Weekly Rochester Events #428: Golden Gate Strait
Thursday, March 22, 2007
Getting things started last week, I went to the Dryden Theatre at George Eastman House (900 East Ave.) to listen to David Friend lecture on the topic of his new book, Watching the World Change: The Stories Behind the Images of 9/11. He spent some time introducing the topic — refraining from showing the images from the book which would (and did) steal his thunder. He spoke about how the attacks of September 11, 2001 would be different if they happened today. One of the insightful comments he made was how technology had changed: in 2001, camera phones were rare in the United States, but imagine how different it would be if everyone in the towers were broadcasting live images of what was happening inside? Oddly, when I imagine that it makes me really recall how it felt to experience that day.
He showed a bunch of images, including the video from French videography-duo Jules Naudet and Gédéon Naudet who captured video of the first plane hitting the North tower. They were filming a documentary on a New York City fire station at the time and heard a noise overhead, pointed the camera approximately where it seemed to be heading, and caught the shocking video. David Friend continued with a sampling of images through the book — I found those that came closest to the beginning of the attacks to be the most visceral.
Afterward, only a couple people had questions. One guy asked why — as Friend is an editor at Vanity Fair — the American media decided to stop showing the people jumping from the buildings? In Canada and Europe that was the iconic imagery of the day. Friend had no real answer other than that it was too gut-wrenching. I tend to agree with the questioner: I found that I had trouble realizing there were hundreds of people on the planes and thousands inside the building — it shocks me today to see images of people jumping because it puts a human side to the story I had repressed. I mean, it really lets me put myself in their shoes and think what I would have done.
Since Ali was staying home, I had a chance to get some sushi (she doesn't like it, and yes she has tried all kinds of it and she still doesn't like it.) I had what was essentially a buy-one-get-one coupon from the Entertainment book for California Rollin' II in the Ferry Terminal (1000 N. River St.) So, I drove way up there (which was the first time I actually saw the terminal, believe it or not.) It was eerie to see evidence of a transportation service that was completely unused. Kind of like an abandoned amusement park. Anyway, the sushi up there is just as good as the Village Gate location: in my opinion, consistently good-but-not-great.
On Friday Ali and I met at India House Restaurant (7343 State Route 96, Victor) for some Indian buffet. Mmmm. Just as good as ever. That night we got together again and went to the Dryden for Jonestown: The Life and Death of People's Temple. I had also set up a MEETinROCHESTER event and Sonia showed up — I met her at the last event I attended with that group at Tapas One Seventy Seven (177 Saint Paul St.) Anyway, the movie was fascinating and terrifying. It basically outlines exactly how people get involved with a cult and how one can be formed. It's a remarkable film.
In the beginning, the multi-racial, charitable utopia it promised seemed to really be true. As the film goes on, it reveals darker elements of the whole thing. By the end, it draws from extensive newsreel footage of Senator Ryan's murder (when he went to Guyana) and audio recordings and first-person accounts of the mass suicide. One of the survivors declared that it was a mass murder — and with audio of children being pried from their mother's arms to be fed poison, I tend to believe him. It was horrific.
This got me to thinking about a couple things I've picked up over the years and have recently been trying to make into aphorisms. I mused at an early comment in the Jonestown film by one of the former members: they said that nobody sets out to join a cult ... well, practically everyone who goes jokes that Burning Man is a cult. At least from the outside it seems like one — yet it fails the aphoristic tests I'm about to lay out.
The first stems from Ayn Rand, I think even verbatim: "never let someone else think for you." This is the draw of someone like Jim Jones: somebody who professes such good things that you no longer have to assess their ideas, you can just trust everything they say to be true. Once you've done that, you've sold your soul — you're basically dead because you've shut off your ability to think and to be critical.
Next is less eloquent: "if I'm told, 'you shouldn't ask that question', I leave." Again with Jonestown, the followers noted that they were discouraged from asking questions of one another, only of Jones directly. One person said that during the relatively early lectures in churches, they questioned some of what Jones said but went along with it because it seemed like everyone else was. This applies especially to Scientology and things like "The Secret" — that new-age film and book going around. In the latter, you're discouraged from trying to figure out how the magic genie works, so don't ask, "what if I attract all the money in the world, then nobody else can have any, right?" As to the former, as far as I can tell, it's not so much about being discouraged from asking questions, it's about getting straight answers.
The final one doesn't really have any aphorism to it — at least not yet. The gist is there are things you can do in your life that are extremely beautiful (in a rational-spiritual-personal holistic kind of way) that, with a slight alteration in one seemingly tiny part, turn horrifically ugly. For instance, I think it's beautiful for someone to decide that they have no use for personal possessions so they get rid of what they own and learn to be free from them. If, say, Jim Jones, on the other hand, suggests that you give their group all your possessions, it suddenly turns into a disgusting mishmash of false-selflessness and greed. For example ... well ... see the movie.
On Saturday night, I went with Ali, Stacie, and Scott to The Füul Music Hall (37 Niagara St., Canandaigua) to check out the bands there. It's not far from where Ali lives so we threw caution to the wind and set ourselves up to walk home. Each of us drank a lot ... it's been a while since I was that drunk and I'll not likely do it again. Well, at least for a long time. Füul is a pretty good place for music and I'd recommend checking it out if there's something there you want to see.
It wasn't until Monday that I got out again. I went to Boulder Coffee Co. (100 Alexander St.) to check out the Geva Comedy Improv show there. It was comedic long-form — "The Nuclear Family" — in which several of the performers play members of a family who start out at breakfast and must be home for dinner by 6 p.m. The show really got rolling and got funny toward the middle of the first half — by then the players had a handle on the scenarios they were getting into. Hopefully they'll do this again once in a while.
Tuesday morning I was inexplicably awake early in the morning and decided to visit with The Artist Breakfast Group in the cafeteria at Bausch and Lomb (140 Stone St.) This day they had a speaker — Alan D. Singer — lead a discussion on business and art. He says he separates business and personal — some works are made for himself that he holds close whereas commercial art is commercial art. Basically, assume gallery owners behave like commodity traders.
To be honest, I'm not very concerned about that anymore.
As someone who has created things in the past, I was concerned that there was nobody there to buy my creations. Well, once again turning to Rand, I'm reminded that "need" is not automatically fulfilled. That is, if I "need" some ice cream, I can sit forever with an empty bowl and spoon and no ice cream will magically appear. The "trick", so-to-speak, is to, say, find people with too much ice cream to fill your bowl ... or maybe you could trade something — even if what you offer is only your potential, future satisfaction. For art, it's to make something people want to give you money for. Isn't that always the way to get money?: to do something that people will give you money for? [diagram that sentence, brainiac!]
Second, there is always the option of doing something I'm good at for money so I can do the things I really want to do. That way, if I make paintings, I can make ones whose colors don't match your sofa and I don't need to care.
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About the title ... The Golden Gate strait connecting the Pacific Ocean to San Francisco Bay was discovered by Sir Francis Drake 428 years ago in 1579.
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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While I'm on the topic of keywords for search engines, this update includes information for Thursday, March 22, 2007 (Thu, Mar 22, 2007, 3/22/2007, or 3/22/07) Friday, March 23, 2007 (Fri, Mar 23, 2007, 3/23/2007, or 3/23/07) Saturday, March 24, 2007 (Sat, Mar 24, 2007, 3/24/2007, or 3/24/07) Sunday, March 25, 2007 (Sun, Mar 25, 2007, 3/25/2007, or 3/25/07) Monday, March 26, 2007 (Mon, Mar 26, 2007, 3/26/2007, or 3/26/07) Tuesday, March 27, 2007 (Tue, Mar 27, 2007, 3/27/2007, or 3/27/07) and Wednesday, March 28, 2007 (Wed, Mar 28, 2007, 3/28/2007, or 3/28/07).
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