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RANDOM ROCHESTER

PHILIP CARLI MAKES SILENT MOVIES SING OUR TOWNS

NEWS. ARTS. LIFE. NOVEMBER 2021 FREE | SINCE 1971

PITTSFORD PUTS THE QUESTION OF POT TO THE PEOPLE DRINKS

HAPPY GUT SANCTUARY: WHERE EVERYBODY KNOWS YOUR BRAIN

THIS IS MALIK EVANS


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FILM SERIES + TALKBACKS 1971-2

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NEWS. ARTS. LIFE. NOVEMBER, 2021 Vol 50 No 3 On the cover: Photograph by Jacob Walsh

YEARS

Y O F C IT

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CITY (ISSN 1551-3262) is published monthly 12 times per year by Rochester Area Media Partners, a subsidiary of WXXI Public Broadcasting. Periodical postage paid at Rochester, NY (USPS 022-138). Address changes: CITY, 280 State Street, Rochester, NY 14614. Member of the Association of Alternative Newsmedia and the New York Press Association. Copyright by Rochester Area Media Partners LLC, 2021 - all rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, photocopying, recording or by any information storage retrieval system without permission of the copyright owner. WXXI Members may inquire about free home delivery of CITY including monthly TV listings by calling 585-258-0200.

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NOVEMBER 2021

SECOND THURSDAY OF EVERY MONTH

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IN THIS ISSUE New York City Public Advocate Jumaane D. Williams and advocates for the homeless use the Hotel Cadillac as a backdrop to call for affordable housing across the state.

OPENING SHOT

PHOTO BY MAX SCHULTE

NEWS

4

ON THE COVER

THIS IS MALIK EVANS

Who is this 41-year-old mayor-to-be who wants to solve all the city’s problems, and what exactly is “Doology” anyway? BY GINO FANELLI

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LIFE

20

34

Time is ticking for communities in New York to either welcome or ban cannabis. Reluctant to take a stand, some are putting the question to the people. HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO US

Fifty years ago, the Towlers from Tennessee started a little newspaper called CITY — and Rochester was never the same. BY JEFF SPEVAK

THE SOUND OF MUSIC

Five recording studios making moves in the music world.

23

ARE U DOWN FOR A GOOD TIME MAKING WAVES?

Our experts review the latest albums from Spencer., Suburban Plaza, and Evan Meulemans.

44

REVEL IN THE DETAILS

THE ART OF INTROSPECTION

BY REBECCA RAFFERTY

HAPPY GUT = HAPPY HEART

Sometimes you want to go where everybody knows your brain. And they’re always glad you came.

HOSKEN

Isolation opened a window for illustrator Rork Maiellano, and the wind is at his back.

MAKING SILENT MOVIES SING

BY REBECCA RAFFERTY

BY DANIEL J. KUSHNER & PATRICK

32

RANDOM ROCHESTER

As the accompanist for The Dryden Theatre’s “Silent Tuesdays” series, Philip Carli keeps silent films alive by hitting all the right notes.

BY DANIEL J. KUSHNER

PUNTING ON POT

BY JEREMY MOULE

14

ARTS

BY DANIEL J. KUSHNER

48

WHAT ALES ME

SYRACUSE A BETTER BEER CITY THAN ROCHESTER?

Nope. Uh-uh. No way. Poking holes in the stupidest beer study ever done. BY GINO FANELLI roccitynews.com roccitynews.org

CITY 3


Who is this 41-year-old man who thinks he can fix the city’s problems?

THIS IS MALIK EVANS BY GINO FANELLI @GINOFANELLI GFANELLI@ROCHESTER-CITYNEWS.COM

M

alik Evans was uncomfortable, uncharacteristically, visibly uncomfortable. Sitting at the head of a hardwood conference table in his campaign headquarters on the 10th-floor penthouse of an East Avenue office building in the heart of downtown, Evans was preparing to do something he takes pains to avoid: talk about himself. Rochester’s mayor-elect is partial to talking about things like policy and vision and what he calls “building bridges” through his “compact with the community.” Fifteen minutes prior to our interview for a profile on him, his spokesperson called to ask if I could avoid asking him too much about his personal life and, instead, focus on issues. The answer was no. The issues have been well documented. The city is reeling from the economic fallout of the pandemic and the ongoing social and racial justice reckonings. Violent crime is the highest it has been in decades and has spilled into the public schools, which have been in shambles for as long as anyone can remember. Trust in city government and its institutions has eroded. 4 CITY

NOVEMBER 2021


What people want to know is who this 41-year-old man who thinks he can fix the problems is. Despite Evans spending nearly half his life in the public eye, his name preceded by a handful of elected-office titles he has held, remarkably little has been chronicled about the man behind School Commissioner-School Board President-City CouncilmemberMayor-elect Evans. “Oh, God,” he said, burying his forehead into a palm in resignation upon being reminded that our interview was for a personal profile. In a political ecosystem fueled more and more by populism and big personalities, Evans is an outlier. He is decidedly reserved. He doesn’t take digs at his opponents. He doesn’t boast about his political achievements, but that may be because in a city with Rochester’s problems there aren’t too many that stand out. He isn’t flashy, either. The checkerboard suit jacket he wore that day hung, like much of his wardrobe, a bit too loose on his thin frame. Some might call him boring, better suited to sticking to his day job as a banker at ESL Federal Credit Union than running a city. But the understated, everyman persona Evans has cultivated has worked for him. For those close to him, his successful mayoral run was the culmination of a near lifelong journey of a calculating politician who is known in every corner of the city. “He’s somebody who can talk in churches in the northeast or northwest quadrant, and then walk around the Park Avenue neighborhood and talk to people there and recognize that every single neighborhood matters,” said Gerald Gamm, a political science professor who taught Evans at the University of Rochester and now considers him a friend. “The metaphor he had at the start of that (mayoral) campaign, ‘Vote for me and I’ll build bridges,’ I thought it was really hokey at first, and I actually made fun of it, ‘So Malik, you’re going to build bridges for us?’” Gamm said. “But I actually came to appreciate it was genuine, it was deep, and it was sincere. But that’s who Malik is.”

HIS FATHER’S SON Evans grew up the fourth of six children in a blue two-story home on Hamilton Street in the South Wedge. To hear him tell it, he was a typical child of the late 1980s and early 1990s who played basketball and video games — his favorite was NES Tecmo Bowl — like every other kid in the neighborhood. But the Evans house wasn’t like every other house in the neighborhood. For one thing, the house at 219 Hamilton St. doubled as a church of sorts, a church of something called “Doology,” a faith Evans' father had created as a teenager on the premise that doing something to improve the problems in one’s community was more valuable than sitting around and complaining about them. The Rev. Lawrance Lee Evans Sr., who went by the title of “minister,” founded the First Community Interfaith Institute in 1970, a decade before Malik was born, and ran services out of the family home on Hamilton Street. The house was a revolving door of prayer, tutoring, lectures, and activism. On different days of the week, one could pop into the Evans home for a lecture on “King and his contemporaries,” or a sermon on solutions to racism, sexism, and classism. There were studies on Malcolm X and African-American history. The church’s activities were a near weekly fixture in the classified pages and community calendars of local newspapers for years. “This house would just be full of young people all learning about their history, their culture, and exactly how important education was,” said Nancy Johns Price, a longtime friend of the Evans family and a former administrator for the city’s Southeast Quadrant Neighborhood Service Center who is now on Evans' mayoral transition team. “That’s what (Minister Evans’) belief was.” The year Evans was born, his father reportedly lectured Internal Revenue Service workers on Black history and organized a rally at the former Americana-Rochester Hotel over alleged racial discrimination. A year later, he attempted to organize a Black community-focused security force following the racially-charged stabbing

The Rev. Lawrance Lee Evans Sr. imbued his son, Malik, with the political bug. PHOTO PROVIDED

Nancy Johns Price, a fixture in the southeast part of the city, recalled Evans’ childhood home at 219 Hamilton St. as a community hub. PHOTOS BY JACOB WALSH

CONTINUED ON PAGE 6

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CITY 5


death of a man named Windell Barnes as he waited for a city bus downtown. For a time, he ran a program for high school dropouts through the Rochester City School District and, later, retired from Rochester General Hospital as a case manager for homeless people. “My father was the most righteous man I’ve ever met,” Evans said. “He also had a lot more patience than I did. I’m very impatient, not in a bad way, but I think we can move things along faster, whether in the way we organized the campaign or my life.” Minister Evans ran unsuccessfully for office on at least two occasions before Evans was born. He challenged an incumbent assemblyman, Gary Proud, in the 1978 Democratic primary, after a failed run for the city school board the previous year. When asked to criticize his opponent in a Democrat and Chronicle interview that year, he declined, saying only that he’d like to see “more positive leadership.” His son would display the same tact 43 years later in his run for mayor, when Evans refused to make hay of

the turmoil in Mayor Lovely Warren’s political and personal life that would, in part, lead to her defeat by Evans in the Democratic primary and eventual resignation from office. Under the terms of a plea deal to satisfy charges in two criminal cases against her, Warren is scheduled to step down on Dec. 1. She will be replaced by her deputy, James Smith, until Evans is sworn in on Jan. 1. If Minister Evans infected his son with the political bug, he and his wife, Gwendolyn, also instilled in their son the sense that life is short. Gwendolyn, who was also known as MaAkilah, died in 2012 at the age of 65. Lawrance died six years later, also of cancer. He was 72. “Not everyone has a Gwen and Lawrance Evans,” Evans said. “That helped me, that’s the differentiator. I’d be lying if I said I would be where I am without my parents. They were my first teachers.” If Evans was to accomplish anything, it had to be now. Not tomorrow. Not next year. Now. Evans recalled the death of his parents as a

Malik Evans had political aspirations as a teenager. PHOTO PROVIDED

tremendous loss and credited them for shaping the man he has become. “Him and my mother had a formula and it worked,” Evans said. “I don’t know what the heck it was, but it worked. He was just brilliant as it related to empowering his kids. Nobody believed in me more than my mother and father.”

A YOUTHFUL LEADER

In 2003, at the age of 23, Evans accomplished what his father couldn’t when he was elected to the Rochester Board of Education, becoming the youngest commissioner in history. By that time, however, he was well into his public advocacy work.

Evans’ parents, Gwen and Lawrance. PHOTO PROVIDED

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In 1996, at the age of 16, Evans helped found the City/County Youth Council, a group of what Johns Price called “brilliant” young people who sought to give a voice to their peers. She recalled how Evans, who would head the group into his college years, spurred on members. “Malik made sure that we got our rear ends into gear,” Johns Price said. That program became Youth Voice, One Vision in 2001 under Mayor Bill Johnson, and still operates today. Evans’ years at Joseph C. Wilson Magnet High School cemented him as a young person set on leading. He was nominated “Most Likely to Succeed” and became the first student to be honored two years in a row with the Rochester Teachers Association’s “King Spirit Award,” granted to students demonstrating the values of Martin Luther King Jr.


“I have long range plans,” Evans told the Democrat and Chronicle in an article detailing his win. “I want to be a major driving force in politics, especially in this community.” On the mayoral campaign trail, Evans lamented the violence among young people plaguing the city and pushed the idea that getting kids to pick up something — work, community service, sports, anything — would leave them less time to pick up a gun. The concept was based on his own experience. In his high school days, he volunteered and worked. As if Evans couldn’t get any more wholesome, his first job was at 15 selling his mother’s cookies outside their Hamilton Street home. He later found work with the city’s recreation department. He and others who knew him in those years likened his school locker to a phone booth for Superman. There, he would swap out his street clothes and sneakers — he prides himself as being the first kid at Wilson Magnet to have a pair of Nike Air Worm Ndestrukts, Dennis Rodman’s inaugural swoosh-branded kicks — for a suit that would become his more familiar attire.

He wore that suit often, he recalled, including constantly to one of his most memorable endeavors — Teen Court. Evans was 17 when then-City Court Judge Frank Geraci Jr. began a pilot program consisting of mock trials for youth offenders already found guilty on minor charges in real court. Fellow teens would serve as prosecutors, defense attorneys, and a jury. “I remember him like it was yesterday,” Geraci, now a federal judge, said of Evans with a chuckle. “Malik bought into the whole thing. He had great ideas, he was very creative, and he was really caring with these teens.” Geraci saw a spark in Evans at a young age, to the point where watching him step into the shoes as the next mayor comes as no surprise. “I saw that commitment right at the beginning, I saw his commitment to the community, he was smart,” Geraci said. “I always expected him to go into some kind of community service.” Mention Teen Court to Evans and his eyes light up. He recalled getting involved as an “attorney” to fine-tune his public speaking skills. His friends, he said, urged him to go to law school. “I said, ‘Oh no, I’m not doing that,’” he said. CONTINUED ON PAGE 8

Malik Evans views political service as community service. PHOTO PROVIDED

roccitynews.com

CITY 7


The Evans family. PHOTO PROVIDED

FROM UR TO THE SCHOOL BOARD That Evans harbored political ambitions was no secret to anyone who knew him. The question was how they would materialize. He entered the University of Rochester in 1999 with visions of being a political journalist, something like the late Ed Bradley of “60 Minutes.” “I thought I’d be a reporter in D.C., and then maybe go into politics later on,” Evans said. He scuttled those plans after a veteran local photojournalist, Carl Shuba, who died in 2017, made him think twice about a career that is around-the-clock and low paying. “Carl told me, ‘You like doing community stuff, do you want to have

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to work on Thanksgiving and all of these other times?’” Evans recalled. “I said, ‘No, I don’t want to do that.’” Evans set course for a career in finance and politics, becoming the treasurer of the university’s Student Activities Appropriations Committee, an organization that held the purse strings for various campus groups. He led Kwanzaa celebrations, tutored students at Roberto Clemente School No. 8, and joined Mayor Bill Johnson’s taskforce on city’s nightclubs, studying the options and code enforcement for Black clubs. He dabbled in what he called “rabble-rousing,” too. Evans was part of a 200-student sit-in outside thenUniversity President Thomas Jackson’s office in 1999 calling for the preservation of the Frederick Douglass Institute for African and African-American Studies. Gamm, his former political science professor, recalled Evans as a student eager to challenge him.

“Malik, even as a college student, was really, really good at listening to other students, taking other students seriously, and not talking over other people,” Gamm said. “When I was standing there looking to the class and asking, ‘What do you think of the reading, what questions do you have?’ Malik would routinely speak up.” Upon graduating, Evans wasted no time earning his political bona fides in the real world. Just weeks out of college, he announced his candidacy for the school board. The campaign was a family affair. His older brother, Lawrance Lee Evans, Jr., an economist, sold signed copies of his first book, an academic text on the stock market boom and bust called “Why the Bubble Burst,” and gave the proceeds to the campaign. Evans won the seat with the secondhighest number of votes of any candidate, pulling in about 13 percent of the ballot.

Five years later, he would also become the board’s youngest president, a position he held from 2008 to 2013. He resigned in 2017 to pursue an atlarge seat on City Council. Through his time on the school board and City Council, which were both paid positions and considered part-time work, Evans kept his job at ESL Federal Credit Union. He has said he will step down from the bank before assuming the mayoralty. The RCSD had already been limping from crisis to crisis before Evans joined the board, and there were few outward signs of improvement during his tenure. Tumult was the order of the day, as the district cycled through superintendents, grappled with budget deficits, fended off talk of mayoral control of the school system, and student achievement stagnated. Six years into his tenure on the board, the state comptroller released an


audit that found the school board had failed to protect the district’s financial interests from waste and abuse by past superintendents and their top aides, took little or no action to control tens of thousands of dollars in undocumented bonuses, and awarded millions of dollars in no-bid contracts. Evans, who was the new president, at the time dismissed the findings as “old news” and said the board had since corrected its deficiencies, including ousting some top officials. “It was very tumultuous, it was very volatile, there was a lot of interpersonal squabbling,” said Shirley Thompson, who was a school commissioner from 2000 to 2007. Her time on the board was so toxic, she said, that she has tried to leave those days as a distant memory. But she recalled Evans as a thoughtful commissioner who shared her motivations of community service. “Malik was a very solid board member,” Thompson said. “One of the things I liked about Malik was he was very approachable, and he was very present.” When Evans joined the board, the district had an on-time graduation rate of about 55 percent. When he left in 2017, the rate was at 57 percent. Today, he is ambivalent about his time on the school board. There were some good things — he points to Wilson Magnet being ranked 27th best high school in the nation by Newsweek in 2005 as a high point — but acknowledged that the issues he confronted have snowballed. “The challenges the district faced were 50 years in the making even when I got there,” Evans said. “You had

declining enrollment, you had high levels of poverty, and you had some folks that believed that, ‘Oh no, these kids can’t do it.’” He added: “I always say that I wish there was more that could have been done, but I gave a lot of my formative years to the school board.”

A MAYOR IN THE MAKING When Evans trounced Warren in the Democratic primary in June, effectively clinching the mayor’s job, his victory surprised many people. After all, he was facing a two-term incumbent and a politician regarded by many to be coated in Teflon. At the outset of his campaign, political observers, including his friend, Gamm, publicly regarded his pursuit as an uphill battle. But people closest to Evans were not surprised. “Our father and mother wouldn’t be surprised. He said in the first grade that he wanted to be the president of the United States,” said his younger sister, LaShara Evans. “He laughs now and says, ‘I don’t want to be the president.’ But we knew he would always go into politics. And business, we knew he would go into banking as well.” LaShara Evans is the principal of Flower City School No. 54. Her office has a floor-to-ceiling bookshelf adorned with family photos and mementos that reveal the closeness of the Evans family. She said she and Evans talk by phone twice a week.

CONTINUED ON PAGE 10

LaShara Evans, Malik’s younger sister and principal of Flower City School No. 54, recalls her brother as a child saying he wanted to be president of the United States. PHOTO BY JACOB WALSH

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CITY 9


PHOTO BY JACOB WALSH

Malik Evans was voted “Most Likely to Succeed” at Wilson Magnet High School. PHOTO PROVIDED 10 CITY NOVEMBER 2021

Like her brother, she credited their parents for what success she and her siblings have found. Lawrance Lee Evans Jr. is now the managing director of financial markets and community investment for the United States Government Accountability Office. Akilah Evans, the youngest sister, is a medical doctor in Syracuse. But the Evans household isn’t all work and no play. The mayor-elect lives in the Cobbs Hill neighborhood with his wife, Shawanda, and their two boys, Cameron and Carter, with whom he said he finds time to play the now-vintage video games of his youth as well as more modern games in NBA 2K or Madden. “That’s probably the biggest escape I have, my kids bragging and talking junk,” Evans said. He said he’s grateful his boys enjoy football like him. But like other long-suffering Buffalo Bills parents, he’s shouldering the ultimate betrayal: his sons root for the Philadelphia Eagles and the Baltimore Ravens. “They’re so disrespectful,” Evans said, jokingly. “But I’ll tell you, if the Bills win the Super Bowl, we’re shutting down the city.” Evans met Shawanda during his early years in banking at a career day she had helped organize in the basement of Eden Baptist Church. They would get married in that basement. “She felt sorry for me,” Evans said. “I was doing a career day, she was running the career day, and she wouldn’t give me the time of day. And then someone said, ‘You know, I think he’s a nice guy.’” On the campaign trail, Evans repeatedly promised a transparent and inclusive administration without ego. What he wants, he said, is to inspire not only his city, but his children. “The biggest difference I want to make is the difference in the life of my kids,” Evans said. “I want them to know that their father did everything he could do to not only provide for them and make sure they were strong men and could provide for their family, but I also didn’t forget about the larger community.” Evans said his job as mayor would be to pull together the city to tackle its challenges. After years in politics and public service, with more ahead, Evans waxes philosophical about his view of government. “I wanted to make sure that the space I take up on this little planet, which we all take up, when you think about the planet, not to sound esoteric, but the planet is billions of years old,” he said. “All of us are but a speck in the span of the billions of years the Earth has been here. So what difference will you make? “On my tombstone,” Evans went on, “I want it to say, ‘You know what? He tried.’”


roccitynews.com CITY 11


NEWS

PUNTING ON POT

Puff, puff, pass to the people Reluctant to take a stand on welcoming weed dispensaries, some towns and villages are leaving it up to voters. BY JEREMY MOULE

@JFMOULE

JMOULE@ROCHESTER-CITYNEWS.COM

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our hours into a recent Pittsford village board meeting, the trustees were weighing a choice on the future of marijuana in their community. Under the state law that legalized the recreational use of cannabis, local governments have until Dec. 31 to decide whether they want cannabis shops or consumption sites, like lounges, within their borders. They can choose to opt out and ban them, or do nothing and welcome them. But Trustee Dan Keating wanted a third option: to let the people decide. The village’s lawyer assured him they could, as long as trustees first voted to opt out and then set a public referendum on the decision. “That seems like a really reasonable answer, because what I heard at the last meeting was we don’t want to just say no, because if we say no then we look like stuffy old Pittsford is shutting down everything,” Keating said. “We want to say no with a referendum, because I think we’re all on the same page on this,” he went on. “We want to hear the voice of the people.” Scenes like the one at Pittsford Village Hall are taking place in municipalities across New York, where elected officials, acutely aware of public perception and reticent to take a stand on what opinion polls suggest may be a controversial decision, are finding ways to punt. In the Syracuse area, for instance, the town of Geddes and the villages of Cazenovia, Minoa, and Camillus have all signaled that they plan to opt out and then hold a public vote on that decision. In New York, municipal governments can’t ask residents to vote on what action they should take, but when they take an

action they can also set a referendum on it. Surveys on the matter of recreational marijuana suggest that elected officials risk upsetting a large number of constituents whether they ban or approve dispensaries and lounges. The Siena Research Institute, which regularly polls New York voters, found in April that 57 percent of New Yorkers supported legalizing marijuana, while a not insignificant 36 percent opposed it. Heather Trella, the director of operations and a fellow at the SUNY Rockefeller Institute of Government, doesn’t think the leaders of these communities are necessarily trying to dodge a weighty decision. She

noted that the state has been slow to develop regulations for recreational cannabis, which many municipalities want to see before they make a decision. Meanwhile, the Dec. 31 deadline to decide is hard and fast. Under state law, municipalities can only opt out once — before the end of the year — but they can opt back in any time. “I think it’s not necessarily shirking their responsibility, I think it’s just trying to buy some time to present to their constituents what they’re actually agreeing to once there’s been more decisions made by the state,” said Trella, who has been tracking which governments are opting out of dispensaries and lounges.

Pittsford trustees are now working to adopt two measures to pave the way for their punt. The first would opt the village out of cannabis dispensaries and lounges, the other would put that decision to a public vote. A debate over dispensaries in the village of Pittsford was inevitable. Officials and residents have, over the course of decades, worked to create an attractive, walkable village. Preserving that character and village history has been top of mind for generations of residents. At the same time, the village’s affluence would likely be attractive to cannabis retailers, particularly those eager to associate themselves with the burgeoning wellness market. Dispensaries are often a far cry from the pipe and tobacco shops of old. Many exude the tranquil feel of a day spa or the sophistication of a luxury hotel, with high-end finishes and a refined shopping experience to boot. But Pittsford is not the only Monroe County community weighing how it wants to handle a potential influx of cannabis-related establishments. The positions vary widely. The city of Rochester under Mayor Lovely Warren has embraced the business and economic potential of legal marijuana and has no designs on blocking any aspect of the legal industry. Mayor-elect Malik Evans is also supportive of legalization and sees it as a way to spur entrepreneurship in the city. On the other hand, officials just over the city line in Gates are advancing a measure to block both dispensaries and lounges. In Penfield, officials are moving to prohibit lounges but allow dispensaries. In Perinton and Fairport, a split


Officials in Pittsford and other cities, towns, and villages across New York have until Dec. 31 to decide whether to allow cannabis dispensaries and lounges. PHOTOILLUSTRATION BY JACOB WALSH

appears likely. Perinton officials are considering opting out altogether and are scheduling a public hearing on their proposal in November, although an exact date has yet to be set. But Fairport, as an incorporated village inside the town, gets to decide for itself whether to allow those businesses within its borders. In recent weeks, Fairport officials have had in-depth discussions about how the village should approach cannabis legalization. During one September work session, the trustees, mayor, and village administrator talked about potential tax revenues from retail shops, likened dispensaries to liquor stores and on-site consumption

establishments to bars, and said they needed to weigh the businesses’ possible effects on residents’ health and quality of life. To that end, village officials are proposing a law to outlaw the smoking and vaping of tobacco and cannabis in public parks or buildings. Violators would be subject to fines between $25 and $250 or up to 15 days in jail; although, when it comes to anti-smoking law violations, fines are far more common than jail. “It was just something that we noticed we didn’t have on the books and thought it was really important to reinforce that our parks in our village are smoke-free areas,” Mayor Julie Domaratz said in a recent interview.

Trustees seemed more open to allowing retail sales of marijuana than cannabis lounges. But Bryan White, the village manager, told them to consider that cannabis will be accessible to residents and, likely, within the community, regardless of what they decide. “My perspective is take the tax dollars,” White said. “The restriction of not opting into at least retail doesn’t change the access with respect to this at all.” It is noteworthy that if Perinton blocks the establishments but Fairport allows them, the town will still get a cut of the revenue they generate in the form of sales tax from the village.

Bruce Barcott, a writer and senior editor of the marijuana news and consumer research website Leafly, made a similar point in an opinion piece. Barcott noted that he’s covered the rollout of cannabis legalization in more than a dozen states and argued that opting out of retail sales only keeps the illicit market alive. “These local bans function as a stimulus package for the town’s backalley weed dealers — who don’t check IDs at the door,” Barcott wrote.

roccitynews.com roccitynews.org CITY 13


FIFTY YEARS OF CITY

Mary Anna and Bill Towler in 1986. PHOTO COURTESY OF THE DEMOCRAT AND CHRONICLE 14 CITY NOVEMBER 2021


The once weekly newspaper was the blood, sweat, and tears of its founders, Bill and Mary Anna Towler. BY JEFF SPEVAK

@JEFFSPEVAK1

JSPEVAK@WXXI.ORG

I

f there was any question as to what Rochester’s newest newspaper was all about, the answer was there in black and white and read all over on the front page of the first edition of CITY/East on Oct. 5, 1971: We’ll stand with organizations and individuals in crusading for a better community – whether it be on the ecological, political, or educational issues. This was the coda of what would become CITY, which was launched on a shoestring 50 years ago by husband and wife Bill and Mary Anna Towler amid an explosion of alternative weekly newspapers around the country. These alt-weeklies, as they were known, would help set the political and cultural agendas of their cities for decades to come by chronicling community controversies and stirring up a few of their own. That happened to CITY in 1993, when it published a recruitment advertisement for the Ku Klux Klan. An organization of Black ministers picketed CITY and called for a boycott. “We ran it,” says Mary Anna, who was the editor, “and lots and lots and lots of people were really, really, really offended and really upset.” She and her husband, the publisher, stood their ground, but published a notice defending freedom of speech that contained an apology to those offended and urged readers to work for racial harmony. Decades later, and now retired, Mary Anna says she wouldn’t have done anything different. “At what point do you stop?” she asks. “If you believe in women’s rights or gay rights, or anything else, then do you automatically refuse to take ads from the right-to-life groups? We took a lot of those, and it never entered my mind that I would not take them. Even though I am strongly pro-choice, proabortion rights.” The Towlers slowly walked away from CITY two years ago, when they sold their life’s work to Rochester’s public broadcasting station, WXXI Public Media. But they remain fiercely connected to the city they love.

Mary Anna and Bill Towler in 2021. PHOTO BY JACOB WALSH

They moved into The Nathaniel, the trendy new apartment building of shimmering chrome, glass and architectural brick on South Clinton. Their fourth-floor living room looks out onto the Genesee River. From their small balcony, they can hear the roar of water spilling over the Court Street Dam. A telescope was poised at one of the windows, from where they sometimes spot a great blue heron. All that seems to be missing in their lives is any sign of CITY, which has since transitioned to a monthly glossy magazine with an around-the-clock online presence. Their tidy apartment is the antipathy of the controlled chaos of the newsroom that started in the attic of their Westminster Road home and, when it moved into offices, became their home away from home. Age has caught up with them. Mary Anna is 84. Bill turns 83 this month. Neurological issues have forced him

to glide through their apartment on a scooter, in electric-battery silence. The same neurological problem has reduced his voice to a whisper. Ostensibly, it was Bill’s job that brought them here. They were Tennessee natives and graduates of the University of Tennessee, where they met and married in 1962. They lived in Florida for two years, until Bill requested his company, General Dynamics, transfer him to Rochester. That was 1965 and, before long, he’d moved on to Eastman Kodak as a management consultant in industrial engineering. But in truth, Mary Anna says, they came for the snow. “The weather in Florida is terrible,” she says. “I do not understand why people think it is so fabulous, but we absolutely hated the weather and missed snow.” Now they have their wish, by the snow-plow load.

A VOICE FOR THE CITY When they arrived in Rochester, they wasted no time becoming politically and socially active. They belonged to the Democratic Action Committee, the liberal wing of the Monroe County Democratic Party, and the Civic Music Association. They helped organize a coffeehouse for teenagers. She co-founded Citizens For Quality Integrated Education. They were on the board for World of Inquiry school. They raised money for the Memorial Art Gallery. They belonged to the Park-Oxford Neighborhood Association, and a zoning coalition. CITY sprang forth from the Towlers’ dissatisfaction with the coverage of Rochester in the Democrat and Chronicle, and the now-defunct afternoon newspaper, the Times-Union. “They would cover nice things that were happening in neighborhoods in CONTINUED ON PAGE 16

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CITY Newspaper was a family affair for the Towlers. Here, daughter Elizabeth, 5, helps mom and dad put the paper to bed in 1972. PHOTO COURTESY OF THE DEMOCRAT AND CHRONICLE

Mary Anna Towler in 1975. PHOTO COURTESY OF THE DEMOCRAT AND CHRONICLE

The Towlers with their children, Cheryl, Elizabeth, and Will. PHOTO COURTESY OF THE DEMOCRAT AND CHRONICLE

16 CITY NOVEMBER 2021

the suburbs, but they would cover fights and killings in the city,” Mary Anna says. “And particularly fights in city schools, which there were some. And we knew and felt city neighborhoods deserved their own spokesperson, their own way to talk about their own problems.” CITY/East, the original name of CITY, would become the voice and, in fashion true to the Towlers’ consciousness for their community’s welfare, apologized for killing trees in a note to readers in the inaugural edition. According to a formula supplied by the Rochester Committee For Scientific Information, it took five trees to supply the newsprint for the 6,000 newspapers we published this week. We can provide the services of community newspaper — and protect our environment — if readers will save CITY/ East and other paper products and turn them into one of the city’s several junk and waste paper firms. Their tree-fueled newspaper was born in their home amid the family detritus generated by Mary Anna’s self-confessed casual approach to housekeeping, and the chaos of raising three young children. Cheryl was 7, Elizabeth was 5, Will was just 2 when the Towlers launched CITY. Bill was 33 years old. Mary Anna 34, with some experience working for her hometown Knoxville News-Journal. They put up $4,000 of their savings to get started and got another $5,000 from nine civic-minded friends who became known as the “stockholders.” They made room in the Westminster Road house for drafting tables needed to lay out the pages. The old thirdfloor maid’s quarters served as a photo darkroom. Stacks of the newborn newspaper were set on the piano.

The first edition was financed in part by advertisements for political candidates and a Chuck Mangione concert at the Mapledale Party House. Mary Anna clicked away on her manual typewriter, in whatever room she happened to be in: “Would new streetlights spoil the look of the neighborhood?”

GROWING AMBITION Over the course of its first year, the city view of CITY grew increasingly ambitious. Reporters were sent to City Council, school board, County Legislature and zoning board meetings. An acknowledgment of the arts emerged, with an interview with Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra conductor David Zinman. By the summer of CITY’s second year, much of the newspaper’s business had moved to a three-room office at 686 Monroe Ave. Easy biking distance for Mary Anna. She and Bill were often working until 2 a.m., checking proofs and pasting up pages. At one point, Mary Anna estimates, she was working 80-hour weeks. Four years after its birth, CITY/East began showing a profit. Bill was able to quit his job at Kodak. “We had no plans beyond CITY/ East when we first started,” he says. “The group of volunteers that Mary Anna had assembled to put this paper together were all in the neighborhood, right there. “The growth came because other people saw what we were doing, and wanted it to be for them as well.” So the Towlers decided to launch CITY/West. That plunged the paper back into the red. CONTINUED ON PAGE 18


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The Towlers spelled out their mission on the front page of the first edition of what was then CITY/East newspaper, published Oct. 5, 1971.

PHOTO BY JACOB WALSH

The Towlers reminisce over a photo of former CITY newsroom staff. PHOTO BY JACOB WALSH

Yet six years in, CITY was up to 40 stockholders. It was surviving on a diet of part-time reporters, photographers, and ad salesmen. The few full-time employees were multitaskers. The office manager was also a typesetter. A feature writer and layout artist also sold ads. In 1978, Mary Anna took a gamble on a school teacher named Mark Hare who had grown tired of teaching school. The salary was only $18,000 a year, but then, Hare had no journalism or professional writing experience. “We were big on reporting 18 CITY NOVEMBER 2021

everything tiny and local,” Hare says. “So we would go and collect information about every bicycle stolen off of every porch, eggs thrown at somebody’s house and all that kind of stuff, and put it all in the paper.” By then, CITY had moved to a dining room and living room in the back of an old house on Alexander Street. The front of the house was an architect’s office. “We were all on top of each other,” Hare says. Bill would pass along tips for stories as he made his ad-sales rounds. Mary

Anna, Hare says, was “ubiquitous.” And an intense, tight editor. Under Mary Anna’s tutelage, Hare went from reporting on stolen bicycles to major stories. It is not a stretch to suggest that he helped save the George Eastman Museum that it is known today. Mary Anna had heard from a board member that its entire collection of photos, negatives and films was on the verge of being sold. She turned over the story to Hare, who had been on the job for only a few months. He confirmed that the Smithsonian Institution was a likely buyer, and broke the story in CITY. The Democrat and Chronicle piled on and, Hare says, “After that, everybody was so embarrassed that the whole thing fell apart.” A few years later, it was three or four months of work before Hare broke the explosive story that the Seneca Army Depot was being used to store nuclear weapons. CITY campaigned against the University of Rochester’s exploration of moving the Eastman School of Music to its River Campus. Imagine downtown Rochester without it. And CITY wrote stories critical of a proposal to extend I-390 through the Swillburg section of the city — a plan that Mary Anna says would have destroyed “absolutely wonderful low-, middle-income houses, small affordable housing.” Houses occupied by poor people. And minorities. Having grown up in segregated Tennessee, the Towlers knew this drill. “The North did not escape,” Mary Anna says, “and still does not escape, the kind of racial division and hatred

that is endemic to the South.” Hare remembers seeing Mary Anna out as late as 2014, reporting on such issues. “She was doing all that work herself, even then,” he says. She had to, especially in the early years. It was not uncommon for CITY reporters to stick around for six months, maybe a year, before moving on. Hare was a long hauler, hanging on for six years, before moving on to the Democrat and Chronicle.

CHANGING WITH THE TIMES Change was one of the few constants. Even the address. CITY migrated from Alexander Street, then Village Gate Square, then University Avenue. CITY/West had a Thurston Road office for a while. “It was a real mom-and-pop operation,” Hare says. “They never had anybody they could kind of turn it over to, really. So they just did it, they did it all.” When mom and pop sold their creation to WXXI, the station made way for CITY at its office on State Street. Print publications have struggled over the last decade, and the transition of CITY to a monthly magazine reflects that fight. The pandemic exacerbated the problem, with advertising revenue dropping as restaurants and entertainment venues went silent, leading to some publications closing. “Media in 2021 has a lot of challenges that don’t often have to do with the media itself,” says Molly Willmott, the manager of the Association of Alternative Newsmedia. “They have more to do with people’s


The Towlers were among the longest-running owners of an alternative newsweekly in the country. PHOTO COURTESY OF THE DEMOCRAT AND CHRONICLE

scattered attention and the way folks get their news.” Willmott has known the Towlers for years. She calls them “lovely people” and “truly pillars of our industry.” At the annual AAN conference in Boston over the summer, the Towlers were honored with a lifetime achievement award. They accepted it in absentia in light of the pandemic. By Willmott’s reckoning, only one other AAN newspaper, in Long Beach, has had the same ownership longer than the Towlers’ reign at CITY. “Most people are in it,” Willmott says, “because they believe in what they’re doing.” Perhaps too much? “I was a little concerned that when they finally retired,” Hare says, “that she wouldn’t know what to do with herself.” He needn’t worry. In the Towlers’ new apartment, vinyl records and CDs line the shelves. A Don Shirley jazz album sits by the turntable. Other shelves hold big books on history, art and architecture, and a paperback of Stokely Carmichael’s “Black Power: The Politics of Liberation.” While living in what Mary Anna calls “the Godforsaken Cape Canaveral area” a lifetime ago, the couple had

listened to National Public Radio. Sometimes they heard broadcasts from the Eastman School of Music. The Towlers are not musicians. They just love music. They stay in Rochester for the culture. Their apartment building is next door to Dinosaur Bar-B-Que, but the Towlers are more likely to point out that it’s also within easy walking distance to Geva Theatre Center and the Rochester Public Library. Both Towlers are avid readers. Mary Anna has checked out a copy of “The Overstory,” now resting casually on an end table. The bookmark shows that she’s halfway through Richard Powers’ Pulitzer Prize-winning novel of trees and political activism. The Towlers live in the midst of words, art, and social awareness. Things that the couple believed in, and what CITY represented of their city. “The reason it’s named CITY is very deliberate,” Mary Anna says. “To make a mark that this is an institution that believes in urban lives. Believes in healthy urban areas, for all people.” Jeff Spevak is WXXI’s Arts & Life editor. He can be reached at jspevak@ wxxi.org. roccitynews.com CITY 19


ARTS

THE SOUND OF MUSIC

Dave Drago adds plenty of pop-rock polish and lush vocal harmonies to music produced at 1809 Studios. PHOTO BY JACOB WALSH

FIVE RECORDING STUDIOS MAKING NOISE IN THE MUSIC WORLD BY DANIEL J. KUSHNER

R

ochester has no shortage of aspiring musicians making bedroom recordings using high-quality recording software. But for artists who need that extra professional touch, first-rate recording studios abound. Far from an exhaustive list, here are five studios making moves in the local music scene. 20 CITY NOVEMBER 2021

@DANIELJKUSHNER

DKUSHNER@ROCHESTER-CITYNEWS.COM

THE SONG GUY: DAVE DRAGO OF 1809 STUDIOS Dave Drago’s 1809 Studios in nearby Macedon in Wayne County has been a go-to destination for some of Rochester’s most prominent singersongwriters looking to make full-band records. Danielle Ponder, Mikaela Davis, Jon Lewis, and Ben Morey have all turned to Drago for his abilities as a

multi-instrumentalist, sound engineer, and producer. A signature aspect of Drago’s work is also his favorite: the background vocal parts he frequently writes and records for his clients. “The backing vocal stuff has become a reason people come here,” he says. Music produced at 1809 tends to feature classic song structures, rich

textures, and big sounds. “Bring an idea to the table — don’t be afraid of it, don’t hide it behind other things,” Drago says. “Make it big, give it a personality, allow it to be something that people are going to hear.” Drago says that serving the song is the top priority of all his recording projects. Most recently, he engineered, produced, mixed,


But once COVID trapped people in their homes and locked them out of live gigs, The Green Room began offering live-streaming services and video recordings. Ramerman says the demand for visual content — live videos, music videos, social media content, and B-roll footage — remains high. Audio recordings are still a top priority for the self-described “tech junkie.” For example, he recently purchased a 24-track, two-inch tape machine from Lou Gramm. A drummer by trade, Ramerman studied at Los Angeles College of Music with Ralph Humphrey — who played drums for Frank Zappa — before committing to sound production as a career. “My role in the sound is to help the artist achieve the sound that they’re hearing in their head,” Ramerman says.

THE NEW KIDS: STUDIOS AT WATER STREET Josh Pettinger, sitting in Studio A at Wicked Squid Studios, prefers sounds that are “punchy” and “controlled but also emotive.” PHOTO BY JACOB WALSH

and mastered “Waves,” the new fulllength album by Rochester singersongwriter Evan Meulemans. For one of the album’s songs, “Current,” serving the song meant creating a character for Meulemans to embody. In that case, a 19th-century evangelical preacher, reinforced by the prominent organ sounds and church-like reverb on the vocals. “Be that character that you are trying to be in that song,” Drago explains. “And that character might be you, but who are you? And what is your purpose for saying the things that you’re saying?”

‘CONTROLLED BUT EMOTIVE’: JOSH PETTINGER’S WICKED SQUID STUDIOS

Wicked Squid Studios dates back to 2011, when owner Josh Pettinger began using an RV as a mobile studio to create multitrack recordings of live shows in basements, dive bars, and festivals. Wicked Squid was officially incorporated as an LLC in 2015, and has since become a popular studio stop for a wide variety of artists, from rock and funk bands such as KINDOFKIND and The Sideways to hip-hop emcees MF SKUM, Donny Murakami, and Negus Irap. In addition to recording albums,

“My role in the sound is to help the artist to achieve the sound that they’re hearing in their head,” says Matt Ramerman of The Green Room. PHOTO BY JACOB WALSH

Pettinger — along with fellow engineers and producers Christopher Dubuc-Penney and Ian Fait — offers video services to musical clients. Plans are in the works to convert Wicked Squid’s Studio B into a rehearsal space co-op for local bands. The overall characteristics of the Wicked Squid sound are clear. Pettinger describes it as “punchy” and “controlled but also emotive.”

THE TECH JUNKIE: MATT RAMERMAN OF THE GREEN ROOM Prior to the pandemic, producer and engineer Matt Ramerman had already been the preferred choice for local artists such as bassist Luis Carrion, guitarist Bob Synder, the rock bands Maybird and MoChester, and the reggae outfit The Medicinals.

The recent history of Water Street Musical Hall has been tumultuous, with multiple stops and starts involving liquor licences, changes in management, and short-lived restaurants. But the new managers in Rochester-area natives Andrew Nittoli and Riley Fressie — musicians who met while students at University of the Arts in Philadelphia — are looking to turn things around. The duo now oversee the 1,000-capacity Water Street Music Hall, the more intimate Club at Water Street, and the newly established recording studio in the basement. Nitolli says the name Studios at Water Street refers to its ability to utilize both the live rooms upstairs and the downstairs studios for recording. Nittoli and Fressie recently recorded a live album there for rising national singer-songwriter Gabe Lee. Other recording projects include a funk album by Philadelphia rapper ENDO and producer Ty Key, as well as overdubs for the Buffalo band American Angelica Tree and Nittoli and Fressie’s Americana band Spooky and the Truth. Vintage instruments and sounds are priority at the Studios at Water Street. Nittoli and Fressie say they avoid using digital plugins whenever CONTINUED ON PAGE 22

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possible, opting instead for old-school equipment such as the Rhodes electric piano they bought from Giant Panda Guerilla Dub Squad and a ’70s-era Fender Bassman cabinet. And rather than using only digital software, all Water Street’s sessions are recorded to tape. “I’m looking for genuine,” Fressie says. In the Rochester recording studio scene, Nittoli and Fressie are undoubtedly the new kids in town. After meeting in college and touring in Europe, they moved back to Rochester two years ago looking to make an impact with Water Street. “We don’t want Water Street to be just what everyone expects — ‘Oh, yeah, give it a couple months, then it’ll tank again,’” Fressie says. “We’re here for the longevity of it, and maybe it takes two kids who half-know what they’re doing from Philly to come in and do it.”

THE PROFESSOR: STEPHEN ROESSNER OF CALIBRATED SOUND University of Rochester professor and producer Stephen Roessner has quite the pedigree. At SUNY Fredonia, he learned from influential indie rock producer Dave Fridmann and was in the room for the sessions that yielded The Flaming Lips’ celebrated album “Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots.” He worked as a recording engineer at The Juilliard School for nearly five years, and won a 2010 Grammy Award for his work on organist Paul Jacobs’s Naxos recording, “Livre du Saint Sacrament.” Today, he guides aspiring sound engineers at U of R on recording projects. He’s also active as a producer and engineer, having recently worked on Calicoco’s album “Underneath,” as well as recordings for the Rochester band Bellwether Breaks. “I focus on the energy that’s created, or the delivery — whether it be guitar or drums or vocals. It’s about the emotion that’s in the music,” Roessner says. “And as audio engineers, now with digital editing, we can fix everything.” “But we can’t fix emotion,” he later explains. “We can’t fix the actual delivery. So that’s when I’m working with a band, that’s my main goal. I want to get something out of them that is going to be tangible, that is going to be noticeable in the recording. Not just ‘Oh, it’s perfect.’ It’s gonna be human.” 22 CITY NOVEMBER 2021

Riley Fressie and Andrew Nittoli manage the venues and the new recording studio at Water Street Music. PHOTO BY JACOB WALSH

Grammy-winning sound engineer and producer Stephen Roessner teaches audio recording at the University of Rochester. PHOTO BY JACOB WALSH


NEW MUSIC REVIEWS

“HAVE A GOOD TIME” BY SUBURBAN PLAZA Suburban Plaza started in Rochester as a versatile rock band before moving to Los Angeles and evolving into first-rate hip-hop songwriters, producing pop songs for the likes of Joji and Rich Brian. Its members never stopped writing for themselves though, as evidenced by the hard-hitting, poignant single “PHILANDO/NAT” and “TULSA” EP, and the new crop of tunes they penned since spreading out across the East Coast during the pandemic. Their latest EP “Have a Good Time” finds band members Yone, Jerry Rescue, Wave, and Dave Hamilton continuing to package raw, brutally honest lyrics in glossy pop music loaded with auto-tuned vocals and R&B hooks. The difference here is that the five silken slow jams focus more on modern dating than the social justice thread of their earlier work. The band rolls out elements of soul, R&B, and rap deliberately, but the execution is so sophisticated and seamless that it sounds as if it’s coming from the musicians’ subconscious. Suburban Plaza’s nuanced use of autotune dominates “Sweet Escape,” a ’70s-style duet with vocalist SiMaya. Rather than being pervasive in a way that sometimes stunts musical expressivity, the autotune on Yone’s voice paradoxically adds emotion and soulfulness to the melody. The single “Fool’s Paradise,” first released in September, is a smooth soundtrack to the bitter demise of a relationship. Musically, the R&B melody and hip-hop rhythm make for a seductive combination that suggests romantic bliss. The lyrics tell a different story: I’ve been meaning to text back/ But my ego said not to/ And my pride said ‘Fuck you’/ In my mind it’s all you. Similarly, “Boyfriends” is an expletive-filled break-up song about a man who’s lost patience with a cheating partner. The longest of the five songs on “Have a Good Time” clocks in at a mere three minutes and 25 seconds, but brevity can hook listeners. Personal spoken-word commentary on the pitfalls of romance serves as segues between songs.

The EP closes with “Make Up Sex,” in which a couple isn’t quite ready to end their relationship. “I wanna let this go but we ain’t done yet,” Yone and guest vocalist Saint Bodhi sing. A fake automated message has the last word, however: “This love has died. Would you like another?” With “Have a Good Time,” Suburban Plaza succeeds once again at making irresistible pop music with unsettling messages. The beats and melodic hooks may lure the listener in, but the words are intentionally uncomfortable and unabashedly honest. Suburban Plaza is proof that art can be both insightful and catchy as hell. — BY DANIEL J. KUSHNER

“ARE U DOWN?”

with vibe over all else. But the vibes are welcome. What makes “Are U Down?” endearing is Spencer.’s commitment to making the moods echo, letting sonic elements linger and warp like old tapes. One humid interlude is even titled “staywmecassette,” and elsewhere, he delivers the hook “Loving you, it feels like no direction” from a cozy bed of analog hiss. Much of “Are U Down?” was written and recorded at home during the COVID-19 pandemic, which gives it an interior sensibility. Nearly every song makes use of jazzy guitar chords, like on the spritely single “MyLuv,” where they rise like smoke as soon as they’re strummed. There are shades of contemporary R&B luminaries Thundercat and even Frank Ocean here, but Spencer. ultimately reveals himself to be his own kind of artist — a detail-oriented polyglot fluent in jazz musicology, hip-hop rhythms, and pop melodies. Though he sings the album’s title as a romantic beckon, Spencer.’s talent makes “Are U Down?” feel like an invitation to step into his musical world. — BY PATRICK HOSKEN

BY SPENCER. “I’m not the type to take a bite and slow down,” lo-fi maestro Spencer. announces on the song “byyyte” to kick off his debut album, “Are U Down?,” released earlier this fall. The sentiment rings like a mission statement for the young neo-soul artist. His decree is as deliberate as the period at the end of his name. Though he uses the 11 songs on “Are U Down?” to detail the push and pull of a relationship, it’s tempting to read Spencer.’s own origin story throughout the album’s 32 minutes. Born Spencer Miles Allen, the enterprising musician and producer graduated in 2016 from Penfield High School, where he played trumpet in the jazz band, and spent a summer at Eastman School of Music. After a few years at SUNY Fredonia making bedroom beats, he relocated to Brooklyn. “Are U Down?,” his first full release for storied British indie label 4AD, sighs like a summer evening on a New York City fire escape. There is drama. Spencer.’s tender voice appears front and center on “Heart Freestyle,” the most nakedly vulnerable track, as he repeats, “Girl, you got my heart.” On “Luvs Me Not,” he bemoans a loss: “You’d rather take off than to stay with me instead.” His soulful vocals help sell these narratives on an album preoccupied

“WAVES” BY EVAN MEULEMANS Evan Meulemans is an organic farmer by day, and a side-hustling musician by night. The Rochester singer-songwriter expands his musical palette in a big way on his new fulllength album “Waves,” rolled out in three parts leading up to the complete release Nov. 19. Meulemans solidified his abilities as a capable, neo-folk crooner with a predilection for catchy pop phrasing on his first two EPs, and later polished that sound on “Lilac Drive,” his subsequent debut full-length album from 2016. “Lilac Drive” was notable both for Meulemans’s use of a full band in the recording studio and for introducing producer and multi-instrumentalist Dave Drago as a major collaborator. In addition to co-producing the record with Meulemans at 1809 Studios in nearby Macedon, Drago provided bass guitar, keyboards, percussion, and

background vocals. Drago reprises his multiple roles on “Waves,” displaying his uncanny knack for pop-rock hooks. His ear for vocal harmonies brings greater depth to the songs’ straightforward structure — especially on “Quiet Night.” But the new album’s approach to the lead vocals has both Meulemans and Drago shifting course, with major sonic implications. For one, Meulemans has dropped much of the darker, complex colors in his vocal timbre that gave his melodies an otherworldly vibe — not unlike the soulful, new-age warble of indie musician Anohni (formerly Antony Hegarty). Instead, Meulemans sticks to a more mainstream vocal quality on “Waves” — with brighter tones and simpler, less busy melodies, as on the earnest ballad “Burnin’.” That said, the song arrangements throughout the album are fully formed and muscular, whether the music is boisterous or introspective. “On My Way” is a full-fledged, blues-rock barn-burner reminiscent of The Black Keys, while “Mirror” is a harmony-rich, psychedelic ballad akin to the songs of indie rock bands My Morning Jacket or Band of Horses. No matter the vocal range of the song, Meulemans’s tenor voice seems fixed in the middle of his range, resulting in an easy delivery that never sounds strained or strung out. At his core, Meulemans is an engaging singer whose original songs are rooted in acoustic folk-rock, but shaded with melodies that evoke soul and the blues — à la artists such as Hozier and Vance Joy. With “Waves,” Drago and Meulemans have made the lead vocals less prominent in the mix, opting instead to embed the voice more evenly into the overall sound through strategic mic placement and the use of reverb. It’s effective at creating a hypnotic atmosphere, but it deemphasizes the importance of the songwriting. In his previous recorded work, Meulemans sounded like he was having an intimate conversation with listeners. In contrast, “Waves” creates more distance between him and the audience, and proceeds to fill in the space with arena-ready soundscapes. That’s not to say the album is a misstep, but it is a departure from the coffeehouse ambiance of the EPs “New Folk” and “Evan’s Aloha.” The live-concert setting will be the true test of potency for Meulemans’s new collection of songs. The “Waves” CD release show takes place 7 to 10 p.m. on Saturday, Nov. 20, at Lovin’ Cup, 300 Park Point Drive. $10. Ed Iseley plays in support. — BY DANIEL J. KUSHNER

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MUSIC CALENDAR For up-to-date information on protocols, vaccination and mask requirements, and performance cancellations, consult the websites of individual venues.

ACOUSTIC/FOLK

RPO: Hansel & Gretel. Kodak Hall at

75stutsonstreet.com. Sat., Nov. 20, 7 p.m. $20.

Eastman Theatre, 60 Gibbs St. rpo.org. Thu., Nov. 18, 7:30 p.m. and Sat., Nov. 20, 8 p.m. $30+. Worlds Colliding. Nazareth College Glazer Music Performance Center, 4245 East Ave. chambermusicrochester.org. Nov 14, 4pm. $35.

AMERICANA

CONTEMPORARY CLASSICAL

232-3230. Sat., Nov. 13, 8 p.m. $6. The Mighty High & Dry. Little Cafe, 240 East Ave. thelittle.org. Thu., Nov. 11, 6:30 p.m. and Thu., Nov. 18, 6:30 p.m. Moon Hollow. Abilene, 153 Liberty Pole Way. 232-3230. Thu., Nov. 11, 7:30 p.m. $7.

Gibbs St. 274-3000. Thu., Nov. 18, 7:30 p.m.

Extended Family. Three Heads Brewing,

186 Atlantic Ave. 244-1224. Sat., Nov. 13, 9 p.m. $10.

John Dady, Perry Cleveland, Gary Holt, & John Ryan. 75 Stutson, 75 Stutson St.

BarnSalt. Abilene, 153 Liberty Pole Way.

Composers’ Concert. Hatch Hall, 26

Eastman Audio Research Studies (EARS). Hatch Hall, 26 Gibbs St. 274-

3000. Mon., Nov. 15, 7:30 p.m. Musica Nova. Kilbourn Hall, 26 Gibbs St. 274-3000. Mon., Nov. 22, 7:30 p.m.

DJ/ELECTRONIC

BLUES

Carolyn Wonderland. Abilene, 153

Liberty Pole Way. 232-3230. Tue., Nov. 16, 7:30 p.m. $40/$45. Jake La Botz. Photo City Music Hall, 543 Atlantic Ave. 451-0047. Tue., Nov. 16, 8 p.m. $15. Joe Bonamassa. Auditorium Theatre, 885 E. Main St. rbtl.org. Wed., Nov. 24, 8 p.m. $82+. Kenny Wayne Shepherd Band. Kodak Center, 200 W. Ridge Rd. kodakcenter. com/events. Tue., Nov. 16, 8 p.m. $25+. The Occasional Saints. Little Cafe, 240 East Ave. Wed., Nov. 17, 6:30 p.m.

CLASSICAL

First Muse Chamber Music: Schubert’s Winterreise. First Unitarian Church, 220

S Winton Rd. 271-9070. FirstMuse.org. Mon., Nov. 15, 7:30 p.m. $25. Jacob Ertl: The Piano Speaks. Nazareth College Wilmot Recital Hall, 4245 East Avenue. 389-2700. Sun., Nov. 21, 3 p.m. Janus Guitar Duo & Ricardo Saeb. Little Cafe, 240 East Ave. thelittle.org. Sat., Nov. 20, 6:30 p.m. Live from Hochstein. Hochstein Performance Hall, 50 N Plymouth Ave. Nov. 10: The Browning-Krug Duo; Nov 17: Ekstasis Duo. 12:10-12:50 p.m. The Panther & the Rose. Downtown United Presbyterian Church, 121 N. Fitzhugh St. pegasusearlymusic.org. Fri., Nov. 12, 7 p.m.

Rave Against the Machine 3: AKU, RootsCollider, Arguments the Band.

Photo City Music Hall, 543 Atlantic Ave. 451-0047. Fri., Nov. 26. $10/$15.

JAZZ

Curtis Kendrick & Cabo Frio. Record

Archive, 33 1/3 Rockwood St. 244-1210. Sat., Nov. 13, 7 p.m. $30. Joe Fonda Quartet. Bop Shop Records, 1460 Monroe Ave. bopshop.com. Sun., Nov. 14, 8 p.m. $20. Mel Henderson-Greg Wachala Duo. Little Cafe, 240 East Ave. thelittle.org. Wed., Nov. 24, 6:30 p.m. NOROC Quartet. Bop Shop Records, 1460 Monroe Ave. bopshop.com. Fri., Nov. 26, 8 p.m. $15.

Pat Metheny: Side Eye w/ James Francies & Joe Dyson. Kodak Center,

200 W. Ridge Rd. kodakcenter.com/ events. Thu., Nov. 18. $36+. Ricky Ford Quartet. Bop Shop Records, 1460 Monroe Ave. bopshop.com. Sat., Nov. 6, 8 p.m. $25/$30. Saxology. Hatch Hall, 26 Gibbs St. 2743000. Tue., Nov. 16, 7:30 p.m.

Vanishing Sun: Impressions of the Infinite. Strasenburgh Planetarium, 657 East Ave. rmsc.org. Nov. 12-13, 7 p.m. $18-$20.

Two visits ($50 per visit). The second visit will be 6 months after the first. There will be lung function test and blood draw (two tablespoons), saliva, breath condensate and urine collection at each visit.

Call our Research Coordinator at 585-224-6308 if you are interested or if you have questions. Thank you! 24 CITY NOVEMBER 2021

Born A New, VCTMS, Coalition, Fight From Within, The Versus Effect. Montage

POPS/STANDARDS

RPO: Back to Broadway. Kodak Hall at Eastman Theatre, 60 Gibbs St. rpo.org. Nov. 12-13, 8 p.m. $30+.

Music Hall, 50 Chestnut St. 232-1520. Fri., Nov. 19, 7 p.m. $16/$18. The Three Tremors. Montage Music Hall, 50 Chestnut St. 232-1520. Fri., Nov. 12, 8 p.m. $15/$20.

Something Magical: Disney in Concert. JCC Hart Theatre, 1200 Edgewood Ave. 461-2000. Sat., Dec. 4, 8 p.m. and Sun., Dec. 5, 2 p.m. $20 & up.

Undeath, Stabbed, Bowel Erosion, Necrostalker, Who Decides. Bug Jar,

PUNK/HARDCORE

219 Monroe Ave. bugjar.com. Fri., Nov. 19, 9 p.m. $15/$17.

POP/ROCK

Evan Meulemans, Ed Iseley. Lovin’ Cup,

300 Park Point Dr. lovincup.com. Sat., Nov. 20, 7 p.m. $10. The Fox Sisters, Jazzgoons. Abilene, 153 Liberty Pole Way. 232-3230. Wed., Nov. 24, 9 p.m. $10. Jack West, Sydney Irving. Bop Shop Records, 1460 Monroe Ave. bopshop. com. Wed., Nov. 10, 6:30 p.m. JB & Joyous Noise. Lovin’ Cup, 300 Park Point Dr. lovincup.com. Fri., Nov. 19, 8 p.m. $25. Left-Handed Second Baseman. Abilene, 153 Liberty Pole Way. 232-3230. Fri., Nov. 12, 9 p.m. $10. Our Lady Peace. Photo City Music Hall, 543 Atlantic Ave. 451-0047. Tue., Nov. 9, 8 p.m. $39.50/$45.

Off With Their Heads, THICK. Bug Jar,

219 Monroe Ave. bugjar.com. Sun., Nov. 14, 8:30 p.m. $15/$18.

SEASONAL

Eastman Horn Choir: A Cornucopia of Holiday Delights. Hochstein Performance

Hall, 50 N Plymouth Ave. 454-4596. Wed., Dec. 1, 12:10-12:50 p.m. Eileen Ivers: A Joyful Christmas. Smith Opera House, 82 Seneca St. Geneva. thesmith.org. Fri., Dec. 3, 8 p.m. $22$40. Finger Lakes Camerata. First Congregational Church of Canandaigua, 58 N Main St. Canandaigua. 394-2184. Sat., Dec. 4, 3 p.m. and Sun., Dec. 5.

TRADITIONAL

Buffalo Tango Orkestra. Smith Opera

Parker Brothers Band, Drowsy Nectar, Black Robin Band, The Water Dogs.

Montage Music Hall, 50 Chestnut St. 232-1520. Sat., Nov. 13, 7 p.m. $10/$12.

House, 82 Seneca St. Geneva. thesmith. org. Sat., Nov. 6, 8 p.m. $18+. Irish Night. Barry’s Old School Irish, 2 W. Main St. Webster. 545-4258. Fridays, 7 p.m.

Patrick Jaoeun Band, Influenza13, Cat Theater, No Vacancy, RAM!. Montage

VOCALS

Music Hall, 50 Chestnut St. 232-1520. Sun., Nov. 14, 7 p.m. $10/$12. Start Making Sense, Tragedy. Anthology, 336 East Ave. 484-1964. Fri., Nov. 26, 7:30 p.m. Talking Heads tribute; metal Bee Gee tribute. $20.

Worlds Greatest Dad, Carpool, No Gumption. Bug Jar, 219 Monroe Ave.

bugjar.com. Sat., Nov. 20, 9 p.m. $10.

Wyatt Coin, Exham Priory, Dredneks, Periodic Table of Elephants. Photo City

Music Hall, 543 Atlantic Ave. 451-0047. Sat., Nov. 27, 7 p.m. $10.

Zeta, MakeItStop, False Pockets, KindofKind. Bug Jar, 219 Monroe Ave.

bugjar.com. Tue., Nov. 23, 8 p.m. $10.

Volunteers needed: E-cigarette users

Earn $100 by participating in our study!

METAL

Bach Cantata. Hatch Hall, 26 Gibbs St. 274-3000. Fri., Nov. 19, 7:30 p.m.

Eastman Chorale. Kilbourn Hall, 26

Gibbs St. 274-3000. Sun., Nov. 21, 3 p.m. Repertory Singers, Treble Chorus. Kilbourn Hall, 26 Gibbs St. 274-3000. Sun., Dec. 5, 3-5 p.m.

WORLD

The Buddhahood. Three Heads Brewing,

186 Atlantic Ave. 244-1224. Sat., Nov. 6, 8 p.m. $10.


INSIDE WXXI PUBLIC MEDIA | WXXI-TV PBS AM 1370/FM 107.5 NPR l WXXI CLASSICAL WRUR-FM 88.5 l THE LITTLE THEATRE

Watch A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving

Tune in for The Splendid Table’s Turkey Confidential

Sunday, November 21 at 7:30 p.m. on WXXXI-TV and WXXI-Kids 24/7 For the kids and kids at heart, WXXI is proud to bring you this holiday classic. Join Charlie Brown, Snoopy, Linus Peppermint Patty, and the rest of the Peanuts group on a silly Thanksgiving adventure to learn about the real meaning of the holiday.

Thursday, November 25 at 12 p.m. on AM 1370 In this annual, live Thanksgiving call-in show Splendid Table’s Francis Lam (pictured) comes to the rescue of cooks, kitchen helpers, and dinner guests during the biggest cooking day of the year. You can send your Thanksgiving-related questions via voice memo before November 3 to contact@splendidtable.org or call 1-800-537-5252.

2 Make a pumpkin pie from PBS Food

1

Visit pbs.org/food Pumpkin pie, pumpkin whoopie pies, pumpkin pie wontons – you’ll find great recipes from PBS Food to try out this holiday season.

Thanksgiving

3

To-Dos Listen to Giving Thanks: A Celebration of Fall, Food & Gratitude

4 Participate in StoryCorps’ The Great Thanksgiving Listen Visit thegreatlisten.org This Thanksgiving – whether you’re getting together in person or virtually, we invite you to record an interview with a loved one using StoryCorps’ free, easy-to-use recording tools. StoryCorps is a national oral history project that empowers individuals to create an oral history of our times. With permission, interviews become part of the StoryCorps Archive at the American Folklife Center at the Library of Congress. Visit TheGreatListen.org to learn more.

5

Thursday, November 25 at 8 a.m. on WXXI Classical John Birge (pictured) hosts a contemporary celebration of gratitude with classical music and stories of Thanksgiving. Special guests include food obsessive awardwinning actor Stanley Tucci and poet, songwriter and novelist Naomi Shihab Nye. Music by Eric Whitacre, Bach, Copland and more. roccitynews.com CITY 25


T H T EEIIGGH ASTT C S D A C PPOOD S K S PPIICCK

What are you listening to right now? Are you looking for something new? We’ve curated a few of our favorites that we hope you’ll check out. You can find all of these where ever you get your podcasts. 1. How I Built This with Guy Raz Guy Raz dives into the stories behind some of the world’s best-known companies. How I Built This weaves a narrative journey about innovators, entrepreneurs, and idealists—and the movements they built.

2. Ear Shot Get up to speed on the stories you may have missed by subscribing to Ear Shot, the podcast that brings you ondemand stories, interviews, and other tidbits of what’s happening around Rochester and the Finger Lakes, all from the WXXI News team.

3. It’s Been a Minute with Sam Sanders Each week, Sam Sanders interviews people in the culture who deserve your attention – plus weekly wraps of the news with other journalists. Join Sam as he makes sense of the world through conversation. 26 CITY NOVEMBER 2021

4. The FRONTLINE Dispatch FRONTLINE Executive Producer Raney Aronson-Rath sits down with series’ filmmakers for probing conversations about the investigative journalism that drives each PBS FRONTLINE documentary and the stories that shape our time.

5. Movies and a Microphone The Little Theatre’s Director of Communications Scott Pukos is joined by movie-loving guests to talk all things film.

6. Radio Ambulante Radio Ambulante es un podcast pionero en español que cuenta crónicas latinoamericanas en audio, celebrando la diversidad y complejidad de la región. / Radio Ambulante is an awardwinning Spanish language podcast that uses long-form audio journalism to tell neglected and under-reported Latin American and Latino stories.

7. Pop Culture Happy Hour Join NPR’s Arts Journalists Linda Holmes, Glen Weldon, Stephen Thompson, and Aisha Harris – plus a rotating cast of guest pop culture aficionados – as they serve up recommendations and commentary on the buzziest movies, TV, music, books, videogames and more.

8. Un(re)solved What prompted the U.S. Department of Justice to investigate over 150 unsolved civil rights-era killings? And what does justice look like for the families of the victims? From award-winning reporter and podcast host James Edwards, this series explores the government’s efforts to grapple with America’s racist legacy through the Till Act — interweaving Edwards’ personal story as he reflects on his family’s experience with racist violence.


WXXI-TV • THIS MONTH Independent Lens: Storm Lake Monday, November 15 at 10 p.m. on WXXI-TV Go inside The Storm Lake Times, a family-run newspaper serving an Iowa town that has seen its fair share of changes. Pulitzer Prize-winning editor Art Cullen and his team dedicate themselves to keeping the paper alive as local journalism across the country dies out. Photo: At The Storm Lake Times, five of the 10-person staff are members of the Cullen Family. Credit: Courtesy of Jerry Risius

The Oratorio: A Documentary with Martin Scorsese Friday, November 5 at 9 p.m. on WXXI-TV Learn the long-forgotten story of the 1826 performance that brought Italian opera to New York City, and meet the colorful personalities involved, including a freed slave, opera’s first diva, and Mozart’s librettist. Filmmaker Martin Scorsese hosts. Photo: Martin Scorsese in Old St. Pat’s Cathedral. Credit: Courtesy of Jon Nelson/Provenance Productions

The Pilgrims: American Experience Saturday, November 20 at 4 p.m. on WXXI-TV Explore the converging forces, circumstances, personalities, and events that propelled a group of English men and women west across the Atlantic in 1620. The challenges they faced in making new lives for themselves still resonate almost 400 years later.

Monty Python’s Best Bits Celebrated

FRONTLINE: Pandora Papers Tuesday, November 9 at 10 p.m. on WXXI-TV Who uses secret offshore bank accounts and why? FRONTLINE examines the global entanglement of political power and secretive finance in the “Pandora Papers.” The two-year worldwide investigation with the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists draws on nearly 12 million confidential documents and reveals the hidden assets and secret deals of some of the world’s wealthiest and most powerful people.

Saturday, November 13 at 10 p.m. on WXXI-TV Monty Python’s influence on comedy has been compared to the Beatles’ influence on music, a pivotal moment in the evolution of television humor. Celebrating the cultural legacy and influence of the troupe, this special pairs their original material with new and entertaining commentary from celebrities who consider Monty Python hugely significant, both personally and to the history of screen satire. Photo: Comedy troupe in 1969 Credit: Courtesy of Python (Monty) Pictures Ltd. roccitynews.com CITY 27


TURN TO WXXI CLASSICAL FOR MUSIC PERFECTLY TUNED TO YOUR DAY Live from Hochstein: The Browning-Krug Duo, Part of Public Radio Music Day Wednesday, November 10 at 12:10 p.m. at Hochstein Performance Hall and broadcast live on WXXI Classical Please join us at Hochstein Performance Hall (50 N. Plymouth Ave.) as we celebrate Public Radio Music Day with a special Live from Hochstein performance by Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra musicians Grace Browning and Benjamin Krug. The harpist and cellist will perform music from opera scores to Billy Joel. The concert is free and open to the public. Proof of vaccination is required and patrons must wear masks. Public Radio Music Day is a nationwide event uniting public radio music stations, fans, artists, and other members of the music industry to celebrate and spread the word about public radio’s special role in America’s music scene.

Every Good Thing Thursday, November 25 at 6 p.m. on WXXI Classical Andrea Blain hosts a visit with classical music fans around the country as they give thanks and celebrate one of life’s most meaningful gifts: music.

Support public media. Become a WXXI Member! 28 CITY NOVEMBER 2021

An Echoes Acoustic Thanksgiving

The Cleveland Orchestra Series

Friday, November 26 at 10 p.m. on WXXI Classical Enjoy this acoustic soundscape for Thanksgiving day, featuring music from George Winston, Charlie Haden and Pat Metheny, Loreena McKennitt, FLOW, and many more.

Mondays at 8 p.m. beginning November 22 on WXXI Classical This series celebrates the Cleveland Orchestra’s 2018 centennial milestone and features five significant conductors from the orchestra’s history: George Szell, Pierre Boulez, Lorin Maazel, Christoph von Dohnányi, and Franz Welser-Möst.

Whether it’s television, radio, online, or on screen, WXXI is there with the programs, news, and information – where you want it and when you want it. If you value PBS, NPR, PBS Kids, WXXI News, WXXI Classical and so much more, consider becoming a member. Visit WXXI.org/support to choose the membership that works for you. There are many membership levels with their own special benefits, including becoming a sustaining member.


AM 1370, YOUR NPR NEWS STATION + WRUR-FM 88.5, DIFFERENT RADIO

Intelligence Squared: Debate: Should We Expand the Supreme Court?

Intelligence Squared: Agree-to-Disagree COVID series: Are Booster Shots Unethical?

Sunday, November 7 at 9 p.m. on AM 1370/FM 107.5 Nine justices hold tremendous power. Advocates on the left see a Supreme Court out of touch with the electorate, obstructed by partisan interests, and rendered illegitimate by years of controversial appointments. But those opposed believe dramatically changing one of the three core pillars of American government would undermine the court’s legitimacy. Panelists include Dahlia Lithwick, Tamara Brummer, Carter Phillips, and Akhil Reed Amar.

Sunday, November 21 at 9 p.m. on AM 1370/FM 107.5 The boosters are rolling out. In places like the U.S., Britain, and Israel, authorities are providing additional COVID-19 vaccines with the goal of bolstering immune systems and shoring up their economies. Though vaccines such as Moderna and PfizerBioNTech have proven highly effective against the virus, efficacy wanes after six months, rendering older adults and those with weakened immune systems more vulnerable. Yet a debate about fairness, when much of the planet is unvaccinated, is growing.

On the COVID Ward

Folk Alley with Elena See

Sunday, November 14 at 9 p.m. on AM 1370/FM 107.5 This radio special focuses on how medical teams look after the emotional well-being of COVID patients and families; including efforts to keep up the will to live, and enable families to stay connected with these patients.

Saturdays, 8-10 a.m. on WRUR-FM 88.5 Folk Alley host Elena See presents an exciting, intelligent, and eclectic mix of the best traditional folk, Americana, contemporary singer/songwriters, and roots music, from the latest releases, classics, and exclusive in-studio Folk Alley Sessions and live concert recordings.

roccitynews.com CITY 29


WOLFWALKERS

&

Saturday Nov. 20

Sunday Nov. 21

A young apprentice hunter and her father journey to Ireland to help wipe out the last wolf pack. But everything changes when she befriends a free-spirited girl from a mysterious tribe rumored to transform into wolves by night. Nominated for Best Animated Feature at the Academy Awards, this hand-drawn mesmerizing Celtic-inspired adventure from Irish animation studio Cartoon Saloon (The Secret of Kells, Song of the Sea) is perfect for families, fans of animation, and devotees of ethereal fantasy storytelling. The Little’s “The Lost Year: The Movies We Missed in 2020” series showcases the hits, hidden gems, and award winners of 2020 in the way they were meant to be watched — in a movie theater (and paired with all the Little Popcorn you can carry).

VOICES FROM THE BARRENS: NATIVE PEOPLE, BLUEBERRIES AND SOVEREIGNTY “Voices from the Barrens, Native People, Blueberries and Sovereignty,” documents the wild blueberry harvest of the Wabanaki People from the USA and Canada. The film focuses on the Passamaquoddy tribe’s challenge to balance blueberry hand raking traditions with the economic realities of the world market, which favor mechanical harvesting. Each August, First People of the Canadian Wabanaki, the Mi’kmaq and Maliseet (Wolastoqiyik) tribes, cross the US/Canada border into Maine to take part in the tradition of hand raking blueberries with their Passamaquoddy brothers and sisters. This crossing to Maine’s blueberry barrens isn’t considered “agricultural labor,” but is a part of the traditional harvest from the earth.

30 CITY NOVEMBER 2021

November 18th and 20th thelittle . org


VISUAL & PERFORMING ARTS CALENDAR For up-to-date information on protocols, vaccination and mask requirements, and performance cancellations, consult the websites of individual venues.

[ Opening ]

Cobblestone Arts Center, 1622 NY

332. Wood Works. Nov. 5-Dec. 5. 3980220. Flower City Arts Center, 713 Monroe Ave. Jessica Cheng & Maliya Travers-Crumb: Anemoia. Nov. 5-28. flowercityarts.org. Geisel Gallery, 2nd Floor Rotunda, Legacy Tower, One Bausch & Lomb Place. Arena Art Group: Moving Forward. Through Dec 31. thegeiselgallery.com. George Eastman Museum, 900 East Ave. eastman.org. Joshua Rashaad McFadden: I Believe I’ll Run On (Nov 5-Jun 19) | Hair Love (Nov 13-Jan 2). $7-$18. Hart Gallery 27, 27 Market St. Brockport. The Art of the Found Object: Three Artists Assemble. Dec 3, 6-9pm: Opening reception. hartgallery27.com. Main Street Arts, 20 W Main St. Clifton Springs. Small Works 2021. Nov. 13Dec. 23. mainstreetartscs.org. Memorial Art Gallery, 500 University Ave. 276-8900. Renaissance Impressions: 16th-Century Master Prints from the Kirk Edward Long Collection (Nov 14-Feb 6) | Kota Ezawa: National Anthem (Nov 26-Aug 14). $6-$15. Pat Rini Rohrer Gallery, 71 S Main St. Canandaigua. Small Works: Holidays at the Gallery. Nov. 13-Dec. 31. prrgallery.com. Perinton Recreation Center, 1350 Turk Hill Rd. Fall Art Show & Sale. Nov. 5-20. 223-5050. Pittsford Fine Art, 4 N Main St. Pittsford. Small Works. Nov. 5-Dec. 31. pittsfordfineart.com. RIT City Art Space, 280 East Main St. Luvon Sheppard. Nov. 5-Dec. 19. cityartspace.rit.edu. Rochester Contemporary Art Center, 137 East Ave. 31st Annual Members Exhibition. Dec. 3-Jan. 15. $2. 4612222. The Village Gallery, 3119 Main St. Caledonia. 5th Annual Community Art Exhibit. Nov. 5-Dec. 11. 294-3009. Tower Fine Arts Center, 180 Holley St. Brockport. BFA Thesis Exhibition (Fall). Nov. 30-Dec. 12. 395-2805.

[ Continuing ] Art Exhibits Anthony Mascioli Gallery, Central

Library, 115 South Ave. Art of the Book & Paper. Through Dec. 1. roccitylibrary.org/artofthebook. Axom Home & Gallery, 661 South Ave. Lanna Pejovic: The Wooded Landscape. Through Nov. 27. Reception Nov 5, 6-9pm. 232-6030. Davis Gallery, 1 Kings Lane. Geneva. Afrofutures: Before & Beyond. Through Dec. 1. hws.edu/davisgallery. George Eastman Museum, 900 East Ave. eastman.org. To Survive on This Shore: Photographs & Interviews with Transgender & Gender Nonconforming Older Adults (to Jan 2) | One Hundred Years Ago: George Eastman in 1921 (to Jan 2). Ongoing. $7-$18.

INeRT PReSS, 1115 East Main St.

Whittier’s Poems. Through Dec. 31. inertpress.com. International Art Acquisitions, 3300 Monroe Ave. Sam Paonessa: Oriental Poppies. Through Nov. 30. 264-1440. Memorial Art Gallery, 500 University Ave. 276-8900. “To Help People See”: The Art of G Peter Jemison (to Nov 14) | A Sense of Place: Prints from the Collection of David Z Friedberg (to Dec 5) | Tony Cokes: Market of the Senses (to Jan 9) | SALUT (to Aug). $6-$15. Rochester Contemporary Art Center, 137 East Ave. New Growth by Rae Wiggins | Messages & Mediums. Through Nov. 13. 461-2222. Rundel Memorial Building, 2nd Floor, Central Library, 115 South Ave. Open Wounds: The 50-Year Legacy of the Attica Prison Uprising. Through Jan 28. 428-8370. Tower Fine Arts Center, 180 Holley St. Brockport. Picture… Story… Purpose: Recent Work in Contemporary Illustration. Through Nov. 21. 3952805. UUU Art Collective, 153 State St. Post It Notes. Through Nov. 26. 434-2223. Visual Studies Workshop, 31 Prince St. vsw.org. Project Space Artist Residency. Nov 10-23: Savannah Wood.

Film

Auditorium Theatre, 885 E. Main St.

Warren Miller: Winter Starts Now. Sat., Nov. 13, 7:30 p.m. $22/$23. rbtl.org. Dryden Theatre (900 East Ave) & Little Theatre (240 East Ave), Rochester. Polish Film Festival. Through Nov. 14. FB/skalny.center. Little Theatre, 240 East Ave. The Lost Year: The Movies We Missed in 2020. Nov 20 & 21, 7:30pm: “Wolfwalkers”. thelittle.org.; Anomaly Film Festival 2021. Through Nov. 7. $12. anomalyfilmfest.com. Visual Studies Workshop, 31 Prince St. vsw.org. The VSW Salon Series. Nov 11, 7pm: Lantern Slide performance with artist Beina Xu. $10.

Readings & Spoken Word

Strike The Hammer: Examining Rochester’s Civil Rights History. Thu., Nov. 18, 7 p.m. Online, . With author Laura Hill hpl.libcal.com.

Art Events

The Art of Giving Holiday Sale. Nov.

5-28. Studio 402, 250 N Goodman St. FB/studio402gallery. Handcrafted Hungerford. Second Saturday of every month, 10 a.m.-4 p.m. The Hungerford, 1115 E Main St. hungerfordevents.com.

I Believe I’ll Run On: Artist talk & Conversation with the Curator. Fri.,

Nov. 5, 6 p.m. Dryden Theatre, 900 East Ave. eastman.org.

Irondequoit Art Club Holiday Arts & Crafts Sale. Nov. 27-Dec. 5.

MAGsocial: Renaissance Sundays.

Sun., Nov. 14, 6 p.m. and Sun., Dec. 5, 6 p.m. Memorial Art Gallery, 500 University Ave. 276-8900 $6-$15. Mayday! Underground. Nov. 6-7, 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Village Gate Square, 274 N. Goodman St. maydaycraft.com.

Mysteries & Mayhem: A Curator’s Tour of “Renaissance Impressions”.

Thu., Nov. 18, 6 p.m. Memorial Art Gallery, 500 University Ave. $15. Wish You Were Here. Dryden Theatre, 900 East Ave. Photography lecture series. Nov 18, 6pm: Jasna Bogdanovska; Dec 2, 6pm: Eric T. Kunsman $5/$10. eastman.org.

Comedy

Theater

Angels in America: Millennium Approaches. Panara Theatre, 52 Lomb Memorial Dr. Nov 19-21 $5-$12. 4756254.

Charlie & The Chocolate Factory.

Auditorium Theatre, 885 E. Main St. Nov 16-21 $38-$88. rbtl.org. A Charlie Brown Christmas. Wed., Dec. 1, 6 p.m. Kodak Center, 200 W. Ridge Rd. $26+. kodakcenter.com/ events. A Christmas Carol. Geva Theatre, 75 Woodbury Blvd Nov 24-Dec 24 $18+. gevatheatre.org.

Eastman Opera Theatre: Here Be Sirens. Kilbourn Hall, 26 Gibbs St

Earl David Reed. Fri., Nov. 26, 7 &

Nov 4-6, 7:30pm & Nov 7, 2pm. Preperformance lecture one hour before showtime, Ray Wright Room 120 2743000.

Fall Pride, Comedy & Storytelling Show. Thu., Nov. 18, 7:30 p.m.

The Elf on the Shelf: A Christmas Musical. Tue., Nov. 23, 6 p.m. Kodak

9 p.m. Comedy @ the Carlson, 50 Carlson Rd $15/$20. 426-6339.

Comedy @ the Carlson, 50 Carlson Rd $20. 426-6339. In Real Life. Fri., Nov. 12, 8 p.m. Auditorium Theatre, 885 E. Main St.

Mike Epps, Desi Banks, Dominique, Tony Rock $62-$102. rbtl.org. John Valby. Wed., Nov. 24, 8 p.m.

Comedy @ the Carlson, 50 Carlson Rd $25. 426-6339. Mick Foley. Mon., Nov. 8, 7 p.m. Comedy @ the Carlson, 50 Carlson Rd $25. 426-6339. Mike Young. Thu., Nov. 11, 7 p.m. and Nov. 12-13, 7 & 9 p.m. Comedy @ the Carlson, 50 Carlson Rd $12-$17. 426-6339.

Mrs. Kasha Davis, Aggy Dune, Darienne Lake: Giving Thanks For Drag. Thu., Nov. 11, 8 p.m. Comedy @ the Carlson, 50 Carlson Rd $20. 426-6339.

Rob Campbell’s Comedy Vibes.

Sun., Nov. 21, 7 p.m. Comedy @ the Carlson, 50 Carlson Rd $20. 4266339. Robert Kelly. Nov. 19-20, 7 & 9 p.m. Comedy @ the Carlson, 50 Carlson Rd $20. 426-6339. Tim Dillon. Sat., Nov. 13, 7 p.m. Kodak Center, 200 W. Ridge Rd. $32+. kodakcenter.com/events.

Dance Events

Cinderella. Sun., Nov. 7, 3 p.m. Auditorium Theatre, 885 E. Main St. State Ballet Theatre of Ukraine $38$68. rbtl.org. DANSCORE. Nov. 18-20, 7:30 p.m. Hartwell Dance Theatre, Hartwell Hall,, Kenyon St Brockport $9/$17. 3952787. Kinetic Dance Collective. Nov. 1213, 7:30 p.m. Smith Opera House, 82 Seneca St . Geneva $10. thesmith.org. The Nutcracker. Wed., Nov. 24, 7 p.m., Nov. 26-27, 2 & 7 p.m. and Sun., Nov. 28, 2 p.m. Kodak Hall at Eastman Theatre, 60 Gibbs St $30+. rpo.org.

Center, 200 W. Ridge Rd. $36+. kodakcenter.com/events.

A Golden Girls Christmas Carol. Dec. 3-4, 7:30 p.m. and Sun., Dec. 5, 2 p.m. OFC Creations Theater Center, 3450 Winton Pl $34+. ofccreations. com. Kings Of Las Vegas. Fri., Nov. 5, 7:30 p.m. OFC Creations Theater Center, 3450 Winton Pl Elvis Presley & Tom Jones tribute $28+. ofccreations.com. A Magical Cirque Christmas. Fri., Dec. 3, 7 p.m. Kodak Center, 200 W. Ridge Rd. $34+. kodakcenter.com/ events. Mystery Science Theater 3000 Live. Sat., Nov. 6, 8 p.m. Auditorium

Theatre, 885 E. Main St. $33-$63. rbtl. org. The Octette Bridge Club. Nov. 18-20, 7:30 p.m. and Sun., Nov. 21, 2 p.m. MuCCC, 142 Atlantic Ave Everyone’s Theatre Co., Inc $17/$20. muccc.org. Our Country’s Good. Dec. 3-4, 7:30 p.m. and Sun., Dec. 5, 2 p.m. Tower Fine Arts Center, 180 Holley St Brockport $9/$17. 395-2787. Phantom of the Opera. Fri., Nov. 19, 7 p.m., Sat., Nov. 20, 2 & 6 p.m. and Sun., Nov. 21, 2 p.m. OFC Creations Theater Center, 3450 Winton Pl $15. ofccreations.com. A Picasso. MuCCC, 142 Atlantic Ave Thurs-Sat, 7:30pm to Nov 13; Nov 7, 2pm. Out of Pocket, Inc $13-$18. muccc.org. Pretty Fire. Through Nov. 7. Blackfriars Theatre, 795 E. Main St $20+. 4541260. Silent Sky. Through Nov. 14. Blackfriars Theatre, 795 E. Main St $20+. 454-1260. The Simon & Garfunkel Story. Tue., Nov. 23, 7:30 p.m. Auditorium Theatre, 885 E. Main St. $30-$60. rbtl. org. The Haunting of Hill House. Penfield Community Center, 1985 Baird Rd Penfield Fri-Sat, 8pm to Nov 13; Nov 7, 2pm $14/$17. penfieldplayers.org.

Irondequoit Library, 1290 Titus Ave 336-6062.

roccitynews.com CITY 31


ARTS

REVEL IN THE DETAILS

Illustrator Rork Maiellano was ready for the isolation of the pandemic, and made creative use of his time alone. PHOTO BY JACOB WALSH

THE ART OF INTROSPECTION Isolation opens a window for illustrator Rork Maiellano. BY REBECCA RAFFERTY

I

@RSRAFFERTY

f there were ever an artist equipped to handle the isolation many people have felt throughout the pandemic, it was Rork Maiellano. He has been sitting with himself for most of his life, sometimes by circumstance, sometimes by design, sometimes by necessity. “Even before everyone had to go into quarantine I had started really expressing my introversion,” says Maiellano, whose fantastical, storybook-like illustrations 32 CITY NOVEMBER 2021

BECCA@ROCHESTER-CITYNEWS.COM

delve deep into the complexities of archetype and symbolism. “I don’t feel like I’m in a place where being a social butterfly feels good anymore, it hasn’t for a while,” he says. “So in a way I think I was suited, I was ready to be alone and have a lot of alone time.” Whatever the motivation for his solitude, Maiellano has not squandered his alone time. In October, he was commissioned

to paint a mural at the landmark Statler City building in downtown Buffalo for The Witches Ball, an annual immersive Halloween experience featuring local artists, actors, musicians, and mediums. That same month, he was the resident tarot reader at The Yards Collective’s Spectral Carnival. Earlier in the year, he found work creating the dreamy album cover for the re-release of The Pax Cecilia’s “Nouveau.”

Maiellano, 35, grew up gay in the small Genesee County town of Pavilion, where he began showing an aptitude for drawing at the age of 3. His parents nurtured his talent, at first by hiring art tutors and, when he was in high school, by introducing him to nude figure-drawing classes. After graduating from SUNY Purchase in 2008, he moved to Rochester. There was a time, Maiellano recalls, that his art fell to the side


because he felt as though he was creating the same thing over and over and not challenging himself. Four years ago, however, in tandem with pre-pandemic seclusion, he focused on his art, with a stronger desire and willingness to commit to the arduous process of creating his best work. As the health crisis struck and stuck around, that creative focus crystalized. “I’ve been surprising myself with it,” he says, closing his eyes each time he speaks, as if looking deeply inward. “I’ve refound a flow, which has been a crazy feeling.” These days, he splits his time between the city and his parents’ home in Pavilion, spending much of his time focusing on making painstakingly detailed illustrations. The work, he says, is meditative and tedious. Each work is the result of countless hours creating layers of colorful marks that bring a rich dimension to the images. His Instagram account shows

several finished pieces and works-inprogress that reveal the process from sketch to finished piece. His drawings are complex, often featuring scenes that look like they could accompany Victorian-era fairytales, and balance arrangements of human faces and figures that allude to symbols of good and evil. “It’s incredibly repetitious and labor-intensive,” Maiellano says. “But I love the tedium. I love pushing myself to sit through that agitation and frustration, and I also hate it, when I’m going through it, but it’s so worth it in the end, because of what can be made.” One recent work, “Serpentine,” features a trio of ornately adorned faces surrounded by lush foliage, angels with wings aflutter, flaming hearts, bones, branches, and cathedral-like architecture. It’s all framed by an ouroboros, the emblematic serpent with its tail in its mouth, forever simultaneously cannibalizing itself and being reborn.

Details abound and emerge the longer you look at the work. On the largest faces, the scales of a snake appear on the hollows of the cheeks. Two of the heads have thin, forked tongues flicking at the air. But all of that holy and unholy imagery is part of a perfect whole, not engaged in a power struggle. Maiellano posted this work on his Instagram account in late September with a caption that read, “I think this time is inviting us to own our own complexity; our shadows AND our light. To not demand that we see ourselves as just ‘good’ or just ‘bad,’ and to offer the same to one another.” When I first met Maiellano in 2014, he didn’t seem nearly as centered and certain of his work as he does now. Then, as a resident artist at The Yards, he was experimenting with the idea that the personal connection of a conversation could be an art medium. He recorded conversations with friends

and strangers at the Public Market, hoping that the process of relating would ground him and others in connection and compassion. The conversations at times touched on mutual vulnerabilities and yielded a trip down dark, emotional roads. In some magical moments, he and his conversational partners unabashedly discussed opportunities for personal growth. Today, Maiellano says he revels in aspects of himself that used to bring confusion and shame — in particular his sexuality and propensity for being alone with himself. “I think it’s great to be queer,” he says. “There’s a mysticism built in, you know. I feel like being queer and having to hide a lot as a kid made me very introspective, and connect to a very deep part of myself that I think is very protective. I think it’s the voice of my intuition. And it’s a very loving voice. It hasn’t always been.” He’s still pursuing deep conversations, now using tarot readings as a vehicle for connecting with strangers and friends, and providing an ear for them to talk about whatever they need to discuss. A good tarot reading can function like cheap but effective therapy. Maiellano’s new artwork merges his interest in embracing both the beauty and the darkness of the human condition. The end of his Instagram caption for “Serpentine” could easily serve as his artist statement: “To make an art of relating, and to be each other’s keeper; stewards, as much as we can, each to each, even when it feels scary.” roccitynews.com roccitynews.org CITY 33


LIFE

Philip Carli, of the George Eastman Museum’s Dryden Theatre, is one of about three dozen silent film accompanists around the country. PHOTO BY MAX SCHULTE

34 CITY NOVEMBER 2021


RANDOM ROCHESTER BY REBECCA RAFFERTY

@RSRAFFERTY

BECCA@ROCHESTER-CITYNEWS.COM

Making silent movies sing As the accompanist for The Dryden Theatre’s “Silent Tuesdays” series, Philip Carli keeps silent films alive by hitting all the right notes.

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n a recent Tuesday evening, the gold velvet curtain at the George Eastman Museum’s Dryden Theatre rose to reveal a movie screen that flickered to life with an old-time silent film. While the title cards ran, a live piano accompanist played romantic, meandering melodies, occasionally pounding out faster trills that set the tone for the story that followed. An elegant heroine appeared in a luxurious room to confront the corpse of her father. The music was melancholy as she knelt over his body, swelled with drama when she cried, and built to a fever pitch as a group of men approached the mansion, barged into the room and declared — through ornately lettered title cards — that she must pay her father’s debts. As far as the audience for the Dryden’s “Silent Tuesdays” film series was concerned, the accompanist, Philip Carli, hit all the right notes. What wasn’t apparent to anyone was that Carli was making the notes up on the spot. “We process things incredibly fast,” Carli says of the small community of silent film accompanists around the country. “And a lot of what I’m doing is actually anticipating what’s about to happen. I have to predict ahead of the actual action.” It may come as a surprise that the bulk of what silent film accompanists do is improvise. Like most silent films, the one playing at the Dryden that night — “A Sleeping Memory” from 1917 about a woman so shamed by her father’s suicide that she agrees to an experimental procedure to erase her memory — has no score.

Silent films often don't come with scores, leaving their accompanists to improvise. PHOTO BY MAX SCHULTE

With a few exceptions, most old films don’t even come with notes about mood, tone, or pace to help the accompanist. That isn’t because the notes have been lost to time. They never existed. If the audience at the Dryden saw “A Sleeping Memory” at a silent film series in, say, Los Angeles next week with another accompanist, the music would be different. The conventional explanation for the origins of accompaniment is that the music drowned out the sound of the noisy projector and audience chitchat. Whatever the reason it got started, music remains an essential part of the cinematic experience. “Ideally, we act as a bridge between the screen and the audience,” Carli says. “It’s very hard to watch a silent film in dead silence.” That night, Carli watched the film along with the audience. And while his eyes were focused on

the screen, his hands reached for the piano keys to indicate conflict or flirtation, and set the pace for slow, moody moments and rapid, exciting action. “Silent film accompaniment is still a largely misunderstood art,” says Ben Model, a silent film accompanist based in Manhattan, who teaches film history. Many people think of silent films as a jittery, old scratchy movie of a woman tied to train tracks with rinky-dink piano music in the background — if they think of the music at all. But silent film accompanists are composers — and much of what Carli was doing was composing on the spot. His music grew sinister as a jealous suitor plotted on screen. It was seductive when the heroine was in the thrall of an unhinged physician. His notes ached with trepidation whenever she faced a decision. “It’s strange to be a composer in a genre where the whole idea is for

people to not listen to your music that much,” Models says. “It’s really about helping a contemporary audience completely lose themselves in the world of the film, and get drawn up and into it.” Model has known Carli for 18 years. The two got to know one another in 2003 at the inaugural year of Slapsticon film festival in Arlington, Virginia, an event showcasing early comedy films. The world of silent film accompanists is ultra niche. Model estimates there are fewer than 35 in the country, and many of them have met and worked together, although each approaches their work differently. Some will watch the film alone and compose the music ahead of time. Some compile a score out of the mood music cues published in trade periodicals from the era, if they are available. “But if you are playing three or four shows a month for three different films, there’s just no way to compose, write out, rehearse, and synchronize that many feature film scores,” Model says. “There’s just no time.” That’s when they improvise, and that’s more often than not the case for Carli. That’s just how he operates. Even when he has accompanied a film several times, each performance is fresh and unrepeatable. Sometimes, though, the improvisation is done out of necessity because the screening he’s accompanying is the first time he’s seen the film. That was the situation at the Dryden with “A Sleeping Memory” and in early October in Pordenone, Italy, where he was hired to accompany a newly restored version CONTINUED ON PAGE 36

roccitynews.com roccitynews.org CITY 35


Carli figures he has composed scores for roughly 140 silent films. PHOTO BY MAX SCHULTE

of the 1925 film “Kentucky Pride” for the Le Giornate Del Cinema Muto (The Days of Silent Cinema) film festival. Many of the films Carli accompanies are new discoveries or restorations, and their screening may be their first revival after more than a century of dormancy. Each time, he takes his cues from a film that is new to him, as the story unfolds. Carli, 58, was born in California, and grew up in San Diego. He says his fascination with silent film was sparked as a child when he caught clips of them at Disneyland’s Main Street Cinema. “I’d spend a lot of time in there, rather than going on the rides,” he says. He recalls seeing his first silent feature with live musical accompaniment — Charlie Chaplin’s “The Circus” — as a preteen. He began accompanying silent films at 13, when his parents, both deans of community colleges, began hosting screenings at their schools. “I would pick the films, and I would accompany them,” Carli says. “And that’s how I got a lot of my education, that was my summer job.” 36 CITY NOVEMBER 2021

In the intervening years, Carli studied music history and literature, with an emphasis on film history at Indiana University, and earned a doctorate in musicology at the Eastman School of Music. He has recorded his accompaniments for about 140 feature films on home video as well as short films, has taught graduate courses at the University of Rochester, and has composed orchestral scores. He writes articles and programs for film festivals. He also conducts the Flower City Society Orchestra, which performs music from the ragtime era. While Carli says he doesn’t have a favorite genre of silent film, there certainly are films that are hard to accompany. “I’ve played films that I strongly disapprove of, but I do my best by them, because you have to,” he says. “If you start commenting on the film, as a musician, that’s like playing behind a singer and giving them the raspberry or making faces at the audience while they’re doing their best to perform.” He pointed to the 1915 silent epic drama “The Birth of a Nation” as a film that is difficult to accompany.

The film was controversial in its day, but has only become moreso for its derogatory depiction of African Americans and heroic portrait of the Ku Klux Klan. In 2015, when The Dryden’s then-programmer, Jurji Meden, planned to screen the film for its centenary with Carli’s accompaniment, Carli hesitated. “And then I slept on it, and told him, ‘I think we have to show it,’” he says. “One of the reasons is to show how little we’ve progressed, in many ways, since 1915. And the danger of a film like ‘The Birth of a Nation’ is that it’s a very good film, brilliantly made, the acting compelling. You can see why audiences would get swept up in it.” It is the responsibility of the accompanist is to play true to the intention of the film, but Carli acknowledges that in such cases, “I feel like a surgeon trying to keep a mass murderer alive.” When accompanying, Carli draws from his well of knowledge about film houses, directors, and actors from the era. And that well is deep. He knows how a particular actor plays the subtleties of a character in

a drama, how a particular director speeds through a comedy with physical humor. He is encyclopedic in a way that makes it easy to understand how he is so good at improvisation, at anticipating what notes and tones to play and moods to convey. Everything he knows seems to be right there, close to the surface. “Philip is a scholar on many fronts, extremely well read, really well researched, and has an encyclopedic knowledge of music and history,” Model says. “And I think that’s one of the things that informs his playing that I think is special, and could even be said is unique.” As the resident musician at The Dryden, where he accompanies silent films most Tuesday nights from September through November each year, Carli introduces the film prior to the screening, providing a wealth of context about the story, the filmmakers, and historic events contemporary to when the film was made. Then, he takes his place at the piano and waits for the gold velvet curtain to rise.


ABOUT TOWN For up-to-date information on protocols, vaccination and mask requirements, and performance cancellations, consult the websites of individual venues.

Lectures

Dava Newman: Going to Mars! What on Earth for?. Sun., Nov. 7, 4 p.m. Fort Hill Performing Arts Center, 20 Fort Hill Ave . Canandaigua Ewing Forum series $10/$25. fhpac.org.

Decking the Halls to Shopping Malls: American Christmas Traditions & How They Grew. Wed., Dec. 1, 6 p.m. Virtual

Central Library, roccitylibrary.org Chris Bensch, Strong National Museum of Play.

From Almshouse to Psychiatric Center: Mental Health Care in Rochester.

Sat., Nov. 20, 1 p.m. Central Library, Kusler-Cox Auditorium, 115 South Ave Rochester’s Rich History series. Dr. Laurence B. Guttmacher & Robert Riley. A History of Native American Battles. Sun., Nov. 14, 2 p.m. Penfield Public Library, 1985 Baird Rd. Harvey Limbeck, Ganondagan 340-8720.

The Rise & Fall of the Death Penalty: A Conversation with Journalist Maurice Chammah. Tue., Nov. 9, 5 p.m. UR Rush

Rhees Library, 755 Library Rd HawkinsCarlson Room 275-5804.

Rochester Mystery: The Disappearance of Emma Moore. Sat., Nov. 13, 10:30

a.m. Central Library, Kusler-Cox Auditorium, 115 South Ave Mourning in the Morning series. Dennis Carr, Friends of Mt Hope Cemetery 428-8370. Science on the Edge. Rochester Museum & Science Center, 657 East Ave. (rmsc.org) Nov 11, 7pm: Human Errors: What Our Flaws Teach Us about Our Past, Nathan H. Lents, Ph.D.; Dec 1, 7pm: Dinosaurs: Beyond the Bones, Sara Burch, Ph. D $3-$15. science-on-theedge-lectures.

Literary Events & Discussions

Books Backstage. Thu., Nov. 18, 7 p.m. Rochester Music Hall of Fame, 25 Gibbs St. “Hold On: The Story of Our Friend, Eddie Money,” with Dresden Engle. $8. rochestermusic.org/events. Books Sandwiched In. Tuesdays, 12:12-12:52 p.m Central Library, Kate Gleason Auditorium, 115 South Ave. Nov 9: Walter Isaacson’s “The Code Breaker: Jennifer Doudna, Gene Editing, & the Future of the Human Race” ffrpl. libraryweb.org.

JCC Jewish Book Festival. Through Nov. 18. Online, . jccrochester.org. Rochester Reads!. Through Nov. 9. Virtual Writers & Books, wab.org “Braiding Sweetgrass: Indigenous Wisdom, Scientific Knowledge & the Teachings of Plants,” by Robin Wall Kimmerer. Events online & various locations.

Kids Events

Don’t Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus!. Saturdays, Sundays, 11 a.m. & 2 p.m JCC Hart Theatre, 1200 Edgewood Ave. Through Nov 14 $18/$20. 461-2000. tykestheatre.org. fivebyfive: Playful Music. Various, Rochester Nov 6, noon (general), 1pm (sensory-friendly) at Strong Museum of Play, 1 Manhattan Sq.; Nov 13, noon (sensory-friendly) at Arnett Branch, 310 Arnett Blvd; 2pm (sensory-friendly) at Central Library, 115 South Ave fivebyfivemusic.com. Ganondagan Storytellers Circle. Sat., Nov. 27, 2 p.m. Central Library, Kate Gleason Auditorium, 115 South Ave. 428-8150. The Little Mermaid Jr. Fri., Nov. 12, 7 p.m., Sat., Nov. 13, 2 & 6 p.m. and Sun., Nov. 14, 2 p.m. OFC Creations Theater Center, 3450 Winton Pl $10. ofccreations.com. Rochester Children’s Book Festival. Sat., Nov. 6, 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Online, . rcbfestival.com. Storytime Club. Mondays, 10:30 a.m Strong National Museum of Play, 1 Manhattan Sq. (museumofplay.org) Food Fight!. W/ museum admission: $18/$23.

Sundays Medina Railroad Museum, 530 West Ave. Dec 4-19 $38/$54. 798-6106. Santa’s Toy Land Express Train Ride. Nov. 27-28. Medina Railroad Museum, 530 West Ave. $35/$48. 798-6106. Secondhand Wonderland. Sat., Dec. 4, 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Naz Golisano Training Center, 4245 East Ave. 730-1157. Wonderland Express Train Ride. Arcade & Attica Railroad, 278 Main St Arcade Nov 20-Dec 19 $32/$34. aarailroad.com.

Holiday Market. Sun., Dec. 5, 10 a.m.-3

Letchworth State Park, 1 Letchworth State Park . Castile Archery Field Overlook; bring a flashlight & picnic supper. (2-3 hrs, 1 mi.). 493-3682. Leaf Peeping: Tremendous Trees. Sat., Nov. 13, 2 p.m. Helmer Nature Center, 154 Pinegrove Ave $10. 336-3035. Owl Prowl. Nov. 12-13, 7 p.m. Sterling Nature Center, 15380 Jenzvold Rd Sterling (315) 947-6143.

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p.m. Kin, 52 Sager Dr. 705-1332.

Nov. 20-21, 10 a.m.-3 p.m. Genesee Country Village & Museum, 1410 Flint Hill Rd Mumford $7/$10. gcv.org. Homestead Holiday Village. Sat., Dec. 4, 11 a.m.-7 p.m. and Sun., Dec. 5, 11 a.m.-4 p.m. Granger Homestead & Carriage Museum, 295 North Main St. grangerhomestead.org.

Crepuscular Walk: Full Moon Over Canyon. Fri., Nov. 19, 4:30 p.m.

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LIFE

SMALL PLATES

Elevated palate Green Zebra offers classy catering and more with its prix fixe dinners and cooking classes. BY REBECCA RAFFERTY

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indsay McGrail is finally having a glass of wine, relaxing at the close of the fall-themed prix fixe dinner she just hosted at Green Zebra on Culver Road. Earlier that day she hosted a baby shower with 30 guests. “I’ve had mostly cereal for dinner all week,” said McGrail, who opened Green Zebra this past spring on the same block as ROAR nightclub and the Sticky Soul barbecue joint. McGrail has operated Green Zebra, which is named for a striking variety of tomato, for almost 15 years. In that time, she’s focused on 38 CITY NOVEMBER 2021

@RSRAFFERTY

After nearly 15 years in business as Green Zebra Catering, Lindsay McGrail opened a home base for her company where she hosts prix fixe dinners, cooking classes, and special events. PHOTOS BY QUAJAY DONNELL

BECCA@ROCHESTER-CITYNEWS.COM

serving meals of local ingredients at private events and to the customers of her company’s meal clubs. After cooking for so long out of different commercial kitchens and catering events from clients’ garages, laundry rooms, and other out-ofthe-way spots, McGrail decided her business needed a space where it could flourish. “I wanted to be able to see the people enjoying the food,” McGrail said. “I wanted to have conversations about it, and eventually teach food skills.” At last, McGrail has established a home base for Green Zebra, where

she offers unique dinner events, hosts private parties, creates the meals that patrons can subscribe to, and teaches cooking classes. The dinner this night, prepared with the help of McGrail’s Sous Chef Harry Gavens and her right hand, Sue Walczak, was meant to whet the palate for seasonal flavors and featured mouth-watering snacks. Dinner kicked off with an appetizer of king salmon and diced apple served in a thin, crispy pastry ring, paired with cauliflower custard and salmon roe served in the bowl of a Japanese-style soup spoon. This and

each following course came with a wine pairing, which was an optional add-on for the dinner.


The savory-sweet combinations continued with the first course of a butternut squash schnitzel with a crispy pecan coating, served with a baby greens salad accented with cranberry and goat cheese. Next came local heritage pork, two ways: a brined tenderloin and slow roasted shoulder — each melt-inyour-mouth tender — paired with a fennel-potato gratin, carrot puree, and local pear chutney. The meal was capped with an apple galette and buttermilk ice cream. With full bellies and happy palates, several of the 20 diners lingered to finish glasses of wine and chat with McGrail and her staff, in the breather moments before they began the next task of the night — cleaning up. This kind of elevated dining experience — where you get to partake in one-off creative and expert experiments with flavors, textures, and presentation, but also get to chat with the chef — is rare in Rochester. Since opening the new space, McGrail has hosted special events like bridal showers, private cocktail parties, b’nei mitzvah, and themed prix fixe dinners to intimate gatherings of friends and strangers. She has offered cooking classes that focus on such challenges as making meals with “intimidating fall vegetables” and skills like properly breaking down a massive squash. Additionally, Green Zebra offered a fall dinner subscription and a soup subscription, both of which have sold out. From mid-July until football season commenced, Green Zebra also hosted a small-plates dinner series on Monday nights, which featured a series of prix fixe dishes and was

PHOTOS BY QUAJAY DONNELL

frequently attended by fellow foodie Carter Burwell, who is a farmer, baker, and owner of home-based food businesses Burwell Kitchen and Burwell Herbs. “I’ve really enjoyed the dinners because there is a warm, casual atmosphere combined with exquisitely prepared plates you’d expect to find in foodie cities all across the nation,” Burwell says. “It lets an upper-tier of finer dining feel accessible to all, which is quite lovely.” Burwell also says that McGrail takes dishes that patrons might not otherwise try or know how to eat and makes them approachable, yet refined. She adds that McGrail has

“a deft and experienced hand at layering flavors.” Green Zebra features a 16-foot island where patrons gather for classes or meals. The space can fit up to 40 guests for its dinners and it can accommodate up to 75 people for a cocktail party. Classes are restricted to 12 people, and participants take home what they make in addition to new skills. It’s a mostly pristine, sparse space, but pops of personality are present in the emerald-hued wallpaper on a long accent wall that’s also lined with gilded mirrors, and a photograph of Julia Child throwing her head back in a cackle while preparing a meal.

The entrance is adorned with framed restaurant menus that McGrail’s grandparents collected. Green Zebra has a number of events slated for the rest of the year, including an upcoming family-style dinner series on Tuesdays, beginning Nov. 16 (but skipping the week of Thanksgiving). The dinners, called “Our Table Tuesdays,” will include a main dish and sides for $30 per person, which does not include tax, tip, or beverages. Each event is limited to 25 people, and menus can be found on the website at greenzebracatering.com. November’s classes include making the perfect Thanksgiving side dish, on Nov. 18. Participants will learn how to make a butternut squash and caramelized onion tart, which can be taken home and frozen for Thanksgiving. The class fits 12 at $40 per person. Snacks and beverages will be available. For the week of Thanksgiving, Green Zebra is also offering brined whole turkeys, breasts, or smoked legs, seasonal gourmet sides, and homemade desserts by Burwell Kitchen and Black Cat Baking Co. The full menu is on the website, and the goods will be available for delivery or pickup on Wednesday, Nov. 24. Check the website and Instagram (@greenzebra_roc) for more events and updates.

roccitynews.com roccitynews.org CITY 39


LIFE

HOME FOR THE HOLIDAYS

PHOTO BY JACOB WALSH

THANKSGIVING SIDES TO SHARE THAT ARE EASY TO PREPARE These fresh takes on classic Thanksgiving side dishes will make a return to holiday gatherings special. BY J. NEVADOMSKI

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he holidays are just over the horizon, in the maybe not-too physically-distanced future. Whatever your holiday plans this year — be it a small family gathering, potluck, meal exchange, or an elaborate Friendsgiving celebration — the need for an easy-yet-impressive side dish to accompany the main meal looms. That’s especially true if you’re gathering with others for Thanksgiving after a year of 40 CITY NOVEMBER 2021

keeping your distance and want to wow them. We’ve got you covered. The following three recipes are my personal riffs on some of the most familiar seasonal side dishes and feature exciting and bold flavors that will make your contribution to the holiday meal truly stand out.


MOROCCAN MINI-MEATBALLS SERVES 4-6 A North African take on the classic Swedish meatballs you may have eaten at Thanksgiving as a kid, this one has a lamb base, more assertive spices, and omits the goopy sweet sauce. This version is a refreshing change from the traditional flavors of turkey and stuffing that are typically on the menu, and adds sophistication with bright flavors and the palate-exciting zing of the squeeze of lemon garnish. YOU WILL NEED 1 lb ground lamb 1 small red onion (finely diced) 2-3 cloves of hard neck garlic (peeled and finely chopped) 1 egg yolk 1/4 cup of fresh mint leaves (finely chopped) 1/4 cup of fresh parsely (finely chopped) 1/4 cup of fresh chives (finely chopped) 1 tbsp of ground cumin 1/2 tsp of Saigon cinnamon 1 tsp of Ras el Hanout spice blend (more to taste) Olive oil Salt and pepper (to taste) If you’re gathering with others this Thanksgiving, treat them to something more than the same old side dish. Try a special take on potatoes, such as this roasted garlicky version with herbs and cream. PHOTOS BY JACOB WALSH

ROASTED POTATOES WITH CREAM, GARLIC, AND HERBS SERVES 4-6 This French-style potato dish is a wildly simple yet elevated take on my mom’s scalloped potatoes circa 1989. I make this preparation every year on Thanksgiving and it never fails to impress. While it’s not necessarily the healthiest side dish, it is technically vegetarian, so I figure it’s a win for even the pickiest of dinner guests you may be serving this year. YOU WILL NEED 5-6 medium sized Yukon potatoes (washed, skin on, sliced very thin) 4-6 cloves of hard neck garlic (peeled and roughly chopped) 1 tbsp of fresh parsley (roughly chopped) 1 tbsp of fresh rosemary (roughly chopped) 1 tsp of fresh thyme (removed from stem) 1 tsp of fresh chives (finely chopped) Half a stick of unsalted butter (cut into small cubes) 1 cup of heavy cream

1 tsp of smoked paprika Salt and pepper (to taste) 1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Combine all the fresh herbs and chopped garlic in a bowl, mix well, set aside. 2. In a cast iron pan or oven-safe baking dish, layer the sliced potatoes followed by some of the herb-garlic mix, salt and pepper, and a splash of heavy cream. Repeat the process until all the ingredients have been used. It should ideally form five to seven layers total, but that may vary depending on thickness of potatoes and size of baking dish. 3. Top the final layer with the cubed butter pieces and a light dusting of smoked paprika. Bake until the potatoes are fully cooked and have absorbed all of the cream and butter, about 1 to 1.5 hours. Finish by raising the oven temperature to 400 degrees for an additional 15 minutes to help the dish form a nicely caramelized crust around the edges.

1. Combine all ingredients and mix well by hand. Cover and refrigerate at least one hour (or overnight) to allow the flavors to marry. Once ready to cook, form the mixture into small meatballs and arrange on a large baking sheet. The meatballs should be about 1 inch in diameter. 2. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. On the stove top, heat a frying pan on medium heat and warm enough olive oil to lightly coat the bottom of the pan. Fry the exterior of each meatball in batches as necessary until lightly golden brown on all sides, then transfer back to the original baking sheet.

4. Best served right after cooking, this dish will also hold up well to travel and being reheated. Once cooled to room temperature, cover the top of the pan or dish with a vented piece of foil. Once you’re ready to reheat and serve, preheat the oven to 350 degrees, remove foil cover, and heat until warmed throughout. If at all possible, avoid microwaving.

3. Once all of the meatballs have been seared and transferred, bake on a center rack until cooked through, taking care not to overcook or dry out the meatballs. This should take roughly 15 minutes. 4. Best served right after cooking, this dish will also hold up well to travel and being reheated if necessary. Once cooled to room temperature, cover the top of CONTINUED ON PAGE 42

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Moroccan mini-meatballs. PHOTO BY JACOB WALSH

the baking sheet or oven-safe serving dish with a vented piece of foil. Once you’re ready to reheat and serve, preheat the oven to 350 degrees, remove foil cover and heat until warmed throughout. If at all possible, avoid microwaving. 5. Serve with fresh cut lemon wedges as an optional garnish.

42 CITY NOVEMBER 2021


ROASTED HONEYNUT SQUASH WITH CREAM AND MUSHROOM SAUCE SERVES 4-6 Honeynut is a relatively new varietal of the larger, more familiar, butternut squash that found its way to the fall holiday dinner table in years past. The plant was originally developed through cross-breeding in the 1980s by Cornell professor Richard W. Robinson. But the varietal reportedly didn’t reach markets until 2015, a few years after another Cornell professor and plant breeder, Michael Mazourek, created a successful cultivar of the new squash with assistance from Dan Barber, chef and owner of the famous Blue Hill restaurants. Honeynut is denser, sweeter, and more versatile in flavor than its butternut cousin. It looks like a mini-version of the butternut and if you have yet to try this exciting fall squash, now is a good time to experiment.

YOU WILL NEED 6-8 honeynut squashes (seeds and skin removed, cut into chunks) 3-4 cloves of hard neck garlic (peeled and finely chopped) 1 small yellow onion (very finely diced) 5-6 brown mushrooms (cleaned and sliced thin) 1 cup of half and half 1 tsp of all-purpose flour (more or less as needed) 1/4 of a stick of unsalted butter (cut into 4 pads) 1 tbsp of buckwheat honey 1 tbsp of fresh parsley (finely chopped for garnish) Olive oil Salt and pepper (to taste) 1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. In a large mixing bowl, toss the squash with a light amount of olive oil and a dusting of salt and pepper. Transfer the mixture to a baking pan or sheet that is large enough to accommodate a single layer of the squash mixture. Bake on a center rack until soft and golden brown, roughly 25 to 30 minutes. 2. Meanwhile, on the stovetop, heat a sauté pan on medium-high heat and add in the pads of butter with a splash of olive oil. Lightly cook the garlic and onion until very soft and lightly browned (5 to 10 minutes) then add in the mushrooms and cook until softened. Add the flour and quickly combine followed immediately by the half and half, a splash at a time while stirring. Once combined, stir in the buckwheat honey and reduce heat to low and allow the sauce to thicken slightly. 3. Remove the cooked squash from the oven and transfer to a serving bowl, top with the cream sauce and garnish with the fresh parsley, and serve immediately. 4. This dish can also hold up to travel and being reheated if necessary if you keep the squash and sauce in separate containers and combine only after reheating each on its own, directly before serving. In this instance, a microwave is the simplest way of reheating.

Roasted honeynut squash with cream and musroom sauce. PHOTO BY JACOB WALSH

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LIFE

GUT REACTION

Rob Heffner and Catt Hsu designed their kombucha taproom, Happy Gut Sancutary, to cultivate a sense of community. PHOTO BY JACOB WALSH

Happy Gut = happy heart Happy Gut Sanctuary fosters community with fermented tea on tap. BY DANIEL J. KUSHNER

T

here are plenty of places to drink kombucha in Rochester, but very few of them feel like home. Happy Gut Sanctuary is an exception. To walk into its taproom in the Hungerford Building is to feel at peace. The walls are a clean white, and the brightness of the room is 44 CITY NOVEMBER 2021

@DANIELJKUSHNER

DKUSHNER@ROCHESTER-CITYNEWS.COM

grounded in the natural greenery of plants thoughtfully placed just so. It feels like a spa, without the aromatherapy. I settled in at the far end of the bar on a night when there was an open mic hosted by NAMI Rochester, a support group for people with mental illness. As someone who

has struggled with depression and bipolar disorder, I was heartened to find a forum — in a kombucha bar, of all places — for people like me to express themselves. Among the customers who trickled in was Rachael Gootnick, a Rochester artist who restores antique books at her nearby Hungerford

studio and a first-timer at Happy Gut. She frequently attends open mic nights around town to hear poetry, and that night was no exception. Gootnick wasn’t prepared to share her own poetry, including the poem she keeps in her wallet called “An Eye for Beauty,” a piece about a past relationship and the effect of


“I also want to operate as more than just a business,” says Catt Hsu of Happy Gut Sanctuary. “I really do want to offer our space up to whoever might need it.” PHOTO BY JACOB WALSH

society’s beauty standards on women. No audience had ever heard it. But the energy in the room coaxed her out of her shell, and the next thing she knew, she was baring her soul to strangers. “I felt like it was a roomful of non-judgmental people who would understand the messaging behind the poem that I read,” Gootnick says. She has been to a few Happy Gut open mics since and found that what she describes as a sense of community has become even warmer and more welcoming. “Just the fact that they host a mental health open mic, I think, says volumes,” Gootnick says. “They’re willing to have those kinds of conversations and they’re willing to facilitate that kind of environment for people that maybe are on the fence about sharing how they feel.” The “sanctuary” in Happy Gut Sanctuary was no accident. The bar’s proprietor couple, Catt Hsu and Rob Heffner, recall having felt like outsiders during the formative years in their lives and set out to create in Happy Gut a refuge for people who feel out of place. While it calls itself a “tap room and bar,” Happy Gut distinguishes itself from cocktail lounges, clubs, and watering holes that specialize in alcohol-soaked outings by offering an array of nonalcoholic fermented teas. “Having these alternative spaces that have more of that trendy taproom feel — I like how Happy Gut calls their space a taproom — it still feels like you’re going out to a bar, so to speak,” Irondequoit resident Rachel Snyder says. CONTINUED ON PAGE 46

Happy Gut Sanctuary’s new taproom in the Hungerford Building rotates some 20 different kinds of fermented tea, served either on tap or in bottles. PHOTO PROVIDED

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“It’s important that we foster a space and environment where you can feel welcomed and at home, no matter what your background is,” Hsu says. PHOTO PROVIDED

“But the focus isn’t on alcohol, it’s around community.” There is a comforting, if unpolished and industrial quality to Happy Gut’s space at the Hungerford, to which the business moved in December 2020. Happy Gut sits behind a door marked “6A.” The pillars that hold up its ceiling are scarred with age. The Hungerford Building was once a syrup manufacturing plant for J. Hungerford Smith — the company that created the flavoring for A&W Root Beer. The history is ironic given that the only sugars in Happy Gut beverages are those that come about naturally as a result of fermentation. There are no artificial sweeteners. That doesn’t mean that Happy Gut tea isn’t sweet. There’s Amaterasu, a Japanese Sencha green tea with a bright, slightly lemony flavor. There’s also the sweet, mango46 CITY NOVEMBER 2021

tinged Mary’s Gold, made with Nilgiri tea and calendula petals. Selling tea keeps the lights on at Happy Gut, but there is the distinct sense that there is more to the place. In addition to the monthly NAMI open mics — designed to encourage an open dialogue about mental health issues — Happy Gut has hosted an ASL training session for workers in the service industry. Hsu and Heffner seem keen to make Happy Gut an inclusive haven where people feel accepted, and their own past experiences have a lot to do with it. Heffner, 38, was born to a Korean mother and a Native American father who served in the military. Growing up, Heffner recalls feeling out of place anywhere other than a base. When his dad retired, the family moved from South Dakota to New York — where the sense of community he once felt was absent.


Happy Gut Sanctuary hosts an ASL training session for workers in the service industry. PHOTO PROVIDED

“Civilian life is more about self than helping others, from my initial experience, so I’ve always been more about giving than taking, and trying to help others,” Heffner says. Hsu, 32, was raised Catholic and lived mostly in Taiwan until she was 10, when she moved to the United States and resided in Texas for six years. Her family participated in community service through a nearby Chinese church — helping out at nursing homes, soup kitchens, and homes that housed single mothers and their children. Hsu’s family stressed the importance of service. But she says she found motivation in connecting with people, especially as a kid from Taiwan who felt like an outsider. “So it’s important that we foster a space and environment where you can feel welcomed and at home, no matter what your background is,” she says of Happy Gut.

In Taiwan, Hsu says, high-quality tea was inexpensive and easy to get. That wasn’t her experience in America, where tea is often either prepackaged or combined with loads of sugar or milk as opposed to the loose-leaf varieties she and Heffner use at Happy Gut. Happy Gut’s beverages are different from the vinegary sweet, conventional American kombucha readily found in grocery stores. They are front-loaded with plenty of tanginess, but don’t necessarily taste like tea. “It’s not like ‘strawberry this’ or ‘blueberry that,’” Hsu says of her drinks. “So I was really worried that people weren’t going to be about it. We’re just literally fermenting different teas that we find really unique and complex and special.” But Happy Gut’s flavors have gained a following. The place rotates some 20 different kinds of fermented tea, served either on tap or in bottles. When the business first opened in July 2018 on Park Avenue, there were five options on the menu. Like the fermentation process, growing a business takes patience and time. So does growing a community. “I also want to operate as more than just a business,” she says. “I really do want to offer our space up to whoever might need it.”

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LIFE

WHAT ALES ME

SYRACUSE THE BEST BEER CITY IN NEW YORK? NO WAY. BY GINO FANELLI

A

@GINOFANELLI

recent ranking of the country’s supposed “Best Cities for Beer Lovers” gave some cities reason to raise a glass. The Cincinnati Enquirer, for instance, touted its city placing fifth, while 7News Boston trumpeted a seventh-place ranking for Beantown. Never mind that the rankings appeared deeply flawed and were produced by a lawn care company that inexplicably dabbles in “research studies” as a sideline business. I’m being serious. In addition to publishing the “Best Cities for Beer Lovers” in October, the company, Lawn Love, published the “Best and Worst States for Fishing” and — this is true — the “Best and Worst Cities for Vampires.” The vampire study “researchers” considered in their criteria — and this 48 CITY NOVEMBER 2021

GFANELLI@ROCHESTER-CITYNEWS.COM

is true, too — cities with a growing number of warm bodies (in other words, booming populations), blood centers and blood drives, casket manufacturers, cloud cover, homes on the market with basements, and a dearth of garlic festivals. Naperville, Illinois, had the dubious distinction of being the best city for bloodthirsty immortals. Rochester ranked 46th on the list. When it came to the “Best Cities for Beer,” Rochester placed 38th. That’s reasonable, I guess. We’re surely not in the league of, say, Denver, which ranked third, and we far outshine the brew wasteland of Virginia Beach, which brought up the rear. The fly in my pint, though, was Syracuse ranking ahead of Rochester at 31st place, making it the supposed top city for beer lovers in New York.

Buffalo came in 117th. Rochester is used to being sandwiched between Syracuse and Buffalo, geographically speaking. But there is no way it belongs there in a ranking of beer cities. Look, I’ll be diplomatic here. There are some pretty good breweries in Syracuse. Buried Acorn, Talking Cursive, and Underground Beer Lab are all solid. But does the Syracuse beer scene overall hold a candle to Rochester? Nope. Not even close. It’s not in the same league as Buffalo, either. Hell, Albany gives Syracuse a run for its money. Lawn Love broke down its rankings using five metrics: beer quality, establishment quality, community, access, and cost. Rochester tied Syracuse in beer

quality, beat it out in establishment quality and access, and got absolutely smoked in the community and cost categories. First, let’s talk about “community,” which was defined by the share of adults who drink beer, and the number of beer parties and festivals in the area. Syracuse’s biggest brewer is Anheuser-Busch. Syracuse University has twice in the last seven years been ranked as the best party school in the country by The Princeton Review. Perhaps we should expect nothing less of a lawn care company that dabbles in “research” to consider college students barely old enough to vote “adults who drink beer” and funneling kegs of Bud in the basement of a frat house a “beer party.” As for cost, Rochester’s beer is not more expensive, especially when


Columbia Care considering the quality. A four-pack of Rohrbach Scotch Ale runs about $10. A six-pack of Three Heads’ The Kind is $11.50. Those are good beers. If you want to shell out $25 on a four-pack, you can do that at places like Fifth Frame or Strangebird. Fourpacks of fruited sours at Mortalis or some wild ales from Other Half FLX aren’t cheap, either. But you also aren’t going to find anything of their caliber in Syracuse. Avon’s Mortalis ranks in the top 20 of breweries in the world on beer rating site Untappd. Other Half, a legendary brewery based in Brooklyn, picked Bloomfield as the site of its first satellite brewery. Syracuse doesn’t have anything noteworthy when it comes to beer. Call me the next time you hear someone say, “Man, I was really blown away by this Syracuse brewery,” because I have a bridge to sell you. So if this “study” gives weight to cities in which one can get the most beer by dumping pocketfuls of change onto a convenience store counter, then Syracuse has it all over Rochester. And yeah, we have Genesee, some of

whose brands can be bought cheap. But at least they’re homegrown. AnheuserBusch is headquartered in St. Louis. You might think I have some bias here, and you’d be right. I like Rochester beer. But I’ll also admit that Buffalo, home to hyped-up breweries like Thin Man and Froth and ranked 117th by the “researchers” at Lawn Love, is at the very least on par with Rochester’s scene. New York City, near the bottom of the list, is home to Finback, Fifth Hammer, Grimm, and Evil Twin NYC — four breweries that have set trends in the state beer scene. (Grimm won the most awards of any brewery in this year’s New York State Brewers Association competition.) Albany is home to Fidens Brewing Company, currently ranked the 11th best brewery in the world on Untappd. Take a look at the major cities in New York, and every single one has at least one widely recognized and heralded brewery. Every single one except Syracuse. So congrats, Syracuse. The grass clipping company thinks you have great beer. I’m happy for you. Cheers. Now, I need a drink.

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www.col-care.com/location/rochester New York Medical Marijuana ID required to make a Medical Marijuana purchase. Legendary brewer Other Half chose Bloomfield for its first satellite location. PHOTO BY RYAN WILLIAMSON

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LIFE

TALKING TURKEY

ACROSS

Answers to this puzzle can be found on page 37

PUZZLE BY S.J. AUSTIN & J. REYNOLDS

1. Fireplace remnants 6. Gorillas and gibbons (but not monkeys) 10. José Andrés and Martin Berasategui

1

2

3

4

5

6

7

8

9

10

20

19 23

11

12

13

14

15

21

24

16

17

18

43

44

45

75

76

112

113

22 26

25

15. Perks (up) 19. “_____ to break it to you”

27

20. The “T” of S.A.T.

31

28 32

21. Potter, e.g.

37

22. A light bulb, in comics 23. [Thanksgiving dish that is an excuse to eat gravy, served with 71-Across]

46

57

27. Worker with a blank nametag, maybe

65

32. Vitamin Shoppe competitor 34. Midterm, e.g.

49

35 40

58

51

60

83

95

52

62

56 63

64

68

69

72

73

78

79

84

85

89

88

61

67

82

42

55

66

81

36

50

59

77

30

41

54

71

80

34 39

48

29. Philosopher from 6-Down whose teaching methods were questionable? 31. Vision: prefix

38

53

26. Word found in several national capitals

28. Dback or Nat, e.g.

47

33

29

91 97

74

86

90

96

70

87

92

93

94

99

98

36. Refusals 37. Waxing and waning

101

100 104

40. Sick as _____ 42. Org. for abandoned animals 46. Calls for help from the control tower 49. [Thanksgiving dish that is an excuse to eat butter, served with 71-Across] 53. Operatic features

114

115

105

116

106

102 107

108 118

117

103 109

119

124

110 120

111

121

122

123

125

126

127

128

129

130

131

132

133

54. Arid 55. Jots down 56. Have a bite 57. Media watchdog agcy. 58. Concert souvenirs 60. “Gift” for a chatterbox 63. UK network 64. Bath: Sp. 65. English politician May 67. Arabic for “the greatest desert” 69. Path in China? 71. ,or a hint to the wacky answers in 23-Across, 49-Across, 95-Across, and 123-Across 77. Snowden’s agency, for short 50 CITY NOVEMBER 2021

78. Shells out

99. Oysters’ gems

79. Charge a partial amount

100. German Nobelist Herman

80. Spy

101. Make a lion noise

83. Folksy denial

102. Let up

85. RR stop

104. Alpo rival

86. Bank’s claim on a property

107. Native to

87. Mai _____

109. Seminary study: Abbr.

88. Charged particle

110. Syllables that match “Twinkle, twinkle” or “Baa baa black sheep” in a song with the same tune

89. Not intoxicated 91. (Surprisingly) colorless gas 93. Strand during winter 95. [Thanksgiving dish that is an excuse to eat fried onions, served with 71-Across]

114. Rose Bowl Stadium locale 118. Govt. dietary suggestions 120. Dramatic scene 122. Plays, or parts of a play

123. [Thanksgiving dish that is an excuse to eat marshmallows, served with 71-Across] 126. Former transportation secretary Elaine 127. Bird that looks similar, but is not related, to a heron 128. Castro who succeeded Castro 129. Pontiac vehicle produced in Mexico from 2001–2005 130. Adjust the space between characters in a font 131. Where to say “I do” 132. Point on a vane in Spain 133. Kisses from 108-Down


DOWN 1. “We _____ please” 2. Like a new knife or new haircut 3. Goes after 4. African nation whose official name begins “Federal Democratic Republic of” 5. Label that can indicate you’ve been left on read 6. Site of the first modern-day Olympic Games in 1896 7. Gravel size often used in home aquariums

62. Article of clothing that becomes a fruit if you remove its middle letter 64. Danish pioneer of quantum physics 66. Jonathan Larson musical based on La Bohème 67. Fuel additive brand 68. O-line members 70. Miseries 72. “No fooling!” 73. Neat as _____ 74. Four-bagger 75. Online shopping, familiarly

8. “30 for 30” broadcaster

76. Items of horse tack

9. Vestment for a priest

80. Heavy exhale

10. Sham

81. What you might do over a cookbook?

11. Beanie or beret 12. Greek equivalent of Cupid 13. Refrigerant trademarked by The Chemours Company

82. Change for a five 84. 1972 treaty subj. 86. Rock, to paper

14. Restaurant supply giant

89. Golf’s “Slammin’ Sammy”

15. Spanish artist who was deeply inspired by 24-Down

90. Shingled surface

16. Fix errors

92. Cease

17. Shoe-loving cat of picture books

94. Cause or accelerate a chemical reaction

18. Claims

96. Boomer of the NFL

24. “The Dance Class” painter

97. Blockade

25. George W. Bush or Willie Nelson

98. Wear away

30. Raises

99. Rice dish

33. Turns over

103. Avoid going to trial

35. Time after e’en

105. Pilgrimage destination in Islam

38. Certain bistro employee

106. Growl with bared teeth

39. Title for a knight

108. One caring for una bebé

41. Adjective redundantly added to “pandemic”

111. Headphones maker founded by Dr. Dre and Jimmy Iovine

43. Court declaration

112. Small part for a big star

44. Scottish tribe

113. Dawns’ counterparts

45. Concerning

114. Fill a suitcase

46. Vessels for rapids

115. Post-workout muscle sensation

47. Prefix with -tect

116. One of at least 100 billion in the Milky Way

48. Finely chopped 50. Cancels 51. Place to bet on the ponies, in brief 52. What you might get from a professor or a dean 54. Pinniped

117. Med. sch. course 119. Mmes. of Madrid 121. Tell a secret 124. Genetic code carrier 125. LGBTQ lifestyle magazine

59. ¿Habla _____? 61. What you might need to finish this puzzle roccitynews.com roccitynews.org CITY 51


52 CITY NOVEMBER 2021


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