Weekly Rochester Events #384: Aristotle's Countdown Begins
Thursday, May 18, 2006
Last Thursday I stopped in briefly at Boulder Coffee Co. (100 Alexander St.) to check out Break of Reality. I very much liked their acoustic line-up better — aside from unamplified cellos, their drummer had a minimal bongo/cymbal "kit." It really enhanced the dichotomy of classical instrumentation and metal music.
Friday I went to The Little (240 East Ave.) to see I Am a Sex Addict. It's refreshing to see such honesty when it comes to something so personal — ordinarily people hide their sexual oddness and baste in shame their whole life, whereas in this, filmmaker Caveh Zahedi was just straightforward and honest. Personally, I was amused how his honest statements to girlfriends in the film struck a chord with my own experiences with honest statements to girlfriends ...
Anyway, he was at the showing to answer questions and got very few. In response to one, he admitted that his parents have not seen the film and that he does not want them to do so. I can't blame him. I got to talk with him a little afterward — both to thank him personally for going out on a limb, and to admit being a fan of his performance in Waking Life in the "Holy Moment" scene.
From the Little, on the other hand, I've come to expect embarrassing failures — and this time was no exception. A couple 5-minute chunks of the film were ruined by distorted sound — bad enough that several people had the time to walk out and complain. To add insult to injury, prior to the film I was harassed by someone pushing the "Little Film Society." She asked, "don't you want to help keep this great institution going?" I said I wasn't interested — although they have "film" in their name, it's really about the profitability of the cafe and other such junk. Damn it Little: you are a movie theater! Why can't you realize that? Everything should be about the movies! Why are the projectors and sound systems in disrepair while you're so concerned about how good the food is and if I like the music in the cafe (based on the number of questions in a recent survey)? Why is there no prominent clock in the cafe showing the times remaining to the start of the next shows? Why are all the clocks at a different time? — the cash registers, and the two tiny wall clocks are off from one another by 5 minutes. Aargh!
Saturday I made a brief appearance at The Bug Jar (219 Monroe Ave.) to see Gaylord. They did a stellar set — of course, it may not have been great to them, but it was to the audience. I still have trouble explaining what they sound like ... I often revert to something like "attention-deficit rock with a jazz edge" but that's not quite right. It fits but it's not perfect — they tend to play what sounds like 3 songs at once, switching between them to keep everyone on their toes, and the sound is rock-like and jazz-like at the same time. I don't know. Guitarist Corey is spectacular — he wrangles his guitar more than he connects to it, but that works for him. Drew's drumming is tight and spot-on, and Jeff's bass work is exactly right for the band. You gotta see them.
On Sunday I went with the woman I've been seeing to The Lilac Festival to get some fried dough and Indian food. Well, to walk around and stuff too, but mostly the food. The lilacs are pretty early this year, but they should stick around a little longer than average with the cooler weather and rain we've been having.
Monday night I went to City Hall (30 Church St.) for a hearing where McDonald's (1422 Mount Hope Ave.) requested a special permit to allow them to be open 24 hours. I'm one of the active members of The Upper Mount Hope Neighborhood Association and we agreed to oppose 24-hour take-out food in the neighborhood as it wouldn't really fit around here — it's not a round-the-clock neighborhood, but a mostly-day-worker residental place. I have yet to see if they get the permit.
I never really thought about what kind of person would manage a McDonald's until I got to hear the arguments at the meeting. Her name is Jennifer (I wasn't motivated enough to call the store to find out her last name, but I noted that the McDonald's website does not list the names of the managers — I wonder why that is?) Anyway, she talked about how McDonald's is a family restaurant, how it provided a service to the community — especially to people who worked during the night — and how there was "apparently consumer demand" for 24-hour operation (based on there being sales when they were previously open between 2 a.m. and 6 a.m.)
Gosh, how naïve.
When I think of "family restaurant" I first think of something family-run, like Pat's Coffee Mug (627 South Clinton Ave.) or at least someplace where you might go out to dine with your family — maybe Highland Park Diner (960 S. Clinton Ave.) or The Brighton (1881 East Ave.) What I don't think of is a fast-food or take-out place — whether it's McDonald's (1422 Mount Hope Ave.) or Mr. Shoes Pizza (1921 South Ave.) One thing that comes to mind as a criterion is, in fact, hours of operation: I kind of expect a "family restaurant" to close by, say 10 p.m. ... or to probably stop serving as early as 8. Certainly not 24-hours.
Next, McDonald's quality of food doesn't make me think of it being a "service to the community." Let's compare a couple meals: a Big Mac® meal from McDonald's consisting of a Big Mac®, a large French fry order, and a large regular Coca-Coal® (the nutrition information taken from the website) and a "meal" consisting of a medium apple (nutrition information from USApple.org) and a 2/3 stick of butter (1/6 pound [whether it's Eastern cut, Western cut, or Elgin cut]; nutrition information from the unsalted butter I have):
So if you count all the winners and losers, the Big Mac® Meal has 7 "wins" and the butter-and-apple "meal" has 6 with one tie. Although the Big Mac® Meal is slightly better, it's a pretty even race, yet you wouldn't ordinarily think of a 2/3 stick of butter and an apple to be a meal, so why would you think that something that is nutritionally similar would be? In other words, fast food isn't a meal at all, but rather a treat — like an ice cream sundae or a piece of pie. None of the things I've mentioned would be a good idea to eat regularly as a meal.
And finally, this notion that there is "apparently consumer demand" — what might that be from? Could it have something to do with 24-hour advertising on all media known to man? It's not a consumer demand, but a consumer compulsion — the only reason people go to McDonald's is because they just "wanted" it, if they were actually making a selection on food quality, taste, or nutritional value, they'd never even pull in the place.
So just what good is McDonald's anyway?
Anyhow, on Tuesday afternoon I went out for a walk around the neighborhood and there was a woman who asked if I knew whose dog she was walking. It was just walking around the neighborhood and she managed to catch it and use the leash from her own small dog as a makeshift collar. I had no idea either, and the dog was just happy to go for a walk, failing to lead us to his house. We took him back to my yard since it was fenced in and called the City Pound. She had to leave for work but I kept an eye on him in the yard. By the time Animal Control got there, he got out, but he was so well-behaved that he was easy to catch again and they took him away. I put up a "Found Dog" sign with a description and a few hours later met the owners who were looking for him. They headed to the pound and presumably got him back.
It was like living a 1950's comic strip because a slightly unusual event happened but it really wasn't funny at all.
However, it also reminded me about the whole neighborly part of a neighborhood. This coming weekend is our area's Clean Sweep and I had finally warmed up to the idea until I got another automated message from Mayor Robert J. Duffy announcing the event. I can see using an automated system to tell us that, say, the city is under attack by space aliens, but to advertise the "Clean Sweep"? Come on. It's like saturation marketing to make everyone a compulsive volunteer — shouldn't we be volunteering because we want to not because we're coerced? I despise being coerced enough that now I don't want to volunteer.
Tuesday night I went to the Dryden Theater at George Eastman House (900 East Ave.) to see Coup de torchon. In it, an apathetic sherrif in a small town allows himself to be bullied, but he finally snaps and starts killing people — "taking out the trash," so to speak. He continues spiraling into his own hell and is offered no relief nor escape. It's really quite torturous to watch.
On Wednesday I was back at the Dryden once again, this time for Mon oncle Antoine. It's another example of early Canadian narrative cinema and an excellent movie all around. It deals with an extended family living in a rural town in the 1940's. The plot, if you will, revolves around one Christmas when the young man of the house helps his uncle with an undertaking job — the uncle gets drunk and the boy must finish the job. The thing that's kind of weird and kind of rewarding is that there is a lot of time spent patiently establishing the characters and their relationships so there is almost no explanation needed at the conclusion. It's unusual from my American perspective in that the central point of the movie seems to be very brief — I'm accustomed to movies spending more time on the important points whereas this builds a lot of incidental points to make the important one also incidental.
And if I keep watching movies in French I'm going start écrire in Français before you know it.
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About the title ... Greek philosopher Aristotle was born 384 B.C. but was unaware that the years would count down as he grew older.
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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