Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Silhouettes on the Shade

There’s an old song in which a guy walks by his girlfriend's house and sees, on the window shade, the silhouette of a man and woman embracing. Assuming it's his girl with another man, he reacts:

Lost control and rang your bell;
I was sore.
"Let me in or else I'll beat
Down your door!"
Then two strangers who had been
Two silhouettes on the shade
Said to my shock,
"You're on the wrong block !"
Have a listen; maybe you've heard it before.

This sentimental old relic came to mind while reading yesterday’s column in the Democrat and Chronicle by one Michael D. Connelly. Representing a group calling itself “Declaration of Peace,” Mr. Connally was among the people who occupied Randy Kuhl’s congressional district office in Fairport two weeks ago.

You can see photos of the incident and its protagonists at Rochester Indymedia. (Thanks to The Fighting 29th for bringing this link to our attention). In the photos you'll see some of the usual suspects who pop up around Rochester now and then to profess hatred for this country, most of its people and most of their values.

Now, understand that here on dear old Mustard Street we advocate pulling American troops out of Iraq. We view this war as, in the first place a mistake, and now a lost cause. Americans don't and won't support long wars. When the public doesn't support a war, this country can't win. And Americans don't support the war.

This puts us in bed, on this issue, with some of the more regrettable elements in the political culture. But our motives are very different from theirs, which are illustrated so starkly in the following photo excerpt from a July 3 D&C article.

Nevertheless, we're talking today about tactics, not motives: about how to get our government to pull out of Iraq.

Which brings us back to the stunt at the Congressman’s office.

When our fellow-travelers on the Iraq issue – International Socialists, Declaration of Peace declarers, Death For America cultists and others of like persuasion – took over Kuhl’s office to end the war, they made the same mistake as the guy in that old song.

We must tell you -- to your shock -- you were on the wrong block !

Republicans lost control of the Congress last November. Apparently while you weren't looking. Kuhl's in the minority now. His party can't do anything in the House.

Saul Alinski no doubt thought it too obvious to include in his book, but what with standards plummeting everywhere, we suppose it must be stated explicitly. So here's a new rule for radicals: When you occupy a Congressional office to force action, go to the officials with the power to act.

Today there are 162,000 American troops in Iraq, the most ever.
You occupied the wrong office. You went to the wrong address.

Here’s the right one:

Kenneth B. Keating Federal Office Building
100 State Street
Rochester, NY 14614

  • Congresswoman Louise M. Slaughter -- Room 3120

  • Senator Charles Schumer -- Room 3040

  • Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton -- Room 3280
So let's pick a date and LET'S GET IT RIGHT THIS TIME, PEOPLE. We'll do the occupation in groups: DFA will sieze Louise's office because they deserve each other. Hillary gets the International Socialists, on birds-of-a-feather grounds. Chuck, who we like most of the time, gets the Declaration of Peace people as punishment for being mean to Justice Alito.

Your crew from Rue de Moutarde will do the cooking. And of course, we'll bring the mustard.

What makes it all the more interesting is that back in March, a group organized by Declaration of Peace actually did occupy, or tried to occupy, these very offices in the Federal Building. So why are they now wasting time at Kuhl's offices in Fairport and Bath?

At the very least, the next time you take over a congressional office, try to show up at the right place.

Randy’s just a silhouette on the shade.


Monday, August 6, 2007

Go Organic at Alexander and South Clinton

Another good reason to patronize the South Wedge Farmers Market is because something like 80% of what's sold there is organically grown.

Not to take anything away from the dear old Public Market, where you'll certainly find organically-grown vegetables and fruit. You'll just have to look harder to find it. And there are plenty of reasons to visit the Public Market other than just fruit and veggies.

But it's an especially welcome aspect of the South Wedge Farmers Market that it seems to be finding a niche as the go-to spot for organic.

Check it out Thursday nights, from 4 to 8 at the corner of South Clinton and Alexander. Look for the lot behind Boulder Coffee Company.


Thursday, August 2, 2007


By the way, in checking other local blogs for news of recent weeks that we missed, there was substantial comment about the inexplicable over-coverage of the Cheesecake Factory's opening. And it turns out to have been front-page stuff, not tucked back among the restaurant reviews.

To the Mainstream Media: how about the same treatment for something original, authentic and local that you seem eager enough to give to a Cheesecake Factory, a Bucket O'Lard or a Plasto-Food Palace? Like, for example, the kickoff of the South Wedge Farmer's Market that we wrote about in June? Or something else that's going to clue in some of our suburban friends about the shops, restaurants and other venues of quality to be found in the City?

We're going to go out on a limb and just guess that the Cheesecake Factory budgeted for its own paid advertising. It didn't need more free promotion in the daily and local press.

In fairness, the D and C covered the Farmer's Market, but nothing like its coverage of CF, apparently.

Was July that slow a month for news around here?


Anywhere, U.S.A.

Catching up on things after vacation we noticed an admirable posting on Burner Trouble discussing what, at least in one important aspect, has to do with community aesthetics. As an example, Burner Trouble singles out the new Cheesecake Factory in Pittsford.

Burner's photo of the place was a little fuzzy and, besides, you really have to see a building in context to evaluate any criticism of it fairly. So we made a swing by on our way to Victor the other day, just to get a look. Our take is that BT got it right. Beyond that our take is: tacky, tacky, tacky.

Across the street there's a Wendy's, but not the Wendy's we're accustomed to seeing. Brick-faced, with a modest sign, it's an example of the obvious effort the Town's officials must have devoted, at least up to now, to maintaining a certain visual quality control over their main commercial corridor. Ditto regarding the McDonald's not too far away. In general, just from the look of things it seems that the Town of Pittsford went to some trouble to integrate new commercial construction, even big-boxes like Rite-Aid, Petco, Barnes & Noble and the big Wegman's, in a way that at least strove for a look and feel in keeping with the general aesthetic of the town. Within the limits of what can be done, it looks like they succeeded. But that Wegman's went up about 10 years ago. Looking at Cheesecake Factory, the town government either has changed its tune or was asleep at the switch on this one.
(It's outside Pittsford's Village, so it's the Town officials who are responsible.)

Communities that look nice, or in other ways have a pleasant and comfortable feel about them, are communities that above all have held on to their individuality. That's what makes them interesting. There's something different about each. And as Pittsford has proven, like so many other places (think of almost anywhere in Vermont, for example), there's nothing necessarily incompatible between retaining a town's character and having your chain stores and restaurants and chain whatever. The difference is in how it's done -- how the buildings are integrated into the visual fabric of the place.

The new Cheesecake Factory fits into this stretch of Monroe Avenue like a showgirl into a nunnery. Did the town government even try? There are two good reasons why they should have.

First, because they now have a big, bad, gaudy outpost of Anywhere, USA in what is otherwise, even for a commercial strip, a place of character. Is the new CF just a one-time slip-up? Or is it the forward brigade of the soulless, homogenized sameness that's driven local character out of so much of America?

Secondly, because maybe the Republicans, who have dominated Pittsford town government for so long, have given the Democrats, who have been lusting after Pittsford for a while now, an issue to get their foot in the door. P-town's Republican website boasts that the Town's many years of unbroken Republican government have made Pittsford "the lovely community it is today." To which Pittsford's Democrats can now respond: "Not lately, you haven't!"