Saturday, October 31, 2020

Halloween in Fall Creek, Ithaca

The Fall Creek neighborhood is usually the epicenter of Halloween celebrations in Ithaca. Hundreds of families from other neighborhoods and towns spill into the neighborhood to trick or treat. Little spidermen, witches, spiders, robots, ghouls, bumblebees, lions, tigers, and bears crowd the sidewalks going from house to house and collecting candy into their bulging pillowcases. Residents elaborately decorate their front porches to welcome the visitors. Pumpkins, willowy ghosts floating from trees, skeletons coming out of the ground, whole graveyards in front yards create the spooky Halloween atmosphere.

This year is quite different. There are still decorated porches and front yards, but it's much quieter, with many fewer children and teenagers out trick or treating. Some households decided to offer treats, but used safe methods to deliver candy. A favorite method, suggested by those discussing Halloween in the neighborhood listserve, was the candy shute - a long pipe down the front stairs, with candy sliding down it into the waiting hands of children. 

And then there was the bicycle parade - bikes and trikes ridden by people in costumes, both children and adults, some carrying frames with the sun and the planets glowing in the darkness, a caterpillar in several segments, a giant picture book, a bowling pin, and strings of lights. The parade began at the end of my street and then drove through the neighborhood down to the Commons and then back. 

Welcoming skeleton

Political pumpkins

Decorated porch

Giant tarantula

Masked caterpillar

Cat Tales glowing book

Circus caravan

Thursday, October 29, 2020

Suspect in antisemitic hate crimes arrested in Ithaca.

The police today arrested a person whom they suspect of antisemitic harassment in Ithaca in the last couple of weeks. When they searched his residence, they found more hate posters and bomb-making materials. I had feared that he was going to move on from posters and graffiti to physical violence.

From Ithaca Voice (go there for there for the whole story):

ITHACA, N.Y. –– The Ithaca Police Department has internally identified a suspect after at least three businesses in downtown Ithaca were vandalized with anti-Semitic and racist graffiti and posters over the weekend. Upon investigation, police uncovered materials for homemade explosives and firearms at the suspect's residence and at another "undisclosed location."

This weekend's crimes followed a similar incident last week that included the defacement of a sign outside a local chiropractor's office.

At this time the suspect is not being named, and their status is unknown except for that they are, "not out in the community," according to an IPD press release. However, police did say in their release that they plan to pursue multiple counts of Criminal Mischief in the fourth degree as a Hate Crime.

One of the hate posters is below. There's a threat of violence on the left-hand side: "Guns are the only way to smoke your predators," next to the photo of a pistol. This poster was glued over the Black Lives Matter sign on Moosewood Restaurant a couple of days ago. 

The Sunny Days store on the Commons was also defaced with spray-painted hate symbols, and more of these posters, and last week, an anti-racist banner on a chiropractor's office on Court Street was blocked out by the word "kike." (The sign originally said "End White Silence," and the owner had it repainted, but then the vandal tore the whole banner down).

Press release from the Ithaca Police Department:

Sunday, October 25, 2020

End White Silence - fighting against racism and antisemitism.

The repainted sign on Court Street in Ithaca.

A visit to Taughannock Falls

I went to Taughannock Falls yesterday afternoon with a friend. The falls are 215 feet high, higher than Niagara Falls (but nowhere near as wide!). We're having the last of the fall weather and the trees have shed most of their leaves, but there were still some colors there yesterday. We didn't expect a lot of people there, but there were many people coming and going to the Falls - fortunately, almost all of them were masked and they generally kept socially distanced. 

Wednesday, October 21, 2020

Why the rogue cloud appeared over Jerusalem

 From the Facebook page of Yerushamayim, the Jerusalem weather site -

"Someone said: sometimes Jerusalem is the center of the world"

And the explanation from Boaz (who runs the Yerushamayim site) - translation by Rahel Jaskow

A rogue cloud in Jerusalem

It rained in Jerusalem today - the first rain of the fall, an exciting event in Israel, where it doesn't rain all summer.

The rest of the country was dry, and the rain was not predicted by the forecasters.

Rogue cloud treats Jerusalem to first surprise shower of season

A freakishly hot summer in Jerusalem is being capped by a freak rainstorm that has swept across the city, bringing showers and joy to the capital.

The rainstorm is freakish not for the time of year — in fact it’s a bit late for the first rain of the season — but because it appears to have come out of nowhere.

Forecasts for Tuesday called for unseasonably warm weather and partially cloudy skies. The storm appears to be the result of a single large cloud that sneaked across the city.

“One cloud (the sky is clear nationwide) throws off all the models,” tweets the amateur meteorologist behind the popular Yerushamayim weather site, which crashes thanks to the storm.

“Fine, you caught me with my pants down. You don’t need to bring down the site,” he adds.

The first rain of the season is always an event in Israel, where the dry season lasts from mid-spring until early fall.

Antisemitism is alive and well in Ithaca, New York


Defaced sign on a friend's business in downtown Ithaca. "End White Silence," and the word "Kike" written over "Silence."

Ithaca is a liberal small city in a conservative area of upstate New York. There have been some right-wing demonstrations here lately, mostly for "Blue Lives Matter." I've seen other racist graffiti in downtown in the last few months, and recently the "Black Lives Matter" mural on nearby streets was defaced (see entry below). In Ithaca in the 1980s, there were some antisemitic incidents when a notorious antisemite and Holocaust denier was living here (he's no longer here, thank goodness).

I hope we can find out who did this and call them out for their antisemitism and racism.

Monday, October 12, 2020

It tolls for thee.

The first death of a person from Covid in Tompkins County just occurred today. The person was 95 years old. The name hasn't been released. May their memory be for a blessing for family and friends.

No man is an island,
Entire of itself,
Every man is a piece of the continent,
A part of the main.
If a clod be washed away by the sea,
Europe is the less.
As well as if a promontory were.
As well as if a manor of thy friend's
Or of thine own were:
Any man's death diminishes me,
Because I am involved in mankind,
And therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls;
It tolls for thee.
--- John Donne

Monday, October 05, 2020

Black Lives Mural in Ithaca defaced last night and then repainted today.

Here in Ithaca, NY, on August 22, a beautiful Black Lives Matter mural was painted on Plain Street, at the intersection with State/Martin Luther King Street), by a whole group of people. I still haven't had a chance to look at it but I have seen photos of it. (See here for a photo series of the mural painting).

This is what the mural looked like soon after it was originally painted on the street (photo taken by a drone):

Yesterday afternoon there was a pro-Trump, "Blue Lives Matter" demonstration in downtown Ithaca (this was the second one - the first one was last week or the week before).

Late last night/early Sunday morning, at 3:30 am, a group of people went to the BLM mural and defaced it with gobs of black paint, which they then spread over the word "Black," so that it read "Lives Matter." (A security camera on the street filmed them doing it). 

Here's a couple of stills, showing part of the mural already defaced:

Today, the defaced portion of the mural was beautifully repainted.

I hope there won't be any more attempts to deface it and take away the important message that Black lives do matter. This statement doesn't exclude people of other races or ethnicities, but asserts that in the United States, where Black lives have for so long not mattered, it's necessary to work against racism and for racial justice.

Articles about the vandalism and the repainting: