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Last Updated on Wednesday, 09 November 2011 12:05

G-Kwan from GIAC stars in a Fuchs Productions Zoetropic Break-Dance

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FUCHS FASTER: Unveiled in time for the Jewish New Year, The Zoetropic Circus from The Widget Factory.

Tiny Town, USA – The Widget Factory continues to charm our little world with ingenious diventions of Da Vincian perplexity.

Inventor John Fuchs has caused a machine to make picture's move without the use of a remote! He calls it a "zoetrope" an obvious neologism based on an apparatus that was popular at the time of the Hindenburg disaster. Yes! Those grand parallel days of olde when submarines propelled through the air and women wore five dresses at once and weren't mandated by the courts for state-administered shots of Thorazine.  

We will be offering views of Johnny F2's fabulous flying machine via installments over the course of this week. This one features what appears -- No! It's not a break-dancing Obama, nor is it Svante Myracle -- it's G-KWAN from GIAC! Ignore the audio if you haven't already ignored the audio. 

We also include this brief note on Saturday's Pickly Ball games: TD JF ↑1↓2 vs. TG; TG-FC vs. TD-JF↑1; FC↓1 vs. JF → + 2 handicapped. Mark it well.

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Last Updated on Sunday, 02 October 2011 12:59

Pimpin' His Ride: Roger Holmes takes his wheelchair to the next level

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 ABOVE: The rig -- Roger Holmes mounted a Hot Rod Grill™ onto the front of his electric wheel chair. This prompted a visit to his abode in Titus Towers where, like the rest of Ithaca, parking is at a premium. 

Tiny Town, USA – At the entrance to Titus Towers I asked for Roger, the guy with the gas-fired grill mounted to the front end of his electric wheelchair.

Everybody knew who I was talking about. Mary, a resident, welcomed me into the building and buzzed his room. Roger answered the intercom.

"There's a man here wants to see you," she told the speaker. 

The inner door unlocked. I thanked Mary and went in. 

Mr. Holmes lives on the 11th floor of Ithaca's landmark public housing units. The two towers are the only high-rises on the south side of town and are visible at night when a star is illuminated atop one of them. The star is a holiday decoration that appeared one year and stayed. 

Mr. Holmes greeted me in the hallway. He was carrying a small black dog named Munchkin. The dog is blind.

"She's  got cataracts. Cornell is gonna do the surgery. Three thousands dollars," he said. "There's goes my Harley, bye-bye."

The Harley reference reminded me of why I'd come to see Mr. Holmes. The day before, I'd taken a couple shots of him riding down the sidewalk on what's got to be the most pimped-up tricked-out electric wheelchair in Tiny Town. Or anywhere near. What impressed me most, and impresses everyone when they see Roger coming, is the Hot Rod Grill™ he has frontloaded on his rig. At first glance, it really does look like a car engine. 

"I saw an ad for it on TV and said, 'I gotta get me one of them things,' " Mr. Holmes said. "I wanted one that came with fan belts for a blower but all those models were way back-ordered."

The grill cost him a pretty penny but Mr. Holmes is satisfied despite the lack of reality belts. The top of the "engine" is hinged on one side and under the air filter is a fully functional gas grill. It has mufflers like a hot rod engine and the air filter is equipped with a fan. You can find them online if you're interested. Mr. Holmes hasn't and doesn't plan to fire it up for barbecues. It's all for show. We caught sight of the rig in full throttle cruising down a W. State Street sidewalk. 

Mr. Holmes was born in Oneida and later lived in Canastota and Sylvan Beach on the north end of Cayuga Lake. He is extremely fond of bears and the walls of the entrance to his apartment are lined with pictures and photographs of bears. A full-size Confederate flag hangs on the wall as well and his quarters are a showroom of gimcracks and geegaws, plants and pictures and wall hangings. Like the gas grill, the rebel flag is a show piece. He abhors the notion of slavery but says he is fond of southern manners and hospitality. He lived in Florida for 22 years as a day laborer working on pipelines and train tracks and any other work that came up.

Mr. Holmes describes a diorama he recently arranged on his home entertainment center in the living room. A large flat-screen TV dominates the room and there are more things to look at than a five minute visit allowed. 

Mr. Holmes is proud of his status as a veteran of the U.S. Armed forces and recalled being stationed in a town south of Frankfurt during the Cold War period "when we played a lot of war games with the Germans."

"They kicked our asses just about every time. And boy could they drink beer," said Mr. Holmes, and relished aloud a sliver of memory: watching villagers quaff enromous steins in one go so that "the foam was running down their beards."

He also is a snow sculptor and showed me a picture that made local news -- a marvelously carved snow-bear with a big smile on its face.

"I called that one 'Grin and bear it,'" he said.

Then he told me a couple of bear jokes.

"What does it mean when you find a bear with a wet nose?" 

I didn't now.

"Yer too damned close!"

Next: "Why should you never run from a bear?"

Hmm. I told him I thought it was best policy to stay away from them altogether.

"Because they like fast food."

I laughed. Mr. Holmes is a funny fellow. He's also that confounding mix of traits that are peculiarly American. He is Christian and shows it, wearing a cross on his leather hat next to a pin of the Confederate flag and throughout his apartment there are references to God and a color rendering of Jesus that  hangs serenely beside the Confederate flag. He is staunchly pro-Native American: A certificate of appreciation from St. Joseph's Indian School in South Dakota is on display.

"Between what we did to the Indians and slavery, I am some times ashamed to be a white person. Seems all we do is start wars and take things from people."

His love of nature is embellished by a fold-out from a National Geographic Magazine cover story on giant Redwoods. 

We look forward to plenty more meetings with Mr. Holmes. As for Munchkin, she is very friendly and likes attention and Mr. Holmes is positive about the pending outcome of her cataract surgery.

"Maybe I should marry my dog," he said. "Three thousand dollars, though. Mm-mmn. Bye-bye, Harley!"

– C. Penbroke Handy

Last Updated on Thursday, 04 August 2011 12:43

Fare thee well, Louis Robbins

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Tiny Town, USA – Two dozen friends and benefactors of the late Louis Robbins gathered in the Greater Ithaca Activities Center on June 30 to honor the passing of one of Tiny Town's most memorable people.

Robbins, 64, died on June 18, one day shy of his 65th birthday, in a Cortland nursing facility.

John Efroymson, former Common Council member and teacher at Spencer Elementary School, organized the event with the help of other friends of Louis. These people spanned a spectrum of the community. Brooks and Nate and Mike were there; Claire Grady and Paul Sayvetz; Adam Perl, Peter Littman, esq., Harlin and Fred, collectors, as well as others were present.

Rev. Ron Benson, pastor at the Baptized Church of Jesus Christ in Ithaca, led the comment period with a prayer. Rev. Benson noted the diversity of the audience and the turnout, which he said spoke highly of the love and affection the community shared for Louis. 

And loved he was.

Brooks recalled helping Louis following the latter's amputations. Brooks was in charge of commandeering Louis on his downtown errands, which included numerous stops. Louis was a collector, a man of the streets and a peddler of used goods. He also was a highly skilled and charming mendicant. 

"Every day was an adventure," said Brooks. "We might start out at 9.30 in the morning and go until 9.30 or 10 at night. I'd push him everywhere, he had that many places to go. It was like a moving party." 

At night, exhausted, Brooks would pretend to be asleep as Louis was still full of energy and ready with a list of more chores to accomplish. 

"Unless it was a true emergency, I would play possum."

REMEMBERING LOUIS TOP TO BOTTOM: Brooks (standing, top right) speaks as Nate and fellow celebrants listen during a memorial service for Louis Robbins, Tiny Town Man of The Streets. Brooks and Nate were close friends of Robbins. (Top, right) "Yoga Tiny" signs the guest book provided at the memorial for Louis; (Below left) Louis's ashes were stewn around and about downtown Ithaca in places where he was known to have traversed, by these and other hands; (Below right): A final scattering of Louis in Cascadilla Creek, John and Carol Efroymson and Paul Sayvetz, attending. All Photos by Frankie14850

On Dec. 1996, The Ithaca Journal published a feature article about Robbins after the amputation of his first leg due to gangrene. Robbins was afflicted with numerous illnesses in his life including a dreadful case of diabetes that eventually took both his limbs and blinded him. 

According to the article, written by Franklin Crawford, Robbins was born to Florence and Allen Robbins, a sharecropping family from Sylvania, Ga. He recalled picking cotton and peanuts for a living as a young man before he struck north, eventually settling in Ithaca in 1973, Robbins said.

At that time, Robbins was a robust figure, standing just about 6 foot tall, a solid 200-plus pounds, with a mighty, truculent presence enhanced by his overt vocalizations.

His incantations, backed by a powerful set of pipes, were a striking combination of field hollers and Gospel chants laced with invective and outrage at a world that had mistreated his people since they stolen here as slaves. He was a personification of the throbbing grief of a painfully protracted episode in American history, a primal force of nature, and he didn't seem to give a damn who heard him. It was, in one way, his way of getting it out of his system -- and into the public conscience.

His incantations were more than the rants of a diseased mind. They were an indictment -- a civil rights lecture -- against an oppressive society and Ithacans who didn't like to imagine themselves as part of that society were given a rude wake-up call that indeed, they were very much of it. Louis was not going to be anybody's factotum any more. We stepped out of his way when he was on a roll with his clattering shopping cart, all in a big sweat and angry as an old testament God. What might not have been apparent was his ineffably sweet nature. He shared and shared alike.

Perl recalled Robbins' nightly tours through the Fall Creek and Northside neighborhoods when the now defunct Hancock P&C was open all night. Crawford, who lived on one of Louis's routes, likewise recalled Robbins making his rounds and said "it got to be so if you didn't hear Louis passing by in the wee hours, it felt like something was wrong."

Over time, Robbins was absorbed into his adopted community and was a beloved figure. Judge Judy Rossiter, who could not attend services, wrote a tribute to Robbins recalling his fortitude, humor and generosity. He was a gentlemen, she wrote. 

It is one of the honorable qualities of this city that Louis was taken in, allowed to have his say and roam freely through the streets. And later when he was ill, nurtured and attended to by its citizens.

But not all in Ithaca were so as welcoming. Efroymson recalled walking down State Street with Louis in the mid 1990s when a carload of white Cornell students pulled up beside them. Efroymson said: "One yelled, 'Hey nigger, get a job."

Robbins, despite an infected leg, took off after them. It was a low, telling moment in our city's history. 

Claire Grady may have been one of the last of Louis's friends to see him.

In the early morning hours of June 18, she visited with Louis who by then was no longer on life-saving equipment. She spoke with great emotion of the man who sat up in bed, breathing deep and strong and apparently in no pain. It was an astonishing moment in her life, she said.

Louis died later that day. 

It should be mentioned here that among all of Louis's many friends, it was Efroymson who took Louis to see family down south and it was Efroymson who, physically went and got Louis's brother to the Cortland nursing home to see his sibling for the last time this spring. 

And it was Efroysom, who, carrying a plastic bag of Louis's ashes, led a small party of mourners throughout downtown, each spreading a little bit of the man here and there, in the place Louis once called home. 

– C. Penbroke Handy, friend of Louis and one of many who miss him

PASSING MOMENTS: (Left to right) Louis Robbins on photo, foreground, the container holding his ashes; Rev. Ron Benson addresses the celebrants; Paul Sayvetz dispensing the patented Louis R. Fertilizer; attendees gather to eat and mingle following the memorial in the Greater Ithaca Activities Center. 

Last Updated on Tuesday, 05 July 2011 07:41

EduCorp Insurance Denies Disability Case for Herakles

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THE CAMPUS AT EDUCORP – Wikileaks reported that Herakles, a.k.a., Hercules, an immortal who accomplished incredible things back in the day, has been denied long term disability benefits by the insurance company representing EduCorp, a.k.a., Cornell University.

A recent conversation with the Great One proved revealing.

TTT: My gosh, great chrome bumper of a nose tackle from the pantheon, what ails thee?

Herakles: I'm in pain, oh turd small turd of an accident in the fields of Elysium. But thank you all the same for asking.

TTT: Dear Immortal, oh great Wilfork in the sky, where exactly does it hurt?

Herakles: My ass, you flea on a Minotaur's loin, my ass.

TTT: Yes, I am no physician, but it is clear by your posture you may be suffering low back issues. But tell me Oh Slayer of the Nemian Lion, during which of the 10 Labors were you so injured? I mean, anyone one of us down here, why, if we even survived, we'd be in Hospicare.

Herakles: Of what you speak I know not, you are a singular pain that I am fortunate to have outside of this old body. Yes, I slew the Nemian Lion and am now reviled for it. Also the Hydra, and I find no friends on this ball of mud who consider it worthy of a little rest. 

TTT: Perhaps wrestling with the Erymanthian Boar -- why Divinely Muffin of Studliness, that certainly could've hurt your sacroiliac. You may also be in need of a belt of Hernia. Or a belt of Scotch plasma. 

Herakles: I wish my mouth were not so dry I would fling a gob of catarrh that would remove thy rattle trap off your wimpling shoulders for good. Still, go on, it's been a long time since anyone showed me any sympathy. 

TTT: And respect! For oh Mighty Janitor of the Augean Stables, you have great street cred to this day! But tell me please, why don't you step down from there and rest your weary bumpers? 

Herakles: The university hath thrice denied my appeal for -- what are these strange words "Medical Leave." They say anyone capable of capturing a Cretan Bull can stand still in one place for all eternity. Secondly, they claim I demonstrate no "cognitive impairment."

TTT: Oh Son of Zeus! That is an outrage and certainly a violation of the school's human resources by-laws! They treat you like a museum guard when you are a God! A REAL God. Have you sought counsel in the College of Industrial Labor and Relations? Do you have a lawyer? Are you in any of the unions? 

Herakles: (A great moan and an attempt to shift his weight,  much creaking) I wish Minerva were here. She always made me feel a little better. But alas, she is with the Romans and I am stuck here with the Greeks.

TTT: And the Geeks. I betcha it was that business with Cerberus that got you. What a bojangles!

Herakles: He was a dog and no more. He fell for a little chopped-up mare of Diomedes and, truth be told, was a good pet after that. I taught him many ... AAAAAAIIIIEEEE!

The terrible wail of pain rent the skies and Jason Fane saw another opportunity to lease a corner of the East. 

TTT: This is a tragedy, oh Great Girdle Thief of Hippolyte. I shall petition on your behalf. We will get you some rest.

Herakles: How can a mortal assist a God of my stature? You are a funny waste of fleshly insides and outsides. 

TTT: Tis nothing my Hero! You are one of my Fave Five.The only thing about you I ever considered wrong was killing off all those Stymphalian Birds. We wouldn't go for that nowadays.

Herakles: You amuse me further, oh ye fart in a windstorm. Those birds shat poison, ate my friends and made a murder of noise when roosting at dusk. I pity your ignorance. 

TTT: I will think about it, then, master of the 10 Labors and for what? What do you get? No respect. Why, you might as well be a chrome semblance of Rodney Dangerfield.

Herakles: (Sigh that blew my hat off) You speak such nonsense to me. However I note a spark of the heroic in you. Find Minerva and I will reward ye with the secret to my great sexual prowess, for what's its worth in this weather. 

TTT: That is a helluvan offer Mighty Avenger -- but your secret is hardly private! Even so, I will seek Minerva for you. And some narcotics as well. I suspect thee suffers from Sciatica. As for your disability insurance, I know of a good lawyer who is well versed in these matters. We will have you down from there faster than you can say "Temporary Insanity." For in fact you did kill your own wee spawn. But I can understand that. It probably saved you millions of silvers and ... 

Herakles: Yes, go on. I've heard this one a thousand times ...

TTT: It beat sending them to college! 

– C. Penbroke Handy, a charitable entity


Last Updated on Friday, 14 January 2011 15:29

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