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Weekly Rochester Events #473 Starting Thursday, January 31, 2008

Friday, January 25th, 2008

Seeing Strange Culture and Steve Kurtz at the Dryden
by Jason Olshefsky at 8:00 pm (add a comment)

Ali and I headed to the Dryden Theatre at George Eastman House (900 East Ave.) to see Strange Culture. The movie is a haunting mid-process reenactment/documentary of what has been happening to Steven Kurtz.

Steve is an art professor at SUNY Buffalo (17 Capen Hall, Amherst, NY) and a member of a group called The Critical Art Ensemble. He was working on several projects with his wife, Hope when in May, 2004, she died in her sleep. Steve didn't know what to do so he called 911. When police arrived, they saw the petri dishes of bacteria cultures they were preparing for one of the art exhibits and called in the FBI. Steve was detained for 22 hours and questioned under suspicion of bioterrorism (but not actually arrested — just illegally detained). His wife's body was taken away and the local coroner ruled her death a heart attack caused by a rare congenital condition. The FBI then took her body and did another autopsy coming to the same conclusion.

So when they were unable to bring him up on charges of bioterrorism, the Department of Justice has filed mail fraud and wire fraud charges against him and a scientist (Robert Ferrell) he worked with to obtain the bacteria samples (which are harmless, by the way, and readily available through the Internet). Steve was not able to bring up details of the case but a woman he'd been working with (I can't seem to find her name anywhere) was able to fill in details Steve was not permitted to.

Basically mail and wire fraud is a civil case — one brought by one party against another when they feel defrauded. The Department of Justice is trying to expand their power by bring it to trial as a criminal case: although neither party involved with the transfer of the bacteria feels defrauded, the Department of Justice is charging both parties with willfully violating the implicit contract between them.

Oh yeah, so anyway: the movie. They used a mix of actors performing reenactments and actual participants discussing the facts of the case. Since the outcome isn't yet determined — Steve has not yet gone to trial — as a documentary, it has a, well, "special" feel to it. Ordinarily you'd expect a documentary to be released after the fact; to put a nice bow at the end of the story to say what happened. Well this one didn't. And as such it's rather unique to leave that huge story arc just dangling off the end of the film.

I asked about whether Steve knew that this particular art project would make people so upset — as an artist, I think there's some desire to have an impact, but rarely is it true that jack-booted thugs really do kick down your door. He said they were working on several projects not mentioned in the movie. One of them was about germ warfare (and what the samples were largely for) to help people understand just how ineffective it really is. I mean, if you look at the facts of the anthrax scare from 2001, 17 people got infected and 5 people died — and this was military-grade antrhax. It's a crappy weapon, yet we're conditioned by our government to cower from it — remember all about sealing up a room with plastic and duct tape in case of an attack?

I cannot begin to express how disappointed I am at the United States Government and the people who blindly support it. It's stupefying to me to believe that a few innocent people need to be used as scapegoats so that our laws are stronger??? It is beyond logic and beyond hope to me.

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Monday, January 28th, 2008

Back of the Throat at Geva Nextstage
by Jason Olshefsky at 7:00 pm (add a comment)

Ali and I went to Nextstage at Geva (75 Woodbury Blvd.) to see the first screenplay reading of The Hornets' Nest series: Back of the Throat by Yussef el Guindi. In it, a man of Middle-Eastern descent (Khaled) is being questioned by two federal agents (Bartlett and Carl) shortly after September 11, 2001. The agents are not charging Khaled with any particular crime and Khaled — an American citizen — is glad to help in any way he can until the agents start to become suspicious.

Popular media teaches us that police officers know who's guilty and they just need to shake out the right information to catch the crooks. In reality, they are not nearly as prescient as a scriptwriter. When the illusion of prescience is lost, the whole process of open-ended interrogation works only to blur the difference between the innocent and the guilty rather than to help define it.

Regardless of whether Khaled is innocent or guilty, as the questioning continues, he appears defensive which looks both like innocence and like guilt. So as a tool for divining the innocent from the guilty, this is a particularly poor one. Worse, though, is that the agents become more confident in their belief that Khaled is guilty, so they press further, and the more defensive he becomes, the more they feel he's guilty and uncooperative.

In some ways I find the script-in-hand readings more powerful than a performance. When an action or object is described briefly in words, it has a naturally ambiguous realization — whereas in an actual performance, the actions and objects are all specific, concrete examples. So in a case like this, the ambiguity echoed and amplified the overall effect, making for a very disturbing reading.

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Top Pick Updated: Today from 12 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. at Medley Centre (N. Goodman St. and Medley Centre Pkwy., formerly Irondequoit Mall) is a Public Inspection of New Voting Machines in room C-201 (use north Entrance #1). [source: Rochester Turning]

This afternoon from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. at George Eastman House (900 East Ave.) is Community Outreach Education Night, related to the exhibition Not Forgotten: Portraits of Life and Death in Rochester. [source: Eastman House calendar] [all ages]

JayceLand Pick At 5:15 p.m. in Kate Gleason Auditorium at The Rochester Public Library (115 South Ave.) is a Thursday Thinkers lecture featuring Chuck Lyons discussing The French Invasion of the Seneca Nation: A Seventeenth Century Pre-Emptive Strike. [source: Rochester Public Library calendar] [all ages]

Tonight at Kilbourn Hall at Eastman Theatre (60 Gibbs St.) is The Eastman Wind Ensemble starting at 8 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 The Big Heat and Human Desire starting at 8 p.m. A double-feature of film noir! [source: Dryden Theater calendar] [all ages]

JayceLand Pick Very good metal from SulacoMySpace link, and ConiferMySpace link (although Freetime Magazine lists high quality heavy metal band Kalibas [misspelled, I might add] in place of Sulaco) will be at Monty's KrownMySpace link (875 Monroe Ave.) starting around 10:30 p.m. [source: Monty's Krown MySpace page] [21+]

Tonight and every Thursday at 6:30 p.m. in the Learning Center at Brighton Memorial Library (2300 Elmwood Ave.) is a meeting of The Rochester Movie Makers Club [source: Rochester Film Lab Yahoo! Group]

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


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There's a "Seconds" Sale at Genesee Pottery at The Genesee Center for the Arts (713 Monroe Ave.) today and tomorrow starting at 11 a.m. [source: Genesee Center for the Arts calendar]

Today from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. at The Image City Photography Gallery (722 University Ave.) is the opening reception for Postcards from Bosnia by Michael Murray which will be on display through February 24. [source: Image City Photography Gallery e-mail]

Tonight from 6 p.m. to 10 p.m. at The Rochester Contemporary Art Gallery (137 East Ave.) is the opening of works by Michael Rogers and Jack Wax which will be on display through April 6, along with the opening of Tanya Smolinsky's Meditations: A Series of Drawings in the LAB Space (on display through February 24). Rogers and Wax will be available for an Artists' Talk tomorrow at 1 p.m. [source: Rochester Contemporary calendar] [all ages]

Today at Spot Coffee (200 East Ave.) from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. is an I Heart Handmade "cozy indie craft fair" with works from Second Storie}. [source: Gay Alliance website] [all ages]

JayceLand Pick This evening from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. at The Rochester Visual Studies Workshop (31 Prince St.) is an invitational photography exhibition titled Festival of 24 Things. Works will be on display through February 29. [source: Visual Studies Workshop calendar] [all ages]

Tonight at The Club at Water Street (204 N. Water St.) is CamelotMySpace link, Scarletta, and From the Shadows starting around 7 p.m. [source: Water Street calendar] [13+]

The Baobab Cultural Center (728 University Ave., formerly on Gregory St.) will be featuring the opening of an art exhibit featuring works by Dunstan Luke and selected works from the Icons of Jazz collection of Angela Rossi starting at 7 p.m. [source: Baobab website]

JayceLand Pick Over at The House of Hamez (389 Gregory St., formerly Daily Perks) starting around 8 p.m. is Gypsy Dave and the StumpjumpersGarageBand linkMySpace link, and The Varnish CooksMySpace link. [source: House of Hamez website] [all ages]

JayceLand Pick Today at 8 p.m. at Boulder Coffee Co.MySpace link (100 Alexander St.) is the Anniversary Party for The Hungness School Of Music (161 Norris Dr., above Sound Source) featuring performances by Brannon Hungness, NevergreenMySpace link, Mike Fyler and The Macro MeltdownMySpace link, and Joe Fox-Boyd. [source: Craigslist Rochester events] [all ages]

JayceLand Pick The Dryden Theater at George Eastman House (900 East Ave.) will be showing Battling Butler starting at 8 p.m. with a new orchestral score performed live by The BQE Project along with the animated Felix the Cat short Sure-Locked Homes. [source: Dryden Theater calendar] [all ages]

Tonight at The Montage Live Music HallMySpace link (50 Chestnut St., formerly the Montage Grille) is Strangest AngelsMySpace link, and The Highway LightsMySpace link starting around 10 p.m. [source: band calendar] [all ages]


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Groundhog Day

JayceLand Pick Thoughful spoken word poetry over avant-garde ambient music from Urknee and BjürtonMySpace link, NPVMySpace link, The Noes, and noise-based loops and haunting voices from City Harvest BlackMySpace link will be at The House of Hamez (389 Gregory St., formerly Daily Perks) starting around 8 p.m. [source: House of Hamez website] [all ages]

The Dryden Theater at George Eastman House (900 East Ave.) will be showing Rocco e i suoi fratelli (Rocco and His Brothers) starting at 8 p.m. Two brothers clash over a prostitute and drive a family apart ... I gather it's all about the way the story's told on screen that makes it so captivating. [source: Dryden Theater calendar] [all ages]

Over at The Bug Jar (219 Monroe Ave.) starting around 10:30 p.m. is Blood Bath and Beyond, and slower and cleaner-sounding metal from Orodruin. [source: Bug Jar calendar] [21+]

JayceLand Pick Good punk-rock band The EmersonsGarageBand link will be at Monty's KrownMySpace link (875 Monroe Ave.) starting around 10:30 p.m. [source: Freetime] [21+]

Betty's Sing-a-Long is regularly scheduled at Betty Meyer's Bullwinkle Café (622 Lake Ave., a.k.a. "Bullwinkle's") starting around 10 but since September, 2007 people have reported they were closed.


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This afternoon at 3 p.m. at The Memorial Art Gallery (500 University Ave., near Goodman St.) is a lecture by Janet Catherine Berlo on American Quilts as American History: The Lives and Works of Five Quilters. [source: Memorial Art Gallery calendar] [all ages]

JayceLand Pick This afternoon at 5 p.m. at The Lyndon R. Huttemann Salon and Day Spa (214 Empire Blvd.), The Lobster Quadrille are shooting a video for their song "Cora Livinia's Cotillion". They're looking for extras "dressed for a turn of the century cotillion". From Solomon's e-mail, "men should wear dark suits, brush their bowlers, and wax their mustaches; ladies should bust out the lace, frills, corsets, and bustles! Snap on the watch chain, button up your waistcoat, dig out your grandpappy's cuff links, dust off your spats...help us set the scene for a kooky/spooky gathering of rogues, rakes, bon vivants, strumpets, and n'er-do-wells." [source: band e-mail]

Top Pick The Dryden Theater at George Eastman House (900 East Ave.) will be showing Dead Man starting at 7 p.m. An accountant moves to the wild west for a job, accidentally kills the son of the local tycoon, and stays on the run from bounty hunters. My friend Sondra told me about this a few months ago and said I had to see it and she usually recommends worthwhile movies. [source: Dryden Theater calendar] [all ages]


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Photographer Michael Murray will be at The Image City Photography Gallery (722 University Ave.) tonight at 7 p.m. for an Artist Talk about his show, Postcards from Bosnia. [source: Image City Photography Gallery e-mail]

JayceLand Pick Tonight at 8 p.m. at Writers and Books (740 University Ave.) is the 2 Pages/2 Characters Playwriting Contest Winners Reading. [source: Writers and Books calendar] [all ages]

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]


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This morning at 7:30 a.m. in the cafeteria overlooking the arboretum in Bausch and Lomb (140 Stone St.) is the Artists Breakfast Group meeting ... anyone interested in art or creativity is invited.

JayceLand Pick Today from 12:12 p.m. to 12:52 p.m. in Gleason Auditorium at The Rochester Public Library (115 South Ave.) is — you guessed it — another Tuesday Topics lecture. Today's topic is Polling and the 2008 Elections as presented by Jonathan W. Siegel. [source: Rochester Public Library calendar] [all ages]

JayceLand Pick The Dryden Theater at George Eastman House (900 East Ave.) will be showing The Gravy Train (a.k.a. The Dion Brothers) starting at 8 p.m. in which a couple brothers "descend upon society from Appalachia, determined to start a crime wave that will support their dream of opening a seafood restaurant. Quirky to say the least, this immensely likable (and unjustly forgotten) '70s action comedy was recently re-discovered and championed by Quentin Tarantino." [source: Dryden Theater calendar] [all ages]

The Bug Jar (219 Monroe Ave.) will be hosting The U.S. BombsMySpace link, Far From FinishedMySpace link, good and gimmicky heavy metal from BlüdwülfMySpace link, and punk-rock/hard-rock from The UV RaysGarageBand linkMySpace link starting around 9:30 p.m. [source: Bug Jar calendar]

Dinosaur Bar-B-Que (99 Court St.) will be hosting RedLine Zydeco starting around 10 p.m. [source: Dinosaur Bar-B-Que calendar]


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JayceLand Pick The Dryden Theater at George Eastman House (900 East Ave.) will be showing Permanent Vacation starting at 8 p.m. This is Jim Jarmusch's NYU master's thesis project: the story of a 16-year-old drifter in Manhattan. [source: Dryden Theater calendar] [all ages]

Over at Monty's KrownMySpace link (875 Monroe Ave.) starting around 8 p.m. is ScythianMySpace link. [source: the proverbial grapevine] [21+]

JayceLand Pick Tonight at The Bug Jar (219 Monroe Ave.) is good, long, hard rock from J. G. BlizaroMySpace link, good, heavy rock band Trees Are DownMySpace link, and great, simple, melodic synth-and-vocals from Roger HoustonMySpace link starting around 10:30 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]

Every Wednesday starting at Monty's KrownMySpace link (875 Monroe Ave.) at 7 p.m. is the Rochester Cruisers Ride for bicyclists. [source: RocBike website]

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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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. I also tend to express opinions, review past events, make reviews, speak of philosophy or of a philosophical nature, discuss humanity and creativity. 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, January 31, 2008 (Thu, Jan 31, 2008, 1/31/2008, or 1/31/08) Friday, February 1, 2008 (Fri, Feb 1, 2008, 2/1/2008, or 2/1/08) Saturday, February 2, 2008 (Sat, Feb 2, 2008, 2/2/2008, or 2/2/08) Sunday, February 3, 2008 (Sun, Feb 3, 2008, 2/3/2008, or 2/3/08) Monday, February 4, 2008 (Mon, Feb 4, 2008, 2/4/2008, or 2/4/08) Tuesday, February 5, 2008 (Tue, Feb 5, 2008, 2/5/2008, or 2/5/08) and Wednesday, February 6, 2008 (Wed, Feb 6, 2008, 2/6/2008, or 2/6/08).


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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