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Russ Tarby

Stories by Russ

Ophelia’s Place is much more than a café

We all enjoy Ophelia’s Place in its incarnation as Café at 407. It’s easy to dig the scene — couches and recliners complement the usual table-and-chairs — and the menu features gourmet coffees and baked goods, healthy soups, salads and sandwiches spiced by live music three evenings a week. But let’s not lose sight of the original purpose of Ophelia’s Place. Established about a decade ago, the non-profit organization aims to empower individuals and families to redefine beauty and health. Ophelia’s Place Director Jodie Wilson-Dougherty keeps the effort focused on increasing self-esteem, improving body image and introducing alternatives to what she calls “dangerous desires for perfection.”

Seeing red over seeing green

It may have been last century, but it wasn’t that many years ago when the Christmas season started on Thanksgiving. Then Santa Claus began appearing immediately after Halloween. And before long the malls all decked their halls the day after Labor Day… Now the same thing is happening to other — how shall we say it? — less-portentous holidays such as St. Patrick’s Day.

Sammys nominate Todd Hobin Band disc for Best Rock recording of 2012

Rock’n’roll will forever be identified with passions of youth, but that doesn’t stop aging rockers from strummin’ and shakin.’

Sammys tap Spadafore

Former Liverpool High School band director Jim Spadafore will be honored as Music Educator of the Year this week at the Syracuse Area Music Awards show. Spadafore, who lives on Second Street in the village, will receive his special Sammy at the 2013 Sammys Hall of Fame Induction dinner, at 7 p.m. Thursday, March 7, Upstairs at the Dinosaur Bar-B-Que, 246 W. Willow St. at the corner of North Franklin Street, in downtown Syracuse.

Fresh ink flows on Lower First Street

Monica’s becoming a fixture on First Street. Also known as Mona Leah Ridgeway, she worked for several months at the deli counter at Nichols Supermarket up at 327 First. Now instead of serving cold cuts, she’s piercing body parts at Black Sea Tattoo & Piercing down on Lower First Street, not far from the ever-popular CNY Yoga Center. “It’s a great location — 105 First St. — because we’re getting business from the yoga people,” Monica said last week. Apparently, there’s a relationship between dharma and dermals.

WSYR-TV station aired images of Liverpool theft suspect

Thanks to video technology, a man suspected of swiping three bottles of expensive vodka on Feb. 6, at Nichols Discount Liquor store in Liverpool, has been identified. An arrest warrant has been issued for Michael Bertrand, 55, who allegedly stole three bottles of Grey Goose vodka from the store at 301 First St. He can be seen on the store video recorded that Wednesday afternoon stuffing the bottles down his pants before stopping at the cash register to pay for an inexpensive liqueur bottle. The cost of the stolen bottles was about $125.

Last call for village bon vivant Bob Rotella

Bob Rotella was a real man-about-town. For more than 20 years I’d worked with Bob at WCNY-TV on Old Liverpool Road where I was a cameraman and he was engineer. Whenever something went wrong with my camera, Bob or one of his colleagues from Master Control would rush into the studio to fix it. Back in the 1970s, I’d run into Bob after work at Erie Boulevard East nightspots like Soo-Lin or Casa di Lisa where he enjoyed listening to jazz and rhythm & blues. Years later he became a fixture at the Dinosaur Bar-B-Que which was co-founded in 1988 by his son, Mike Rotella.

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Skaneateles native pens chamber-music tribute to the late Libba Cotten

Skaneateles native Greg Wanamaker will be presenting his chamber-music tribute to the late Libba Cotten at the Everson Museum of Art in Syracuse on Feb. 24.

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The magic of realism

Skilled cast fuels unstoppable ‘Streetcar’ at Shoppingtown

Tennessee Williams wrote “A Streetcar Named Desire” 66 years ago, but the play continues to transfix audiences with its unapologetic depiction of a family wracked by secrets and rocked by strife. Set in a lower-class New Orleans flat in the summer of 1947, “Streetcar” pits the “king of the castle,” Stanley Kowalski, against his visiting sister-in-law from Mississippi, Blanche DuBois.

Comatose car crash victim clings to life

When a young life ends abruptly because of illness, accident or murder, the tragedy of a life unlived haunts us all. Could there possibly be anything worse? Ask that question of Kristin Conway’s friends and family members. She had studied to become a medical assistant, but last fall her 28-year-old life essentially came to an end. But it didn’t. After a bone-crushing auto accident in which her brain stem was injured, Kristin fell into a coma. Neurosurgeons at Upstate University Hospital told the family that the young woman would never regain consciousness. Never.

Rockin’ Ron’s a devoted baseball booster

A couple of guys from the northern end of the county here were honored by the Syracuse Chiefs at the ballclub’s 53rd annual Hot Stove Dinner and Silent Auction last Friday, at the Holiday Inn Convention Center on Electronics Parkway.

Three added to Liverpool Housing Authority

At their monthly meeting on Jan. 23, Liverpool trustees appointed two new directors to the Liverpool Housing Authority which oversees the House at 807. The village board unanimously approved the appointments of Beverly and Douglas Wernet and Sandra Lovell, each to a term of five years.

Village vote may change: BOE commissioner asks villages to move elections to November

Onondaga County Board of Elections’ new Democratic Party commissioner, Dustin Czarny, is on a mission to move village elections to November. State law, he points out, gives villages the option of conducting elections in March, June or November. “The villages could all save money by moving their elections from March or June to the fall,” Czarny said. “We’re already running an election every November anyway.” In January, Czarny sent a letter to all 15 of Onondaga County’s villages requesting that they make the change.

Obama lets Wall Street shysters off the hook

Ever since Election Night 2008, millions of Americans including thousands here in Central New York, swell with pride at the fact that a black man now resides in the White House. Given our nation’s abysmal history of slavery, lynching, Jim Crow and countless other inequalities, it is rather amazing that a black man with a white mother and a Muslim name now leads our land. But those dazzled by the racial significance of his presidency remain blinded to one important fact: the color most important to Barack Hussein Obama is green.

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Hot Stove here Friday: Chiefs welcome IL president to baseball banquet

For 22 years, Randy Mobley has served as president of baseball’s International League. Mobley is scheduled to appear at The Syracuse Chiefs’ 53rd annual Hot Stove Dinner on Friday, Feb. 1, at the Holiday Inn Convention Center, on Electronics Parkway, in the town of Salina. The event begins at 5:30 p.m. with a silent auction of sports memorabilia, and the dinner program starts at 7 p.m.

Three Liverpool streets to get makeovers in April

Two projects designed to improve drainage on village streets are being planned for April. Liverpool Deputy Mayor Nick Kochan outlined the proposed work at the Jan. 23 village board meeting and suggested that trustees establish a $200,000 reserve fund to prepare to pay for the projects expected to cost between $575,000 and $600,000. At the corner of Balsam and Third streets, 1,500-linear feet of piping will be installed along with curbing, gutters and catch basins at an estimated cost of $250,000. Along Hiawatha Trail sanitary sewer repairs will be made, the road will be resurfaced and drainage maintained, at a cost estimated at between $287,000 and $350,000.

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Luba Lesser sings Sunday at January JazzFest at Mohegan Manor

She may have been raised in Russia, but vocalist Luba Lesser has a natural flair for the sounds of Brazil.

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THEATER REVIEW: Jazz Age pizzazz

‘Drowsy Chaperone’ is a mirthful musical about musicals

“The Drowsy Chaperone” is anything but sleepy.

High-school senior among three authors Saturday at L’pool Library

When she was an eighth-grader at Wellwood Middle School in Fayetteville, Emily Meidenbauer wrote her first novel. The initial chapters of “Right Where My Heart Should Be” were scribbled by hand into the middle-schooler’s spiral notebook. It took her three weeks to finish the 272-page story. That was four years ago. Since then Meidenbauer has penned two sequels to her touching story about a teenager named Eliza and her Aunt Brooke, a talented touring musician. Together, the older woman and her niece overcome tragedy by learning to how to heal and how to keep hope alive. Now a senior at Fayetteville-Manlius High School, Meidenbauer will be among three published authors appearing from 3 to 5 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 26, at Liverpool Public Library, 310 Tulip St.; lpl.org.457-0310. Meidenbauer’s second book is “A Little Different,” and her third is titled “Identity.”

B’ville thespians stage a mirthful musical about musicals

“The Drowsy Chaperone” is anything but sleepy. In fact, as staged by the Baldwinsville Theatre Guild, the show is as perky as a caffeinated chorine gushing with personality and pizzazz. Set in the Roaring Twenties, the Tony Award-winning musical showcases 17 upbeat performers directed by Stephfond Brunson and a swinging septet conducted by pianist Abel Searor.

Syracuse trumpeter appears on screen in ‘Lincoln’

Syracuse trumpeter Jeff Stockham – who performed at the Liverpool is The Place summer concert series last August in Johnson Park as a member of the Bear Cat Jass Band – now appears in the Academy Award-nominated movie “Lincoln” directed by Steven Spielberg. The widely acclaimed film is now showing in theaters across the country. In the movie Stockham portrays a musician in a 12-piece U.S. Marine Band performing at a 1864 flagpole dedication ceremony at which President Abraham Lincoln (played by Oscar-winner Daniel Day-Lewis) delivers a short speech. Several of Stockham’s friends and colleagues from the Federal City Brass Band and the Kentucky Baroque Trumpets completed the ensemble. The tune they perform in the flagpole scene is “We Are Coming, Father Abra’am.”

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Liverpool policeman excelled at traffic enforcement in 2012

Liverpool Police Office David Sturtz has received the Onondaga County Traffic Safety Advisory Board Overall Performance Award for his traffic enforcement efforts in the village last year. Sturtz accepted the award at the safety board’s Jan. 9 luncheon in Syracuse.

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Sixth annual L’pool Library Folk Music Series starts Jan. 20

In all cultures, dances inevitably inspire the composition and performance of music which befits the form and force of the dance. From primitive tribes to sophisticated societies, dances are an important part of courtship rituals, celebrations and artistic public performances. Without music, the expression of human movement — from bolero to ballet — would be all but impossible. With ensembles representing four ethnic dance traditions — African, Irish, Hispanic and Jewish — the sixth annual Liverpool Public Library Folk Music Series will both educate and entertain its audiences be presenting musicians rarely showcased in the suburbs of Upstate New York. All concerts at the library are free.

Joanie ignores ex-commissioners’ advice

Many people consider unrequested advice paternalistic and patronizing and as a result they not only ignore it, they’re actually offended by it. That’s how County Executive Joanie Mahoney reacted to the unsolicited advice offered in November by the three ex-commissioners of Onondaga County Parks. Still “dismayed” by Mahoney’s 2009 appointment of her cousin, Bill Lansley, as parks commissioner, the three former parks czars wrote the county exec an open letter. They pleaded with her to appoint someone with real parks experience as deputy commissioners.

The cold clichés of winter

Ah, the white stuff! As Dean Martin warbles “Let it snow, let it snow, let it snow,” Old Man Winter dumps a foot on us the night of the day after Christmas. The past year came in like a lamb and went out like a lion. So wake up! Winter’s here! Smart mammals hibernate. Humans shovel.

East Syracuse, Liverpool formalizing shared-services agreement

The informal agreement between the villages of Liverpool and East Syracuse which returned Don Morris to Liverpool as its part-time chief has been favorably reviewed by officials from both villages. East Syracuse Village Attorney Robert Germain is now writing an inter-municipal agreement to formalize the shared-services arrangement. Before becoming official, the new agreement will need to be approved by both Liverpool and East Syracuse village boards.

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‘America’s Got Talent’ competitor Taylor Mathews added to First Night concert bill

When Central New Yorkers turn out for First Night on Monday, Dec. 31, at Onondaga Lake Park, they’ll be entertained by three up-and-coming pop groups including Louisiana native Taylor Mathews who was a finalist on television’s “America’s Got Talent.” Headlining the third annual AmeriCU Credit Union First Night here will be R5, a Colorado quintet whose young musicians have ties to the Walt Disney Company. Guitarist Ross Lynch, one of four Lynch siblings in R5, stars in the hit Disney Channel sitcom “Austin and Ally.” Bassist Riker Lynch has a recurring role in Fox TV’s musical drama, “Glee.”

A dear granddaughter sings ‘Santa Baby’

Music has always filled the Condon family’s Fourth Street home. Patriarch Don Condon plays chromatic harmonica, matriarch JeanEllen plays piano, as does daughter Colleen. Daughters Ellen and Nan performed in school bands, and sons Don. Jr., Mark, Keith and Paul harmonized barbershop tunes. Nowadays Don Jr. teaches music in Indiana, Paul sings opera professionally and Keith vocalizes with the Syracuse’s Mario DeSantis Orchestra.

LPD volunteers beefed up security last week at village schools

Three days after a deadly school shooting in suburban Connecticut, officers from the Liverpool Police Department volunteered to patrol two village schools during the five days preceding Christmas break. On Monday, Dec. 17, after the Friday, Dec. 14 tragedy in Newtown, Conn., Liverpool Mayor Gary White contacted Liverpool Central School District Superintendent Nick Johns, who welcomed the mayor’s offer to have officers assigned to Liverpool Elementary and Liverpool Middle schools last week. Liverpool Police Chief Don Morris and the department’s Police Benevolent Association president, Officer Sean Pierce, immediately responded by contacting off-duty officers who volunteered for the non-paid extra duty. “Several of our members are working shifts of various lengths at those two schools,” Pierce said.

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A County Kerry Christmas

Singers and dancers bring an ‘Irish Christmas in America’ to Catherine Cummings Theater

Killarney’s a long way from Cazenovia, but this weekend musicians and dancers from Western Ireland will celebrate the season at the Catherine Cummings Theater.

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Theater review: Two L’pool performers appear in uproarious ‘Man Who Came to Dinner’

Two performers who live in Liverpool — Colleen Deitrich and Tom Minion — are appearing in an uproarious revival of “The Man Who Came to Dinner,” now playing at the new CNY Playhouse at Shoppingtown Mall, in DeWitt.

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Upstate forecast calls for a ‘White Christmas’": Syracuse Stage musical based on a movie based on a song

A beloved and heartwarming musical based on a movie that was based on a popular holiday song is now playing through Dec. 30, at Syracuse Stage.

A sunset hymn for my late Aunt Mary Jane

My Aunt Mary Jane died last month at Oswego Hospital. After living in Galeville for five decades, she spent her final months at a Port City nursing home. She was 88 years old. Born Mary Jane Korthas in 1924, she had married my mother’s brother, Ed Egloff, sometime after World War II.

Bayberry’s Luther could’ve portrayed Superman’s Luthor

With his smoothly shaven head, Luther Everson vaguely resembles Lex Luthor, Superman’s arch-enemy. But our Luther, who works at Bayberry Service Center on Route 57, cares more about carburetors than Kryptonite. I don’t know what those Hollywood casting directors were thinking, but Luther himself would certainly have been a better choice to portray Luthor than a fey Kevin Spacey who played the villain in “Superman Returns.” Liverpool’s Luther makes Michael Rosenbaum’s Luthor in “Smallville” look absolutely wimpy. But let’s be clear, there’s nothing at all villainous about our Luther. He simply happens to share a name and a haircut with Superman’s Luthor. Not only is Everson a master mechanic working with Bayberry Service owner Matt Rahalski, Luther is a U.S. Army veteran of Desert Storm. Between tune-ups he recalls “eight months of sitting around the desert before we finally saw some action.” And by the way, he pronounces his last name with a short E. “Not Eeeverson, like the museum,” he insists.

Bayberry’s Luther could’ve portrayed Superman’s Luthor

With his smoothly shaven head, Luther Everson vaguely resembles Lex Luthor, Superman’s arch-enemy. But our Luther, who works at Bayberry Service Center on Route 57, cares more about carburetors than Kryptonite.

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CNY Playhouse serves uproarious ‘Man Who Came to Dinner’ at Shoppingtown

There’s never a lack of action as two dozen characters scurry and scuffle across the ample stage at the new CNY Playhouse in an uproarious revival of “The Man Who Came to Dinner,” now playing at Shoppingtown Mall

Diamond Someday to sparkle at bluegrass Christmas bash in Marcellus

Diamond Someday, a lively local bluegrass band fronted by guitarist-singer Shirley Stevens, often opens its shows with a line from “Old Chunk of Coal,” the Billy Joe Shaver song which explains the band’s name: “I’m just an old chunk of coal, but I’ll be a diamond someday.”

Bells & Motley revel in music of Christmas past Saturday at Kellish Hill

When Kathy Kellish promises an “old-fashioned Christmas celebration,” she’s not kidding. In this case, “old-fashioned” means all the way back to the Renaissance.

‘Brownie’ fixed instruments for free for kids in need

When it came to kids with broken musical instruments, Brownie was a soft touch. As an amazingly versatile musician and a repairman par excellence, Brownie knew the joy that a person derives from playing a well-tuned instrument. Everyone knew that he’d often repair instruments for children at no cost simply to encourage their love of music. Richard “Brownie” Brown passed away on Nov. 15 at Sunnyside Nursing Home in Kirkville. He was 88.

Two village of Liverpool businesses plan improvements

The Cobblestone will add a new 31-by-7-foot deck along Tulip Street. The new brick deck will be located in front of the addition that opened in 2004 as a roof-topped outdoor patio. That outdoor room was recently enclosed when weatherproof windows were installed.

Plowshares crafts fair celebrates peace, justice this weekend at Nottingham High

For thousands of years, this special season has promised peace, and for the past four decades the Syracuse Peace Council has risen to the occasion by hosting the annual Plowshares Craftsfair and Peace Festival.

White urges Liverpool residents to chime in on term lengths for mayor and trustees

At the Nov. 19 meeting of the Liverpool Village Board, Mayor Gary White reminded trustees that, in an effort to save money, they should consider lengthening their terms of office. The four trustees and the mayor currently serve two-year terms. White invited residents to voice their opinions on the matter via a simple, one-question survey on the village website, villageofliverpool.org.

Village of Liverpool looks to save thousands of dollars by sharing services

As a four-month trial period comes to a close, village leaders have expressed satisfaction with its shared-services agreement with its new part-time police chief. At the Village Board’s monthly meeting on Nov. 19, Mayor Gary White and Trustee Jim Rosier, the board’s liaison with the police department, both praised Police Chief Don Morris who is serving as a part-time chief here while continuing as the full-time chief in East Syracuse. Morris works 20 hours a week in Liverpool and 40 in East Syracuse.

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First Night regroups

When the second annual First Night celebration was staged last New Year’s Eve at Onondaga Lake Park, some 7,000 Central New Yorkers — including hundreds of young families enjoying a non-alcoholic holiday alternative — turned out to ring in 2012. Instead of being inspired by hope for the New Year, however, many attending families were outraged when main-stage headliners the New Boyz, a rap act from Southern California, delivered a suggestive and profanity-laced performance.

Jo’s Li’l Cupcake update; Jan Fetterly send-off Saturday

Shirley and Mike Martin planned to open their new business – Jo’s Li’l Cupcakes – on Election Day, but they needed a few extra days to complete the interior renovation of the shop that had long housed Chris’s Flowers Etc. at 141 First St., in the village. The ovens went into overdrive and the doors swung open on Tuesday, Nov. 13. Mike’s contractor brother, Jeff Martin, gave the room a wide-open feel complemented by a couple tables and a few easy chairs and a rock’n’roll décor accentuated by electric guitar imagery and a tabletop collage of concert tickets. Comfort is a bonus at Jo’s Li’l Cupcake where the namesake confection gets top-billing. Every day the Martins bake 15 different colorful cupcake varieties from orange to pumpkin to peanut butter. They sell them for $1 each or $5 for a six-pack.

Operation Southern Comfort now does good turns in the north

Back in October 2005, Norm Andrzejewski formed Operation Southern Comfort to help rebuild homes on the Gulf Coast which had been destroyed by Hurricane Katrina. Andrzejewski, who lives in Liverpool, assembled OSC’s army of volunteers, and together they rebuilt hope among Louisianians while rebuilding homes, one at a time. Seven years later, the effort continues down South and last week, after Superstorm Sandy blasted the East Coast, Operation Southern Comfort became Operation Southern/Northern Comfort. “A small group of volunteers went down to Staten Island and New Jersey last weekend to take some goods and supplies for Sandy’s victim,” Norm said. “They’ll also try to identify organizations for us to partner with.”

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Bluegrass banjoman: Mark Allnatt brings his band to Marcellus Sunday

Mark Allnatt's band will play a handful of gospel numbers such as his song, “Goin’ Up to See My Lord,” at the American Legion in Marcellus Sunday.

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CNY Playhouse debuts at Shoppingtown Mall with a show-biz farce

“Don’t Talk to the Actors” – a 2007 comedy by Buffalo-born playwright Tom Dudzick – opened Nov. 9 as the first full-length show staged by the newly named Central New York Playhouse at Shoppingtown Mall in DeWitt.

From Tipp Hill to Liberty Island to the village

Old-timers recall driving down North Geddes Street and marveling at the Heaphy Man.

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Sculpted tree at Village Hall memorializes newborn manslaughter victim

When residents visit the Village Hall at 310 Sycamore St., they’ll see a distinctive miniature Asian elm tree planted there Oct. 26 as a memorial for baby Isabella Marie.

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