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Demo Memo: American Shoppers Go the Extra Mile for Their Piggy Wiggly

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MISS DAISY SHOPS AT WA-WA-WA-Walmart ... Photo credit: Frankie14850


When comes to grocery shopping in America, Occum's Razor is disposable.

According to the USDA's Economic Research Service, Americans will go out of their way to get to their favorite supermarket. How far?

On average the distance between home and the closest supermarket in about 2.14 in the United States. However, savvy shoppers travel almost four miles to get to their favorite food haven, be it Whole Foods or Piggly Wiggly.

Most drive their own vehicle to get there (88), but a goodly 7 percent will risk a fender bender in the parking lot in a borrowed car. Another 6 percent actually walk or shuttle their freight via mass transit.

Food shoppers are split between super centers (such as Walmart) and supermarkets as their primary grocery store. Forty-four percent use super centers, 45 percent use supermarkets, and the remainder use other types of stores. According to Consumer Reports, Walmart shoppers love hating their go-to grocery. 

Source: USDA Economic Research Service, Where Do Americans Usually Shop for Food and How Do They Travel to Get There? Initial Findings from the National Household Food Acquisition and Purchase Survey

We Were Only Following Orders ... Aldis is a popular low-cost place to shop and the customer service outranks that of Wal-Mart because the Germans are efficient and if you don't like your job, there's the sliding glass doors, auf wiedersehen!

From Demo Memo by Cheryl Russell  http://demomemo.blogspot.com/

Russell is a demographer and the editorial director of New Strategist Publications. She is the former editor-in-chief of American Demographics magazine (then located in Ithaca) and The Boomer Report. She is the author of Bet You Didn't Know and other books on demographic trends. She holds a master's degree in sociology/demography from Cornell University.

Last Updated on Sunday, 03 May 2015 18:39

Author Jonathan Frankel to read from new novel at Buffalo Street Books, this Saturday, March 28

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Editor's note from a previous article:

Neophytes to experimental fiction can cut their teeth on “Gaha: Babes of the Abyss”

(2014, Whiskey Tit, New York) the latest “sci-noir” work of Jonathan Frankel, a local author

and poet.

Set in a post-apocalyptic Los Angeles, 2540, the overlords of the underworld are the top

dogs and the free enterprise is run amok. Everything’s changed except, well: Money,

sex, and the lust for power. Forget about law and order.

Forget about life being sacred, too. The novel is trafficked by a host of complex bizarros, and armies of para-military monstrosities, some on horse back, armed with all the weapons of ultra-modern terrorists. Here and there are tender acts of humanity (usually on the part of a Martian), but all are tainted with some manner of gold-digging. Frankel is a skilled writer with a passion for satire and dark comedy and sound; he packs the book with plenty of surprises and succulent language to keep the pages turning. “I’m not sloppy about anything,” says Frankel. “Every syllable is a deliberate choice. And I mean 'syllable.' I needed to create another world, and used language to do it.”


In a February interview with tiny town times, Frankel told us a bit about himself, his writing, where he's coming from and hopes to go. Here are segments of that interview. The author will be reading March 28, at 4 p.m. in Buffalo Street Books, DeWitt Mall, downtown Ithaca, NY.

TTT: What's your Ithaca connection?

JF: I moved to Ithaca from the city in 1988. I had two babies and was living in a tenement with urine in the halls

and crackheads on the corner. It wasn’t romantic anymore. I had a friend going to grad school at Cornell and he said to come up. We visited and then moved here a few months later. He didn’t mention the weather. Anyway, I worked at Micawber’s. It took years to accept Ithaca as home, but I finally did. I divorced, started to work at Cornell in the library, remarried, had 3 more children. I’ve got 5 children altogether.

TTT: How long have you been writing? Early influences? Did it come on early or were you late to it? Do you NEED to write ???

JF: I do indeed need to write. I started writing in elementary school, sixth grade, when I wrote "Iron Ass" comics with my partner-in-crime Bert Bloch. I wrote a movie with him too, a seventies police movie with huge blood gouts. We videotaped that in seventh grade. It’s been downhill ever since. The books I have been inspired by are many: James Joyce's "Ulysses," "Pick Up," by Charles Willeford; "Farewell My Lovely," by Raymond Chandler; and "Women," by Bukowski. There are books I love as a writer; I can read anything, but can only write some things. My imagination is engaged by low-life, I suppose. As a reader I’m engaged by a lot more than that.

TTT: Could you give tiny town readers a basic writer's bio?

JF: Writing as "Buzz Callaway," I published "Specimen Tank" in 1994 with Manic D Press ... It's about a couple of drug addict performance artists who test drugs for money and end up as test subjects in human experiments. It’s a near future book. I went to Oberlin, Ohio, for one year, but wanted to live in the city, so I left and lived in New York for ten years, working as a waiter, reading, and writing poetry. I’ve published a dozen or so poems over the years and was nominated for a "Pushcart Prize" by Slipstream, in 1993.

TTT: Ever do any time? Military? Jail?

JF: I was in jail for 3 weeks for antinuclear protest in Seabrook, New Hampshire in 1978. That was with my other partnerin crime Al Giordano, a prominent anarchist, journalist and community organizer now. They kicked us out because we refused to sign any papers. And we were organizing sing-alongs among the inmates.

TTT: Why did you decide to write this book Jon Frankel instead of a pseudonym? How often have you employed synonyms?

JF: My pseudonym, Buzz Callaway, was to avoid people in my family knowing I’d written "Specimen Tank," because I felt they’d be disappointed. Also, I liked the idea of not being who I am. I dropped it for this book because my very slight, miniscule web presence is now tied to my real name, and I want this book to succeed.

TTT: What's it like writing science fiction in a town dominated by academic and literary fiction? And since I borrowed that question, what the hell town am I asking about?

JF: Fun. First of all, sci fi and noir books are guilty pleasures for many literary people and academics. Secondly, all of theother arts, besides fiction and poetry, have experienced Pop Art. I mash up genres. If it’s pissing on someone’s parade, all the better. I do not fit in with academic or literary culture in this country at all. I am very well educated and have read a lot and widely, but I’m a passionate autodidact and embrace my auto-didactical failings with enthusiasm, especially those failures of taste academic literary intellectuals are so embarrassed by.

TTT: GAHA is not Ha-ha funny, but it's funny. I didn't laugh much, but I get some of it. I don't get a lot of it. The book, is, as you state in the front matter, is wayward with language.

JF: It’s meant to be funny. It’s black humor and satire. Satire is best when savage. And humor is inherently cruel. There is a heart in all of it, of course. The wayward language was a self-indulgence. As a reader, I love wayward language. As a writer, it allows creativity. I am not a literary writer or an academic one, but I am an experimental one, with a strong intellectual and aesthetic background.

TTT: What is GAHA saying about our current situation in America?

JF: It’s saying we are a society without values beyond immediate short term profit, and that we are enslaved to stupid ideologies that dehumanize people and reduce us to means that serve others’ ends. Objectification, alienation, commodification. Environmental destruction for fun and profit. Contempt for humanistic values. Widespread coarse stupidity.

TTT: What do you hope people will take away from the book? Do you care if there is a take away from this book?

JF: I want readers to be entertained and absorbed by the action and characters. I want them to think about what a horrible world we are creating. I want them to see us for what we are now. I want them to laugh and be afraid and think.

TTT: GAHA is confusing me on a lot of levels -- most don't matter. One matters a lot to me: Authenticity. I have a couple problems with your protagonist, Bob.

JF: You’re not alone.

TTT: The landscapes, scene setting and descriptions are wonderfully rendered.  The book keeps moving and that in itself it an achievement ... It's a very enjoyable ride in many respects

JF: It’s meant to keep moving. It’s a crime novel, a noir novel, like James M. Cain or Charles Willeford, set 500 years in the future.

TTT: Main confusion: The morals of the main character seem at odds with the futuristic date, his inner thoughts verus his actions and behavior ... He's not too ahead of his time in the sex category , for instance. The out-there women stuff is weird, but people have been having all kinds of kinky sex shows since Salome ... He's not exactly what I think of as a man of the future. He's more like a 80s guy ...

JF: On of my big assumptions is that we won’t be any better 500 years from now. Elma and Irmela (main characters in a romantic triangle with the protagonist) are exploited young women, sex slaves. Bob is a bottom feeder. They‘re better off with him than the pimps who’ve enslaved him. And he’s looking for love and lust. It’s an unholy trinity. The world itself assumes we’ve done nothing, and the consequences are as narrated.

TTT: You make a kind of apology by way of non-apology in the front matter: ... " For language I have been wayward, promiscuous, omnivorous, unapologetically (itals mine) ... And I found this an interesting editorial note: "Malaprop uses of languages other than English are not to be corrected."

JF: I don’t know how authentic any of the slang I use is. Native Americans really hate appropriation of their culture. I break these rules. I am unapologetic. I’m a novelist. Every syllable is a deliberate choice. And I mean syllable. My training is as a poet. And proofreading and language use are different. Small presses can’t afford editors or proofreaders and neither can I. I am deeply apologetic about mistakes. But the intentional use of an exotic vocabulary is a choice I made for many reasons, mostly to do with atmosphere, some personal (like, it was more interesting). I needed to create another world, and used language trash to do it.

F: Who is Oscar Eustis, mentioned in the kudos?

JF: Artistic director of the Public Theater in New York, my cousin, and a deep, close friend whom I love like a brother. Oskar has taught me more about narrative than anyone else. And I’m lucky, because it’s mostly famous playwrights who will tell you the same thing. I didn’t have to have ten meetings and a lot of luck to get him to read, and critique, my manuscripts. I just had to ask.

TTT: Who is Maja Anderson (also mentioned in the book's kudos)?

JF: She’s my wife of 20 years, best friend, lover, confidante.

TTT: In this Age of the Amateur, can you give me a map of how you've handled the "traditional" publishing route? Are

you an advocate of Indie publishing? Is there any such thing as a "gatekeeper" in literature these days?

JF: I tried for decades to get an agent. There are many gatekeepers, but few of them are aesthetic gatekeepers. The only thing that matters to commercial publishers, editors and agents is sales. They will say different, and all have their charity cases, but the bottom line rules in commercial publishing as it does in Hollywood or anywhere else. I totally failed. I do believe the novel is a commercial art form. I don’t write the kind of experimental fiction that would even be recognized as such by many experimental presses. So look, indie presses are also overwhelmingly agented. There are just very few presses that will accept unsolicited manuscripts. And they have to sell also. They have a much smaller market, but they have to sell. There are far more writers out there than readers these days, so as soon as even a tiny press has any success they are besieged with submissions. They set up gatekeepers. These young guards are in their 20’s. So breaking in is almost impossible. That leaves the real outsider presses, collaborations between tiny dedicated publishers and their handful of authors. Like a small art gallery. I think there are costs and benefits. The internet, ePublishing, blogs, Web sites, all of this means the artist is in control of production and distribution. Great. But the audience shrinks. So it’s rare that everyone is reading a challenging, culture changing book. It’s also rare that large numbers of people will read an eccentric, difficult book.

TTT: You have a supple way with tone and diction and a surprise vernacular that pulled me back several times from the brink of not wanting to finish ....

JF: Thank you. I worked hard on the dialog. Tone, diction, the use of vernacular, are the tools of the trade. Jazz musicians have to master all of the scales, and many time signatures and combine and recombine and mutate these. Comedians improvise from a stock of stories and jokes. Novelists draw on a wide variety of tones, diction and vocabularies. Like most novelists I’m an eavesdropper, a voyeur. I remember things people say, how they say them. And I work at it! Every word of this book has been rewritten 20, 30 times or more. The dialogue was spoken aloud dozens of times, and then read silently on the page. I did study music for years as a child, and played trumpet, and I am obsessed with music. I’m also a poet, and poetry, for me, has always been about the sound of the words. I love writers like Joyce and Shakespeare whose appeal is musical as much as visual or the meaning of the words. Spenser is a delight to read. He’s a warbling bird.

TTT: I don't want to even fake the comparison with PDK ... I've only seen the movies and that's my bad. Vonnegut is the last Sci-fi guy I had a relationship with for a long time. I'd love to know Bradbury, but he's way in my rearview and I'd like to read him again before I die, which is not rhetorical at this point in life and time ... So, that's a long way around the barn to asking: Who are you? Who do you think you are and Do you have an idea of where you'd like to go next or are you there, already?

JF: I’ve read both (Kurt) Vonnegut and (Philip K.) Dick a lot. I was well formed as a writer when I started reading PKD (I was 40), so he’s not much of an influence, but Vonnegut I read in early high school. He’s like Mark Twain. And that’s big for me. Who am I? In the movie "Pat Garrett and Billy the Kid" someone asks Bob Dylan that, and Dylan’s character answers, ‘That’s a very good question.’ I am an independent novelist, poet and artist. I don’t see the various parts of my life as separate, but part of a plan or desire to live as much apart from a commercial society that I find stressful, immoral, and uninteresting. Well, maybe it’s the most interesting thing out there. America is high entertainment if you have a sense of humor and have read some history. I am my own guy, and I don’t like groups, or schools, or anything like that. I am anti-authoritarian and reactive. Where am I going? I want to write a sprawling, brawling, multi-generational social novel, like "Buddenbrooks," set five hundred years in the future. That’s what I am doing, and probably will be doing for the next ten to fifteen years, given the speed at which I work.

TTT: Small point but, I thought a Fusca was a kind of black ant?

J: It’s Chicano slang for gun, or was at sometime somewhere. Google it. Except for the Native American words, every word is Googleable.

TTT:  You got serious writing chops and I admire that. As far as this book goes I read it because I had to and then I kept at

it because it has lots of surprises ...You know how some movies aren't your cup of tea, but you might watch them through again just for the way some scenes rolled out of others? I kept at "Gaha" because there's a lot of stuff in here that is top shelf stuff ...

JF: I could not ask for more. And I do know what you mean (about movies).

TTT: Finally: What's the book you are reading now ... And: really absolutely finally: Have you or would you like to do a graphic novel?

JF: I’m reading "The Mob," a history of organized crime in New York City, from the colonial era until the 1970s. And Charles Dickens, "Great Expectations." I would love to write a graphic novel. Except for "Iron Ass," I haven’t written one. I would need to collaborate.

TTT: From the bleak hyperborean steppes of Central New York, a grudging new fan bids you adieu.

JF: Nods.

Franklin "Read the Whole Book" Crawford

Last Updated on Saturday, 11 April 2015 09:27

DEMO MEMO: They're Not Over the Hill: They're on the Other Side of It

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Between 2000 and 2010, the labor force participation rate of men aged 65 to 69 climbed by more than 6 percentage points—from 30.3 to 36.5 percent.

Many thought the upward trend was here to stay as the baby-boom generation sought to boost its retirement income. Many were wrong. As boomer men filled the 65-to-69 age group over the past four years, the rise in labor force participation came to a halt, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. In fact, the labor force participation rate of men aged 65 to 69 fell slightly between 2010 and 2014...

Labor force participation rate of men aged 65 to 69
2014: 36.1
2010: 36.5
2000: 30.3



Interestingly, a Gallup survey of today's 65-to-68-year olds found them no more likely to work than the four-year cohort immediately preceding them. Those Gallup results are now confirmed.

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, Labor Force Statistics from the Current Population Survey



Number of Moves in Lifetime

The average American will move 11.7 times during his or her lifetime, according to a Census Bureau calculation made a few years ago. The estimate was based on annual mobility and mortality rates in 2007 and allowed for a maximum of one move per person per year.

Now FiveThirtyEight has updated that estimate. As of 2013, the average American will move 11.3 times in his or her life. Behind the slight decline is the drop in mobility rates caused by the collapse of the housing market and the subsequent Great Recession. The average 18-year-old in the United States has moved twice, says Mona Chalabi of FiveThirtyEight's DataLab, and the average 30-year-old has moved six times.

Source: FiveThirtyEight, How Many Times Does the Average Person Move?


From Demo Memo by Cheryl Russell  http://demomemo.blogspot.com/

Russell is a demographer and the editorial director of New Strategist Publications. She is the former editor-in-chief of American Demographics magazine (then located in Ithaca) and The Boomer Report. She is the author of Bet You Didn't Know and other books on demographic trends. She holds a master's degree in sociology/demography from Cornell University.

Last Updated on Saturday, 07 March 2015 17:32

From 2006: On Our Iconic "Tiny Town" Image with story about where it was taken

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By Franklin Crawford

Former Writer and Consultant for The Cornell Chronicle

Ithaca, NY, 2006 – Morgan Smiley Baldwin, Cornell Class of 1915, is buried in France where he died from wounds received during the Battle of the Hindenburg Line, the last major offensive of World War I.

Baldwin, who was killed about a month before the war ended, was a member of Delta Phi fraternity, and his fraternity pin and ribbon were among the items discovered Sept. 26 in a sealed copper box nested in the base of a pier on the parapet of the Baldwin Memorial Stairway on University Avenue just below Delta Phi's Gothic fraternity (Llenroc).

On Nov. 11, 2006, at 1 p.m., Baldwin's Delta Phi effects and other Cornell memorabilia from the box -- as well as some new items -- will be re-interred during a Veterans Day ceremony with full military honors, held at the site. The event is an 81-year-old echo of the original placement ceremony that occurred on Armistice Day, Nov. 11, 1925, the year the stairway was erected.

It's no secret that the Baldwin Memorial Stairway is a monument to one of Cornell's fallen sons. But institutional memory needs repeated prodding: In 2006, no living person was aware that a time capsule lay within its stoneworks. In September of that year, Cornell masons replacing and repairing the shale stone on the stairway's overlook tapped into what at first appeared to be tin flashing or a hidden drain. Worked stopped. After some effort, a metal box was removed. So began a series of excited calls to supervisors, facilities managers and university librarians.

At 1:30 p.m. that Sept. 26 afternoon, a Cornell tinsmith from the Humphreys Service Building carefully unsealed open the well-soldered container. As the Cornell alma mater tolled from McGraw Tower (mere coincidence, but a nice touch), a group of university staff, including librarians, trades people and administrators, stood witness.

Elaine Engst, university archivist, then removed each item from the metal coffin, exposing them to the light of day for the first time in 80-plus years. Inside were perfectly preserved copies of the Cornell Daily Sun, Nov. 10, 1925; a copy of The Ithaca Journal; original blueprints of the stairway designed by Bryant Fleming, Cornell Class of 1901; pictures of the construction; a Freshman Handbook, 1925; Cornell Class of 1892, 33rd anniversary class book; lists of Cornellians killed during WWI (265; Cornell had provided 4,598 commissioned officers, more than West Point) and Tompkins County war dead; Baldwin's Delta Phi pin, fraternity ribbon and a directory; memorial programs; and other items.

The stairway was a gift to Cornell from a grieving father, Arthur J. Baldwin, Class of 1892, to memorialize his son. Donald R. Baldwin, Class of 1916, Morgan's brother, helped to lay the stairway cornerstone. The box was placed by George S. Tarbell, president of Delta Phi fraternity, of which all the Baldwins were members.

Engst said all the university's older buildings contain cornerstone boxes with similar materials to those found in the stairway -- and these are indicated in the building plans. A container was found when Roberts Hall was demolished in the late 1980s and another when Sage Hall was renovated (1996-98). But the Baldwin time capsule was lost to memory.

A new box made of stainless steel has replaced the container. Among the items in it: More recent letters from the Baldwin family and a copy of the Cornell Chronicle bearing this story and photographs.

Photo: Frankie14850 stood on the Baldwin Parapet's Southwest Corner to take the above image. It was later "tilt-shifted" using a Photoshop editing tool, by tinytowntimes.com co-founder, Rigel Stuhmiller, a.k.a. Belinda Cho.


Last Updated on Thursday, 05 March 2015 18:29

Here it is: Wiotekika Wi: Moon of Hard Times

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WOLF MOON: Image shot January 29, 2010 by Frankie14850

Tiny Town, USA – I've given only a token amount of money to the St. Joseph's Indian School in the hyperborean wastes of South Dakota, but, run by the good Jesuits, they will not forget my twenty bucks or whatever it was to buy a kid a blanket ... rest.

I've gotten lots and lots of mail from The Brothers who run the school, and as far as I know, they allow for the Lakota language to be learned and shared. So, I got a note from the Fr. J. Anthony Kluckman, SCJ, Chaplain. He asked me how I was enjoying my new Daily Planner. Well, I wasn't using it.

With all the St. Joseph's nice return address and other pleasant Judeo-Christian/Little bit of Lakota folklore stickies, it sat waiting for Self to decide if It was going to send another few bucks that I can't spare. I wanted to compose a note back the Friar and let him know he was ploughing a barren field and where the heck did they get all the overhead to send all this hooey?

Then I opened the planner, because it's a 2015 planner, and it didn't make any sense open it any sooner.

Well, turns out, it's got some cool stuff in it -- Lakota language stuff.

For one, there is a list of Lakota terminology for each month of the year.

I also learned the word "tiospaye" (tee-oh-spy-aye) which means "extended family," or so the planner says. Also, an important word: Pilamaya, "thank you."

But it was the list of names for the months of the Lakota Lunar Calendar that I really appreciate and for this alone I will reconsider my donation list -- it's long. But if you only send $5 here or $10 there, it's amazing the amount of junk mail I've accumulated. But this here, this is not junk: this is information and knowledge:

As the introduction states "May the Lakota children's heritage enrich your life":

January – Wiotekika WiMoon of Hard Times

February – Cannapoppa WiMoon of the Cracking Trees

March – Istawicayazan WiMoon of Snow Blindness

April – Wihakakta cepapi WiMoon of Fattening

May – Wojupiwi WiMoon of Planting

June – Wipazuka waste Wi Moon of Good Berries

July – Canpasapa WiMoon of Cherries Blackening

August  – Wasuton WiMoon of Harvest

September – Canwepegi WiMoon of Brown Leaves

October – Canwapekasna WiMoon of Falling Leaves

November – Waniyatu WiMoon of Starting Winter

December – Tahecapsun WiMoon of Shedding Horns


There. I learned a little bit for a change. What's it worth? I'll send something.

– Franklin Crawford, tiny town times, administrator, still unstable after all these years

Last Updated on Saturday, 03 January 2015 22:16

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