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Can we afford "affordable?"

Have you gotten lost in the city recently?

I don't mean downtown. I mean it's neighborhoods, where a lot of people live in rundown houses and apartment buildings.

Most people who drive in and out of the city every day for work do not see these neighborhoods. But there are a lot of them, despite numerous programs to demolish, renovate, or build better housing for people whose income falls below the median. The pace of improvement has been falling far behind the pace of decay for more than a decade.

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A Sound Experiment

I've never considered myself much of a scientist.

So I consider it a stroke of luck when a grant application calling for a "hypothesis" crossed my desk -- just one day after I helped my daughter put together a middle school science fair project. I actually knew how to phrase a hypothesis, and WXXI was awarded money to conduct experiments to test my hypothesis.

So what is a broadcast news director doing in the laboratory?

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Join the Cary Ratcliff fan club

Cary Ratcliff writes by leaps and bounds. The lines of his songs might jump a fifth, slide back down, and hover around a series of pitches before leaping up again. Difficult to perform but easy on the ear. Lyrical.

He’s also a working composer, far from the dreaded ivory tower. On a gleaming black Steinway in his light-filled living room, Ratcliff's written music that’s been sung by thousands of singers of all ages and abilities. His children’s opera "Mice and Beans" is being staged April 26-27 in San Diego. New York City Opera will read Ratcliff’s “Eleni” in May, and in July, the Rochester Oratorio Society will take a section of the “Ode to Common Things” to Beijing and Shanghai.

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Venues, continued...

Venues present themselves like creatures of the night. They get made-up, or don’t, wash up a bit, or not, display darkness and light in codes their customers are lured toPor VidaPor Vida.

It’s all about attitude. It was the Molotov Lounge. Austin in March of 2007.

Bikers, aggressive punks, music critics, folk music fans, feminists, the generally rebellious. They filled this place. I swear in one of the only two booths was a Midwestern family, kids and all. Inside a rather threatening room, what could have brought together such a wildly diverse crowd.

It was Michelle Shocked.

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Venues, part one

One of the most remarkable shows I’ve ever seen was in a punk bar in Austin, 2007. It looked like the inside of an old diner stripped of anything and everything. What could have once been a lunch counter was the bar. No windows, just vacant spaces inside empty window frames.

It looked like a fire had gutted the downstairs of structures and function, then been splashed with dull, black paint to remove any remaining color.

Not the sort of place you would imagine a most memorable show happeningEric Taylor album artEric Taylor album art.

The performer was Michelle Shocked. Sally Timms opened. The venue became part of the show in a way no other venue would have worked.

I’ll get back to that show later.

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Month of the Young Child

The National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC) first established the Week of the Young Child (WOYC) in 1971 recognizing that the early childhood years (birth through age 8) lay the foundation for children’s success in school and later life.

Each April, child advocates celebrate the Month of the Young Child. This is a time when communities and individuals recognize the needs and
rights of young children and their families.

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Secret Confessions from Skitty

Another short and sweet post. I’m in my second week of getting up at 4:00 a.m. to host the local classical music morning show, and I’m a little tapped out. (I'll have some richer material for you, including a bizarre RPO-related story that landed in my e-mail this week. But I can’t get to it until later.) So I’ll stoop to cat-blogging with this message from Skitty and a picture taken this morning in our muddy garden.

Skitty says, “Spring rocks!”

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Spring migration II

With sincere apologies to those readers grossed out by the dead blue heron,

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Spring migration

My children found a dead blue heron in the yard last night, folded up and strangely exotic like one of Audubon's paintings. There was no sign of a struggle. It reminded me of something I read about Jean Sibelius. Around the time he was working on his Fifth Symphony, Jean Sibelius watched sixteen swans fly in formation over his home. In his diary, he wrote,

“One of my greatest experiences! Lord God, that beauty! They circled over me for a long time. Disappeared into the solar haze like a gleaming, silver ribbon. . . . That this should have happened to me, who have so long been the outsider.”

He saw them again three days later.

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Random association

I can’t hear the Aram Khachaturian’s Sabre Dance without picturing guys in blue and white outfits zooming across the ice with sticks. In the 1970’s, the Buffalo Sabres NHL hockey team ran local TV commercials using the classical warhorse at its rousing theme song. I saw that ad a lot.

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