The O-town Scene

December 29, 2011

The O-town Scene - Oneonta, NY

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Living Long and Prospering |by Sam Spokony My Top Five Moments of 2011 5 Playing LiveLIVE! I just write about music now; and even though I still have a decent guitar collection, I can say without regret that my playing days are in the past. But my last show with my band, Kakiat Park, made all those years spent lugging amps around for no pay worth it. While the LiveLIVE! Music and Arts Festi- val (formerly known as Heady Fest) isn't MSG, it's Oneonta's most awesome annual event for live music, and playing it in 2011 was, I think, a kind of career moment for all five of us. They're going to keep performing, and I'm going to stick to doing interviews, but I'll always remember being under that festival tent for one final, solid, half-hour set. 4 Meeting Bernard Aptekar Contributed Artist and musician Bernard Aptekar Around this time last year, I recalled some incredible musicians I had the privilege of seeing perform late in life. This time, I found that same power- ful spirit in a visual artist from SoHo. I interviewed Bernard for a feature in a Manhattan weekly newspaper, and, while the whole thing could've taken a half hour, I spent about half of the day in his apartment. He's 75 now, and he speaks in riddles that may or may not be intentional. He seems even smaller and more hunched over when he walks next to the immense freestand- ing sculptures he's cut and filled with color over the decades. His work certainly isn't well known, but, to me, it's singular in its brashness, vibrancy and artistic balance. With images, he comments on war, contemporary imperialism, fear and technological development, and he meets each with a grave stare. But he still made me laugh, and he laughs at himself. That's something I'll always continue to search for within my own work. 3 Learning London To be honest, I had no idea what to expect when I arrived 6 O-Town Scene Dec. 29, 2011 in London four months ago to study at City University. Immersing oneself in a strange culture is psychologi- cally challenging on a few different levels, but it offers so many new and exciting dimen- sions of thought, and I wouldn't trade my time here — as well as the many diverse people I now call friends — for anything in the world. I've seen some sights and done a few touristy things over the course of my stay, but I've also done a whole lot of wandering throughout London. It's led me to places and ideas I'd never really taken the time to engage with party to on July 24. And even though I wrote in my column here that I'm more concerned with the general trend of equality than stopping to celebrate individual Associated Press In this July 25 file photo, Candy Casey, left, kisses Diane Wnek, right, after a group same-sex marriage in Niagara Falls. New York became the sixth and largest state to recognize same-sex marriage. over the last 21 years of my life. It's been fun, and so unpre- dictable. And the thing about entering these situations with no reservations and a blank slate on which to write is that you end up with something kind of weirdly tangible to carry with you — not like a vacation or a collection of travel photos but like a freshly furnished mental library, or an unlocked chest of treasures that you've found hidden in plain sight, overflowing. The world sure is crazy! 2 Gay marriage in New York The fact that I'm not gay didn't stop me from appreciating the monumental civil rights achievement New Yorkers were landmarks, you don't reach a destination with- out making the small steps that its long journey requires. I was writing in down- town Manhattan when the bill for marriage equality passed, and I can still clearly recall what I saw the morning after this year's Gay Pride March, when I got off the PATH train and walked to work. It was at the Chris- topher Street station, just down the block from the Stonewall Inn and the heart of the modern gay rights movement. Confetti still littered the streets, the flags were still flying, and it felt as if we actually had come an inch or two closer to understanding what it means to love one another. 1 Occupying history If you've been reading me at all over the past couple of months, you've noticed that I've taken great pleasure in being able to personally support the Occupy movement here in London. I'm not going to talk politics or activism here because that's not really my bag. Suffice it to say that, amid all the depressingly apocalyptic images we've been bombarded with in 2011, it's been nice to hang around a bunch of people who don't mind putting it all on the line just to draw attention to some of the most important questions this generation has yet to answer. And it's still a good time to be alive. New York Council Member Ydanis Rodriguez, second from right, marches with Occupy Wall Street protesters before an at- tempted re- occupation of a vacant lot beside Duarte Park, Saturday, Dec. 17, in New York. Associated Press Sam Spokony is a senior majoring in English and music industry at SUNY Oneonta. He spent the fall semester studying in London.

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