Weekly Rochester Events #390: Eighty-Three Miles

Thursday, June 29, 2006

Since it's the holiday weekend, I have a feeling O'Bagelo's (165 State St.) will be closed on Saturday. I'll take a crack at getting there, but if they're closed, you're on your own.

Anyway, just to blog a bit, Thursday night I had a pretty lousy night's sleep because I kept having my typical night terrors: things like the United States Army going to Burning Man (The Man, Black Rock City, NV) and killing everyone and all the Christians saying, "well it serves them right — sinning like that." I also worried about the police raiding my home because I downloaded data from the "wrong" IP address and the cops — now without the need for warrants — are scouring Road Runner records without knowing what the fuck they're doing. Push comes to shove, and they show up to confiscate my computer for downloading child pornography when I don't have any child pornography.

I was a bit consoled by Flex Your Rights which is a site that describes ways to guard your 4th, 5th, and 6th Amendment rights. Basically if you give up your rights for a particular instance, those rights don't magically help you later. The advice revolves around being questioned by the police who are there to do a job — catch criminals — so they employ psychological tricks to get people to give up their rights to make their job (theoretically) easier. Whether that itself is "just" is another discussion, but given that it does happen today, you've got to keep your head. Here's their advice in a nutshell:

  • Protect your 4th Amendment right by courteously responding to any search request with, "I do not consent to any searches of my private property."
  • Protect your 5th Amendment right by courteously not affirming illegal activity — to dodge the question, ask, "I have to be on my way: am I free to go?"
  • Protect your 6th Amendment right by courteously responding to questions after arrest with, "I have nothing to say until I speak with a lawyer."

Anyway, Friday during the day I checked out the warehouse and work space for Friends Helping Friends (230 Hudson Ave., formerly Food Not Bombs) I met Andrew Stankevich last week at the The Black Factory show and we talked about art bikes. He was impressed with The Bike With 2 Brains and was interested in me getting involved with making art bikes with the kids that his program helps. It's still up-in-the-air, but something will probably come of it.

After going with Ali to a great picnic at Peri's house, we headed to Monty's KrownMySpace link (875 Monroe Ave.) to see the bands there. There were so many people there I didn't bother trying too hard to get inside — I spent a lot of time catching up with friends outdoors. I did get to see a little of Greg Carder's Miracle who played some very good acoustic guitar, but I only got to see a couple songs. Kelli Shay HicksMySpace link was back from Nashville for a few days and I got to see her. I still like her style and songs, but I found that by learning new things down there, she's becoming more like other acoustic soloists — at the same time getting more skilled and sounding a little homogenized.

On Saturday I got out of town with Ali and some of her friends and went to Six Flags: Darien Lake (9993 Alleghany Rd., Corfu). We avoided the absurd "cost-of-convenience" on all the food in the park by bringing some snacks in the car. Aside from that, it's a pretty fun trip — oh yeah, and we also happened to pick graduation day for 90% of local high-school students, so the park was not nearly as crowded as it could have been. We first attempted "Superman Ride of Steel" but it was closed temporarily so we took the Predator — the tallest wooden coaster in New York State (according to the website.) Now I'm a nut for wooden coasters because of their chaotic feel, but it was only Ali and I who really enjoyed it. From there we went to Superman and got quite a thrill from its 208 foot drop, 70 mile-per-hour speed, and over 5 seconds of weightlessness. The other really thrilling ride is the Tornado in the water park: it's a 75-foot diameter funnel and you climb to the drop point with three other people, get into a 4-person inner tube, and get dumped into the funnel. You slide halfway up the other side before swinging back and forth, eventually getting dumped through the end of the funnel. It's quite a thrill. Our final ride was the Mind Eraser in which you sit with your feet dangling out ... it does some loops and such but mostly just bashes your head back and forth in the harness which I guess is where they get the name.

Sunday night I headed to The Dryden Theater at George Eastman House (900 East Ave.) to see Mel Brooks' High Anxiety. I had liked it when I was a kid, but it really holds up pretty well. It's still quite funny, but not gut-bustingly so. The guy who gave the introductory speech said he thought it had a lot of warmth for Hitchcock — so much so that it was a pretty softball satire. I'm still amused when Brooks' character arranges to meet in the "north by northwest corner of the park."

Monday it was back to the Dryden for Surprise Cinema. I thought it initially surprising that Jim Healy dispensed with the suspense and revealed the title of the film early in his review: Song of the South. It's a live-action/animated rendition of the stories of "Uncle Remus" (by Joel Chandler Harris) depicting a fictional black slave who tells tales/parables of Br'er Rabbit and others. To soften the image, Disney changed the setting to post-Civil War so Uncle Remus was a freed slave, but the distasteful rift between whites and blacks remained: whites basically sat around the plantation house while poor blacks presumably living in nearby shanties happily sang before going to work for the daylight hours. The movie depicts a falsely peaceful world between wealthy whites and poor blacks in the South. To me the most offensive scene was when a young white woman bosses around an older black man, treating him as if he were a child — and for him to meekly obey.

That said, the escapist parables told (and acted against animated characters) by Uncle Remus were charming, witty, and rewarding. Also the moviemaking was somewhat progressive in that black actors were hired to play the role of blacks in the film. A bit of trivia from Internet Movie Database says that it's rumored that star James Baskett couldn't attend the premiere because, as a black man, he couldn't get a hotel room in Atlanta.

When they stopped distributing the film in 1986, they were just trying to present themselves as a family-friendly corporation, but missing an important point: that there is value in seeing mistakes. What if Disney had a "Historical Disney" division which would allow people to see such films in an academic setting? — to teach how values have changed over time, and to see what was acceptable then. Similarly, it would be nice if Warner started a similar division and released the Bugs Bunny World War II propaganda cartoons wherein Bugs takes on the stereotypical Japanese enemy. It's important to see such things so they are not forgotten — so we can compare those images to the ones we see today and judge for ourselves whether our amusements are reasonable. But heck, why not a remake of "Song of the South" — something that allows the still-positive elements to stay alive while getting rid of the objectionable material — I mean, where do you think "Zip-a-Dee-Doo-Dah" came from?

The next day I returned to the Dryden once more to be slapped around by the stark reality of LaLee's Kin: The Legacy Of Cotton. It's an unbelievably believable film about a 3rd-generation cotton picker, LaLee, living in the Mississippi Delta and trying to raise her grandchildren in a mobile home with no running water — in 2001. Her lack of education and disinterest in valuing education contrasts with the desperate plight of the local school superintendent: his school is about to be taken over by the state because test scores have not increased adequately. It's a film of desperation, nearly complete hopelessness, and rock-bottom poverty. It was heartbreaking to hear about the driven hope in the superintendent's words contrasted with the bureaucracy that forces LaLee to scrounge for a pencil, paper, and other seemingly trivial school supplies so her grandkids can meet the minimum requirements to get a public school education.

It's sad to think that people who create, administer, and enforce standardized tests don't consider these kinds of environments. I mean, this ain't Schalmont High School (1 Sabre Dr., Schenectady.) The entire town is desperately poor and yet the school is striving to fit the arbitrary "standard public school" template. Deviating away from a template leads to discussions of segregation — whether by race or by socioeconomic status — and you end up with the old separate but unequal. The question is, "what is equal?" or more accurately, "is the direction we're going making things more equal?"

The trouble is each person — each student — is unique. Their family is different from every other, and what they learned at home is different, how well they take tests is different, their town is different from other towns, and their state is different from other states. Despite this, we rely on standardized tests. Touching on what I said last week, it's more about judgment: that doing well on standardized tests means you're smarter — ergo better — than someone who does poorly.

Now, testing in the context of a class seems pertinent and important to me. It lets the teacher know how well their students are learning. However, I disagree that the aggregate test scores should reflect a final grade: the test determines how well the lessons were transferred to the student's mind, but by having them reflect a final grade of the student implies that the burden of learning is squarely on the student. In other words, the grade on a test has as much to do with the quality of the teacher, their relationship with the individual student, the appropriateness of the lesson for the student, as well as (but by no means exclusively) the effort of the student.

I guess ideally, the teacher is the best judge of whether a student "knows" the material. At least they should be the best judge — they're really the only domain expert with enough contact with the student to make such a judgment. So how would one standardize the process? Well presently we shoot for these "standardized tests" which essentially demonstrate whether the student can produce the correct answer.

But what was the goal in the first place? If you take a chemistry class, is it enough to be able to say that sodium and chlorine bond in a 1-to-1 relationship or is it more important to be able to explain why? So what if we gave the teachers standardized questions and allowed them to decide whether each student "knows" the work. We empower doctors to prescribe drugs based on their informed opinions, so why don't we allow teachers to do use their informed opinions to assign grades? [In a cynical moment, not the teachers we have today.]

In the end the reason to maintain the status quo lies in bureaucracy: how do we quantify a student's performance to create an aggregate and determine which schools are better than others? We need numbers to rank primary schools so they can be analyzed in a simplistic fashion — so national administrators can easily sort schools based on criteria to identify schools performing poorly and schools performing well.

It's not about students learning anything at all — it's a miracle when they do. When I look at our public schooling system, I realize we can do better, but it'll require a completely different kind of thinking. We need to get out of the codified utopia claimed in computer advertising from the 1970's. It's just not working.

We need people with problem solving skills. Speaking of which, does anybody know how to undo a bureaucracy?

  • Twelve and Holding (at The Little) - When one of a pair of pre-teen twins dies, his brother and friends try to reconcile the event.
  • Wah-Wah (at The Little) - Ah ... the Little description has a useful nugget: "Set during the last gasp of the British Empire in Swaziland, South East Africa, in 1969, the plot focuses on the dysfunctional Compton family whose gradual disintegration mirrors the end of British rule."

Tonight probably around 7 at Writers and Books (740 University Ave.) is a Book Party for Eldridge McClaney's I Go Back. [source: Craigslist Rochester events] [all ages]

Jeff Sherner will be at Starry Nites Café (696 University Ave., formerly Moonbeans) starting around 8 p.m. [source: Starry Nites calendar] [all ages]

JayceLand Pick The Dryden Theater at George Eastman House (900 East Ave.) will be showing Topper starting at 8 p.m. in which a couple die in a car accident and, as ghosts, decide to "spice up" the life of their friend. [source: Eastman House calendar] [all ages]

JayceLand Pick Sort of a metal-like groove-rock combination from The Torsos from Space, and hilarious superfast synth-pop novelty songs from Worm QuartetMySpace link will be at The Bug Jar (219 Monroe Ave.) starting around 9:30 p.m. [source: Bug Jar calendar] [18+]

Over at The Montage Live (50 Chestnut St., formerly the Montage Grille) starting around 11:30 p.m. is jazz band Hard Logic [source: Montage calendar]

Pure Kona Poetry Open Mic Night is at Daily Perks (389 Gregory St.) tonight starting at 7:30. [source: Daily Perks calendar]

Drinking Liberally meets at 8 p.m. tonight at Monty's Korner (355 East Ave.) [source: RocWiki calendar]

Apparently The Critical Mass Bike Ride is tonight starting at 5:30 p.m. at the clock tower near The Wilson Commons at The University of Rochester (Library Road, #39 on River Campus Map.) to The Liberty Pole (1 Liberty Pole Way) at 6 p.m. and heading through the city from there. [source: the proverbial grapevine]

The Rochester Public Market (280 Union St. N.) will be hosting Donna the BuffaloMySpace link, and Crow GreenspunMySpace link starting around 6 p.m. [source: Up All Night website]

Daily Perks (389 Gregory St.) will be hosting Chuck Abell, Bernie Heveron, and Jeremiah McGrath starting around 7 p.m. [source: Daily Perks calendar] [all ages]

JayceLand Pick The Dryden Theater at George Eastman House (900 East Ave.) will be showing The Saddest Music in the World starting at 8 p.m. A beer baroness seeks to find the "saddest music in the world" in a contest in this comedy/drama/social commentary. [source: Eastman House calendar] [all ages]

Tonight at Starry Nites Café (696 University Ave., formerly Moonbeans) is Bill Welch starting around 9 p.m. [source: Starry Nites calendar] [all ages]

The High Falls Entertainment Resort (61 Commercial St., formerly Jillian's) will be hosting good, tight modern-rock/cover band The Meddling KidsMySpace link starting around 10 p.m. [source: band e-mail]

JayceLand Pick Electronica from Trip ThrottleGarageBand linkMySpace link, and All Known AspectsMySpace link will be at The Montage Live (50 Chestnut St., formerly the Montage Grille) starting around 10 p.m. [source: Montage calendar]

Good standard rock-and-roll from The Ferndocks, and The Neighbors You Hate will be at Monty's KrownMySpace link (875 Monroe Ave.) starting around 10:30 p.m. [source: WITR calendar] [21+]

JayceLand Pick O'Bagelo's, 165 State Street, noon.

Today at Canaltown Coffee Roasters (1805 East Ave.) is the start of the Picture Postcard Perfect show by Goldee Hecht-Meyer. The show runs through the end of the month. [source: Genesee Center for the Arts calendar]

Tonight at The Montage Live (50 Chestnut St., formerly the Montage Grille) is Meg Gehman, Lisa Bigwood, Bill Welch, and Chip Milligan for a Songwriters-in-the-Round starting around 6 p.m. [source: Montage calendar]

Over at Daily Perks (389 Gregory St.) starting around 7 p.m. is The Five Easy Pieces. [source: Daily Perks calendar] [all ages]

JayceLand Pick Tonight at A|V Art Sound Space (N. Union St. at Trinidad St., #8 in the Public Market, formerly the All-Purpose Room) at 7 p.m. is the opening for Kelly M. Hider's Mary Lee and Other Delicate Characters. [source: A|V Space website]

Starry Nites Café (696 University Ave., formerly Moonbeans) will be hosting Whatsie starting around 9 p.m. [source: Starry Nites calendar] [all ages]

Way out at The Penny Arcade (4785 Lake Ave.) starting around 9 p.m. is fun ska from Mrs. Skannotto, A Billion ErniesMySpace link, and The Levar Burtones. [source: JamBase calendar for Rochester]

JayceLand Pick Over at The Bug Jar (219 Monroe Ave.) starting around 10:45 p.m. is The Sound Of UrchinMySpace link, The EroticsGarageBand linkMySpace link, The Teenage Casket CompanyMySpace link, and good medium tempo, high distortion rock band The Black ArrowsMySpace link [source: Bug Jar calendar] [21+]

Tonight's another Betty's Sing-a-Long at Betty Meyer's Bullwinkle Café (622 Lake Ave., a.k.a. "Bullwinkle's") starting around 10.

JayceLand Pick The Dryden Theater at George Eastman House (900 East Ave.) will be showing The Maltese Falcon starting at 7 p.m. Sam Spade goes on a hunt for that crazy bird. [source: Eastman House calendar] [all ages]

Tonight at 8 p.m. is another Hip Hop Haven at The Bug Jar (219 Monroe Ave.) [source: Bug Jar calendar]

The Montage Live (50 Chestnut St., formerly the Montage Grille) will be hosting good punk-rock from The EmersonsGarageBand link, Three Knuckle ShuffleMySpace link, The City CreepsGarageBand linkMySpace link, and Suburban ChaosMySpace link probably starting around 8:30 p.m. or earlier. [source: Upstate Stomp MySpace page]

JayceLand Pick Over at A|V Art Sound Space (N. Union St. at Trinidad St., #8 in the Public Market, formerly the All-Purpose Room) starting around 9 p.m. is Cricket SpinMySpace link, good mellow, down-tempo soloist Little Yellow BirdMySpace link, and excellent, mellow, digitally effected acoustic from Autumn In HalifaxMySpace link. [source: A|V Space website]

Bored? Why not check out 1980's DJ night at The Bug Jar (219 Monroe Ave.) starting around 11 p.m. [source: Bug Jar calendar]

Fly the flag today.Independence Day

JayceLand Pick The Bug Jar (219 Monroe Ave.) will be hosting Low WaterGarageBand linkMySpace link and more starting around 9:30 p.m. [source: Bug Jar calendar] [18+]

Daily Perks (389 Gregory St.) is hosting an Acoustic Open Mic from 8 to 10. [source: Daily Perks calendar] [all ages]

Tonight from 5 p.m. to 11 p.m. at The Liberty Pole (1 Liberty Pole Way) is another Polapalooza street festival, this time featuring Babaloo, and LouLou. [source: City Hall press release]

Harold Danko and his jazz quartet will be at Kilbourn Hall at Eastman Theatre (60 Gibbs St.) starting around 7:30 p.m. [source: Eastman School of Music calendar] [all ages]

JayceLand Pick The Dryden Theater at George Eastman House (900 East Ave.) will be showing La grande illusion (The Grand Illusion) starting at 8 p.m. Two French soldiers plan an escape from a prisoner-of-war camp — one of the first escape movies, and a consistently-included entry on lists of great films. [source: Eastman House calendar] [all ages]

JayceLand Pick Tonight at The Bug Jar (219 Monroe Ave.) is Wooden Wand and the Vanishing VoiceMySpace link, Religious KnivesMySpace link, and frequently semi-melodic fast-paced noise from Pengo starting around 9:30 p.m. [source: Bug Jar calendar] [18+]

Poor People United meets tonight and every Wednesday at 7 at St. Joseph's House of Hospitality (402 South Ave.) [source: the proverbial grapevine]

There's an Open Mic for Acoustic Music at Boulder Coffee Co. (100 Alexander St.) tonight around 8. [source: the proverbial grapevine]

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About the title ... Interstate 390 is about 83 miles long.

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. Music events are usually original bands with occasional cover bands and DJ's with musical styles including punk, emo, ska, swing, rock, rock-and-roll, alternative, metal, jazz, blues, noise band, experimental music, folk, acoustic, and "world-beat." Events listed take place during the day, in the evenings, or as part of the city's nightlife as listed. Although I'm reluctant to admit it, it is a Rochester blog and I'm essentially blogging about Rochester events. Oh, and it's spelled JayceLand with no space and a capital L, not Jayce Land, Jaycee Land, Jace Land, Jase Land, Joyce Land, Jayce World, Jayceeland, Jaceland, Jaseland, Joyceland, Jayceworld, Jayceeworld, Jaceworld, Jaseworld, nor Joyceworld. (Now if you misspell it in some search engine, you at least get a shot at finding it.) It's also not to be confused with Jake's World or JakesWorld which is a site of a Rochester animator. While I'm on the topic of keywords for search engines, this update includes information for Thursday, June 29, 2006 (Thu, Jun 29, 2006, 6/29/2006, or 6/29/06) Friday, June 30, 2006 (Fri, Jun 30, 2006, 6/30/2006, or 6/30/06) Saturday, July 1, 2006 (Sat, Jul 1, 2006, 7/1/2006, or 7/1/06) Sunday, July 2, 2006 (Sun, Jul 2, 2006, 7/2/2006, or 7/2/06) Monday, July 3, 2006 (Mon, Jul 3, 2006, 7/3/2006, or 7/3/06) Tuesday, July 4, 2006 (Tue, Jul 4, 2006, 7/4/2006, or 7/4/06) and Wednesday, July 5, 2006 (Wed, Jul 5, 2006, 7/5/2006, or 7/5/06).

JayceLand Pick indicates an event that's a preferred pick of the day ... probably something worth checking out.

Top Pick indicates a "guaranteed" best bet for the particular genre of the indicated event.

GarageBand link links to a band's page on GarageBand.com which offers reviews and information about bands.

MySpace link links to a band's page on MySpace.com which is a friend-networking site that is popular with bands.

Fly the flag today. is a day when you should fly the flag according to the Veterans of Foreign Wars calendar.

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