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.
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.
Tonight at The Montage Live Music Hall (50 Chestnut St., formerly the Montage Grille) is Strangest Angels, and The Highway Lights starting around 10 p.m.
band calendar][all ages]
Thoughful spoken word poetry over avant-garde ambient music from Urknee and Bjürton, NPV, The Noes, and noise-based loops and haunting voices from City Harvest Black will be at The House of Hamez (389 Gregory St., formerly Daily Perks) starting around 8 p.m.
House of Hamez website][all ages]
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."
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.
Dryden Theater calendar][all ages]
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."
Dryden Theater calendar][all ages]
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
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).
indicates an event that's a preferred pick of the day ... probably something worth checking out.
indicates a "guaranteed" best bet for the particular genre of the indicated event.
links to a band's page on GarageBand.com which offers reviews and information about bands.
links to a band's page on MySpace.com which is a friend-networking site that is popular with bands.