For you, Talker buys the D & C digital archives. And Noam Chomsky

For you, Talker buys the D & C digital archives. And Noam Chomsky


(l-r) David Kramer, Valeria Chomsky, Noam Chomsky at the Eisenberg Rotunda, Schlegel Hall, University of Rochester [Photo: Leslie Kramer 4/21/16] from Audrey’s excellent adventure in Rochester

We didn’t actually buy all of the D & C’s digital archives in their entirety. But for you, dear readers, for $30 we purchased six months of access. In 45 years ago when President Nixon visited Rochester. And 3 days later when East High School erupted in racial violence, you already saw what a great resource the archives are for the community. Kudos to the D & C for making the archive available at a reasonable price.

chomsky 1989

Rochester Democrat and Chronicle, 1989

Some of what follows may appear indulgent, or worse, overdone — like the sentimental journey through the Brighton-Pittsford Post in Talker gets some Little League love from the Brighton-Pittsford Post. 

But — as in Little League love — there is a purpose. That purpose is to spark your interest in becoming more involved in our community magazine — with an emphasis on community. As I looked over the archives, I saw again the webs of relationships formed. And, especially, revisited the great work done by teachers in the RCSD.

Recently, we’ve had several pointed and informed contributions from George Payne who has become the conscience of the magazine.

And pungent observations from our “media critic,” Michael Nighan. 

And — soon to be free from her distracting duties as an educator of youth — wait till you see the whirlwind of summer adventures Of the Town envisioned by Shadi. 

And — of course — Dean’s “eulogy” in Celebrating the roses of Maplewood. But like Sam Patch, Talker is Gorged.

Join us!  Meet new Talker friends!

chomsky gloves

gloves provided by the Buzz at the Simon School

Now as for Noam Chomsky. Noam Chomsky’s recent visit to the University of Rochester — briefly mentioned in Audrey’s excellent adventure in Rochester — was my final use of the microfilm collection in the Local History room at the downtown Rundell library. The downside of going digital is most likely fewer visits to the Local History room.

Often there is librarian Jay Osbourne, an ever helpful researcher with a rich knowledge of local and state history. And across the street in the History Division is Stephen Nash who manages the Vietnam Learning Center. Both Jay and Steve have promised future contributions.


Noam Chomksy, 4/21/16

For Chomsky’s 2016 visit, at the microfilm desk I found an article on his last visit to Rochester at MCC in 1989 — that hopefully he would sign. The quality of the digital version of the article is noticeably superior to what can be found through microfilm.

Marina Vesty wished the UofR had chosen a bigger venue for Chomsky’s talk

My sister Leslie, visiting from California, and I went to Chomsky’s April 21st talk. Arriving late, I wasn’t able to get into the overcrowded Interfaith Chapel.

In line, I did meet several old guard Chomskyites. Dr. Judiana Lawrence,  UofR ’83 PhD in Renaissance Literature, was the only one who had been at MCC in 1989. Attorney Douglas Fisher had crossed paths with Chomsky in New England when both were active in Vietnam War protests. David Sperber, M.D. attended a few lectures by Chomsky at M.I.T in the early 80s. At the lectures, David was told the impressive fact that in all academic journals combined Chomsky’s work was cited the second most number of times, only exceeded by Sigmund Freud. All were eager to hear again one of their intellectual heroes.

Like me and a fair number of others including from as far away as Ithaca, Marina Vesty, from Germany and now teaching in the Rush Henrieta School District, was sorely disappointed there was not enough room in the Interfaith Chapel. Hopefully, Marina and the people who came from Ithaca will have another chance to hear and see Chomsky who Marina considers a major influence in her thinking when growing up in Germany.

Fortunately, after the talk I met Neil Grayson, a soon to be MFA creative writing student at Ohio State. Sitting in the front row, Neil kindly provided us with the complete audio of Chomsky’s talk.  (COMPLETE AUDIO, 4/21/16, Neil Grayson)

So, clipping in hand, I went early to the scheduled reception in the Eisenberg Rotunda in Schlegel Hall. Explaining my intention to have Chomksy sign the old article, the event staff thought, cool. But a problem. Following a recent norovirus outbreak on campus, Chomsky — an elderly man — was advised best not to shake hands or sign autographs. Foiled!

At the reception, I met — if recalling correctly — Carin Cole of the Simon School Office of Student Engagement. After explaining the predicament to Carin, she came up with a possible solution or back up plan: rubber gloves. Carin took me to the school’s cafe, The Buzz.

athesia at 25

Sun, Feb 13, 2005 – Page 35

There, the staff gladly supplied the gloves, and said they would bring Chomsky a cup of coffee if he so desired. We had a lively discussion as to whether Chomsky would sign. A Simon graduate student from India — conversant with Chomsky’s work — admired Chomsky as an “outlier.” He said the outlier would sign. Another undergraduate student worker also thought Chomsky would sign, but had some worrisome news.

Her ex-girlfriend had some issues with Chomsky’s theory of universal language.  The ex thought Chomsky’s theory was inadequate in explaining sign language, as well as had racist implications.  Apparently, the woman planned to confront Chomsky at the reception and to “fight” with him. Now that would make a story.

At the reception, Chomsky immediately signed, chuckling when I showed him the Buzz gloves. We chatted briefly and his wife Valeria asked me to send her the clippings, saying if Chomsky was not over committed, he would answer a few questions about his trip to Rochester. Ultimately, Chomsky was over committed. But I got the autograph and photo taken by Leslie who much enjoyed the lecture. And there was no fight.

After reading the story, Chomksy wrote back: Thanks for this.  Good memories. Noam Chomsky. And for us too.

On to the archive, beginning with A for Athesia.

Mon, May 20, 1985 – Page 2

Our own Athesia has long been a darling of the D & C.  The 2005 Artist Spotlight appeared about when I first met A when we were teaching at MCC. I saw right away her not so hidden talents.

I told A only one clipping would be used, but smuggled in a picture from her D & C debut in a story on voluntary school integration. (Athesia graduated from SOTA.)

This year Athesia has worked tirelessly for the Bernie Sanders campaign, sometimes offering her message in the magazine.

In Athesia, Video Celeb turned Paparazzi, at the rally you can see her in action as Video Celebrity and Paparazzi.

Our own Athesia makes D & C print endorsement! (with our picture) you can read her Sanders endorsement solicited by the D & C.  Also sprinkled around the magazine is some of her art work.

Going back in time, the first significant piece is from our foreign correspondent, Dr. Bruce Howard Kay, from 1975.

Wed, Feb 19, 1975 – Page 50

You can already see evidence of Bruce’s devotion to scholarship as he carefully clips articles for school. Hardly surprising, Dr. Kay’s two major contributions,  A 1997 trip to deep Peru retracing the Shining Path. and From Tirana with love. And a dash of Pristina. are generally considered the finest in the magazine.


Wed, Dec 13, 2006 – Page 15

Sun, Feb 27, 2011 – Page 14

Next is a 1980 Letter-to-the-Editor by Eric Kemperman (we went to BHS and Brown University together) whose photography appeared in On the 22nd of October, 1844 on top of Cobb’s Hill. In the letter, Eric critiques what he calls “our archaic method of electing our president.” While I don’t disagree with Eric in principle, jettisoning the electoral college presents new problems.

On May 26th, 1981 wrote on Al Haig.

May 26th, 1981

May 26th, 1981

nighan panel text

11 Aug 2015, Tue, Main Edition

In 2012, I wrote a letter in response to Tom Golisano’s campaign to eliminate the Electoral College. I argue that Golisano has never once addressed the issue of how a national recount would be conducted. I even called the Diana Reems program during a show on the subject, but did not get an adequate answer.  But the Electoral College isn’t going anywhere soon, so sorry Eric and Tom.


Speaking of letters to the editor, our media man Nighan (see Is Public Input to the D&C a Dead Letter? by Michael Nighan) has had two.

In 2015, Michael wondered whether a proposed explanatory text at the Ontario Beach carousel would fall upon deaf ears.

Adding panel context signs to the Charlotte carousel is appropriate. And the panel is racist, according to the Jim Crow Museum of Racist Memorabilia defended the proposal, but Michael’s point is well taken.

Michael also weighed in on a perennial topic: the crows.  Of note, Sam Abrams, mentioned in “Public Input” also had a letter that day.

Wed, Nov 21, 1973 – Page 4

While my mother Carol has had a prolific and admirable letter writing career, my father’s sole contribution was a curious one.  Dean finds it a little absurd that someone would write such a letter and the D & C would print it.



Not that I am immune from curious submissions.  My very first accepted letter — based on an article on Syracuse Coach Boeheim — was of dubious persuasiveness claiming Brown might well beat Florida.

boeheim brown



My father and I have both appeared in Bob Matthew’s column and Eugene remains an indispensable staff member as seen in Thanks, Dad!


My own first appearance in 1980 was bittersweet — and a travesty. I put great effort into arranging that special double match (Webster A and B vs. Brighton A and B) and bringing in the press.



The D & C did not have to highlight the failure to recruit cheerleaders. Nor was the gratuitous “He lost” in the caption necessary.

chess 2


But when life gives chaff, make wheat. The photo (later purchased from the D & C) is the featured photo (see Introductions ) on the magazine home page.  And my good friend Alex White — not mentioned in the article — played for Webster (where he has since been the chess coach for decades), and now an important magazine contributor and valuable source.


4 Aug 1984, Sat, Metro Edition


Alex White from “Memorial Day, Peace and Rembrance, and roses floating in the Genesee”

The next appearance was happier. In 1984, my friend Dan Rosen, back home from Oberlin College, organized the Rochester contingent of Freedom Summer 1984.  That summer — made possible through Dan’s hard work — high school, college students and others registered voters all around Monroe County. As I recall, most of us were for Mondale in his concurrent campaign against Reagan, but the group was non-partisan. On one registering outing, the D & C did a story on our efforts.

I am not at liberty to disclose anything else that may have happened during summer of love 1984. But if a certain someone reads this, I hope she smiles.

I told you this can get a little indulgent. But, as I’ve argued, being part of an open forum community newspaper can be fun. Join us!

There have been far too many stories milking the research on my Spanish-America War dissertation for all it was worth. More on the iterations can be found in Little League love and On Spanish-American War monuments in Rochester. And remembering the Buffalo Soldiers on Veteran’s Day and Celebrating the first Otis Day (June 15th) with the General’s sword at its new home: the Military Society of Rochester

Let’s just say the D & C, Messenger Post Newspapers, and Talker are literally littered with Spanish-American War monuments, tablets, cannons, grave sites and uniforms. And it probably went a little over the top with the screenplay: Mr. Crane’s Vivid Story

medal of honor

Fri, Jul 28, 2000 – Page 13


Wed, Aug 2, 2000 – Page 55

f grant


cut and run

Wed, Jan 25, 2006



The one on Booker T. Washington’s dinner was worthwhile. Then D & C editor James Lawrence thought that moment in Rochester history should be remembered. Apparently, the docents at the Eastman House read the article and wondered if the dinner should be mentioned in their tours. Also received my one and only written response, first sent to Lawrence. The woman had an odd objection I can’t quite remember. I showed it to Lawrence who said the range of reader objections he’s seen is almost limitless.

But the best part was a kind invitation by then Northeast Principal Mary Aronson to a field trip to the Eastman House as part of the school’s Northeast News program.

In To readers and contributors, much thanks, we wrote:

To Laura Barstow for arranging the field trip to the Eastman House and making sure we made the News. And to Eric Leroy for joining our expedition. See the “News” at Northeast: Booker T. Washington’s visit with George Eastman

“Kosovo leaders” was nice because Bruce and I bonded over From Tirana with love. And a dash of Pristina.

Wed, May 28, 2008 – Page 9

The Jackie Robinson one became 70 years ago today when Jackie Robinson broke the color line at Red Wings Stadium


Mon, Feb 18, 2008 – Page 12

malcom x



Sat, Jan 21, 2012 – Page 17

There was another letter of dubious merit (left).

Miss New York Kaitlin Monte stands with games for sale at the PTSA Supersale. Her platform is anti-bullying and she currently works with schools, local communities and state lawmakers to increase awareness and resources around the issue of peer aggression in schools and online.

Miss New York Kaitlin Monte stands with games for sale at the PTSA Supersale. Her platform is anti-bullying and she currently works with schools, local communities and state lawmakers to increase awareness and resources around the issue of peer aggression in schools and online.

The final letter has a small back story.  In 2012, Pittsford’s Kaitlin Monte was Miss New York. Admirably, Kaitlin toured the state to promote the movie Bullying and also visited schools to promote bullying awareness.

I had considered a piece for the Brighton-Pittsford Post on her efforts, even taking Kaitlin’s picture and having her autograph my ticket stub (both long gone). The Post‘s Alysa Stryker would write a fine piece on Kaitlin:


The rest are from my time as D & C blogger. (see D & C posts). One D & C blogger perk was that some articles got picked up nationally on USA Today. While at Talker, we can’t promise national syndication, you will have an audience when you JOIN US.

Most of the pieces chronicle the great work done by teachers in the RCSD. They deserve the recognition and more.

The last one was from September 13th, 2015.

against prejudging

September 13th, 2015






The article led to Jo Jo and me reunited! And revisiting “Against Prejudging in Pittsford at Lock 62” which then led to A Bull’s Head Renaissance with the Bodega Boys on Brown Street.  On Brown Street I met Brent Bostic who continues to do good things in the community by promoting the work his mother does with the elderly.  A pleasure when Brent asked us to be a reference.

Alas, the D & C has a long history of butchering head shots.  It’s pin head rendition was supposedly based on this photo taken by a special friend (and once used in a profile) . You can see the injustice done to her nice shot.

One of my favorites was the tribute to Ruby McClendon. A favorite because suggested by Rita Gaither. Twice, Rita invited me to Robert Brown High School to see the important work done by the school’s program to help challenged students.

See Ruby McClendon always believed students deserve more chances and Reflecting on the 1960 Woolworth lunch counter sit-ins at Robert Brown High School and Hands on at Edison with Rita Gaither

Erica Bryant would later write a fine piece on Rita’s tireless efforts

Sat, Apr 4, 2015 – Page A14

Mon, Mar 9, 2015 – Page A13










This one with Roland Williams was fun because afterwards Roland and I tooled around town for a bit in his mini-van. For a moment, it was like being in L.A. (where Roland lives though frequently in back in Rochester.)

“Team Eagle” set to open a new field of dreams at East. Roland Williams ’93 drops by for final summer tune eagle


Sat, Sep 5, 2015 – Page A14

Our two pennies: Harriet Beecher Stowe fits the bill

light hp

Tue, Aug 18, 2015 – Page A9



Sat, Jul 11, 2015 – Page A18

happy ending

Tue, Jul 7, 2015 – Page A11

Quickly overcoming adversity at the Highland Bowl

pick up

Tue, Jun 9, 2015 – Page A13

 Who’s counting at the Game at the Corners


Sun, May 31, 2015 – Page A34

27 years ago today when President George H. W. Bush visited Wilson Magnet High School

68 editorial

Sun, May 3, 2015 – Page A35

When Baltimore burned 47 years ago

east vision

Sun, Apr 19, 2015 – Page A30


Sat, Apr 18, 2015 – Page A18

Sat, Mar 7, 2015 – Page A12

65 years ago today at Edgerton Park Arena when the NBA color line was first broken. And Jackie Robinson breaking the color barrier in Rochester; summer of ’46

Sat, Jan 24, 2015 – Page A14

Sat, Dec 13, 2014 – Page A22

Art for the People premiers early at the MAG. Five year labor of love comes to fruition for curator Jessica Marten

Sat, Nov 22, 2014 – Page A22

Now as for that head shot. For a while, the D & C had CYBER QUOTES (including a pic) that were a little tease inviting readers to blogs. When we bloggers had our orientation session, Max Anderson, then Letter-to-the-Editor editor, took our pictures. Max, I love you, but you are not going to win the Pulitzer for your blogger head shots.

About a year ago, my niece Audrey visiting from California took a pic now used in Introductions.  Audrey’s task was something more or less hip and edgy looking. Kid, you got a future on the Talker photo staff if you want to go into the family business.

cyber quote keuka

Thu, Nov 20, 2014 – Page A13

Anticipating the Ferguson verdict

Remembering the fallen of the RCSD from America’s past wars

Sat, Oct 18, 2014 – Page A20

SOTA’s Kenny Cruz awaits call from the big leagues. Bill Pucko “borrows” Talker’s nickname: Cruz Control

Tue, Nov 11, 2014 – Page A13

Sat, Oct 11, 2014 – Page A20

No highly effective teachers at SOTA? Something is not right.

Wed, Oct 8, 2014 – Page A13

Wed, Sep 17, 2014 – Page A15

Despite challenges (see Buffalo), the East/University of Rochester partnership can succeed  and What the new East will and will not be

About The Author

Welcome to Talker of the Town! My name is David Kramer. I have a Ph.D in English and teach at Keuka College. I am a former and still active Fellow at the Nazareth College Center for Public History and a Storyteller in Residence at the SmallMatters Institute. Over the years, I have taught at Monroe Community College, the Rochester Institute of Technology and St. John Fisher College. I have published numerous Guest Essays, Letters, Book Reviews and Opinion pieces in The New York Times, Rochester Democrat and Chronicle, the Buffalo News, the Rochester Patriot, the Providence Journal, the Providence Business News, the Brown Alumni Magazine, the New London Day, the Boston Herald, the Messenger Post Newspapers, the Wedge, the Empty Closet, the CITY, Lake Affect Magazine and Brighton Connections. My poetry appears in The Criterion: An International Journal in English and Rundenalia and my academic writing in War, Literature and the Arts and Twentieth Century Literary Criticism. Starting in February 2013, I wrote for three Democratic and Chronicle  blogs, "Make City Schools Better," "Unite Rochester," and the "Editorial Board." When my tenure at the D & C  ended, I wanted to continue conversations first begun there. And start new ones.  So we created this new space, Talker of the Town, where all are invited to join. I don’t like to say these posts are “mine.” Very few of them are the sole product of my sometimes overheated imagination. Instead, I call them partnerships and collaborations. Or as they say in education, “peer group work.” Talker of the Town might better be Talkers of the Town. The blog won’t thrive without your leads, text, pictures, ideas, facebook shares, tweets, comments and criticisms.


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