Musicians from a Faraway Land

A few weeks ago I had the opportunity to see the St. Petersburg Philharmonic perform at the Kodak Hall at Eastman Theatre, and they were pretty phenomenal! I attended with a friend who had lived in Russia for a few years, so she was able to provide fascinating insights about how different the concert would have been if it was performed in Russia rather than in Rochester. Apparently, in Russia, audience members often go up to the edge of the stage at the end of a show and have the chance to shake musicians’ hands. At that time, they usually bring the musicians a flower that they’ve brought with them to the show specifically for that purpose. Pretty interesting!

The St. Petersburg Philharmonic performed Brahms (Piano Concert No. 1, Opus 15) and Shoshtakovich (No. 5 in D Minor, Opus 47). Both were fabulous! Nikolai Lugansky was the featured pianist, and he was really fun to watch. He was incredibly animated in his playing, with such powerful gestures they were almost violent at times! And his expression was always grave. It was generally fun to people watch on stage- the dress and mannerisms of the musicians were a bit different from an American philharmonic orchestra. For example, I noticed the string section waving their bows to applaud the pianist, and I had never seen that before!

Shoshtakovich 5 was probably my favorite part of the evening- the booming of the drums was badass and exciting after the more emotional and moving sections of the piece. All and all, it was a really fun night, and I’m so glad we got to see the St. Petersburg Philharmonic in Rochester! The last time they were here was 55 years ago, so it definitely felt special to be able to see them right here in ROC.

Next week, I’ll be attending Savion Glover: STePz, and I’m pretty excited about it! I’ve loved the variety of the “Eastman Presents” series this season. Such a diverse array of talented performers! From Norm Lewis to Garrison Keillor, from the St. Petersburg Phil to Savion Glover, it’s been an awesome season.

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Image via Eastman Theatre.

Savion Glover is a renowned choreographer and tap dancer who has even performed on Sesame Street! If you don’t believe me when I say this dude is insanely talented, check out his Instagram for some crazy videos. The guy can move! I’m so excited to watch him perform live next Tuesday.

Good news for you, my friends! I’m giving away tickets again! This is the last show in the current season of the “Eastman Presents” concert series, and it’s sure to be fantastic. Leave a comment below telling me why you’d love to attend, and you’ll be entered for a chance to win a pair of tickets to the show! Winner will be announced by the end of the week.

Best of luck, everyone!

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Working Downtown: A Whole New World

I started a new job back in November (hence the blogging hiatus for a few months) and one of the many perks of said new job is the opportunity to work downtown for a few days each week. Having worked on a college campus for four years while also working on a passion project about the city of Rochester, I longed to spend more time in the downtown area and less on an island of a campus. That’s why I’m overjoyed that I now get to spend significantly more time in downtown #ROC!

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The view from my office window during the golden hour.

My office is located in the historic Sibley Building, which used to be a department store in the heart of downtown. It has recently rebranded as Sibley Square and is going through some serious changes. Currently, the only tenants are a store called Rainbow, the Damon campus of Monroe Community College, and the nonprofit I work at, but the developer is working on bringing numerous new tenants on board. I’m excited to be there as the place evolves!

So what’s so cool about working downtown? For one thing, the food! When I worked on a college campus, you could eat at one of the dining halls pretty easily, and the food was pretty respectable. However, if you wanted to go off campus for a bite to eat, it was a long haul. You had to schlep to your car (usually parked about 15 minutes from your office building), drive somewhere (about 10-15 minutes away), eat super quickly, drive back, park, and hike in again. It was a pain in the butt. Now, I can walk to tons of awesome eateries! It’s so exciting.

I’m always a big fan of delicious and diverse food, but I’m perhaps an even bigger fan of excellent coffee. And working in the Sibley Building means Fuego Coffee is only a short walk away, just across Parcel 5! If you’ve never been, you should get your booty to Fuego ASAP.

Okay, so there’s coffee and food, but what ELSE is great about working downtown? Walkability is a big factor too. I can leave my car in a parking garage all day and still get around easily. I even learned about a system of tunnels connecting various buildings downtown thanks to my Twitter buddy, @MimZWay! As a kid growing up in the suburbs, I never spent much time downtown. It’s been fun getting to know the area more as a result of working right in Center City.

Last but not least, I’m lucky that in my job, I have the opportunity to get some sneak peeks at historic parts of Sibley. It’s so cool to see glimpses of a bygone era, and to have a hand in shaping what the future of downtown ROC will look like.

If you ever have a chance to take a job in downtown ROC, I’d highly recommend it! A nice walk or some good food nearby is a great way to maintain your work-life balance. Plus you really feel like you’re a part of things when you’re right in the heart of the downtown area. It’s pretty darn cool!

Jazz & Stories with Garrison Keillor

Last week I was lucky enough to get to go see Garrison Keillor, the renowned storyteller, at the Eastman Theatre! I was so excited to have the chance to see him live. My family wasn’t an NPR family growing up, but many of my college friends are fans, and they had always raved about good old Garrison. After a long week, “An Evening of Storytelling with Garrison Keillor” seemed like just what we needed!

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I wasn’t feeling well the night of the show, so I forgot to take pictures. Here’s a photo of the beautiful program on my beautiful coffee table!

Being a bit of a Keillor n00b going into this show, I wasn’t entirely sure what to expect. I was pretty delighted, though, when he kicked off the evening with a singalong! It was an eclectic mix, everything from “This Land is Your Land” to “I Saw Her Standing There.” Another delightful factor? I spotted the president of my alma mater, Joel Seligman, seated in one of the boxes near the stage, blowing his nose frequently and singing along. (I was under the weather too, Joel. It’s okay. Hope you’re feeling better!).

Garrison Keillor performed with an incredibly talented jazz sextet from the Eastman School of Music, and they blew me away. Garrison would chat and joke for a bit, then have the musicians play a little bit. They played Gershwin, New Orleans jazz, and much more! The clarinetist was so fantastic it made me really want to pick up my clarinet again. And I haven’t played in 4 years!

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Credit where credit is due: that was a damn good jazz sextet.

They closed out their set with a number I was very pleased with myself for recognizing: The St. James Infirmary Blues.

While the song’s origins are unknown, Louis Armstrong made it famous with his recording in 1928. I actually knew it from my visits to Fritzel’s, my favorite jazz club in New Orleans! I’ve visited NOLA enough to love the city, but definitely not enough to count myself satiated. I can’t wait to go back sometime!

Anyways, this jazz sextet from Eastman performed a phenomenal rendition of this fantastically depressing song and it brought the house down. And then they came and sat next to us in the crowd! So that was pretty cool.

Garrison has such an interesting style. He’s understated, calm and mellow, but manages to include a level of depth and detail in his stories that’s both astonishing and impressive. My mind caught on details of each story more so than the overarching story arc. The strawberry shaped change jar his parents kept in his home growing up. The French’s mustard he squirted on his burger on his sneaky trip out of the house. A memory like that is bound to make you a good storyteller!

My favorite story that he told was about the insane murder ballads his grandma used to sing him. So strange and so hilarious! I couldn’t believe how he remembered every single word of the ballad. They were bizarre and hysterical.

Up next in the fantastic Eastman Presents concert series? The St. Petersburg Philharmonic Orchestra is coming to town! They’re featuring Nikolai Lugansky as the pianist and are performing Brahms and Shostakovich. I’m sure this will be an amazing concert and I’m psyched to see it!

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Photo via eastmantheatre.org

Good news for YOU! I’m giving away a pair of tickets to this concert too! To enter: 1) Follow @eastman.school on Instagram. 2) Follow me on Instagram (@servemethesky). 3) Leave a comment on my photo about this post telling me why you’d love to see this concert. If you’re not feeling competitive (or don’t win but are still dying to see the show), you can purchase tickets here.

Best of luck to all!

Norm Lewis Lookback

Last week I had the opportunity to see Norm Lewis perform at Kodak Hall, and he was pretty fantastic. That guy can sing! You were probably expecting that, though, if you know anything about Norm Lewis. He’s basically a Broadway superstar- he’s been in practically any show that comes to mind when you think of Broadway classics. Les Mis? Yup. Phantom of the Opera? Yup. Porgy and Bess? Yup. He gets around!

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Ready for an evening of incredible music!

His show at Eastman included highlights from many of the musicals he’s been in. My personal favorites were the huge show stopping numbers like “Music of the Night” from Phantom and “Bring Him Home” from Les Mis. His rendition of “Bring Him Home” was particularly moving, as he prefaced it with a story about a fellow cast member who died young in an accident. I may have been a little misty-eyed by the end of that one, if I’m being honest. Norm’s voice filled up the whole theatre; it was clear that every audience member was listening raptly.

Norm was a very personable performer. He loved interacting with the audience and included lengthy anecdotes between each song. At the beginning of the night, he mentioned reading the local paper and seeing we “had a lot going on,” then referenced catching himself on Scandal while watching TV in his hotel room. This was the start of a long night of humblebrags. We heard all about his friendship with Audra McDonald, that time he went to a house party at the White House, and how he got to meet Barack Obama. I suppose humblebrags are warranted when you’re as talented and experienced in show business as Norm Lewis is.

Things did get a little weird, though, when he performed a Marvin Gaye number and interspersed his passionate singing with yells of “ISIS!” and “Black Lives Matter!” My boyfriend and I looked at each other in total shock and confusion. Never have I ever been to a concert at Eastman where I’ve heard a musician scream “ISIS” in the middle of a performance! I totally get artists standing up for what they believe in during turbulent political times. The song was called “What’s Going On,” and while it is super important to discuss what’s going on, especially in 2017, this seemed like a bizarre, jarring, and superficial way to approach the topic. I wanted to yell back to him, “Dude! You’re just saying names and phrases!” Yelling nouns is not a particularly effective way of engaging in political discourse.

Nonetheless, it was an enjoyable evening and I’m glad we got to see this talented man bring down the house! Just thinking back on the night, I’m getting some serious feels thinking about his rendition of “Bring Him Home.”

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World-class music right here!

Now, you may recall that the Eastman Presents concert series was on my list of 7 Things I’m Psyched About in 2017. There are three shows remaining in the series, and up next is Garrison Keillor. Apparently I’m out of the loop on the whole Garrison Keillor thing; I’ve heard he’s pretty amazing,  and I’m excited to see him when he comes to town on February 17th!

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Garrison Keillor is coming to ROC! Photo via Eastman Theatre.

Even more exciting for YOU, is that I’m doing another ticket giveaway! Love the idea of seeing Garrison Keillor IRL? Comment below telling me why you want to see him. Winner receives a pair of tickets to the show on 2/17! I’ll announce the winner on Friday, February 10th.

Best of luck to all!

Museum Memories

I recently had the chance to catch the Matter of Memory exhibit at the George Eastman Museum, and it caused me to pause and reflect on my memories of museums. I’ve become a more frequent museum-goer as I’ve grown older; while I didn’t visit the Eastman Museum much as a kid, I do remember going in elementary school, when my Girl Scout troop made a gingerbread house that was displayed there.

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My Girl Scout troop did not make this.

Matter of Memory was extremely unique- it featured numerous artists with different styles and media, all addressing the theme of memory and how we capture it through photography or otherwise. It made me think about how I capture and preserve my memories. While I take many photos, the way I curate them on social media and then write about them in this blog is a big part of how I process my experiences and shape the narrative that then becomes a memory.

My words may never hang in a museum like the gorgeous art that comprised Matter of Memory, but they’re still purposeful and meaningful to me.

After that Girl Scout visit, I didn’t make it back to the Eastman House until my senior year of college, when I went with a friend to check out a Norman Rockwell exhibit. Since then, I’ve been to the Eastman Museum (which settled on its new name, Museum instead of House, in 2015) for several events and exhibits, including a U of R alumni holiday party, a staff retreat, the National Parks exhibit, and most recently, a talk by photographer Richard Renaldi.

It was cool and interesting to hang out at the Eastman Museum with college friends- although Eastman had huge ties to the University, the Museum was never part of our world while studying at U of R. There’s so much history here, and we college students were typically far too busy to go learn about it.

As a U of R employee, I visited the Museum again on a work retreat. It was remarkable how many U of R employees had never been before! Without George Eastman’s philanthropy, the University of Rochester would be a very different place. On this visit, we were were treated to a guided tour with an extremely knowledgeable docent. I learned so much on this tour that I’m now eager to show off all my knowledge whenever I bring someone to the Museum!

When my dad and I visited the National Parks exhibit last fall, I enthusiastically rattled off fun facts to my dad. “Have you seen the view from Mrs. Eastman’s bedroom? Have you seen this letter about why Kodak was such a great name? Did you know this painting is a fake and the real one is in the MAG because the Museum used to be free and someone literally plucked it off the wall and walked out with it?!”

Not only did I have a chance to show off my new plethora of fun facts, but the exhibit was super cool too, especially since our family has so many National Park memories. We visited Yellowstone, Canyonlands, Arches, the Grand Tetons, Mt. Rushmore, Mt. Rainier, Mt. Hood, and Crater Lake over the course of two summers! Logging 300 miles a day in the car wasn’t unusual, and it was worth it for the chance to explore these phenomenal parks. The exhibit brought it all back for us and reminded us of how grateful we are to have the Parks in our country.

The newest exhibit, Manhattan Sunday, by Richard Renaldi, is also fascinating. While on the surface, it’s quite different from Matter of Memory, there are parallels. Renaldi strove to capture individuals between the hours of 12am and 8am. This collection of photos includes scenes inside and outside of clubs, up and down the streets of New York when almost no one is around. Some of the photos date back to the ’90s- so they’re capturing memories through Renaldi’s own lens. Who and what he chose to capture at various stages of the night are an interesting lens of memory to look through.

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Wish I had snagged more photos, but this is all I’ve got. 

You might think museums are relatively static. On the surface, there are permanent collections and only a handful of rotating exhibits. However, if you dig a little deeper, it’s clear that museums are constantly evolving. How can they best serve their audience? What do people want from museums and how can they deliver it? The Eastman Museum does a fantastic job educating its followers on Instagram, for one. And there’s a Spotify playlist for the Renaldi exhibit- how cool is that?! Constantly evolving, I tell ya.

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George is all around town!

Long story short, the Eastman Museum is a gem and we’re lucky to have it. If you’ve lived in Rochester your whole life and have never been, pay them a visit. And if you haven’t been recently, you should probably head back there- it may not be exactly the same as you remember it. ROC owes a lot to George Eastman; you’ll come away with a greater appreciation for our city’s history having learned his story and explored his home!

7 Things I’m Psyched about in 2017

While many people are eager to call 2016 a dumpster fire of a year, it was actually a pretty darn good year for me. I traveled to New Zealand, visited my BFF in Texas, saw amazing live music, and even bought a house! Oh, and I swam with manatees too. The downside of all those wonderful things is that it’ll be a tough year to top. Hopefully these 7 things I’m psyched about in 2017 will contribute to it being an equally awesome year:

    1. Axe throwing at Hatchets & Hops – My friend Chris of Exploring Upstate has gotten me totally on board with the idea of checking out this new place in Buffalo where YOU GET TO THROW AXES. How cool is that?! We’re planning to make a day trip to Buffalo soon, and I’m stoked to try something totally new and different.
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Photo courtesy of Hatchets & Hops Instagram
    1. Snowshoeing – This year, Tim and I received snowshoes for Christmas from my parents! We can’t wait to hit some local trails and try them. Now I’ll just sit here patiently waiting for snow…
    2. Chicago – For years, I’ve been meaning to take a trip to Chicago. This year may finally be the year. I’ve always heard such great things about the art and culture in Chicago, and I’ve only ever flown through. Now that Hamilton is in Chicago, I have some extra motivation to get there! Maybe I can even see Wayne Brady…
    3. Meliora Weekend – It’s my 5 year college reunion. I can’t believe it, but it’s true. Usually I don’t get too psyched for Mel Weekends, but this year, I’m guessing many of my friends from college will be back in town, so that will be fun! Plus, I no longer work on the campus of my alma mater, so it will actually feel a bit more special to visit.
    4. More Sofar shows – Sofar Sounds puts on tons of great concerts in unique venues in Rochester. I love the surprise of a quirky venue and interesting live bands every time! Last year we saw shows at a motorcycle shop, the Public Market, the Brainery, a thrift store, and many more neat spots. I interviewed local Sofar leader Kelsey Delmotte for I Heart ROC last year, so if you’re curious about Sofar, that’s a great place to learn more!
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Megalodonis at the Public Market
  1. A trip West – Shockingly, my boyfriend and I have never traveled together. We’ve both traveled plenty separately, but we’ve never gone on a trip together! We’re hoping to make a trip out west this year since Tim has never been to some of the national parks out there.
  2. The Eastman Presents: Winter Spectacular – The four remaining concerts in the Eastman Presents series are sure to be amazing and delightful in totally different ways. There’s a Broadway star, a public radio figure, a philharmonic orchestra from Russia, and an incredible tap dancer. Damn!
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Photo via Eastman Theatre

Now time for some really exciting news… YOU, my loyal readers, have the opportunity to win tickets to each of these concerts in this fantastic series! I’m giving away a pair of tickets to each of the four remaining shows, so be sure to check back every couple weeks for the next giveaway.

The first concert of the series is Norm Lewis, who is known for his role as the first African American phantom in Phantom of the Opera on Broadway. I love Phantom. I listened to techno remixes of the soundtrack in high school- yes, I’m a nerd. I’m psyched to see him perform live next weekend!

To enter for a chance to win a pair of tickets to Norm Lewis: be sure you’re following me and the Eastman School on Twitter (@servemethesky and @eastmanschool) AND tweet me what your favorite concert is that you’ve ever seen. The winner will be announced Saturday morning!

What are you excited for in 2017? Any places I should check out? Let me know! And keep following along for more chances to win tickets to phenomenal performances in the Eastman Presents concert series.

North Winton Village 4 life

Please forgive my hiatus, folks! Not only did I become a first-time homeowner in the fall, but I also started a new job in November, and then the holidays came along. Needless to say, things have been busy! But here I am, eager and excited to tell you all about my new neighborhood.

If you’ve been following this blog for awhile, you’ll know that I formerly lived in the well-loved Park Ave neighborhood of Rochester. Parting with my apartment of three years was tinged with nostalgia, but honestly, no regrets. My new ‘hood is awesome.

After seeing many many houses, we ultimately chose to buy in the North Winton Village. This neighborhood is considered relatively up-and-coming, with the real estate market starting to pick up considerably each spring. House hunting was a stressful but fascinating process- our realtor, Sue Ververs, was a delight to work with and kept our spirits up during our lengthy search!

One of the things I’ve really been enjoying about the North Winton Village is the abundance of small businesses, with more popping up all the time. I’ll highlight a few of my new favorites here.

The Green House Cafe is a wonderful place with a great mission. It’s a coffee shop…in a green house…that provides employment for women recovering from addiction. That’s three great things in one! The food is pretty tasty too- the panini I had there recently was awesome.

We also recently discovered Tryon City Tavern. It had been on our list to try, and we’d heard good things, and I’m so glad we made it there! While the ambiance is lacking, the food is pretty incredible (and affordable). We had some seriously outstanding burgers and delicious apps last time we were there.

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Delectable.

Another favorite is the Ginger Lion. You may have heard of this joint- they got a fair amount of buzz when they opened in 2016. The ginger-haired owner makes all his own ice cream, and it is damn good. I even indulged in a sundae last time is there and it was worth every yummy calorie. I’m sure we’ll visit more in the summer once it’s a more weather-appropriate treat. For now, I’ll stick with the leftover Christmas cookies.

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Celebrating our first night as NWV residents!

And of course, the consistently tasty BBQ joint Sticky Lips is right up the road from us. It should be interesting to see what’s added to the micro-mall (though I’m not a fan of the new Burger King on Humboldt, tbh).

ARTISANworks is another local gem. It’s walking distance from our house, and full of tons of eclectic art! Even the ceilings are covered. It’s definitely a sensory overload when you visit, but that can be a good thing- it necessitates future visits to immerse yourself in the art!

Also, the Winton Library is like a 3 minute walk from our house, so it’s been pretty great to become a library patron again! Other perks of the neighborhood? It’s quiet, the neighbors are friendly, and the street parking is less chaotic than in other areas of the city.

Plus, it’s still super close to downtown and walkable to many local establishments- we’ve walked to Maker’s Studio and the Rochester Brainery without any trouble- it barely takes 20 minutes. We absolutely love where we ended up. If you’re thinking about buying a home in #ROC someday, I’d highly recommend the North Winton Village!

A Much-Needed Break of Reality

Last week I was lucky enough to attend the opening of the Eastman Presents concert series, featuring the talented cello rock group, Break of Reality. I’ll let you catch up- I know that’s a lot to take in. Yes, a cello rock group. And they’re amazing. If you need convincing of that fact, check out their semi-famous (and by semi-famous, I mean 12 million views on YouTube semi-famous) cover of the Game of Thrones theme.

The group was founded in 2003 when the original members were freshmen at the Eastman School of Music. It was a very special night for them to return to Eastman to play a kickass show for a huge, appreciative crowd. Ivan Trevino, their percussionist, did most of the talking that night (because, as he joked, his instrument doesn’t require nearly as much tuning as the rest of the group’s). I was struck by how incredibly humble and grateful he and his bandmates seemed- it was pretty moving to witness.

For one piece, Trevino brought his friends on stage, Michael Burritt and Aaron Staebell, who performed with the group a marimba duet that Trevino himself had composed. It was so cool to see teacher and student performing together- a true testament to a) the relationships built at Eastman and b) the talent cultivated there.

I really didn’t know what to expect when seeing this group perform, but damn, they exceeded whatever expectations I may have had in my brain. I loved their original stuff as much as (if not more than!) their covers. Helix and Star were some of my favorites. I became such a gushing fan that I even had to buy their album! Peruse their YouTube and Spotify pages if you’re interested in taking a deeper dive into their epic music.

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This wasn’t the first time I attended a show as part of the Eastman Presents Series! Last year I saw the Ukulele Orchestra of Great Britain, and they killed it. If you’re curious about what other shows Eastman Presents is bringing to town this year, be sure to check out their website! Break of Reality was pretty stoked to be featured in the same concert series as Renee Fleming (! she’ll be here in November). Personally, Savion Glover has piqued my interest!

 

Whenever I’m in the Kodak Hall at Eastman Theatre, I look around and try to remember how lucky we are to have this beautiful gem in Rochester. Sometimes it’s easy to take for granted, but when I’m physically in that space, I just sit in awe and take in the beauty and the luxury. It’s gorgeous. Sometimes I can’t believe that I performed on that stage in both high school and college, or that I walked across it to receive my master’s degree. I’m so grateful for Eastman, for music, and the vibrant arts community in Rochester.

Roc Fringe Recap

Just a few years ago, I was hardly familiar with the Fringe Festival. Now #RocFringe is in its 5th year and it’s probably my favorite festival in Rochester, the one I anticipate most eagerly. I’ve actually been to this festival for 4 out of its 5 years of existence, so I’m pretty pleased with myself for getting onboard with Fringe early!

I remember dancers flying around on the side of buildings in September 2015. I remember watching a giant tricycle covered in steampunks and surrounded by stiltwalkers slowly rolling through MLK Park in September 2014. #rocfringe13 doesn’t feel as close and familiar to me, but I know I went because I wrote it on my calendar!

#rocfringe16 was truly one for the books! I wrote a Yelp review of it, but this post is going to be a deeper dive. I was especially hyped up for it this year’s festival because I had the privilege of interviewing their creative director, Matt DeTurck, for I Heart ROC. I felt like I had a sneak peak at Fringe and was super excited for the festival as a result!

This year I went to 10 Fringe events! 10! I’m astounded at my own Fringeyness! My #rocfringe16 experience was comprised of:

  1. The opening night Launch Party (quite epic!), which I was invited to because of my work with I Heart ROC.
  2. Cirque de Fringe: Miracle Cure
  3. STREB
  4. The Yellowjackets
  5. KOPPS
  6. Brawling Bard’s “A Dream of Midsummer”
  7. Ruts! The Oregon Trail Experience
  8. Hands Full of Shakespeare
  9. Spooky Stories in the Stacks
  10. Remote Rochester
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There really is something for everyone!

A little bit of everything! Fantastic live music, plenty of Shakespeare, and an existential walk through my city. While Rochester is certainly a city with plenty of culture- arts, music, and theatre, galore- Fringe pushes it to the next level! It’s all the ultra-quirky, eccentric stuff that you don’t normally get to see, and that often winds up being the stuff I appreciate the most.

I’ll highlight a few of my favorites here. Cirque de Fringe was impeccable. I couldn’t wrap my head around how fabulous it was! It was hilariously funny- when I left I seriously struggled to remember the last time I had laughed so hard. Plus, there were incredible feats of strength by talented female acrobats, an amazing plate spinner, and even a cute baby on stage! I’d highly recommend whatever cirque show ends up in the beautiful Spiegeltent. It’s sure to astonish and impress you!

The KOPPS show was basically the embodiment of the one hundred emoji. KOPPS was perfection. Parcel 5 was an epic venue. It had cleared out a bit by the time KOPPS took the stage, but their performance was still powerful and fun. Patricia & co. killed it. They even played some new songs, which were fantastic! Usually when a band plays a new song I’m a bit sad, since you can’t sing along, but I really enjoyed all of the new stuff and was psyched to get to hear it.

Brawling Bard’s performance was an unexpected fave! That’s the wonderful thing about Fringe Festival- you tend to go into things without knowing too much, so it’s easy to be pleasantly surprised! I figured hey, it’s Shakespeare and my dad wants to go, so I’m in. This theatre troupe infused Shakespeare with tons of of comedy. I got to be a fairy for Titania, so that was pretty cool too! I won’t give away too much about this one since I imagine they take a similar approach with most of their performances. Suffice it to say if you see Brawling Bard perform, they WILL make you laugh!

While we’re in the vein of sheer silliness, Ruts! The Oregon Trail experience was absolutely ridiculous…and awesome. This had a unique venue, too–the theatre at the Strong Museum! Don’t expect a high production value or superbly polished performance if you happen to catch Ruts! on the road. What you can expect, though, is goofy songs, off-key singing and ukulele strumming, and characters spontaneously falling over due to typhoid or broken legs. Plus, steak pillows. Yes, you read that correctly. Raw and cooked. If you played Oregon Trail as a kid, this will definitely bring you back to your childhood.

Last but not least…let’s talk about Remote Rochester.

Remote Rochester has been a thing of mystery to me. I’ve heard of it, but I haven’t heard much about it. People are pretty good about keeping the secrets of it so newbies can enjoy the full experience when they go for the first time. All I knew when we bought our tickets was that we’d be wandering around with headphones on and a voice in our heads telling us some existential stuff.

That turned out to be a pretty accurate perception, actually. What I didn’t expect, though, was to ride an RTS bus for the first time, to become an audience member in a play, a member of a horde, then a herd, to do ballet in a nearly empty building, to race down a city block, or to form silent friendships with people I’d never met, whose names I still do not know.

Our group leader indicated that we were on the very last Remote Rochester ever. It sounds like it’s being discontinued so the festival can continue to keep things fresh and new. Nonetheless, I’ll avoid spoilers and specifics just in case they ever revive it for a limited run. I’ll just share a few photos so you can have a sense of what this philosophical journey through the city was like.

#RemoteRochester was the happy conclusion of our #rocfringe16 experience. I sure hope this festival continues to thrive, because I think it injects the city with some of our crucial fuel- creativity, energy, passion, and enthusiasm. We have this in leaps and bounds, but Fringe is a wonderful exhibition of these traits. Long live Fringe!

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Thank you for bringing me this beautiful view of our beautiful city!

Ode to Westminster Road

For the past three years, I’ve lived in the Park Ave area in Rochester, NY. Park Ave is highly beloved by Rochesterians, and it was just the right place for me to be in my early twenties. At the end of August, I said goodbye to the old and the familiar and left the half house I had rented for so long (hence the lack of blogging!). This post is meant as a final farewell to Westminster Road. I’m going to reminisce a bit, but will also discuss some of the pros and cons of living in the Park Ave area as a young adult.

Fond Memories

I moved into my apartment on Westminster Road in September 2013. I was living with a friend from high school who I hadn’t stayed in close touch with throughout our college years. It turned out to be a fantastic decision. I was nervous at first about moving in with someone I didn’t know all that well, but it couldn’t have worked out any better. We read books on the porch together. We drank wine and talked about how our days went. We watched Mad Men. We talked about boys and life and our careers and our goals and the future. In my mind, those were the golden days at Westminster Road.

We had some awesome parties (not ragers) in this apartment. Everything from Halloween to ugly sweater, from New Year’s to the Super Bowl. I remember people sitting on the floor in the kitchen because there weren’t enough chairs and couches to sit on! I remember people showing up who I didn’t even know! I remember eating lots of cookies and dips and laughing a lot. We meant to throw a goodbye party but we ran out of time and were too ambivalent about the apartment by that point to give it a proper sendoff.

I’ll also always remember walking all over creation from this most excellent location on Westminster Road. We walked to Fringe Festival, Ugly Duck, Fuego Coffee, Makers Studio, Joe Bean, Cobbs Hill, Roam, RMSC, the MAG. Everywhere! We love taking long walks in the evening (yes, like an old married couple), so we had our little route and enjoyed people watching and scoping out all the beautiful old houses (and catching pokemon along the way). I’ll miss walking in the Park Ave area- it’s not the same when you’re not a resident. It’s not “yours” anymore.

The Pros

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The windowseat, in all its glory.

There was a windowseat. This was my favorite part of the apartment. When I first came over to see it, that was the main thing that sold me. I sat on the windowseat chatting with old friends I hadn’t seen in years, and I knew I would enjoy many books on that big, comfy windowseat.

The details. You know, sometimes it’s the little things. My old roommate really loved the old school lights in our apartment. Most of the lights were buttons you pushed instead of switches you flicked. There was a green tiled fireplace (lord knows why; my boyfriend lived on Goodman Street for a few years and his fireplace had identical green tiles) with a lovely mantle and built-in bookshelfs with some really nice molding. Those kinds of things made living in the apartment more bearable when our love for it started to fade.

The chandeliers. What twenty-something can say they’ve lived in an apartment with chandeliers? I don’t think it’s all that common- but it might be if you’re renting in the Park Ave area. We had two really pretty light fixtures, one in the foyer and one in the living room. It looked slightly more 21st-century when you were laying on the floor doing yoga and staring up at the 2016 lightbulbs, though.

 

The porch. The porch at Westminster was #porchgoals. We lived in a 2-bedroom in the front half of the house, so we were lucky enough to get the whole front porch to ourselves! It was huge! We’d eat dinner out there, drink wine, read books, do grad school work. People watch. All the essentials! I feel lucky to have a porch at my new place, so I’m not too sad about losing the Westminster porch.

Roof access. This wasn’t the biggest thing, by any means, but when I first moved in I thought it was pretty darn cool that I could go sit on the roof anytime I liked. If you opened the decrepit windows wide enough, you could squeeze out onto the roof so you’d be sitting directly above the porch. I read books up there, worked remotely, and even watched Little Miss Sunshine through my neighbors’ windows. The novelty wore off eventually, but it was fun for awhile.

The Cons

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Goodbye! I won’t miss you.

The bathroom. This place had a wee little jack-and-jill bathroom between the two bedrooms. Not a huge problem at all, but it was SO TINY! I can’t count the number of times that I dropped my toothpaste, toothbrush, retainers, or contact lenses in the toilet. Seriously, I don’t think I can count that high.

The kitchen. It was…dated. To say the least. The garbage disposal sparked every time we ran it and usually failed to grind up the food that was in there. The fridge was loud. The oven ran way too hot. The paint colors were a bit garish- yellow with blue trim. The saddest looking cabinets you can imagine. Endearing initially, but definitely old after awhile. Plus, nowhere near enough counter space for two people to cook together. Sad!

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Our parking space was full of weeds (but also flowers).

Parking. Parking at Westminster was no fun. Anyone who’s lived in the Park Ave area knows that parking can be a pain in the butt- alternating sides is annoying and confusing. We had one driveway spot, and our neighbors had two. Our neighbors constantly tried to fit 3-4 cars back there, and it was NOT FEASIBLE. They tore up the lawn and we were constantly fearing for our cars’ well-being.

The neighbors. At least 4 different sets of people cycled through the back apartment in the 3 years I lived in the front unit. The last set I encountered was by far the worst. While my landlord told me he’d filled it with “some young professionals recently out of college,” he might as well have just said “22 year olds who love beer pong and the Bachelorette.” You run that risk living in Park Ave- it’s become a college area more and more in recent years. These girls, though, took rude and disrespectful to a new level. Tim and I grew to fear the sound of the vacuum cleaner because we knew it meant they were having a 6+ hour party. We woke up to a lot of beer cans on the lawn on a lot of Saturday mornings.

The landlord. Some landlords are good, some landlords are bad. We had one of the not-good ones. I’m sure he’d classify himself as a good guy, but he is one of the laziest humans I’ve ever met. I won’t go into too much detail here, but this dude would not fix ANYTHING and always had an excuse for why it wasn’t necessary or why he didn’t have the time.

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So, I’ve moved on! Farewell, Westminster Road. We had a lot of good memories together. I keep wondering if the neighbors across the street and on either side will notice I’m gone. I watched the guy across the street and to the right talking on his phone out on his porch at all hours of the day; I pet his dog in a snowstorm. I liked watching our neighbors directly across from us throw nice parties and let their dog HR Fluffenstuff (not its real name, we made it up) come out to say hello to the guests. I enjoyed sharing a silent nod with the silver fox who lived to our right. Will they miss the presence of the 20-something on the porch of the yellow house with red shutters, book in one hand and glass of wine in the other? I’ll never know.

It’s time to go make new memories in my new home.