Weekly Rochester Events #381: MacGregor's Number
Thursday, April 27, 2006
Last Wednesday I got out to The Little (240 East Ave.) to see The Real Dirt on Farmer John. Prior, I was anticipating some mushroom ravioli at the Café but had to settle for the alternative pasta of linguini with clam sauce — quite good in itself, and with a quite tasty pinot noir. Anyway, the movie — I liked it for a while, but ultimately found it exceedingly narcissistic. It documents the life of John Peterson, a Midwest farmer and a family's only son who takes over the farm and tries to keep it alive through the decimation of American farming in the past 50 years. On the one hand, it tries to highlight Peterson's personal quirks which don't seem all that important. On the other hand, it spends a lot of time on his tenacity after recurring failures. I spoke with a friend of mine on it and I think it could have used a non-Midwestern set of eyes to check it out: for instance, I found the resolution of the personal insinuations by his neighbor to be inadequate, yet I can conceive that it's simply a reflection of the way things are done out there — a bit of further explanation would have helped.
On Thursday I stopped by Monty's Korner (355 East Ave.) to meet with the Drinking Liberally people again. Among the points of interest from my personal perspective is that a friend of mine had an extra ticket to see Al Franken at The Little (240 East Ave.) on April 27. Fortunately my hippie-good-time lifestyle offers me the flexibility to stop in mid-day.
Friday I actually got out to do things like mow the lawn and swap the snow-tires on the car for summer tires. I stopped by Door 7 (299 Gregory St.) in the evening to see the RIT Senior Glass Show. Shows like this — those of formally trained artists demonstrating what they learned — often come off skewed with far too much demonstration of technique and far too little creativity. This particular show was graced with above-average creativity to go with good skills, so it was pretty good.
I went to the Dryden Theatre at George Eastman House (900 East Ave.) for the show titled Tampering with the Image about experimental uses of "found" footage (that is, the source materials frequently came from Hollywood films or other common materials.) They started off with a bit of an Internet amusement: the now-famous trailer for Shining which makes The Shining seem like a family comedy. Next was Daylight Moon which used clipart-style images to tell a strange tale of a robbery. Instructions for a Light and Sound Machine was a wild distortion of Il Buono, il brutto, il cattivo (The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly) which made it into a film where a character was trying to escape the terror of being a character in a film. Passage à l'Acte converted a scene in To Kill a Mockingbird into a stuttering sequence of repeated actions making it both humorous and tense. In Alone. Life Wastes Andy Hardy, Mickey Rooney is a man in love with his mother who can't seem to quite love another woman. Rose Hobart took obscure footage of actress Rose Hobart and made into a montage about her alone. Fast Film was a wild amalgam of hundreds of scenes from popular films, paying homage to the standard Hollywood chase formula.
In all, I was alarmed to think I had selected this as one of three "#1" picks last week. I was finding each of the films to be dreadfully long — perhaps I was preoccupied with other things, but I couldn't get into the twisted cinematic realities. In retrospect, however, it was like getting too much all at once and I couldn't choke it down fast enough: I look back and find I liked everything I saw.
Natalie Frigo was there as well to introduce her films. First was November 22, 1963 in which she digitally removed Kennedy's presence from the infamous Zapruder film of his assassination making for a rather anti-real experience. I may have or may not have contacted her directly by this point, but the thought crosses my mind to go further and digitally remove the First Lady as well because it might make an even more ... umm ... more of what it is already. (And this time, keep backups.) She had also tampered with a scene from North by Northwest in North by Northwest: A Conversation in which she creates video channels for each character — allowing them both to occupy the screen through the entire scene. It's on display in the Dryden lobby on two monitors for a while if you'd like to check it out. If I contact her about her other film, I'll also suggest she play with morphing: each character is given screen time for actions or reactions, so instead of looping existing footage, consider morphing their expressions from one shot to the next — at least for reactions. She's also experimenting with a dinner scene from The Stranger in which all 8 (I think) characters are given their own exclusive piece of screen real estate.
I had another lousy consumerism experience on Saturday. First I needed to get some flour so I headed to Abundance Cooperative Market (62 Marshall St.) Well, actually first I went to Mr. Second's Bargain Outlet (2715 W. Henrietta Rd.) to see if they had a rust scaler [a pneumatic hammer with hardened steel fingers to chip away rust and clean up loose welds, obviously] but they didn't. Nor did Home Depot (770 Jefferson Rd.) and by the time I got to Harbor Freight (1040 East Ridge Rd., in Georgetown Plaza) it was after 6 p.m. and they were closed. Oh well. I took Hudson back through the city to Chestnut and got to Abundance around 7:05 p.m: 5 minutes after they closed for the day. Crap.
I actually ended up at Tops Friendly Market (1900 Clinton Ave. S., #1) which thankfully had organic flour. However, since I rarely get to conventional stores, I like to stock up on the few things for which I've found no appealing substitutes ... aspirin, bandages, etc., yet they only had two kinds of 3M bandages and the style I prefer had pictures of Disney characters which I support only slightly more than I do Nazism (in the former case, the absurd extension of copyright protection for a state-supported monopoly on crappy entertainment; the latter I'll leave as an exercise for the student.) So once again my foray into consumerism fails. Ironically, on the way home, I spied some cool junk a neighbor was throwing out and scored a sweet sleeping bag.
Now, in light of the passing of Robert B. Wegman, I should probably again address my continued dislike for Wegmans. See, it's not the exceptional things that they do — for those things they do a bang-up job and are an asset to the community. It's when they fall on conventional practices that their de facto status as a monopoly becomes apparent. It's when they add a condition to the sale of their property that no other grocery store is allowed to operate on the site [which I technically can't hold against them until I formally confirm it concerning the Mt. Hope store site], or when they operate their egg farms to barely meet state standards (see Wegmans Cruelty.) These are not the principles that Mr. Wegman built his empire. If it were up to me, any Wegmans employee should be fired for rationalizing any action with, "that's the way it's done everywhere else." The status quo may be the best thing, but if "that's the way it's done everywhere else" conflicts with "it's best for the community" then there's a problem. It's no wonder I'm not CEO of anything.
Anyway, Saturday night I stopped by The Keg (315 Gregory St., behind German House where Rohrbach's used to be) to see if the people from RocWiki were still there celebrating 2,000 pages on the site. I met a bunch of my coeditors and had a couple beers before heading to The Bug Jar (219 Monroe Ave.) I got in late and only had a chance to see The White Devils who do some solidly good white-boy blues-rock. By that I mean they have a good grasp of the blues sound — not that they bring any of the spirit, just the sound.
On Monday I made it out to the Emerging Filmmakers Series at The Little (240 East Ave.) Equilibrium by Adrean Mangiardi was a fascinating film about what it's like to get cochlear implants to be able to hear. Dave Holland by Ulli Gruber was an excellent documentary about jazz bassist Dave Holland, painting a personal and human picture of the guy. Dr. Zond Controls the Weather by Johnny Robinson was a clever and amusing stop-motion animation about a guy who makes a machine to control the weather and save the world, only to have it abused. Dein Feld (Your Field) by Ulli Gruber was a very good film about a girl trying to break away from her family — it concludes with a beautiful and touching metaphoric scene with her father hunting rabbits. In all a very respectable set of films.
After the movie, however, the lights took a full minute to come up. I figured the projectionist was asleep at the switch and stayed that way barring the whistle of an approaching train. Watching the Samsung video projector screen-saver added another point of data to my theory that the Little no longer cares much about movies.
On Tuesday I headed to A|V Art Sound Space (N. Union St. at Trinidad St., #8 in the Public Market, formerly the All-Purpose Room.) First up was A Wonderful which, this time, consisted of just one guy singing some light, bright, and airy vocals over air-powered organ. Owen Brimijoin did some well-balanced acoustic-rock for the most part, and concluded his set with an experimental technique of re-recording the amplifier output and room tone in a loop that allowed the music to fade to oblivion while the native noise of the room took over. Not surprisingly, the 11-foot-ish-wide room degraded to an 80-hertz-ish tone (you do the math.) Finishing up was Autumn In Halifax who delivered a good set of electronically-enhanced low-key acoustic, although I didn't think it was one of his best performances.
Finally, on Wednesday I stopped by German House (315 Gregory St.) First up was Snailhouse — now not a duo but a single guy who did some great mellow acoustic. Finishing up the evening was The Bell Orchestre who were great. They played an unbelievable amalgam of the precision and beauty of orchestral composition and the vibrancy, presence, and energy of rock — with a touch of Celtic; given the presence of violin and absence of guitar. My only lament for the evening was that in one of their songs their drummer used a mechanical typewriter for percussion and the piece was finished by crumpling up the resulting page; I was way in front and wanted to grab the page, bring it outside, and burn it but someone else grabbed it as a souvenir before the show was over — alas, my idea of the anticipation of Christmas morning forever was dashed.
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About the title ... MacGregor's is located at 381 Gregory St.
This page is Jason Olshefsky's list of things to do in Rochester, NY and the surrounding region (including nearby towns Irondequoit, Webster, Penfield, Pittsford, Victor, Henrietta, Gates, Chili, Greece, and Charlotte, and occasionally other places in Monroe County and the Western New York region.) It is updated every week with daily listings for entertainment, activities, performances, movies, music, bands, comedy, improv, poetry, storytelling, lectures, discussions, debates, theater, plays, and generally fun things to do.
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