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Stephen Cole is no longer with us ... A memory

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STEPHEN COLE: A teenager's heart gave him another 20 year's of life and he gave generously of himself in that time and before.  Image provided, if someone knows the photographer please contact us on the tinytowntimes.com Facebook page. Thank you.

Tiny Town, USA – My memory of Stephen Cole predates my later associations with him as a director and acting coach at two very different community theater companies.

The first goes back to a time when the DeWitt Cafe was a morning gathering place for many raconteurs and emerging local artist sand served well as place to nurse a grudging hangover with the strongest coffee then sold in tiny town.

Cole was friendly with interweaving circles a set of friends of mine back, students, some drop-outs, some like me struggling for an identity and a foothold in the world and finding Ithaca a welcome and tolerant place for all manner of expression, arts-related or pedestrian. Still is, I suppose. It is less so however, now that Stephen is gone.

Perhaps it is unfair to say, but I think the mentors and guides who oversaw the arts in the 70s were of a different stripe and I had no idea that Cole, other than a cowboy-looking belt buckle that hinted at something more than a kindly theater prof, was a force among the students he coached and a guide in the world of stage and life.

He was open and treated me as a friend from the get-go. He always seemed to attract a number of charming young co-eds to his table. I was very shy then and remember, after one of these students departed, saying something like “I don’t know what it is about her, but I it sure makes me want to know more.”

With eyebrows raised Cole locked me in his blue-eyed stare: “If you feel that way about her what are you doing sitting here with me? Going after her!”

I demurred. I was 19  and didn't think much of myself. But his advice summed him up in many ways: If you wanted to know more about something, don’t putz around, go after it. He also listened to my many tales of woe and made himself open to me when I was a totally unformed kid with only a smart mouth to front me.

I would meet him later and often at the Asiatic Garden, once a fixture on West State Street. Cole loved Chinese-American food. That blended into knowing him as a professional working with in the community theater setting, first at the dearly defunct Firehouse Theater and later, at the former Kitchen theater. In the mean time we crossed paths on several occasions. One of them was the visit of Jimmy Smits to his alma mater at Cornell. Smits was eager to spend some quality time with Cole, so important was the man in his development.

Soon after I got to see what Smits was talking about in a hugely fun production Cole directed of The Foreigner, a hit at the Firehouse. Cole dedicated much of his time to acting and directing at the small theater, one of his traits being the willingness to do theater work wherever it was happening. During that production we had a lot of private talks and I learned a lot more about his amazing return from death. He suffered heart problems and outlived a failed heart bypass operation in 1987; eight years later he underwent a heart transplant, receiving the donor heart of a 14-year old female. He often repeated his good fortune for surviving a protracted recovery, saying that he “died twice” on the operating table — and went “out of body both times.”

I asked him what he meant by that and he said exactly what I’d heard of before from near-death experience narratives — and dismissed: Cole said his consciousness literally left his body, twice, and he was quite aware of everything that was going on around him, with something like a bird’s eye view of the situation.

When I read his obit and saw he’d died on Aug. 11, I studied the age he is said to have completed closed up the space we knew as Stephen Cole: 82.

Maybe. But 82 with what I calculated as a 34-year old heart: He was still a young man. And that’s how I remember him, older and wiser and younger, in many ways, than people half his age, and always always ready to listen, to encourage to convince — and do it with courage.

After working under his direction for a play called Memory of Water, at the Kitchen Theater, he handed me an opening night card with the inscription: “I can see that you have the talent and the true spirit for the theater. Think about it.”

I do. But for the longest time since, I have not obeyed his earlier admonition to “go do it!”

Many others have fine memories of Stephen and I can only hope there is a time for all of us, together, to share them.

– Franklin Crawford

 

Last Updated on Saturday, 29 August 2015 01:35
 

Finger Lakes Chamber Ensemble launches Summer Season with Mozart and Brahms ...

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Elaine Mansfield and Larson Publications share Gold Medal at 19th IPPY Awards

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First-Time Author Elaine Mansfield and Larson Publications of Burdett, NY, share the honors

in the 2015 Independent Publisher Book Awards

TIny Town, USA – Congratulations to Elaine Mansfield and Larson Publications of Burdett, NY, for Winning First Prize (Gold) in the 19th Annual Independent Publishers Book Awards group, in the category "Aging/Death & Dying."

Mansfield's "Leaning Into Love: A Spiritual Journey Through Grief" (Larson 2014), is a finely crafted work about her experience living with-and-working-through the death of her beloved husband of 40 years, Vic Mansfield.

Mansfield's narrative received wide acclaim as did the book's elegant jacket design by Anne Kilgore of Ithaca and its top-shelf stewardship – from concept to back-matter – by Swenson Book Development (recently relocated from the Ithaca area to Wisconsin). The honor, known in the industry as the "IPPY" award, recognizes the best titles from a global selection of publishers in the academic, small and independent press fields.

Approximately 6,000 titles were considered, representing more than 2,000 entries from the entire United States, eight Canadian provinces as well as 34 countries too numerous to list here.

It's a big boost for both author and the tiny publishing company which has struggled to survive in an industry that takes no prisoners, but will be only too glad to steal your talent and hard work.

A gala awards banquet will be held Wednesday, May 27, in New York City.

Compiled by Tiny Town Staff

Last Updated on Friday, 08 May 2015 09:54
 

"There is No Voice": Is Chad onto something or just ON something?

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Some time in October, Chad Coles packed his vacation belongings in an old canvas grip his mother gave him when he went off to study plant science at Tupelo U in 1963. No one in the offices took much notice. In fact, no one was in the office. Everyone was at work. Chad left a note not even the Administrator scanned because it resembled a utility meter reading. That stuff is Chad's business and no one here messes with it. 
After ten days or so the customary call from the Mechanicsville, Alabama crossroads [where you can still find a pay phone that accepts Confederate coinage, according to local lore, and real fried pork rinds] came to the offices through Skype. C. Penbroke Handy was in-house working on a prototype sketch for "Giant Ass Clown," a comic that was supposed to be sent off to illustrator Belinda Cho for finalization last summer. The computer happened to be on, possibly because the cat had walked across the keyboard while it was set to sleep. Handy says Chad was in a big sweat: "I diddit, I diddit. Didda did-diddit!"
Chad is only so high and Handy only saw the top of his straw boater. 
"Did what?" Handy asked. 

FELLS-NAPTHA

Chad said: "I wrought the whole thang in two weeks. I dayid. I dayid." 
Chad lapses back into the soft drawl of his bolo tie-wearing days at Tupelo where he invented NAUGHTGROW something that would've made him a fortune but that's all in the past now. Long and short of it was Chad wrote a book. The title is called "There Is No Voice." 
It's a complicated book and his editor, Diamond Fells-Naptha, took most of the middle part out so there's only a beginning and an ending. Still, it ran to 139 pages. The story gets complex because it is based on one of Chad's arguments that there is no such things as a "voice inside our heads." If there was, he says, other people would hear it. He also doesn't believe in tinnitus for the same reason. 
However, Handy's wife has tinnitus and he says the high pitched whine and roaring, rushing sounds coming out of her left ear forced him to start smoking out on the back porch -- which is screened in, in case you wanted to know. 
"Keeps the secondhand smoke from getting stolen," says Handy. 
Now, Chad is one of the smartest people we've ever been acquainted with, especially given he is only seven inches tall and is made of plastics. There's no accounting for Mother Nature ... The plain and simple fact is he's a genius. You try getting an advanced degree in plant pathology, develop 1,500 patents for making things not happen (we can thank Chad for a lot of stuff that hasn't happened and there's a list in his book, one of the few parts in English, because most of it's ideograms that none of us can decipher -- yet. But we're onto it).
We know it's tribal and Chad may be the last one in his tribe so maybe only he knows it and will explain it when he gets back from Broomestown, where he is meeting with a team from an Italian publishing company; apparently there's already a bidding war with the Germans. 
Jason Forrest Plaidsport, renowned cryptographer, says the entire work is a spherical song, curved and disappearing over the horizon of sense into another dimension that is in fact voiceless, and impossible for any of us to read because we all think we have a voice in our heads and we can't "hear the book" because of this voice. 
The whole of it may be ethereal song or chant. "But it's an invisible, inaudible bit of dark matter," JP said. He was calling long distance from Dubai, his time, and we're not sure if that's exactly what he told us and without Chad here, we forgot to put the SD card in the recorder, so, Bob's your uncle on that one. 
To frustrate things, this Diamond Fells-Naptha, a former friend of the highly cultured belles and lettres set where Coles (not his real name, turns out) is from, decided to edit the book and took what he claims "were just a bunch of plain empty pages, like a blank book" out. Coles is suing him over this "mendacious performance of a so-called family friend" and, in a separate writ, suing over the fact that DFN claims to have ghost-written the book. 
How Fells-Naptha has time to harass Chad while he's trying to bully his plans for a Panamax Container Ship Canal from Yuma to the Sea of Cortez and vice versa through the Arizona State legislature without consulting either the federal government of the U.S. or Mexico ("Hell, it's all private funded, we don't need big gummint," he says) is a story that's just too big for us. Still, we want to get Chad back here okay and see that what's left of his book is at least written in ways we can try to understand why we can't understand it ... 
This is a chore, especially with all the bills piling up and REAL books like Adam Perl's Tiny Town Teasers Vol. 1 needing to be finished before Kwanzaa or Ebola or both get here ... Ah hell. It's late now and I've wasted the time I needed with the Indian Pins telling you not much of nothing. 
We'll tell you more or less another time. -- A senior official, tinytowntimes.com


 

Eminent Tiny Town Artist George Rhoads: Everything Must Go! Art Sale to Save an Icon

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Eminent Tiny Town Artist George Rhoads: Everything Must Go! Sale to Save George

Tiny Town's wonderful master, George Rhoads, is selling more than 200 paintings to be exhibited in his home at 116 Valley View Road, off of Elm Street on West Hill.
WHEN: Saturday, Nov. 1, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
INFO: 14 walls of paintings of all kinds: tinytowntimes.com is posting three of his environmentals here, sent to us by Emily R. Johnson, author, artist and George's Big Little Sister here in Tiny Town. 
REFRESHMENTS: Beverages will be available and feel free to byob 
CONTACT: Emily R. Johnson at 272-4811 

Background: George, a friend for years, is possibly best known for his popular Audio-Kinteic Sculptures, also called rolling ball scultures. 
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rolling_ball_sculpture. But he was an accomplished artist long before he took up metal sculpting which led to his wonderful contraptions, on display around the world. 

Emily Johnson's book "Wizard at Work" describes her brother's ascent as an artist and what it is like to watch such a brother evolve. Her excellent book is available at Amazon.com
http://www.amazon.com/Wizard-Work-Life-George-Rhoads/dp/1608449688

Please do come to this rare event ...


 

Last Updated on Thursday, 23 October 2014 11:13
 


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