Weekly Rochester Events #289: Those Riotous English
Thursday, July 22, 2004This past week was packed with lots of goings-out, I guess I'll just jump in and blog through it. Er ... I mean slog through it.
Early evening last Thursday was a meeting to explain the process for selling the The Rochester Psychiatric Center Terrance Building (Elmwood Ave. at Azalea Rd.) Jack Kinnicutt of Empire State Development (ESD) was the primary presenter and explained that the property belongs to the New York State Office of Mental Health and that one of the functions of ESD is as a corporation that sells state-owned property into private ownership. It's pretty obvious that the state would benefit from the sale of the property—Mr. Kinnicutt said their objectives were to reduce maintenance costs, enhance commerce, and to provide local control of property. There are 2 parcels being sold: 27.5 acres around and including the The Rochester Psychiatric Center Terrance Building (Elmwood Ave. at Azalea Rd.) and 15 acres at the southern end of the property off South Avenue by the Rochester Science Park (Science Pkwy.). The parcels are being sold "as-is" which is exactly like it sounds: what you see is what you get. The use of land will be dictated by local zoning which is currently designated "Educational/Institutional." Mr. Kinnicutt added that they evaluate a prospective buyer by their bid amount, their financial status, their adherance to rules, and any prior performance with the state. The group has no role in the use of the property once it is sold, but the buyer will obviously need to abide by zoning rules and any other local laws.
The residents in attendance were cynical and suspicious of the sale. At one point, Mr. Kinnicutt, obviously frustrated with the mood of the questions said, "I don't think government is going to act against the will of the people," which met with a round of laughter.
The residents are responding to what they see as classic government/corporate behavior. They see the government selling a tract of commercially valuable property to the highest bidder. The new owner will then railroad through some zoning change through a mix of bribes (perhaps included in the dollar amount of the bid) and threats (most likely something about the cost of renovation being so high that they need tax breaks, zoning changes, etc.) without any regard for the opinion of the people. Then, a Super WalMart (or Wegmans) will be in place and nobody will have any way to stop it.
The government, on the other hand, feel they are balancing between the interests of the corporations and the interests of the individual. They do what they can. A group like Empire State Development issues a press release (or several) indicating their intention to sell a property, they take bids, and select the best bidder based not only on bid amount but also on financial status, their adherance to rules, and any prior performance with the state. They leave it to the buyer to understand they will be restricted by area laws and zoning. Any zoning hearings are conducted publicly, ensuring the views of the individuals are heard.
In a way both sides are correct. Government relies on an infrastructure of rules that ensures fairness based on numerous individual factors, but the most tenuous assumption is that the public—the individuals in a community—will be aware of the announcment, and will be willing to come to a public forum to express their opinion. The part that has been changing is the press.
Remember local news? I mean, remember when the local press would seek out press releases of local interest and publish them? The news has become such a business that editorial decision making revolves more around keeping profits at a level acceptable to corporate ownership than it does around what is important for the people to know. I mean, imagine if the front page of the paper included information on the meeting I attended before it happened. Heck, government officials often go out of their way to make it easy for the public—the meeting on Thursday was at 7 p.m., and both Jack Kinnicutt and New York State Assemblymember Susan John (of the 131st Assembly District) were essentially at work at that hour just so people could attend. Thankfully their efforts weren't in vain as there were about 50 people in attendance.
And just so I'm not the independent press calling the corporate press ineffective (but more than willing to butcher an elegant colloquialism to the point it's nearly unrecognizable) I should mention that there's a follow-up meeting on August 9 to discuss influencing the design elements of any new property developed there. It will most likely be held at St. Anne Church (1600 Mt. Hope Ave.) again but that hasn't been made official yet.
On a related topic, I made it to see Out-Foxed at The Rochester Visual Studies Workshop (31 Prince St.) The movie was distributed on DVD by MoveOn.org and was projected onto a screen mounted on the wall with a video projector. To be honest, I don't think I've watched any of FOX News since the election in 2000. In the past year, I even steered away from all American news networks entirely in favor of the news on BBC America which at least gives me a glimpse as to what's going on in the whole world, and they don't have graphics sprawled all over the screen to distract me from the story-at-hand.
So anyway, I went in there pretty uninformed. I figured there would be a detailed discussion of how certain phrases yield a subtle bias presented in their news, but what I found was that FOX is blatant about mixing opinion and fact, then implying—no—stating point blank that they are representing a "fair and balanced" position. Unfortunately it wasn't clear from the film which clips were from an opinion show and which were from the actual newscast ... but maybe that was the point: that I couldn't tell. The documentary also digs behind-the-scenes to show an organization that encourages bias in favor of Rupert Murdoch's extremely conservative opinions strongly in favor of the Republican party. For instance, commentators are in the habit of showing the number of days until election day and saying things like, "264 days until George Bush is elected again."
One of the most offensive segments revolved around clips from The O'Reilly Factor hosted by Bill O'Reilly in an interview with Jeremy Glick whose father died in the attacks of September 11, 2001 (and, curiously, who shares a name with one of the passengers on Flight 93 of that same day—the one which was brought down by the passengers in Pennsylvania.) It appears that O'Reilly brought Glick on to further fan the flames of war, but Glick opposes the war in its current form. You can read a transcript of the original interview here at oreilly-sucks.com and also here at bushpresident2004.com ... take your pick.
In the end, it left me depressed that most of America believes what is said on FOX News as fact. They are all on board with the idea that we should blow the fuck out of everyone in the Middle East—indiscriminately and without remorse. *sigh* I sometimes have faith in humanity but it's poor decision-making like this that really kicks me in the head.
Ok, ok, so I did get to go out to other stuff too.
On Thursday night I got to see the new band Tiger Cried Beef at The Bug Jar (219 Monroe Ave.) who are somewhat like an ideal 1980's rock band. Since they're new, it'll be a while before they solidify their sound and really hit their stride, but for now they were pretty darn good.
On Friday I saw Nowthen perform in the atrium by The Bop Shop (274 N. Goodman St., in Village Gate Square) In their first couple of songs, they reminded me of a 1970's light rock band—kind of a mix of folk and rock with some "Summer of Love" groove thrown in. They had a few tricks, though, and did an interesting experimental intro into a 1970's synth-style ballad. It came off a little too disjointed for my tastes, and I headed to Monty's Krown (875 Monroe Ave.)
The first band up was The Dovers who are a 2-piece-plus-vocals 1960's-style rock band (with some '60's covers.) Similarly, St. Phillip's Escalator does more 1960's-style rock wiah a late '60'/early '70's glam-rock vibe. Naturally, The Priests finished off the evening with their surf-rock influenced punk-rock.
I skipped Saturday altogether (and you heard about Sunday.) On Monday I went to George Eastman House (900 East Ave.) to see July '64, the documentary about the racially-instigated riots in Rochester in the titular year. Unfortunately, the show sold out so I'm left with watching it on WXXI (UHF channel 21, cable channel 11) Saturday, July 24 at 8 p.m. along with everyone else who missed out. On Tuesday I was much luckier with movies. I went back to George Eastman House to see Privilege along with about five other people—total (I wonder if they've ever shown a film to an empty theater?) It's too bad this is one of the films not released on video that the Dryden is showing this month because this was probably your only chance to see it.
The film was made in 1967 as a mock documentary about Britain "in the near future" where government, corporations, and the church are united to quell dissent among the youth through the use of a popular music star. Superficially I found it amusing that the writers had predicted the creation of both "emo" and Christian rock many years in advance. On a deeper level, the film walks the viewer through the process of how absolute conformity leads to a horrific world based on blind faith.
From there I went to The Bug Jar (219 Monroe Ave.) and got to see Bugs Eat Books who are this bright power-pop band, albeit without a synthesizer. GAD was also there but I was catching up with some friends I haven't seen in years so I missed out. The last band was Bamboozle and they do this ska/reggae music with rock and rap thrown in which although initially sounds interesting, it really loses its punch after several similarly structured songs.
I guess I'm into another week of wild abandon already ...
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Internet Movie Database
On this day ... July 22
Store at CafePress
Buy some JayceLand junk at sky high prices!
Rochester Music Coalition
Rochester Goes Out (D&C)
Rochester Punk Rock
WGMC Jazz Calendar
Kids Out and About
Movie links courtesy The Internet Movie Database. Map links courtesy MapsOnUs. Some movie synopses courtesy UpcomingMovies.com
About the title ... The English "Riot Act" was made law 289 years ago in 1715. It made it a felony for 12 or more people to unlawfully assemble and refuse to disperse.
This page is Jason Olshefsky's list of things to do in Rochester, NY and the surrounding region (including Monroe County and occasionally the Western New York region) from Thursday, July 22, 2004 thru Wednesday, July 28, 2004.
It is updated every week with daily listings for entertainment, activities, performances, movies, music, bands, comedy, improv, poetry, storytelling, theater, plays, and generally fun things to do.
The musical styles listed can include 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.
Copyright © 2004 Jason Olshefsky. All rights reserved.