KEEPING VINTAGE VOODOO VIABLE
- Frank De Blase
To some music aficionados, the digital age's onset seems more like an onslaught. And it's completely unacceptable. Sure, music is more accessible --- mouse clicks are quicker than trips to the record store --- but there's less tangibility, nothing to hold on to or read while you listen.
"That whole approach, I think, really sucks" says Saxon Recording's Dave Anderson. "Because it has taken the human element out of everything."
Anderson has run Saxon Recording on East Main Street since 1984. And even in this digital age, Saxon remains a one-stop operation for recording musicians. Here, without a record label's backing, a band on a budget can record, mix, master, and package a project almost overnight.
Saxon provides everything a band could need --- right down to registering a bar code --- to get a product into fan's hands. And that product is just as important, according to Anderson, as the music it conveys.
"Why is it that people aren't interested in the pictures and the credits and the liner notes?" he asks. "When you download something, what is it? It's nothing but a number."
Still, Andersonain'tnoLuddite. A band can stroll into Saxon and walk out with a marketable product, thanks to the digital technology and seasoned producer's ear Anderson provides. He adds in a healthy dose of vintage voodoo: old mixing boards, reverb plates, amps, a prodigious vintage mic collection, and a record lathe. That's right, a mid-'50s Presto cutting lathe that produces acetates for record pressing. So a band can still get its tunes on a vinyl 7" or 12" platter. (Those acetates are also in high demand among hip-hop and dub musicians, who need the format to manipulate and create their sound.)
With modern technology at odds with the vintage in a lot of cases, Anderson manages to harness both. There will always be a market for music products in a physical, 3-D form, he says. "There are always going to be people who are genuinely enthusiastic about listening to music," he says.
Info: 288-3150 or www.saxonrecording.com.
--- Frank De Blase
SALES TAX SMACKDOWN
- The county exec: sticking with the sales tax.
It's a rare thing for Maggie Brooks to make enemies --- even temporary ones --- publicly. It's rarer still when they're among the people considered her strongest supporters: civic-minded, moderate business leaders.
That's what makes the spat between the county executive and the Rochester Business Alliance so intriguing.
Last week an e-mail went out under Alliance CEO Sandy Parker's name to RBA members, outlining the group's opposition to a tax increase of any kind --- sales or property. Then it went on to make this surprise statement:
"Instead of raising taxes to meet this challenge, however, we believe that all levels of local government must use the opportunity to reduce expenses. There are dozens of potential cost-saving measures to explore, and we have offered the help of Rochester Business Alliance members to analyze and implement them. I am delighted to report that both CountyExecutiveBrooks and Mayor Duffy have responded positively to this offer.They are meeting July 14 to discuss cost-saving ideas and map out a plan for implementing cost cuts in place of tax increases."
That drew a quick denial from the county executive's office.
"Basically the meeting referenced in the e-mail is not the meeting the county executive agreed to attend," county spokesperson Larry Staub told City Newspaper. Brooks thought the meeting was centered exclusively on exploring cost-sharing measures with the city in addition to --- not instead of --- the sales-tax hike, Staub says. If she thought otherwise, "she wouldn't have agreed to the meeting," he said. In fact, he added, she may yet withdraw her commitment to attend if the RBA insists on seeking alternatives to a sales tax increase.
"We don't think that solution exists," he said. "It's too late in the game to be considering just cuts. There's not one that we haven't considered."
Furthermore, Staub said, the county couldn't cut its way out of an impending budget deficit "without devastating the quality of life the community enjoys."
Staub is portraying the whole affair as one major misunderstanding.
Not the RBA.
"What we sent to our members speaks for itself."
That was about all Ellen Rosen, the RBA's vice president of marketing, communication, and membership had to say when contacted by City. No further clarifying press release or statement is in the offing, she said.
Democrats in the CountyLegislature have already proposed a plan that purports to balance the budget without raising taxes. Introduced just before Maggie's own "Community Solution," it relies heavily on charging municipalities for the Sheriff's Road Patrol and seeking a paymentin lieu of taxes from the Monroe County Water Authority. Brooks rejected the plan. Instead, she proposed raising the sales tax by three-quarters of a percent and opting into a plan that transfers the county's Medicaid obligations to the state in exchange for its local share of sales tax.
Even as Brooks' and Parker's surrogates were trading remarks, the county and local municipalities were sending out a flurry of press releases insisting that a recent court decision backs their particular side in a dispute over the legality of that plan.
--- Krestia DeGeorge
BACK IN THE POLS' COURT
As Rochester, like many cities, was preparing for Gay Pride celebrations last week, gay-rights advocates were trying to cope with sobering news: the Court of Appeals ruling that New York's constitution does not guarantee same-sex couples the right to marry.
In a 4-2 decision, the court rejected arguments by gay and lesbian couples who maintained that their constitutional rights were being violated and that the state's marriage law is discriminatory.
"It was hard to read it," Kris Hinesley, executive director of the Gay Alliance of the GeneseeValley, said of the ruling. "Many of us were hopeful that the decision would follow Massachusetts. It was crushing, but it is not over yet. It's just going to take longer."
In the majority opinion, Justice Robert Smith wrote that the issue was not whether gay marriage is right or wrong. Instead, he said the state's century-old marriage law was written at a time when the prospect of same-sex marriage was not considered. Any change in the law should come from the state legislature, he wrote.
For same-sex couples, what's at stake is access to the same benefits as heterosexual couples. "It is undisputed that the benefits of marriage are many," wrote Justice Smith. Of the more than 300 identified, he said, the most important are tax advantages, protection of wills and probates, making health-care decisions, and obtaining insurance.
But he also concluded that the state legislature could continue to oppose same-sex marriageif it thought that would be in the best interest of children. Recent research indicating there is no evidence to support such claims is "limited," Smith wrote.
Sue Morgan and Jenny Gaul, parents of a 3-year-old daughter, were among about 200 supporters of gay marriage at a rally in WashingtonSquarePark following the ruling.
"At first I was disappointed and really frustrated," said Morgan. "But when I read the part about providing stable environments for children, it made me furious. Their ruling puts children and their families in jeopardy. It's interesting for them to take that position and then validate the stigma associated with families like ours."
Also at the rally were Bess Watts and Anne Tischer, who exchanged vows in WashingtonSquarePark more than two years ago.
"Here we are, still fighting for equality," said Watts. "In America, this is not supposed to happen. People should be mad. Why are we still standing outside on the curb, when everyone else gets to go inside?"
Despite the setback, Duffy Palmer of the Empire State Pride Agenda said the ruling did not come as a complete surprise. "This is a civil rights matter," he said, "and we have prepared for this decision with meetings all over the state, from the North Country to the Southern Tier. Our legislators know that we are going to hold them accountable."
"There has never been an aggressive push in the legislature for a gay-marriage bill," said Joe Tarver, also of the Pride Agenda, "because they wanted to wait and see how the court ruled. That's what these last two years of litigation have really been about. The Assembly has always been the chamber that has been a traditional ally of the community. They were the first to push for anti-hate crime and anti-discrimination measures. And we think the work will begin there, and of course, with Tom Duane [a gay senator from Manhattan) in the Senate."
The court's ruling could intensify the political debate, putting a spotlight on the governor's race. Attorney General Eliot Spitzer, the leading Democratic candidate, says he supports gay marriage. Tom Suozzi, who is challenging Spitzer in a primary, quickly issued a statement after the ruling saying that he favors some form of domestic partnership. In the past, however, he has said he does not support gay marriage.
But to local activists like Rich Ognibene, stepping back from marriage is not an option.
"I get so upset," he told protestors at Thursday's rally, "when reasonably intelligent people come up to me and say things like: 'Gosh, couldn't you call it something besides marriage, because it makes people so upset?' Why do we have to keep doing this? We're not going to sit in the back of the bus so other people can feel more comfortable."
by Tim Louis Macaluso
SAVING THE MURALS
When the owner of the Inn on Broadway wanted to remove a wall between two banquet rooms to create one large room, he ran into a problem. And it wasn't a typical construction nightmare like removing a load-bearing wall. Instead, it had to do with two murals attached to the wall, painted in 1929 by Rochester artist Erwin Merzweiler.
The murals are part of a series depicting historical scenes of Rochester, including High Falls, the Erie Canal, and the two problem murals: of the early University of Rochester River Campus and the Memorial Art Gallery. When word about the construction reached the artist's granddaughter, Lynn Reina, she was concerned that the murals would be destroyed.
The expansion's complete, and the murals have survived --- relocated to another wall. And it's hard to tell they were moved.
The biggest concern was that the murals were thought to have been painted directly on the walls. They were not, says spokesperson Michael Hydzik.
"The contractor discovered that they were actually painted on canvas," says Hydzik. "Apparently the glue that held them to the wall has aged considerably, because they lifted right off without any problem. And they went right back up without incident. They didn't crack or peel or anything --- which was a fear, because they are obviously old."
"It really worked out fine," he says, "because this is exactly what we wanted. "The way the murals were placed really joins the space together, so it doesn't look like two separate spaces."
"It was never the owner's intent to destroy them," he says. "He has invested so much in trying to preserve this old building."
--- Tim Louis Macaluso
You don't need to buy a coffee to get wireless anymore --- at least at the corner of South and Alexander. The pocket park known as Nathaniel Square now has free wi-fi access. There are also several electrical outlets and a security camera (so no one is tempted to walk away with your laptop).
Free wi-fi, says South Wedge Planning Committee Executive Director Dan Buyer, almost completes the park. Its last element: a statue of Nathaniel Rochester designed by local artist Pepsy Kettavong. Kettavong also created many of the park's other features, including the metal pergolas. The total cost of the park is around $300,000.
--- Sujata Gupta