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Best of Rochester

Critics choice

Best chocolate milk

Pittsford Farms Dairy

You could just say, "best milk," and leave it at that. Pittsford Farms' slow, low-heat pasteurization process creates richer-tasting, sweeter milk, and many swear by it. But the chocolate milk is truly a sinful matter. Owner Charlie Corby --- or perhaps his father-in-law, Ted Zorno --- clearly went down to the crossroads at some point and purchased the mojo for this stuff at the stiffest of prices. One of them will burn in hell for eternity, but it was worth it. Bet you can't keep a bottle of any size in your fridge for more than an hour. (44 North Main Street, Pittsford, 586-6610) (Adam Wilcox)

Best mid-Victorian naturalist

Andrea Barrett

The National Book Award-winning novelist and Rochester resident Andrea Barrett has described herself as having the mind of a mid-Victorian naturalist. This one-time scientist uses science and history as prisms through which she examines the rich inner lives of her fictional characters. Called "quietly dazzling" by The New York Times Book Review, her meticulously researched books include Ship Fever, The Voyage of the Narwhal, and Servants of the Map. Barrett once told a PBS interviewer, "I really wanted to be Darwin in a skirt wandering through the Galapagos or the Amazon and naming birds and trees and palms and fishes, and I only left science because I realized that's not what we do as scientists anymore. I think I grew up in the wrong century." (Susan Herman)

Best jazz radio station


For years WGMC 90.1 FM slowly drifted toward its seemingly impossible dream of a signal powerful enough to be heard all over Monroe County. But when Jason Crane took the reigns a few years ago, the fundraising swung into high gear. The result is almost too good to be true in the age of homogenized, corporate radio: a 24-hour jazz station that plays real jazz. The sound is 15,000-watts strong and as clear as a bell way out past Canandaigua. During the Rochester International Jazz Festival, WGMC's programs and interviews help make Rochester feel like the national epicenter of jazz. (Ron Netsky)

Best place to connect with local history

Groveland Ambush

In a tiny clearing on a hidden hillside near Conesus Lake sits a monument bearing 16 names. These were Revolutionary soldiers who mistakenly stumbled into an ambush party of 400 Iroquois waiting to surprise General John Sullivan's main army. Their blunder saved the army but brought the 16 to a violent death. They are buried here, where they fell 225 years ago. Beholding the aging, tilted monument, in this forgotten place, brings home the significance of war and death. Take Route 390 south to Route 15 (Exit 9); south one mile to Route 256; south 10 miles to very steep David Gray Hill Road; west one half-mile to ambuscade. (Rich Gardner)

Best deli owner

Roxanne Armstrong

A lot of people by now have discovered the Park & Oxford Café and Delicatessen on the corner of Park and Oxford. But if for some reason you haven't, there are a number of reasons to do so. The food is one reason, especially the delicious, perfectly-made, just-the-right-crisp-to-the-bacon breakfast sandwiches. But the best reason is that the owner, Roxanne, not only cares about the food but also about the people who come in. I dearly miss living in the neighborhood and don't get to go as often as I used to. But on my last visit, after a long hiatus, when she found out that I was on a low-carb diet, she made me my favorite breakfast sandwich, sans the bun, and threw in an extra egg. Now that's service. 242-8890, (Alex Miokovic)

Underappreciated retro candy

Bridge mix from Stever's Candies

When I wax poetic about my love of bridge mix to anyone under 50, I'm rewarded with glassy eyes and slack jaws followed by a tiny bit of drool. Admittedly, it's actually me drooling, because the only thing better than candy is candy with other candy inside it... and that's bridge mix! Your more pedestrian bridge mixes feature chocolate-covered peanuts, raisins, and caramels, but Stever's sees that and raises with a myriad of nuts, fruits, creams, and cordials. From what I can gather, bridge mix was originally set out for people to munch on while they played bridge. I've never played any bridge myself, but I have burned a few, so I think I'm entitled to enjoy it. 623 Park Avenue, 473-2098 (Dayna Papaleo)

Best big-city look

Metro Salon

Look, I know you're hot. You know you're hot. But how to show everyone else how very hot you really are? Go see Stefania. She used to handle celebrity hair in New York City with Frederick Fekkai and moved here recently to be closer to her family. Fred's loss is our gain. At Stefania's sleek, relaxed Metro Salon on Gibbs Street you can get a cosmopolitan look at a hometown price. Plus, the music selection --- from Dolly Parton to Arabic groove to Flock of Seagulls and beyond --- even has those Eastman School kids talking. Metro Salon, 25 Gibbs Street, 232-3910. (Jennifer Loviglio)

Best regional film festival


Gaining international attention and kudos as it reaches out to audiences from Western New York to Toronto, Rochester's ImageOut Festival gets smarter, more newsworthy, and more artistically satisfying every year. Now in its 12th year, ImageOut brought 45 separate showings this October to the Little Theatre, Dryden Theatre, and Cinema Theater. These lesbian and gay film and video attractions from around the world also include sessions with some of the filmmakers. Comic and serious feature-length films and shorts explore crucial contemporary LGBT topics like marriage, persecution, gay history, and parenting. A group of films are made by, with, and for gay youths. The ImageArt program includes exhibits and poetry readings from regional LGBT artists. Audiences vote awards for films and filmmakers. When you hear about "hot, new" films with LGBT themes in the future, you can remember seeing them earlier at ImageOut., 271-2640 (Herbert M. Simpson)

Best Italian restaurant

Infantino's Market Restaurant

Being an urban-bred and -raised boy, I wasn't thrilled with my (temporary) move from Rochester to Henrietta. But discovering Infantino's has brightened my outlook considerably. We ate at Infantino's so often the first two weeks after our move, the staff wondered if we even had a kitchen. The pasta dishes are large, delicious, and reasonable. My favorites are the gnocchi in marinara sauce and pasta with artichokes French. Owners Mike and Colleen Infantino are always on hand in front or over the stove. They're located at 2133 East Henrietta Road. They have breakfast (which is also tasty) and lunch everyday, dinner Wednesday through Saturday. 359-0990. (Joseph Sorrentino)

Best unknown park

Wadsworth Square Park

Who'd have ever thought one of the most relaxing spots in the city would lie just a few blocks from downtown, tucked away right off noisy Monroe Avenue? (And adjacent to the Inner Loop, to boot!) Home to a modest number of trees (five), this tiny patch of grass never seems crowded but regularly draws just enough dogwalkers to feel safe. Under any of those trees, you'll find the perfect place to start your morning, read, reflect, spend time with a loved one, or even take a midday nap. Marshall Street at Broadway. (Saby Reyes-Kulkarni)

Best annual poetry reading

Poets Against the War

In January 2003, Laura Bush invited a group of poets to a White House symposium to celebrate "Poetry and the American Voice." First mistake: she invited Sam Hamill. Sam Hamill, poet and publisher, is a longtime pacifist who was staunchly opposed to invading Iraq. Declining Mrs. Bush's offer, Hamill instead asked some poet friends to submit poetry and letters denouncing the war. Within four days, 1,500 poets had responded. The symposium was cancelled, but a high-profile political movement was underway. Poets Against the War readings are now held yearly across the country; Rochester PoetsAgainst the War organizes Rochester's reading. The 2004 reading at the Rochester Public Library featured 25 poets united for one purpose: peace. A 2005 event is planned for February. (Peter Conners)

Best banana crème pie

The Holloway House

For some reason I crave banana crème pie every once in a while. I've tried it at a dozen places over the past several years, and found only one true classic. A little diner in the Southern Tier used whipped cream instead of meringue, a common and devastating substitution. Banana crème pie without bananas is another lazy shortcut, with the banana flavoring probably manufactured off a New Jersey interstate. Are meringues that difficult to make? Are bananas that rare to find in the store? Pam Graham and Dawn Wayne at the Holloway House make it the old-fashioned way, and it is a beautiful thing. They also pit all their own cherries for their summer-fresh black cherry pie, and their orange rolls are fantastic. The Holloway House closes for the winter soon after Thanksgiving, then reopens before Easter, so don't wait for the snow to fly. Routes 5 and 20, Bloomfield, 657-7120 (Michael Warren Thomas)

Best okra

Unkl Moe's

I grew up loving okra, and not understanding why most people don't. Now I get it: most cooks destroy the blessed stuff. But if you cut it small, dust it with corn meal and spices, and pan-fry it fast and hot, wondrous things can happen. Properly cooked, the okra doesn't decompose (which is what causes it to become slimy), and the coating is crisp and delicious, without being a thick ol' blob. If you want to see it done right, the only choice is Unkl Moe's (493 West Avenue, 464-8240), where Moe Smith understands. Have it with some barbecue and greens. (Adam Wilcox)

Frenchest thing in Rochester

Nicolettes at Wegmans Pittsford

I was once wandering around Paris when I happened upon a patisserie called Gerard Mulot famous for its macarons --- no, not macaroons, those vile coconut affronts, but delicate cookies made with ground almonds and egg whites and sandwiched by ganaches and jams. It was like biting into a yummy, chewy eggshell, and I thought about them often over the last few years. Then one day I saw them at Wegmans Patisserie in Pittsford --- they're called Nicolettes there, they're a little smaller, and I ate all six of them in the parking lot. Truthfully, I'm eating one right now, and they're even more delicious when you can write them off on your tax return.3195 Monroe Avenue, 586-6680 (Dayna Papaleo)

Best place to wrestle when drunk

Goodwin Park

So I've had too much to drink and I'm trying to navigate my way down Park Avenue from the East End Fest while giving a piggyback ride to the most beautiful woman I've ever given a piggyback ride to. She needs to pee. We veer off Park Avenue into Goodwin Park (no relation), a place so inconspicuous you might need a Marauder's Map to find it. It has a cute little playground with a slide built for three-year olds or old idiots like myself and --- most importantly --- those green, cushy grass substitutes that were no doubt invented after people found that gravel and wood chips aren't best for breaking children's falls. Instead of peeing, my inebriated friend pins me, bites my flank, and then laughs when I find myself on the receiving end of a passing dog's loving smooches. The dog was not drunk. (Tim Goodwin)

Best urban escape

Paddling Irondequoit Creek

Great Blue Herons. Snapping Turtles. Cattails. Silence.

            If these are the environs you seek to soothe nerves frazzled by the frenetic pace of city life, there's no need to drive for hours.

            Less than a mile from 590, Empire Boulevard tilts downhill toward the floor of a valley carved by the Irondequoit Creek. This is where the Creek's waters flow into the Bay that shares its name and --- eventually --- Lake Ontario. Instead, point your canoe or kayak south, and a few paddle strokes will bring into a watery wilderness. Except for the occasional jet overhead, there's little to remind you that you're in the heart of a metropolitan area of over a million people. You can paddle the flat-water creek upstream through Ellison Park to Browncroft Boulevard, before the current will turn you back. Or instead opt to explore the maze of dead-end channels that wind away from the main course.

            Don't own a boat? Bay Creek Paddling Center and Oak Orchard Canoe and Kayak Experts both provide on-site rentals starting at $15. Start your trip from LaSalle's Landing, a park on the north side of Empire Boulevard in Penfield, where creek and bay meet. (Krestia DeGeorge)

Best retro diner

Victor Burger King

Chrome and neon tubing frame James Dean smirking from the corner on a bigger-than-life cardboard cutout. You recognize his signature slouch and cigarette even when his face is obscured by a hanging auto headlamp. A repro Wurlitzer jukebox lists Frankie Avalon's "Venus" and Johnny Cash's "I Walk the Line." Giant 45s of Elvis, Buddy Holly, and Fats Domino splay over the ceiling as their hits suffuse the ambience.

Booths are '50s car seats with giant fins and rocket taillights. Speckled metal-gray plastic abounds. An improbable photo shows Bogie, Marilyn Monroe, and Dean in a late-night coffee joint with Elvis flipping the easy-overs. Faux art deco spills into the restrooms. The menu, however, is BK '04. At Route 96 and Rowley Road, Victor. (Warren Wightman)

Best ethnic food addition

Ly-Lou's Philippine Cuisine

Just when you thought you'd tasted every flavor, there's a new addition to Rochester's rainbow of ethnic cuisines: Ly-Lou's Philippine restaurant at South Avenue and Alexander. Even in New York City, Philippine food is hard to come by. So Rochester is lucky to have its own restaurant. One of Ly-Lou's more unusual tastes is charbroiled stuffed milkfish. Its rustic charcoal aroma casts a novel tint onto the refreshing south-Asian blend of ginger, onion, tomato, and lime. Unusual vegetables like okra, calabaza squash, and ampalaya rub elbows in pinakbet. A delicate anise flavor infuses the tender chicken stew. Finally, don't miss sapin-sapin, a bright green and yellow striped custard made from sweet beans and rice. They always serve it with a smile. 232-2790. (Josh Mailman)

Best new winery

Ravines Winecellars

It seems that every time I go down to the Finger Lakes these days I discover another new winery. But quantity is not always quality. That said, Ravines is really one of the best. Owner Morton Halgren is the winemaker for Dr. Konstantin Frank's Wine Cellars, but he takes it up a notch with his own wines --- which he carefully and lovingly makes. His new Cabernet Franc is deliciously fruity, peppery, and especially good with a piece of grilled meat topped by a sauce made with the same wine. And speaking of the latter, while visiting, make sure to try anything Morton's wife, Lisa, cooks up. (They have regular wine and food tasting events.) For info: or 607-292-7007 (Alex Miokovic)

Best independent radio station


When the DJs at WBER announce they're "the only station that matters," they're not just reciting some overstated phrase. They mean it. The college-radio likeness that characterizes the community-run station adds to its charm. And tuning in, you won't hear any screeching Ashlee Simpson or wailing Hoobastank; rather, expect sounds that soothe the indie and punk-rock souls. WBER entertains everything from Clash-inspired The Explosion, to the ever-popular Björk, to old favorites The Cure. From one listen, it is evident that these kids on air are the same kind of people you'd catch bragging, "I knew that band before they got big," and, "Their old stuff is way better." Listen and learn, Top 40 fans. WBER 90.5 FM, (Rebecca Shore)

Best way to smell the coffee

The Propaganda Box

In this age of corporate media domination --- and an ever-widening gap between the outlets where Americans seek their news --- sometimes you've just got to confront folks where they are. And for the past several months, the Propaganda Box has done just that. Started by tireless local artist Bleu Cease, the P-Box is, literally, a TV-VCR in a wooden box painted red, white, and blue. Cease loads the VCR with independent media documentaries and exposés like Debra Hussong's Human Shield or the Hudson Mohawk Independent Media Center's Independent Media in a Time of War. And they just loop all day long.

It's a calling that has required Cease to lug the box around to different locations like the Liberty Pole or local college campuses, setting up early and breaking down late. "It's been a very tiring few months," he says. Comment cards collected by the P-Box range from an alarming amount of bathroom-wall obscenity to the occasional "excellent!" or "so happy to see this..." One favorite: a writer thanks Cease for putting "a kiosk on the street." The writer praises "an excellent, informative piece on civil war in Columbia" before saying, "The United States is supporting it all. We need to stop. Your piece makes me want to go to South America and be a guerilla." Cease has collected all these gems and hopes to one day compile them in a book.

While on the subject of independent media, a special shout out to Rochester Indy Media ( for organizing important local video screenings and providing an outlet for the people and opinions either ignored or avoided by corporate media. Among the recent topics: critiques of the Republican National Convention protests and some below-radar commentaries on the race for Rochester City School Board. Who says Rochester is a one-newspaper town? (Chad Oliveiri)

Best community water facility

Perinton Aquatics Center

Perinton opened the $6 million, 22,306-square-foot indoor facility to the public this fall. It has a traditional six-lane pool, a leisure pool with zero-depth entry, lazy river, and whirlpool. There's a water slide that stands more than two stories high, a walking channel and water gadgets that dump, spray, and squirt water all over. People can float around the lazy river using foam rubber "noodles." Spend a cold winter day swimming and playing in 85-degree pools that feature the latest in water recreation. Daily passes for non-residents start at $7. For residents, passes cost between $2 and $4.50. Call 223-5050 for more information. (Mike Doser)

Best place to connect with yourself

Lamberton Conservatory

Where is a perfect place to surround yourself with the spirituality of life --- and maybe linger to read a book, practice your acoustic guitar, or brown bag it? The answer is already known to 65,000 visitors a year from Pittsford, Canada, and Asia: the Lamberton Conservatory. Some folks even come here to take breaks from visiting sick family members at nearby hospitals. Just five minutes from downtown, there awaits you exotic plants (displays change regularly), horned fish, and an indoor sun deck for hanging out with the ivy. Highland Avenue at Reservoir Road. Open every day but Christmas. Free parking. $1.00 admission. (Rich Gardner)

Best cheap stoagies

Rochester Cigar Factory

Narcisso Martinez has been offering an excellent variety of high-quality, Rochester-rolled, Dominican co-op grown, fine cigars since 1997. His friends call him Cisso; if you stop by the Rochester Cigar Factory on 467 State Street (325-7220), you will too. Martinez also makes custom bands for corporations, parties, and birth announcements. The Cigar Factoryhas a café area with Caribbean coffees and beers. Last time round, I saw there was a clearance bin where castoffs and other slightly imperfect product were going for a song. The roller is in the house weekly: ask, and you might be able to catch him in action. (Dave Cross)

Best nighttime ambiance

Max of Eastman Place

To sit at a table inside the downtown restaurant Max of Eastman Place on a Saturday night is to witness a beautiful street scene that rivals that of any city. The crowds that spill out of the Eastman Theatre and the instrument-bearing Eastman School students that crowd Gibbs Street create an atmosphere of cosmopolitan energy. The lights of the Eastman Theatre brighten the darkening sky, and the park-like pavilion in front of the restaurant's picture windows obscures the busy traffic of Main Street. All of this says nothing of chef-owner Tony Gullace's food, which has been delighting reviewers and patrons for years, since his old days at the Water Street Grill. Phone: 697-0491. (Susan Herman)

Best nightclub

Montage Grille

It could be the quirky L-shaped room or it could be the food, but chances are it's the excellent bookings that have made the Montage Grille the best nightclub in Rochester. Just about everybody on the jazz circuit who's not playing large auditoriums passes through the Montage: Dave Liebman, John Scofield, Joey DeFrancesco... the list goes on and on. And with acts like Bo Diddley, Leon Redbone, and Steve Forbert, it's much more than a jazz club. While everyone complains about Rochester nightlife, just remember, a crowd is probably lining up over at the Montage. 50 Chestnut Street, 232-8380, (Ron Netsky)

Best place to wear a hat

Betty Meyer's Bullwinkle Cafe

Have you ever wondered what it would be like if David Lynch dated your grandma and opened up a bar? Bullwinkle opened up in, like, 69 1/2 A.D. and originally found old-school Geva Theatre-types making it their custom. A bezillion years later the place looks like it needs dusting, a fresh coat of paint, and a dehumidifier, but it couldn't be more fabulous, more fantastic, or more strange. You say you'd like to karaoke but hate being fenced in by the DJ's CD wallet of choices? Let Bullwinkle's outstandingly talented piano players play along to whatever the hell you want, or just grab one of their elementary school music-class brand noise makers and just play along. You'll soon be saving your out-of-town friends from labeling you as a boring stiff when you take them here, put them in one of Bullwinkle's funny hats, and let loose. 622 Lake Avenue, 458-5530 (Tim Goodwin)

Best place to buy rare books

Rochester Antiquarian Book Fair

For 32 years, The Rochester Antiquarian Book Fair has been the year's highpoint for book lovers. With over 50 book dealers from around the country exhibiting rare editions, maps, photos, posters, broadsides, collectible postcards, and the other good stuff you find in the best used bookstores, this is the place to find that unique printed collectible. For the past two years, the fair has been organized by the Rochester Area Booksellers Association (RABA,, a consortium of local bookstore owners. Franlee Frank, fair co-organizer and owner of Greenwood Books, says, "Now, more than ever, keeping the love of books in front of people is vital." The fair is rounded out by wandering musicians, snacks, and lots of great talk about books, books, and more books. (Peter Conners)

Best bakery

Rich Port Pastries and Breads

It's a good thing Rich Port, located in the Public Market, is only open three days a week. Any more than that and I'd be putting on some serious weight. They open at 7 a.m. on Saturdays (9 a.m. Tuesdays and Thursdays), and I'm usually there just as they're unlocking the door. They serve a mostly Hispanic selection of baked goods that is nothing short of phenomenal. My favorites are the quesitos and conchas. Of course, their apple turnovers really kick, too. My fiancée claims the cinnamon rolls are the best she's had. Ever. Tacos are also served. It's staffed and stocked by the ever-friendly Chuck, his son Will, and a host of relatives and friends. 5 Public Market, 232-6570 (Joseph Sorrentino)

Best cup of coffee

Abundance Co-Op

Local cafes may offer more ambience, but let's face it: most of them have major deficiencies when it comes to their actual coffee. For flavor and richness, Abundance beats 'em all, and the proportion of water is always just right. (Shame on those who overcharge for watered-down coffee; there's just no excuse.) You won't find any espressos or lattes, but there are lots of goodies on hand, both pre-packaged and in bulk. Cozy seating and a welcoming staff provide tranquil refuge, and the little park at Marshall Street is just a half-block away. Plus, the coffee's purchased exclusively via the Equal Exchange organization. 62 Marshall Street, 454-2667. (Saby Reyes-Kulkarni)

Best restaurant display garden

Restaurant 2 Vine

2 Vine is owned by two people who appreciate gardens, Jerry Serafine and Jerry Vorassi. What a change for this building where Hallman's Chevrolet used to prep cars. I remember bringing my car to Craig Autometrics next door and seeing the broken windows and gravel lot around this rather simple building that would become 2 Vine. There were no condos across the street at the time. Ask for the book of photos to see what the site looked like from the beginning, it makes the gardens seem even more spectacular. Not only are the restaurant's window boxes interesting in all seasons, they are easily my favorites each year. Half wine barrels host ornamental grasses, hydrangeas, and colorful annuals. There is also an herb garden behind the restaurant for the chefs. 24 Winthrop Street, 454-6020 (Michael Warren Thomas)

Best contribution to modernism

Dr. James Sibley Watson

In 1919, this Rochester resident --- a Harvard and NYU educated M.D. --- assumed co-editorship of The Dial, and by 1929 he had turned it into, arguably, the defining modernist journal. Its pages exposed worldwide audiences to e.e. cummings, Marianne Moore, Ezra Pound, and D.H. Lawrence, and the paintings of Picasso, Matisse, and Cezanne. T.S. Eliot's (and modernism's) seminal poem, The Wasteland, was first published by The Dial in 1922. Along the way, Watson also made two films, The Fall of the House of Usher, and, Lot of Sodom, both filmed in Rochester, that are now considered early experimental film classics. Both films now tour the world as part of The Unseen Cinema: Early Avant-Garde Film 1893-1941, which premiered at the Whitney Museum in 2001. (Peter Conners)

Best new alternative space


The All-Purpose Room at the Rochester Public Market recently became the A\V Art Sound Space this past August. Since alternative spaces are only alternative when they are really new, it's probably a good thing that this place has reinvented itself and is under new collaborative management. They had some pretty interesting art exhibitions that included the work of Sean Pelletier and his drawing machines, and the music was some of the most "out there." The work of Joe Tunis, in particular, who both curates and performs music that is in his own words "experimental, drone, improv, noise, loud-rock... and other forms of sound," is also sophisticated and quite often hauntingly beautiful. (Alex Miokovic)

Best taste of New England

Ross Brothers Maple Products

The proper preparation of lobster. The correct pronunciation of "aunt." The taste of maple syrup. These are just a few things you New Yorkers have yet to learn. Help is on the way: Lobster is boiled, not steamed. Aunt rhymes with flaunt. And the only NY maple syrup that rivals New England's best is made right here by Joe and Tom Ross. It has won "excellent" ratings in Vermont's annual Maplerama and it makes those pancakes sing. Ross Brothers Maple Products are available at the farmers markets in Victor, Webster, and East Rochester, or call Joe at 586-7688. (Jennifer Loviglio)

Best place to feel like a jazz giant

Tritone Jazz Fantasy Camp at Nazareth College

They may be heart surgeons, rocket scientists, and engineers in real life, but for one week every summer students travel from all over the country to jam with the stars. Some come for the camaraderie and some come for the staff, which boasts guitarist Gene Bertoncini, bandleader Fred Sturm, and others. But all of them come to indulge in their passion. The general skill level is high. In fact, some of these campers might have been jazz musicians if not for the call of rocket science or heart surgery. For at least one week a year, they can be. Call 218-9950 for information. (Ron Netsky)

Best human clockworks

Fairport Crew Club

Neatness and precision impress you at the Fairport Crew Club boathouse. These high-school kids, girls and boys, know the meaning --- and rewards --- of teamwork. You can't showboat when you're pulling your oar in tight synchrony with your crewmates as your slick shell slips sleekly through the water. Discipline and muscle win regattas. Alums already row on college crews. Club organizer Bruce Weick's daughter Libby, now an FCC coach, captained her crew at Williams Smith.

The boathouse --- built and maintained with zero town money --- is on the south bank of the Erie Canal in view from the Perinton Park bridge. Action is year-round --- in winter, inside with ergometric apparatus. Check the event schedule at See serious youths having fun turning abs into washboards. (Warren Wightman)

Best little park to get away

Tinker Nature Park

The Tinker Homestead and Nature Center is a little jewel tucked off of Calkins Road in Henrietta. The land was originally a farm owned by the Tinker family and the house --- with almost all of the original furnishings --- is still there along with a couple of other buildings. Part of the land has been preserved as a nature park with trails winding past and through fields of wildflowers, acres of trees, and a marsh. There's also an herb garden behind the house. Tinker is located at 1525 Calkins Road. 359-7044 (Joseph Sorrentino)

Best health club

Open Sky Yoga

How much can you bench press? Who cares? I've found yoga and I'll never do another crunch (sounds good for your back doesn't it?) or bicep curl again. Why? Because I want the spine of a 5-year-old and the balance and body control of a ballet dancer. I want long, lean, flexible, strong, and integrated muscles with powerfully efficient lungs, enhanced circulation, and a quiet mind. Can a yoga practice bring that? Yes. And it can also relieve headaches. Rochester is home to several great teachers of this ancient health system. Seek them out. Beware of those certified to teach in three days. I found Open Sky Yoga (, and after one class in the transporting, carriage house studio, I said goodbye to dumbbells. (Michael Koldan)

Best junk sale

Blessed Sacrament Church Rummage Sale

Sure, jobs are leaving Upstate New York faster than the Israelites fled Egypt. But we still got great junk. And nowhere is the bounty greater than at the semi-annual rummage sales held by Blessed Sacrament Church on Monroe Avenue. Judging from the turnout, the first weeks of May and October are holy days on lots of people's calendars. That's when Blessed Sacrament miraculously replenishes its enormous multi-level auditorium. You'll find antiques, collectibles, books, clothing, jewelry, art, housewares, linens, furniture, sporting goods, and toys. Surprisingly, about the only things they don't have are fish and wine. But there are plenty of loaves of bread for the junking faithful at the bake sale and café. Can I get an amen? (Linda Kostin)

Tangiest sourdough

The Upstate Sourdough at Baker Street Bread Company

Some of my dearest friends are successfully avoiding carbs, but I'm obsessed with bread. I used to have access to a big kitchen where I would make my own, but the confines of my Lilliputian studio sent me on a quest. I encountered surprisingly good sourdough where I didn't expect to and boring sourdough at a place that frankly should have done better. My pilgrimages now end at Baker Street Bread Company, where the Upstate Sourdough is the best I've found. Gorgeous, crackly crust, chewy crumb, flavor for miles and, like any quality sourdough, a decent shelf life... assuming it actually sees the following day. Store the loaf cut-side down and, for the love of humanity, don't wrap it in plastic. 745 Park Avenue, 241-3120 (Dayna Papaleo)

Best high-school sports event

Section V Boys' Basketball Tournament

For just $5, fans can go to the Blue Cross Arena and watch as many as six championship finals in one day. The games start with Section V's smallest schools tipping off around noon. The action culminates with the biggest schools doing battle at 7:15 and 9 p.m. Players dream their whole lives of playing at "the Big House" in front of thousands of fans. It's like Hoosiers. There isn't a better place to witness intensity, excitement, sportsmanship, and school spirit. You'll feel good about the direction our kids are headed. Championship weekend is usually the first weekend in March. Information: (Mike Doser)

Best restaurant production gardens

Atomic Eggplant and Le Lemon Grass

This is a tie, with kudos to Meg and her staff at Atomic Eggplant (75 Marshall Street, 325-6750) for making the vegetables grow in a somewhat shady spot on Marshall Street. Instead of mowing grass, these restaurants use all available space to produce fresh herbs and vegetables for their customers. Le Lemon Grass (942 Monroe Avenue, 271-8360) gets rave reviews for artwork that accents the garden, literally hammered into form by the owner, Huey. In his continuing demonstration that we humans that need sleep get only half as much done, Huey has outdone himself again. A new patio section has wonderful handcrafted railings and huge boulders provide a border to the neighboring house, which Huey recently renovated as his new hair salon. While the gardens may be dormant soon, the pho at Le Lemon Grass will warm your bones on the coldest day. (Michael Warren Thomas)

Best imagination boosters

Garth Fagan Imaginations Dance Classes

Forget the stifling, primly ritualized children's dance classes of your own misspent youth. The three- and four-year-old dancers in the Imaginations Dance classes leap, skip, run, spin, shimmy, and shake, often to the booming rhythm of a drum. Instead of a rigid adherence to actual steps, the class might experiment with frog-hopping, say, or impersonating a tree, always emphasizing the pure, intuitive joy of dancing. The tiny dancers, who must be mature enough to take direction from the teacher without Mommy in the room, receive 12 weeks of instruction from a Garth Fagan Dance company member for $88. (Scholarships are available.) The final class is open to families, and it might just be the cutest thing you've ever seen. Phone: 454-3260. (Susan Herman)

Best place to connect with nature

The Genesee Valley Greenway

Walking through the tree-covered, womb-like "tunnel" section of the Greenway gives a profound meaning to the term Mother Nature. One of the most beautiful legs of this 100-mile trail, the tunnel starts right off Balantyne Road, near the Genesee River. From April to October you won't find more birds, animals, wildflowers, trees, butterflies, or screaming silence --- outside a designated sanctuary --- than here, at this old converted rail bed running from the University of Rochester campus, south, to Cuba, New York. Take Scottsville Road south to Ballantyne Road; follow Ballantyne west one half-mile to the abandoned railroad bed --- or armchair it at: (Rich Gardner)

The best... of Rochester

Rochester Public Market

Praising the Public Market in these pages might seem redundant. But we just can't ignore what we consider to be the best thing going in the region. As Rochester continues to struggle with its identity and its economy, the Public Market is the perfect example of something that works almost naturally and should be nurtured at all costs. It's probably the sole local model of diversity in action. And the screaming deals you'll walk away with are worth noting, too.

And now, there's even more to recommend the Market. It's proven the ideal venue for the past two years for Festival of Food, the "ultimate tasting" of local restaurants, regional wines, specialty foods, and live music for a good cause (benefiting FOODLINK and InterVol). And Saturday trips to the Market can now go way beyond food by taking in the contemporary art at A\V Space, or engaging in a political debate with the guys hocking copies of Socialist Worker. (Chad Oliveiri)

Best comfort food

Fishers Station

You could ask why Adam and I always find a way to write about Fishers Station. You might think they give us lots of free food, but Rick and Nancy Stewart don't give us any. Or you might think it's close to where we live; no, it's a 20-minute drive door to door. Maybe we like the décor? While we like it, it is spartan and functional. Some might insist that we like the warm and friendly service; but actually the service is known for being curt, fast, and without frills. We just love the food. Bread pudding, Yankee pot roast, mashed potatoes, extra mashed potatoes, iced tea... Did I mention dessert first? That's the way we order it, because they only make six servings of the bread pudding per day. There are homemade pies (by Rick's mother) for everyone else. Fishers Station is on Main Street in Fishers, just off Route 96. They are open for breakfast Friday through Sunday and lunch Wednesday through Friday. 742-3280 (Michael Warren Thomas)

Best solace for the sole

Tony's Shoe Repair

A product of 70 years of the cobbler's art, the seductive aroma of leather doesn't come from a spray can. Tony Pittinaro opened shop here in 1937. Now it's third generation, with Nick DiBello as proprietor. Get your favorite shoes re-soled for a second life; have new ones stretched to accommodate old bunions. Any type: ladies' and men's dress, kids', rough-and-tough-ers for hard-hats and hunters.

Stilettos caught in a grating? Nick will fix 'em, or punch extra buckle holes in your belt to accommodate your post-prandial girth. Shoe horns, laces, dyes, polishes, even handcrafted walking sticks. Every Fairportonian knows the location, but for outlanders it's at 4 High Street, just around the corner from North Main. Open till 6 p.m. on weekdays, 1 p.m. on Saturdays. 388-0143. (Warren Wightman)

Best early music vocal ensemble

Musica Spei (Music of Hope)

Classical music lovers should seek out one of the city's best treasures: Musica Spei, the choral group that specializes in sacred works of the Renaissance. Musica Spei's repertoire is some of the most sophisticated, intricate, and transporting art ever created by humankind. And they do it justice. Expect to hear Renaissance works from all over Europe: Franco-Flemish composers like Ockeghem and Josquin; Spaniards like Victoria and Guerrero; also works from Russia and Poland. The Middle Ages are not out of bounds either: Musica Spei sounds ravishing when they sing the songs of medieval mystic Hildegard von Bingen. On June 11, they'll perform the legendary Choralis Constantinus by often-overlooked Renaissance master Heinrich Isaac. The performance is at St. Anne Church, 1600 Mt. Hope Avenue. 244-7764, (Josh Mailman)

Best summer festival

Macedonian Festival

Rochester is famous for its summer festivals. And here's another one to add to your list. The Macedonian Festival is lower key or, should I say, less commercial than many of the others. But what it really has to offer is good food. The kebaps (cevapcici) are especially good: little meat sausages that are grilled and served with onions, bread, rice pilaf, potatoes, and a salad. A great deal of a meal, too, plus there's good traditional music and fantastic desserts (think Greek Festival with more variety and better prices). And if you want to know a little about Macedonia, there's an informative display and friendly people who'll be more than happy to answer your questions and fill you in on the history. What's more, the festival takes place on the grounds of the Macedonian church in Henrietta, which is really quite pastoral. The church architecture is unique, so take a tour. My wife and I have been going since year one --- it's one of our must-do's for the summer. 334-6675 (Alex Miokovic)

Best way to cover that chemo chrome dome

Memorial Art Gallery store

There are so many things to worry about when you're diagnosed with cancer, why should finding gorgeous head scarves be one of them? Just because you're having chemo doesn't mean you're not still stylin'. But most women's scarves are too dowdy, narrow, or slippery. The MAG store saved the day recently for my friend who's undergoing chemotherapy. Their handmade silk scarves are lush, with subtle abstract designs and velvety textures. They're also wide enough to cover the whole head with extra for tying. Kudos to sales associate Stacy Jennings and scarf artist Judy Corlett who --- inspired by my friend's quest --- are introducing a line of pretty rayon scarves which will be more affordable and less slippery than silk. Memorial Art Gallery store, 500 University Avenue, 473-7720. (Jennifer Loviglio)

Best DVD collection

Global DVD

No startling, insincere, employee-handbook "hellos" at the door. No bright lights. No Sour Patch Kids. No blaring TVs. No "how can they not carry that film?!" Just unassuming shelving units stocked with oddities, indies, rarities, and classics, and employees who are passionate and articulate about their library. I finally visited Global DVD (2180 Monroe Avenue #2 --- across from House of Poon) about a month ago. I walked out with the Japanese cult hit Battle Royale and a new addition to my day's to-do list: cut up Blockbuster card. (Michael Koldan)

Best cemetery

Mt. Hope Cemetery

It must be hard to be humble when you're as great as Mt. Hope Cemetery. I mean, c'mon, they've got Susan B. Anthony and Frederick Douglass. They could charge admission like the Blue Cross Arena if they wanted. But a visit to Mt. Hope, with its monuments to past glories and heartbreaks, is more like a stroll down the Mall in Washington, D.C. than a Cher concert. Then again, they do have some great shows from May to October. That's when Mt. Hope offers monthly themed tours in addition to its regularly scheduled free walking tours. The Abolitionists have been featured, as well as the Civil War. These special tours combine theater and history with a good walk and breathtaking views (no pun intended... well, maybe). Friends of Mt. Hope Cemetery: 461-3493. (Linda Kostin)

Sweetest drinkslinger... honestly

Chopstix at Lux Lounge

You've seen her --- a tattooed slip of a woman with a pile of dreadlocks and a scowling puss full of metal --- and you've most likely dismissed her as a crabby bitch with attitude in spades. Don't tell her to smile, don't wonder aloud about other piercings, and don't complain that the Guinness doesn't pour fast enough. Talk to her about Tom Waits, her fledgling website showcasing her art, or anything you might be completely passionate about. You'll be treated to twinkly eyes and a shy grin, most likely followed by a throaty laugh and a tumble of words, but you'll probably be dwelling on that whole book-cover thing. Lux is at 666 South Avenue. (Dayna Papaleo)

Most screamin' lunch deal

Seafood noodle soup lunch special, KC Tea & Noodle

Good seafood is expensive. Cheap seafood is not good. These are basically immutable laws of dining. But through a quirk of pricing, you can get a fabulous seafood lunch at K.C. Tea & Noodle for the absurd price of $4.99. That's the lunch special price for any type of noodles, with any meat, stir-fried or in a soup. I think Jimmy Poon must be counting on people not to order the seafood versions, but the word is out now. Seafood soup with Japanese noodles (udon) gives you a huge bowl of hot broth, fresh veggies, good shrimp, and great scallops for a fin. Run, don't walk, or Jimmy's liable to exclude it from the special (360 Park Avenue, 271-1061). (Adam Wilcox)

Best place to feel young again

Wegmans, when buying alcohol or tobacco

Even if you're 85, you better bring your license to Wegmans when you buy alcohol or tobacco products. The supermarket adopted a 100-percent proof policy this summer because its cashiers lacked the capacity to regularly determine whether people looked 30 or younger --- which was the old policy for age-restricted products. So if you're a senior citizen buying Genny Cream Ale and Marlboros, and the cashier asks for your ID, you haven't really discovered the fountain of youth. You've discovered a store policy void of common sense. But you can pretend to be flattered nonetheless. (Mike Doser)

Best beer aficionados

Custom BrewCrafters

Located at 93 Paper Mill Street in Honeoye Falls, Custom BrewCrafters creates the signature beers and ales served by area restaurants and bars. They're responsible for the El Destructo Ale served at Mex, the Beale Street Mojo Magic Stout, the Frog Grog Ale at Jeremiah's, and the Hogan's Park Ave Pale Ale, as well as dozens of other custom brews on tap at spots in Rochester, Buffalo, and around the region. Free brewery tours are offered on weekend afternoons; you can visit the tasting room and buy growlers to take home. (Don't leave without some of the Iron Fireman Root Beer.) Custom BrewCrafters also sponsors the annual Autumn Festival of Ales in September. Phone: 624-4386. (Susan Herman)

Best auto parts emporium

BanD Automotive Supply

It's remarkable how almost anything you need for your car --- be it one year old or 15 --- can be kept on inventory in such a modest-sized building. Counter persons are knowledgeable and helpful without the gear-headed smugness sometimes exhibited by automotive cognoscenti. Rebuilt alternators and starters are especially good bargains, offering years of useful duty for a fraction of new-part prices. Belts, tubing, clamps, hoses, gaskets, thermostats, air- and fuel-filters, headlamps --- you name it, plus tools to make you drool.

Car cosmetics and vital fluids are stocked in great variety. It's getting near time for gas-line antifreeze, lock-ease, and windshield de-icer --- just thought I'd mention it. BanD is on the way to Fairport at 1340 Fairport Road, just before you get to the canal. 385-2220 (Warren Wightman)

Most rockin' record producer

Dave Anderson

The ageless Dave Anderson has been sporting his blond mop and crankin' out Rochester's best rock 'n' roll from Saxon Studios for a couple of decades. His band, The Riviera Playboys --- featuring Bob Janneck, another local rock legend --- plays pure, loud, fuzz-infected tunes that Germans seem to love. But it's as a producer that Dave has made his true mark. When the true rockers of Rochester want to record, they head to Saxon. From old school new wavers like Absolute Grey and Personal Effects, to local punk legends like Lotus STP, to the best of our current bands, the Hi-Risers and the Franks, the rock action happened and continues to happen at Saxon Studios, and Dave Anderson is at the console. (Adam Wilcox)

Best cult food that started as a gift

Mountain Rise Granola

Marcia Litwiller knew her husband Glenn had never met an organic granola he liked. When she tinkered and fiddled with organic ingredients to make the perfect granola to give him as a gift, she had no idea that it would be a big hit --- not just on their breakfast table, but at local farmers markets and beyond. Mountain Rise Granola, made at the Litwiller's organic farm in Naples, became a word-of-mouth success with the crunchy and not-so-crunchy crowds and was featured on the Food Network. It's not pretty (the bag is a generic white Ziploc with labels slapped on) and it's not cheap ($6 or so a pound at Wegmans), but man, is it addictive. Mountain Rise Granola, 374-9108, (Jennifer Loviglio)

Best dance instructors

Rochester Swing Dance Network

Swing and salsa and waltz and zydeco do mean a thing to hundreds of Rochesterians who attend weekly and monthly dances. Chances are these dancers have been taught how to lead, follow, and dip by Esther Brill and Richard Newman or Antoinette Giancursio. Esther and Richard, founders of the Rochester Swing Dance Network ( have been teaching dance for over a decade, passing on what they have learned from international masters, such as the ageless Frankie Manning, one of the founding fathers of Lindy Hop, a swing dance that he and his pals originated in the '30s in Harlem's Savoy Ballroom. Antoinette, a freelance instructor who runs classes out of Dance Encounters (Hungerford Building, 1115 East Main Street #8), brings an equally impressive resume to her dance card, including awards in national dance competitions. Classes are informal, affordable, fun, and for all levels. A partner isn't necessary, for you'll dance with every leader or follower in the room (the best way to learn). (Michael Koldan)

Best browsing experience

Music and film departments, Rochester Central Library

You're likely to find the book you're looking for somewhere within the conveniently interconnected library system, but on their own the Central Branch's two South Avenue buildings also contain treasure troves of other media, especially music and film. Genres in each department are unevenly represented, but you really can't go wrong, provided you bring even a slight kernel of curiosity and remain open to chance. In the music department, for example, the jazz section alone could keep you busy for a lifetime. Across the street, the feature film selection is formidable and includes a good number of foreign titles, but a delightfully varied visual education awaits you in the form of documentaries on nature, science, religion, history, culture, geography, and the arts. From there, wander upstairs to the local history department, or back across the street to the image bank, and you're off on a journey that never ends. With a staff that has to be among the most pleasant, helpful, and patient on earth, feeding your mind couldn't be more easy or rewarding. 115 South Avenue, 428-7300. (Saby Reyes-Kulkarni)

Best theater under the stars

Shakespeare in the Park

A loaf of bread, a jug of wine and... King Lear? Whether you choose to lie down on the gently sloping grass, recline on lawn chairs, or sit on a bench, one of the great delights of a Rochester summer evening is the Rochester Community Players' Shakespeare Players annual production at the Highland Park Bowl just off of South Avenue. With an open stage, minimal scenery, and no fancy lighting, the company this year brought King Lear vividly to life. Next summer's production could be a comedy or a tragedy, but it's guaranteed to please the Shakespeare lover in you. 234-7840 (Ron Netsky)

Best coffee shop

Women's Coffee Connection

Want to drink your coffee and soothe your conscience at the same time? Then head to 642 South Avenue. WCC sells only Fair Trade, organic, shade-grown coffee. If that's not enough good work, they collaborate with substance abuse treatment centers to train and employ women in recovery and they also encourage Peruvian farmers to switch from growing coca plants (which produce cocaine) to coffee plants. Lotsa good work. And they brew up a damn fine cup of java. 442-2180 (Joseph Sorrentino)

Furriest local TV host

Pisspot the Rabbit from I'm Going to Make a Drug with My Mind You can keep Triumph the Insult Comic Dog --- I'll take Pisspot the Rabbit. Pisspot is the abrasive host of I'm Going to Make a Drug with My Mind, a cable access show on Channel 15 RCTV that shows Saturdays at 11 p.m. and Mondays at 11:30 p.m. Nearing its 100th episode, it features bands filmed live and visits various conventions --- most recently the Republican National Convention, where Pisspot spoke with Chuck D, the aforementioned Triumph, wound up on ABC's Nightline, and acted as a roving correspondent for Brother Wease. But the fact that he's on TV doesn't make him a role model --- Pisspot smokes, and I actually witnessed him hitting on girls at the Bug Jar recently. (Dayna Papaleo)

Best book about where we came from

Smugtown, U.S.A.

Late Rochester newspaperman Curt Gerling authored Smugtown in 1957. Gerling recognized that Rochester's corporate and political leaders embraced a sense of entitlement that prohibited community progress. His best rip is when he describes how to get ahead in Rochester: become a junior Kodak executive and live a "cocoon-like existence while your talents alternately incubate or stifle." Join Locust Hill or Monroe, then Oak Hill, and finally, the Country Club of Rochester. Drive a Cadillac and have a proper geographic residence: "Most Rochester people of 'family' wouldn't be caught dead west of South Clinton or east of Pittsford." Smugtown details Rochester's privileged upbringing. It's available at many libraries. (Mike Doser)

Best hidden treasure

Victor Furniture's Basement

The Victor Furniture store appears deceptively small from the street, with just one window overlooking Monroe Avenue in Brighton. Step inside the store, though, and you'll find that it houses a lower level jam-packed with home furnishing offerings. The sales staff members also go out of their way to be helpful in placing special orders. Victor Furniture is located at 2195 Monroe Avenue in Brighton. (Susan Herman)

Best cultural showcase

University of Rochester's Rare Book and Special Collections Department

A rare book room at a university library can be a stodgy place filled with neglected volumes gathering cobwebs. But nobody told the staff at the University of Rochester's Rare Book and Special Collections Department. Over the past several years, under the direction of Richard Peek, the rare book room has become one of the great mini-museums of Rochester. Exhibitions --- exploring the history of the local jazz scene through photographs, examining the region's geology, or providing insights into the work of a neglected black author --- are meticulously researched and sometimes groundbreaking. And the excellent on-line versions of these exhibitions take them beyond Rochester to the world. 275-4477, (Ron Netsky)

Best art gallery that isn't

Water towers in Washington Grove

The city water towers in Washington Grove, adjacent to Cobbs Hill Park and east of the Reservoir, would hardly seem to be Rochester's home to renegade art... but a revolving collective of spray paint artists of different levels of talent and tenacity have, over the past three decades, turned this semi-remote location into explosions of nameless, egoless color. Most see spray painting as a criminal act, an act of senseless ugliness. Others see the profound beauty of these colors, words, and lines as a new form of self-expression. Viewed in this location, salient against the trees, makes them even brighter. (Dave Cross)

Best low-carb lunch spot

The Swan Market

Holy wurst-lovers' paradise, Batman! From Wednesday through Saturday every week, the Swan Market helps your inner carnivore growl while staying basically South Beach. Rouladen, schnitzel, roast pork, goulash, sourbraten... take your pick with two sides (cabbage and kraut for the carb-conscious), or go for a bit of all of it in the regal sampler. You can even exercise by dancing away the pounds the last weekend of each month, when owner Barry Fischer has a couple of musicians bringin' the oom-pah. Sausage as diet food? That's what the current fads are preaching, so go hog wild at the Swan Market (231 Parsells Avenue, 288-5320). (Adam Wilcox)

Best place to connect with the night

Irondequoit Bay Outlet pier

A narrow walkway guides your feet through the dark, surrounded by water, to the pile of huge boulders out at the end of the pier. You hold hands to steady yourselves as you climb out onto a rock. You're not alone. Other couples sit on the rocks. The only sights or sounds disturbing the night are the red and green running lights from boats entering the bay, and wisps of boaters' private conversations, carried magically over the water. The night is cool here on the water. You hold each other to make your own heat, and breathe in deeply the invigorating lake air. 590 North all the way to the end; park just before the outlet bridge. (Rich Gardner)

Best collection of pre-loved clothing

Ricky's Place

If you're looking for that basic-ribbed-perfect-fit-crewneck-long-sleeved-pocket tee in eight different shades of navy blue and forest green, you're not going to find it here. But if the idea of mixing that fall wardrobe up with some vintage flavor from the old school has got the fashionista inside buzzing with excitement, Ricky's Place has what you need, and so much more. The Village Gate gem is stocked, even overstocked, with garments representing the classier side of kitsch: beaded clutches, pillbox hats, geometric Bakelite earrings, and charmingly frilly 1960s prom gowns that will make you hot enough to park on Overlook Point. Guaranteed you will be the just-as-vintage-clad, but less annoying, Olsen twin that never took on Rochester. 274 North Goodman Street, 442-0042 (Rebecca Shore)

Best friend to musicians

Sound Source

Finding Sound Source on 175 Norris Drive (271-5370) for the first time is like opening the door to a secret treasure. They'll fix your plastered amp or guitar within reason; they rent out a PA cheaper than some clubs in town make bands pay to use theirs; they also sell new and used stompboxes and the latest DJ, digital, and guitar fixings at super prices. And they're right in the middle of town. (Dave Cross)

Best restoration project

Home Movie Day

Rochester almost has a responsibility to nurture events like Home Movie Day. In fact, our increasingly self-conscious reputation as the "World's Image Center" should hinge upon events like HMD. After all, two of HMD's prime movers, Chad Hunter and Kelli Hicks, live here and work at the George Eastman House. (Their quaint "Home Movie Day" porch songs can be downloaded at

Started in 2002 by a little group of film preservationists, HMD is an international event, occurring in cities across the world on the same day every August. Basically, people are invited to bring along all their old, moldy, and seemingly forgotten home-recorded films to be cleaned and viewed before an eager and interactive audience. And "film" is the keyword here. One of HMD's missions is to debunk the myth that transferring old films to video or DVD makes them safe from deterioration. Original film can far outlast digital or video transfers.

At Rochester's most recent HMD, held in a Visual Studies Workshop gallery decked with living-room furniture, participants of all ages entered pie raffles, heard some live music, and took in some restored home movies as the smell of popcorn complemented the whirr of various projectors. There was some old footage of the characters who once populated World Wide News, and even a home movie taken of Frida Kahlo that Hicks and Hunter dug up from the Eastman's vaults.

One of Hicks' fave HMD moments involves a kid who showed up with an armful of family movies. "We screened a fiction film his dad had made starring his mother, who at the time was a sexy teenager whose car runs down on the side of the road. It not only was a great little cheesy film, but the guy got to see his parents when they were his age." Pure movie magic. (Chad Oliveiri)

Best view of the skyline

Frontier Field

If your first look at Rochester happened by magic to take place at Frontier Field (say you parachuted onto the pitcher's mound or emerged there like a groundhog), you'd think we have a sexy, cosmopolitan skyline. No offense, but it's not much to brag about --- except in this one spot. One has to wonder if this site was chosen to replace Silver Stadium because of the view, or if it just worked out that way by divine Providence. Factor in the sensation of sitting in a retro-style ballpark that, in sheer beauty, rivals any of the more storied major league cathedrals of the game, and you're in for a breathtaking, almost dreamlike afternoon or evening of baseball. There are even railroad tracks just past the outfield, and whenever a freight train rolls by, the urban scenery glows like a rural landscape out of mythic Americana. It's a powerful combination. One Morrie Silver Way; Red Wings box office: 423-9464. (Saby Reyes-Kulkarni)