Weekly Rochester Events #338: Integrate This, Johann
Thursday, June 30, 2005Every once in a while, there's some event that makes me realize that I really am some kind of creator or artist or something. There was one time when I was taking photographs and I was setting up a shot — walking around to find the right angle — and I realized I was standing right on the centerline of Mount Hope. I remember thinking, "ok, I guess I'm a photographer."
Well, on Friday, I decided to make a new weird bike. I don't have any pictures yet (and I may never get around to it) but it's got a single frame tube that curves around, and the wheels are those from a little kid's bike. I spent most of Friday getting the pipe bent and I welded the back-end and steering tube on, and I put together a test steering bar. I was sailing along so amazing well, that I thought I could get it to a rideable state. I figured out where to put the seat post and cut the frame.
I got the seat tube from an old bike and ground off the paint. I tack-welded the front half and it looked good so I added the back. Eyeballing it up, it looked great so I finish-welded the front and worked on the back.
Well, I had screwed it up: the whole thing ended up pretty crooked. I tried again and did the same kind of mistake, so I had to grind off the welds so I could line it up right. I tried a third time and managed to burn through the seat post. I patched it a little but realized the blobs of metal all over the inside would prevent the seat from fitting in.
I broke off the weld for the back-end in a fit of rage and with a full swing, I smashed it into the ground and threw it aside. In full scare-the-shit-out-of-the-Incredible-Hulk mode, I yelled and repeatedly pounded the busted steering tube into the ground (but the weld was good enough that I didn't manage to break it off.) I left it for a few minutes, cleaned everything up, then spent 3 hours sitting on the porch pissed off at myself to wallow in failure.
Thus, I guess I'm an artist or something now.
After I got my senses back, I decided to build a new seat post and cut off the nasty crud from the front and back halves of the frame. I stayed away from the welder, though.
Later that night I made it out to the show at Water Street Music Hall (204 N. Water St.) First up was The Isotopes who naturally put on a great show of surf-rock and unusual cover songs [where's my check, Karl?]. I gauged the audience to be pretty reserved — they wouldn't hang out for just anyone — but probably 75% of them got up and got into the band. Among the "bump announcements" they do between songs, one of them was, "hey, check out the old guy at the bar who can't hear anything. I said," and then much louder, "check out the old guy at the bar who can't hear anything."
Anyone who's been to Water Street knows this guy ... I fall for the illusion every time: I figure he must be some seasoned bartender to be pitted with some cute young female bartender. This particular night I figured I'd avoid the possibility of a $unknown shot of "top shelf" Jack Daniels and instead opted for the Saranac Black Forest which was listed on a chalkboard for $3/pint. There was a guy before me who got the same thing, and the "old guy" bartender put the drink in front of me and I gestured to my right to give it to the guy who actually ordered it. Now it was my turn and I said, "I'll have the same ... a Saranac." Well, he goes over and pulls from another tap, and I realize there's another Saranac they have. I tried yelling to him to no avail and when he comes back, I said, "no ... I meant the Saranac Black Forest." He gives me this line about how I should specify since they have two Saranac's on tap.
Well, I lost it, grabbed him by the neck, and said, "listen, fuckknob, you're the bartender and you know what's on tap, so next time you should ask if a customer wants the Saranac Black Forest — clearly spelled out on that blackboard — or the Saranac Pale Ale — on the tap handle rotated 90° out of sight." Then, out loud I said, "sorry ... I wanted a Black Forest." Apparently I had just enough rope before the end to avoid externalizing my internal rage from earlier in the day.
Anyhow, next up was The Atomic Swindlers who I had been meaning to see for a while. When I saw them at Mercury Star Lounge (171 St. Paul, formerly Red) three years ago, I wrote them off as a "bland rock band." In the interim, I had read an article by Frank De Blase glowing about them, so I wanted to check out their last 5 shows or so, but not really all that excited to make the effort. Well, this time, I'll say they play "rock with a psychadellic twist — generically — it's mechanically correct but with no heart: it's like watching people work at WalMart. Oh ... and they play too slow." I couldn't even bear to stay through the end of their set, so I also missed Footage whom I've never even seen.
At the Mercury show, I remember their singer (April, I think ... if their former "April Laragy and the Atomic Swindlers" band name is any hint) emploring, "why isn't anyone dancing: we're working hard up here." My silent response was (and still would be) "fuck you: rock better," although I'm enough of an arrogant asshole now to probably yell it out. In this show, she went on a tangent about how she drinks water from a sippy cup in case "someone wants to slip in some 'performance enhancing' substances" in it, and then implied that she'd imbibe later. I can't begin to explain my annoyance — I mean, if you want to be straightedge about it, that's cool. If you want to brag about your drug and alcohol use/abuse on stage, okay. Just don't brag about how you perform straight and save the fun stuff for later — not like it matters because "performance enhancing" is a myth ... it's "performance altering" ... sometimes for the better and sometimes not. The trick is to figure out what works for you.
For instance, I'm in the midst of experimenting with alcoholism, and am sitting around in the cool night air listening to Air Supply's "Lost in Love" on vinyl at 1:31 a.m. I'm running on two Budweiser Select's, and two soy-milk/coffee/sugar/rum "mudslides." Look how well it's working for me — this shit is gold [not just "gold" but "gold," baby.]
Admittedly, this is one of the rare cases where I'm actually expending effort on giving a negative review (usually if I have a lukewarm to lousy experience with a performance/artwork, I just fail to mention it.) Let me just add, for the sake of The Atomic Swindlers that should they want to critique the critic (by the way, via the contact form ... perhaps when they Google "Atomic Swindlers" sometime in early August) note that I'll probably ignore the message — unless they realize that this is all my opinion, that through public performance that they're open to critique (good and bad) and that they're retort can't be summarized with, "nuh-ha: you suck."
Shit ... I'm rambling. See what I mean about the difference between "performance enhancing" and "performance altering."
But back to more regular-styled stuff, Saturday evening I stopped by The Bug Jar (219 Monroe Ave.) for some more rock-and-roll. Whatever Mary started things off with another delivery of excellent punk-rock. Next was The Motorpsychos who played some spectacular metal-influenced punk-rock. (Unfortunately, I have to leave out an amusing anecdote about the show because it might get one particular guitarist in trouble — sometimes I think I can mention someone else's story and sometimes I can't. This is the latter ... sorry.) Anyway, The Blastoffs finished things off with another spectacular show of super tight punk-rock — they even played all my favorite songs, so now I don't like them anymore because they didn't leave me wanting for more.
Critic. Cynic. Whatever.
Oh yeah, on Saturday I ran out of flux-core wire for the welder and I had planned to move to argon MIG. Naturally I ran out on Saturday when Mahany Welding Supply (36 Field St.) was closed, so I had to wait until Monday. However, now I've got learn an entirely new (but somewhat similar) technique to use MIG. At least I'll spend less time grinding all the sputter off the welds. Better still, I can make the most depressing anti-helium balloons that drop like rocks — the 75% argon mix is nearly 0.2 oz/gallon (versus helium which is about 10 times less dense.) Plus, it doesn't even make you talk funny although it's way easier to get light-headed and/or die of asphyxiation!
On Monday I got out to see the latest installment of Emerging Filmmakers Series (which is going to continue through the summer this year) at The Little (240 East Ave.) Anyway, Fake Reporter, Vermin Supreme by Dawn Zuppelli was pretty good ... a little too much on the "mocking" side for my own taste. Essentially, fictional reporter "Vermin Surpreme" invades the (real) Republican National Convention and interviews a bunch of Republican-to-the-black-liquid-that's-not-blood-core attendees. At least his questions are often sufficiently surreal sometimes — "if George W. Bush and Osama bin Laden got in a fight, who would win?" Karen's ultra-rational programming for this show progressed with the second of two political films: Last Two Questions, Rebuttal, and Closing Statements by Benjamin Entner. It reminded me a lot of David T. Lewis' "Soap Suds" which I saw as part of Ice Capades show. In this, however, it's not an episode of All My Children that has all the dialog removed (leaving only reactions) but the 2004 Presidential debate between John Kerry and George W. Bush — specifically, the last two questions, rebuttal, and closing statements as might be implied by the title. Both are surreal, but I think the latter is funnier.
I also liked Braided Roots by Robin Claudell which documents one thread in the history of racism with an unswervingly steady pace. Next was Sew by Nicholas Gurewitch which is a super-funny documentary about one girl's obsession with creating acronyms from the words people say — "wiasfdaogowcaftwps," for instance, could become "www fascist of pagoda." The title is derived from Sarah Elizabeth Witt's name, whom I am totally crushing on now — a real "win act." [Shit ... now I got it in my head: crushing is over.] I also liked Veronica by Seth Hymes which was a mocumentary about pushing an extremist activist liberal to suicide for "the cause." He's also working on a locally filmed film titled Breaking Balls contrasting real baseball with the metaphoric "bases" describing how well one "scores" with a woman. And just as in ...To Skin a Cat by Dan O'Berry, it's only $50 for a home run (woo! a segue!) Anyway, Dan's film was an ambitious project about a guy who gets dumped by his girlfriend and who enacts predictably perfect revenge in the end ... not necessarily a bad film, but more ambitious than the cast and crew could deliver. Finally, Drink by Patrick Smith was a pretty weird film that was better than his last: a guy drinks a beverage that leads to him opening up all the people inside him, but they he puts it all back in perspectvie.
So in case you're wondering, it's now 3:29 a.m. I'm seriously working on this nocturnal thing, and apparenlty my writing is suffering from it. Well, at least the final edits are being overlooked in favor of sweet, sweet sleep. That, and an absurdly long survey, and three more shots of tequila and half a bottle of Johnnie Walker Red.
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About the title ... Johann Bernoulli was born 338 years ago in 1667 and developed mathematical calculus.
This page is Jason Olshefsky's list of things to do in Rochester, NY and the surrounding region (including Monroe County and occasionally the Western New York region.) It is updated every week with daily listings for entertainment, activities, performances, movies, music, bands, comedy, improv, poetry, storytelling, theater, plays, and generally fun things to do.
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