Weekly Rochester Events #382: Years of the Cockroach
Thursday, May 4, 2006
Last week I mentioned that I got to see The Bell Orchestre on Wednesday. In reflection, although the performance was great, it didn't leave me with a lot to chew on after the fact. Sometimes when I see a show, I'll get songs stuck in my head, or new ideas will sprout from what I saw, but this time it wasn't so. Just something to consider.
Thursday I headed out to The Little (240 East Ave.) around 10:30 or so to see Al Franken deliver his radio show live. I ran into Tom, the facilitator for the local Drinking Liberally group and we met up with Jen who picked up the tickets for us. I was probably one of the only people who had never heard the show before, but it was cordial and fun. I ended up staying for all three hours and it was entertaining and moved right along.
His first guest was Mayor Robert J. Duffy who gave Al the key to the city along with reading a humorous proclamation. He sounded quite a bit like a mayor, but got more conversational as the interview went on. Representative Louise Slaughter was next and gave some insight into what was going on in the Foggy Bottom. After that, Eric Massa was on who is running as the Democratic candidate for the 29th district in the House of Representatives. They guy seemed very sharp and on-the-ball.
Once the politicians were out of the way, author David Cay Johnston was next to be interviewed — he's the author of Perfectly Legal: The Covert Campaign to Rig Our Tax System to Benefit the Super Rich — and Cheat Everybody Else. Next was stem-cell researcher Mark Noble from The University of Rochester (Elmwood Ave. at Intercampus Dr., details on River Campus Map) He pointed out the value of continuing such research and provided an insightful ethical dilemma: there's a fire at a fertilitiy clinic and you must choose between saving 10,000 frozen blastocysts (bundles of stem cells which become fetuses when attached to the uterine wall) or one one-year-old baby. Noble notes that "the number of people who chose the blastocysts is less than one." It's the kind of question that flusters people against stem-cell research because it succinctly demonstrates that everyone knows a baby is different from a bundle of stem cells, despite what pro-life groups say.
Finishing up the show was Robert Manning from RIT (One Lomb Memorial Dr., campus map) who's the author of Credit Card Nation: The Consequences of America's Addiction to Credit (buy it now at Amazon.com!) He noted that MBNA (who are currently funding free admission at The Memorial Art Gallery (500 University Ave., near Goodman St.) to cardholders, interestingly enough) was the #2 campaign contributor to George W. Bush (although OpenSecrets.org says MBNA was first) and how he made it harder to file for personal bankruptcy while people in desperate financial situations are targeted by lending institutions to go further into debt. Just to end on a thorougly depressing note, Manning said that personal debt in America is approximately $40,000 per person.
Relatedly, I've been trying to get one of those pneumatic rust scalers and I really don't want to buy one cheap because it was manufactured by slave labor. The only one I've been able to find online is the Ingersoll-Rand 125 Standard Duty Needle Scaler at Amazon for $147, but I can't confirm its country-of-origin. Anyway, I gave up and went to Harbor Freight (1040 East Ridge Rd., in Georgetown Plaza) on Friday to get their $13 Chinese-slave-made air-hammer attachment, but they were out of stock. In the process, though, I managed to get gasoline 5 cents cheaper than near my house. In all, the 13-mile round trip cost about $1 in gas and I saved all of $0.24 total at the pump. I'm just glad to mostly not drive at all ... well, except the part about almost being killed all the time by the automobile drivers who are trying to save a penny by not waiting for two seconds at the corner of Mt. Hope and Elmwood (you know who you are).
That night I went to The Rochester Contemporary Art Gallery (137 East Ave.) to see the Video Screening and Artist Talk with Geoffrey Alan Rhodes who made the film Tesseract and which he showed again. It was still a terrific fictionalized biography of the life of Eadweard Muybridge. He prefaced the screening with some prior works he had done dealing with the camera and its time-machine-like qualities. He said he was saddened reviewing the animations he made from Muybridge's sequential photographs of people in motion, noting that these are the earliest people in history that anyone will ever see move — prior to those images, all impressions of the dead are static.
From there I went to the Dryden Theater at George Eastman House (900 East Ave.) for a great date movie, Workingman's Death. It was quite good and quite disturbing although I disliked the flashy segment-introductions that made it feel cheap like it was a Discovery Channel documentary. Anyway, I was fascinated the lengths that people go through to make a living and the typically shrug-heavy pride they have in it. The jobs themselves were dangerous both in the lack of safety equipment and in the nature of the work which will significantly shorten every one of the worker's lives — even if they never succumb to accident.
Monday night I went to The Bug Jar (219 Monroe Ave.) to check out the bands there. First up was The Instruments who do this mellow, rather trippy, very down-tempo rock-ish folk — at the time I found it quite boring, so I'll have to check them out again when I'm in a different mood. Elf Power, however were like the best parts of pop-rock bands from the 60's, 70's, 80's, 90's all combined into one — a charming demeanor and great guitar work like 1960's pop acts, fine-tuned vocals from the 1970's, a bit of synthesizer work from the 1980's, and a perfection of drum and bass work from the 1990's. I look forward to seeing them around again.
As a final note, I decided to shut down the old HomeCam for a while. It hasn't had anything interesting, well, ever, and it's just needlessly sucking electricity and bandwidth. I figured it'd be a good a time as any to close it down since it's been running for the last 10 years. It stopped being "cutting edge" in about 1998.
Oh yeah ... one more thing: I stopped by the post office at The University of Rochester Medical Center (601 Elmwood Ave.) to mail out a package. I passed by some scrubs-wearing workers enjoying some cigarettes in the mild spring day and had to endure the thick stench of irony as I passed the gigantic blue sign that read, "CANCER CENTER."
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About the title ... According to The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 1992, Houghton Mifflin; 1994, INSO Corporation, the word cockroach was first recorded in English by colonist John Smith 382 years ago in 1624 in its nearly-Spanish form, "cacarootch."
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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