Attending the Circulator Study Meeting by C&S

I found some time and stopped by The Kate Gleason Auditorium at The Rochester Public Library (115 South Ave.) for the presentation of a Center City Circulator Feasibility Study for Rochester by C&S Companies. They are surveying employees and full-time residents of the area inside the Inner Loop to determine if a circulator (a short, fixed transit route for moving people around a small area) is feasible. They presented the current survey results and asked for suggestions which they wrote on two large easels.

Their results indicated that they were surveying people on how they presently commuted to downtown. The vast majority (some 80%) drove alone in a car and used a parking lot. They unfortunately included Kodak so the results skew strongly toward Kodak's behaviors.

More importantly, though, they seemed genuinely mired in the car-plenty, cheap-fuel, 1960's thinking that inspired the city's infrastructure. For instance, I was met with surprise when I suggested they examine the possibility of removing automobiles from the area in the Inner Loop, serving it only through a circulator and foot-traffic, perhaps starting with a trial area. My thinking is that fuel costs and the costs associated with a car-culture are going to increase, and it would be wise to examine options that look past the status quo. It becomes a question of whether we want to be more like Denver or more like Palmyra.

Most of the suggestions from others revolved around providing free parking (so I suspect C&S's presentation to the City will strongly endorse free parking). I thought it unprofessional to watch one of the camera crews recommend that the media should be able to park with impunity without being ticketed. I'm not surprised on either front. In the first case, if you ask people what they want, they will start from what they know; it will take leadership to create a better situation that is not simply more of the past. In the second case, I have been nothing but appalled at the lack of quality in television news, and this is just more of the same.

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Playtime at the Dryden

In Jim Healy's introduction to Playtime at the Dryden Theater at George Eastman House (900 East Ave.), he could not have impressed any stronger that he truly loved it. And he was right. It's a masterpiece. (At least from what I've seen of Jacques Tati's films so far.)

The film follows Tati's charmingly bumbling Monsieur Hulot — sort-of. Hulot is only one of the characters in this film shot from the perspective of an omniscient and loving city — if a cold and dehumanizing one as well. The camera watches the trials of humans as they attempt to navigate the brutally unnatural surroundings of the city and its buildings. But as it goes (and as in Tati's other films) humanity prevails.

What was so remarkable was that every single moment of Playtime is richly and deliberately created. Even the most innocuous scene is a fractal part of the central theme.

But what I found most unusual was that when I was leaving the screening, I was struck with an uncanny sense that I had witnessed the completion of all cinema. It was as if I had walked out of every movie ever made — and felt no particular need to see another film. (And although tenacious, the feeling faded over several days, so I just might watch more movies.)

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Visiting Friends in Ithaca and Seeing That 1 Guy and Willie B. at Castaways

All the stay-up-late preparation I had been doing led up to this trip to Ithaca. I stopped by to see my old friends Sean and Kelly — so long has it been, that they have a 3-year-old kid I had never met. Nonetheless, we picked up where we left off and had a nice time catching up.

Afterward, I headed to Castaways (413 Taughannock Blvd., Ithaca) to catch the show there. The place is great to see live music. I can't think of a comparable venue in Rochester: it's laid out as one big room with the bar on one side and the stage on the other. Low ceilings and acoustic drapes keep the sound from being overwhelming. Plus, the people I met were pretty nice … I expected it out of Ithaca, realizing it was just an arbitrary opinion about the town.

Starting off the show, Willie B.MySpace link (a.k.a. Brian Wilson) played drums with some MIDI electronics. I was kind of disappointed because I thought his songs really don't go anywhere — I suspect he's better in a band such as Johnny DowdMySpace link which I really liked years ago (although I don't remember if it was this same guy on drums). Headlining was That One GuyMySpace link who was just fantastic. As I've described before, he plays a custom-made, 7-foot tall "magic pipe" which includes a guitar string and a bass string along with a bunch of buttons that control a synthesizer. As such, the gyrations necessary to play the magic pipe automatically affect a dance performance. Plus the sound is practically unclassifiable: it's cousin to jam bands, hip-hop, rock, synth-pop, and novelty acts — in degrees that vary considerably from song-to-song.

Although I didn't leave all that late, the two-hour drive won out against my stay-up-late practice and I had to pull over for a quick nap before getting home around 2:30 a.m.

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Seeing These Electric Lives, The Static Jacks, and Walri Play at Tympanogram's 1-Year Anniversary Show at the Bug Jar

I headed over to the show at The Bug JarMySpace link (219 Monroe Ave.) so I could get back in practice staying out very late for tomorrow's show. It turns out, it was the 1-year anniversary of Tympanogram blog and they arranged the show. I chatted with one of the guys doing it and he seemed nice enough — and glad the show was going great.

First up was WalriMySpace link who are a nice, harmonius rock band; "psychedelic love rock", they say. Gerry Szymanski told me to check them out, and despite numerous performances in town, this is the first time I've seen them. The Static JacksMySpace link were next and did an entertaining, animated, high-energy punk-rock show. I lent a hand to plug in a lost microphone cable and keep the show going. These Electric LivesMySpace link finished off the night with some excellent, thumping, power-pop rock. And, like The Static Jacks, I was there to try and keep the microphones connected, working, and not breaking in half (the last of which without success as the lead singer was so brutally strong and/or the mic stand was already busted.) In all, it was a fantastic show in my book.

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