Jason at the 2005 Rochester International Jazz Festival (Part 2)

Last night was another fun night at the 2005 Rochester International Jazz Festival. I volunteered at Kilbourn Hall, part of the Eastman School of Music. Kora player Mamadou Diabate and balafon player Balla Kouyate performed two sets of enchanting music. You may know Mamadou from his work with Ben Allison — he appeared on the album Peace Pipe with Ben in 2002.

My highly skilled job at the show was to count the people with a little clicker as they walked in. Just to make me even more superfluous (zing!), there was an Eastman student standing two feet away doing the exact same job. Huzzah!

Later in the evening, I saw Chick Corea with his new band, Touchstone. If I only see Chick once in my life, I’m glad it was last night. This band hearkens back to Chick’s albums like My Spanish Heart, Touchstone, and Friends, some of my favorite Chick recordings. The band was phenomenal.

Many good friends were in attendance throughout the night, too, which was great. It’s so much fun to see all these folks again, renewing some old connections and catching up with good people.

Tonight, I’m working at Kilbourn Hall again for two sets by the Ethnic Heritage Ensemble. I also plan to take in a new movie about Miles Davis’s 1970 performance at the Isle of Wight festival. It’s a dirty job, but somebody’s got to do it.

Jason at the 2005 Rochester International Jazz Festival (Part 1)

Last night, I volunteered at the Montage Grille during the 2005 Rochester International Jazz Festival. This really is one of the great festivals in the U.S. — in just its fourth year.

What made the evening so special was seeing the jazz crowd that I haven’t seen since leaving Jazz90.1 last November. It was great to be remembered. Sometimes it’s nice to have that affirmation for your past work. And it was exciting to see the number of young fans attending the gigs. I was working at the Joe La Barbera show, which was excellent. I also managed to catch two songs by The Bad Plus. Fun!

The evening’s joy was touched by sadness, too. I learned last night of the death earlier this week of guitarist Mark Manetta. I’ve been so off the scene that I hadn’t heard about Mark’s passing. He was a special human being, and I’ll write more about him soon.

Life without Wegmans and Tops

Jen and I are trying to start a new way of shopping for our family. We already do a fair amount of our shopping at Abundance Coop Market each week, supplemented by occasional runs to other places like Palermo’s Meat & Food Market on Culver Road (467-3950 / map) or The Ravioli Shop on Winton Road North (288-6420 / map).

A few weeks ago, we decided to try to go all the way, and cut out the big chains completely. Why? Several reasons: (1) it keeps more money in the community at the grassroots level; (2) it’s a great way to support local farmers and producers; (3) the quality of the food is often much better; (4) it’s rewarding to build relationships with local merchants; (5) the idea of shopping in neighborhoods from folks who live there fits in with our general economic and political philosophy.

All of that is easy to say, but it does actually take some effort to shop without the chain stores. The effort is leading to some interesting results, though. For example, we’re thinking more carefully about which things we actually need that we buy at the chains. The answer is that we need very few of them. In many cases, we can substitute healthier products, or cut things out altogether.

We do have some criteria for this experiment, the most important of which is cost. We have two small incomes, and we need to be very careful about how much we spend on groceries. Buying a $5 jar of mayo may be the earth-friendly thing to do, but having to eat it while living in our car isn’t the best outcome.

I’m interested in what you have to say on this topic. Where do you shop? Which little specialty stores do you use that everyone should know about? How do reconcile the various practical and philosophical concepts at issue?

At the bottom of this message, you can click on the link to submit a comment. Please do that, and let’s get the conversation started!

UPDATE: Please click on “View Comments” right below this sentence to see some of the great responses to this topic. Then submit your own comment!

Soccer, baseball and base ball

This was a great week for sports.

Proving that activists can just hang out, a group of us headed to Frontier Field to watch the Redwings (AAA farm club of the Minnesota Twins) beat the Richmond Braves for the third straight night. It was a blast, and it reminded me again why there’s something special about minor league baseball.

Last night it was the Rhinos’ turn. I’ve had season tickets to the Rhinos, our USL First Division soccer team, for the past four years. Last year, my dad and sister joined in. Soccer is my sport, and it’s nice to see the Rhinos remembering that you’re more likely to win if you score goals.

As teams go, the Rhinos are my #3. Coming in at #2 are the MetroStars, the New York-New Jersey team in Major League Soccer. The only reason they’re #2 is because my team of teams, my crew of crews, is the U.S. Men’s National Soccer Team. Tonight they trounced Costa Rica 3-0 on the road to the 2006 World Cup. Jen and my dad and sister and I have spent many early, early mornings at bars and restaurants watching World Cup games beamed back from Asia. I’ve also been to at least one game in each of the past four rounds of qualifying, and my sister and I are going to Connecticut later this summer to watch the U.S. play Trinidad & Tobago. I love the outlet these games give for heartfelt expressions of patriotism unencumbered by jingoism. At least, they’re unencumbered where I’m concerned. That’s not a universal truism.

It’s almost vintage base ball season, too. Bernie and I went to Genesee Country Village today, and we happened to come across the Live Oak practicing. Sure does get the blood racing. I hope to see you there on June 26 for opening day!