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Y ear in Review
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VOL.XLI / NO. 20 / January 6, 2021 Serving 47,125 readers week ly
A Year In Review���������������������������� 3 2020 has finally left us
The lights at Ithaca College (Photo Charles Harrington)
NE W S & OPINION Personal Health����������������������������������� 10 Sports���������������������������������������������������������16
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ON T HE WE B Visit our website at www.ithaca.com for more news, arts, sports and photos. Call us at 607-277-7000 T a n n e r H a r d i n g , M a n a g i n g E d i t o r , x 224 E d i t o r @ I t h a c aTi m e s . c o m J a i m e C o n e , E d i t o r , x 232 SouthReporter@flcn.org C a s e y M a r t i n , S ta f f P h o t o g r a p h e r P h o t o g r a p h e r @ I t h a c aTi m e s . c o m C h r i s I b e r t , C a l e n d a r E d i t o r , x 217 A r t s @ I t h a c aTi m e s . c o m A n d r e w S u l l i v a n , S p o r t s E d i t o r , x 227 Sports@flcn.org Steve L awrence, Spo rts Co lumnist St e v e S p o r t sD u d e @ g m a i l .co m M a r s h a l l H o p k i n s , P r o d u c t i o n D i r ec t o r / D es i g n e r , x 216 P r o d u c t i o n @ I t h a c aTi m e s . c o m L i s a B i n g a m a n , A cc o u n t R ep r ese n ta t i v e , x 218 l i s a @ I t h a c aTi m e s . c o m T o n i C r o u ch , x 211 A d m i n i s t r a t i o n Sharon Davis, Distribution J i m B i l i n s k i , P u b l i s h e r , x 210 j b i l i n s k i @ I t h a c aTi m e s . c o m L a r r y H o ch b e r g e r , A ss o c i a t e P u b l i s h e r , x 214 l a r r y@ I t h a c aTi m e s . c o m
Y E A R
F r e e l a n c e r s : Barbara Adams, Rick Blaisell, Steve Burke, Deirdre Cunningham, Jane Dieckmann, Amber Donofrio, Karen Gadiel, Charley Githler, Linda B. Glaser, Warren Greenwood, Ross Haarstad, Peggy Haine, Gay Huddle, Austin Lamb, Steve Lawrence, Marjorie Olds, Lori Sonken, Henry Stark, Dave Sit, Bryan VanCampen, and Arthur Whitman
R E V I E W :
2020 has finally left us
ell, 2020 has come to an end. A year in which murder hornets were but a speck of seafoam in relentless crashing waves of despair, tragedy, and downright bad luck. A year in which the word unprecedented was said an unprecedented number of times. A year in which we gained curbside pickup and a collection of face masks, and the word Zoom became a noun, verb and adjective all in one. But above all, 2020 was a year of loss. A loss of human connection. A loss of in-person events. A loss of business. A
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By Ta n n e r Ha rd i ng huge loss of life. But if there’s one thing we can take away from this dumpster fire of a year, it’s that we find a way. From Zoom happy hours to virtual concerts and shows, we’ve proved to be nothing if not adaptable. When George Floyd was murdered in Minneapolis, protesters donned their masks and took to the streets, are still taking to the streets, in objection to police brutality against Black people. As millions of people around the world contracted COVID-19, scientists took to the labs
and created not one, but two vaccines in record time. And as the world shut down and people began working from home, essential workers put on their PPE and heroically headed to the frontlines. I think I speak for all of us when I say good riddance, 2020. And while I don’t want to jinx us, let’s welcome 2021 and all its potential with open arms. Now, let’s take a look back at the year from Ithaca’s perspective.
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INQUIRING PHOTOGRAPHER By C a se y Mar tin
USING ONLY ONE WORD, HOW WOULD YOU DESCRIBE THE YEAR 2020?
“Gross.” -Gary K.
“Trying.” -Lena W, Shyee M & Annabel P.
“Chaotic” -Cryus W.
“Mess.” -Gabriel H.
“Lonely.” -Jade B.
Ithac a Times
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JANUARY Leslie Danks Burke announced her candidacy for State Senate, taking on incumbent Sen. Tom O’Mara in the race. She had run twice before, losing to O’Mara for his seat in the Senate in 2016 and to Nate Shinagwa during the Democratic primary for the House of Representatives seat for New York’s 23rd district in 2012. The city was also dealing with the fallout from former Ithaca police officer Christine Barksdale who was issued a termination notice for a decade of “deeply troubling” investigatory failures in IPD’s Investigations Division. By January 2020, the city was cleared by the state’s Division of Human Rights after Barksdale filed a complaint alleging discrimination by the city based on gender and race. The DHR found there was no basis for her claims, but Ithaca Police Benevolent Association President Eric Doane said the union would vigorously defend its members. This month also saw the beginnings of the process to choose a new chair for the Tompkins County Legislature. Debates took place trying to decide between legislators Anna Kelles and Mike Lane, but the votes kept ending in a tie. Hang on ‘til next month to see how it ends. The Cornell men and women’s hockey teams were taking the nation by storm, with the Cornell men’s team taking the number one spot in the country on Jan. 13 after starting the season ranked at fifth. The women’s team was also off to its best start in nearly a decade and was ranked at number four in the country. Unfortunately, neither team would get a chance to finish out their season — you know why.
FEBRUARY Barbara Lifton, longtime assemblyperson representing the 125th district, announced her retirement after 18 years. She was up for reelection in November but decided to retire instead. Ithaca Common Council member Seph Murtaugh and Dryden Town Supervisor Jason Leifer announced their candidacy at the same press conference. The Tompkins County Health Department had its first /January
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investigation into a coronavirus case after a Cornell University student began displaying symptoms consistent with COVID-19. The school urged its population against prejudice toward foreign students, particularly those from China, as this is where the cases were centralized at the time. The test ultimately came back negative later in the month. In other Cornell news, the family of Antonio Tsialas, a student who died after a frat party in October 2019, sued the university and frat members over his death. Tsialas was reported missing the morning after the party after he failed to meet his parents. His body was found in the water near Ithaca Falls on Oct. 26. The Tsialas family’s suit charged members of Phi Kappa Psi with negligence for allowing Tsialas to leave after drinking at the party and alleges negligence and premises liability against Cornell. Regional bus trip service OurBus began servicing Ithaca and touted overnight trips to midtown Manhattan. The bus route begins in Niagara Falls and stops in Buffalo, Rochester, Binghamton and Ithaca on its way to New York City. John’s Convenience Store announced that it would be closing after 27 years in February. The store had been at its current location on West State Street for 20 years, operating
out of a shop in Clinton Plaza prior to that. Owners John and Simona Tadros decided they wanted to relax a bit and spend more time with family. The Tompkins County Legislature’s debate over who would be chair came to an end, with Leslyn McBeanClairborne being nominated by Anna Kelles and ultimately elected. McBean-Clairborne has served time on every committee since being elected to the Legislature in 2001 and is the first person of color to lead the group.
MARCH We’ve reached it — the end of the before times. Let’s dive in. Odyssey Books announced it would be opening at 115 W. Green St., a welcome addition to the local literary scene after the closure of The Bookery in late 2019. Native Ithacan Laura Larson had long been hoping to open a bookstore and had been working on the space for quite some time. The City of Ithaca settled with former IPD officer Chris Miller, who alleged he was fired as retaliation for complaints that he was discriminated against as a white man in the department. The city settled for $420,000. Mayor Svante Myrick endorsed Common Council member Seph Murtagh to
replace Barbara Lifton in the State Assembly, a weighty endorsement for the alderperson. The other frontrunner, Anna Kelles, secured endorsements from the Working Families Party of New York and the local trade unions. The county began bracing for the pandemic, as things were escalating quickly in New York City and other parts of the country. County leadership held a press conference announcing guidance and urging vigilance, while Cornell University shifted all classes online through the end of the semester. At the time, there were 173 confirmed cases in New York State. Two positive tests at Ithaca College followed shortly thereafter, officially bringing COVID-19 to Tompkins County. Leadership then declared a state of emergency for the county, and schools were closed through April 13. Businesses were quickly in need of help as they were forced to shutter due to the pandemic. Closed doors meant losing money, which immediately began affecting workers. Local mask makers came together to help boost the local mask supply as donning face masks for grocery shopping quickly became the norm. Ithaca City School District and Cornell both reported their first positive COVID-19 cases, and the hockey season came to
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a swift and unsatisfying end, despite both Cornell teams finishing at the number one spot.
APRIL Local company Rheonix developed a quicker way to test patient samples for the coronavirus and submitted it for approval of the device for the Food and Drug Administration. The machine would cut testing time from days to hours. Cornell announced a staff hiring and salary freeze amid COVID concerns and then later in the month confirmed furloughs and layoffs were likely inevitable, just one of the many ways the pandemic was affecting the local economy. TCAT also announced additional service reductions starting in April due to falling ridership, which was at about 10% of what it was normally at because of the pandemic. The City of Ithaca also sought employee furloughs amid millions of dollars in losses. Local calls for rent suspension grew louder as Ithacans were suffering financially from the pandemic due to lost wages and jobs. The City of Ithaca passed a resolution asking for action by the state and called on representatives to implement a law that would stop rent payments for 90 days. Healthcare workers from Cayuga Health System departed Ithaca for New York City to assist with the COVID-19 pandemic, as city hospitals were overrun and understaffed as the virus spread. Two
Above: Coronavirus rules limited contact between families and their loved ones at Beach Tree Nursing Home in Ithaca. Below: A volunteer sewing masks at Cornell’s basketball arena (Photos: Casey Martin)
New York City residents who had been brought to Cayuga Medical Center for COVID-19 treatment to reduce strain on hospitals there died in Ithaca in April. Democrats held a virtual forum ahead
of June primaries for the candidates for Tompkins County District Attorney and New York State Assembly, the latter of which was a crowded field of seven candidates.
M AY GreenStar’s long-awaited expansion opened in May, a bright spot for Ithaca businesses in 2020. The store at 770 Cascadilla St. replaced their former West End location at 701 W Buffalo St. The new location offers 10,000 more square feet, office space on the second floor and a more culturally diverse product line. Joyful protests full of dancing, music and chanting took over Cayuga and State streets at the west end of the Commons as people emphasized the demands of local renter advocates and called for some type of short-term rent reform as Ithacans continued to struggle through the sudden economic downturn. Rheonix received its approval from the FDA for its same-day testing machine, and teamed up with Cayuga Health to bring faster, more efficient testing to Tompkins County. The county then approved the purchase of the testing equipment. Meanwhile, the county government announced they would be furloughing 91 employees as they projected revenue losses of over $10 million due to the pandemic. However, not all the news in May was bad. The Southern Tier region met all the criteria to begin slowly reopening. The phased reopening allowed low-risk businesses like landscap- ing, gardening and drive-in movie theaters to reopen with precautions in place. The county began mapping out its own plans to reopen as continued on page 8
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SURROUNDED BY REALITY
Finding Her Way Back Home E
Being Present in 2021 S
By M a rjor i e Z . O l d s mily Adams was born to Molly and Barry Adams, known and widely admired for their many contributions to Cornell and our community — teaching courses, writing books, creating new departments and serving on every town board in Caroline, NY. Emily headed off after high school to Carleton College in Minnesota and studied geology, natural history and sustainability. Winter days were often below zero; Emily fondly recalls the underground tunnels on campus that made almost all travel to class seasonal. Following college, Emily and her husband headed to Kenya to serve as Peace Corps teachers in rural villages. While settling into adult married life in a new culture in a new continent, Emily observed the heartbreakingly cruel treatment of young girls and other disadvantaged groups. “When visitors came the teachers brushed the girls out of the classroom saying, “All girls make tea!” One of the 16 year-old girls, impregnated by one of the teachers, nearly died of an unsuccessful self-abortion. Emily describes the time in Kenya as “hard.” Before heading home, Emily traveled on a few dollars a day throughout
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By C h a r l ey G i t h l e r
Africa and beyond. She tucked away her first-hand observations of poverty and inequality as she packed to return to a small home in rural Danby, NY. There her first child was born with help from a neighboring midwife, who introduced her to healthy organic food and natural medicine. The early days of mothering were complicated by undiagnosed post-partum depression, while her husband pursued his advanced degree and was gone all day. Emily and her family then relocated to Portland, Oregon for her husband’s job, where their second child was born. Within a few years, her husband’s company relocated them to Austin, Texas. “We moved so often. I began to hate moving — each time I would put down roots, struggle to make new friends and community, plant a garden, and then leave it all behind.” While in Austin, Emily was determined “to do something for me.” She decided to try acupuncture for her constant headaches, found it helpful, and enrolled in the Academy of Oriental Medicine to learn more. “I loved the subject matter and interacting with students
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ure, 2020's behind us but, as we're constantly reminded, we're not out of the woods yet. My own strategy for powering through to summer is to immerse myself in present-moment awareness. It's the very foundation of being centered in the Universe, or so says Ira Cornstarch of the Online Cornstarch Mindfulness Institute. When I am fully present, I can actively engage with the truth of my experience, and the truth of who I am. It sounds like that would be just the ticket while being cooped up until the weather breaks. Ira also says it's important to keep a Mindfulness Journal to record my efforts to stay positive, and present, and cultivate my innate capacity for maximum wakefulness, and so that's how I'm starting 2021. Day One… 9:05 AM: I’m on hold to Spectrum to find out why my bill is $281.55. Wasn’t it Gandhi who said that no matter how insignificant the task before you, you do it as well as you can? Maybe it was Aziz Ansari. I’m answering questions — asked by a robot — with an open heart. My wait time will be between 9 and 300 minutes, and this call may be monitored for quality assurance purposes. I will fully inhabit every single moment, including the music, which is being transmitted through a taut string and a tin can. No single instant of my life is without value if lived fully, even the next 53 minutes. 9:58 AM: I talk to a customer service representative from a distant land. It turns out that Spectrum customers have to pay for Standard Internet, Preferred Internet, Regular Internet, Essential Internet, rent-your-own-router fees, one-time charges, 'other' charges, taxes, mystery fees and accidental surcharges in order to bask in the goodness of internet service. I am intensely aware of being a customer boned in the Captain's Quarters by a soulless corporate entity. I let the sensation wash over me for several minutes, and feel refreshed. Life is a rich pageant. 10:41 AM: Now I’m on the road to the Tompkins County Waste Disposal Office to buy new, even more expensive disposal punch cards, focusing on every detail of the passing scenery. Relaxed and grateful for all that I have. That guy just cut me off, and, bless him...he’s texting! He didn’t even see me! Before my training, I would have rolled down my window and suggested that his head was in an unlikely anatomical cavity, but I’m mindful now. I’m in my centered, present, zen place.
Culminating in complete connection with my surroundings. I roll down my window and urge my fellow-being, “be in the moment, a**hole!” I’ve never felt so mindful and alive. 11:10 AM: I’m driving on East Tompkins Street, and I’m noticing my hands on the wheel and the sound of sleet on the roof. I’m supremely awake, sitting upright and stress-free. Breathing. I’m really, truly, fully listening to my car rumble over the potholes. That was so definitely the sound of a strut breaking. I soak in the feeling, reveling in the present. I wonder how the suspension on Ira’s Mercedes handles craters like these. 12:16 PM: In the online Zoom session, Coach Ira said we should spend 20 minutes every day purposefully not thinking of anything. Freeing our minds of all distractions. Of course that annoying know-it-all that was always interrupting chirped that she does that for half an hour, so I’m going to do 35 minutes. Maybe 40. I’ll show her ass who’s mindful. On my new organic Zabuton meditation mat. That I bought for $259.68 on the Cornstarch Mindfulness Institute merch page. Game on. 12:19 PM: I’m thinking of nothing. Empty my mind. Uh-oh, here comes our dog, Curly. I knew I should have shut the door. Wait. If anyone can school me in how to live in the moment, it's him. He’s in canine middle age, that stage in life called “flatulence” by veterinarians. Oh, no, he’s crop-dusting. Who came up with that phrase, anyway? “Crop-dusting.” The dusting of crops. It’s so descriptive. Must. Empty. Mind. Push all distracting thoughts out. Two hundred and fifty-nine dollars and sixty-eight cents. 12:20 PM: Sweet Shiva, that’s pungent. It smells like...ferret urine and burnt hair. Sometimes being present is overrated. Where's my mask? No, that’s being judgmental. Still, I think I just threw up a little in my mouth. I must do it mindfully. There’s that raisin I ate an hour ago. I should savor it again. I’d better let that dog out. I’ll do the other 31 minutes later. Then my phone buzzed, and it was my sister, and I like to check facebook while we talk. A glass of wine doesn’t hurt, either. Yeah, January 2021 is no month to try to be too aware. We're in a pandemic and it's winter in Ithaca, New York. Maybe after it gets nice out again I’ll give it another shot. Don’t tell Ira.
COMMUNITYCONNECTIONS Contin u ed From Page 6
and faculty, but then it was time to move again.” Emily, her husband, and two children moved to Belgium in 1999 for her husband’s job. Not speaking the language and not having any friends, Emily found herself back in the depths of undiagnosed depression. Slowly, she made some friends and found a community, and decided she simply could not move again. In 2003, she and her husband divorced. Emily stayed in Belgium, wondering what would become of her life now.
activist does not come naturally to me. I am shy and reserved by nature. But I was inspired by Bernie Sanders.” Day after day Emily offered practical, spirited messages how workers and families would thrive when the U.S. offered a modicum of support — affordable healthcare, housing, daycare and equality regardless of gender, race, ableness…We didn’t even know Emily’s early emails originated from her home in Holland, between packing and moving. Before long, many community members, old and young, loved Emily. At local events when other local celebrities schmoozed the guests, Emily sat at the
Emily Adams and Paulus Dominicus (Photo Provided)
In 2004, Emily met Paulus Dominicus at a shiatsu course and life started to look better — except that she had another move to make. She packed her boxes and joined Paulus in the Netherlands where she learned the language, got Dutch citizenship, and opened her own small healing practice. During this time, she also found a toxicologist who was able to both diagnose and treat her depression. In 2015, Emily’s mother Molly, known amongst admirers as the “Mayor of Brooktondale,” died. Emily’s father Barry, almost 80, could no longer drive a bus for Gadabout, serve on the Brooktondale Community Board, nor keep up a home in need of refurbishment without family support. Molly had been the domestic wizard and the social glue in Barry’s life. So, Emily and husband Paulus returned to her roots in Brooktondale. Those of us who knew and loved Molly and Barry, but did not know Emily, were introduced to her by her sudden postings on community emails: “Being a political
registration table or made sure the food was replenished. Modest and quiet, Emily was glad to be a worker, not a celebrity. “You do what you need to do.” In the years since her return, Emily has been elected as a Bernie delegate, chair of the Caroline Democratic Committee and to the NY State Democratic Committee. She is a founding member of the New York Progressive Action Network and Tompkins County Progressives and is working now to create a Working Families Party chapter in Ithaca. In Brooktondale, Emily writes the much-loved monthly Old Mill newsletter and serves on several boards. Emily claims she is still an introvert at heart, and is spending this winter unpacking the last of her moving boxes, planning her garden, and enjoying more home meals with Barry and Paulus. Come spring she will open her healing practice again, now that she is really home.
YOUR LETTERS Re: Russell Rickford’s letter
am writing to respond to the letter to the editor from Russell Rickford (12/23/20) regarding the Reimagining Public Safety (“RPS”) initiative in our community. I guess some skepticism is healthy when considering the difficulty of police reform. And his hesitancy might seem fair, in light of our long history of struggling to address on a local level the national disparities in policing practices across economic, racial and cultural lines. At the same time, as a County Legislator, Chair of the Public Safety Committee, and a participant in the RPS effort, I have had a chance as well to think about the subject before us, and to arrive at a very different viewpoint from Mr. Rickford. Particularly, I object to the easy cynicism in describing the City and County effort to consider police reform as a cosmetic distraction and deceptive exercise. I believe there is real public benefit to looking carefully at this issue and moving beyond slogans to propose specific changes. In his letter, Rickford advocates defunding “the rotten institution of policing” and replacing it with an alternative structure that would “exclude police entirely from responses to harm and insecurity.” Instead, he proposes that we “rely on community action and healing to address instability and human need.” While he goes on to explain that “people in Ithaca and Tompkins County could construct communal models of public safety that work for their own neighborhood,” I admit to still not understanding how this would work in practice, and particularly without the help of any police agencies in our community. Further, I suspect that the idea of tearing it all down in order to start over is not a majority view. Engaging and considering viewpoints that differ from demands for defunding is simply not “antidemocratic and dishonest.” In fact, while some are calling for defunding within the meaning Rickford outlines, my sense is that at present, those voice do not represent the majority of the residents of the County. Certainly, national polling clearly shows that Americans want to see changes in the way police departments operate, but not to eliminate them. In fact, the word “defund ” has become a lightning rod that severely polarizes discussion of the topic, with the majority of people rejecting the concept. It also seems backwards to declare a budget position before deciding what programming needs funding. Instead, if we want change, taking a less divisive and more methodical approach has a better chance of building public understanding and agreement. Envisioning how emergency response can work in our community, I also differ from Rickford’s view that police have no role to play in our public safety system. In an emergency, we want an appropriate response to the specific problem, including firefighters, EMTs, mental health professionals, social workers, addiction counselors and, yes when necessary, a police officer. I believe police officers fulfill a J a n ua ry
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vital response need, particularly when we have people acting in violent or dangerous ways. As such, I also disagree with Rickford’s beliefs that rooting out bad cops will make no difference, or that a “central focus on strengthening police-community relations in Ithaca” is a waste of time. Instead, I believe that trying to make improvements to raise policing standards and improve relations between the police and the general public they serve is critical. And I have optimism that we can make some positive improvement in this case. I really do. Tompkins County has already achieved some significant change in driving our Jail census to its lowest levels in decades, even before the pandemic, and doing so without seeing a rise in our crime rates. With a County population of around 105,000, we had a Jail count of 34 reported at our December Public Safety Committee meeting. This is a stunning outlier compared to the national average (according to the Vera Institute, 230 local jail inmates per 100,000 in 2019). We arrived at a lower incarceration rate through a steady, slow, and concerted community effort to emphasize alternatives to incarceration, innovative supervision, treatment court options, and connecting individuals to specific programming (e.g. food, housing, healthcare, education, employment, addiction treatment) with the goal of diverting people out of the criminal justice system. Government, thoughtful judges, private agencies, and dedicated community citizens have made this happen. We can and should build upon those existing structures and connections in this broader RPS endeavor. When we present a plan, I anticipate that Russell Rickford will maintain that the RPS proposals merely prop up a failed system and are therefore meaningless or even counter-productive. He will be right that change will be incremental, and slower than we might want. Because the plan will represent a community consensus, it will look like a compromise. The proposals will likely include elements mentioned in Rickford ’s letter where responses to calls for public safety assistance will be more closely tailored to the specific emergency need. But I anticipate the plan will fall far short of Rickford’s bold utopian neighborhood public safety model operating without police. Also, a reasonable plan will likely cost more, not less, than we are spending at present. There will be no windfall to distribute, as everything that I observe in this process points towards a need for greater overall investment in public safety, if we want real change. As such, the plan will be encumbered by the limits of what we can do with the money available to the purpose. However, while we are waiting for “a new political and economic order” to emerge, as Rickford states is now necessary, I believe there will be reasonable, if imperfect, things we can and should actually do. If we can more clearly recognize the direction we need to go in, and then take those first steps to help build a better public safety system in our community, I ask why there would be significant objection? -Rich John, Tompkins County Legislator, District 4
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well to get its departmental operations back up and running. In the State Assembly Race, Anna Kelles began handily outpacing her competitors in campaign fundraising, raising more than double the next highest candidate, Common Council member Seph Murtagh.
Above: Black Lives Matter street mural on N. Plain St. Below: ICSD Superintendent Dr. Luvelle Brown preparing for Fall’s reopening of Ithaca schools (Photo: Provided)
JUNE Ithacans showed people what they’re made of when they took to the streets by the hundreds to protest police brutality following the murders of George Floyd by Minneapolis police and Breonna Taylor by Louisville police. The group chanted “no justice, no peace” and “Black Lives Matter” as they marched their way through downtown. Protesters also took to the streets in June in support of rent cancellation, as a ground-breaking rent forgiveness legislation came before Common Council. June was also the month that the Aurora Streatery (streetery?) opened, as the city decided to close Restaurant Row off to vehicles to better facilitate outdoor dining. High school graduation took place at Stewart Park, as seniors were invited by appointment to cross the stage in cap, gown and mask and receive their placeholder diplomas (the real one is mailed later). Perhaps not the high school gradua8 T
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tion the students had always pictured, but as good an alternative (with as beautiful of a backdrop) as one could ask for in the COVID era. Lime Bike left Ithaca permanently in June as part of a larger company decision to pull out of markets where it was not making enough money. The bikes were originally removed from the city in March, which people assumed was due to COVID precautions, but it was confirmed they were gone for good. June also saw the Democratic primary election, with voters choosing their candidate in a crowded State Assembly race and for City Judge. Results couldn’t be counted until July because of the large number of absentee votes that were mailed in due to the pandemic.
J U LY Cornell announced its plans to return for a hybrid semester on Sept. 2, with a mix of online and in-person classes. However, the Ivy League postponed all fall sports, stating that spring sports were a possibility in 2021. Similarly, the Cortaca Jug game was officially canceled too. Ithaca College banned students from high-risk states from campus and in-person classes, while ICSD decided they would give parents the choice between virtual or inperson learning for the fall. 6–1 2,
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John Thomas Steakhouse owner Michael Kelly announced he would be retiring and closing the restaurant after nearly six decades in the business. He said that the pandemic made the business too unsustainable and too dangerous to continue in a comfortable way for both patrons and staff. The restaurant had been closed since mid-March. The results from June’s primaries came in, with Matthew Van Houten receiving the nomination for District Attorney, Seth Peacock for City Court Judge and Anna Kelles for the 125th District seat in the New York State Assembly. The Unbroken Promise Initiative grew out of the Black Lives Matter protests over the summer, with Jordan Clemons’ taking the lead of the grassroots organization. The initiative pledged to lift up the local Black community, especially in the West End, by bringing new opportunities and better access to youth, childcare, vocational, educational and mental and physical health services to Ithaca’s Black residents. Mayor Svante Myrick also took steps in July to officially ask the state for permission to establish a rent forgiveness commission. He specifically asked to cancel three months of rent for Ithacans who were in severe jeopardy of homelessness as a result of the pandemic. As the pandemic raged on, Apple Harvest Festival was canceled, with the Downtown Ithaca Alliance also canceling Fashion Week, Welcome Student Weekend, Halloween on the Commons, Santa’s Arrival and Chowder Cook-Off.
AUGUST Schools in the Southern Tier were officially deemed allowed to open, as the area’s low infection rates met the criteria set forth by Gov. Andrew Cuomo. In higher ed, Ithaca College decided to reverse its decision for in-person classes and moved to a fully online fall semester. However, Ivy Leaguers moved back to Ithaca as Cornell students returned to campus amid community concerns about coronavirus spread. Protesters dragged couches, chairs and clothes into the driveway next to the Ithaca Police Department and Ithaca City Court to make a statement against evictions as the city’s housing court resumed operations. Protesters and members of the Ithaca Tenants Union continued to push for a number of rent reforms, but above all, rent cancellation. The community came together to paint a Black Lives Matter street mural on N. Plain Street, stretching from Green St to Seneca St. People spent more than 12 hours painting the mural, which was facilitated by Harry O, the founder of Black Hands Universal. The colorful art was the first official Black Lives Matter mural in the city, and its location is symbolic as it marks the demarcation between Downtown, West End and Southside.
SEPTEMBER Bettsie Park and Ken Jupiter sold their gift shop 15 STEPS after nearly 40 years
on the Commons, as the duo decided to retire. Scott Dolphin, Todd Nau and Carol Travis, co-owners of the Commons shop Breathe, were announced as the new business owners. Collegetown Bagels also saw some changes, as the new location opened after months of construction. The shop moved from 415 College Ave. to 420 College Ave. — directly across the street. The business was forced to move from its location of 40 years after Common Council voted 7-6 to demolish the 415 property. A petition to dismiss a Cornell student went viral after student Jessica Zhang ’24 was seen in a video attending a large gathering without a face mask. Cornell students asked the school to hold Zhang and others in the video accountable for breaking the Behavioral Compact that students were required to sign before returning to school. The school commented only to say they had identified nine new COVID cases and urged students to continue to follow local guidance on gatherings. In that vein, September also saw Cornell move to Yellow Alert due to a weeklong rise in positive test results. The largest cluster group of cases came from student athletes. After a dry summer which saw Taughannock Falls reduced to a mere dribble, the county issued a water conservation advisory and the city of Ithaca issued a limited water use advisory as Fall Creek and Six Mile Creek were well below normal water levels. The weekly Black Lives Matter protest saw a counterprotest in September, as the Back the Blue Tompkins County protesters gathered in front of the Ithaca Police Department to show support for the police.
OCTOBER The first debate for the State Senate took place virtually in October, with candidate Leslie Danks Burke and incumbent
More than 13,000 residents of Tompkins County showed up to vote early ahead of the Nov. 3 election, and over 11,000 people mailed in absentee ballots. Due to the many absentee votes, election results were delayed. Eventually Anna Kelles was declared the winner of the Assembly race, Tom Reed reclaimed his Congressional seat for the 23rd District and Sen. Tom O’Mara kept his spot on the State Senate. Joe Biden and Kamala Harris handily won the county as well. Common Council passed the city’s budget after much debate over police funding. Originally, Mayor Svante Myrick’s proposed budget eliminate eight currently vacant police positions. However, the final budget added two of those back starting in July 2021, and set the tax rate at $11.85 per thousand of taxable evaluation. The police were in the news again as residents got the chance to voice opinions at public forums hosted by Tompkins County and the city of Ithaca regarding their reimagining police initiative. The county and city have continued to seek residents’ input as they work to put together a new policing plan for the governor’s office by April 1. Developers presented an ambitious plan to the Planning and Economic Development Committee that would see a massive renovation of at least 10 Collegetown buildings. The reception was lukewarm, as developers requested numerous and hefty variances, particularly in regard to building height.
Sen. Tom O’Mara tackling a wide variety of the year’s most hot-button issues, from the pandemic to defunding police. Ithaca Police arrested protesters for the first time after a group converged outside of the police department following the weekly march through downtown. The two protesters were charged with making graffiti, resisting arrest and criminal mischief. The incident was prompted by the group spray painting the sidewalk, walls and doors to the station with epithets like “pigs kill kids,” “murderers” and “how do you sleep?” The Common Council voted to remove the white settlers monument that was in DeWitt Park and paid tribute to the first white people who settled in the area. Many Ithacans, and the council, took issue with the fact that the monument did not recognize the Haudenosaunee, the group of Native Americans who had long been established in the area and were forcefully removed from the land. The Proud Boys, a white supremacist group, showed up in Ithaca for a rally on the Commons. However, several hundred showed up in opposition and worked with the police to come up with a safety plan. Ultimately, the Proud Boys left after a short while, and the Ithaca Antiracist counter-protesters stayed and danced and partied in their absence.
NOVEMBER A petition began circulating in November calling for the resignation of IPD Deputy Chief Vincent Monticello following a video of Monticello defending a white man who told a Black protester to go die. He then arrested the Black protester, and later arrested another protester who was blocking a police vehicle from responding to a call. Things between protesters and police escalated that night and saw the first use of pepper spray by police since protests began in the early summer. J a n ua ry
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COVID cases had been continuing to rise, especially post-Thanksgiving, and Oak Hill Manor Nursing Home in Ithaca saw 11 deaths in the month of December due to a widespread outbreak at the facility. In response to rising cases and the difficulty for some to get to the COVID testing site at the mall, the Health Department opened a second testing center on N. Tioga Street in downtown Ithaca. While the one at the mall uses nasal swabs, this second one uses the saliva test. An IPD sergeant was suspended after comments he made joking about mishandling evidence and mistreating a Black suspect were caught on his body camera. Sgt. Kevin Slattery is under internal investigation after reporting his own comments to his supervisor. ICSD schools returned to remote learning in mid-December until the new year due to the many mandatory isolations of staff and students because of COVID-19 community spread. In promising pandemic news, vaccines arrived in December, with frontline workers at Cayuga Medical Center receiving their first doses just before Christmas. The vaccine distribution plan will roll out in phases based on priority. After talking about it all year, a decision still hasn’t been made about allowing dogs on the Commons. The resolution made it to Common Council, but members decided to table it and work on the language before voting on it. Maybe 2021 will be Fido’s year.
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Cornell scientists create supplements for various health issues By Tanne r Harding
wo food scientists who met in a Cornell lab and their former television news reporter business partner are making their mark in a pretty niche industry — supplements featuring human milk oligosaccharide. Human milk oligosaccharide (HMO) is a component of breast milk that Dr. Jason Zhang learned about while studying at Cornell. After about 100-150 years of research into what makes human milk so nutritive, scientists found a way to successfully replicate HMOs so it could be made accessible through other means. Scientists take high-purity lactose milk and put it through precise fermentation and purifying processes to create something bioidentical to human milk. Zhang, Dr. Joel Li and Beau Berman are the co-founders of Layer Origin, one of only a handful of companies in the world that offer HMOs in products for adults. According to Berman, companies like Nestle began adding HMOs to baby formula because they help build infant
Dr. Joel Li, Beau Berman and Dr. Jason Zhang founded Layer Origin. (Photo: Provided)
gut lining and aid in brain development. This same logic could be applied to adults with issues like irritable bowel syndrome, leaky gut or small intestinal bacterial overgrowth. Thus, Layer Origin was born and currently offers both prebiotic and probiotic products with HMO, in addition to other supplements for things like high cholesterol or blood sugar issues. “So far the feedback is that this really works,” Berman said. “It gives people almost immediate relief.” Berman said one of the reasons the market for creating supplements with HMOs is small is because it’s just so new. He said that recreating HMOs wasn’t really viable until 2016, and that the vast majority of research focused on babies rather than adults. “There’s less research so far proving benefits to adults, and there are only three major suppliers in the world that are creating HMOs,” he said. “It’s very expensive and complicated. We’re in the infancy of
this ingredient for use by adults, so we’re just bracing for more competition.” As for the minds behind the supplements, Li comes from a background of nutrition and ingredients, while Zhang formerly worked for a large corporation in the Midwest that specialized in powdered egg whites. The two came together at the Langmuir Labs at the Cornell Business and Technology Park and spent three years working on developing the products. The project has been largely selffunded, with some help from family and friends, and Berman said Layer Origin has big plans to keep growing. Currently, they own 400 acres of farmland across upstate New York where they can source many of their ingredients, as three of their products are based on a derivative from beans. In February, they’re expecting the arrival of machinery to be able to start doing much of the manufacturing themselves. “We’ll be able to do more experimental runs, plus we’ll have much better margins
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and it’s faster to do it ourselves,” Berman said. The factory space will be right there at Langmuir Labs, so the company can stay in Ithaca as they continue growing. “We’re taking a risk but I think it’s going to catapult us to the next level,” he said. Berman himself takes the Layer Origin cholesterol supplement after he was diagnosed with high cholesterol this summer, something he attributes to unlucky genetics. “My mom took Lipitor and I’d like to avoid taking that since I’m 35,” he said. “Sometimes I’m lazy when it comes to certain things, so the BranPure [Layer Origin product] can be mixed into anything, and it’s virtually tasteless.” He said that his father has also placed a few orders and Zhang’s family in China has ordered them too. “It’s been so interesting to me that people in other countries are willing to pay the $35 shipping charge to get their hands on it,” Berman said. “We have something that people are really fans of.” Currently Layer Origin is only available online, but Berman said one of the company’s goals in 2021 is to get into retail. “We’d love to be in local stores like Wegmans and Greenstar,” he said. “And then, it’s crazy ambitious but [Zhang]’s goal is to launch 80 new products in 2021 […] It’s going to be a very busy year, but we try to be ambitious. The more we offer the more people we can help.”
Just take a photo that you think best captures Tompkins County and send it our way. The person with the best photo submission will win $250 and another $250 will be given to a nonprofit of their choice. The winning image will also become a featured photo on a Visions VISA debit card that all members can order! Entries will only be accepted through January 31, so get them in now at visionsfcu.org/contest
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New York | New Jersey | Pennsylvania *Individual must be at least 18 years of age or older and a resident of Tompkins County, NY. (1) entry per person. Photo must be original work, appropriate for all ages, not include people, be taken in horizontal position, and must be taken in Tompkins County, NY. Entries must be uploaded at visionsfcu.org/contest; no alternate methods of entry apply. (1) winner selected by likes/reacts via Facebook; entry with the most likes/reacts votes will win. Entry period Dec. 7, 2020 to Jan. 31, 2021. Winner will be announced on Feb. 15, 2021 via social media and email. Winner must respond by Feb. 28, 2021 or prize will be forfeit and a new winner will be selected, based on the second highest number of likes/reacts. Winner will receive $250 and Visions will donate $250 to a nonprofit of their choice in Tompkins County, NY. Prize value may be reportable for tax purposes; must have valid US Social Security number to win. Winner must provide consent for their image to be reproduced in a variety of mediums and relinquishes ownership rights to the work. Winner will have a consent and release option for Visions Federal Credit Union to use their name, photo, or likeness in social media posts or future advertising and promotional materials. This contest sponsored solely by Visions Federal Credit Union, 24 McKinley Ave, Endicott, NY 13760, 800-242-2120. Federally insured by NCUA.
From grisly thrillers to Pixar, BVC looks at the year’s best
B y B r y a n Va n C a m p e n
’ve seen dozens of effective and affecting war films over the years, but the fact that Sam Mendes stages “1917” as one continuous shot (actually two shots) puts into the foreground the sense of exhaustion that soldiers in combat must experience. Two anonymous whey-faced kids are tasked with getting a message across enemy lines that will have a critical impact on an imminent campaign. The cinematography, choreography and performances are perfectly sustained from start to finish. Spike Lee’s “Da 5 Bloods” sends four black Vietnam veterans back in country to retrieve a stash of gold and the remains of their de facto leader, played in flashback by the late Chadwick Boseman. Delroy Lindo is a standout as perhaps the most damaged member of the crew. Boasting magnificent location footage and 16mm film stock for the flashbacks, Lee’s epic is a film fanatic’s fond tribute to movies like “Apocalypse Now.” Chadwick Boseman gives his final performance in Netflix’s outstanding adaptation of August Wilson’s 1984 play “Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom.” Set in a Chicago recording studio circa 1927, the story concerns a recording session with blues legend Ma Rainey (a fiery and unrepentant Viola Davis) and her sidemen, including Boseman, and the soulful sweet Glynn Turman. The subtext is all about the exploitation of the Black artist by white record
producers (Jeremy Shamos, seen playing Einstein in “Picasso at the Lapin Agile” at the Hangar); Davis, Boseman and Turman are all deserving of awards for their stunning work over the course of 94 minutes. With its Hollywood black-and-white look, David Fincher’s “Mank” would make a perfect double bill with Tim Burton’s 1994 classic “Ed Wood.” “Mank” is a Hollywood period piece written by Fincher’s late father Jack Fincher; it follows the creation of the Orson Welles classic “Citizen Kane” through the eyes of its primary screenwriter, Herman J. Mankiewicz (Gary Oldman). It is fascinating, easily one of the best films of 2020. I’d seen the trailer for “The Way Back” so many times before it that I was derisively referring to it as “Not Hoosiers.” But Ben Affleck is very good in the film, playing a self-loathing alcoholic tasked with going back to his Catholic high school where he was a star basketball player to coach the new kids. Affleck taps into an anger that I haven’t really seen since his extended cameo in “Boiler Room,” and Brad Inglesby’s screenplay is very smart about where in the story we discover the reason that Affleck’s character began drinking. Tom Hanks plays Fred Rogers in “A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood,” but the beloved PBS icon is really a supporting character in this movie. Actually, he’s more like the Wizard of Oz. Based on a famous 1998 profile in Esquire, the film is about a cynical writer (Matthew Rhys) coming to terms with his family after being assigned to profile Rogers. The combination of Hanks’ performance, the letter-perfect recreation of the sets and pup-
pets, and Rogers’ utter lack of guile left this Mr. Rogers fan weeping at least four times. Director Marielle Heller stages all the establishing shots of NYC and Pittsburgh as delightful and elaborate Rogers-style miniatures. “Bill and Ted Face the Music” is the perfect movie for what’s ailing us in 2020. It won’t get the credit for being as smart and clever as it is, but for long-time fans, it really pays off comedically and emotionally. How many times does a movie franchise drop two wellreceived entries within a couple of years, take a 29-year hiatus and come back with a movie that really hits the sweet spot? I can’t think of any others. Can you? In Pixar’s emotionally rich, hilarious and exciting “Onward,” two elf brothers (Tom Holland and Chris Pratt) are given a magic wand left to them by their late father. The boys try to resurrect their dead dad but only succeed in bringing back the lower half of his body, leading to a madcap road trip/quest to track down what they need to finish the spell. Behold! Forsooth! “Onward” ranks up with the very best films that the studio has produced. Sometimes I like to wait for a TV show to end before I binge-watch the whole thing, and I thought that Raphael Bob-Waksberg’s “Bojack Horseman” (six seasons on Netflix) would provide some laughs. I was not prepared for the emotional depth and surprising darkness that came to represent a show about a has-been showbiz celebrity who happens to be half- man half-horse. There were days when I needed to take a break, when I couldn’t bear the weight of what was happening to Bojack
Sam Mendes’ critically acclaimed 1917 staring George MacKay Ja n ua ry
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The Best Films of 2020
I t h a c a T i m e s 11
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Eight Slices of Cheese: The Worst Films of 2020
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Judi Dench as Old Deuteronomy in “Cats” (Universal Pictures)
m… “Cats.” First of all, I never liked “Cats,” even after sneaking into the Winter Garden Theatre in 1981 after a matinee to look at the set. Until now, I’d seen one low-rent regional production that didn’t change my mind. But Tom Hooper’s colossally wrongheaded, overwrought and overthought film has mined new territories of “What were they thinking?” My sympathies to a talented cast. Everyone should have a hairball like this on their resume, and Ian McKellen has now made a dopier film than “The Shadow.” Twenty minutes in,
I was mewling for mercy. By the end, to quote comedian Brian Posehn, I wanted to set my eyeballs on fire and bury them. James Corden really doubled down this year, not only appearing in “Cats” but “Trolls World Tour.” I had a Troll doll as a kid, and just between us, I always wanted to find whoever gifted me that creepy little thing and give him a piece of my 10-yearold mind. This hyper bit of musical fluff didn’t make me any more of a fan of unfamiliar music genres, and made me like songs like “Barracuda” and “Crazy Train”
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a lot less. (You know how much kids love Ozzy Osbourne.) Floria Sigismondi’s “The Turning” has the stupidest non-ending I think I have ever seen, not just in the horror genre but in any genre. It’s the umpteenth needless remake of Henry James’ “The Turning of the Screw,” but I was down for the idea: a young governess (Mackenzie Davis) is hired to move to a spooky estate and look after two strange orphan kids. The movie is little more than a delivery system for hack jump scares and enigmatic weird behavior from the children, played by Brooklynn Prince and Finn Wolfhard (“It” and “Stranger Things”). Then the movie literally shoots itself in the foot in its final
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60 seconds. What a cheap little cheat “The Turning” turned out to be. When he’s waxing rhapsodic about the MCU on his podcast “Fatman Beyond,” Kevin Smith always talks about good fan service. Too bad that “Jay and Silent Bob Reboot” is such lazy, aimless fan service. It takes cheek to remake “Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back” with updated gags about evolving comic book culture, satiric shots at intellectual property and cameos galore. Ben Affleck even has one good scene that hearkens back to the actual beating heart of Smith’s “Chasing Amy” but it’s still a feeble echo of better work. Is the whole “Scooby Doo” thing worth much beyond kitsch and the rosy glow of nostalgia? “Scoob!” shoves the Scooby group into a Hanna-Barbera “shared universe,” not because it’s a good idea but because everyone else is doing it. It starts out as “Scooby Doo Babies,” and we see a greatest hits montage of series moments that then turns into a space adventure for no really good reason. “Scoob!” is aimed more at parents and animation fanboys than kids. (You know how much kids love Tinder and Simon Cowell gags.) “Impractical Jokers: The Movie” barely counts as a “movie.” The “Impractical Jokers” crew, four improv “comics” – Joseph Gatto, James Murray, Brian Quinn and Salvatore Vulcano – punk unsuspecting people with R-rated variations on “gags” that “Candid Camera” pulled 70 years ago. One guy with a microphone and earpiece works the crowd while three of them watch via monitors and egg the action on. It’s that whole macho Jersey thing that I always found mean-spirited. The “story” - a road trip to Florida – involves an opening “prologue” with the Jokers as younger versions of their obnoxious selves crashing a Paula Abdul concert circa 1990. All “scripted” scenes with “humorous dialogue” and “plot” are beyond dire. There are lots of great films about Al Capone, but Josh Trank’s “Capone,” starring Tom Hardy (“Dunkirk”) in the title role, ain’t one of them. It’s a character study with no character, and very little happens. Sporting fine suits and a scarily realistic horseshoe-shaped scar on his face, Hardy is all dressed up with nowhere to go. It’s all much muttering about nothing. Over and over again, Trank sets up stories and characters that never go anywhere. There’s a lot of interest in Capone’s financing, but it all ends in a shrug. Matt Dillon plays a composite character based on Capone’s partners in crime who shows up to visit, but may in fact be a ghost. Why? Who cares? Literally and figuratively, Matteo Borgardt’s “You Never Had It: An Evening with Bukowski” is the runt of this year’s documentary litter. You’d be better off reading any of writer and poet Charles Bukowski’s 60+ books than watch him smoke, drink and deflect about his work. Culled from a long 1981 interview shot on Betamax tape, the piece drags at less than an hour, and reveals little about the art of writing, and not much more about the art of smoking and drinking.
A Year in Theatre
Let’s Talk About
Ithaca theatres adapted to COVIDera restrictions in 2020 By Ros s Ha ars ta d
NEW CHANGING CLIMATE
OUR FUTURE, OUR CHOICE
Permanent exhibition at the Museum of the Earth
OPENING DECEMBER 26
Climate change is part of the story of life on Earth. To learn more about the exhibit and purchase tickets, please visit museumoftheearth.org 1259 Trumansburg Road Ithaca, NY 14850 607-273-6623
e or M
the chorus, backed by a splendid baroque orchestra conducted by Christopher Zemliauskas. “Cry it Out” featured the tight rhythmic shaping typical of O’Gara, and top-notch acting. The Cherry’s “Sea” featured a lovely shared duet by Susannah Berryman and Jahmar Ortiz (offstage, teacher and student in IC’s theatre program.) As New York became the pandemic’s epicenter, seasons were scrapped (the Kitchen was one week from opening its next play, the Hangar had its summer season cast and designs underway) or rejiggered. Barakiva and his new associate director Shirley Serotsky pulled together a full Hangar summer, with virtual shows live for one night only (plus three days streaming available to subscribers); along with a full season of the Lab company and Kiddstuff. Thornton Wilder’s “By the Skin of Our Teeth” is the sort of extravaganza that would be too expensive for a staged production; the text resonated against the current climate crisis and the pandemic, and the cast showcased a wide range of local talent, including Cynthia Henderson’s proper Mrs. Antrobus, Austin Jone’s peppy dinosaur, and Berryman’s Fortune Teller. The short rehearsal period left little time to create a tonally intact show, but
he local theater scene underwent some major transitions in 2020, yet it persevered. Three theater companies saw the departure of their artistic directors: Godfrey Simmons and Sarah K. Chalmers at Civic Ensemble, M. Bevin O’Gara at the Kitchen Theatre and Michael Barakiva at the Hangar. Before the shutdown, a quartet of shows hit the boards. Ithaca College staged their annual opera, a dazzling production of Henry Purcell’s “Dido and Aeneas;” O’Gara helmed her last show for the Kitchen, an amusing exploration of class differences and new motherhood (“Cry It Out”); the Cherry staged the English language premiere of Jorgelina Cerritos’ On the Other Side of the Sea,” a meditation on migration, borders and bureaucracy in the envelope of a timeless fable; and the ReEntry Project of Civic Ensemble managed to scrape out two live performances of “On the Streets,” a powerful, biting, and engaging traversal of the struggle to re-enter society after incarceration (sharp direction by Chalmers.) “Dido” featured a stunning set of movable towers (scenic designer Brittany Daggett-Duffy) against a moving cloud cyclorama, transfigured into the opera’s multiple settings under Melanie Spiel’s superb lighting. Director Norm Johnson brought his abundant eye for physicality to
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Screen shot from the Cherry Arts Collective’s production of “A Day” by Gabrielle Chapdelaine
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I t h a c a T i m e s 15
She Played Big
Saying Farewell to a Diminutive Warrior By Ste ve L aw re nc e
hen I got the word that Krislyn “Krissy” Manwaring passed on at the age of 27 the day after Christmas, I took some time to pull myself together before opening my Facebook page and looking back at our many exchanges over the course of her four-year battle with a cruel disease known as Scleroderma. About two weeks before her passing, Krissy asked her Facebook community, “What is your favorite memory of me?” My comment — buried in with about 200 others — was: “My favorite memory of you is when I was standing in the first base coaching box, knowing that my bad dad jokes would inspire you to get to second base as quickly as possible.” I remember the first time I saw Krissy put on her catcher’s gear in youth softball, and I teased her because the shin guards came up to her thighs, the chest protec-
tor sagged to her knees and when she ran, her mask flopped around like a fish on a river bank. At about 5’ 1”, she was the smallest kid on the varsity team, but you can believe me when I tell you that whether Krissy was behind the plate, or on a volleyball or basketball court, she played big. Getting covered in dirt blocking low pitches or tagging out sliding runners, getting floor burns diving for spikes and loose balls, she didn’t care. She was a gamer. I will also remember with great fondness her magnetism around little children. She loved them, they loved her, and her social media feeds are flooded with beautiful photos of her squeezing little kids and dogs. I will never forget the time an important softball game was about to commence, and the coach pulled the girls together for the pre-game pep talk. He was locked in, fired up and ready to unite his
team when someone said, “Wait… Krissy’s not here…” We looked over behind the dugout and she was chasing my delighted 6-year-old daughter, determined to get her daily hug. That was much more important than some silly sectional softball game. When Krissy was diagnosed with Scleroderma (a disease which causes the hardening of one’s skin and connective tissues) the sports-related concepts of teamwork, perseverance and bouncing back after setbacks were played out on a community-wide as well as an individual basis. Vince and Jackie Manwaring — married 35 years this August — dug in for the long haul to be there for their daughter, and the community stepped up to support them through a series of fundraisers. One of them — held at the Town Tavern in Erin — netted $26,000 and Vince told me, “Our friends knew we were too busy to organize anything, so they did everything. We just showed up.” He added, “People are still doing things now. They cleared our driveway, brought us food, cut and stacked firewood. They are organizing a spaghetti dinner, doing a Pampered Chef party… they’re coming out of the woodwork. I always used to say, ‘We’re good, we don’t need anything’ but I have learned to accept help.” Krissy had a stem cell transplant in 2018 that resulted in a 44-day hospital stay, and I asked Vince (who is a beloved school bus driver) how many trips they made to New York City over the past four years. He said, “I don’t know… Thirty? Forty? Fifty?” Vince doesn’t look much like a Superhero (Jackie does), but they put forth an incredible effort to support their daughter, despite having three other children and two grandchildren living under their roof. It made for some sweet chaos, and the photos of Krissy holding the little ones are priceless. The Manwarings say they’re not quite sure what to do with their spare time, and they take comfort that they did everything they could possibly do. “We’re at peace, knowing she’s not in any more pain,” Vince told me. “She was in a lot of pain, most of the time. And she was tired.” In Vince’s words, “I know she was my daughter, but she had a kind of spark you just don’t find.” You’ll get no argument from anyone, Vince. She played big in any game she was in. I loved that kid. ● ● ●
For those interested, “Krislyn’s Scleroderma Journey” (and accompanying GoFundMe) can be accessed on Facebook, and provides some very informative and inspiring material.
A YEAR IN THEATRE Contin u ed From Page 15
Darcy Rose’s impudent maid/diva actress portrayal of Sabina sparkled throughout. A smartly curated evening of scenes and prose by Wendy Wasserstein followed, with some tech hiccups but expertly cast and thought out, with an especially poignant essay about Wasserstein’s late-in-life pregnancy. “Queens Girl in the World,” a delightful coming of age story of a Black girl in the turbulent ‘60s, penned by Caleen Sinnette Jennings came next (performed by an excellent Vernice Miller, directed by Godfrey Simmons, Jr.) Serotsky helmed a dizzy melange of language and attitude in Kate Hamill’s breakthrough re-working of Jane Austen’s “Sense and Sensibility.” A multi-cultural cast zinged through this enchanting feminist tour-de-force. Yet the highlight of the season was perhaps the simplest: a musical theatre revue (“Honk Your Horn”). Barakiva and codirector Gerald Macintyre (“Kinky Boots”) invited past Hangar performers of color to perform songs that had a personal meaning for them. These skillfully produced vignettes (pre-recorded I assume, music direction by Daniel Lincoln) were interspersed with live conversations between the artists and the directors. Featured were Alexa Cepeda, Kris Coleman, Darius Anthony Harper, Diana Huey, Terrie Lynne, Aline Mayagoitia, Gerianne Peréz, Desirée Rodriguez, Austin Scott, Talia Thiesfield and Chris White. An evening of sterling artistry, struggles faced and an urgent direction forward in these days of challenging white dominance in professional theatre. Ithaca Shakespeare went virtual with “Romeo & Juliet,” helmed by Chris Nickerson, and “The Comedy of Errors,” directed by Beth Harris, all live except for elegant rod-puppet inserts (by the Stringpullers Puppet Company) for the ball and fencing scenes in R&J. The storytelling was clear, but the acting mixed: R&J suffered from wildly different tonalities and a tendency to act for the stage rather than the camera. Strongest were a rather doomish Lila VilaMil as Romeo, Nancy Kane as the Friar, Dave Dietrich as Capulet and particularly the Nurse of Judith Andrew. “Errors” is farce and slapstick, which allowed for overdoing, and Harris cast A.J. Sage as both Antipholus twins, with Talia Friedenberg as the Dromios. Sharp comic work by both, with again strong turns by Dietrich as Egeus (most facile with the language) and Kane as a courtesan.
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MacGowan from filmmaker Julien Temple. | 3 day rental available for $12
A YEAR IN THEATRE Contin u ed From Page 16
By far, though, 2020 was dominated by the Cherry’s radical sophistication. For the spring, six of the Cherry’s playwrights were commissioned to write short plays for streaming based on the pandemic. “Felt Sad and Posted a Frog,” co-directed by Artistic Director Samuel Buggeln and Beth Milles, was substantial and haunting. Presented live, each play had a distinct color design/video template (deft video mixing by Noah Elman). All the acting was spot-on: Simmons as a wry political aesthete keeping a video diary in Germany, Eric Brooks and Berryman were as melancholic ex-lovers trading video letters; Erica Steinhagen as a frazzled woman increasingly swallowed up in online “how-to” sequences (drolly voiced by Dean Robinson), and Natasha Lorca Yannacañedo as a woman undergoing a metamorphosis, a timeless spell cast by Jeffrey Guyton’s narration. These four plays were episodic, and Buggeln chose to slice and dice them, shuffling them through the evening, which made them hard to follow. Most successful were the self-contained plays, both set as Zoom conversations in a discrete moment of time, by Lyrae Van Clief-Stefanon and Saviana Stanescu. Clief-Stefanon penned a slice of life on the pressures felt by three Ithaca women of color between teaching, co-parenting and pursuing passions of music and poetry, warmly inhabited by Cynthia Henderson, Amoreena Wade and Sylvie Yntema. Stanescu played superbly with distance, exile, class, and generational change in a birthday Zoom between a Romanian born grad student in NYC (Helen T Clark), her little brother in Oesti, Romania (Joseph D’Amore) and her mother who is a caretaker in Milan (Elizabeth Mozer), in acting and dialogue first among equals. September brought a complete change of pace, a jaunty commedia farce by the master Goldoni entitled “The Fan.” A village outsmarts the visiting nobility while lovers are mismatched, betrayed and ultimately reunited. All the dialogue was pre-recorded in multiple takes by the voice actors individually, then reassembled by sound designer Lesley Greene and her assistant Kate Griffin, with necessary sound effects and ‘60s Italian pop music chosen by director Buggeln. Masked actors in a daffy variety of period-ish garb (contributed by a bevy of local designers) then synched themselves to the soundtrack with broad yet specific physicality. Pure bliss. A great ensemble throughout; especial standout voice/body pairs were Darcy Rose and Ronee Goldman as the wily peasant girl Giannina; Jacob White/Will Devary as her shy would-be suitor, Crispino; Jeffrey Guyton/Benno Ressa as a clueless count; Cynthia Henderson/Joseph D’Amore as the imperious aunt; Benno Ressa/Robert Denzel Edwards as the noble with heart-on-sleeve; and Eric Brooks/Adara Alston as an innkeeper. It felt like watching live-action animation. Luckily it can still be viewed on YouTube. “A Day” by Gabrielle Chapdelaine was again streamed, but this time the four main characters acted live side-byside in green-screen booths blended with pre-recorded vignettes featuring a slew of Cherry regulars. Harris (Karl Gregory) is jaded, sarcastic and constipated; Alfonso (Jahmar Ortiz) binge shops, works out, hopes for the best and yearns for childhood certainties; Nico (Sylvie Yntema) yearns to be noticed and kidnaps a smart-phone for a dinner-date; while Debs (Erica Steinhagen) sleeps, worries, and finally attempts to opt out. The characters narrate the actions of the other characters, adding a sense of constant reiteration and déjà vu. Keeping the main actors live in the same studio space reignites the frisson of live acting that most streaming distends. Wendy Dann directed the acting, Buggeln the video mise-en-scene, David Kossack was director of photography, Elman was live video editor, Greene supplied sound, Daniel Zimmerman did production design. Top-notch execution.
Art Uncertain Terrain | 12:00 PM, 1/7 Thursday | State of the Art Gallery, 120 W Martin Luther King, Jr./State Street, Ithaca | State of the Art Gallery’s first show of 2021 and seven gallery artists will show paintings, drawings, photographs, digital work and sculpture. Show dates: Jan. 7-31. Hours:† Thurs. & Fri., 12-6pm and Sat. & Sun., 12-5pm. “Topography of Light,” by Brian Keeler | 11:00 AM, 1/8 Friday | North Star Art Gallery, 743 Snyder Hill Road, Ithaca | Fridays thru Sundays until 2/28/21.
Movies Virtual Cinemapolis: I Blame Society | All Day 1/8 Friday | Written, directed, and starring Wallace Horvat as a warped version of herself in a razor-sharp satire of the pitfalls of post-#MeToo culture in Los Angeles. | 3 day rental available for $12 Virtual Cinemapolis: The Weasels’ Tale | All Day 1/8 Friday | The story of a†group of four long-time friends, including a used-to-befamous actress, her now disabled husband and an actor as well, who she eclipsed, and the sharp-tongued
Virtual Cinemapolis: Monsoon | All Day 1/9 Saturday | Ends 1/14. Kit returns to Ho Chi Minh City for the first time since he was six years old when his family fled the country in the aftermath of the VietnamAmerican war. He embarks on a personal journey across the country that opens up the possibility for friendship, love and happiness. | 3 day rental available for $12
screenwriter and director of her greatest hits.††Their coexistence is menaced by a young couple who, feigning to be lost, slowly insinuate themselves into their lives. | 3 day rental available for $12 Virtual Cinemapolis: 76 Days | All Day 1/9 Saturday | On January 23rd, 2020, China locked down Wuhan, a city of 11 million, to combat the emerging COVID-19 outbreak. Set deep inside the frontlines of the crisis in four hospitals, 76 DAYS tells indelible human stories at the center of this pandemic. | 3 day rental available for $12
Virtual Cinemapolis: Shadow in the Cloud | All Day 1/9 Saturday | A female WWII pilot traveling with top secret documents on a B-17 Flying Fortress encounters an evil presence on board the flight. | 3 day rental for $12 Virtual Cinemapolis: Tazzeka | All Day 1/9 Saturday | Ends 1/14. Growing up in the Moroccan village of Tazzeka, Elias learned the secrets of traditional Moroccan cuisine from his grandmother who raised him. Years later, meeting a top Paris chef and a young woman named Salma inspires him to leave home. In Paris, Elias faces unstable work and financial hardship as an undocumented immigrant. | 48 hour rental available for $10
Virtual Cinemapolis: Another Round | All Day 1/9 Saturday | Ends 1/14. Four weary high school teachers embark on an experiment to maintain a constant level of intoxication throughout the workday. Initial results are positive, and the teachersí little project turns into a genuine academic study. | 3 day rental for $12 Virtual Cinemapolis: Crock of Gold: A Few Rounds with Shane MacGowan | All Day 1/9 Saturday | Ends 1/14. A cinematic exploration of Pogues frontman Shane
Virtual Cinemapolis: Zappa | All Day 1/9 Saturday | Ends 1/14. With unfettered access to the Zappa family trust and all archival footage, ZAPPA explores the private
life behind the mammoth musical career that never shied away from the political turbulence of its time. | 3 day rental available for $12
Special Events One Compelling Ithaca Story | 1:00 PM, 1/10 Sunday | Featuring leaders from around Tompkins County who will reflect on a challenging year, and the spirit, intelligence, love and courage that have been essential for our shared communities throughout.†https:// givebutter.com/compelling-ithaca
Books YA (Virtual) Book Club | 4:30 PM, 1/6 Wednesday | At this meeting we will be discussing New York Times bestseller The Grace Year by Kim Liggett. Register online at tcpl.org. Virtual Panel by Panel Graphic Novel Book Club | 6:30 PM, 1/11 Monday | This discussion will be offered via Zoom. Patrons can register through the online calendar at https://www.tcpl.org/events/ virtual-panel-panel-graphic-novelbook-club-3 to receive a bundle, updates, and details on how to access the meeting. Greek Mythology Trivia with Alex Bracken | 7:00 PM, 1/12 Tuesday | Join New York Times bestselling author Alex Bracken and 4 YA authors for an epic game of Greek
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Town & Country
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W i n t e r ti m e s is Com i ng 20 T
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