This week, daze had a chance to sit down with Eric Aceto, an instrument builder and member of the popular Ithaca-based band Mectapus.

daze: When and how did you get into building instruments?

Eric Aceto: It was in the very early '70s, 1970 and '71. I was attending art school and I wanted to put the music and art together. I had played music my whole life and then I got into building basic instruments. I had done a lot of repair work and work on friends' instruments. And later, when I got into it more, I started constructing instruments more in a bigger way.

D: When did you build your first electric fiddle?

EA: That was in 1974, early on.

D: So many accomplished musicians use your instruments. Who are you most proud to build for?

EA: Wow. Well, probably Darol Anger [fiddle player who has performed with David Grisman, String Cheese Incident, and others]. He's a great player and he's been a great supporter of the whole project.

D: If, for whatever reason, you could no longer be either a musician or an instrument-maker, which would you choose?

EA: You know, it's not like that for me. I guess part of being a Gemini is that dual nature. They really go hand in hand. Plus, I began building violins because I was playing violin and looking for a certain sound. I really don't separate those two at all.

D: Do certain musical styles and approaches influence the design of your instruments?

EA: Well, certainly the instrument we're most interested in building is an amplified instrument, so yes. The reason I came to it is because I'm into acoustic music, and acoustic instruments. I'm trying to translate that feel, and that timbre, to an amplified situation, and it's been tough over the years but I'm feeling pretty good about it.

D: You certainly should. Roughly, how long does it take you to build a single instrument?

EA: Well, it's not just me. My partner Dan Hoffman has a huge amount to do with it. We pretty much work on each instrument together. Dan does all the plate carving, and what's called the corpus, so he's working the plates and the garling and the voicing of the air chamber and everything. And then I work more on the neck, the setup, the feel, and the peg-head carving. All the electric work and that stuff. So, we really both work on them and not just one instrument at a time. Different things are in different stages of development. But we can deliver a violin, right now, in about 10 weeks.

D: After all that, does the whole trend of rock stars smashing their instruments on stage make you cringe?

EA: Are they doing that again? Oh no. See, I've never wanted to smash an instrument, even in my most frustrated moments on stage. Why? I've never understood it.

D: Anything new in store with Ti Ti Chickapea [a folk trio consisting of Hank Roberts on cello, Richie Stearns on banjo and tenor guitar, and Eric on violin and guitar]?

EA: Yeah, right now we're working on album with Kevin Kinsella [lead singer and guitarist of reggae outfit John Brown's Body]. We're doing a bunch of Kevin's material, and that's been really fun. And we're hoping to do some gigging with that kind of group. It's tough working around Richie's schedule [he's now on tour with roots-rock group Donna the Buffalo] and Kevin'd been on the road quite a bit with John Brown's. But we're going to try to do a more scaled back, amplified acoustic thing. It's been really fun working with Kevin. He's such a beautiful guy.

D: Will we ever see more from Mectapus [an eclectic and notorious local band with which Eric played violin, mandolin, and guitar] in the future?

EA: Yeah. Definitely. Joe [Palermo, Mectapus drummer and professor of history and English at Cornell] took a gig out at the University of Santa Cruz. So he's not here during the year, but he may still teach here at Cornell during the summer. And we've talked about doing the acoustic thing with just hand percussion.

I actually got a chance to play with my dream band at the Rongo not too long ago. It was Mike Cerza [of Mectapus] on percussion, Joe on drums, my brother Harry on upright bass, and Mich

November 23, 2015

Black Students United Demands to Administrators Leaked Onto Reddit Forum

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A confidential letter detailing the demands issued by Black Students United to President Elizabeth Garrett and Ryan Lombardi, vice president for student and campus life, was leaked Saturday on a Cornell subreddit.

The subreddit, titled “Cornell University Black Students United demands from secret meeting with President Garrett,” includes a scanned copy of the letter. The description of the post reads, “The Cornell Community has a right to know and debate, before decisions are made.”

The letter makes a series of demands, insisting that the administration rename the Cornell Plantations and create mandatory coursework for all students on systems of power and privilege, “centering [on] the voices of oppressed people,” among others. The letter was delivered to the Office of the President at the end of a silent march to Day Hall on Nov. 17.

“While Cornell touts its compositional diversity, the campus environment is not conducive to the overall success of of students of color,” the letter reads.

The demands listen in the letter are divided into six categories — curriculum, compositional diversity, mental and physical health and wellness, governance, support service and symbols.

The letter also demands the creation of Latino Studies, American Indian Studies and Asian-American studies majors and an increase in black faculty, administrators and staff.

“The University can make no claim to have achieved an ideal compositional diversity when its faculty and administrators continue to be overwhelmingly white,” the letter says.

The letter also stressed the need for more diversity in the staff of Gannett Health Services, requesting the hiring of more psychologists and psychiatrists of color.

“People of color historically have a reason to mistrust professionals,” the letter states. “We believe that there should be qualified psychologist and psychiatrists of color that can sufficiently address the way that racism affects the mental and emotional health and well-being of black students at a predominately white institution.”

The letter also requested standing appointments with Garrett to continue to grapple with the issues students of color face at Cornell.

The letter shown on the forum appears to have a stamp on the top right corner that says “Received November 17, 2015 Office of the President,” suggesting that the letter was leaked after it was delivered to Garrett’s office.

Samari Gilbert ’17, a member of BSU, confirmed in an email that the leaked letter was the one delivered to Garrett. However, she denied that any “secret meeting” took place, as indicated in the title of the Reddit post.

Gilbert did say, however, that the image of the stamp has lead some to believe that the letter was leaked by someone in the administration.

“In terms of the confidentiality of the document, it has been distributed to a variety of campus leaders, administrators and our general body,” she said. “While the leaking of the document is not really an issue, it is problematic that the document on Scribd appears to be a leak by an administrator.”

Renee Alexander ’74, associate dean and director of intercultural programs, student and academic services and advisor to BSU, said the leak illustrates how quickly information can travel over the internet.

“We live in an age where information travels,” she said. “I don’t know how that letter traveled, but … in this age of information being shared and at the push of a button, who knows whose hands that letter might’ve gone through inside the administration.”

The letter of demands has not been well received by some Reddit users, drawing criticism from a host of anonymous commenters.

“These demands are ridiculous and exemplify the intellectual fairness and freedom of universities being assaulted by fear mongering activists,” said Reddit user gat45.

John Carberry, senior director of media relations, confirmed in a statement that all documents delivered to the President’s office are stamped.  He also said a response to the letter will be released soon.

“All documents submitted as communications to the President’s Office are stamped for our records, and to insure they are handled in a timely manner,” he said. “President Garrett, vice president Lombardi and the University’s senior leadership are reviewing the letter from Black Students United and expect to reply early this week.”

  • George

    The absurdity never ceases. I am shocked there is not a demand to cancel exams for all POC since they have been so traumatized by events of the last few weeks.

    • Obama ’16 — Repeal the 22nd

      I’m surprised POC didn’t request to be excused on ALL tests because testing is “white” and education is “white” therefore POC should all be given degrees, promoted to top management positions, and get to be angry about it THE WHOLE TIME.

      • Room101

        Why can’t “POC” just check off a box on a standardized form guaranteeing them a PhD from Cornell in the field of their choice?
        For maybe 2 bucks, as long as the Federal government subsidizes it.

        Racist-Americans/white people will pay their full freight and endure years of harangues by the university and State and Federal governments about how evil they are and then go tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars into debt and finally figure out years later under crushing debt how stupid they were that they can’t get a government job.

        • Batista

          Do you really want to work for the government. You would be surrounded by Union employees who feel entitled to get paid 70% more than what private tax payers get paid, while doing a fraction of the work, and being protected from getting fired for being incompetent. Also if you cannot check of a box as some type of victim class, you will get passed over for promotion by those who work less and are less qualified.

    • Angry

      You’re incorrectly generalizing all POC. What about us POC who don’t want anything to do with the BSU?

      You can at least separate us into two classes; those who want to contribute to society and those who want to play the victim.

  • Abe ’14

    I’ll be thrilled if the administration leaked the letter. These students should be embarrassed. Mandatory courses on systems of power and privilege. So ridiculous. How about mandatory courses on the beneficiaries of affirmative action?

    • Room101

      Your last sentence is apostasy! Heresy! Blasphemy!

      Cornell will cave like the others, guaranteed. Who in the real world would hire politicized graduate idiots from such a ridiculous institution?
      Cornell is finished.

  • Aisha

    They should have done their homework. There is a Latino Studies Program at Cornell AND a Latin American Studies Program. Are these the demands? We need competent faculty not faculty hired because of their skin color. These so-called advocates for diversity, I haven’t seen them at diversity events. Where were they when there was a talk to honor Ali MAzrui who was the icon of multiculturalism (there were only 10 in attendance, mostly faculty from other institutions). I do not see them advocating for anything, Bring back Our Girls -mostly white students, clubs that focus on third world development issues, – mostly white students,. And when there are courses on black issues, they dominate with their complaints and raised voices making other students unable to speak out. Competence and skills will win the day. I do admire them for their ingenuity in finding simple things to be aggrieved about. Cornell Plantations, really?

    • Recent Alum ’15

      Latina/o Studies Program does not offer a major; Along with AASP and AIP, it isn’t a full-fledged department…

      • Dr. Necessitor

        And Latino Studies shouldn’t be a department because the ROI on ethnic studies degrees is disgraceful. Think about it. When ethnic studies professors are forced to change the definition of fundamental words like “racism” to support their “scholarship”, they’ve already lost every argument.

        • Recent Alum ’15

          How are they changing the definition of racism? What do you think that definition is?

  • SixthAmendment

    I’ll personally be very upset if any of the demands are agreed to.

  • Nick

    Poor President Garrett. Probably wouldn’t have taken the job if she knew this would happen in the first months. She hasn’t been there long enough to have ignored anyone yet.

  • Embarassed

    As an alum & person of color, from one of the lowest income brackets while in school, this is embarrassing. The BSU doesn’t(didn’t) represent me and what I want. This is embarassing for those students who do not agree because they can’t hide the color of their skin.

    We need to be clear that success isn’t guaranteed by getting their list of demands met. It looks like these students are creating excuses and distractions of their own in the event they don’t achieve success.

    You are attending one of the most prestigious universities in the WORLD. How about we judge faculty for their ability to teach and research instead of what they look like?

    • Ward

      Very well said.
      All boats should and can be lifted up at Cornell … regardless of the color of the boat.
      Would be great to see all students stand together and work on issues that make the WORLD a better place … not simply your own little piece of it.

    • Concerned Parent

      I love you.

      • Dr. Necessitor


    • Room101

      Cornell isn’t a low-cost institution but the cost doesn’t, or at least shouldn’t confer legitimacy of a degree coming from it.

      Cornell is just another failed university.

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  • Dr. Necessitor

    “The letter makes a series of demands, insisting that the administration … create mandatory coursework for all students on systems of power and privilege, ‘centering [on] the voices of oppressed people,'”

    Absolutely not. Ethnic and women’s studies push a single narrative meant to inculcate students in their twisted orthodoxies, not to educate them in a meaningful way. Such biased and ideologically driven courses should NOT be made mandatory for all students or school staff.

  • Batista

    The letter was leaked? Why would the letter be secret in the first place? Does the fact that this group wants to coerce others to do as told or face punishment and expulsion for not doing as told by the master even come up on their radar as being exactly the type of action they claim they suffer from? Shame they do not recognize they are not oppressed, but just spoiled brats.

  • Cornell Alum 1983

    The standard playbook that is now being replicated on many (soon to be most) university campuses.

    1. Make allegations of institutional and systematic racism by said university.

    2. Overblow, create or fake incidents that support the view that racism in said university is rampant.

    3. Insist the threshold for injury suffered by minority students is not something tangible and debatable but merely the offended emotions of the minority community which can’t be rationally debated – hence stifling any debate if there is rampant discrimination and racism resulting in actual adverse impacts (other than emotions and feelings).

    4. Insist any person disagreeing with the assessment that there is institutional racism does so because of privilege and that that person therefore is not entitled to an opinion.

    5. List demands that seek to a) frame the debate in a perpetrator and victim fashion, b) have the alleged perpetrator (the university, white male students) acknowledge their guilt, c) insist that as an atonement for said guilt that power be relinquished by the university and transferred to the student “movement”, d) insist than any dissenting opinions be punished by the university and that those dissenters be coercively “re-educated” in Maoist fashion.

    Wash, rinse, repeat. With every subsequent university movement seeking to outdo the prior.

    • Pleased

      Simply amazing. Well said.

    • Batista

      There is an entire cottage industry on failed academics that push this agenda so they can line up cushy jobs teaching the “diversity” classes the group is seeking to force us to pay for; since they cannot make it real academia. Sad.

    • Room101

      Excellent and succinct synopsis.

      The overall aim of most universities and other government institutions in the West is to destroy civilization where they can wherever civilization presently exists and to prevent the emergence of same after they win their war against human survival.

  • Angry Alum

    This is pathetic. It’s reverse discrimination at its best and also a blatant attack on the free speech of everybody else – if anybody dares to stand up to BSU then this group of hijacking morons will be the first ones to pull out the race card and destroy their character. Absolutely pathetic.

    • Room101

      According to all the university and government bean-counter-Race Theorists all wrapped-up in racial theories and concentrating on the color of peoples’ skins 24/7, there’s no such thing as “Race”.
      We’re all supposedly of the same human family, say the anthropologists.
      “Race” is only real to the professors and bureaucrats when they can calumnize and pillory so-called People-of-Privilege/white people, or what they categorize as run-of-the-mill racists.

  • Room101

    It’s absolutely wonderful to see Leftism tearing itself and its institutions to pieces.
    What sane person would send their child to a brick-and-mortar center of political indoctrination and spend boat-loads of money to do so only to have their formerly easy-going and intelligent child graduate as a hate-filled anti-civilization Leftist prone to sympathize with ISIS?

    • Batista

      If you raised your kid correctly and taught them to think for themselves and not follow the herd still a great place to go. They need to learn how to navigate and deal with the PC garbage that controls many Corporations and government operations.

  • Cornell Alum

    A list that ranges from the somewhat reasonable to absolutely absurd. Rename the Cornell Plantations? Who sees the word “plantation” and becomes so distressed they can no longer operate on campus? Create mandatory coursework for all students on systems of power and privilege? Why should a biologist or mathematician or actuary need such education?

    Will be monitoring Garrett’s and Cornell’s response closely.

    • Abe ’14

      What falls under “reasonable”?

      • Cornell Alum

        I would say requests to continue a dialog with Garrett is reasonable. Certainly a more productive course of action than what, for example, the protesters at Yale did with the Christakises.

        Asking for more mental health resources is reasonable, though the fact it’s hedged in language regarding how “racism affects the mental and emotional health and well-being of black students at a predominately white institution” is ridiculous. Like I said, who sees something like the “plantation” and descends into fits?

    • Ivy Privy

      Rename the plantations? Sure. But why stop there? I’m surprised they didn’t also demand the renaming of Ho Plaza. And in the interest of Asian-American students they should rename Slope Day.

  • pissed Alum

    If any of these demands are met, then I will certainly never donate to Cornell again and make sure to steer colleagues away from hiring here in the future. Until people in power admit that political correctness and identity politics is to the left what extreme Evangelical Christianity and xenophobia is to the right, I simply can no longer support the place Cornell seems to be becoming. I know I won’t be back for my masters if they try to slip in any “systems of power and privilege” bullshit.

    • Angry

      I’m sure you will make a tremendous dent in the several hundred thousand population of Cornell Alumni.

  • Batista

    A few hundred letters to Garrett that so long as these thugs are entertained you will not donate and that you will actively contact classmates to stop them from donating may be what is needed to stop the pandering.

    • Angry

      You should quit while you’re ahead. You made some good points earlier, but you’re not productively contributing to the issue here.

  • Are You Serious

    The stupidity never ceases. Thank goodness I’m graduating this year. I’ll be laughing my backside off when these spoiled whiny babies try pulling this crap off with their employers and just end up getting fired.

  • Angry

    As a POC who chooses not to associate with the BSU, I demand they change their name to something more generic. The current name assumes they represent all people of color(and it offends me). They are a “union” that convened simply because they have the same color skin, not because they have other things in common.

    They should change their name to something more generic; Random Sample of Black Students United Based On Color And Not Character (RSBSUBOCNC) has a nice ring to it.

  • Batista

    Well said. There are whites that are racist, those do not represent the majority of whites. There are blacks who are racist, they do not represent most blacks. Unfortunately idiots and evil people come in all colors, as do true victims. Only when everyone Judges and associates with others based upon the person, and not the color of the skin, will this nonsense stop. BSU needs to learn their philosophy is and fosters more racism, rather than ends racism.

  • William Alguire

    As a formerly proud alumnus of CU, I encourage all alumni to cease any financial contributions to the University until President Garrett publicly acknowledges that Cornell will continue its long and proud history of treating all students equally and will not be swayed by a few students who are utterly detached from reality.

  • Answers1

    People of goodwill will always want to help those who request it, but not in an atmosphere of ridiculous demands, accusations, animosity, and secrecy. The administration should agree to keep the conversation going and use this situation to teach and to instruct…but not to pander, posture, or politicize, especially in secret. None of that will work for these kids when they get into the real world.

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