mom Records is in the basement of Autumn Leaves Books, 115 The Commons. We're open 7 days a week.

New CDs include releases by Ryan Adams, Anthrax, Barenaked Ladies, Terri Lyne Carrington, Coldplay, Ry Cooder, Feist, Fistful of Mercy, Fountains of Wayne, Lil Wayne, Primus, Patti Smith, St. Vincent, and Tom Waits.

We have recently lowered our prices on a thousand-plus used CDs. We have hundreds at $1.00, and hundreds more at half their regular price.

Your independent local music store accepts our independent local currency, Ithaca Hours, for 20% of purchases.

Steve Burke
for Ithaca Blog and Angry Mom Records

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Halloween (2007) Revisited

Doing an enterprise like Ithaca Blog, there are always new things to write about, but there are also recurring things sometimes not to write about.

One is aware of Halloween each year, for example, but how much new is there to say about it?

We remembered writing here about Halloween a few years ago -  in 2007, as it turns out, upon search. "The Meaning of Halloween," we called it. And that's what it was, for us.

Hunter S. Thompson once said that writers are in trouble when they steal from themselves. He didn't say what it meant when they cite themselves. So we'll do that. If you want to see our take on Halloween, just search "Meaning of Halloween" in the "Title" bar above.

Astute scholars will also see, in that posting, the literary genesis of our other blog, Brooklyn 3 New York: stories of Brooklyn we intend for a book, which we have been writing for a while now. A simple search for "Brooklyn 3 New York" will show you those, to your reading delight, no doubt.

Steve Burke
Ithaca NY Blog
and Brooklyn 3 New York

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Jimmy Breslin Hitting Stride in NY Daily News

Newspaper legend Jimmy Breslin is back, after a period of retirement that apparently didn't take. The octogenarian dean of New York columnists, and quintessential city-o, is writing a column once a week for the NY Daily News.

We love JB, #1, but will say that he seemed a little rusty, for a while. But this week's column is barbed, funny, and relevant to ordinary people in a way that 95% of stuff in any newspaper is not.

Rather than excerpt here, we will simply encourage you to check him out in this week's NY Daily News online, if you like good writing.

Steve Burke
for Ithaca NY Blog

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Evil City String Band in Brooklyn's Best Bar, Sat. 22 Oct.

A reminder to all our friends in Brooklyn, and music fans everywhere who could see a trip to Brooklyn (autumn in New York, you know?), that Evil City String Band of Ithaca plays a gig at Rocky Sullivan's bar/restaurant in Red Hook on Saturday, 22 Oct., at 9 pm.

Rocky's is a great joint with a big music room, and music-loving owners, who have come to Grassroots Festival, and want our musicians down there.

We're hoping this will be a start of beautiful thing. Talk to any musicians you know about where they like to play in NYC, and they will say nowhere. It's all hassles and ripoffs.

Rocky's is different: convivial and lovely. A good crowd for this gig could create a scene of regular shows by Ithaca musicians there.

We hope you might make it, and will tell your friends.

Steve Burke
for Ithaca NY Blog

Monday, October 10, 2011

Native American Day

Today is officially Native American Day in South Dakota. The state legislature established the designation in 1990, and called for a Century of Reconciliaton in the U.S.

"... they ask me to remember
but they want me to remember
their memories and I keep remembering
mine." - Lucille Clifton, American poet (1936 - 2010)

Stephen Burke
for Ithaca NY Blog

Sunday, October 09, 2011

"Occupy Ithaca" Has First Meeting, Sunday 9 Oct.

Occupy Ithaca is a group forming in solidarity with the Occupy Wall Street movement.

The group will hold an introductory meeting at 2 p.m., Sunday 9 October, in Dewitt Park.

The stated purpose is for prospective members to meet one another, and to discuss not ideology, but action.

Steve Burke
for Ithaca NY Blog

Friday, October 07, 2011

Sign On Wall Street

"I lost my job," the woman's sign said. "But I found an occupation."

Steve Burke
Ithaca NY Blog

Tuesday, October 04, 2011

Indoor Entertainment At State Theater

Now that the outdoor entertainment season is over, the State Theater is ready to pick it up with, we've noticed, a great slate in their beautiful venue for the fall.

Among the looming luminaries are Richard Thompson, this week (Saturday 8 Oct.); Gillian Welch (Sun. 23 Oct.); Joan Baez and Kris Kristofferson (5 November); Drive By Truckers/Felice Brothers (16 November); and Ray Davies (26 November).

See details of these and other shows at Tickets can be purchased there, conveniently, but with service charge. The theater also runs a convenient and convivial box office, with no service charges. The box office is open Monday - Friday 11 a.m. - 5 p.m., and Saturday 11 a.m. - 4 p.m.

Steve Burke
for Ithaca NY Blog

Friday, September 30, 2011

Singing Dog at Apple Fest

This weekend is the 29th annual Apple Festival in Ithaca, and what could be more wholesome?

It is a last opportunity to get out and party with your peoples before the cold weather sets in.

It is also an opportunity to see a singing dog. The closing act of all the entertainment, Sunday at 3:30, are Jomo and Johnnycake. They are humans, but Johnny also has a small dog, who enjoys performing, and can approximate singing. They almost made it onto the David Letterman show once, a happenstance I believe we chronicled here on Ithaca Blog.

So, don't start off fall season with regrets. Music, food, and entertainment await you on the Ithaca Commons and surrounding streets, from today through Sunday.

Steve Burke
for Ithaca NY Blog

Monday, September 26, 2011

NY Times Versus You and Woody Guthrie

We are following the demonstrations on Wall Street as avidly as possible, with the paucity of coverage in mainstream corporate media.

We got a kick out of this lead in the NY Times:

"Demonstrators who occupied Wall Street had many causes but seemed to have one thing in common: a lack of hard knowledge about the system they were fighting."

It reminded us of a quote by Woody Guthrie about music in the media, specifically, but really about the powers behind the media (substitute the word "story" for "song"):

"I hate a song that makes you think you are not any good. I hate a song that makes you think you are just born to lose...

"I am out to fight those songs...I am out to sing songs that will prove to you that this is your world and if it has hit you pretty hard... I am out to sing the songs that will make you take pride in yourself and your work... [not] the kind that knock you down still farther and the ones that poke fun at you even more and the ones that make you think you've not got any sense at all."

Stephen Burke
for Ithaca NY Blog

Monday, September 19, 2011

Wall Street As Tahrir Square

Thousands of protesters have mobilized on Wall Street in New York City, modeling themselves on the protesters in Tahrir Square in Cairo who brought on a peaceful revolution against Egypt's leadership earlier this year.

The protest is slightly under-reported in the mainstream media. One of New York's leading papers, the Post, called it a "fizzle,"  because the protest is only many times larger than typical Tea Party events, which the Post covers with zeal.

The NY Daily News does not mention the protest at all, or at least not prominently enough to notice on their on-line edition. The leading story in the News today is about two boys in central Europe who claim to be human magnets.

The Wall Street protesters have gathered there to protest crimes in the financial markets, which are rarely punished by jail time, or in fact by anything other than small fines which are easily made up in the next fiscal year of malfeasance. They are protesting a system in which the top 400 citizens have more money than over the half the population - over 140 million -  combined. They are protesting a poverty rate of 46 million people, and unemployment of 25 million.

The number of people protesting right now, live on Wall Street, is small. But so was the number in Tahrir Square, at first.

Stephen Burke
for Ithaca NY Blog

Thursday, September 15, 2011

"Festival For Peace" This Weekend

Ithaca is a town of festivals, and of peace-lovers, and this weekend the two combine with the International Festival For Peace, at St. Catherine of Sienna's church in Cayuga Heights.

There will be arts and crafts, tabling by groups, speakers, food, and music. Participating musicians include Sim Redmond Band, Samite, and Revision, among others.

The festival is on Saturday and Sunday. For more information, call 257-2493.

Steve Burke
for Ithaca NY Blog

Monday, September 12, 2011

Vote in the Democratic Primary, Tuesday 13 Sept.

Yes, it's here already: the primary vote for the Democratic candidate for mayor for this November's general election.

Tuesday 13 September is the date. Polls are open from noon until 9 p.m.

It is sure to be a tight vote, with a slate of worthy candidates - J.R. Clairborne, Pam Mackesey, and Svante Myrick - each with a strong constituency. So, make sure your vote is part of the certain slim margin.

Steve Burke
for Ithaca NY Blog

Saturday, September 10, 2011

AIDS Ride For Life: Join the Riders For Dinner

The AIDS Ride For Life bike event takes place today in Ithaca, and surrounding roadways.

The event draws hundreds of riders who raise hundreds of thousands of dollars for AIDS research and care.

At ride's end, at 5 p.m., the participants convene in Cass Park, then take a "victory ride" through town, to Stewart Park, where there is a dinner.

The dinner is open to the public. Tickets are $5 and are available at Stewart Park.

Steve Burke
for Ithaca NY Blog

Saturday, September 03, 2011

Seneca Big Splash: Big Bash to Fight Fracking

Sunday 4 September brings one of the biggest events yet to fight unsafe gas drilling in our region.

The Seneca Big Splash features 10 bands on 2 stages. Musicians include that ubiquitous Evil City String Band, with Willie Watson of Old Crow Medicine Show (an area native); plus the Burns Sisters, Sara  Guthrie, and Jim Lauderdale.

The event goes from 11 a.m til 9 p.m. at the Hector Fairgrounds, just north of Watkins Glen at Rt. 414. See the attatched link for details.

There is a website for the event at

Seneca Big Splash

Stephen Burke
for Ithaca NY Blog

Labor Day Bash, Free Music and Food, Stewart Park

You can see what you will see if you see Evil City String Band in Brooklyn, in October (see previous post) by seeing ECSB on Monday at the free Labor Day picnic at Stewart Park.

You are invited to bring something to share, while the Tompknis County Workers Center provides free burgers and franks (including non-meat varieties) and soft drinks.

Evil City String Band performs at the Large Pavilion in the park. The event runs from 11 a.m til 3 p.m.

Steve Burke
for Ithaca NY Blog

Monday, August 29, 2011

Evil City String Band Plays Rocky Sullivan's of Brooklyn, Oct. 22

One of Ithaca's best bands plays one of New York City's best bars when the Evil City String Band visits Rocky Sullivan's in Brooklyn on Saturday 22 October.

Evil City String Band is a stalwart of the Ithaca music scene, including the GrassRoots Festival. The band comprises Richie Stearns on banjo, Paddy Burke on guitar, Rosie Newton and Steve Selin on fiddle(s), and Stephanie Jenkins on stand-up bass.

Rocky Sullivan's is well-known on the New York City scene.

A few years ago, Rocky's moved from Manhattan, after a decade or so, to more spacious quarters in Red Hook, Brooklyn. It has a fine bar, and an open kitchen featuring a wood-burning pizza oven.

Beyond the bar and restaurant space is a room for music, with a large stage, and some haphazard seating and tables.

There are also rooms for pool and darts. There is a multi-level rooftop patio with tables, chairs, a view of the harbor, and legal ashtrays.

Rocky's is music-friendly. Own of the owners is Chris Byrne, who plays uillean pipes, and was a member of the band Black 47.

Rocky's is known as one of the friendliest spots in the city and will be a happy meeting ground for Ithacans and city-o's on October 22.

Steve Burke
for Ithaca NY Blog

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Go Out And Buy New Music Without Getting Wet

It is a slow news day, if you don't count hurricanes. Ms. Irene is keeping anything else much from happening.

So it's a good day for Ithaca Blog to give a plug to its sort-of-sponsor, Angry Mom Records.

Two years ago, Small World Music moved in with Angry Mom Records in the basement of Autumn Leaves Books on the Commons.

Borders is gone, but we're still here, nice as ever, with a vast selection of new and used music on CDs and LPs.

Artists with recent releases on CD include Jeff Bridges, War On Drugs, Blue October, Kris Delmhorst, Steve Cropper, Fistful of Mercy, Joss Stone, and John Hiatt.

You can get here without getting wet (practically) by parking in the Green Street structure (free on weekends), and entering Autumn Leaves by the back door, about 20 paces from the covered stairs of the structure.

We're open Sundays til 6 pm. We open every day at noon. Closing times are 8 pm on M, T, Wed; 9 pm on Fri. & Sat.

Steve Burke
for Angry Mom Records/Small World Music
and Ithaca NY Blog

Friday, August 26, 2011

You Won't Miss Your Water This Weekend

It should be a good weekend for movie theaters, with threats of rain scaring everyone.

In New York City, they are pre-emptively closing the subways, which we don't think ever happened before.

We were planning on going to Binghamton to see a minor league game where the NY Mets major league star, Jose Reyes, is playing this weekend, on a re-hab assignment for a sore hamstring. But now, probably not.

So, Plan B, check your movie schedule. We really liked "Tree of Life," showing at Cinemapolis.

Steve Burke
for Ithaca NY Blog

Monday, August 22, 2011

Hee-Haw Nightmare at Maxie's, Tuesday 23 August

On the old-timey scene in Ithaca, Hee-Haw Nightmare is as close as any band gets to the Holy Modal Rounders, the seminal band in 1960's New York that incorporated into their folk repertoire a good dose of the psychedelia of the time, and the noise and anarchy of the punk movement ahead.

The Rounders were not for everyone. I never heard a band booed as loudly as they, as an opening band one night at the Bowery Ballroom. The Rounders waved cheerfully from the stage as if they didn't understand, or care, or both.

At GrassRoots this year, Hee-Haw Nightmare were set to take the stage at the Dance Tent, and a middle-aged guy said to his wife, "Uh oh, Hee-Haw Nightmare. Let's get out of here." High praise, indeed.

The free show at Maxie's goes from about 6:30 - 9:30.

Steve Burke
Ithaca NY Blog

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Leave Earlier This Weekend

Are you one of those drivers who mouth "Next time, leave earlier" at other drivers exhibiting impatience about  time and circumstance on the road?

Good for you, because then it is not only me.

It's not our fault they decided do one last thing, like washing the cutting board, before leaving the house, is it? Of course not.

There is likely to be a lot of vehicular angst and vituperation this weekend in Ithaca, as freshman students and their families arrive at Cornell, lost, addled, and possibly going the wrong way on some of our cunningly deceptive one-way streets.

At the same time, NYSEG still has plenty of streets torn up, in a grid-laying project they were supposed to have finished by now, but haven't.

None of this, again, is your fault, or mine, but let's be kinder this weekend. There are going to be plenty of parents driving around who already feel like crying. We better leave even earlier, ourselves.

Steve Burke
for Ithaca NY Blog

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Restaurant-Hopping At 8 PM When There's Music

All we wanted was dinner, but it was hard to get at 8 pm, in restaurants also featuring music.

We found this to be the case last night, when we hit Culture Shock for dinner at 8, but the place was too chaotic, with a band coming in, and also a little crowded, with more of a drinking and listening crowd than a dining one, it seemed.

As we wished to be with our own (hungry) kind, we tried Delilah's across the street.

But it was the same there. With an 8 p.m. show,  there were guys combining mike stands, and saying "check," but to the sound guy, not a waiter.

All this is fine and we love music and love work for musicians. But we were zeroed in on the meal-up.

So we strolled to Aurora Street, which was busy with people enjoying Dining Al Fresco. We happily joined them.

Our stringent dietary choices include eating outside on nice nights like last night. So we sat down at Sahara's, a newish Mediterranean place, where Micawber's bar used to be.

We don't intend to do a full restaurant review, just to say that the felafel is very fine at Sahara's, and so is the fatoush salad, and the latter is served in fattish portion. We by no means finished the whole thing, not even half.

In the interest of blunt honesty, not to mention our credibility, we will say that the coffee was weak. But we're not really fussy, and had a great time.

The moral of the story, we think, is to finish, not start, eating by 8 pm at a joint that will have music. And  support your local restaurants, and bands.

Steve Burke
for Ithaca NY Blog

Friday, August 12, 2011

Maine Was Vacationland

There were no posts here this week on Ithaca Blog (nor our other, semi-literary blog, "Brooklyn 3 New York"), because we were vacationing in Maine. Here's what we can tell you about Maine.

1. Maine is the only state with a one-syllable name. (Life is simpler in Maine.)

2. Maine is far away. Travel there with someone who can tell jokes or sing harmonies.

3. We were bringing a ukulele we are just learning to play, and our traveling companion said no, there is newly a ukulele embargo in Maine; but this is not true.

4. There are a lot of lakes in Maine, and these perhaps make better vacation spots than the ocean, because the ocean never warms up near Maine, but a shallow lake in Maine can be warmer than land.

5. There are a lot of lobsters in Maine, which is a puzzle to us, because we wonder who encourages their population growth? There are many more people in the U.S. than 50 years ago (we have noticed), yet there still seem to be enough lobsters for everyone. We are glad they are keeping pace with us, but it is a natural world wonder to us that it's so.

6. Vermont and New Hamster are picturesque states, but they do not provide good west-east roads, such as one needs to get from Ithaca to Maine. You have to take the Massachusetts Turnpike. But then you have to urinate in another state: we found to our shock and chagrin that the rest stops on the Mass Pike are closed, due to budget cuts, which seems very inhospitable. On our trip back, we decided to boycott buying beverages in Massachusetts, as a pro-active reaction.

Ramblin' Steve Burke
for Ithaca NY Blog

Friday, August 05, 2011

Summer = Peaches At GreenStar

This is the second year running that GreenStar Co-op has sold peaches from Pennsylvania that are practically perfect.

The price is crazy, too, at $1.69/lb. Industrial peaches in the supermarkets are $1.99.

Yesterday we told our friend K. Okay, she says, and buys one. Last night she was back, to buy eleven.

That might be too many, but these are good peaches. Enjoy yourself in nice summer.

Steve Burke
for Ithaca NY Blog

Monday, August 01, 2011

Last-Minute Tickets For Karan Casey: Do-able, at Angry Mom Records

Tickets will be available for the Karan Casey performance for peace most of the day Tuesday, the day of the show, at Angry Mom Records.

(Your friendly ticket purveyor will be me, partner in Angry Mom Records, staff-person on Tuesdays.)

Angry Mom Records is in the basement of Autumn Leaves Books, on the Commons, and opens at noon.

Tickets will also be available at the venue, the Community School of Music and Arts, when doors open for the 7:30 show.

Steve Burke
for Ithaca NY Blog

Monday, July 25, 2011

Water Everywhere

We wonder if today is a record-setting day for water use in Ithaca.

Today being the day after GrassRoots Festival, when a lot of Ithacans were camping in Trumansburg, and not using water as usual.

We imagine there is a lot of laundry being done today. And long, hot showering.

Steve Burke
for Ithaca NY Blog

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Karan Casey Tickets Are At Angry Mom Records

Tickets for the Karan Casey concert in Ithaca, a benefit for local peace efforts, are available at Angry Mom Records on the Commons.

The concert is at the Community School of Music and Arts, on Tuesday 2 August, at 7:30.

Tickets are $20. Angry Mom Records is in the basement of Autumn Leaves Books, 115 The Commons, and opens at noon, 7 days a week.

Steve Burke
for Ithaca NY Blog

Storm Report

Unless you drank a box of wine, you couldn't have missed the box of rain last night.

We don't particularly like nature, and no one likes being woke up, but it was a pretty good show.

Our bedroom window faces west, and the western sky was lit: silver, orange, blue, alternately; sometimes at once. Then black, which is normal, but was dramatic, for the contrast. It seemed extra black.

It was better than rock-show lights, because it was real.

Trees swayed and reminded us of dancers in Swan Lake at the Staatsoper - again, though, better. Maybe we like nature some.

Steve Burke
for Ithaca NY Blog

Saturday, July 16, 2011

What Tourists Do in Ithaca

This is what a tourist in Ithaca does on a day like yesterday:

1. breakfast at Cafe Dewitt
2. bird at Sapsucker Woods
3. swim at Treman Park
3. dine at Moosewood

At least, that's what our friend Lori from California did.

Tomorrow, she will have breakfast at Ithaca Bakery on Meadow Street with me. I figure that's what a real Ithacan does on a down-to-earth Sunday.  She'll see Ithaca Hours in action.

Steve Burke
for Ithaca NY Blog

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Last Two Days For Advance GrassRoots Tix

Today and tomorrow are the last two days for advance 4-day tickets to GrassRoots Festival.

Advance tickets are $95. After tomorrow, they will only be available at the gate. That means $110, and a line.

Tickets are available at Autumn Leaves Books on the Commons, upstairs from us here at Angry Mom Records, from whence we write you.

Please note: checks and credit cards are no good at this point. Too much potential loss for the Fest from bad accounts.

Autumn Leaves has a cash machine. It does not charge a fee.

Steve Burke
for Ithaca Blog, and Angry Mom Records/Small World Music

Monday, July 11, 2011

Does Drinking Hot Beverages Cool You Off?

This is an important question on a day of record heat in Ithaca, and much of the country.

Q: Is it true that drinking a hot beverage will cool you off?

A: It will if where you drink it is air conditioned.

Beyond that, hot drink or cold doesn't make any difference. What's important is the amount and the content.

Watch out for sugar, chemicals, and alcohol. Not to mention calories. Even good, natural juice is relatively high in calories.

Dilute, we say. Water is your friend. We prefer ours cold.

Steve Burke
for Ithaca NY Blog

Sunday, July 10, 2011

10% Off At GreenStar Today

If you like good food and a bargain, today is the day and GreenStar Coop is the place.

Every month, on the 10th, GreenStar runs a promotion called "Ten on the Tenth." Members get 10% off everything that is not already on sale.

You should also like people, at least somewhat. It gets crowded at GreenStar on the 10th.

Try the special Summer Blend juice by Red Jacket orchards, of Geneva, a longtime GreenStar supplier, and superstar of various greenmarkets in the NYC area, where people wait on long lines for their products. The Summer Blend juice is a blend of apple and lemon.  Crazy, right. It's great. Thanks to our pal Jonathan in the produce department for the tip.

Steve Burke
for Ithaca Blog 

Tuesday, July 05, 2011

It Takes To Train To Laugh: Laughter Yoga Class from Ithaca Freeskool

Ithaca Freeskool, the anarchist organization of learning, brings the Laughter Yoga movement to Ithaca with a (free) class this weekend.

Laughmasters Katrina and Marina (real names, we presume) conduct the session Saturday 9 July at 11 a.m. at Jillian's Drawers on the Commons.

Although held in a store for kidware, the class is intended for adults.

You can find info about Ithaca Freeskool with simple engine search. There is also plenty of information online about Laughter Yoga, a real thing and a nice thing. 

Steve Burke
for Ithaca NY Blog

Karan Casey Tickets Available Soon

Tickets for Irish singer Karan Casey's show at CSMA on Tuesday 2 August will be available soon at Angry Mom Records on the Commons.

"Soon" means as soon as they are printed. Within the next few days, we hope.

Karan is coming to perform a benefit concert for local peace efforts, as she has 7 or 8 times now, by rough count.

Karan is touring with John Doyle. John, like Karan, is ex-of the Irish supergroup Solas. The first-ever of these benefit concerts was by the incarnation of Solas that included Karan and John.

Please stay tuned for more info as it develops.

Steve Burke
for Angry Mom Records/Small World Music, and Ithaca NY Blog

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Fireworks on Friday the 1st

Ithaca's Fourth of July fireworks show will be held on the First of July, in Dryden.

For a couple of years now, the Ithaca show has been generously hosted by the TC3 campus in Dryden, after Ithaca College declined the honor anymore, after a roof went on fire one year from a misfire. (We were on a blanket right next to it; it was pretty riveting.)

The show has always been held off-date, which is cheaper.

TCAT promises a fleet of buses leaving from Green Street for public transport round trips.

Like the midnight movie show that starts at 12 a.m., and noon Mass that starts at 12 p.m., the fireworks show starts when it is dark.

Steve Burke
for Ithaca NY Blog

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Where To Buy Music In Ithaca

When a couple of people, in a week, lament the loss of our old store, Small World Music, as a place to buy new music, we know it is time to crassly remind one and all that SWM is still here. Just in a different abode.

The funky store on West State Street is now on East State Street, at 115, also known as 115 The Commons, aka 115 E. Martin Luther King Street.

To make things even simpler, SWM shares a space with Angry Mom Records, in the basement of Autumn Leaves Books.

SWM still does what it always did, selling new and used CDs and LPs.

New releases currently include "A Treasure" by Neil Young, "Revelator" by the Tedeschi Trucks Band, and "Ukelele Songs" by Eddie Vedder. There are also newish works by Fleet Foxes, Foo Fighters, and our current #1 (and the nation's), Adele.

SWM at Angry Mom Records is open every day at noon. Til 6 on Sundays, 8 on M, T, Wed.'s, and 9 on Fridays and Saturdays. Phone is 319-4953.

Steve Burke
for Small World Music and Ithaca NY Blog 

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

One Month (Or So) To GrassRoots Festival

It's the first day of summer, which puts us in mind of GrassRoots Festival.

(So do the e-mail reminders we got from them.)

Advance Tickets, for $95, will be on sale through July 13.

Volunteer work is still available. Registration goes through July 11,  though the earlier you register, of course, the better shot you have at getting work you want at times that suit you.

Registration, ticket sales, and information are all available at

Friday, June 17, 2011

Juneteenth Celebration on Saturday 18 June

"We Hail From Kings and Queens" is the theme of this year's Juneteenth Celebration in Ithaca, on Saturday 18 June.

Juneteenth is a celebration of African-American history and culture. The date commemorates the post-Civil War emanicipation of the last remaining slaves in the United States, in east Texas, on 19 June 1865, with the arrival of federal forces in Galveston.

Juneteenth is an official holiday in 37 states, including New York.

The celebration in Ithaca is at the Southside Community Center, on S. Plain Street. The street will be closed to car traffic for a street fair, with music, food, children's activities, and vendors, from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m.

Stephen Burke
for Ithaca NY Blog

Monday, June 06, 2011

To Edify (Not Mollify)

Ithaca being an academic community, we thought our readers might appreciate this recent exchange with our friend Sal, who teaches high school English in Rockland County.

Sal writes:

- Latest ponderable from 11th grade vocab quiz:
Asked to use "mollify" in a sentence, a student submitted, "I put fabric softener in my dryer to mollify my underwear." How does one judge this?

I replied:

- Sal, I think you have trouble if you give this.
The sentence then becomes a correct-enough template to define any verb.
"... to circumnavigate my underwear."
"... to amortize my underwear."
If they say that's why they did it, then you can't call them wrong, can you? Unless you hold fast to your right (your responsibility) to consider whether the mollification, circumnavigation, or amortization of the underwear was a reasonable expectation.

Teach your children well -
Steve Burke
for Ithaca NY Blog

No-Fracking Day in New York, Sat. 25 June

Saturday 25 June will be a day of protest throughout New York against chemical drilling for natural gas, a controversial process known as fracking.

Ithaca will host one of the largest of the state-wide events.

"The Epic No Frack Event" is an all-day event, from 8 a.m. - 11 p.m., at three locations on the Ithaca College campus. It features 45 speakers, 6 films, and 10 musicians.

Complete details are available at

Steve Burke
for Ithaca NY Blog

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Karan Casey Concert For Peace, 2 August 2011

Karan Casey, the Irish singer, returns with her band to Ithaca in August for a benefit concert to promote peace efforts by local groups.

Ms. Casey has done a series of these concerts in conjunction with her friend (and ours), Ellen Grady, who works with the Ithaca Catholic Worker and other peace and justice groups.

We saw Ellen recently, working on the Peter DeMott Peace Trot, set for Father's Day, Sunday 19 June.

The trot is a 3K race (or walk; go at your own chosen speed), which is also a benefit for peace groups. It is named for the late Peter DeMott, a peace activist and Ellen's husband.

The peace trot is a lot of work, Ellen acknowledges, and the concert will be, too. But the race - the second annual - promises to become a tradition, as Ms. Casey's concerts have become.

You can read more about Karan Casey here on Ithaca Blog, where we have publicized each of her Ithaca concerts since our start. Just type Karan's name into the search field.

The concert is set for Tuesday, 2 August, at the Community School for Music and Arts. We will have more details as they come.

Steve Burke
for Ithaca NY Blog

Google Error, But Now Back On the Blog

Good to be back here on Ithaca Blog. For the past few days, Google had some access issues, and we couldn't log in. It seems they are now resolved.

For some reason, we were able all along to post at our other site, Brooklyn 3 New York. This is a fiction site, start of a book, which we mean to mention to you readers once in a while, anyhow. Do us a favor and have a look over there, at our other writing project. Just search, Brooklyn 3 New York.

Be back with you soon again, here.

Steve Burke
for Ithaca NY Blog

Saturday, May 21, 2011

2nd Annual Peter DeMott Peace Trot, On Father's Day

Father's Day, Sunday 19 June, is the date for the 2nd annual 3K "Peace Trot" to promote local peace efforts, and to honor the memory of the late peace activist and beloved Ithacan, Peter De Mott.

The event last year was a great success: well-organized, well-attended, and a lot of fun.

This year's promises as least as much. Organizers are asking participants to register, so they know how many t-shirts to print, etc.

Details and registration are available at

Steve Burke
for Ithaca NY Blog

Friday, May 20, 2011

Donna The Buffalo Show Tonight; New Tara Nevins CD

The show probably doesn't need any help, but just so you know, Donna the Buffalo plays a rare Ithaca (as opposed to Trumansburg) appearance tonight, at Castaways.

Tara Nevins of DTB released a new solo CD this week. It features appearances by Levon Helm, Alison Moorer, and Larry Campbell. The CD is available at Angry Mom Records, in the basement of Autumn Leaves Books on the Commons.

Tonight's show starts at 9 p.m. with opening act, Double E.

Steve Burke
for Ithaca NY Blog

Thursday, May 19, 2011

GreenStar Dance Party Cancelled

The GreenStar Dance Party we touted in our previous posting has been cancelled due to rain threat, not to mention actual rain.

They'll try again a week from tonight.

Steve Burke
for Ithaca NY Blog

Outdoor Dance Party at GreenStar Tonight (Maybe)

GreenStar Coop resumes its popular outdoor dance music series tonight, barring rain. A pretty low bar, lately.

The band this time in Djug Django, purveyors of gypsy swing.

The event goes from 5:30 to 7:30.

There is a rain date, by the way: Thursday 26 May.

Should it rain, there are a couple of noteworthy indoor music events tonight.

There's a Bob Dylan Birthday event at Castaways. It features folkie Jamie Notorthomas, but we believe it is an open-mike event. You can imagine the range of Dylan interpretations that might be taken. Or you can not imagine, and go. The show is from 9 p.m. til 1 a.m.

At the newish Culture Shock raw foods emporium on S. Cayuga Street, Don Slatoff leads his Jazz Circus. It goes from 9 - 11 p.m.

Steve Burke
for Ithaca NY Blog

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Mea Culpa, Fellow Ithacans

I had two sharp self-realizations today, leading to the same conclusion: that I am not as good an Ithacan as others, in caring for nature to one's core.

One, because I tried to throw away something I shouldn't. Two, because I made fun of a fish.

In the first case: I hired Zolar truckers to haul away some furniture and other stuff from the old location of my store, Small World Music. We're now on the Commons, with Angry Mom Records. I still had stuff in the old place, up West State Street.

The truckers looked at the stuff. The very first thing I pointed at was an old wooden secretary.

"You're throwing that away?," said the guy.

"Yeah," I said.

"No, you're not," he said. "That's a great piece."

"It's falling apart," I said.

"It's an antique," he said. "It's oak!"

Now, to me, two things.

One, what do I care if it's oak? It has to be something. So it's oak. So what? I am from Brooklyn, and  I am vaguely aware there are different types of trees, but it is not important to me.

Two, it is falling-apart oak.

I get bad looks, like I am a real dumb lawyer at the Supreme Court, or worse, a real bad steward of planet Earth who claims to be a dedicated Ithacan. This will not do for my reputation,  so I relent. The oak stays.

The second thing: the fish.

It is hours later. I see in the Ithaca Journal that they are finding sturgeon in Lake Cayuga, and are happy about it, and warning people not to catch them, or if you catch them, throw them back. They are endangered, and protected.

This is great with me. I am all for this process in general, and especially for something as cool as sturgeon. I like the name, sturgeon. It is close to surgeon, although it is a fish.

But then I read that sturgeon can live to be 150 years old. That's what it says in the paper. It leads me to a thought I find is shameful, when I make the mistake of expressing it.

"Can you believe this?," I say to my friend. "Can you imagine living 150 years as a sturgeon?"

To a response of silence. Then,

"It's a living being."

"Yeah," I say, "of course. "But come on! A sturgeon? 150 years?

"They're bottom-feeders. They don't have teeth.

"They live in a place I would object to, dead.

"For 150 years? How long is a hundred fifty months? I couldn't take it that long.

"How long would be too long?  I would say 110 years, max.

"You know? Go ahead. Try to catch me. At least I would have some excitement. Something to tell the grandfish."

More silence. And nothing more.

Now, in  my own defense, I wasn't saying don't save them. I was just reacting to a lifestyle, and saying how I'd feel if I lived it.

But I don't. I'm not sturgeon. And I'm not oak. Let me be sensitive to that.

l'll try to do better tomorrow. That's Ithacan. Meanwhile, mea maxima culpa. That's Catholic, but Ithacan, too.

Steve Burke
for Ithaca NY Blog

Monday, May 09, 2011

Father Dan Berrigan Turns 90

Last week, when Pete Seeger turned 92, we asked here whether anyone has ever worked or fought harder for a good America.

Father Dan Berrigan, S.J., who turns 90 today, might make it a photo finish.

Dan was at Cornell in the 1960s, as head of Cornell United Religious Work, in Anabel Taylor Hall, when he acted on the belief that drafting American kids to attack people in Vietnam with obscene killing technology was sinful and criminal.

With his brother, Father Phil Berrigan, and others (including our friend, the late John Grady, Sr.), Dan destroyed draft files and infiltrated weapon plants.

Dan was forced to leave Cornell: not by Cornell, but the FBI. He went into hiding to avoid arrest, and continue his work.

Dan has worked for peace a long time. He has served time. He works to serve his religious convictions, which are based on non-violence and love.

He writes good poetry and is a funny guy. As we did  Pete Seeger, we wish Dan a happy birthday, with many happy returns.

Saturday, May 07, 2011

Jim Breuer at Angry Mom Records/Small World Music (And the State Theater)

Comedian Jim Breuer spent some time browsing records and CDs at Angry Mom Records/Small World Music on the Commons today. He performs at the State Theater tonight with Ralphie May.

Breuer is probably best known for his tenure on Saturday Night Live, where he did a recurring sketch, "The Joe Pesci Show." He also does a great Godzilla.

He was paying special attention to the comedy records. No one (else) in the store knew him.

We walked over and said, there's nothing by you in there, is there? And welcomed him to town, and said break a leg tonight. He said thanks and we shook hands.

Of course we drop names of show biz stars when they come to our store. Go out and see Breuer and May tonight for a fun time.

Steve Burke
for Ithaca NY Blog & Small World Music 

Wednesday, May 04, 2011

Buffalo Street Books Is Back

Eleven days ago was the re-opening of Buffalo Street Books, a remarkable re-birth, as Ithacans stepped forward to buy a failing private business - Ithaca's oldest independent bookstore - to be operated now as a co-operative business, owned by hundreds of share-holders.

A full ownership stake costs $250. A supporting membership costs $25.

We were there a few days after the grand re-opening. It might be the first blush of commitment, but we were there on a Tuesday afternoon, not prime shopping time, and the checkout line was six people.

We got a copy of Leslie Daniels' new novel, "Cleaning Nabokov's House," and a membership. The membership gets you 10% off all purchases.

Buffalo Street Books is on Buffalo Street, indeed, inside the lovely Dewitt Mall.

Steve Burke
for Ithaca NY Blog

Tuesday, May 03, 2011

Happy Birthday, Pete Seeger

Is there anyone who has worked or fought harder to create a good America than Pete Seeger?

There isn't anyone who has done it longer. Pete Seeger turns 92 today.

We've had cause to write about Pete a few times here on Ithaca Blog, including the time we met him, when he wanted to find out about Ithaca Hours. You can see those postings by searching for "Pete Seeger" in the field here.

We wish this fine man all the best, with many happy returns of the day.

Steve Burke
for Ithaca NY Blog

Saturday, April 30, 2011

Mother's Day: For Peace

A local group has created a web site, called, to publicize the historical origins of Mother's Day in the U.S. as a day to promote peace and social justice.

Julia Ward Howe, author of "The Battle Hymn of the Republic," wrote "Mother's Day Proclamation" in 1870:

... "To promote the alliance of the different nationalities,
     The amicable settlement of international questions,
     The great and general interests of peace."

Of course, America being what it is, as Christmas became a month of shopping, Mother's Day became a day of flowers and eggs benedict. is trying to change it back.

Visit the site and log in with your thoughts about honoring our mothers by achieving peace.

Stephen Burke
for Ithaca NY Blog

Monday, April 25, 2011

Ithaca Music For Our Favorite Bar in Brooklyn

The Red Hook section of Brooklyn is remote, between projects and docks, served by buses but no near subway. It is not fancy and not even strictly reputable, but then neither was Brooklyn, back when.

It has a bar that recalls good old Brooklyn to us, native there.

The place is called Rocky Sullivan's.

It's not an old bar. It's only been in its Brooklyn location a few years, having moved from exorbitant Manhattan.

It has nice furnishings, a marble-topped bar, big windows, a good kitchen, a wood-burning pizza stove, a  music room which holds over 200, and a rooftop patio with a view of the piers.

Our friend Larry, from Bensonhurst, has a piece of the place. Larry has been to Ithaca a few times, including GrassRoots Festival, and is interested in putting excellent, crowd-pleasing Ithaca music into the joint.

Also interested in this is owner Chris Byrne, a musician himself, from the band Black 47.

We went to Rocky's last autumn to check out the prospects. We sure think it will work.

Now with winter past, we will get moving. Plans for the first gig are Richie Stearns and Pat Burke, of the Evil City String Band, playing with Stephanie Jenkins and Rosie Newton, of the Pearly Snaps, who now live in NYC.

The date is not set but it will be sometime soon -  May or June. Keep an eye out here, and in the meantime, check out Rocky Sullivan's website and Facebook page.

Steve Burke
for Ithaca NY Blog

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Our Favorite Easter Joke

With all this thinking about Easter songs, we remembered our favorite Easter joke.

It is the only Easter joke we know, actually, so perhaps it should just be called a favorite joke.

We posted it here on 9 April 2009. You can find it by searching here for "Big Fat Tony."

It's funny even in print, we think, but you should hear us tell it live, with pinpoint dialects, pregnant pauses and everything. Wow, then it is hilahrious, as Tracy Morgan says. No kidding.

Steve Burke
for Ithaca NY Blog

Those Songs About Jesus For Easter

Continuing from previous post: here are our top picks for songs to celebrate Easter.

"Jesus Wants Me For A Moonbeam" (The Vaselines)

"I'll Have A New Body" (Hank Williams)

"Were You There" (Johnny Cash)

"Jesus Christ, What A Man" (Oak Ridge Boys)

"He Bumps When He Rides" (Jamz Gang)

"The Christian Life" (The Byrds)

"Help Me Jesus" (The Staple Singers)    

"Jesus Is Waiting" (Al Green)

"Anti-Christ TV Blues" (Arcade Fire)

"When He Offers His Hand" (Townes Van Zandt)

"Mercy Seat" (Nick Cave)

"Citrus" (The Hold Steady)

"Roll Away The Stone" (Leon Russell)

"Plastic Jesus" (Flaming Lips)

"We Bid You Goodnight" (Grateful Dead)

... enjoy the day
Steve Burke
for Ithaca NY Blog

Easter Playlist For Jesus

Owning a music store (Angry Mom Records/Small World Music, LPs and CDs), we wonder how come there are so many compilations of Christmas songs, for J. Christ, but no Easter ones?

Mr. Christ, himself (Himself?) probably counted Easter as the greater day. It marked much more achievement than simply being born.

Our friend Bill Chaisson is a host of the Nonesuch show on WVBR radio, on Sundays. It is a show that goes for hours and generally has themes. Bill put out a message asking for suggestions for his Easter show, this Sunday.

Bill alluded to a geographic theme, about the Middle East, Christ's home in his brief earthly tenure.

We suggested to Bill a playlist about the guy himself, as rendered by many fine musicians. Our guess is that Bill will consider it a little too wacky. But we don't think so. We think our suggestions comprise a fine compilation, to rival any Xmas one. We'd love to see that happen. So we will pass it along to you, directly.

Friday, April 22, 2011

GrassRoots Festival Looms

Okay, it's zero degrees outside. Want it to feel like summer real fast?

Then get this: Early Bird tickets for the GrassRoots Festival, in July, go off sale May 1.

Early Bird tickets are $85, for the 4-day festival. On May 2 they go to Advance Sale price of $95.

Tickets are available online at, and at locations in town, including our favorite, Autumn Leaves Books, on the Commons. We like the place especially because our music emporium, Angry Mom Records/Small World Music CDs, resides there, in the basement.

We carry tons of good music, including loads of local, and the genres of music (and the actual bands) you will see at Grassroots.

Steve Burke
for Ithaca NY Blog

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

We Know, We Know, We Should Post More

We acknowledeged this critique last posting. And tried to explain. Besides this blog, we're also writing one to turn into a book (see "Brooklyn 3 New York" here on

But we haven't done anything in either, the past week. We went to Florida (I mean, literally).

Lucky us, for that. But also lucky us to have you reading. Between our two sites, we have lots of readers, and we are grateful.

Now we're back home and will get busier. We hope you'll stick with us.

Steve Burke
for Ithaca NY Blog
and Brookyln 3 New York

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Guy Says We Should Post More

B., a rock and roll guy who pops in to our record store occasionally, told us today that he has started reading Ithaca Blog, and that we need to "post more," or maybe he said "update more."

Or maybe some combination or variation of those words. Whatever sounds most blunt, that is probably what B. said, or meant, because he is that direct kind of guy. We don't mind.

So, B., this one's for you. Partly.

It's also partly for yous, who read us here, to let you know, and/or remind you (long-time readers), we have slacked off a bit here because we are also trying to write a book.

We are posting the early manifestations of that here on, too; look at it by searching for Brooklyn 3 New York.

That work is an attempt to render a few blocks in Brooklyn NY as it used to be.

Steve Burke
for Ithaca NY Blog

Tuesday, April 05, 2011

Land Trust Benefit at Maxie's, NEXT Tuesday

After work tonight at Small World Music/Angry Mom Records, we went directly to Maxie's to enjoy and support a fundraiser for the Finger Lakes Land Trust by the Evil City String Band.

Imagine our chagrin to find that the event was mis-reported by the Ithaca Times. It is next Tuesday.

Actually, our chagrin was unsevere. We figure it is more time to alert more people. How's that for positive thinking. See you there on 4/12, we hope.

Steve Burke
for Ithaca NY Blog

Monday, March 28, 2011

Race For Mayor Begins

The race for mayor of Ithaca began today with the announcement of her candidacy by Pam Mackesey.

Ms. Mackesey is a county legislator who previously served on the city council.

Local electoral news has been dominated by lately by incumbents declining to run again, including the current mayor, and 4 council members, or maybe 5.

In the wake of the mayor's announcement, we thought about what kind of person would want to be mayor. There are two, maybe: professional politicians (or semi-pro, at least); and renegades.

For any other kind of normal person, the job would be a drag. You would never be able to shop peacefully at Wegman's again.

For a professional politician, the job of mayor probably looks pretty good. You don't have any peers. You have a certain authority and autonomy. You will get a certain amount of blame for things, but also praise, when things go well; you can work at spreading the blame around, while keeping the praise as yours-all-yours. So if you like that kind of thing, and are convinced you can do more good things than bad, you might want the job.

The renegade is the other type who might want it. If you believe in change, revolution, foment, or just progress of a marked nature, being mayor would get you heard.

Our sense is that soon, right soon, there will be 4 or 5 more candidates, and you'll be able neatly to divide them in these two categories. It will be an interesting race.

Steve Burke
for Ithaca Blog

Sunday, March 20, 2011

A Real Favorite Word

We saw an on-line feature today about the 10 Favorite Words of people in the U.S.

We looked to see how they determined this, but found it was a silly promo listing a bunch of whimsical words, and if there is anything we do not like in general it is whimsy. We don't even like the word whimsy.

But it reminded us of a real person with a real favorite word, for a real reason, our friend Anne.

Anne asked us out of the blue one morning whether we had a favorite word. It was one of those questions you ask when you would like to be asked it yourself. But we bit and didn't mind; we like Anne and she doesn't normally talk that much, and we like to encourage expression.

So we said,

- No, Anne, do you?

- I do.

-What is it?

- It's the word "muffin."

We pondered this and thought of a couple of possible reasons why, neither of which we hoped was the reason; so we asked. Why muffin?

"Because," Anne said. "Because there is the word 'muffin,' I don't have to say, 'I eat cake for breakfast every morning.' "

Steve Burke
for Ithaca NY Blog

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Record Store Day at Small World Music

We interrupt normal broadcast here at Ithaca Blog to smallcast to the many people who are sent to this site each day lately by searching for "Record Store Day Ithaca" and, apparently, getting some outdated information along the way, from the "Record Store Day" site, which we should correct.

The "Record Store Day" site gives splendid information about Small World Music that is still true, except for our location.

(We say "our" because we, that is, I, do both Small World Music and Ithaca Blog.)

SWM is no longer at 614 West State St. in Ithaca, but at 115 East State St., on the Ithaca Commons, in the basement of Autumn Leaves Books, sharing space with a wonderful enterprise called Angry Mom Records.

You can check for disinterested reviews of just how wonderful it all is. Meanwhile, know that the newly-combined, power-packed force of Angry Mom/Small World makes Record Store Day in Ithaca a crazy day of greatness for all music lovers.

We invest plenty of money and time in this event, which is a co-op enterprise of independent stores all over the country. We will have all the cool products that great artists and labels are offering specially for the day. We will have live bands in the store. We will have give-aways and contests.

For all who didn't know about it yet, check it. Record Store Day is a big celebration and getting bigger every year. There's a reason we are here, and thriving, and Borders is gone. You know?

Record Store Day is Saturday 16 April. Angry Mom Records/Small World Music usually opens at noon, 7 days a week, but on Record Store day we open at 10 a.m.

Steve Burke
for Small World Music/Ithaca Blog

Monday, March 14, 2011

Ithacan Travels to War to Hear Children Talk of Peace

Have you ever noticed that whenever you see Arabic people in the media, they are screaming, holding weapons, or near something on fire?

You never see community groups in a meeting room, or hear voices of individuals, from countries being occupied or strafed with bombs.

That would remind you they are just like you.

Our friend Clare Grady, a peace activist, is going to Afghanistan as part of an international group to listen to peoples' voices, beseeching peace - specifically, young people.

The delegation was invited to Kabul by a group called Afghan Youth Peace Volunteers.

The young people of the group have never known life without war.

They are sponsoring a project called Live Without Wars. There will be talking and listening, a multi-ethnic walk, and planting of trees in Kabul.

The event takes place the weekend of March 19 - 21.

Clare leaves tomorrow. We made a donation to support the trip and hope you might, too.

Donations can be sent to Ithaca Catholic Worker, P.O. Box 293, Ithaca NY 14851.

More information is available at

Stephen Burke
for Ithaca NY Blog

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Grady Girls Play Music Against Militarism, Sun. 13 March

The Grady Girls play a benefit concert on Sunday night against drone warfare by the U.S. government in Afghanistan and Pakistan.

Drones are mechanized aircraft that drop bombs without personnel on board. In other words, they are completely automated killing machines.

The people on the receiving end of these bombs can't possibly conceive of them as anything but the ultimate weapons of terrorism.

The U.S. government uses them, ostensibly, to kill political foes in Afghanistan and Pakistan. They kill a lot of innocent civilians, too, but no one in the upper reaches of the U.S. government seems to care about that, as long as nobody notices or says anything.

Well, the Grady Girls do, and they want us to, too.

The Girls are playing their fine Irish music in support of a walk by local peace groups next month to Syracuse, where the drones are maintained.

The event is at Delilah's on Cayuga, 112 S. Cayuga St., Sunday 13 March, at 6 p.m. It runs until 11:00. It's loose, so come by any time. If you don't know, the Gradys and their compatriots are a wonderfully convivial conglomeration; you will have a wonderful time.

There is no set fee, but it is a benefit for a big effort, so please contribute nicely.

Stephen Burke
for Ithaca NY Blog

Monday, March 07, 2011

2 Free CD's For You Today At Angry Mom Records/Small World Music

Tuesday is the day that I (or, I and I: maker of Ithaca Blog, and partner in Angry Mom Records/Small World Music, on the Commons) work in public all day at my music store in the basement of Autumn Leaves Books, at 115 The Commons.

And every Tuesday in a while, while I am there, we do this: offer you, Ithaca Blog reader, not one, not three, but two free CD's, from our multiple shelves of many hundreds of CD's bargain-priced at $3 and less.

Of course, some of them are crazy and unheard-of; but some are quite reet. Anyway, you can't go wrong at the price of free, not to mention the number of two.

No purchase necessary. We want to entice you to the store, and thank you for reading the blog.

To avail yourself, simply mention this offer to me, or to charming Mr. Lee, who also staffs the store tomorrow. We will be happy to serve you, and meet you.

Steve Burke
for Ithaca NY Blog
and Angry Mom Records/Small World Music

Sunday, March 06, 2011

Prominent Readings at Buffalo Street Books

Buffalo Street Books is pretty busy for a place scheduled to shut.

Ithaca's oldest independent book store announced in February that failing business would force it to close.

Immediately, Ithaca rallied around an effort to save the store. Over $200,000 has been pledged for that goal. Details are available at

Meanwhile, the store has notable readings scheduled for Monday and Tuesday.

Monday's is by Leslie Daniels, from her book "Cleaning Nabokov's House." The reading will take place at 6:30 p.m., not at the store, but at the Kitchen Theater, now located on W. State Street.

Tuesday's is by Tea Obreht, from her book "The Tiger's Wife." It is scheduled for 6 p.m. at the bookstore, but we wonder if it might have to be moved somewhere bigger. Ms. Obreht was featured this morning on "Weekend Edition" on National Public Radio.

Stephen Burke
for Ithaca NY Blog

Dimanche, Lundi, & Mardi Gras at Maxie's

Maxie's has evolved over the years but is essentially a New Orleans-inspired restaurant, and so they don't let Mardi Gras go too easily.

The restaurant has free music events scheduled for each of the next three nights.

Sunday, it's Jorge Cuevas and the Caribe All-Stars. Monday, Johnny Dowd and friends. Tuesday, the Chicken Fried String Band.

There are dining and drink specials, and special decor, and beads, of course.

Go and help the good times roll.

Steve Burke
for Ithaca BY Blog

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Hydrofrackers Dump Toxic Water in Cayuga Lake, Says NY Times

The NY Times reports today that companies drilling for gas in Pennsylvania are knowingly and systematically dumping toxic wastewater into sources of drinking water, including Cayuga Lake.

Documentation shows that the wastewater, from the drilling process called hydrofracking, contains levels of radiation and carcinogens which cannot be successfully treated.

The levels are hundreds of times above standards considered safe.

The wastewater - essentially untreated - is dumped into public water, unfettered by regulation.

With lobbying money, gas companies have evaded regulation by the Environmental Protection Agency. Special clauses in federal regulations exempt the gas companies from disclosing the chemicals they use in hydrofracking.

The Times reports that a company in the southern tier of New York, near the Pennsylvania border, is dumping hydrofracking wastewater into the southern portion of Cayuga Lake, a source of drinking water in Ithaca.

The toxic waste is also being dumped into rivers serving Pittsburgh, Philadelphia, Baltimore, and hundreds of other communities. The population affected totals over a million.

At least three of the highest-ranking state officials in Pennsylvania with responsibility for overseeing gas company activities there have left the government for jobs with the gas companies.

The population affected has been served this week, by corporate journalists, with news about Charlie Sheen.

Here in Ithaca, there has been no notice of these issues by local media; but citizen groups have been laudibly active in spreading information. Two of the foremost are Toxics Targeting, and Shaleshock. They are readily available on the Internet and in person, and can certainly use your help.

Stephen Burke
for Ithaca NY Blog

Friday, February 25, 2011

Trivia Quiz: Win $10 From Small World Music/Angry Mom Records

What is the only pop song ever to include the word "inquisitive" in its lyrics?

Be the first, second, or third to give us the answer (mulitple winners!) and win a $10 gift certificate to Small World Music/Angry Mom Records, in the basement of Autumn Leaves Books on the Commons.

The question arose at the music party, with talented, hip DJ's, that Angry Mom ran at Silky Jones on the Commons last Sunday.

There were multiple DJ's stacking wax, and the question came up, what songs are guaranteed party-starters?

We were not spinning, but had an opinion. We named the song in question. We said, not only is it stirring, to your very soul, but it uses the word "inquisitive." And it is the second word in the song. Beat that.

We mean, James Brown, for example, has many party-starting songs, but probably none including a four-syllable adjective, at least not one not starting with the letter "m." (And that particular word, now that we think of it, is probably not technically an adjective, but a present participle.)

We'll give you two hints. One is probably obvious: it is a soul song. Hint #2: it charted in 1967.

And, extra bonus, if you can tell us a different song employing the word "inquisitive," we will give you an $11 gift certificate.

Send your reply (we are ready for the deluge) to us here via Ithaca Blog; or e-mail us personally at

Stephen P. Burke
for Small World Music & Ithaca NY Blog

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Anti-Frackers, Meet Gov. Cuomo in Binghamton, 2/24

Late notice, but we just saw a call for a rally from people fighting unnatural drilling for natural gas in New York, when Governor Cuomo comes to Binghamton on Thursday 24 Feb.

The news came to us from Cuomo comes to Binghamton tomorrow, we know not why, exactly. But anti-fracking activists want to make a scene while he is here, in the New York epicenter of the likely calamity of fracking, and ask him to do specific things, and perhaps take a general stand.

We posted here on Ithaca Blog on 22 August 2010 about a visit by then-candidate Cuomo to Binghamton where he would answer no questions about fracking. No more for that.

Andrew was daunted then by a big turnout of mouthy Ithacans and a repeat of that, let's say a furtherance, would be fine.

Toxics Targeting reports that Mr. Cuomo will be at the Riverwalk Hotel, 225 Water Street in Binghamton; they are calling for citizens to gather before 10:30 a.m.

If you can't go, as we can't, maybe send a tidy check, as we will, to the Shaleshock organization, a grassroots group that is quite potent in the movement, and of course could use your help. Their address is 115 The Commons. You can visit them there, too, and get personally involved. Remember: this land is your land. And the water is all of ours, and not for the Halliburton corporation, and other scheming frackers, to defile.

Stephen Burke
for Ithaca NY Blog

Sunday, February 20, 2011

More Fun, Sunday Night, Feb. 20

The Commons will barely be cleared of Chili Fest fun by the time more starts, when Angry Mom Records hosts an all-vinyl music party at Silky Jones, on the east end of the Commons.

The event promises "the best music you ever heard/the best music you never heard." There will be multiple DJs, including some from the Angry Mom staff.

It starts at 8 p.m. and goes until last call.

For more details, check out Angry Mom Records on Facebook.

Steve Burke
for Ithaca NY Blog

Beautiful Day for Chili, Sunday 20 Feb.

We have gotten a lot of hits on Ithaca Blog this morning via the search for "Chili Cook-Off."

Yes, the Chili Cook-Off is happening. The weather is beyond benign, and the Commons is packed.

The karaoke machine is spinning. The cushions around the mechanical bull are inflated. People are dressed up like it's a ski resort, except the equipment is spoons, not skis.

Don't forget the free offer from Small World Music/Angry Mom Records, as posted here on Ithaca Blog on Tuesday 15 February.

Steve Burke
for Ithaca NY Blog

Saturday, February 19, 2011

One-Day Delay on Chili Cook-Off: (Very) Late-Breaking News

We just got very late-breaking news that the Chili Cook-Off on Saturday 19 Feb. has been moved to the following day, because of bad weather.

The news comes to us from the event's volunteer co-ordinator, who got it from the event's main co-ordinator.

We asked for a double-check, before posting this announcement; and got that confirmation.

We asked for the confirmation because we thought, isn't bad weather always possibly part of the deal, for a February event?

But the concern tonight is that there will be no power tomorrow, with high winds that will likely last.

See our past couple of postings for details about a free offer at Angry Mom Records/Small World Music to people attending the event. That offer now will hold for both Saturday and Sunday.

Steve Burke
for Small World Music/Angry Mom Records/ Ithaca NY Blog

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Something Free For You on Chili Cook-Off Day

The Chili Cook-Off Festival comes to the Commons this Saturday, 19 February, and we have something free for you that day at Small World Music/Angry Mom Records, on the Commons, in the basement of Autumn Leaves Books.

(We are Small World Music and Ithaca Blog, both.)

On Saturday, simply mention this offer, and select for yourself a free CD from our bargain shelves of CDs for $3 and less.

We have many hundreds, so you are bound to find something you know you will like; or don't know you will like; but it's free, so you can't lose. Right?

No purchase is necessary. When we say free, we mean free, doggone it. We hope to see you.

Steve Burke
for SWM & /IBlog

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Small World Music, On the Commons

We see today on Facebook that even some of our FB Friends don't know that Small World Music (our store) has moved: to the basement of Autumn Leaves Books on the Commons, cohabiting there with Angry Mom Records.

Angry Mom has the LPs. Small World Music has the CDs.

Including Richie Stearns's new one, which was how this came up on FBook, someone looking for a store to buy it from. We got it.

And we got lots more Local music, plus International, Americana, Jazz, Blues, Rock/Pop, etc.

New releases featured at the moment include Decemberists, Drive-By Truckers, Iron and Wine, Wanda Jackson, Richard Thompson, James Blunt, Bright Eyes, and Social Distortion.

Angry Mom/Small World opens at noon, 7 days a week.

Steve Burke
for Small World Music and Ithaca NY Blog

Friday, February 11, 2011

In Egypt, the Power of the Square

We talked briefly today with our friend Clare Grady, the often-jailed peace activist, about Egypt. She said she is thinking about "the power of the Square," as in Tahrir Square, where people are staying and demonstrating in massive numbers.

"Tiananmen Square, now Tahrir Square. There's great power when people unite physically.

"The media and the Internet are okay for communication and planning. But nothing works the way actually gathering does."

I said I never thought about it, but it seems true. "It lets people in power see you," I said. "And scares them."

Clare said, "It also lets you see each other, and builds your resolve."

Clare said she is ruminating on a gathering here in Ithaca - on the Commons, maybe. Demonstrations across the U.S. might be helpful in influencing our government.

We will be sure to let you know if Clare, or anyone else, organizes something here.

Sunday, February 06, 2011

It's A Good Night Not To Like Football

It's a good night not to like football, if you prefer the idea of lots of room outside. The Super Bowl is on tonight, and you can probably ski down main street during it.

You know, famously, Jewish people go to Chinese restaurants on Christmas. They are two groups that do not generally care that much about Christmas. So, maybe tonight, outdoor enthusiasts could all meet, get together, right downtown, anywhere they want.

You might want to check with restaurants first, tonight, though. It may be that any restaurant without a TV in the bar doesn't open tonight, for anticipated lack of interest. We hear that Maxie's is closed, for instance.

have fun -
Steve Burke
for Ithaca NY Blog

Wednesday, February 02, 2011

On Egypt: The President and Secretary of State Look Tired

Obama and Rodham-Clinton look tired lately - maybe even soul-sick, with the hypocrisy they have to perpetuate, or think they have to, in Egypt.

The revolution in Egypt is right. But our government won't outright support it, because of money. Not just money, but dirty money.

"Democracy Now!" on the web presents clear details about the billions of "foreign aid" cash we send Egypt, with the firm understanding that they will send back most of it for weapons. They get to keep some of the cash, for their effort. But primarily it is gigantic money-laundering for Lockheed-Martin, Boeing, and others.

Our government supports the Egyptian regime because they follow instructions: take this massive money, from U.S. taxpayers, and give it to U.S. corporations, for obscene and wasteful weaponry.

Of course, we do it with a slew of countries, but Egypt has been one of the biggest and best flunkies for a while.

The scheme is the ultimate in corporate welfare and pocket-lining.

The Democratic and Republican organizations get their cut of it, naturally, or it wouldn't happen, as it is quite immoral, and should be illegal. But like many big crimes, when powerful parties get paid, it thrives.

The problem in Egypt, as far as U.S. powers are concerned, is that maybe someone new in charge won't be as reliably venal.

Obama and Rodham-Clinton, certainly, are smart enough to understand all this. They are pretty smart people. Likely, on some level, they despise the works. But they don't lead; they follow. They have to - or, again, think they do. Let them stand up against the venality, and see what happens to their coffers, and those of their colleagues.

Bernie Sanders (Senator from Vermont), for one example, would do the right thing in this situation, if it were in his power. Sanders is an independent, de jure and de facto. He is not motivated by massive money, and disdains any that is dirty. His campaign financing comes from the citizens he represents. Pretty much all others at the highest level of U.S. government are cogs. Not even by necessity, but by choice, for easy money. Nothing personal, but, you know. It is so obvious it is barely an observation.

Once, O. and R-C were well-meaning and progressive. At their best and deepest levels, they probably still are. But in the corrupt terrain of the criminal rich, they fail the public good - sometimes at catastrophic levels, like now.

Here's the thing about social justice movements: when executed well and massively, they help smart, good people act so.

That's why we must act, meet, demonstrate, vote - those of us interested in peace, justice, fairness.

In a history-making way, this is what the people of Egypt are doing, right now. Do what you can for them, and then maybe our people in power will find the strength to do so, too. And let's then see what we can do to spread this sense and wellness.

Stephen Burke
for Ithaca NY Blog

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

"Blue Valentine," And Penny and the Quarters

We don't review movies on Ithaca Blog, because plenty of other places do that well, but we would like to recommend this picture "Blue Valentine," newly released.

We saw an advance copy "per dolem", as we say in Latin ("by means of a trick"). It has won prizes at Sundance, Cannes, etc.

We mention it not only because it is good, but because we own a record/CD store, and the film features an astonishing song by an astonishing band that, somehow, was never famous, or even known.

The song is called "You And Me." It is by a group from long ago called Penny and the Quarters. They were from Ohio and that is about all anyone knows about them.

The song is presented in a demo version, with nothing but voices and one guitar. It is a gospel-based soul ballad. It is staggeringly simple, and beautiful for that.

It is reminiscent of "People Get Ready" and "This Old Heart Of Mine," two huge soul hits. If it antedates them, it is a brilliant amalgamation. If it predates them (no one knows, at the moment), it is monumental, if that is not too strong. (For people interested in song composition and history, not to mention copyright law, it is not.)

The makers of the film are searching for any vestiges of the band, to pay them.

You can read a bit about the band on Wikipedia - or, better, hear the song on Youtube. Simply search there for Penny and the Quarters.

Steve Burke
for Ithaca NY Blog

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Richie Stearns' New CD, And Release Gig On Sat. 29 Jan.

We usually don't think to post here for local music shows days in advance, but this Saturday comes a large one, as Richie Stearns issues a new CD, and celebrates it at the Chapter House, at 10 p.m.

It's Richie's second release, only, apart from CDs by the Horseflies. His first, a completely solo effort (called "Solo"), was about 6 years ago. The new one has band-mates, including local cohorts, the Evil City String Band; and largely-renowned players Carrie Rodriguez and Dirk Powell.

ECSB will be with Richie at Saturday's show; other prominents too, we gather.

We recommend getting there early. It should be a large crowd.

The CD is already available at Ithaca's own retail music store, Angry Mom Records/Small World Music, located in the basement of Autumn Leaves Books, on the Commons.

Steve Burke
for Ithaca NY Blog

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Are Sports The Most Benign of Entertainments?

As a fan of the New York Jets football franchise since a tender age, we are excited about the prospect of them going to the Super Bowl this year for only the second time in their history. (The first (that is, only) time was over 40 years ago. Their current date with destiny is still only potential: one qualifying game away.)

We know it is a violent sport: much more so these days, with players strong and fast as torpedos, and concussive contacts encouraged for television.

Personally, we preferred the game in the old days, when some players were pretty athletic, but many were out there only because they ate more than most people.

Sports have the attribute of getting people happily excited, collectively, which is rare. You see it at good concerts, but those don't last long. People remember sporting events a long time.

Sports and concerts - good concerts, anyway - also share an aspect of unpredictability, or at least surprise. Unanticipated turns will occur during both, even for the performers.

We were out with friends last night who were all talking about the TV series they follow. Not only had I never seen any, I'd never even heard of most. I learned there are lots of shows on TV.
The only thing I watch on TV, about, is sports. I watch them because you absolutely cannot know what will happen. And yet, you hardly have to pay attention to find out.

The mindless entertainment of a TV series seems troublesome in its length. You have to watch it all year? Never for that.

I can commit to work and relationships over time; to avocations; not much else. Like, what else? Certainly not TV shows. A game is a few hours, one time. You barely have to pay attention. You can do other things at the same time. Do the dishes. Pay the bills. Broil. Just come back to the living room when you hear shouting.

Steve "Broadway" Burke
for Ithaca NY Blog

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Four Cheers/Stars For Maxie's

We just got in from dinner at Maxie's, and had a great meal and great time there, and realize we probably don't express our esteem for the place as much as we should.

The food is always great. We know some people think it is expensive there, and it's true that you can spend nice money there, if you want. But you can also not, and it doesn't affect their hospitality.

We enjoyed the music, which (expensive?) Maxie's presents free, twice a week. It was a delightful scene, with happy people.

The service was impeccable, as always. It didn't matter that the total tab for two people (ordering light: a sandwich; sides; no alcohol) was less than $25. I mean, it didn't matter to them. Somehow the place has created a culture, not to be too high-faluting about it, of consistent friendliness, not to mention coolness, among the staff.

About the money. You can get a po' boy sandwich of first rank there, maybe 6 or 7 varieties, for $8.95 or $9.95, loaded down with fries. No food service fare here - everything fresh. This is not much more money than the State Diner, for goodness sake.

Whenever we have visitors, we take them to Maxie's. When they ask what's good, we say everything - order anything. And it is. When we leave, our guests invariably ask, do you know the staff? Everyone treated us so great. We say some of them, sort of; not all of them; that's just how they are.

So do yourself a favor - and do restaurant culture a favor, too - and go enjoy Maxie's, a really fine place, and boon to this town.

Sunday, January 02, 2011

Dueling Banjos on Ithaca Sunday Morning Radio

Ithaca now has two locally-produced, marathon folk music programs on Sunday mornings.

After years of hosting Nonesuch on WVBR, Tracey Craig packed her leaving trunk a few weeks ago to start a new show, Rootabaga Boogie [sic], on a new station, WITH-FM, a little further left on the dial.

After a couple of weeks of improvising, Nonesuch has installed a new permanent host, Nicholas Hill, for the first two hours of the broadcast; the remaining hours will be hosted by a rotating cast of jocks.

We are listening to both right now. Nick sounds a little uncertain about the this and that, but inviting nonetheless. So far, his selections are tried-and-true, such as Peggy Seeger, Ewan McCall, and Johnny Cash (singing "Joshua Gone Barbados," a cover new to us, and a great one).

Meanwhile, Tracey is doing what Tracey does, an idiosyncratic take on multiple genres that she construes as, foremost, an Ithaca blend; and she should know, having done it many years, as well as presenting live shows at venues large and small.

Tracey's new show is 2 hours, versus 4.5 hours at Nonesuch. Still, she manages to pack in interviews and live studio sets by local and visiting musicians.

We hope and trust the competition will be healthy and fun for all. Thanks to Tracey for keeping on and to Nick for jumping in.