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Local Traveling Art Shows

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A couple of weeks ago I had the privilege of being invited to go to an art show at the Spark Contemporary Art Space at 1005 E Fayette St, which just happens to be across the street from Collins Barber Shop, where I’ve been going for haircuts for almost 39 years; small world. One of the pictures below will show what it looks like on the outside; very cool.

20140613_201833The guy who set it up and invited me was Isaac Bidwell, who I’ve interviewed twice on this blog, who’s an artist in his own right, and had a few pieces he was exhibiting at this show. It cost $5 to get in, and he was telling me that they do these art shows every couple of months in different locations, always with a different theme.

The theme on this particular night was art talking about the 1980′s, a period I know well, although I’ll admit that there were a few pieces I didn’t understand or didn’t get right. For instance, one picture I thought was supposed to be Howard Stern and was told it was Joey Ramone, who I’ll admit I didn’t know as well.

80s cartoonsMy favorite piece of the evening was by a young lady named Marjorie Countryman, who did a nice composite of 80′s cartoon characters, many of whom I knew from a different era but the overwhelming majority I didn’t know; and I thought I knew the 80′s. lol

There was also music. This guy named DJ Stay Gold did some interesting mixes of music. By that, I mean he would play the music of one song by a particular artist and over that he’d play the lyrics and singing of a different artist. I thought that was really cool, as I remembered something like that from the 80′s when a DJ somewhere in the country first mixed the voices of Neil Diamond and Barbra Streisand from two different records on a song called You Don’t Bring Me Flowers and turned it into a hit. This guy was amazing to say the least.

20140613_200716For someone like me, one of the other benefits is seeing the types of people that show up for these types of shows. Tattoos are the norm these days, although I’m still stunned a little bit here and there when I see nice looking women with tattoos all over the place. I’m fascinated by it, and I got a picture of this one lady named Meghan who really intrigued me… with permission of course. :-) I have to admit that many of the people were more fascinating than some of the art.

I’m not sure just yet if there’s a central place to find out about upcoming shows but I’ll reach out to Isaac to see if there’s something and I’ll update this post with that information if I get it. I love being able to support local artists, and I hope that one lady, who I gave some encouragement to in showing her art, does so.  

Breitbeck Park In Oswego

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I love Oswego. I went to college there, and I’m always heading up there for calzones from Pizza Villa, or a drive around the lakefront, or going up later in the afternoon every once in a while just to catch a sunset.

Breitbeck Park

Breitbeck Park

What I never knew about before, which is strange because it turns out I’ve been there often, is Breitbeck Park. I know you’re asking how I could not know about a place I’ve been. Because in the 90′s I used to go up to Oswego every summer for what’s called Harborfest, which is pretty much an all weekend party and sales fest throughout the city on both sides of Bridge Street, but mainly on the west side of the city.

Kingsford Bell and Tower

Kingsford Bell and Tower

At night they have concerts, and on Saturday night they have a major fireworks display. Every year I’d go see the fireworks display to this one place where I could sit with friends on kind of a hill that led down to the docks where all the boats sat. I always knew where to go after the first couple of visits but I never knew it was called Brietbeck Park, and the one time I went during the day I was more interested in seeing KC & the Sunshine Band than in knowing where I was; that’s called focus!

Anyway, it’s a beautiful park at the end of north 5th and 6th Streets, small and intimate but spacious enough most of the time for people to come eat, walk their dogs, have a little picnic, walk around to look at the boats or the lake and pretty much just chill and watch one of the beautiful sunsets. Saturday I went up with my friend Scott and his wife because he had to pay off our Super Bowl bet, which was a calzone from… well, I mentioned them already. :-)

Rosemary Nesbitt Monument

Rosemary Nesbitt Monument

On this night we ate those calzones in a tiny pavilion that has plastic picnic benches, and then walked around taking in the few natural sites and some of the monuments. One that threw me off was a tribute to a former theater teacher and director who I knew because one of my friends was her favorite actor in the area, and I thought that was a very nice tribute. I also finally noticed the Kingsford Bell and Tower; how the heck had I missed this before?

It was also the first time I really paid attention to where the nuclear plant and the industrial plants were. I always knew about both of them, but rarely paid much attention; that happens when you’re in college, as I know many people who went to college in Oswego yet never made it to the east side.

Oswego SunsetThe sunset was interesting in that it was a cloudy evening, so we didn’t get to see the sun fully falling into Lake Ontario. But as it got a little later in the evening the full sun finally came out of the clouds and we got a good 10 minutes of it in all its red glory before it finally sank into the drink. We also got to see a lot of boats coming in; I guess they didn’t want to be out in the water in the dark.

It was a great time, peaceful, and I know I’ll be heading back up another time. It’s a different view of things than where I normally go, which is the Loop where the fish and ice cream places are, close to the university. The things I keep learning about Oswego; yeah!  

Cinco De Mayo Tweetup

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After being on the road for about a year, and still being on the road, it was not only nice to have a full week and a half at home but to actually get to go to an event put together by people I know. In this case it was the Cinco de Mayo Tweetup on Monday May 5th, my 2nd on that date, that was promoted by Sunny Hernandez @SunnyInSyracuse and Renee Benda @cusecomm. The event was held at J Ryan’s Pub, where I’d participated in a couple other things, including a previous tweetup.

Me and Sunny

Me and Sunny

The first guy to show up was Christopher Malone @Chris___Malone, and I know that because the 2nd and 3rd people to show up were myself @mitch_m and Kelvin Ringold @ kelvinringold. Eventually Sunny and then Renee showed up, and after that it was a slow and steady trickle of folks that came in, some I knew and some I was meeting for the first time. All of the people except for Kelvin I hadn’t seen in a very long time, so I was happy to be reacquainted with all my buddies and happy to meet new people.

Like who? It’s always risky when you start naming names because you’re going to leave someone out, but I’m going to do it anyway, since I’m still going to list everyone in this post somehow.

I have to start with the guy I thought was the most compelling person of the evening for me, Justin Piscitel @jpiscitel, who told a harrowing tale about being in a major motorcycle accident, his recovery, and his dreams of jumping out of airplanes and climbing mountains; wow!

Katie and Nikita

Katie and Nikita

There was Justin Ryan Lynch (imagine, two Justins in one place lol) @justinryanlynch, who I initially thought might be part of the restaurant but actually handles some of the social media management for Visit Syracuse, a site which helps promote the home city and has its own Twitter handle, @visitsyracuse. Later someone else showed up, the only person I didn’t get to personally meet, named Nikita Jankowski @NikitaJankowski, who also works for them.

There was Zainab Storms @blahnikbaker, a young lady who’s studying neuroscience at SUNY Upstate, a field I know is tough as my wife works in it. And Stef Noble @stefnoble, whose name I’d seen often over the years on Twitter but had never seen, and I only got to say a couple of words to her.

The final two people I’d never met were Mike Vormwald @vormwald, a software developer whose name I kept having problems pronouncing, and to whom I introduced myself as Busby Berkeley (Sunny would like that one) and Matt Wheeler @SaltCityFanboy, of whom I don’t remember what he does but I did introduce myself to him as James Earl Jones (inside joke that he didn’t question). Lol

The rest of the folks? Well, I had to reintroduce myself to Katie Krames @KatieKrames, who has one of the best smiles ever and whom I’d actually met during the big kickball game in the summer of 2011. And of course my buddy Kevin Magdon @kevinmagdon, who also writes on Twitter for the Doubletree off Carrier Circle (@SYRDT) and who gives me free cookies from time to time (shhhh…).

Renee, Frank and Josh

Renee, Frank and Josh

The rest of the gang were Teri @Mama_T_Says and Lorne @zbdaddy Coon, Frank D’Agostino @dagsly, and the soon to be wedded couple of Jenny @jennyshear and Josh @joshshear Shear.

It was a great time and the event lasted just over the 2 hours we’d allotted. You can look at how many people showed up to know that it was a great success. And I think I might be the only person who got out of there without imbibing an alcoholic drink; it not, maybe one of the folks here will tell me about it. I can’t wait for the next one… whenever I get back home again that it.  

2014 SOHO Show

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Last year I wrote about the SOHO Show (Small Office/Home Office) at the Oncenter and I decided to write about it again this year, though it probably won’t be as much as I wrote last year, and I consider last year’s post one of my short ones.

20140501_120857 This year I not only went with my wife, but I was representing my consultant’s group, the Professional Consultant’s Association of Central New York. I manned the booth for about an hour, which felt a little strange for two reasons. One, I’ve never manned a booth at something like this, and two, I hadn’t seen any of these guys since October, as I’ve been out of town most of the time, so I felt like I was getting reacquainted with people as well as meeting some new people.

I’m certain not shy when it comes to meeting people in a business situation but I was hampered by a bad back, which I know had me swaying back and forth. Near the end I got a lesson on how the greeting process should go, which I could have used earlier, and it’s an interesting lesson for everyone to learn for their businesses.

People would ask me about the group and I’d tell them, along with giving them information and encouraging them to check us out and to come to a free meeting. The guy I was with, pretty much a master salesman, said that the better way to go would have been to state the name of the group, give a short preamble, and then ask them what it was they did. His take was that pretty much anything they responded to would lead you back into talking more about the organization, and possibly get them more engaged and get them to fill out the form for a free membership. Hey, I did get some people to fill it out, so I wasn’t all that bad, but he got more; lesson learned.

After my hour was up I decided to walk around with my wife to check out the booths which, like last year, went really fast. Well, because of my back hurting that was kind of a misnomer, but I only spent time at one booth, even bypassing my normal stops at the Dinosaur booth and the Chocolate Pizza booth. I stopped at what turned out to be the Business Journal News Network, which most of us just call the Business Journal, and got a massage in one of those comfortable cushy chairs from Gustav Hoffmann, who’s not only an account manager for them but the son of former politician Nancy Larriane Hoffmann; cool right? I met her only once in my life, at a fundraiser for another politician, and she was nice as could be.

I barely made it around in an hour, which means I was at the event for 2 hours, and that was all my back could handle. Because I was manning the booth from 11 to 12, I missed a presentation by a lawyer friend of mine, Todd Engel from Engel Law Offices; maybe next time. I missed all presentations; maybe next year I’ll be able to plan better, since being home was a fluke.

In any case I’m glad I got to go, and probably the only downsides were the weather and it would have been nice to have more people. On that second issue… parking! And look, this is longer than last year’s article; yay!  

5 Things I Wish Would Change At The NYS State Fair

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I’ve been going to the New York State Fair for decades. I’ve always had a good time, but over the last couple of years my wife and I have gone to the Fair and headed back home in less than two hours. At first I wondered what the problem was, but as I sat down to think about it I realized that we’re both bored with what we see.

20130901_111456_resized It’s not that we don’t like going, but I’ve gone at least 30 times over the years, and I’ve noticed how some things have changed since the first time I went, and not necessarily for the better. I also figure I’m probably not the only one who has some issues with the Fair. So I thought that I would spend some time listing five things I wish would change to maybe make things feel a little bit more fresh and festive.

1. Let’s get some new things for the Center of Progress building. Back in the day, you used to go to the Center of Progress building knowing that you were going to see some new technology along with some favorites such as the sand sculpture, the fudge in the corner, and of course all the government and special interest group booths. Last year they finally had something new, and yet it was something old, that being recliners that massaged your entire body; all of them hurt me in some way. Since Syracuse is trying to publicize itself as a technology center, it would be cool if some of that newer technology or newer products found a place in the building, and maybe move a lot of the things such as candy and peanuts somewhere else.

2. Someone’s got to say it, so it might as well be me. When it Syracuse suddenly become a country town? From my perspective it seems that the majority of the Grandstand major concerts every year are either country acts or teenybopper acts, and I can’t even remember the last time I went to a performance of anything. There needs to be more diversity in the major acts, and I’m of the opinion that people will pay more money for some performers who might not normally play for smaller crowds but might be willing to come play at an outdoor venue. I remember some major acts that used to come play in the 80s, so someone has to be willing to come play now.

3. Put more effort into advertising which animals are going to be on display on which days. The last couple years have been disappointing to me, and that’s saying something because I usually don’t like animals to begin with. However, I did try to go see the llamas and the sheep, and some other things I can’t remember right now, only to be told that they were displayed in the first couple of days and then sent away to bring in different animals that were more common. Maybe there’s a schedule posted somewhere, since those who display the animals obviously know when to bring them, but I don’t know how to find it and I can’t be the only one.

Mitch Touches A Cow4. Find a way to boost the energy both in the dairy building and the horticulture building. The butter sculpture is always pretty good, but the displays and booths in the building leave a lot to be desired, especially for us non-milk drinkers. And some of what I have seen in the horticulture building over the last couple years has been pretty boring and lackluster, and it has to take more than people being able to spend a dollar for a baked potato to really get our juices going.

5. Aren’t we New York? I’m of the opinion that over the course of 12 days there should be at least two days where there’s some kind of “wow” factor. Maybe it’s famous actors who were originally from the Central New York area; maybe it’s famous athletes who were originally from central New York, or played for Syracuse University. I think it would be great to bring in people like that, or even other famous people, to spend three or four hours somewhere signing autographs and taking pictures with the fairgoers. And if you advertise it far enough in advance, you’d probably get some amazing crowds and you’d give the public something that they’re not going to get at any other state fair in the country.

That’s what I have for now. Does anyone else have any ideas that they think would help to stimulate more interest and more fun at the New York State Fair?  

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