Ithaca Heartbeats

Here’s the thing about falling in love with a city: it’s all about the complexity. The richness of a place lets the relationship linger and grow over time — people are myriad and varied, the food varieties are endless, the music is always bumpin’.
Sunday was the second of two days of co-sponsored events brought about by Dan Smalls Presents and funded by Ithaca Beer Co. While Brew Fest is widely lauded — if upstate New York constitutes “widely” — Positive Jam is an event that has yet to grow to full maturity. Although it’s less attended and less publicized, I felt on Sunday that I was at the beginning of something big whose potential had not yet been realized.

Local Music Update

The Dangerous Maybes at
The Nines

311 College Ave.

Tonight: The Dangerous Maybes, a band from Binghamton, whose feisty indie sound is shockingly good, will be playing at the Nines in Collegetown. Why haven’t you heard of these guys yet? Check out local talent at a local venue — The Dangerous Maybe’s vocalist frontman Sean Cummings has a swooning voice reminiscent of Ted Leo as well as more vintage talents like Nick Drake. Find their music online at Cover is $5 and the band goes on at 10 p.m.

J-San and the Analogue Sons at

413 Taughannock Blvd.

Turning a Blind Eye in Exchange for Big-Budget Architecture

For a long time, architecture wooed me with tales of utopia and romance; I believed that skyscrapers, steel girders and curtain walls would herald positive change in the world. The legacies of the most famous architects include visions of perfection – Frank Lloyd Wright’s Broadacre City, Le Corbusier’s Plan Voisin Pour Paris. But the reality of modern architecture is a far cry from these visions. Recently, the industry’s most famous superstars – Frank Gehry, Jean Nouvel, Zaha Hadid and others – have been called out as enablers of slavery.

Heartbreak, Hipsters and Harmony

Despite the fact that The Pains of Being Pure at Heart seemed to have picked their name in a fit of emo melancholy, their music isn’t superficial — it’s actually pretty awesome. The Brooklyn trio, who will be playing at Risley Hall on Saturday, have been lauded across the music blogosphere for being the next hot thing. They’ve been compared to so many bands (My Bloody Valentine, The Smiths, The Verve, Jesus and Mary Chain, etc.) that you might worry that they’ve got little heart of their own. Is this a band that — as the all-holy Pitchfork Media seems to suggest — might have picked the right influences and cruised on that success?

A Gag Order on Race in Architecture

Race is a painfully awkward topic in architecture, while culture remains the go-to book for, uh, copying. David Adjaye, the Ghanian architect born in Tanzania, said in an interview with New York Magazine in 2007, “If a Japanese architect talks about Shintoism, everyone goes, ‘Wow.’ If an African architect talks about an African village, it is somehow weird in the Western context. I find that hilarious. What’s the difference?” Adjaye, a prodigiously talented architect who last week won the Smithsonian commission to design the National Museum of African American History and Culture, is unfortunately a good example of how uncomfortable the architectural discourse is with race.

Architects Have a "Field" Day

There is a question that plagues architects: “Is the building in the drawing or the built work?” Since much of architecture happens on paper and in scale models, architects have had to confront the issue of scale again and again. Architecture students rarely build their assignments in life-scale, rather opting for more wieldy sizes. A handful of professional architects are as famous for their works on paper as they are for their built works — Lebbeus Woods, notably, as well as L.A.-based firm Morphosis.

Loving College: Hip-Hop Artist Asher Roth Relives Past as Slope Day Opener

Asher Roth, suburban hip-hop artist of the Internet-sensation “I Love College,” will be the opening act at this year’s Slope Day on Friday, May 1. The Slope Day Programming Board’s executive board made an official announcement at today’s Student Assembly meeting following the leaked release yesterday that the Pussycat Dolls will be Slope Day’s headlining act.
Born in Morrisville, Pa., Roth defies many of the genre’s stereotypes. In past interviews, Roth suggested that while growing up in the suburbs, he enjoyed hip-hop but couldn’t relate to its most notable topics.
“Damn, I don’t sell coke. Damn, I don’t have cars or 25-inch rims. I don’t have guns,” Roth told Vibe Magazine in 2008.

Skimming the Surface

I spent the warm week of spring break in Ithaca, lounging around in shorts and reading trashy best-sellers. Having read some positive reviews of the book The Commoner, by John Burnham Schwartz (Vintage Contemporaries, 2009), I decided to armchair travel to the royal compound in Japan.

Slope Day and Starchitects

My final review is on Slope Day. This is a sad, dictatorial, anti-alcoholic, anti-joy allegory for the way that architecture isolates itself from the larger University. Rand is an island on the Arts Quad, into which no one ever enters or leaves. The AAP administration’s decision to completely ignore Slope Day — which is the joyous celebration of spring that the other colleges readily indulge in — is a perfect example of how architecture chooses over and over again to isolate itself. And let me take that one scale up: it is also a metaphor for the way American architecture has completely retreated into an ivory tower and academia. In this ivory tower, there are no T.I. songs and 30 racks of Keystone.

A Fresh Look at a Politically Charged Country

Considering the smorgasbord of violent photos from war zones that have been the keystone of coverage in Iraq lately, Chase Wilson’s exhibit in the Tjaden Experimental gallery, Coordinates, is a welcome change. Rather than the horrific sequences of torture that were shown prolifically in the media these past years, Wilson’s explorations of Iraq seem to provoke thought and question without heavy-handed imagery. Wilson ’12 is a freshman art major; his works, at first impression and further consideration, seem extremely mature and developed. Coordinates is a series of three paintings and one sculpture. The three paintings depict aerial views of various sites in Iraq: Baghdad, outside Al-Fallujah and Samarra.