Monthly Archives: September 2009

Who killed Name Brand Deals?

Name Brand Deals, the Oneida-owned enterprise that moved in to the spiritual space of the old Genesee Theater (I refuse to talk about Pep Boys any more), shut its doors recently. I’m not surprised. Even for a discount outlet, the place was a real dump. I went in there once and it made a barn sale look like Neiman Marcus.

Anyhow, I’m mentioning this partly to draw attention to a new comment I’ve received on the old Who killed the Genesee? thread. I’ve reprinted the comment below.

While researching for the Kallet Genesee page at Cinema Treasures, I came across a couple of bits of information not mentioned above that might interest you. The April 1, 1950, issue of Boxoffice Magazine published a rendering of the proposed Genesee Theatre by its architect, Michael J. DeAngelis. Construction began later that year. Albanese Brothers built the building, and it was operated under lease by Kallet Theatres.

I’ve been unable to find the exact opening date for the Genesee, but the March 14 issue of Boxoffice said that the theater had recently opened.

Michael DeAngelis was a Rochester architect who designed many theaters from the 1920s into the 1950s, some as far away as Florida, though I’ve been able to track down the names of only a few. His page at Cinema Treasures currently lists a mere dozen.

I’ve been unable to find out anything about Albanese Brothers, but it’s likely that they were a local firm of builders and developers in Syracuse.

Scans of Boxoffice Magazine and its predecessors are currently available at issuu.com, and there are many articles and brief items about upstate New York theaters, some going back to the mid-1920s. If you’re interested in the subject this is a good place to search for information about it. I’ve found it easier to search through Google than through Issuu’s own search box, though.

–Joe Vogel

If I was leader of the free universe and had a zillion dollars, I would buy the Genesee Theater space, rebuild the theater and show nothing but quality sci-fi from all film eras, starting with Forbidden Planet, maybe doing it Alamo Drafthouse style.

Stayers, goers, seekers, returners

A Chronicle of Higher Education article on emptying small towns in the Midwest sounds awfully familiar (may be behind a paywall):

Our year and a half spent interviewing the more than 200 young people who had attended the town’s high school in the late 1980s and early 1990s led us to categorize our young Iowans according to the defining traits of where their lives had taken them by their 20s and 30s. The largest group, approximately 40 percent, consisted of the working-class “stayers,” struggling in the region’s dying agro-industrial economy; about one in five became the collegebound “achievers,” who often left for good; just 10 percent included the “seekers” who join the military to see what the world beyond offers; and the rest were the “returners,” who eventually circled back to their hometowns, only a small number of whom were professionals we call “high fliers.” What surprised us most was that adults in the community were playing a pivotal part in the town’s decline by pushing the best and brightest young people to leave, and by underinvesting in those who chose to stay, even though it was the latter that were the towns’ best chance for a future…

Small towns need to equalize their investments across different groups of young people. While it would be impractical, and downright wrong, to abort students’ ambitions, there must be a radical rethinking of the goals of high-school education. The single-minded focus on pushing the most motivated students into four-year colleges must be balanced by efforts to match young people not headed for bachelor’s degrees with training, vocational, and assorted associate-degree programs. Those programs fill the needs of a postindustrial economy but acknowledge that not every student wants to, or will, pursue a more traditional college path.

So, what kind of education are we “Saying Yes” to here exactly?

The elephant in the room

Well, this was going to be a post about Obama, Paterson and racism. Thanks to recently reported political events, it’s going to be about more than that.

We live in a marvelous Internet age where we don’t even have to let on what color or gender we are if we don’t want to. I truthfully tell anyone who asks, that I don’t know what possessed me to choose the particular screen name I use. But why I have largely stuck with it is no mystery. It has seemed convenient not to completely get rid of it (except amongst those I trust). There is a different tone to online political conversation when people think you are this gender or that. And I know this contention is not going to sit well with some other women, but ask yourself who the original influential female political blogger was and I think you’ll say “that Digby guy.” Times have changed, or so they say, which is why my view on that may seem anachronistic, or my perceptions mistaken. Plus, much like it is bad form for a black politician to mention racism, it is bad form for a woman blogger to mention sexism.

So we need a respected white guy like Jimmy Carter to point out these things for us. I do respect Carter a lot and, having read some of his autobiographical books, I believe he is sincere and knowledgeable about our common American experiences with racism and politics. I believe there are racist and sexist implications in everything we all do and say, and it is hard to pin down because it is all about perception; but I also believe it is worth pinning down because perception becomes practice, and practice becomes policy.

One more word on sexism before I turn to the “race card.” It really hurts when you perceive that a friend or even a close relative is, in your view, on the other side of that perceptual fence. “Sexism” is such an ugly clumsy word, too, implying a system of beliefs rather than just a system of perceptions. Plus, it may just be your perception of someone else’s perception, stirring doubt and guilt. So who even wants to use the word in polite company? Isn’t it really bad form to mention, shouldn’t we just let it go in the name of longterm amity and in the words of Lincoln on his vision of the gradual abolition of slavery, slowly and gently “living out our old relations to one another”?

Two more different political figures than Paterson and Obama can hardly be imagined. Paterson wears his intelligence on his sleeve, and he has complained openly before — not just about racism, but about discrimination against the handicapped, and he should know. For all of the consternation about Joe Wilson’s untoward outburst toward Obama, Paterson has been the target of some really low jokes and smears related to his disability, which I felt he was right to stand up against (who would do it for him?) I’ve sort of admired him for that, really, since the sinking sensation of not knowing how to tell your friends (much less your enemies) that you’re bothered by something they’ve said, feels very much like a suffocating gag going into the mouth. When you speak up, you defy the gag.

The Obama approach, which is not to wear it all on one’s sleeve, also has its advantages, if you can get used to the taste of the gag without panicking, or wait for a more auspicious moment when you have more power to make your point. Easier to do when you are the latest incarnation of POTUS, the President Of The United States. But, how does one turn off one’s consciousness of the gag? The gag isn’t put there by Joe Wilson or any particular person or even political group. The conscious person senses that something else much bigger than the individual is running this show. We talk about racism and sexism, accuse each other of it, question our own feelings about it, but somehow never get close to it and it just seems to continue on as an objective reality. The consciousness of it hurts, but we are powerless to do anything about it but speak up, cry, scream, accuse… or deny, minimize, ignore, put off… It’s real, but we just can’t grasp it.

As for the levers we can grasp… Paterson isn’t going to win re-election (well, never say never, but some awfully weird things would have to happen first), but he seems more an overwhelmed player in a crumbling political edifice, the Democratic Party of New York, or even the whole elegant political system of New York, or New York itself. Why we are in this situation now seems a little clearer: Spitzer’s election was a sign of the weakness of the edifice, not of its strength. He was a barbarian at the gate, a strong personality with no real roots in an aging political system being run (at the time) by just a handful of old men. He chose a flawed but admirable man (like himself, I guess) as his running mate, and things snowballed from there. Paterson wouldn’t follow the script (erm… was there a script?), complaining about stuff and then (apparently) committing the terrible sin of picking Kirsten Gillibrand over the marginally qualified Caroline Kennedy, but that’s just my opinion.

And here we are, with POTUS telling “one of his own” not to run. Here, in the great Democratic state of New York. Even knowing full well that New York’s ridiculously late primary is a prime cause for potential chaos, I don’t know how I feel about that.

I wonder if Obama is still going to make the trek up to Malta Troy, a rare Upstate appearance for POTUS. What will the local birthers and tea baggers and town hall hecklers be more annoyed about: health care, or Obama’s perceived meddling in New York politics? I’m wondering how this visit is even going to help anything – anything at all, for anyone. Is it going to make any sort of difference at all? For anything? I’m very doubtful. But I suspect Obama will come anyway. And so it goes.

September: The pre-game show

There is no better time to check out the flowers than this time of year. One last explosion of color amid all the serious business of going to seed and dying. I like to think of it as the pre-game special before the big October show.

Unwikified

Everything worth reading about is on Wikipedia by now, right?

Well, no. You still can’t find anything on Wikipedia about Stanislaw Kaszynski, the municipal official who was executed by the Nazis for trying to tell the world about what was going on at the Chelmno death camp in his jurisdiction.

Nor can you find much of anything on Wikipedia about the fascinating life and times of Upstate NY’s own Seth Concklin, who (among his other exploits) went down into Alabama to rescue a slave family during the height of tensions over the Fugitive Slave Law.

And until very recently, you couldn’t read anything on Wikipedia about Father Gerald Fitzgerald, who took no prisoners when it came to exposing and trying to deal with abusive priests in 1950s New Mexico. (This has since been rectified, but only after the New York Times printed his letters.)

The stories of the world: still a lot left to tell.