Weekly Rochester Events #420: Cashmere Doesn't Feel Like Moguls Anymore
Thursday, January 25, 2007
So last Wednesday I managed to order my tickets for Burning Man this year, and once again set off a frenzy of excitement about it. I'm not going to bring any big projects but I am working on something to help people plan their energy needs — electricity, gas, food, and the like.
That evening I went to see John Sinclair speak at Writers and Books (740 University Ave.) He did some poetry that I found (thankfully) quite good. He talked about his history a little bit as well, particularly through the poems. He opened the floor up for discussion — as if to actually just sit around in a circle and have a chat. I enjoyed the peculiar multi-layered irony as he stood behind a podium elevated 6-inches above us in such a minor auditorium as the Verb Café. I mean, here he was — a guy thrust into celebrity 30-some years ago for a minor crime and a major punishment — who stood before us like he was just a nice guy wanting to sit down and have a chat; contrasted with that oratory pedestal the Writers and Books people had so generously placed him upon. My only regret with the whole evening stemmed from that, finding myself unable to break from the established hierarchy ... if only there were no chairs in the room and everybody just sat on the floor. How groovy would that have been?
Thursday marked 9 months dating Ali. We decided to do "dinner-and-a-movie" as we did last April although this time it was for another trip to Dogtown Hots (691 Monroe Ave.) where we ate some excellent gourmet hot dogs. Afterward we headed to George Eastman House (900 East Ave.) to catch Crimes and Misdemeanors. The movie was both very funny and very tragic. A group of mostly unlikable characters try to solve their relationship problems with whatever means they see as most appropriate, including murder. Now, I don't like every Woody Allen film but I did like this one, and I also appreciated the gentle artistry of cinematographer Sven Nykvist.
Friday night I joined the MEETinROCHESTER people at Tapas One Seventy Seven (177 Saint Paul St.) I hadn't been there in a long time and it's still a nice place to go — the happy-hour food is the best I've had in town. Anyway, the people were quite cool, and I'd recommend checking it out. It's not so much of a singles pick-up kind of group as it is people who want to get to know their neighbors. Well, neighbors who also happen to comb the Internet for things to do, I guess. A few were new to town, and others were just out to try something new.
On Saturday, Ali and I had lunch at Sticky Lips Pit BBQ (625 Culver Rd.) I continue to rank them better than Dinosaur Bar-B-Que (99 Court St.) and Ali agrees — particularly in the case of the corn bread. Plus, the macaroni-and-cheese is excellent. That evening we went to a friend's birthday party that started at Thali of India (3259 Winton Rd. S.) We arrived a little late to take part in a bit of dessert because we were both still quite full from lunch — from what we had, the food there is really good. From there we finished the night at Lux Lounge (666 South Ave.), being joined by the birthday crew after their visit to the strip club.
Sunday I went to East Rochester to participate in the movie shoot. It's a short film for a friend of the filmmakers and I play "Al" an investment banker with an unusual addiction [since it's a surprise for their friends, I'll be brief on the details; it should be viewable sometime this year, possibly at the Little]. As is typical, the set is a bit chaotic and it's a lot of hurry-up-and-wait. The acting, though, was a lot harder than I thought. My role and that of Al's wife, Alice were the largest in the film — all of about 20 lines. Although both of us thought we had a good grip on the script, once the cameras were rolling and we were on the spot, we had a hard time remembering the lines. Despite that, I think I did a good job of acting in that I was really in-character for the whole thing.
That evening I went to the Dryden Theatre at George Eastman House (900 East Ave.) to see Jesus Camp. I thought the documentary was unable to match its sensationalist previews which made it sound like there were Christian extremists in America teaching their children to be soldiers in a holy war. In reality, there are Christians in America who make teaching Christianity to their kids a #1 priority and they even had a summer camp (I gather it has since closed) to do so. I guess the big concern is that some of these people wish for a Christian nation — but there is no way to legislate someone into being a Christian, or into believing anything for that matter, so I'm not overly concerned. It would just never function correctly.
For the most part, I don't take issue with their teaching, nor of raising kids as Christians. The concerns of "brainwashing" kids is not particularly alarming because of Christianity — I find it more disturbing that many parents resort to such authoritarian tactics in an attempt to mold their children unrealistically to meet their unfulfilled ambitions. However, I was disturbed by a couple things in the film — each of them a minor facet of the whole thing. There was a scene where a parent was teaching that global warming is a myth because temperatures rise only 0.6 degrees — global warming is a problem only when the average temperature for a region is 0.1 degrees below freezing: a 0.6 degree rise means all the ice in that region now melts. Shortly after, the parent reinforces that "science proves nothing" which in itself is true, but more I think it's deceptive to neglect that science teaches — it helps us explore and explain the behaviors of our world in a symbolic way so we can discover relationships we never would have found. Also, there was some mention of being "willing to die for Jesus" and the like, but I took it as being symbolic.
Relatedly, one of the major issues I have with Christianity is that it teaches that humans are powerless. It creates a culture of sheep who think everything in the world came from God. What I mean is that there are things that man makes from things in the world — whether it's roofing shingles or the Internet — and to teach that science is bad or that only God can create makes for a bunch of dumb people who can't [rather, won't] do anything.
I was talking with my friend Sondra Carr the other day about how she's working on setting up "Dream Circles" in Denver. The idea is that people would come by and discuss their dreams — the ones that entail some kind of fantasy for their own future, not the kind that happen when they are asleep. The trick is to encourage people to open up and reveal the fantasy goals they have without saying anything to shatter those ideas. If someone says, "you know, I think I want to have my artwork shown in a gallery", they are often met with, "have you contacted any galleries to see what their requirements are?" The trouble with this kind of question is it gives the impression that the inquirer is an authority, and if the dreamer can't answer that they will fail, the dream deflates, and it's all over — a "trigger question" (Sondra's term) that causes people to run away. Rather, the goal of the group is to make the dreamer embrace their ambitions — to get them to figure out their motives, to figure out what direction they want to go, to have confidence in the dream, and to feel strong enough to meet those skeptical questions with a confident, "I don't know yet."
She was surprised that among a group of creative, trusting people, she ran into difficulty getting this off the ground. When we talked about it, I suggested trying to make games — maybe something like 20-questions for people to guess someone's motive for pursuing a dream. The thing is that everyone is different and every dream is different, so the challenge to the group is to be supportive and to try and identify what parts of the dream are solid and what parts are nebulous without making the dreamer close-off their thoughts. The games are still a good idea, I think, but they'll have to be adapted to each situation. After a while, there may only be a few games that are necessary for almost anyone's situation. Maybe I'll steal the idea and try setting something up around here ... hmm ...
On Monday I got away from thinking, documentaries, and heavy drama to see Borat: Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan with Ali and her friends at Movies 10 (2613 W. Henrietta Rd.) They have a Monday special where groups of 3-or-more pay 50-cents each [I think it's a little bizarre to make 1 person pay $1.75 or 2 pay $3.25 when 3 pay only $1.50; "1, 2, or 3 people for $1.50 and 50-cents for each additional person" makes more sense to me.] Anyway, I thought the movie was quite funny. I had heard people say they laughed the whole way through ... I wasn't overly surprised by anything as I'd either lived it, or recognized it as a "dialect bit" (as the comedians say), or seen guerilla theater elsewhere, or seen improvisation — although I must say, for star Sacha Baron Cohen to stand in front of a midwestern rodeo and butcher the American National Anthem took incredible guts. It was funny, too.
On Tuesday it was more gutsy improvisation with the State of the Union Address. I was going to stay home and watch it but decided instead to take the invitation from Rochester Turning and go see it at Monty's Korner (355 East Ave.) Well, I was disappointed to learn there was no plan to do anything and the bar reluctantly let us watch on one of the smaller TV's with no sound but the captioning on. They said they weren't going to show anything "political." Political? It's the State of the Union Address: it's American.
Anyway, I read it on the Internet so I could be ready for the progressive political show, The Coalition of the Shrill on Wednesday morning, so I already did my punditry for the day.
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About the title ... The Indian region of Kashmir (also Cashmere) became part of the Mogul empire 420 years ago in 1587.
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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