Weekly Rochester Events #423: Virginia Isn't For Walter
Thursday, February 15, 2007
We cancelled the radio show for the snowstorm this week, but I was there last week and it went pretty well. I joined the crew on Thursday at Drinking Liberally at Monty's Korner (355 East Ave.) for a few pints. After that I went to The Dub Land Underground (315 Alexander St., formerly Whiskey) for the first time — I got to see just one song from The BuddhaHood, still enjoying their percussive groove-rock a lot. Next was The Creole Cowboys who were a really good zydeco band. Dub Land Underground actually reminded me a lot of Milestones (old location) (50 East Ave., until 1997 or so) — and not just because I saw a zydeco band (Buckwheat Zydeco) at that location. I'm not sure if the spiral staircase in the back at Whiskey stayed or not, but it's gone now. The basement is thoroughly set up as a band space, and it sounds pretty good. We may actually have another viable live music venue here.
On Friday, Ali, Stacie, and I went to The Dryden Theater at George Eastman House (900 East Ave.) to see La demoiselle d'honneur (The Bridesmaid). After I had just seen it, I thought it was good but not superb. It had some of that dry French humor in it that I rather like but it didn't seem to have a purpose ... a rather typical story told expertly and gradually to make it plausible. The gist is that a guy gets involved with a woman who's got a dark side, and slowly her personality is revealed. So after taking some time after seeing it, I think it was better than my first impression let on ... it tends to stick with you a bit with some nagging questions — both about the details of the plot and about human nature in general.
Anyway, we had taken the new-to-me Buick Roadmaster Estate Wagon (by the way, the first fill-up later in the week let me measure the gas mileage at 17 MPG for a highway/city mix ... it's a friggin' tank.) On the way to the theater, Ali and Stacie rode in "the way back" — the two rear-facing seats; on the way to The Bug Jar (219 Monroe Ave.) we all piled into the front seat. At the Bug Jar, I got a good listen to The Mercies who I thought did some decent, energetic bar rock. We didn't pay much attention to the other bands and headed out early — getting hot dogs at Dogtown Hots (691 Monroe Ave.) once again.
Saturday I surprised Ali by visiting her at home between jobs with lunch from O'Bagelo's (165 State St.) I was even surprised at O'Bagelo's because John had made a batch of his excellent oyster-artichoke bisque that he stopped making because the expensive supply overwhelmed the rabid but inconsistent demand. That night I left Ali to job #2 and had a glass of wine at Solera Wine Bar (647 South Ave) before a few drinks at Lux Lounge (666 South Ave.) and then calling it a fairly early night.
On Sunday Ali and I got together again — the Dryden showed Harold and Maude once again, a favorite of the both of us. It's been a while that I really laughed at the movies — and a bit unnerving that it had to be one made 35 years ago and that I'd had seen dozens of times already. The story is often billed as a romance, but I think that's just tangential to the theme of living life to the fullest. Among the unique traits of the film is that the secondary characters are played bold and over the top — although only Harold's mother really overshadows the two leads — almost as if to imply that everyone is important. To quote Maude, "much of the world's sorrow comes from people who know they are this, yet let themselves be treated as that."
On an unrelated note, I stumbled on the story of Marvin Heemeyer — a man who lived in Granby, Colorado, and who used a bulldozer with homemade armor to enact revenge on the city for proving uncooperative. The gist is that he ran a muffler shop and had been using the land next door as a right-of-way to get to it until the property was sold to a concrete factory. He was essentially run out of town — the government depleted any options he had to maintain his shop. The only thing is, he didn't allow himself to get run out of town, although after his rampage, he did kill himself.
Now I stumbled on the story from a friend's website. I had also heard the story from the train ride to Amtrak (413 7th St., Glenwood Springs, CO) in 2004 — the train passes the town and I talked with some people who lived nearby when all the chaos ensued just a few months prior. At the time I only heard the media-style reports of a "madman" with a "killdozer." Given more reflection, though, here was a guy who was pushed past the end of his rope. He was getting jerked around by the government whose goal seemed to be that he should just pack up and go; they didn't believe what would happen if he flat-out refused to obey their suggestions.
So yes, I do have sympathy for his plight. A lot of it. It's the fundamental battle I see all the time: I believe government is a servant of the people, and others believe people are a servant of the government. I mean, isn't that what liberty is all about: being free to do as you please? Whenever a small group of people try to force someone to do what they don't want to do, my instinct is to side with the person being pressured. It's the same reason for my disdain of censorship.
But anyway, on Monday I ended up talking with Sondra for a few ... 4 hours. Among the things we talked about was a tangentially-related issue: that of one's responsibility to deal with others fairly. Specifically, in terms of trade. I believe strongly in the "if it seems too good to be true, it probably is." That said, I like to get a good deal, but I like much more to get a fair deal. In this world of global trade, it's important for everyone to ask, "where did this come from?" and for everyone along the way to pass that question on and get an honest answer.
The reason this whole discussion came up is because I was under the impression Heemeyer had bought the property at an auction and not checked into its history. My point was that when you buy something from an impound or foreclosure auction, it's automatically put in that questionable "may-not-be-fair" category, warranting more investigation.
Sometimes people ditch things at a loss just to get out of it. This happened to some friends when the duplex they were living in was to be dumped by the owner. It was something like the balance remaining on the mortgage was way more than the property was currently worth or could hope to be worth for many years. The owner forfeited the property, it probably went for auction at some point, and somebody probably got a house for less than its appraised value.
Other times it's not so friendly. Consider someone who gets their car impounded for outstanding fines. Even if they could eventually pay the fines, they may have no hope of paying the storage fees for the car being impounded. The car goes to an impound auction and is sold for pennies on the dollar. Now, I don't buy the "well it's their own tough luck" argument. Why does the government get to take someone's property away? It's not like the government owned it in the first place and wasn't paid for it. How is this person being served by the government by having their car stolen and sold — all legally, mind you?
So how do you get people to pay parking fines? How do you get them to pay taxes? Consider this philosophy from an alternative universe: "the services provided by the government are so efficient and essential that you pay your taxes just to avoid having something worse." Wouldn't that be a great way to live? There was a time when I found the government services to be economical, but now, I'm finding that they are absurdly expensive. My perspective has changed so now I see more: we all pay tons of taxes, but I was blind to them when they were hidden behind rent payments and invisible taxes that didn't appear as line-items on my paycheck.
Maybe I'm just growing into an old conservative, but my arguments have generally centered around the same kinds of things: the government should be a servant of the people, it should be transparent, and it should be honest. I mean, why not have line-item taxes where we only pay for things we want? If you believe in a system so strongly, keep paying for it, but don't play this game of forcing me to pay for services I despise in trade for you doing the same. While we're at it, why not formalize our socialized health care [footnote on that: want to go to the hospital for free? leave your ID home, lie about who you are, and they'll treat you anyway.] Bring everything out into the light so we can make it efficient instead of staying in denail.
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About the title ... Sir Walter Raleigh led unsuccessful attempts to colonize Virginia beginning 423 years ago in 1584.
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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