Burlesque for Bail and Other Debauchery

Ali and I walked over to The Mez (389 Gregory St., formerly House of Hamez and Daily Perks) to check out Burlesque for Bail, the benefit show to raise money for bail for Unconventional Action protesters of the upcoming political conventions. The show was pretty fun although it was basically some musical acts and Burlesque-styled striptease.

At one point, one of the guys involved in the show asked for people's opinions of things around town and around the nation. Although the new police cameras brought loud jeering, I heard a lot of quiet support for them. In a later discussion with Ali and her friend, I tried arguing it logically, but I was frustrated: without any factual information, I was unable to do anything but an emotional appeal.

Although I said I choose freedom over safety, I think it's more that I choose freedom over inaccurate accounts of safety. I guess the working theory is that the cameras prevent criminal activity. The first flaw in that statement is that no police action prevents crime: police can only catch criminals after a crime has been committed.

But if I give credence at all to the crime-prevention theory, it's that criminals do not want to get caught so they will not commit crime where they will get caught. As such, the cameras cause crime to move away from the cameras. In other words, if it were possible to locate crimes before and after the cameras, my theory is that the crime rate would stay relatively steady but that fewer crimes would be committed in range of the cameras.

So in the end, I argue that it doesn't reduce crime at all.

On the other side of the coin, the cameras can be used to break up protests. For instance, if an anti-war protest were held (or even a Critical Mass Bike Ride or any group of different-enough looking people for that matter), the cameras can be used to record the identities of the attendees and round them up later. Although protesting is not a crime, protesters I've met in this jingoistic, militarized country tend to be quite paranoid. As such, they behave like the criminals and would want to move protests away from the cameras. Unfortunately, protests are necessarily in those areas, as the cameras were placed where people tend to congregate — a protest is worthless if nobody is there to see it.

Thus, in my mind, the cameras prevent no crime and disrupt freedom and are therefore a bad thing.

Everyone who supports the camera believes that they do prevent crime and that they are overall a benefit — and why should they not?, for I can offer no hard evidence. So I think that what I should do is to test their theory. I'll go hang out in front of the cameras with, say, a laptop computer. If the cameras do prevent crime, then I'll go home after a couple hours. If they don't, then there's a chance I'd be robbed.

I suspect that wouldn't be sufficient — for if I were robbed, I might witness a demand for more cameras — after all, if one camera failed to prevent a crime, then perhaps two will work better, and I really don't want to see that. So I'll just fight the robber and hopefully get killed in the process. Then, either I'll be a martyr to the cause of freedom, or things will get worse but I won't have to deal with it.

I'll probably do it after Burning Man though because I kind of want to go to that first.

Anyhow, back to Saturday night …

Ali and I headed to The Tap and Mallet (381 Gregory St.) for a beer. She got her head set that we'd get Mark's plates at the end of the evening, and that would require some serious drinking. We had some wine at Solera Wine BarMySpace link (647 South Ave.) then headed across to Lux LoungeMySpace link (666 South Ave.) where we ran into some friends. We spent the bulk of the evening and four of us went to Mark's Texas Hots (487 Monroe Ave.) I discovered what may be the most awesome plate ever: rather than burgers or hots, I got two over-easy eggs. Damn that was a great plate. I think that it might be improved with the addition of brown gravy (or "gravies" as the kids say) … and just possibly — and I say this only as an experiment to try, not to blaspheme — without the meat sauce, onions, and mustard.

Perhaps next time, then …

Breaking Away at the Dryden

Ali and I biked to the Dryden Theater at George Eastman House (900 East Ave.) to see Breaking Away. A lot of people took advantage of their "promotion" to get $4 tickets if you rode a bike — after all, the film is about bicycling and the dreams of one guy to ride competitively.

Neither of us had seen the film before but we both enjoyed it a lot.  It's kind of funny, really — that the movie can be such a standard story of the underdogs triumphing, yet also come across refreshing and inspirational. Perhaps it's because the characters are so fully formed. More often than not, the characters are written from the perspective of a solitary writer, and as such, they end up being pretty closely aligned in personality. Of course, the college kids were pretty one-dimensional, but it was, after all, the story of the town kids more than anything.

Vanishing Point at the Dryden

Although it was a double feature, I decided to go late to see just Vanishing Point at Dryden Theater at George Eastman House (900 East Ave.). On the surface, it was a simple tale of a guy running from the law in a fast car. But my take on it was that the guy — Kowalski — represented freedom itself. Super Soul — the black, blind DJ — seems to recognize this, and even spells it right out.

I found Kowalski's encounters on the road to be one-dimensional allegories where you can just substitute "freedom" for "Kowalski":

  • At every turn, the law is out to stop freedom.
  • The hippie couple gets along with freedom.
  • Racists try to stop Super Soul from talking about freedom.
  • The gay couple tries to rob freedom — perhaps out of desperation.
  • Freedom goes all over the desert.
  • The religious group sees freedom only as a malicious stranger.
  • When the law finally wins, freedom dies.

Sondra's Visit and a Tour of Rochester Bars

My best friend Sondra stopped in for the weekend (after [and before] highly annoying air travel). She was in town to wrap up things with her old house in Palmyra but we got to go out and hit the town. We started at my house then decided to change the scenery. I started out with Abeline Bar and Lounge (153 Liberty Pole Wy., formerly Tara) just in case it opened early, but it doesn't. So we decided to hit our old haunt, Monty's KrownMySpace link (875 Monroe Ave.) Surprisingly it was closed — now this is … er … was no ordinary bar. I recall seeing people having beers out on the sidewalk as early as noon some days … typically more like 2 or 3 p.m. though. On this day, they were completely closed. As a substitution, we tried Monty's Korner (355 East Ave.) but it was closed too. Same with Mex (295 Alexander St.) We gave up and stopped by Ali's to say hi before heading to The Distillery (1142 Mount Hope Ave.) which — being a restaurant as well — was certainly going to be open, and indeed it was.

We had a couple margaritas and caught up with stuff as we often do (except over the phone usually). Next stop was Solera Wine BarMySpace link (647 South Ave.) where we met up with Ali. The three of us split a couple bottles of wine and two of their delicious cheese boards. It was getting late by then and we tried Betty Meyer's Bullwinkle Café (622 Lake Ave., a.k.a. "Bullwinkle's") but it was closed — as rumors go, I'm pretty sure it's done. [I'll have to stop by Betty's house at some point — which is coincidentally not far from where I live — and find out the deal.] So we headed back to The Flat Iron CaféMySpace link (561 State St.) but it wasn't open yet — and by now it was closing in on 11 p.m. As a consolation, we checked out this ultimate dive of a country music bar called Sandra's Saloon (276 Smith St.) As places like this go, the bartender and owner was a kind woman and the patrons kept to their own. It was actually quite nice, and the band was really good, too.

To wrap things up, we stopped by Abeline Bar and Lounge (153 Liberty Pole Wy., formerly Tara). This time it was open, and by now the band had finished. We chatted with the bartender a bit and tried their absinthe. Alas, it was more like a licorice liquor than absinthe — flavor-wise it was pretty close to what we'd had in the past, but mild-hallucination wise, not so much.

Sondra had to get up early to make her flight: as in, leave the house at 4:30 a.m. So we said our goodbyes before crashing at my house. In a tale for another day, she did eventually make it back to Colorado.

Welcoming Myself to the 21st Century

Thank you all for sharing my "coming out" with me. No, no I am not leaving Jay for some cute girl, so back off ladies. I have finally given in and purchased my first computer, an Apple Laptop. I'm not sure what triggered the need, it may have to do with the fact it was raining today so the Apple Store at the Mall sounded like a good idea. The salesperson Julie was so fantastic that I ended up walking out with an iPod Shuffle, printer, warranty, and One on One classes on how to use it all! I have to say I am pretty excited but I wish I could have gotten it in Blue. And I am pretty sure Jay is excited too, wow a new computer to monkey with. This will now enable me to be a foreign correspondent for Jayceland. Jason has agreed to fly me all over the world for stories. I hope I serve you all very well.

Fantastic Planet at the Dryden

I also went to the Dryden Theater at George Eastman House (900 East Ave.) to see La planète sauvage (Fantastic Planet). The woman who gave the introductory presentation was new-to-me — she was young, and I believe attending The University of Rochester. Among the other tidbits about the film, she mentioned that it was an allegory to the way the USSR treated its satellite states. I was surprised to find this caused me to try and make direct comparisons for the first 20 minutes or so, at which point I finally freed myself of that thought and could just absorb it as a work of art — and do the analysis later.

Anyway, it was amazing. It's an animated work of speculative fiction about these two species of intelligent beings: the Om are small and human-like and are treated like pets by the Dragg: the more advanced, 8-times larger, blue bipeds. Wild (that is, not domesticated) Om learn from the Dragg and become more adept, even learning to read the language. I was struck by the attention to detail (two examples: the doll-like clothing the Dragg make domesticated Om wear, and the debate between wild Om where each one ties himself to a vicious creature and the two fight until one Om is killed) and the lack of explanation (i.e. no attempt is made to explain how anything works, and no attempt is made to identify this world's relation to our own world — not in deep space, nor a tiny sub-world). My only disappointment was how abruptly the film concludes.

I thought it also interesting to note that the film is French, and the central character is a domesticated Om named Terr (both in French and subtitled): "Om" is a homophone for "homme", the French word for "man" and "Terr" is a homophone for "terre", the French word for Earth. I suspect the film would have been far more campy if it were about a Man named Earth instead.

Little Venice, Solera, Lux, Method Lab, and Clark Conde's photography

I took a little tour of South Wedge and got pizza from Little Venice Pizza (742 South Ave., formerly Skippy's) which I ate at Solera Wine BarMySpace link (647 South Ave.) with a glass of wine. I stopped by Lux LoungeMySpace link (666 South Ave.) for a bit and hung out with some friends before heading to The Method Lab (650 South Ave.) Photographer Clark Condé's work was on display. It's really good stuff: evocative and slightly abstract — and large, which always helps if all else fails.

Camping at Stony Brook State Park

After the parade, Ali and I got lunch at Mac's Philly Steaks (76 South Main St., Canandaigua). It's a decent place and — with my only slightly trained taste — felt that their cheese-steak sandwiches were quite authentic. It was definitely a good start before we headed out to Stony Brook State Park (10820 State Route 36, Dansville) to go camping.

The first thing we noted was there were several signs declaring that no alcohol was permitted in the park. This was not mentioned earlier and we intended on having a *ahem* good time, so our cooler was filled with quite a bit of beer and wine coolers. As such, we said nothing and quietly circumvented the rule by using cups and keeping it inside the tent. It was only because the park was minimally staffed that we — and some significant percentage of other campers (10% to 75% would be my guess) — were able to imbibe.

I imagine the rule was created to allow rangers to eject "rowdy" campers. However, it's really just a way to circumvent the inherent unfairness of a subjectively applied rule like "no alcohol abuse". The personal prejudices of a park ranger would directly come into play — perhaps as innocent as permitting attractive young women to "keep it quiet" or as sinister as searching the camps of black people for illegal contraband.

I end up stuck at a crossroads about it all. On the one hand, I think it's important to allow a certain subjective leeway in interpreting the law — after all, it's part of the checks and balances devised in the Constitution. But on the other hand, I want law itself to be, well, law — such that it defines the boundaries of permissible behavior.

As it stands now, it appears that determining which laws are "Law" and which are "suggestions" is a collectively agreed-upon and largely arbitrary process — molesting children?: no way; talking on your cell phone while driving?: only if you won't get caught. It goes back to what I said before: laws are entirely voluntary. Personal behavior is not defined by law, but it often correlates because laws — in my opinion — should codify only universally unacceptable behaviors. A tall order indeed — and in all likelihood, too tall to actually accomplish.

All I'm saying is that laws should either be all absolute or all suggestions but not an arbitrary mix.

Anyway … where was I. Oh yeah, camping.

So Ali and I got set up pretty well and spent the first day kind of lounging around. Well, that's what we did most of the rest of the time too. We did go on a hike around the rim of the gorge … a long, tiring hike indeed.

We also swam in the man-made, stream-fed pool. It was a clever dam structure in the gorge to offer a swimming area that included a kiddie section and another section that went as deep as 8 feet. It was very cold — around 60°F. I had been in the water already so I was prepared but Ali was quite shocked by it. I found that I could get used to it, though. It was also quite nice that, despite the silt in the water, there was no chlorine so it left you feeling nice and fresh.

We also spent a lot of time exploring the gorge — another illegal activity that a large contingent of park visitors freely violated [thank goodness for funding cuts so there were no rangers to kick us out!]. I particularly liked the larger waterfalls, one of which included a deep section you could jump into from a short rock ledge, and another had a blast of cool water that you could let pound on your back like a friggin' 200 gallon-per-minute massage. The stream varied in width and flow-rate, depending on whether it had cut through depths of the slate bed. Some of the deeper troughs had enough flow and were smooth enough that you could use them like a water slide. The rough patches in the slate bottoms were enough to rub holes in my 20-year-old swimsuit, though.

We left the campground once to get ice cream at The Stony Brook Farm Market (10895 State Route 36, Dansville) — a nice excursion in the middle of the weekend. Ali had accidentally booked through Monday so we got to stay late on Sunday. The place cleared out right at 11 a.m. — check-out time — leaving us with just a half-dozen other camps in sight; much different from the fully-booked state over the weekend. We got back in the afternoon on Sunday and tried getting back into the swing of things with limited success.

The Canandaigua Independence Day Parade

Our friends Scott and Don from Wick-edly Sent (94 S. Main St., Canandaigua) invited Ali and me to bring our custom bikes to ride in the Canandaigua Independence Day Parade. We were part of The Canandaigua Merchants Association's entry in the parade — their theme was "Go Green!" with five of us on bikes. The other three bikes were custom cruisers loaned from RV & E Bike and Skate (168 South Main St., Canandaigua). A couple people on foot handed out brochures. Two of the little girls carried the sign tethered between them, and the other two handed out penny candy to the crowd.

Now, I've never been in a parade, but it sure was a lot of fun. There were several thousand people lined up along Main Street and we waved to them, smiled, said hello, and otherwise had a great time.