Being an Injured Superhero at the MuCCC

I read about the Injured Superhero Show at The Multi-Use Community Cultural Center (MuCCC) (142 Atlantic Ave.) and decided I to go. I have a green coat with light-up question-marks on it and I figured I could make something up if need be. (I bought the coat at a thrift store a few years back: it's a woman's raincoat that fits me perfectly and it is completely day-glo green. Naturally I couldn't resist. I added the question mark motif for Burning Man a few years ago and have used it at night there for a while. It's also been a Halloween costume, and now a superhero outfit.)

I had no idea how it was going to work, but I suspected something between an audience of passive superheroes to interactive improvisation. All I knew for sure was what the website said: "Injured Superheroes will be cast the night of the show. If you are interested in auditioning, please come in costume to [the MuCCC Theater] at 7 PM. Those injured superheroes auditioning will be admitted for free." I probably should have planned ahead more, but I arrived pretty much right at 7. I guess most people got a little instruction … maybe just for the actual theater actors. Anyhow, the way it worked was the "Baron of Bureaucracy" was interviewing injured superheroes to determine whether they should receive disability benefits, or if a new job was available. I decided I'd be the "Socratic Defender" and became disabled by being so sure of myself that I was unable to ask questions to find truth in the world.

I went up second (after Catwoman, now retired from crime, was distressed after devouring most of the village of NIMH.) I had hoped the Baron would devise a way to trick me into asking a question. In the end I accidentally did, so concluding my need for services. As the show progressed, the Baron started trying to solve people's problems.

In all, the show was a lot of fun — sort of a group-improv kind of thing that most people handled just fine. I talked with the crew afterward and I was one of a few (if not the only person) who came in "off the street." Five of us decided to go out afterward, in costume. We originally tried to find some "bar full of straights" to inflict ourselves upon, but couldn't think of something that would be attended by an unsuspecting crowd, and actually open on a Monday night. In the end we went to Lux LoungeMySpace link (666 South Ave.) Although I'm sure people noticed, few seemed to care. I think we got more looks because it was Arts and Crafts night and they may have briefly thought we had made our costumes that night. Nonetheless, it was nice to get out and meet new people once again. Hopefully a new superhero-themed show is not far off and we'll get to do it again.

638 total views, no views today

Seeing the Screenplay Reading of Nickel and Dimed

Every time I've attended, I find the Hornets' Nest series script-in-hand readings at Nextstage at Geva (75 Woodbury Blvd.) to be evocative and fascinating. Today's performance was of Nickel and Dimed by Joan Holden. It's based on Barbara Ehrenreich's book, Nickel and Dimed: On (Not) Getting By in America and continues the first-person memoir-style of the source material.

The gist is that Ehrenreich is an essayist who, in 1998 and 1999, left her comfortable upper middle-class lifestyle to try and make it as an unskilled worker in America. She did three experiments in different parts of the country; each time she attempted to find work under the best circumstances. What she found was that she was not able to hack it. The short of it is that minimum wage is not a living wage for a single person, so she was doomed to failure by attempting to both find shelter and food on those wages, succeeding only when she worked two jobs 7 days a week.

I was not particularly surprised by any anecdotal facts presented. Perhaps it was people like Ehrenreich who opened this world to me so I can say that now, or perhaps it was my own observations. Nonetheless, I wasn't "shocked" to hear that cleaning people don't know how safe the cleaning products were, or that some people innovate by living in their car at a hotel parking lot to save on housing costs, or that single mothers can'tt afford the luxury of competent child care. Through the narrative, I found myself empathizing with … er, no: pitying them.

Because I wasn't shocked, I did have a hard time understanding the perspective of Barbara (Ehrenreich's narrator character). It seemed she was constantly appalled that people didn't have luxuries that she did, or that some people had to do jobs that she found distasteful. I wondered, looking around at my fellow attendees whose demographics were dominated by 50 to 70-year-olds, if there really was others who believed like Barbara? But, as it was revealed later, only a few people among the several hundred in attendance had ever even hired cleaning staff. Apparently Barbara was not as similar to this theater's audience as expected.

Afterward, I was disappointed to realize that nothing has particularly changed in 10 years and I wondered, as always, how can I help fix this? As I mentioned in the discussion that followed, I think it's an absolute myth that people will seek the cheapest prices on everything. As it stands, I look for local goods made and sold by independently-owned small businesses using quality, responsible parts or ingredients. And, if I had a way of knowing, I'd add "with workers who all earn at least a living wage." I have weaned myself from the allure of dollar-store garbage, and now look for quality and reliability: and I'm willing to pay many times more than the cheapest version of whatever I seek. But maybe I'm as myopic as Ehrenreich — that I'm the only one out there.

And finally, despite my best efforts, I found I gravitated toward Barbara's point-of-view more than I thought. When I left, I stopped by Lux LoungeMySpace link (666 South Ave.) and I couldn't help but look at my friends in a different light. With such a diverse crowd, I know some earn enough, but others might just be scraping by on whatever work they can get. Eventually I realized what I think Ehrenreich missed: money isn't the most important thing for everyone else. Although they have their share of frustration and challenge without enough, they don't wallow in the misery Barbara expected in the play's other characters.

[P.S. Yes, this was posted on Friday after the main page was updated.  If you noticed, I can't speak to whether that makes you not crazy.]

625 total views, no views today

Another Usual Crazy Night

I decided to go out and visit Ali at Genesee Valley Park (Hawthorn Dr.) at her kickball game with The Kickball League of Rochester. The game is relatively simple and goes by fast, so I only caught a couple innings. Ali went home but I decided to go with the team to the bar. Their pick: J. D. Oxford's Pub (636 Monroe Ave.) I haven't been there in years. It wasn't bad — $4 pitchers of uninteresting domestics was a good deal — and I got to chat with some cool people on the team. Plus the team's pizza arrived really late so I decided to take Ali's share (I suspected she was very hungry.)

Afterward I was going to head to Lux but I thought I'd check out 140 Alex Bar and Grill (140 Alexander St., formerly Nasty D's) as they changed names. There were only a few people outside so I was going to skip it, but I had to stop for the intersection and ended up talking about my tall bike with them a little. One of them mentioned I should go inside because Felipe RoseMySpace link (the Native American in The Village People) was signing autographs. Well, as serendipity would have it, I had literally just listened (as in hours earlier) to a podcast of Wait Wait … Don't Tell Me! from April 10, 2010 which featured Rose as a guest. I went in and got to say hi and tell him about it. He was busy promoting a show at The Erie County Fair (5600 McKinley Pkwy., Hamburg) and was a little distracted, but thought it was kind of funny.

Then I went to Lux LoungeMySpace link (666 South Ave.) I was hanging out by the pool table for a bit when this guy comes in with one of the other new tall bikes around town! His name is Matt and he and some of his friends are working on custom bikes. Finally! It's not just me!

5,651 total views, no views today

Visiting Adam in Arlington, Virginia

I got back today off the Amtrak (320 Central Ave.) after visiting with my brother Adam in Arlington, VA. For the most part, our visit was more to see where he lives — in fact, he sent me a link to a humorous video about Arlington. We visited only one landmark: The Pentagon Memorial which is very tasteful and pleasant.

We stopped at a number of restaurants and bars. I particularly liked the salami/Gorgonzola pizza at Piola Restaurant (1550 Wilson Blvd., Arlington, VA); their drinks and desserts were also excellent. We also visited Galaxy Hut (2711 Wilson Blvd., Arlington, VA) which is a really cool bar — much like Lux LoungeMySpace link (666 South Ave.) in its casual atmosphere, outdoor patio, interesting clientele, and absence of advertising and televisions (well, except for one).

On both sides of the trip, the train stops in Manhattan and it's an hour and a half before the Rochester train leaves, so I had a chance to get lunch. I stopped at New Pizza Town II (360 7th Ave., New York) which was pretty good — nothing like a slice of ziti-topped pizza with big glops of ricotta. On the way home, I learned that Amtrak's Business Class is not worth much: the seats are a little bigger with curtains on the windows, free soft drinks, and most importantly, the car is located at one end of the train so foot traffic is minimal.

8,068 total views, no views today

Night of the Living Wedge

I had been working on a pig-head mask for quite a while, anticipating using it for a movie and for Halloween. Well, as Halloween approached, I buckled down and finished it. Since Ali and I were going to head to my cousin's wedding on Halloween night, I took the opportunity to join the Night of the Living Wedge Halloween Pub Crawl so I'd have a chance to show it off. I started a little late, so I decided to catch up with the crawl at Solera Wine BarMySpace link (647 South Ave.)

From there, we hit Lux LoungeMySpace link (666 South Ave.), The Tap and Mallet (381 Gregory St.), and The Keg (315 Gregory St., behind German House where Rohrbach's used to be) before finishing at Caverly's Pub (741 South Ave., formerly Genesee Co-op Credit Union). I was receiving great praise for my costume — partly because I had clarified what I was trying to be with the addition of some hospital-style scrubs and a "Hello, my name is" tag reading only "H1N1" … plus, the eyes would heartbeat-blink red, and I could hit a button so they'd brighten to a blaring blue-white. As it turned out, I won the darn costume contest. I spread around some holiday cheer, favoring a couple homemade costumes before heading home to pass out.

The MEETinROCHESTERMySpace link organizer snapped a picture that I'll unabashedly use here:

Jayce as H1N1 on Halloween

Jayce as H1N1 on Halloween

655 total views, no views today

Doing the Mistletoe Mingle

Ali, Christina, and I decided to do the Mistletoe Mingle pub crawl. As it turned out, it wasn't associated with Michael Warren Thomas at all — it was part of The Business Association of the South Wedge Area (BASWA) under the Savor Our Flavor moniker. We started at Little Venice Pizza (742 South Ave., formerly Skippy's) so Christina could get some food in her stomach before drinking; Ali and I had already eaten. From there we started at the north end at The South Wedge Colony Bar and Grill (503 South Ave., formerly Dashen Restaurant) I still have very lukewarm feelings about the place — it just seems so much like a poor imitation of an East Avenue bar; and as such, it wouldn't get better by being a better imitation. We got our first playing card there for the poker contest.

Next we went to Solera Wine BarMySpace link (647 South Ave.) and picked up another card and had a decent glass of wine that was on-special for the crawl. At Lux LoungeMySpace link (666 South Ave.) we figured out the card-marking scheme and devised a way to cheat — the goal was to have the best 5-card poker hand at the last of seven bars. The Beale Street Cafe (689 South Ave.) offered welcome relief as they set up their back restaurant room for the pub crawl and we got a chance to sit down and warm up for a bit. But it was short-lived as we headed for The Tap and Mallet (381 Gregory St.) a half-hour later. Although The Keg (315 Gregory St., behind German House where Rohrbach's used to be) set me up with a half-shot "shot" drink special, at least the band was amusing and there were holiday cookies and stuff.

Caverly's Pub (741 South Ave., formerly Genesee Co-op Credit Union) was our last stop and we paced our drinks well by skipping a few along the way. It turned out our cheating scheme was for naught — Ali had an honest full house which was better than we could have cheated together. Alas, someone else pulled out 5 aces that went unchecked, card-marking-wise. The way I figure it, the odds of getting 5 or more aces from 7 decks is about 399,672:1 against so, although possible, I kind of doubt it was done honestly. Regardless, we had quite a good time.

1,029 total views, no views today

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 …

852 total views, 1 views today

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.

580 total views, no views today

Bicycling with the Weekly Rochester Cruisers' Ride

Ali and I went on the weekly Cruiser's Ride this week. We've gone in the past but this is the first time I got to blog about it. Anyway, it's a group of bicyclists that starts from Dogtown Hots (691 Monroe Ave.) — they used to start at Monty's KrownMySpace link (875 Monroe Ave.) but everyone kept getting dinner at Dogtown first. We got rolling around 8:30 or so and meandered through the city streets all over the place, covering some 9 miles or so all around (I measured as best as I could remember on a map). I finally got to see The Legal Wall — although I guess it's now the "somewhat legal wall" … perhaps someone in the group wasn't confident of the concept or that something changed. In case you don't know, the principle is that the owners of buildings in this area permit and welcome artists to apply graffiti. Some of it is fantastic. Pardon me if I don't specify exactly where it is because the cops have been on a rampage shutting good things down of this ilk.

The ride "officially" terminates at Lux LoungeMySpace link (666 South Ave.) although this time, they wouldn't permit us to bring our bikes to the back yard as they had in the past. Ali and I both had custom-built bikes [by me, in case you're wondering] and she didn't want to leave them locked up in front so we went to Solera Wine BarMySpace link (647 South Ave.) with John and had a glass of wine so we could sit by them and keep an eye on them.

547 total views, 1 views today

Living vicariously

This National Novel Writing Month thing is really taking all my time. Well, not really … it's just taking up some time I had been spending mucking around with the Colorado Burning Man mailing list. So it should be a wash.

The trouble is, I'm starting to live vicariously through my characters. They're all having such a good time that I'd rather just stay home and find out what they're going to do next. Of course, it's my novel, so — surprise — they end up hanging out at a bar talking a lot. Whether it's realistic or good, I don't know, but at least I'm keeping with it.

I need 5,000 words every three days to hit the 50K by the end of the month. Ideally I'd like to be ahead by a little bit so I could take a day off, but so far I'm just barely treading water. I imagine that at some point I'll stall out and that will probably piss me off. I'm not looking forward to that.

At least I'm saving money because it's way cheaper to write about people going to clubs and drinking at a bar than it is to actually do it yourself. It's also funny how I happened to stop by Lux LoungeMySpace link (666 South Ave.) last weekend and was disappointed that it wasn't anything like the idealized place I'm writing about. But then again, I don't want to write about the reality of it all … it's the most excellent parts that are what draw me to it.

484 total views, no views today