Thursday, July 29, 2010

the 30,000+ piece cookie table

good video from the local nbc station.

big Cookie Table news to be announced soon. Stay tuned.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

the procession of le bandieri and L'Immacolata

Sunday's festivities across town included a wonderful historical tradition now revived - the procession of le bandieri and L'Immacolata, occurring today at the 2010 Our Lady of Mt. Carmel Festival.

Just adjacent to the downtown, the festival brought a procession of incense, music, a carried statue, flags of the regions of Italy, and honored guests.

A video of the festivities:

And some sights today from around the beautiful church:

I love these steps descending onto the bocce courts.

side note: anyone have a census of all the bocce courts in Youngstown?

The Festival ends Sunday. Stop on in and get some good eats.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

and then there were five

Yesterday's announcement that the Sparkle grocery store on Gypsy Lane will close on July 31st eliminates another grocery store in the city.

In fact, the full-service market was the last remaining on the North Side.

With the abandonment of Giant Eagle from the city in 2008, there are only five remaining full-service grocery stores in Youngstown:

- West Side Sparkle Market (corner of Mahoning and Belle Vista)
- Cornersburg Sparkle Market (Meridian Avenue)
- South Side Save-A-Lot (South Avenue)
- Lincoln Knolls Save-A-Lot (McCartney Road)
- Lincoln Knolls IGA (McCartney Road)

In the press release regarding the closing, store owner Charles Zander claimed...
"Most significantly, the recent opening of a WalMart Super Center nearby created enormous pressure within the competitive environment of the Belmont business district. At the same time, the national trend by consumers to favor corporately owned grocery conglomerates has made it nearly impossible for independent grocers to compete in markets where quality and service are secondary to cut-rate product pricing."
While there may be additional reasons for closure, the economic realities of good, neutral, and bad money in terms of economic development need to be reinforced:
Economic development involves three types of money.

"Good money" comes from businesses that trade outside your region. They generate wealth. (Turning Technologies, other YBI companies, and numerous local exporters fall under this category)

"Neutral money" comes from businesses that circulate revenues within an economy. (You buy haircuts from me, and I buy ice cream from you.)

"Bad money" comes from business transactions that export wealth from an economy. Many people correctly think that Wal-Mart falls into this category.
I'm not going to use the rest of this space to continue beating up Wal-Mart, and the errors of Liberty Township officials to claim Wal-Mart development is true economic development.

But in the very near future, North Siders and other residents will be left with a choice:

Will you now shop at Giant Eagle and Wal-Mart, or will you spend your money at local supermarkets within our city?

The grocery stores are listed above.

The economic choice is yours.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

metro monthly produces Paramount Theater video with inside picts - but a question . . .

Kudos to Ron F. over at Metro Monthly for arranging some gorgeous shots of the Paramount Theater into this short video.

The Theater made news this morning as city council agreed to purchase the structure for $80,000.

Note the interior pictures are from 2007, more than three years ago. The interior now in 2010 is much much much worse.

- - -

However, the current state of the Paramount Theater is directly attributable to not protecting the interior of the building from the environment.

By not repairing a hole in the roof years ago, rain and snow and wind penetrate the building and just destroys it.

At that point, there's not much left to do other than look around and say "well, there's nothing salvageable in that building" or "that will cost way too much to rehab now".

Just like many problems, if you don't take the small steps early on, they grow into large headaches into the future.

- - -

So here is the question:

What other buildings in our region/city are at risk because the small things aren't being done to protect their interiors?

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

three performances within the week at Morley Pavilion, right next to the livable Rocky Ridge neighborhood

There's a gem on the West Side of Youngstown used once per week this time of year as part of Mill Creek Park's Summerfest Concert Series.

Tucked just off of McCollum Road in the Wick Recreation Area, the Judge Morley Pavilion is a great setting for outdoor concerts and various performances.

The space, adjacent to the very livable Rocky Ridge Neighborhood, will be used three times within the next week - all for free performances.

Wednesday, July 21 7pm
- Mifune, world indie music

Friday, July 23 7pm - WAR, national recording artist

Sunday, July 25 5pm - FX Project, blues
Sunday, July 25 7pm - Rainbow Tribe, jam band

here are some videos from last Wednesday's concert of the Shaffer Brothers, a great irish music band:

Click here to see Mill Creek Park's Summerfest calendar for the wholes season - from June through September.

Remember, three this week!

Friday, July 16, 2010

rust_rococo = undressing a sensual aesthetic from the ruin around us

a new chapter in a long history of youngstown art begins Friday.

introducing ... rust_rococo

Filling a reconfigured space within downtown youngstown, the gallery's first show will highlight:

"...the lush, the curvaceous, the vibrant, the smooth, the solid, and the sexual from apparent barrenness.

What these artists create is a new aesthetic of abandon.

They indulge.

Rejecting the macabre pantomime of aimless nostalgia and refusing to be overcome by the heavy shadow of memory and doubt, these artists invigorate and reconquer how we understand our wasted landscape.

By doing so, they expose how our rust can empower, not suffocate, our future."

starting at 7pm at the LG, the exhibition will feature the works of:

Jimmy Pernotto
Justin Reese
Jimmy Hagan
Leslie Cusano
Steve Poullas
Don Attenberger
Salem Reese
Aimee Kirby

Kudos to the organizer of this event.

From the διασπορά in Europe, another son has returned to create the city.

- - -

Similar to others about town, this exhibition highlights how many segments of Youngstown have really embraced the term "rust belt" for self-identification.

The term now lacks a purely negative connotation.

It's a design perspective.
It's a sense of place.
It's a call of identity.

Just look at some of the local entities:
- Artists of the Rust Belt (link)
- Rust Belt Brewing Co. (link and link)
- Rust Belt Theater Company (link)
- Rust_Rococo
- Rust Belt Bloggers
- Rusty Waters Apparel (check out their shirts - sweet design below is copyrighted)

here's the question:

is this a long-term movement and a redefintion nationwide, or is it a short-lived localized marketing effort?

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

mid-July circumnavigation of the new Williamson Business School


Just a three-minute walk from the Youngstown Business Incubator downtown, the new building for the Williamson College Business at YSU is almost complete.

The fences are down.
The trees are planted.
The sidewalks are poured.

Let's take a look at the almost-completed exterior from a few different angles...

now let's make our way clockwise around the building...

this video shows a pan across Wood Street...

Also next door, "Our Family", a new downtown restaurant specializing in soul food and puerto rican food is coming along.

The folks from "Our Family" were serving up some food at the recent Summer Festival of the Arts.

Mac n' cheese, collard greens, pastelillos, and tostones are all on the menu.

With outdoor seating available, the restaurant will be open for lunch and dinner every weekday.

According to the Our Family menu, three tostones for a buck.

I can't even get that from My Family.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

every. single. second. of this music video was filmed within the city of youngstown

from the very talented Chris Rutushin:

Youngstown neighborhoods.
Youngstown houses.
Youngstown rooftops.
Youngstown people.

Youngstown talent.

Thursday, July 08, 2010

holy volney rodgers! there's a lot going on this weekend

this is a HUGE weekend of stuff going on.

Multiple events across multiple locations. A sequence of days where one just leaves the house and you hop from event to event getting home a few days later.

- kickoff of St. Nicholas' Greek Fest downtown (till Sunday)
- Polish Happy Hour

- Party on the River, Kravitz Deli/Rust Belt Brewing Co. at the B&O (live music)
- Slovenefest XXIX, in SNPJ (all weekend)
- Electra the play at the Rust Belt Theater Company (and Saturday)


- Smoky Hollow Fun Run/Walk (Harrison Commons)
- first Northside Farmers Market of the season (Wick Park)
- Youngstown Jazz Festival, downtown
- YSU Summer Festival of the Arts, on campus

- public bike run 10-25 miles thru Mill Creek Park
- downtown closed course bike races, Tour of the Valley
- YSU Summer Festival of the Arts, on campus

Wednesday, July 07, 2010

an abridged history of the borough of SNPJ, and my first trip to Slovenefest

I have been waiting to tell this story for almost a year now.

It's about a trip to an ethnic festival located in the smallest municipality in the state of Pennsylvania, and the history of that place with the quirky name.

Introducing ... the borough of S.N.P.J. PA.

Located 15 miles southeast from the city of Youngstown, the jurisdiction lies just off the Ohio-Pennsylvania line.

population: 14
population during its annual Slovenefest celebration: a couple thousand

- - -

The land which one day would become the 500 acre community of S.N.P.J. has its roots in the award provided from the U.S. Government in 1786 to Andrew Marker, for his service during the revolutionary war.

S.N.P.J. actually stands for "Slovenska Narodna Podporna Jednota", or the "Slovene National Benefit Society". Formed in 1904, this non-profit organization promotes Slovenian culture, sells annuities and life insurance, and awards scholarships among other activities. It is one of many valuable ethnic fraternal organizations in this country that built its wealth through labor, pride, and babkas.

Fast forward to 1915 when Jacob and Louisa Serjak, a Slovenian family from nearby Bessemer PA, purchased the land and farmed it for 40 years.

In 1963, S.N.P.J. purchased the land and was turning the space into a retreat for its membership. Over the years infrastructure was added such as pavilions, a swimming pool, a banquet center, a man-made lake, etc.

Here's the neat part (as explained to me by S.N.P.J. members last year) of the story:

The township on which the farm/retreat resided was North Beaver Township in Lawrence County, which has some limitations on the sale of alcohol. Since the fine members wanted to enjoy a brew now and then, the 500 acre farm succeeded from the county in 1977 and thus gained more control over the ability to serve liquor.

And thus, the borough of S.N.P.J., the smallest community in the commonwealth of Pennsylvania, was born.

- - -

Every July, the population of S.N.P.J. explodes as they celebrate their annual Slovenefest, in 2010 now in it's 29th year. (that's Slovenefest XXIX for you Romans out there)

Think of this event as an ethnic Woodstock or Bonnaroo, with four live polka stages spread throughout the farm playing at once - with ethnic food, historical items, and good ol-fashioned summer goodness in all its forms and varieties.

What follows is a snapshot of last year's Slovenefest, showing you what one can expect this weekend, just a short drive from Youngstown.

Here's the entrance to S.N.P.J., the "smallest town with the longest name"...

The man-made lake:

The view from the old barn, with the tents in the background:

ethnic t-shirts:

Inside the main building, a Slovenian museum:

Lace-making demonstration:

A painting of a man and his accordion:

Slovenian clothes for sale:

Library of books in Slovenian:

Slovenian sundries for sale:

This shirt says it all:

The kids' section of the library:

One of the outside tents with polka music:

An accordion decorated with an eagle:

Kids going on a tour of the grounds:

Bocce courts:

Miss S.N.P.J. 1957:


An outdoor polka pavilion:

Waiting in line with ethnic clothes:

Meat on the spit:

The S.N.P.J. shrubbery:

this is just a sample of the sights from last year.

- - -

Don't let this post make you feel that S.N.P.J. is a one-time only place to visit. Events take place usually weekly, especially those of the musical variety.

Slovenefest, the ultimate in rust belt chic.