Sunday Funnies: Sea of Cortex

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Last Updated on Friday, 18 September 2009 16:27

Why Hearses Do Not Have Luggage Racks, or, Death in the Afternoon

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 PARABLE OF THE HEARSE: (Right) Ithacan-American Gino Bush, (black man) attempts to explain "The Parable of The Hearse Without a Luggage Rack" to a bunch of white people at a meeting of the Industrial Development Agency Friday afternoon in "Ye Olde Jail" in Tiny Town. 

TINY TOWN, USA – Stand in one place long enough and you're bound to get suckered into a meeting of some sort. 

On Friday we backed into just such a thing. And begad, it had nothing to do with any of the 12-steps.

Our reporter was passing by "Ye Olde Jail" downtown when who does he see but Jeff Furman, a.k.a. Furry Jeffman, boasting of how he is about to give the ol' IDA a hard time of it.

Mr. Furman (pictured right) is best known for helping to sell Ben & Jerry's Ice Cream to Unilever.

(BTW: "Ye Old Jail" is indeed a former hoosegow that's been turned into a wood paneled and carpeted hive for city and county worker bees. And boy are we proud of it. There are at least five signs directing persons to "The Old Jail." It is almost always printed in quotes.)

 No sooner is Mr. Furman finished speaking then come a merry band of weedy Trotskyites with a brace of scantily clad co-eds carrying a banner that says "Justice for Hotel Workers."

At this point, our reporter's antennae were a-quiver.

First, it was important to maintain pretense that he knew what this IDA meeting was about. 

Secondly, he was distracted by Phyllis DeSarno, director of economic development for the City of Ithaca, who was committing what appeared to be law scoffing. In the event of overstaying her visit, she left a note on her car saying she was attending the IDA meeting lest the meter expire. She was there as a representative for Mayor Carolyn Peterson. 

The cheek!

We object to city employees using their leverage as mucky-mucks to avoid parking fees. And for a director of economic development to eschew parking meterage? We will look into this. 

←SCOFFLAW?: Phyllis DeSarno, City of Ithaca Director of Economic Development, leaves a note on the back of her business card stating that she is at the IDA meeting and therefore might exceed the expiration date. 

Well, we will try this out ourselves from now on. Apparently it works. Her ivory Volvo was not ticketed. Next time you are in a hurry and out of change, leave one of Ms. DeSarno's cards on your windshield with a note on the back stating: "Sorry! At extremely important IDA meeting." It is bound to work! 

Kudos then to Scott Whitham, who also drove an ivory-colored vehicle, and who also could have claimed IDA status. But Mr. Whitham fed his meter with coins until it was stuffed to the gills. He handed the rest of his money to a homeless man, provided DeSarno with meter feed, patted a child on the head and helped an old lady across the street on his way into the meeting. 

Well well well. If you are going to represent a hotel developer, it pays to look good in public and Mr. Whitham certainly presented himself as a model citizen.


FEED THE METER: (RIGHT) Scott Whitham, Ithaca Hotel project manager, in the act of paying for his parking privileges.→ 

Good thing too because Whitham was standing in for a fella called Mr. Gremlin who wants to build a Gemstone hotel here (we have since learned the Long Island developer's name is Jeff Rimland, but that's not very interesting). Mr. Gremlin proposes to build a 130-room boutique hotel at the southeastern edge of the Commons on a spot that's currently a parking lot.

Perhaps you've heard about it. The Ithaca Hotel? ... Well, maybe you can't spare $235 a night to crash downtown.

But it is vital to our economic growth!

WORKERS OF THE WORLD UNITE: (Below) Pete Myers speaks up for the working folk of Tiny Town. 

The usual suspects espoused the livable wage concept on behalf of the speculative bellhops and house cleaners who might toil at Gremlin's Gemstone. 

Alex Parillo, a field representative for Laborers Local 785, asked that local construction firms get first dibs on bidding for the possible job and also that most if not all hiring be made from the local labor pool. Among the commentators, he was one of the few who appeared to have a sense of humor as well as tongue and mind working in harmonious concert.

Others got up to say their piece along similar pro-worker lines, including the Widow Nichols, wife of former Mayor Benjamin Nichols. We miss Ben!

There was a conspicuous lack of "workers." Perhaps they were at their jobs.

Local activist and patriarch Gino Bush tried to pump some sass into the event by engaging Mr. Whitham in particular with the ever timely "Parable of The Hearse Without A Luggage Rack."

We will try to interpret: Hearses don't have luggage racks, you see, because when you die, you don't need any luggage. Because you're dead, and ... you can't take things like clothes, toothbrushes, computers, etc, with you. See? But you will want people to think well of you, even so. Therefore, lead a good life because your hearse ... umm ... won't have luggage racks ... 

More to the point: your corpse will not be cussed at when your Marche funebre crawls through Tiny Town like a salt train to the tune of "Swing Low, Sweet Chariot."

At the time of this report we do not know if any area funeral homes use hearses with luggage racks. But dammit, we'll find out if they do.

Mr. Bush skillfully managed to get the word "asshole" into his message and officials squeezed their pens tightly and stared hard at their agendas until the paper began to sweat and pucker. Mercifully for them, the parable concluded without any other "assholes." Mr. Bush, who arrived late, was no sooner done then he strode out the exit with the satisfied air of a man who had accomplished his civic duty with aplomb and was on to better things. 

This set the tone for the rest of the meeting.

At some point, Gary Ferguson, director of the Ithaca Downtown Partnership (IDP) rose and, looking very last century, desperately presented himself as relevant and worthy by boostering for the hotel.

←PLEASE KEEP ME: Gary Ferguson makes an oblique case for keeping his job by talking up the hotel plans. This is the same man who claims The Commons clocks cannot be repaired and should be torn down. Does anybody know what time it really is, Gary? WE do.

Ms. DeSarno apologized for the absentee mayor, who could not make it (Labor Day weekend and all) ... and likewise plumped for the hotel. 

Martha Robertson, chairperson, thought Mr. Gremlin should have been present, and said that while she liked Scott (Whitham), she was disappointed that Mr. Gremlin didn't bother to show up and sent Whitham instead.

Mr. Whitham said he liked Ms. Robertson too, and everyone sighed.

But the marriage was short-lived once it was clear that not only was there no guarantee of health insurance for the imaginary hotel workers, worse yet, there was no MOU! The room filled with a dense swampy fog and listed heavily toward happy hour. 

Yes, we know this is a stunning revelation for our readers. But three years into the application process, details have yet to be worked out regarding mass transit, the developer and Tiny Town (MOU = Memorandum of Understanding). If you blanch at this and are begging for someone to open a window, hold on. There is more: 

Franklin Crawford was there with a camera, taking pictures. What the hell! Isn't that guy supposed to be in a "real jail" ? He's from Long Island. So is Mr. Gremlin. Coincidence? We think not. 

The reporter stayed long enough to hear Furry Jeffman speak in defense of a livable wage, non-toxic cleaners for workers and something else, but we forget. By then said reporter was beginning to wonder what salon product Michael Stamm used to keep his hair from going gray at these scrums. (BTW: Stamm is president of the Tompkins County Area Development whose breakthrough video "Thought Leader" is on the web under Tompkins County Regional Airport's  The reporter also re-counted the ceiling tiles numerous times, coming up with a different amount and calls this "The Old Jail" effect. 

We'd like to tell you more, but we've had enough. Like the mayor, we're gonna take a break. 

– C. Penbroke Handy



Last Updated on Monday, 07 September 2009 11:16

An Incident at Lick Brook Trestle

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All photos by Frankie14850 Copyright All rights reserved

Tiny Town, USA – It's not really Lick Brook Trestle. The Norfolk and Southern Rail Road crosses Cayuga Inlet tributary at the lower "illegal" entrance to Lick Brook, a large gully and nature preserve with three major falls that comprise a sweet interval on the Finger Lakes Trail. Illegal because you have to traverse the trestle to get to it, or cross the tracks from the north.

N&S cops are mostly in Philly, so it will take a while to arrest and prosecute. And they are notoriously bad shots, so chances are you'll make it alive. 

When a train derailed and hundreds of gallons of diesel killed the inlet back in the 1990s, the folks at N&S blamed a beaver dam for washing out the track. This was handy bull shit and the Department of Environmental Conversation backed them up. We've spoken with the DEC in the past and they take a dim view of the return of beaver to the area. One might say they have a vendetta against beaver. The man we interviewed vaguely resembled the mammal and this explained his otherwise irrational discourse on the impact of beaver resurgence on New York's economy. We ought to have checked around back of him for a paddle-tail but he was seated and probably had it tucked under his ass to hide his head.

The N&S bastards came up here with rifles to dispatch the beaver. According to one witness, a land owner whose property bordered the rails, it took 17 shots from one rifleman to dispatch a single beaver. 

You'd think these guys, being from Philly, would have sharpened their skills firing at rats or beer cans. Only excess of beer can explain such poor marksmanship.

A curse on them all. The inlet has not, and most likely will not, recover. 

We don't want to say too much more about Lick Brook -- or how to get there. The fewer people that know of it, the better. 

The trestle has served the coal and salt industries well, enduring daily runs of up to 102 gondolas stuffed with materials dredged and scoured outta the guts of earth and spent in various ways that serve humankind well; nature, from whom we are estranged, less well.

The trestle also serves as an installation and exhibit for graffiti created by some of the most talented vandals from our Tiny Town environs.  The stencil skulls on the north facing stanchion are incredibly well done. Other images are less complete and less interesting with the exception of the face shedding tears or teeth on the south facing stanchion. With the rivet heads on opposing sides of the flat steel girder, the effect is that of a film strip, given a little imagination.

Some of the rivet head placements resemble Braille. Which makes for a silly: "I been working on the Braille-road." We'll stop there. 

But the bridge itself is the real artwork. Study it closely and the mind wanders off-screen and, as happens around old things that still stand and function, you can take a little ride back in time right there, in your own time.

Upon your return, there is the creek washing memory away and if it is summer and warm, creosote and rust and green to inhale. 

Place a lucky penny on the rail and wade through the meadow into the wood. 

– C. Penbroke Handy 

To view more of this photographer's work, visit

Last Updated on Friday, 04 September 2009 11:43

Tiny Town Blues crackdown on obnoxious and incontinent students

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TINY TOWN, USA – Old ladies falling down in one gorge and being reported in another; people missing who are not missing; young sons of Priaps giving Tiny Town a golden shower ... All in all a typical final weekend in August. 

You know? It just ain't fair. You come to a new town ready to conquer the world, you fill up on cheap suds like any young buck, haul out the ol' avenger and start marking your territory and what happens? WHAMMY! Busted!

A lot of young men will be bringing their guilty peckers to City Court after another weekend crackdown on newcomers by the Tiny Town Blues. We are happy to see that many of the appearance tickets were issued for making noise. 

Good on ya, Blues! Tell those little peckerheads to Shut-The-Fuck-Up. 

The cops are not kidding this year. A total of 136 "arrests" were made during the last weekend of August. Not all  were for students pissing on on our tiny parade here. Plenty of townies ran afoul of the law from Friday to Sunday. A grand total of 232 complaints were handled, a few of them rather curious.

For instance: At about 9 p.m. on Friday night, there was a report of an elderly woman who fell in the Ithaca Falls. The police and the emergency crews arrive only to discover the person in question had actually fallen in Taughannock Falls.

We have no idea how a person could fall in Trumansburg and get reported as having fallen in a gorge in Ithaca. But this is the 21st century and it is full of signs and wonders. 

Consider this mysterious report: At 4:11 a.m. Sat. morning someone was reported to be ringing a doorbell on S. Geneva St. -- but there wasn't any someone there!

So who ran the dooorbell? This has happened to us, so we want to know.

Here's one to watch out for: Cops handled a call from a woman who was upset because someone took a picture of her.

Honey, if it's really that bad, wear a sack over your head. Leave the cops out of it. 

Apparently televsions are still worth something because one was stolen on Friday night from a N. Aurora St. residence.

At 7 p.m. on Saturday police checked on a person who had not been seen for three days. She was fine and was asked to please stop dematerializing without advance notice.

Okay now, sure we pay taxes for municipal services and the police are on our payroll.  But the dingus who called the cops because he/she smelled cigarette smoke coming from the neighbor's apartment should be evicted.

I know many of the West Village people have nothing better to do than harass each other but honestly, folks. There are kids drinking BEER, PISSING out-of-doors and making NOISE! They must be STOPPED. The police are busy. Hit yourself in the head with a log of government cheese as penance. 

Hey! Who were the assbeards who stole the wicker patio set from a residence on Grandview Place over the weekend, hmm? Don't you know trafficking in wicker is a federal offense? We take wicker very seriously here in Tiny Town. Return it at once! 

And finally: An officer actually checked on a report of people in the road wearing dark clothing. Since it was W. Seneca, we cut the caller some slack. But really, please. 

Here's tally of busts for noise, public urination, open container, underage drinking and littering (some individuals were charged multiple times):

Noise:  17

Pissing in public: 8

Open Container Violations: 25

Under Age Drinking: 4

Littering: 7 


– C. Penbroke Handy





Last Updated on Wednesday, 02 September 2009 10:52

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