Ithaca Blog

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Ithaca New Years, 2012

Ithacans love music and parties with legal beverages, so New Year's Eve bashes are perennially popular here.

In 2012 - 2013 there are three main events. The first is Sim Redmond and Jen Middaugh in an acoustic set at Felicia's for an early happy hour. The show is scheduled for 6:30 - 8:30.

One actual calendar-flipper will be at the Haunt, with Jimkata. The show is produced by Dan Smalls Presents. Advance tickets are $15. Doors will open at 9 p.m. for the 10 o'clock show.

The biggest bash, probably, will be the Horseflies at Agava restaurant up on East Hill. The band has never done a NYE show before. Old dog, new tricks seems appropriate. Tickets are $15 and the show goes from 10:30 - 1 a.m.

Monday, December 03, 2012

Mysterious Baby Name Endings

When you write a blog, you keep an eye out for mysterious trends, and we noticed one this week. The most popular names for new babies was published, and the top five for girls all end in "a", and for boys in either "m" or "n".

For girls: Emma, Olivia, Sophia, Ava, and Isabella. (Names # 6 and 7 follow the trend: Mia and Ella.)For boys: Aiden, Ethan, Mason, Jackson, and Liam.

We didn't say the trends have to be meaningful. Just ponderous.

The soft "a" sound final syllable is now champ of the feminine. We bet marketers and branders notice. Is it bad news for car sales to men of the Kia and the Acura?

The "m" or "n" ending for boys' names strikes us as a little soft. (Even though we sport one.)Unfashionable now are the hard ending sounds of Robert, Christopher, Joseph, James, Edward, Charles.

Maybe softer is a good social trend. For instance, "Adolph" is a hard sound. What if he had been Aiden Hitler? Or Donny? It might have made a difference.

It's Restaurant Week In Ithaca

If you're the kind of person who doesn't worry about your waistline this time of year, you might be interested in Restaurant Week specials around town this week.

The best and most appealing deals, to us, are at Boatyard Grill, Northstar, and Maxie's.

All three joints are great anytime, with high standards for service and cuisine. This week, Boatyard and Northstar sweeten the deal with $20 three-course dinners (appetizer, entree, dessert). Maxie's weighs in with half-price raw oysters and clams from 9 - closing. Normally they do this only from 4 - 6 p.m., which personally is too early for us. Adding 9 til close is pretty genteel. We'll be there tomorrow.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

It's Official: Cayuga Heights Won't Shoot Deer

Cayuga Heights will not go through with the plan it approved to cull (that is, shoot) deer in the village, the mayor announced today.

Why the change, after a long, searing battle to pass the plan? Because property owners would not give permission for shooting on their parcels, the mayor said.

The Ithaca Journal called it a stunning reversal. But Ithaca Blog predicted it, four years ago. We said that no matter what was on the books, there would be civic action against shooting in the village, and never would it happen. (See our post on 12/10/08.)

We also predicted that Al Gore would enter the 2004 presidential race as an independent and win, and that Sarah Palin would not be the Republican vice-presidential candidate in 2008, so we guess we should be proud of this one. Ah, actually, we're proud of all of them.

Monday, November 12, 2012

Tip On Seeing Hinchey Sunday

Two posts ago here on IBlog (6 November) we wrote about a goodbye event scheduled for Sunday for our retiring congressmember, Maurice Hinchey, at the Hangar Theater. Now we have a big tip for Ithaca Blog readers for getting in: get there early.

Originally, doors were scheduled to open at 1 p.m. for an event advertised as 1 p.m. The co-ordinator figured, how long will it take people to settle in for the event? Ten minutes?

Volunteers for the event were aghast. They know it takes an Ithaca crowd a long time to settle down and settle in. Friends must be met. Acquaintances must be talked to. News and feelings must be shared. Gossip must be gleaned. All this takes time.

The co-ordinator relented. Doors are now scheduled to open at 12:15. We recommend for sure being there then. We will be surprised if the Hangar is not completely filled, and quickly.

New Era For Liberal Media?

It may be a new era for liberal media both nationally and locally.

Nationally, the victory of President Obama has also meant victories for MSNBC, the left-leaning cable news network. In the three days after the election, for the first time, more viewers aged 25 - 54 watched MSNBC than its right-wing rival, Fox.

Locally, Ithaca's community radio station, WRFI, is successfully soliciting volunteers for a major fundraising and public awareness campaign. The goal of the station is to create more local programming while retaining popular national shows, such as "Democracy Now!".

The first public meeting for the campaign was last Monday. Tonight is the second. The campaign is scheduled for the first week in December.

Tuesday, November 06, 2012

Say Thanks To Hinchey In Person, Sunday 18 November

One thing we miss this Election Day is getting to vote for Maurice Hinchey as our representative to Congress. The mighty Maurice is retiring to enjoy life and health after a (successful) fight with cancer. / Maurice will be at the Hangar Theater on Sunday 18 November, from 1 - 2:30, for a farewell appearance. Admission is free, but Maurice asked that the event be an unofficial benefit for Ithaca's Cancer Resource Center. He knows a community asset when he sees one. Takes one to know one, as they say. So please attend and please bring a generous cheque in tribute to a right guy.

Friday, November 02, 2012

Fresh Dirt Magazine

Fresh Dirt magazine is such an anomaly it's hard to believe it's real. It's a glossy magazine - "bright, colorful, sleek," says Tommy Dunne, its publisher - about green living. And it's completely about Ithaca. / The Fall 2012 issue is just out. It includes articles about the buy local movement, and Jan Norman of Local First Ithaca; the Congo Square Market; and a photo feature on where local musicians buy their vintage clothes. There's a cover story on Richie Stearns. There's a map of where local vintners go to drink. There are recipes from Agava, Cafe Dewitt, and others. / Fresh Dirt is available at GreenStar Market and other local outlets.

Monday, October 29, 2012

Banjo Madness at the State Theater This Friday

There's an old joke among musicians: What is perfect pitch? ... When you throw a banjo into a dumpster and hit an accordion. Or, vice versa. It doesn't matter, as usually the joke is told by people who love both instruments, like us. We wonder if it will be told onstage at the Banjo Summit at the State Theater this Friday. The show features Bela Fleck and five other top five-stringers, including Ithaca's own Richie Stearns. It will probably sell out, so you should act soon to get in on it. Information on the tour is at, and about the Ithaca show at

Friday, October 26, 2012

Ithaca's First Oktoberfest

This is a lovely time of year around here, although Irish people are not too crazy about all the jolly Halloween activities. Irish people are afraid of Halloween, or at least respect it, as the time of year when the realms of the living and dead are closest, as in physically closest. Both our grandparents who were born in Ireland died on Halloween, two decades apart. That's pretty serious, so we stay at home this time of year. No parties. But we're happy there is a community fall celebration this year that has nothing to do with Halloween. It is the first Oktoberfest in Ithaca. It runs from noon til dusk on this Saturday on the Commons. There are tickets available for purchase for food and drink tastings, and music from three bands, although no oom-pah bands, unfortunately. Details are available at

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

We Don't Know What's Going On (With Blogger)

We don't know why Blogger won't make paragraphs anymore. We remember a different time it ceased doing so, a while back. It didn't take long til it was explained as a system error and corrected. Now it's been days into weeks. But did you ever try getting an answer from Google (owner of Blogger) about anything? You will pass away first. We don't want to pass away, so we will simply keep posting and hoping.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Commercial Interruption: Low-Priced CDs at Angry Mom Records

Every once in a while we like to remind our readers here on Ithaca Blog that the unofficial headquarters of the blog is Angry Mom Records, where we are a partner, and whence we type this today, and other things other days. We enjoy your support, and feel we have something to offer for it, certainly, or else why would you be here? This week we have something special to offer, as we have made a big purchase of quality used CDs, which we are selling at low, low prices. Lots of jazz, classical, world, Americana, and of course good old rock and roll. Come see sometime soon. We're in the basement of Autumn Leaves Books and open every day at noon. Steve Burke for Angry Mom Records/Small World Music and Ithaca NY Blog

Friday, October 12, 2012

New(ish) Spots For Good Bands This Weekend

Tonight and tomorrow night, a couple of premier Ithaca bands are playing at a couple of new (one brand new, one relatively new) restaurants featuring music. Friday night, at 9 p.m., the Sim Redmond Band plays at the Gates, which is just opening at 422 Eddy Street. For a long time it was the Chariot. Sim told us he's excited to be playing at a debut of sorts. We mentioned that we recall the space as kind of small. He said, "Maybe, but our popularity has been waning, so maybe it will be all right." Sim is funny. Saturday night, rising star Tenzin Chopak will be playing in a duo, with Ethan Jodziewicz, at Agava, the newish, toney southwestern place at 381 Pine Tree Road, the site of the old Coyote Loco. Agava has featured music at happy hours and brunches, but late-night music is a recent development. Show time is 10:30. Steve Burke for Ithaca NY Blog

Tuesday, October 09, 2012

Where Everybody's Being Tonight (Either A or B)

The talk here at Angry Mom Records today about what people are doing tonight is pretty uniform - or duoform? It's one of two things. To hear Judy and Dick Hyman up at Barnes Hall, or the Chicken Fried String Band at Maxie's, on fried chicken special night. The`daughter-father show at Barnes is a once-in-a-lifetime thing, at least up until now. Hopefully they will do it lots more times, but they haven't until now, is what we mean. We sold out of tickets here at Angry Mom, and we imagine it will be a complete sell-out, but we hope and trust they held back some ducats to sell at the door. That's what you're supposed to do. The Chicken Fried gig is perhaps less notable - it is certainly more usual - but it will be fine, fun music, and has the attribute of being free, and of being at Maxie's, where you can get fine food and drink to ingest and imbibe, and you don't have to be quiet. We're here until 8, showtime for Judy and Dick, so we never planned to be there. Besides, there is Plan B. Steve Burke for Ithaca NY Blog

Tune In To Ithaca Community Radio

A community radio station in Ithaca turned from dream to reality this year with the arrival of Ithaca Community Radio, broadcasting way on the left of your FM dial, literally and politically.

The local station is non-profit and volunteer-run. It broadcasts Democracy Now and other progressive programming. Recently it has begun creating its own programming, featuring local efforts for peace and justice.

The dream was only realized by a lot of hard work and support. It will only succeed with lots more. This is where you and I come in.

This weekend is a good time to get involved with Ithaca Community Radio. There is a benefit concert for ICR, as well as the Finger Lakes Cleanwater Initiative, on Saturday 13 October. The concert features Rockwood Ferry, the Dorothy Cotton Jubilee Singers, and others.

The event is at 7:30 at the Unitarian Church at the corner of E. Buffalo and S. Aurora Streets. Suggested donation is $10.

You can find out more about ICR at their web site,, and their Facebook page.

Steve Burke
for Ithaca NY Blog

Monday, October 01, 2012

Book Review: "Walking Seasonal Roads" by Mary A. Hood

There's no reason why the recreational can't be educational, reckons Mary A. Hood, and that combination is what she provides in her book, "Walking Seasonal Roads."

The book is regional to Ithaca in scope and creation. The roads Ms. Hood walks are in Steuben County, less than 100 miles west of Ithaca. The book is published by Syracuse University Press.

Ms. Hood is a scientist and conservationist. At book's start, she notes that roads are apart from nature, often inimical to it, and an odd subject for a nature writer. But she lauds the seasonal road as "the good road."

"Seasonal roads, " Hood writes, "are defined as one-lane dirt roads not maintained during the winter." Dirt or gravel, not synthetic, they reflect rather than threaten their surroundings. They connect neighbors, and farmers to fields. They provide "contact with plants, wildlife, weather events, and people... They let us meet nature."

Like Thoreau, Hood sees a universe in a parcel. Each chapter in "Walking Seasonal Roads" is named for a particular road: Culver Creek Road, Hungry Hollow Road, Stone Schoolhouse Road, etc. Her readers might never walk them, but Hood is determined we will know them, and the wisdom and knowledge in their details.

At Van Amburg Road, Hood introduces Martha and William Treichler, who have lived and farmed there for 40 years, and have 4 grown children working with them, living in homes clustered round them. Hood also introduces the local bobolinks, declining in number but still returning each spring from winters in Brazil and beyond. She wonders, "Why...would a family live on this cold windy ridge road for forty years; why... would the bobolinks return year after year, traveling thousands and thousands of miles...?" The answer, she speculates, "has to do with the love of place" - a simple concept, but a powerful force.

Epiphanies abound for the author in her focused travels. She notes the roots and mosses - "the less conspicuous species" - and realizes that, in a 50-year career as an academic scientist,  "it was not until I walked these woods that I really understood biology." Not only that: "I began to understand Buddhists. I began to see that the earth and all its life forms make an essential reality that I accept as my reality."

Of course, on some level moss is moss, and Hood is not averse to staying earth-bound. She discusses stone fences, how they are so prevalent in the northeast because of its underlying geology, and the cycles of freezing and thawing that "heave up" rocks for such use. We learn (in passing) that a young turkey is called a "jake," and that shrews can die of fright.

Along the way, Hood bumps into politics: "In the spring of 2008, the first wind turbines rose along Lent, Pine, and Dutch hills." She notes, simply, "They are huge"  - 1,000 feet high, with blades 300 feet long. The corporate owners "are not local," and "are sometimes unethical and destructive to local communities."

Ms. Hood also writes about hydrofracking. Her misgivings are deep, though gently expressed:

"In January 2010, Chesapeake Energy proposed to use a nearly-abandoned gas well for disposal of their toxic brine wastewater from natural gas drilling. At a town meeting, residents, along with landowners and homeowners whose properties ring Keuka Lake, urged the board to tell Chesapeake to go away."

Ms. Hood's is the voice of a good soul. It is also one of a scholar. This does not intrude upon her style so much, although sometimes it bogs down the narrative, as Ms. Hood just can't help but instruct. The Reference section is fine (separate, at the end of the book, it is 20 pages long), but the footnote-style citations within the text itself can be distracting. (In one page of text, on beavers, there are ten references to newspaper and magazine articles, government and historical documents, and books.)

Similarly, Ms. Hood can't help but quote and excerpt other writers. This is generous, but dangerous, unless the quoter herself is very good, or very secure, and unconcerned about comparisons. For most writers, though, inserting passages by the likes of Adrienne Rich, Robert Frost, and Dylan Thomas is not going to make one's own work look stronger.

This all raises the question of what kind of book, exactly, Ms. Hood has written. Is it a reference book? A travelogue? A meditation?

The answer is, all three. It is a good, worthy book that will be appreciated by all nature-lovers, especially here near Mary Hood's home and paths.

Sunday, September 30, 2012

Today (Sunday) Is The Day For Apple Harvest Fest

Yesterday the weather was just too annoyingly nice for the Apple Harvest Festival on the Commons to be anything but mobbed.

Today it is a little more realistically overcast (though not completely) and chill of climate, so the crowds should be diminished somewhat, but by no means entirely. You will have company, but will be able to move.

We walked around at 10:30 and the vendors are ready and music is playing. The air smells sticky and sweet. It will be a good day on the Commons. You should by all means avail.

Steve Burke
for Ithaca NY Blog

Saturday, September 29, 2012

Fracking Up NY Real Estate Values

The #1 e-mailed story in the NY Times right now is from the real estate section. It reports a drastic decline in the real estate market in upstate New York, from of the threat of  chemical drilling for gas, known as fracking, in the region.

A guy in Hancock can't sell a 5-bedroom house on 14 acres for $107,000. A fellow from Brooklyn looking for a weekend house in the Catskills will only consider properties near reservoirs, where fracking is banned. A family in Delaware County is putting off repairs to their 240-year-old house because it seems a poor investment now.

Fracking might be a good thing for gas corporations whose stockholders don't live here, and for politicians they pay off. For residents, it is a ruinous prospect for our environment, infrastructure, and finances.

Stephen Burke
for Ithaca NY Blog

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Tonight's Football Prediction

The NFL's lockout of its professional, unionized referees comes to a hasty end tonight after an officiating debacle on Monday Night Football, by an amateur fill-in scab crew, horrified and galvanized a nation as few things can do, especially important things.

Tonight's nationally-televised game has real refs. Fans, and especially gamblers, can rest.

Our prediction has nothing to do with the score. The game is in Baltimore, a good blue collar town. (The opponent is Cleveland, another.) Our prediction is a standing ovation for the refs.

Steve Burke
for Ithaca NY Blog

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Ithaca Hours (and Ithaca) In The Washington Post

The Friday 21 September edition of the Washington Post published a travel piece on Ithaca that focused on local businesses and Ithaca Hours, the local currency.

Melanie D.G. Kaplan writes "The Impulsive Traveler" feature for the Post. She visited Ithaca coming home from Canada. She says she liked the colorful money in Canada and heard that Ithaca had its own currency, colorful both literally and figuratively.

Ms. Kaplan met with Stephen Burke of GreenStar Market and Angry Mom Records (ahem, and Ithaca Blog), and a board member of Ithaca Hours, and bought $50 worth of Hours from GreenStar to use around town.

As she notes, Hours are in a period of transition under new leadership, by Paul Strebel of Strebel Financial Planning, and many businesses (and people) in town are unfamiliar with the local currency. But she spent them for lodging, at La Tourelle, and for food at GreenStar, Ithaca Bakery, and Collegetown Bagels. 

Ms. Kaplan herself catches on to the idea of local currency pretty quickly. She writes, "Wal-Mart and Amazon don't accept them, so the money stays in town." She went to Ithaca Bakery rather than Starbucks because of Hours.

Beyond this angle, Ms. Kaplan writes enthusiastically about "this town as dense with brainpower as it is with composting bins...whose 25-year-old mayor gives up his car and turns his parking space into a miniature park, and whose townfolk are equally intense about saving the planet, killing the chain store, and promoting locally-produced you-name-it."

Thank you to Ms. Kaplan for a laudatory, peppy feature.

Stephen Burke
for Ithaca NY Blog

We Like An Apple: Apple Harvest Fest, This Weekend

Ithaca's annual Apple Harvest Festival falls, at the start of Fall, not too far from the trees, on the downtown Commons, this Friday - Sunday.

The festival includes music, carnival rides, street performers, food vendors, beverage tastings, crafts, and a certain amount of what you might call apples.  "Lots of apples," says the festival's publicity, at,which also provides a full event schedule.

We hate to note it, but just as the weather is usually sublime for Porchfest, it is usually ridiculous for the Apple Fest, windy and cold and sometimes rainy. Apples are healthy, but maybe not necessarily lucky.

So, if the weather is good, come out and enjoy, and if it is bad, come out and support. It's the last big outdoor community event for a while.

Steve Burke
for Ithaca NY Blog

Monday, September 24, 2012

Unending Little Dramas Of The Coffee Shop

At the Owl Cafe today, what was behind this reply from the customer to the proprietor after an innocent (if silly or pointless) question?

Customer: "Large black coffee for here."

Proprietor: "For here?"

Customer: "Well, not right here. Around here. I'll move somewhere else when I get it."

There are lots of possibilities, aren't there?

Steve Burke
reporting from over here
at the Owl Cafe
for Ithaca NY Blog

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

"Streets Alive!" in Fall Creek, Sunday 23 Sept.

Last Sunday, Porchfest celebrated music and the streets, in equal measure, with a hundred bands playing in Fall Creek, and many hundreds of people watching, riding bikes and walking, but no cars. It was nice.

This Sunday there's a similar event, called "Streets Alive!", on Cayuga Street. The street will be closed to car traffic between Court Street and the high school from noon til 4 p.m.

The event is sponsored by a bunch of local organizations. There will bikes provided, and bike repair demonstrations, and a raffle with prizes from bike and sports shops.

Alternatives to car transportation is clearly a theme. But so is simple fun. There will be an appearance by the local roller derby team, hula and hip-hop dancing, and street hockey. Spontaneity is also planned.

Let's hope the weather is as good as it was for Porchfest.

Steve Burke
for Ithaca NY Blog

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Porchfest This Sunday, 16 September

Porchfest, Ithaca's ultimate do-it-yourself musical event, has its sixth annual run this Sunday, 16 September, 1 - 5 p.m., in the Fall Creek and Northside neighborhoods.

There are lots of musicians in Ithaca, and at Porchfest they celebrate themselves and one another. It's just bands playing on their front porches and in yards and neighborhood parks.

111 performers are listed this year, the most yet in a growing event. They include such audinaries as Gunpoets, Richie Stearns and the Evil City String Band, Sim Redmond Band, the Grady Girls, and Tenzin Chopak. (Tenzin, one of the rising stars of the local music scene, got his start last year at Porchfest.)

Schedule and map are available at

Steve Burke
for Ithaca NY Blog

Tuesday, September 04, 2012

A New Season, and More Toilets For Women, at the State Theater

Doug Levine, of the State Theater, was just here at Angry Mom Records/Small World Music, and we congratulated him on what looks like an excellent new season at the State starting this month.

He said thanks, but what he is really excited about is improvements to the women's bathrooms.

Doug explained (we were rapt) that the bathrooms were designed in 1928, and there have been changes in women's bathroom needs since then.

In the old days, Doug said, they were called lounges, and they were lounges. There was a lot of room for what Doug called "primping," which certainly sounds old-fashioned.

"Today, what you need are toilets." He looked at us meaningfully. "More toilets," he said.

We understood, and were happy for Doug. "Congratulations again," we said.

Meanwhile, the roster of shows, as we say, is pretty exciting too. This Sunday is Mary Chapin Carpenter. Two weeks later is the Carolina Chocolate Drops.

In October, shows include Judy Collins, Cat Power, Glen Campbell, aznd the Indigo Girls. In November, Citizen Cope, Bela Fleck with Richie Stearns and others in a "banjo summit," Matisyahu, and John Hiatt.

See the State's websites for more details and ticket information.

Steve Burke
for Ithaca NY Blog

Sunday, September 02, 2012

Canada Seeks Missing Maple Syrup

If, sometime soon, someone offers to sell you some maple syrup at a price that seems too good to be legit, you're right.

Canadian authorities report a "significant" theft from a major maple syrup plant in rural Quebec.

It reminds us of a story by Roddy Doyle, the Irish author of "The Commitments" and other books about working-class characters in Dublin.

A few guys who are basically honest family men, but desperate, steal a truck they believe contains thousands of bottles of olive oil.

Instead, it contains thousands of bottles of barbecue sauce. Needless to say, barbecue sauce is a much tougher fence anyplace, but particularly in Ireland, where barbecue cooking is not especially rampant.

The guys decide they must convince restaurateurs - their prospective customers - that barbecue sauce goes good with something people in Ireland like. They settle on tea.

The scene where the guys prepare tea with dollops of the sauce is hilariously winning. My recollection is that nothing gets sold.

Back to our original warning: if, sometime soon, someone mentions to you how well maple syrup goes with coffee, call the Canadian FBI.

Steve Burke
for Ithaca NY Blog

Monday, August 27, 2012

Maurice Hinchey To Be Honored At Labor Day Picnic

Maurice Hinchey, Ithaca's representative in Congress, will be honored at this year's annual Labor Day picnic, sponsored by the Tompkins County Workers Center.

Hinchey has served in Congress for 20 years and is retiring this year.

Hinchey has been a leading progressive in Congress. He was among the few who spoke out against the Bush administration's invasion of Iraq in 2003, and one of 11 members of Congress supporting a bill for  Bush's impeachment.

Hinchey was a strong supporter of Barack Obama's health care bill, and a leading opponent of hydraulic fracturing, which specifically threatens his district.

The picnic is from 11 a.m. until 3 p.m., Monday 3 September, at Stewart Park. The Workers Center provides beverages and a barbecue and asks guests to bring a dish to share.

Steve Burke
for Ithaca NY Blog

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

The Road To NYC: Route 80

We drove to NYC this week, and through research can say that Route 80, not Route 17, is the way to go, and will be for many years.

Route 17 is turning into Interstate 86 and the construction has started in earnest, which means so have delays.

We took 80 on the way down and 17 on return, for research purposes.

80 is the superior road in the first place, as an interstate. It has more lanes and is graded better.

(It is little-known that, on all interstates, one mile out of every five miles has to be straight, so an airplane can land on it.  This may be little-known because it is perhaps by no means true. I am not sure, but it gives you something to do on the interstates, try to reckon out that one straight mile every five.)

It has delays, of course. But not like 17, these days, where long stretches of the road are one lane, by design. This means when something goes wrong, it is essentially no lanes, until the problem is fixed. We saw a back-up of about 5 miles around Liberty. (Going the other way, luckily.)

It's too bad, because 80 is rather charmless and forbidding. Route 17 has the Roscoe Diner and fine views  of the Delaware. (In 80's defense, it has a beautiful stretch at the D. Water Gap, but it is fleeting and hard to enjoy.)

Anyway, get used to it. I guess it is a good opportunity for someone to start a good diner somewhere around Whippany.

Steve Burke
for Ithaca NY Blog

Saturday, August 11, 2012

What We Mean When We Say "How Are You"

I just got back from vacation in Maine, which is wonderful but involves a long car ride. I am lucky, though, in that I get to make the trip with my friend Gil, who can really drive, talk, and listen.

We go eleven hours and do not turn on the radio or music once. There is no reading. There is just talk.

Alike and akin as we are, though, we find we differ strongly on a simple conversational topic: the greeting.

It came up because I was telling Gil about some aspect of life I should be pursuing, but am not, and when he asked why, I said, "Ahh... I hate to say this, even, but I'm pretty busy."

"Why do you hate to say that?," he asked. "There's nothing wrong with being busy."

"No," I said. "But there's something wrong with mentioning it."

I detect a puzzled look.

"You know," I said. "Those people who you ask how they are, and they say 'I'm really busy.' I hate that."

"I say that," Gil says.

"Well, knock it off," I say.

"I mean, what I think I usually say is 'I'm tired.' "

"Well, knock that off, too."

"Knock what off? Telling you how I am when you ask me?"

"I'm not asking you because I want to know. I'm asking you to mark an interval."

"Well, I guess that doesn't occur to me," Gil says.

"I guess not," I say.

"You know," I say, "you don't have to tell me you're busy and tired. I assume you're busy and tired, if you're alive. Do you have to trumpet it? Come on. Are you busier than Hillary Clinton? Are you more tired than Mother Teresa?"

(Mother Teresa long ago went to her eternal rest, of course, but this is who came to mind.)

"Do you have fewer hours in a day than other people? There are 24 for us all. So you can't be any busier than me, unless you're not managing your time well.

"Why don't you say that to people when they ask how you are? 'I'm not managing my time well.' Admit it! How's that for a conversation stopper?  Plus, what should be your abject shame?"

We rode on a while. We were each trying not to be first to laugh. I don't recall who won.

I also don't know how we will greet one another when we meet next time. But I trust it will be as genteel as this. It is good to have true friends.

Steve Burke
for Ithaca NY Blog

Monday, July 30, 2012

Anti-Fracking Concert in Ithaca, Sunday 5 August

There have been big anti-fracking concerts in central New York before, many featuring Ithaca bands, but this weekend is the first major one in Ithaca itself.

The Cayuga Lake Big Splash is at Stewart Park, Sunday 5 August, from 11 a.m. until sunset on the lake.

The GrassRoots Festival dance tent will be set up for the event, with music from noon until 9:00. The line-up of bands is Driftwood, the Grady Girls, Double E, the Sim Redmond Band, and Donna the Buffalo.

There will be tabling by anti-fracking groups. Food and drink will be available, including Finger Lakes wines and beers.

More details are available at the Facebook page for Cayuga Lake Big Splash/Finger Lakes CleanWater Initiative.

Steve Burke
for Ithaca NY Blog

Friday, July 27, 2012

"Your Environmental Road Trip" Film at GreenStar

It's not often that a documentary film is called "absorbing," "important," and "hilarious," but that's how the Huffington Post described "Your Environmental Road Trip," which will be shown at GreenStar's Space facility on Monday 30 July at 7 p.m.

The screening is sponsored by Ithaca Bioneers. Two of the film's producers will introduce it.
The film chronicles three young friends traveling the country researching community initiatives for sustainable living, including economically.

There is an Ithaca connection, as the filmers visited Ithaca to study Ithaca Hours, the local currency system.

The interviewee from the Hours Board does not strictly remember the experience. There are a lot of journalists coming to Ithaca to study Hours. He does remember the merch bag they gave him with the film's acronym, YERT, on it. In fact he still has it. It's a handy little bag.

Steve Burke
for Ithaca NY Blog

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

GrassRoots On the Commons, Wed. 18 July

The GrassRoots Festival touches down briefly on the Commons on Wednesday before beginning full-blast in Trumansburg on Thursday.

Local rockers Jimkata play the event, an official GrassRoots production.

The music goes from 6 to 8 p.m.

Steve Burke
for Ithaca NY Blog

Sunday, July 15, 2012

To B Or Not To B-Mets

Usually we are the very soul of unspontaneity. When friends want to plan a visit or activity we say good, we generally like 3 or 4 months notice. If not 3 or 4 years.

But this morning at 9:21 a friend called and asked do we want to go see the Binghamton Mets play a day game today. This is a friend who knows us well and already knows the answer is, Of course we do; and the deal is done.

The forecast threatens rain, but we'll B-Mets anyway. It would be hard to begrudge rain, these days. We will take what comes.

There's not much going on in Ithaca today, anyway, until Mary Lorson and her band play music at Felicia's tonight at 7. We can be back for that, whirlwind guy that we are.

Steve Burke
for Ithaca NY Blog

Sunday, July 08, 2012

Woody Guthrie, 100 Years

This Saturday, 14 July, is the 100th anniversary of the birth of Woody Guthrie, the great American musician, songwriter, and political activist.

It's an apt time to be thinking about Woody. He wrote songs like "This Land Is Your Land", "Deportee (Plane Wreck At Los Gatos)", and hundreds of others about economic and social injustice in America.

He would have plenty to write about today.

The mortgage crisis? The Wall Street collapse? Woody wrote these lines in his song, "Pretty Boy Floyd":

As through this world I've wandered,
I've seen many funny men
Some will rob you with a six-gun
And some with a fountain pen.

And as through your life you travel
And as through your life you roam,
You won't never see an outlaw
Drive a family from their home.

Bob Dylan wanted to be Woody Guthrie, or be as great as him, which was not possible, for Bob Dylan nor for anyone. But everyone can learn from Woody Guthrie.

There is a fine website about Woody, It starts with these words of Woody's:

A folk song is what's wrong and how to fix it or what could be
who's hungry and where their mouth is or
who's out of work and where the job is or
who's broke and where the money is or
who's carrying a gun and where the peace is. 

Woody Guthrie, born 14 July 1912, Okemah, Oklahoma, died 3 October 1967, New York City, New York.

Steve Burke
for Ithaca NY Blog

Sunday, July 01, 2012

Fireworks Return to Ithaca (on Monday 2 July)

After an absence last year, Independence Day fireworks return to Ithaca this year.

The problem last year was lack of venue, as Ithaca College decided not to host the event anymore. The year before, an errant missile set fire to a roof there. Maybe that's not the reason, but if it had been our roof, it would be a good reason.

This year, the show will be at Stewart Park, where there are few roofs.

It's the first time there, so there are bound to be problems, mostly around transportation and parking. They're saying it's okay to park in the nearby school parking lots, but we think spaces will prove pretty limited, and getting out will be a nuisance (at fireworks shows, unlike festivals, everyone leaves at the same time).

That same issue holds for the TCAT buses people will clamor for at the end. But they are free, and hopefully will be plentiful.

Biking is good, but you'll have to lock your bike to someone else's. That should work; they'll be unrideable, and too heavy to carry away (there will be no car trunks in the vicinity).

Our favorite question about the fireworks show is, What time does it start? Because you don't need to answer that question.

Steve Burke
for Ithaca NY Blog

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Book Review: "Sweet Talk" by Stephanie Vaughn

As an avid reader generally, and good Cornell alum particularly, I cultivate in my home library (humble as it is) a catalog of books by other alumni, and Big Red faculty.

As a well-reading Ithacan yourself (don't be humble), you know the stalwarts: E.B. White, Nabokov, Toni Morrison, Thomas Pynchon, Archie Ammons, Richard Price. (Personally, I would add Albert Goldbarth, one of America's greatest poets, and my funniest teacher.)

Among newcomers, most prominent is Tea Obreht (MFA, Cornell 2009), whose 2011 debut, "The Tiger's Wife," was named a top-five novel of the year by the New York Times.

No doubt, there are many more I don't know. Which means they must not be as good, right?

Not necessarily. Stephanie Vaughn teaches at Cornell, and has for a long time, and her book of short stories, "Sweet Talk", unknown to me until now, is splendid.

So it must be new, if unknown?

Yes and no. The book is a re-release. It was published in 1990, and has long been out of print.

Who rediscovered it, I don't know. But they're to be commended and thanked.

Research shows that "Sweet Talk" got good notice when first published. Critics praised Ms. Vaughn, and connected her to the popular "minimalist" movement of the time. She was compared to two of its foremost figures, Raymond Carver and Lorrie Moore (both of whom, coincidently, like Ms.Vaughn, lived in and wrote about upstate New York).

The critiques and comparisons, heady as they were, should have helped Ms. Vaughn's career. Apparently, they didn't. She never published another book.

It might be that the critics missed the mark, and though well-meaning, sold Ms. Vaughn short, not reflecting her true strengths.

In truth, Ms. Vaughn's work is quite dissimilar to the minimalists. Their so-called "KMart Lit" was unadorned fare about ordinary people in circumstances generally ranging from cloudy to doomed. The writing was plain, to reflect the grimness and gloom.

Ms. Vaughn's characters are ordinary, but that's about as far as she goes with the minimalists. Her characters' problems are mundane, but are presented with enough absurdity or complexity (betrayal and lice, in one story; a failing relationship and a broken car radio on a cross-country trip, in another), to make them not deflating, but delightful, at least in the telling.

The minimalists' world is empty bottles, rusty cars, and thrift-shop shoes. Ms. Vaughn's is not so threadbare. But even when she treads there, she is extravagant, as in the start of the story called "Other Women":

Suddenly the world is composed of infinitely divisible parts, and things, it seems,  grow bigger as they grow smaller. An atom, once a tiny creature, is now a giant compared to a quark. And inside the quark, who knows? Maybe a whole universe of colliding specks, some of them red-haired, some blond, some sleek and dusky-skinned, some of them with silicone implants, and some of the plainer ones, like me, still going to the shopping center in thrift-shop shoes.

To put Ms. Vaughn in a school with minimalists is to hold her back. She is scientist, philosopher, poet.

Above all, she is simply a great and painstaking writer. Throughout, in every story, she supplies great sentences. Some are poignant (and scannable):

Then Megan slides into sleep, where she may say something strange or terrible, which no one will hear, a message spoken to herself but kept forever secret. 

Some are plain and clear-eyed, without luster (though not without humor):

Uncle Roofer was a big, friendly, gap-toothed man, a little heavy in the handshake, hot-tempered and smiling all at once. 

Uncle Roofer was a diabetic who drank bourbon.

Uncle Roofer was an alcoholic who ate lithium for lunch.

One day Uncle Roofer and the bourbon and the lithium got into the same car and drove to a Browns game in Cleveland. On the way back, they met a concrete retaining wall.

Last but not least, as seen here, Ms. Vaughn is funny: without sarcasm, slapstick or silliness, thank goodness. She is seriously funny. She made me laugh at a character's death with sounds of the vowels she chose.

Altogether, this is a writer. Cornell and Ithaca would be proud of her, if they only knew her. We hope she will become well-known with these stories, and with new ones, soon.


Saturday, June 23, 2012

Juneteenth 2012 At Southside Today

We city-o's who left the Big Apple to make Ithaca home will sometimes refer to town as the sixth borough.

The Southside neighborhood, where I live, is the main stem.

The feeling's there today at the annual Juneteenth event, celebrating African-American history and culture, at the Southside Community Center on South Plain Street.

It's a beautiful day, so come visit. Try the Ethiopian food, or Roy's Cuban fare, or the excellent fresh-juice drinks. There's music, and a great, friendly crowd to welcome you.

Steve Burke
for Ithaca NY Blog

Friday, June 22, 2012

MLK Sculpture on the Commons

The new Martin Luther King sculpture was unveiled on the Commons today, and suddenly it seems like a weightier place.

See it at the Cayuga Street entrance to the Commons.

Steve Burke
for Ithaca NY Blog

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Taste of The Nation Sets Record

Last night's Taste of the Nation event was the largest in its history in Ithaca, raising a record $54,500.

Underwriting by the Sysco Company, the Strebel Planning Group, and others allows the full money raised to go to the event's beneficiaries, local groups working against hunger among children.

Ithaca is the smallest city in the country to hold an annual Taste of the Nation event. Not surprising, given the giving nature of this town.

Over 50 restaurants, wineries, and breweries provided food and drink.

Southeast Asian seems to be the hot cuisine of the moment among local chefs. GreenStar Co-op (first-time participant in the event) and Hazlenut Cafe, of Trumansburg, were among many offering stellar stuff in this style.

The wineries were too numerously good to pick a best. For presentation and fervor, however, we will mention Ravines Wine Cellars of Hammondsport. H'port is one of the local towns we always mean to visit. Now we have an extra reason.

Steve Burke
for Ithaca NY Blog

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

GrassRoots Schedule Up

The schedule for the 2012 GrassRoots Festival is posted today.

Among the highlights are George Jones at 8 p.m. Thursday, and Rebirth Brass Band at 9:30 p.m. Friday.

The schedule and other info are available at

Steve Burke
for Ithaca NY Blog

Saturday, June 16, 2012

The State of Love

I thought of that old Woody Allen movie the other day, where he divides life into two categories, the Miserable and the Horrible. Those are the conditions he sees.

I thought of it because I was discussing with a friend the state of relationships. I have been single a long time. She has been busy with a string of relationships, but not happy.

We talked of a lot of things, but what it comes down to, I said, is the choice of being alone, and possibly lonely, or involved, and generally annoyed.

This annoyed her, which seemed to prove my point. And we're just friends.

"That's what you need," she said. "A t-shirt that says, 'I'd Rather Be Lonely Than Annoyed'."

"Yeah, except I'm not lonely," I said.

My personal option seems best to me, because the involved people, who are annoyed, can also be lonely. The double whammy. But you can't be alone and annoyed - annoyed at someone who doesn't exist? That's not metaphysically possible.

Of course, I suppose there is the state of possibly being happy.

As Damon Runyon says, though, anything in life is 6 to 5 against - and a proposition like happiness, in a relationship, much heavier, no doubt.

Steve Burke
for Ithaca NY Blog

Friday, June 15, 2012

Days Ahead For Doing Good & Having Fun

This is a big weekend for peace and fun in our community with the 3rd annual Peter De Mott Trot on Sunday, and events surrounding it.

Then on Tuesday, there is the Taste of the Nation event, with restaurateurs and other food professionals hosting a gala event for fighting hunger.

The De Mott Trot is preceded by a concert tonight at the Finger Lakes Wine Center, an interesting place to congregate. Double E, the Evil City String Band, and the Grady Girls perform. We imagine wine is available.

Peace activities continue on Saturday with an afternoon rally by the Ithaca Catholic Worker and others at the corner of Clinton and Meadow Streets.

And on Sunday, the crowd will be having a picnic at North Point at Taughannock Park, a beautiful spot, if you've never been. And a convivial group.

Steve Burke
for Ithaca NY Blog

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Demonstration At City Hall For Pyramid Studios, Wed. 13 June

Amy Puryear of the Double E band (and the music scene in general) just stopped in here to Angry Mom Records/Small World Music to tell us there's a demonstration going on tomorrow out our back door, at City Hall, to protest the destruction of historic Pyramid Studios on Clinton Street.

It's a musical demonstration. Amy's band will be there, and Sim Redmond's, and Richie Stearns, plus as many musicians as can make it. The music community cares about Pyramid, and its owner, Alex Perialis.

And everybody should care about this situation, which comprises issues of communication, and lack of transparency, or what you might call sneakiness and lying, more plainly.

The mayor needs to know that public opinion counts. Please come out and be part of the effort.

Steve Burke
for Ithaca NY Blog

Saturday, June 09, 2012

Third Annual Peter De Mott Peace Trot, Sun. 17 June

The third annual Peter De Mott Peace Trot takes place on Father's Day, Sunday 17 June, 10 a.m., at Cornell Plantations.

The three-kilometer run (or trot, or walk) is in memory and celebration of Pete De Mott, a friend to many in Ithaca, an activist for peace, a great family man, and an avid runner.

Pete served in the U.S. Army and in the Marines in the 1960's. His experiences in Viet Nam lead him to oppose war. Pete was among the most prominent anti-war activists in the world, committed in action and eloquent in words.

The Trot was created by his family and friends to honor and benefit Pete's work.

Details are available on the Trot's Facebook page, where you can register, or volunteer.

There will also be a benefit concert this year, on Friday the 15th, at 7 p.m. at the Finger Lakes Wine Center on South Cayuga Street, across from the Holiday Inn.

The concert features country rock from Double E, old-timey music from the Evil City String Band, and Irish music from the Grady Girls, comprising nieces and daughters of Pete and his wife, Ellen Grady.

Steve Burke
for Ithaca NY Blog

Thursday, June 07, 2012

Fred Eaglesmith at the Haunt, Thurs. 7 June

Fred Eaglesmith is a musician with a good career - dozens of albums, thousands of shows - and an exceeding popularity in Ithaca. He comes to Ithaca annually, it seems. He plays tonight at the Haunt.

Eaglesmith is like a rural Steve Earle, or a Canadian Tom Waits, although we don't know if he is Canadian.

Tonight's show is at 9 p.m.
Steve Burke
for Ithaca NY Blog

Tuesday, June 05, 2012

Space Is The Place: Sun Ra and the Sounds of Venus

It would be great if everyone who is interested at looking at Venus skipping across the sun today also gave a listen to "Rocket Number Nine Take Off To The Planet Venus."

It is a great piece of music from the Sun Ra Arkestra that presents as clearly as possible the spirit of a rocket christened Number Nine taking off to the planet Venus to considerable enthusiasm, if for no particular purpose or reason.

Sun Ra was a great jazz musician and bandleader who gave his birthplace as Saturn, and lived in Philadelphia. His band of at least a dozen musicians played a lot of gigs in New York City and got there by Amtrak, all aboard with instruments and costumes.

Sun Ra looked at the world (and the cosmos) in a great way.

Steve Burke
for Ithaca NY Blog

Sunday, June 03, 2012

One-Dollar Volvo, at Ithaca Festival

A 1997 Volvo can be yours tonight for one dollar.

Ithaca Foreign Car Service donates a car each year for a raffle for the Ithaca Festival.

Tickets are one dollar, or 10 for $5.

I'll be among the crew hawking tickets in front of the car at Cayuga and State Streets.

All it takes is a dollar and a dream, the NY Lottery says. We say that actually all it takes is a dollar.

Come by and say hi and buy a ticket. You could be walking around lucky today and not even know it.

Steve Burke
for Ithaca NY Blog

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Cool, At Angry Mom Records/Small World Music

It is cool here at Angry Mom Records, in every way of the vernacular, slang, and real.

I work here on Tuesdays.

It's a hundred degrees outside and in here it's about 68. The building (Autumn Leaves Books) is air conditioned, plus we're in the basement. The differences are notable.

It's also cool because, you know, we're here. We became a partner in the place when it opened, and we closed our store, Small World Music, to merge here. Tuesdays we are here alone all day.

So stop in to see us. Talk about the Binghamton Mets (see previous post). Or music.

What's new around here lately? Alabama Shakes, Beach House, Lindsay Buckingham, Carolina Chocolate Drops, Dr. John (produced by Dan Auerbach of Black Keys), Fistful of Mercy, Norah Jones, Bonnie Raitt, Stone Canyon Rangers, and Hank Williams III.

Right now we're playing Freddie Hubbard. It's cool.

We're open til 8 p.m. on Tuesdays.

Steve Burke
for Ithaca NY Blog

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Bob Dylan's Scheme

Nicholas Hill, on the Nonesuch radio program on WVBR this morning, played a bunch of Bob Dylan  - like, 3 hours of it - because, he said, it was Bob Dylan's birthday this week, and because "Bob Dylan is alive."

We like that. Tributes to the dead are necessary, but to the living are lovely.

Nicholas played some other artists covering Dylan material, and we realized nobody does his stuff as well as Bob Dylan himself. It's because Bob Dylan tries hard, in the right way.

Technically he is not so good, and he doesn't worry about that. All his performances are heartfelt, though, and indicate thinking.

He's not trying to make it good. He's trying to get it right.

Thanks to Bob Dylan for all his living, and to Nicholas Hill for nice hours of accolade.

Steve Burke
for Ithaca NY Blog

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

The Coming College Crash

A generation ago, when the U.S. had money for things other than wars, college education opened to the middle class in a way it never had before, with plentiful need-based financial aid, and need-blind admissions.

Today, aid comes in the form of big loans for exorbitant tuition, and college loan debt has surpassed credit card debt in the U.S.

Colleges have big marketing budgets to keep the middle class desperate for marquee education for their children, no matter the cost.

A bad job market doesn't hurt. In fact, it helps. With no jobs, colleges are flooded with enrollment. There's nowhere else to go.

For the big-name schools, it's a double blessing. With so many college degrees out there, people perceive extra value in the most prestigious diplomas. The big schools have big marketing budgets to keep that frenzy foaming.

The crash figures to be a long process. Schools can stay full a long time. For every smart middle class kid priced out of Cornell, for example, there's a rich dumb one to take the spot.

It will be more an erosion than a crash, as once-prestigious schools, always playpens for he rich in part, become exclusively so.

Unless we work against it. The Occupy movement is addressing the issues of rampant tuitions and crushing debt.

The Obama administration seems to be listening. The president recently spoke of granting federal aid to schools bsaed on their basis of each school's efforts to stay (or become) affordable.

We hope it is not too little, though for current students it's too late; and that the crash, if not forestalled, can at least be fixed, with effort and time.

Steve Burke
for Ithaca NY Blog

Sunday, May 20, 2012

"The Big Splash": Anti-Fracking Concert, Sun. 3 June

The beat continues against chemical drilling for gas in our area.

"The Big Splash" is a benefit concert scheduled for Sunday 3 June in Recreation Park in Binghamton.

Performers include Sim Redmond Band, Evil City String Band with Richie Stearns, Thousands of One, Yolk, and the Burns Sisters.

The concert is preceded, on Saturday, by symposia on legal and environmental issues surrounding fracking, as the chemical drilling is called.

More information is available at and

Steve Burke
for Ithaca NY Blog

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Ethiopian Food In Ithaca

A surprise to us, when we moved to Ithaca from DC years ago, was the absence of Ethiopian restaurants.

In DC, they are common. What do you want tonight, Chinese, Thai, Ethiopian? Casual, inexpensive  places.

Now, it seems, the void has been filled, at least a little, with the presence of an Ethiopian food vendor at the Congo Square Market.

The Market is a neighborhood enterprise at the Southside Community Center on Plain Street, held every Friday.

The Market starts at 4 p.m. The Ethiopian food goes fast, we hear, so get there early. Then let us know how it is. We work Friday afternoon - evening. We might have to take a personal day soon.

Steve Burke
for Ithaca NY Blog

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

George Jones At GrassRoots Fest

The GrassRoots Festival has announced that country music legend George Jones will appear at the festival in July.

The festival schedule has not been released, so the day of his appearance is not yet public.

Four-day tickets are available for $95 at 

Daily passes are not sold in advance, but at the gate.

Steve Burke
for Ithaca NY Blog

Tuesday, May 08, 2012

Big Bash To Beat Fracking, Albany, May 15

New Yorkers against fracking will convene in concert and in rally a week from today, in Albany.

The rally is at 4:30 on the West Capitol Lawn.

The concert is at 7:00 at The Egg performance center. It features Natalie Merchant, the Horse Flies, Citizen Cope, Medeski Martin & Wood, Dan Zanes, John Sebastian, Joan Osborne, Toshi Reagon, the Felice Brothers, and others.

Ticket prices start at $40 and go to $150. More information is available at

Steve Burke
for Ithaca NY Blog

Saturday, May 05, 2012

Beastie Boy

Much as we hate to write about dead people, as they become so prevalent as we age, we got to say something today about Adam Yauch of the Beastie Boys.

We loved the Beastie Boys the moment we heard them, in 1986. We weren't supposed to. Our friends didn't. We played their CD at work and were made to take it off. It was stupid and vulgar.

That's what our white, college-people friends thought. We are white, too, and also went to college, so no offense. But we lived in DC at the time, and worked also with young African-American guys, and they considered the Beastie Boys funny and real.

Adam Yauch was maybe the most gifted one. He was smart in a way that my black friends saw, and white friends didn't. Years later maybe they did, when Mr. Yauch did exemplary work on behalf of the oppressed population of Tibet.

I admired him mightily for that, too. But I also liked the beats, the voice, the jokes.

And I liked him because he was a city-o. Brooklyn. Edward R. Murrow High School. A few years younger than me.

A few years younger than me. Dead of cancer of the salivary gland. Of the salivary gland?

The lesson is, I guess, take care of yourself, and enjoy life while you can. Do good work and be creative, even to the point (especially to the point?) of being different, or even outrageous. Don't be afraid.

And:  as per my old white DC friends: fuck 'em if they can't take a joke. Farewell, Adam Yauch.

Steve Burke
for Ithaca NY Blog

Monday, April 30, 2012

May 1, Last Day For Discount GrassRoots Tickets

May 1 is the last day for discount ("Early Bird") tickets for the GrassRoots Festival in July.

Early Bird tickets are $85 for the 4-day event. On May 2, the price goes to $95.

Tickets are available at Autumn Leaves Books and Ithaca Guitar Works, but transactions must be in cash.

At the GrassRoots website, you use a charge card, and rather than mailing you a ticket, as in the past, they will e-mail you a ticket to print out, and scan at the gate.

The site is

Steve Burke
for Ithaca NY Blog

Legs Faster Than Wheels

On the old TV show, Superman was "faster than a speeding bullet."  Today in Ithaca, you can be faster than  cars.

Clinton Street closed today, for bridge repair, from Cayuga St. to Danby Road. It will be closed a while.

Meanwhile, Green Street is under repair, with only one lane open.

You could walk backward and be faster than the car traffic on Green, Clinton, or South Cayuga.

If you come to Ithaca from out of town, and are heading downtown, your fastest option would be to park as soon as you hit Clinton or Green, and start ankling it.

Ithaca might be a lousy place to drive, but it is a great place to burn calories.

Steve Burke
for Ithaca NY Blog

Friday, April 27, 2012

Last Days For Castaways

We had nice fun at Castaways on Wednesday, seeing the Spampinato Brothers. The very bad news is that  Castaways is closing its doors this week, due to a raise in rent. There are a few good shows left to celebrate.

Tonight is the final Happy Hour, with GoGone, ironically.

Saturday is a big bill with The Gunpoets and 4 other bands. It starts at 8.

Sunday is the last night. A big show, fittingly, with John Brown's Body and Sim Redmond Band. It starts 9:30.

Steve Burke
for Ithaca Blog

Monday, April 23, 2012

Spampinato Brothers at Castaways, Wed. 25 April

In the '90s, I was approached by some friends with children to coach their t-ball team. I knew the kids but was not a parent myself, so could avoid playing favorites.

I agreed to do it on the condition I got to name the team.

I named them the Sensational All-Stars And Friends Of Spampinato.

Joey Spampinato was a member of my favorite musical ensemble, the New Rhythm and Blues Quartet (NRBQ). The band has just recorded a song where they sang and spelled "Spampinato," in response to reporters who couldn't get the name right.

It was a lively chant, and I thought it would make a great theme song for a team, provided they were named Spampinato. So we were.

Joey is still playing music, no longer with NRBQ, but with his brother Johnny and their band. The Spampinato Brothers come to Castaways this Wednesday, 25 April.

The brothers are probably pushing 60, or actually pulling it, but have a rock and roll spirit that makes the music timeless. They sing harmonies in the style of the Everleys and Beatles. They write songs reminiscent of Liverpool, as well as Memphis, New Orleans, Motown, the Brill Building, Tin Pan Alley, and Belmont Avenue.

Years back, when Bill Wyman quit, the Rolling Stones asked Joey to join as their bass player. He said he would tour with them once, but had his own band.

Come hear what the Rolling Stones liked so much, this week at Castaways.

Monday, April 16, 2012

A Little Something Extra For New York

Taxes are done and I find that I am getting a refund from the federal government of a few hundred dollars, and from New York state, one of much, much less.

Asking around, I find this is the norm. The ratio seems to be about 10 to 1.

They say the federal government is doing bad, so New York must be in real trouble.

As a result, I would like to do a little extra, and send a few Powerball tickets to New York. But the tax instructions only tell you where to send a return that has a check, or one that doesn't, not one that includes lottery tickets.

In his taxes, the lieutenant governor, Robert Duffy, reported almost $3,000 in income from the race track in 2012. Apparently he needs gambling, too, to make ends meet.

He got a refund from the federal government of over $2,000 and from New York of about $200. It's reassuring, I guess, to see the big guys don't do any better than the regular people.

Steve Burke
for Ithaca NY Blog

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Richard Price Writing For Network TV

Normally we don't write much here about television. Why, because we are snobby? Maybe, although we will certainly watch the Mets on TV, and that is not a very elite pastime.

Friends of ours tried to get us to watch "Mad Men," and we watched this year's episodes, but we think it is a little silly. They also mentioned "Game of Thrones," but we nixed that without a trial. Why?, they asked. We explained that we don't like any entertainments with people wearing costumes, or with English accents.

We like realistic things, or at least credible ones. So, we are interested that premiering this Sunday is a series that seems a lock in those categories: a cop drama, "NYC-22," written by Richard Price, bard of the Bronx (and Cornell alumnus).

TV fans will know Price as a writer of the HBO series "The Wire." Book fans know him as author of "The Wanderers," "Clockers," "Lush Life," and other novels. Movie fans might know he screenwrote "The Color of Money," "Sea Of Love," and others.

Price's writing is stark, so we were surprised to see the series is on network TV rather than cable. We will bet on Price on any writing enterprise, though.

Steve Burke
for Ithaca NY Blog

Monday, March 26, 2012

Last Chance To Read "Brooklyn 3 New York" (For Free)

Our parvus opus, "Brooklyn 3 New York," is available for free reading on, but not for long.

We are preparing it for bona fide publication (well, online, but for money), and part of the deal is that it can't be available anywhere else, especially free.

"Brooklyn 3 New York" refers to the part of Brooklyn I know best, and no one else knows at all, East Flatbush.

It is primarily about the years I spent there in pre-zip code days (hence the title), as a youthful youngster; and a child's development in that raucous borough, when it was a real blue-collar place, of people who read newspapers, and not Jonathan Lethem, that stroontz. (For example.) And talked a lot.

You can find it simply by searching for Brooklyn 3 New York.

Next stop is Amazon Kindle. That will cost a reasonable few bucks to read. But it will have the literary advantage over the blog of printing the selections from the first one written to the last, instead of the reverse.

Steve Burke
for Ithaca NY Blog

Friday, March 23, 2012

Election: Wait 'Til Next Year in Cayuga Heights

Tuesday's vote for mayor and trustees in Cayuga Heights surprises us. Largely a referendum on the deer population (see previous Ithaca Blog posting), the winners (quite decisively) were the candidates supporting deer-shooting.

We had the idea that Cayuga Heightsters were more liberal. We guess not, where one's rhododendrons are concerned.

We talked to one of the losing anti-shooting candidates. He was practical about it.

"Now they have a year to make it work. It won't work. And then we'll have another election."

Steve Burke
for Ithaca NY Blog

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Ithaca, Nature, and Local Politics

Ithaca is a town daffy for nature. The biggest deal in town this week was people visiting Cornell to see and sniff a big plant called the corpse plant that smells like rotting meat. The line was hundreds long.

And in Cayuga Heights, the village election today turns on the question of deer in the neighborhood.

There are two parties. New Heights is incumbent and wants to shoot deer. Village Matters are challengers who are against sharpshooters patrolling the place.

Our guess is that the pacifists will prevail. We hope they will.

To gun supporters, we say, peace, but please, get realistic. The shooting is never going to happen. Besides everything else, such as brutal and dangerous, it is too expensive.

If New Heights wins, and tries to start blasting, there will be a lawsuit the village can't afford.

If somehow a Super PAC or something came forward to pay for a deer-shooting defense, it still wouldn't happen. Any activity planned would be met, and stopped, by activists out in force.

Not just local activists, but from all over the country. Picture hundreds of orange-vested, placard-holding people standing in a plot on Hanshaw Road where an announced culling was to have been. Media trucks all over. Rifles that can't be fired.

Good luck to the Village Matters candidates, and to the residents of Cayuga Heights in creating a plan for living with nature without shooting it.

Steve Burke
for Ithaca NY Blog

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Nice Night For Felicia's

It's too nice to be in, but at Felicia's Lounge you can go out and actually be out. The State Street bar has an alley with tables and chairs, and it is a pleasant spot.

On Sundays, they have music, with no cover charge. Tonight is Jennie Lowe Stearns, with Mike Stark.

On Sundays, too, they have Champagne specials, which we don't know details of. But we know about the $5 pizza specials (usually $7, we think).

Bensonhursters might not recognize Felicia's as pizzas. No sauce. Instead, they are fancy-ingrediented, with stuff like figs and feta; or apples and blue cheese; and pesto. It isn't Vito's, but it's nice.

Steve Burke
for Ithaca Blog

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Amy LaVere Plays Free at Angry Mom Records, Wed. 14 March

Acclaimed singer Amy LaVere comes to Ithaca for a show at the new Lot 10 space on S. Cayuga Street. Before the show, Ms. LaVere performs free at an in-store event in Angry Mom Records, on the Commons.

Ms. LaVere came to prominence about 5 years ago as a rising Americana artist. Born in Louisiana, she has been described as "a noir-ish southern storyteller."

She appeared as rockabilly legend Wanda Jackson in the film "Walk The Line". 

Ms. LaVere recently finished a European tour in support of her new release, "Stranger Me".

The in-store performance at Angry Mom Records starts at 5:30. The show at Lot 10 is at 9 p.m. Tickets for the show are available at Angry Mom.

Steve Burke
for Ithaca NY Blog

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Mets Stick With Binghamton

The glum word among local baseball fans was that the NY Mets would move their minor league team from Binghamton at the end of its contract this year.

But, good news. The Mets signed a new 5-year contract to keep the team in Binghamton.

The Binghamton Mets are a Double-A team, the second-highest minor league level. The team regularly develops and sends players to the major league Mets.

We go see the B-Mets, as they are known, a few times a season. Invariably the attendance is about 1,000 people, in a park that seats 5,000.

We wonder what the other people in Binghamton are doing. There are 250,000 in the Binghamton metropolitan area.

It's a professional sports franchise with significant affiliation. The ballpark is pleasant and clean. The tickets are cheaper than movie tickets.

The team was avidly pursued by other cities. Locals, and other regionals, please note. The team needs and deserves support.

The season opens on Thursday 5 April.

play ball!
Steve Burke
for Ithaca NY Blog

Tuesday, March 06, 2012

Our Readers Like Mob Movies

We got a couple dozen replies to our question about movies our readers have watched most repeatedly.

It doesn't surprise us too much that the most popular were mob movies. "Godfather" and "Goodfellas" got numerous citations. "My Blue Heaven" got a nod: an oddball mob movie, but of the genre, technically.

On the other end of the sensibility spectrum, "The Sound Of Music" got two affirmations.

Personally, we have yet to see "The Sound Of Music".

The only other picture with more than one mention was "The Big Chill".

There were a couple of semi-classics: "Chinatown", "Duck Soup". There were some decidedly not classic; but this is what makes a horserace: "French Kiss", "Overboard", "That Thing You Do!".

A few we had to look up: "An Affair To Remember", "Wings Of Desire", "Inland Empire".

"A River Flows North" is probably pretty obscure to most, but not to Rip Torn fans, nor Ithacans (the Horse Flies did the soundtrack).

"Fail-Safe" was the only political film mentioned, and made us think, how does "Dr. Strangelove" miss this list? (We pretty much know "Dr. Strangelove" by heart.)

At the end, we thought, something is missing here, but we couldn't think what. Then it occurred to us: the movies that are on cable TV all the time. Why no entry from that group? Then, just a few minutes ago, came  this submission: " 'Moonstruck', of course."

Of course! We have seen "Moonstruck" a million times, too. We have always wondered about "Moonstruck" on the masculine/feminine movie matrix. But that's another topic.

Steve Burke
for Ithaca NY Blog

Sunday, March 04, 2012

What's Your Most-Watched Movie?

Last week, with the Oscars, we thought about the movies we like so much that we watch them repeatedly.

We think your #1 most-watched movie ever tells a lot about you.

Mine is "The Godfather." A co-worker's is "Tootsie." Nobody who knows us would have trouble guessing whose was whose.

What's yours? We're interested to know the roster among Ithaca Blog readers.

Tell us anonymously, if you wish, or with your name, and we will print them.

Steve Burke
for Ithaca NY Blog

Saturday, March 03, 2012

Rockwood Ferry on the Radio

A while back, we wrote here about Rockwood Ferry, a new old-timey band in town that features veteran player Richie Stearns and a newcomer to the scene named Tenzin Chopak, who plays guitar, sings, and writes songs.

We think (so we wrote) that Tenzin is the best male singer in town.

Tomorrow, you can hear Rockwood Ferry from the comfort of your living room. The band will play live on WITH-FM radio, 91.1, on the Rootabega [sic] Boogie program with Tracy Craig.

The band are talented and affable. It should be an entertaining show.

Steve Burke
for Ithaca NY Blog

Sunday, February 26, 2012

The Horse Flies & Natalie Merchant Vs. Fracking: Sat. 10 March

Natalie Merchant and the Horse Flies have both logged lots of miles as touring musicians, but they call central New York home. Like many of us, they oppose drilling for natural gas in our region, and are doing something about it.

On Saturday 10 March, Ms. Merchant headlines a benefit performance for anti-fracking efforts. The Horse Flies open. Dr. Sandra Steingraber of Ithaca College will speak about fracking issues.

The venue is the Broome County Forum Theater in Binghamton. For ticket information, call the Forum: 607/778-6626.

Steve Burke
for Ithaca NY Blog

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

One More More Stop For Mardi Gras: Angry Mom Records

What better way to celebrate Mardi Gras than by bringing a little music into your life?

Angry Mom Records/Small World Music is the place to do that in Ithaca. New & used CDs and LPs in an appropriately funky setting, in the basement of Autumn Leaves Used Books, 115 The Commons.

Yes, this is self-promotion, as we are a partner in the store, but what of it? As they say, if you don't blow your own horn, there's no music.   

We are here working all day today. Right now the Neville Brothers are playing. Next Dr. John. Then Kermit Ruffin. Then Trombone Shorty.

Come in!

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

One More Stop For Mardi Gras: GreenStar

We mentioned Maxie's yesterday as the surrogate here in Ithaca for New Orleans on Mardi Gras day.

It turns out that GreenStar Coop is also in the spirit today, with special Big Easy items on the deli menu. For lunch, we picked up some red beans, some greens, and some gumbo from their hot bar.

Deli manager Eric tells us there are lots of changes coming to the department. The ones we got right here indicate a flying start.

red beans and ricely,
Steve Burke
for Ithaca NY Blog

Monday, February 20, 2012

In Ithaca, Mardi Gras Means Maxie's

We don't know why people bother searching online for "Mardi Gras & Ithaca" when the obvious site is Maxie's.

Maxie's Supper Club conjures Oak Street in New Orleans any night, but it is truly New Orleans North around Mardi Gras day.

There have been special features at Maxie's all weekend. Tonight is Drag Night. Don't be scared, it isn't mandatory.

Tomorrow, of course, is the big night, and there will be live zydeco music, and much revelry.

If you know what it means to miss New Orleans, stop in and say How You Feelin'. You'll be happy.

Steve Burke
for Ithaca New York Blog

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Pearly Snaps on Bound For Glory Tonight

Bound For Glory, the live weekly folk music show, somehow doesn't get around much to featuring local artists, although Ithaca is certainly large with them.

Tonight that changes with the appearance of Pearly Snaps, a female folk duo from town.

Rosie Newton and Stephanie Jenkins play fiddle and standup bass and a few other acoustic instruments. The music is more old-timey than folk. It tends to feature a lot of vocals and it is very good. The duo have a good time when they play.

Bound For Glory broadcasts from Anabel Taylor Hall at Cornell. The show starts at 8 p.m. Admission is free.


Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Live Music This Week, Somewhere Under the Radar

We won't bother to promote the music of Devil Makes Three and Nat Baldwin to those who don't already know it. But for those who do, we want to make sure you know they are playing weeknight dates in Ithaca this week.

Devil Makes Three is at the Haunt on Wednesday the 15th. Doors open at 7:30. Tickets are $12.50.

Nat Baldwin is at Culture Shock on Thursday. Doors open at 8 p.m. for the 9 p.m. show. Tickets are $10, and are limited to 50.

Tickets for both events are available at Angry Mom Records, on the Commons, and business has been brisk today.

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

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Get Out

We guess people really mean it when they say they miss and like winter, as there are a lot of people downtown today, though nothing special is going on, and it is one of the first snowy days this season.

We guess they just want to experience cold. We understand; we like planet Earth too.

So imagine what next weekend will be like downtown, with the Light In Winter festival in the State Theater and other city venues, and the Chili Cookoff on the Commons on Saturday afternoon. Busy, that's what.

We hope and trust we will see you out there, enjoying Ithaca's cultural climate.

Steve Burke
for Ithaca NY Blog

Sunday, February 05, 2012

Coneheads Puzzler Revealed

So you can all enjoy the football contest tonight with a clear head, we will reveal the answer to the Coneheads crossword puzzler, previously posted.

The correct New York Times crossword puzzle answer for the clue, "The Coneheads, etc.", six letters, was "aliens."

My answer was "French." And I was sincere. 

The winner of our contest, for a $10 gift certificate to Angry Mom Records/Small World Music, is Chris M., of Lansing. Chris was randomly selected from a number of people who gave "aliens" as the correct answer, and guessed our incorrect answer was "sketch", which is a good guess at an incorrect answer, but not as funny as our actual one, is it?  We wouldn't have brought the whole thing up if it wasn't funny.

Enjoy the game!
Steve Burke
for Itahca NY Blog

Monday, January 30, 2012

"Coneheads" Puzzler

One of our missions here at Ithaca Blog is to provide high-caliber intellectual fodder for our readers. Here goes.

We're doing a crossword puzzle. New York Times, the best, we don't bother with anything else.

3-across is six letters. The clue is, "The Coneheads, etc."

We are very fast at crosswords, like Bill Clinton, and we pen our answer in. Easy one.

Except our answer was wrong.

We found this out when we started working on the downs.

We're making this a contest for you. Tell us what our wrong answer was, or what the right answer was, and we enter you in a drawing for a $10 gift certificate to our business, Angry Mom Records/Small World Music, on the Commons.

Tell us what both answers were, and you're in a drawing for a $20 gift certificate.

Knowledge is good -
Steve Burke
for Ithaca NY Blog

Monday, January 23, 2012

CD By Mary Lorson, Among the Greats

There's a roster of musicians comprising the great, not unified by style nor even proficiency, but with the simple quality that as soon as you hear them, you know it's them.

Sinatra, Miles Davis, Billie Holiday, T. Monk, Muddy Waters:  you get the idea.

I remember once pulling my car off the road, about 20 years ago, to make sure I caught the name of this song on the radio with beautiful slide guitar that sounded so much like George Harrison. The song was "Handle With Care" and of course it was George Harrison.

You'll have your own list. May I suggest you listen to Mary Lorson ( Ithaca's own) and see if you don't add her to it, sooner rather than later.

Ms. Lorson has a new CD, with her new band the Soubrettes, "Burn Baby Burn," which is released for radio play this week, after first release in 2011, to glowing reviews. (The last Sunday New York Times of 2011 named it as a recording not to miss from the year.)

Ms. Lorson's singularity includes her singing, playing (guitar and piano, primarily), and songwriting, which are all of a piece, a trifecta that not many achieve (Sinatra doesn't play or write; Monk doesn't sing).

The songs are mostly piano-based, which generally rules out folkiness, but Ms. Lorson rules it in, composing also for banjo, tenor guitar, and standup bass. The rhythms are direct, with a modest backbeat, but are mostly propelled by Ms. Lorson's vocals, and the meters of her lyrics. This is the strongest part of the hey-that's-Mary Lorson factor. Her singing sounds like her lyrics, her lyrics sound like her songs, her songs sound like her singing.

Ms. Lorson is a just-right singer: never attempting to overpower the notes, but never afraid to meet and define them. Her voice is understated in its beauty. Her diction is perfect but never fussy.

The CD's last song, the only one not written by Ms. Lorson, is "I Don't Care," a vaudeville tune popularized by Eva Tanguay, a favorite of Ms. Lorson's. The final words are "If I'm never successful, it won't be stressful, 'cause I don't care." We don't know how ironically to take this, which is probably the idea, but we think Ms. Lorson will be as successful as she wishes with the strength of this release.

Steve Burke
for Ithaca NY Blog

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Music Versus Football Fans, Sunday 22 Jan.

There is excellent local music tonight, for those fortunates unensnared by the evening's football hype (New York Giants, championship game).

The Black Walnut Band plays western kind of music at Maxie's, from 6 to 10. It jumps, and is a great tonic for a winter night.

Rockwood Ferry is a new amalgam of acoustic musicians playing original songs: love songs, ballads, perfect ponders. Richie Stearns plays banjo and our pal Tenzin, who we think is the best male singer in town, writes the songs and plays guitar. At Felicia's, 7 - 9 p.m.

Both shows are free, and both venues feature fine drinks, with a limited menu of food at Felicia's (tavern), and a practically unlimited one at Maxie's (restuarant).

Steve Burke
for Ithaca NY Blog (and, from the sports desk: we predict NY 27, SF 10.)  

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Uncle Jimmy, The Great Black Sheep

My Uncle Jimmy passed away this week. Cancer.

Or smoking, basically. Of the 10 siblings of my father's family, the 4 who are alive do not smoke, and the 6 who have died all did.

Jimmy cooperated well with his doctors, which surprised us, as he could be irascible, especially with authority figures. On the other hand, he could be charming, especially with children. He and my Aunt Sheila had three great boys. He loved children, and they loved him.

Including me. He taught me the expression "Peepings might be catchings." We were riding in a car and I pointed out a prison on Atlantic Avenue. He physically turned my head. "You should never look at a prison," he said. " 'Peepings might be catchings,' you ever hear that saying? It means if you want to look at it so bad, maybe you'll be inside next. Get me?" I suppose I did, but I was 3 at the time.

Jimmy would pay bridge tolls for people behind him, whom he didn't know, but would tell the collector they were his family and they didn't have cash. Then we would all turn and watch the confusion.

And as much as I regret his smoking, I will mention that he made me laugh pretty good once as the only person I ever saw smoking a cigarette in church.

He was a tough guy, a funny guy, and a good man, especially a good family man. I loved him and will always miss him.

Steve Burke
for Ithaca NY Blog

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Crucifix Moon

Various friends of ours posted Facebook pictures of this month's full moon, with ice crystals giving it a rainbow effect, or a halo, depending on vantage point.

I was looking for such pictures last month, when December's full moon had a crucifix emanating from it.

I was hoping for confirmation, but didn't get it.

Did I imagine it? I had never seen nor heard of such a thing.

It shocked me, at 5 in the morning. I woke, and from bed,  looked out my western window. I saw the moon in the middle of a golden cross. The beams of the cross stretched as far as you could see.

At first I thought I was dreaming. Then I thought it must be a reflection in the window.

Nope. I got up and opened the window. The cross was in the sky.

It was wacky. I am from Brooklyn and don't know about things in nature like ice crystals by the moon. In Brooklyn we assumed religious phenomena are behind inexplicable things, especially mammoth golden crosses in the sky.

That morning I figured it was a sign from God about something, like play the lottery. Now I know better: or maybe not. Since I am bringing this up today, I will play a number tonight. If I hit, I will know it was not ice crystals, after all. It was God telling me play the Win 4.

Steve Burke
for Ithaca NY Blog

Monday, January 02, 2012

Six Saltines, But Not Seven

They say you should avoid controversial issues if you want happy family get-togethers at the holidays.

We emerged relatively (ahem) unscathed, but it was shaky ground for a while, with the proposition put forth, in conversation, that it is impossible to eat seven saltines in one minute without drinking anything.

Talk about a dialectic minefield. This is how it went, in part, alternatively rapid-fired and measured, among a table of 6 participants.

- I bet you can. They're so small.

- You just woof 'em down.

- Yeah. Saltines, come on, no problem. Little cracker.

- Yeah, but a little cracker that requires a lot of saliva. Seven? That's more saliva than you can supply in a minute.

- How do you know how much saliva I can supply in a minute?

- What if you store it up first for a while?

- That's cheating.

- It's still eating them.

- What if you naturally have a lot of saliva? I've known people who do.

- I bet it wouldn't matter. Saltines will absorb whatever saliva you got.

- Damn right they will.

- Then you got the matter of the bulk. There's your problem. The saltines absorb all that moisture and then they're not so small, anymore. You can pour on all the saliva you want. Saltines will absorb it with glee.

- Pal.

- Yeah.

So, there was disagreement. I guess the diplomatic aspect is that we left it at the speculative level. Although there were, reportedly, saltines in the house, we did not fetch them to launch science. Somebody would lose, that way. It went unspoken, but my supposition was that we would all try it at home, and the people who were correct about it would bring it up again sometime, and the losers would gain amnesia.

Because I bring it up, you can surmise my position. I came down on the side of impossible.

And, by scientific method? Six is do-able: just barely. Seven? Try it. I say never. Pal.

Steve Burke
for Ithaca NY Blog