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.
“I want to be as candid as I can be without losing my job,” Eric Shaw stated with frank humor as he began his talk “Planning, Institution Building, and Long-Term Recovery in the State of Louisiana,” which he delivered to a packed audience in Lewis auditorium last Friday afternoon. The young, Harvard-educated hired gun brought in from previous urban planning positions in D.C., Miami and Silicon Valley, he was in the unique position of a technocrat who was running not to be elected to public office, but rather to create a new public office. Still, he had to carefully negotiate paying lip service to the stance of disinterested academic expertise while playing kiss-up to the interests of his political superiors.
The horror … the horror. Lo and behold, famed director and screenwriter Francis Ford Coppola has laid an egg: he calls it Tetro. Carrying the tagline “Every family has a secret,” Tetro is Coppola’s second “amateur-again” film after Youth Without Youth. Tetro is Coppola giving himself second chance, his personal spurning of Hollywood and its fakeness, unoriginality … one could give Hollywood a bad name a thousand times over. At age 70, Coppola has left living room legends Apocalypse Now and The Godfather trilogy behind him, and has purposely regressed his budget with the intention of rediscovering what it is that made him apply to L.A. film school.
This summer marked the 40th anniversary of the Woodstock Music and Art Fair, considered a pinnacle event in American popular culture and the latter half of the 20th century. The festival was billed as three days of peace and music, and featured numerous musical groups from Jefferson Airplane and The Who to Jimi Hendrix, CCR and Sly and the Family Stone, all of whom — amidst rain and upstate New York’s humid summer weather — played to 500,000 people on a 600 acre field. No concert like it had ever been attempted, and the name Woodstock to this day is synonymous with the 1960s, hippies and the Flower Generation, as well as a lofty bar for live music events and culture-changing phenomena involving massive numbers of young people.
Ah, the political biopic: so much opportunity, so much risk.
On the one hand, stories about the powerful offer us a chance to glimpse into the more glorious and grotesque aspects of the human soul — the determination, the fortitude, the vanity (there’s a reason Shakespeare wrote about Hamlet and Henry IV). On the flip side, these films necessarily address matters of public interest — and public record. Tell the tale poorly, and everyone will know.
Some of you may remember my column last Friday when I waxed eloquent about the myriad of musical big-wigs who are en route to our humble town. You may also recall that included in that extra-ordinary line-up were two bands known respectively as The Hold Steady and Deer Tick, and that I gave a shout out to man-of-the-hour Dan Smalls, founder of Dan Smalls Presents, Inc. Well, this weekend, Dan Small Presents … the Positive Jam. Drawing a blank? Please, allow me to explain.
At first listen, the hot-off-the-press new album by Municipal Waste is same old, same old. The band knows their ’80s crossover revival is a huge hit with modern fans of hardcore punk mixed with thrash metal at intensely high speeds for insanely short song lengths. Crossover is a dying art, and the Waste deliver their hardest to keep it alive. Listening to them is like shot-gunning a two-liter of Monster Java through the nose.
Miike Snow, yes with two i’s, is the next band to add to the list of amazing things that have come from Sweden, following past Scandanavian pop groups like the Shout Out Louds and Those Dancing Days. The lead single off of Miike Snow’s debut album, “Animal,” was my song of summer although it’s not a summer song at all, making the feat all the more impressive. Specifying a proper season to listen to this song is about as impossible as explaining it’s lyrics, which boast lines like “I change shapes just to hide in this place, but I’m still, I’m still an animal.” The whole album for that matter is seasonless.
Finding multi-talented individuals at Cornell may seem like an easy feat, but the kind of musical talent and finesse that characterizes Juliana Richer Daily ’10 comes as a quite a surprise. A jack of all trades, Juliana spends her time either in the studio working on various design projects prescribed by her design and environmental analysis major, hanging out at her sorority, playing lacrosse, taking photos for the yearbook or writing and performing songs on her guitar. These songs have found their way onto YouTube at Juliana’s personal site (www.youtube.com/julianaeveryday) and found fans both here in Ithaca as well as across the country. These songs have also been and continue to be performed regularly at The Nines’ open mic night on Sundays.
The Dangerous Maybes at
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 http://www.myspace.com/thedangerousmaybes. Cover is $5 and the band goes on at 10 p.m.
J-San and the Analogue Sons at
413 Taughannock Blvd.