I thought by the time we were ready for a new car there would be all sorts of options. And I don’t mean ones that run on alternative fuels. That whole project has been deliberately stalled. I was thinking of shared vehicles, self driving or maybe just a better mass transit system. We have always had only one car so when our fifteen year run with the Element came to an abrupt end, we had to learn about the current options under pressure.
We did most of shopping online. Sadly there are only three types of vehicles out there and within those types they all look the same. SUVs of various sizes, pick-up trucks and your basic car/sedans that all look the same. We were happy with the Element so went out to Honda. First to complain about the discontinuation of the Element and then to look at the options in 3D. The CRV was the next best thing but then there was this report.
Despite the irreparable damage from the hit and run they offered us some money on a trade in but when we looked at the title to our Element, for the first time in fifteen years, we found there was a lien attached. The 2003 Element was our first new car purchase and we did it in cash so we were taken aback. We remember going out to John Holtz (no longer in business) with a cashier’s check and then going in a back room where we were up-sold on an extended warranty package. Since we already had a cashier’s check for the full amount of the car they said we could put the warranty coverage on our credit card and pay it off monthly so we did but the lien was never removed. And the bank that held the lien was bought by Santander, a giant Spanish bank.
We sort of feel like the kid in “Breaking Away” who was so enamored with the Italian bike team until he raced with them and they took him down. It took us a week to get to someone inside the Spanish bank was willing to help.
We were not a customer. We had no account there and the Customer Service phone line was a giant maze where you wait forever on hold with a music loop for the next person who tries to transfer you and then cuts you off. We started over so many times we learned the codes to get through the phone maze. At the first utterance of a recorded voice we pushed 1, and after the next voice another 1 and another and then four zeros to the next level’s four questions. The zeros are not even an option there but they confuse the system and get you to a real sounding person. And then they want to transfer you to the loan department, a separate company, because they find out you are not a customer. After landing over there a few times we learned to plead with the represenative to get us to their supervisor. We dealt with five supervisors and at last found one who was willing to fax a lien release letter to the car dealer, but by then it was too late in the day on Friday. With any luck we will be driving a new car to yoga on Monday night.
Steve Brown was one of the three original partners in the legendary Bug Jar. Margaret Explosion was playing a regular Friday night Happy Hour there for a few years and he was always behind the bar, off duty from his day job at a big financial firm, encouraging us to invest the little we had. I’m so thankful for that. He’s now a partner, with Tommy Burnett, in Iron Smoke Whisky, a northern New York whiskey distillery of all things. But it is also a bar with a sound system and tonight, the day before Tom Waits birthday, they hosted a Tom Waits tribute.
I like the Rain Dogs period for Tom Waits. Hated The earlier Electra years and then lost track of him. Apparently I am in the minority’s here because the night’s performers mostly drifted to the mopey loungy stuff. Irish Ben managed to bring the house down with a solo, voice only because they couldn’t get his acoustic guitar feed to work, version of a song called Martha, a song he dedicated to his wife, Helen. Teresa Wilcox went for it with “Clap Hands.” And the band sounded like a million bucks, Phil Marshall, Brian Williams, the drummer from Busted Valentines and the keyboard player from Mighty High and Dry.
Madeline McQueen did a great version of “The Heart Of Saturday Night” and someone named Rod Smith did a reved up version of “Downtown Train.” The whole cast finished with a “We Are The World” kind thing with everyone one on stage singing something like “a freeway will never come” over and over. We had a couple Paradox Brewery Beaver Bite IPAs, saw a whole bunch of old friends, and had good time.
“Una invitación para comprender español y para conversar en espanól, lengua expresiva, romántica y musical.” An invitation to understand Spanish and speak in Spanish, an expressive language, romantic and musical. That is my translation of a passage in the intro to “An Invitation to Spanish,” a 1947 book I picked up at a garage sale. As much as I enjoy listening to Peggi converse in Spanish I came back from Spain more determined than ever to learn some of the language.
I’ve been chipping away at the photos I shot and slowly reliving the experience. I just opened one from the cathedral in Santiago of sign that reads, “Culto Al Santisimo.” Cult of the saint? Worshipers of the holy? Adoration of the Holy Sacrament? That last guess is from Google translate. Maybe there is no literal translation. I do enjoy that.
I know I’ve been out of sorts when I don’t find any interesting photos on my camera. It is always with me and I usually start a blog post by looking back at what I have brought home. And then I sort of write to the photo sometimes. Just as often the text has nothing to do with the visuals and that makes its own statement. It is at least a starting point.
It has been a few days and this is all I found. The deer are nearly camouflaged and the photo reminds me of those old Highlights magazines. I remember them in our house but I mostly remember them at Dr. Cleary’s, our family dentist. He had an office on the sixth floor of the Medical Arts building on Alexander Street and my mom would take all six of us, Amy wasn’t born yet, to the dentist at the same time. We usually all needed his attention but there wasn’t a babysitter if you didn’t. We devoured the Highlights magazines and there was always a feature where you had to find a list of things hidden in a photo. I’ve gotten pretty good at it but I could never spot these three deer before they spotted me.
Turns out our car is totaled so we took to the internet to shop for a new one and a few days slipped by. And then there was that whole day we spent looking for the title of old car. If they still made the Element we would already have a new one but they don’t make them anymore. Bob Martin thinks we oughta be looking at panel trucks.
Years after this photo was taken an Academy Award winning movie was shot in Bloomington Indiana and this quarry was featured in a scene. My father took this photo when he came out to visit and I love the body language. I look scared and my brother, Fran, looks like he’s having the time of his life. Funny, too, that I took diving at IU as a PE requirement. The teacher was, Hobie Billingsley, the US Diving coach. The first thing he had us do was climb the ladders to the high platform, walk to the edge, turn our backs to the pool and fall backward in a stiff, plank-like position. If executed properly you do a full rotation and land first. If not, ouch. He was building trust.
I just called my brother for some advice. Our insurance company has passed our claim on to the “Total Loss Department” and we’re waiting to hear what they plan to offer us for it. My brother knows cars. I have no idea what goes on under the hood. We love our car but it a 2003 Honda Element and they don’t make anything like it anymore. We moved the contents of our city house to this place in the car. My drums slide in with room for Pete and Shelley. We carry firewood from down below in it. My brother recommended a bay sho and we hope to have them get our car back on the road with insurance pay out. My uncle was our insurance agent in the old days. I don’t know if I can trust these guys.
In 1982 our next door neighbor had had enough. We were rehearing in our basement and it wasn’t the band noise that bothered him, it was our guitar player’s muffler. That and the coming and going at all hours. The houses on Hall Street were close together and equipment had to be unloaded at three in the morning. We found this letter taped to our back door.
I couldn’t imagine that we would ever be friends but we lived next door for twenty seven years. I wasn’t even able to tell him were were gonna move so I asked him if he wanted to go for a ride with me. When he got in the car I told him to turn around. The back of our car was loaded with furniture and boxes and took a drive tor new place. He liked it.
Sparky was born in Kentucky and Peggi and I spent a lot of time in Indiana so there was that hillbilly connection. I told him I played in a country band there and he claimed to be in a country band then. I never knew what to believe from Sparky. I knew he had a gun and he sat in the dark in his house on Halloween it nearby. He told us so. He claimed to to have shot a sewer rat out front. And we saw him hosing down noisy crickets at night. He only went to fifth grade and I spent an afternoon trying to teach him fractions. He raked his lawn in his pajamas while smoking a pipe. I started keeping track of Sparky episodes.
After we moved he regularly came to visit and we would stop by to check up on him. At the funeral services tonight we learned he stopped by people’s homes all over town. He seemed to get younger and happier each time we saw him. He bought homemade Polish sausage from a woman in Buffalo and we grilled it in the backyard. Did it really come from Buffalo? It was the best sausage I have ever had in my life.
I was happy to see some of my photos of Sparky on the board at the funeral home and a photo of my painting, “Sparky Goes To A Gig.” A country singer dressed in black with a wide brimmed hat and red scarf sang “The Streets of Laredo” and then a Johnny Cash medley. Sparky was ninety two, an age when all his friends should have been dead but the funeral home was packed. We told his daughter we would send her a link to this video that Peggi shot.
And I don’t mean Brooklyn Academy of Music. The jolt was like the ones you got in the bumper cars at Willow Point Park when your friend slammed you in the rear. We were turning left into Jeff and Mary Kaye’s driveway and we weren’t quick enough for the driver behind us. He/she closed the gap and clipped the right rear corner of our car. Took the whole section of the car that holds the taillight right off. And he kept going into the night. When the Monroe County Sheriff showed up he said, “Welcome to 2018.”
We tried to shake it off and got down to business. Jeff’s stereo was acting up. His amp kept turning off. I plan to bring my old one there next time. He clicked on a Flash update and inadvertently installed something that gave him error messages but it wouldn’t come up while we were out there. His Airport extreme, a device Apple no longer makes, was flashing yellow. I opened Airport utility and updated the firmware. Mary Kaye never got an Apple id when she bought her phone so she was signed in as Jeff and was getting all his work related email. Peggi set Mary Kaye up we with her own id. Jeff’s Pages docs were all showing invisibles.Jeff didn’t know what they were. They look like the old typesetter marks and “Show Invisibles” was turned on. I turned it off. Last on the list was getting Jeff’s photos on his tv. You have to have the Photos app open before you can find them from your tv.
We drove home with one taillight and made it. Peggi installed the Allstate app, took photos of the damage and we expect a quote for repair tomorrow. They cover most of the cost for a car rental so we walked up to Enterprise and came home with a little white thing from Korea.
Not as rugged as the Camino de Santiago but a close second. We walked a Record Store Day circuit today on icy city sidewalks. We parked our car in Wegmans lot on East Avenue and started our loop with a cup of Rochester’s Choice at Canaltown and then headed down Winton and Highland to the Bop Shop. My brother-in-law was there with our nephew and Gary Lewis was spinning records. My brother-in-law had him sign some Playboys records. Barrence Whitfield appeared to be working there. He was looking over my shoulder as I picked up the Eric Dolphy release and asked if I had ever heard “Ezz-thetics” a Charles Russel record with Dolphy, Don Ellis and Dave Baker. Peggi took a Jazz Studies class from Baker at IU when he taught there. I came home with the record.
I saw a Sun Ra record in there but had heard from my neighbor that it was four dollars cheaper down the road at Hi-Fi Lounge, a place we had never been, so that was our next stop. We sat in the back room there listening to an electronica audiophile lp playing through one of the sound systems they sell. I told the owner, Mark, that we still have the speakers I built from parts I bought at Rochester Radio on West Main. He didn’t remember that place.
It was sunny for our walk to Record Archive so we went down Oakdale where my cousins used to live. Archive was packed. Deb was doing sound for a guitar player in the back room and she suggested we buy a beer while we shopped. I bought a few two dollar 45s – Charlie Rich, Stylistics, Elvis and The Carpenters.
We have been included in a group text of people planning tomorrow’s get-together at Jedi and Helena’s. We’re bringing appetizers and the group is getting bigger. One off topic text came with just a link. It took us to a YouTube demonstration of a phone app that keeps robocallers on the line thereby eating the time they would have spent bugging other callers. We assumed it was what she intended to send us but it was just an especially long ad that played before a favorite song of hers. When the song started our phone rang and it was a robot caller, a group that has called before. An unbelievably cheery voice starts with, “Hi, This Is Jennifer.” I slammed the phone down.
Monday was our first day back to yoga class since we walked across Spain. I have always felt like Jeffery’s class flies by. I tune into his command and apply a concentrated effort to properly hold the particular poses and the two hours disappear. This time was different. I could not surrender. I was unable to hear all he said so I would miss a movement and then hear an instruction to move in a way that was impossible because I was still back on a previous pose. I was somewhere between daydreaming and antsy. Coming back was a bit of a shock. Here we are responsible for more than the contents of our backpacks. It will take some adjustment.
Dumpster, ongoing series of dumpster photos by Paul Dodd
When we were doing websites for a living we used a number of servers. We always had a new favorite and we had sites scattered all over the place. PopWars wound up on DreamHost and only when we decided to update the blog portion did we have to contact their tech people. We did that via chat and weren’t even sure if the problem was on their end. I suspected it was something we did. I was using the original WordPress theme. Anybody remember Kubrick? I updated it for years and then switched to AutoUpdater but it stopped working. After eleven years we installed a new WP version on the root level and switched to a new theme. My internal links went haywire and Google sent me a chart that plotted the errors their auto crawler found. Through the roof. The Dreamhost representative said they would pass our case on to their WP expert and at nine that evening he emailed that he had corrected the problem. This is a recommendation.
I would like to move my web content into pages on the blog. I’ll need a few plugins to get it looking the way I want. I found one that restyles the audio files into a nice looking player and I’m playing with the gallery display options. I started with this collection of Dumpster photos from a few years back. You can click the photos for enlargements or just watch it go by.
Fall is still out there but it was rudely interrupted with this snow.
Speaking of interruptions, We just learned of Mike Kaplan‘s circumstances. I didn’t know him, he was a good friend of our bass player’s and we were asked to play at his memorial this afternoon. We did it as a three piece and played incidental music at four points in the service. The sound in the room was just perfect and we were able to push our minimal sound to the furthest extremes, somewhere close to pristine emptiness. It was an honor to play for his family friends.
We’re Abundance Food Co-Op members so we make a point of doing a big shop once a month for our 10% off. Before going in the store we walk down Averill to the river where we get on the River Path. We walk toward UR, formerly the UofR, and the path just keeps getting prettier. The campus is dreamy and I usually find myself wondering what it would be like going to school there but I snap out of that pretty quickly. There are three or four options for crossing the river but we usually cross on Elmwood Avenue and then come back toward downtown on the west side. The west side is wilder, less developed and a little lonelier but it is even prettier than the east side.
Don Hershey designed our house with with a very slim roofline. The one story structure has a low 2/12 pitch and as the roof is pitched down the four foot overhangs have a slight pitch upward. The facia board is very narrow and there were no gutters. A previous owner added a gutter around two sides of the garage and to get enough pitch for the water to roll they had to replace the facia with a wider piece of cedar. The gutter prevented ice from forming near the door but over time the the corners leaked. I patched them a few times but it didn’t last and the corners were especially treacherous in the winter. I thought there had been an innovation of some sort and gutters were were now made without any seams so I asked around for a contractor to replace ours.
A guy came out to give us an estimate and he was very professional. He told us a crew would do the work and he scheduled the job. The forecast called for rain that day so they rescheduled. They called the morning of the new appointment and said they would have to cancel again because of the rain. I said it wasn’t raining here but that didn’t matter. We were given a new appointment, a month away, when we returned from Spain. It was raining that day but they showed up anyway.
There were two guys. The foreman told us the other guy was new and he didn’t speak much English. I told him Peggi could speak Spanish if that helps. He bent over to pick up a tool and I noticed he was wearing flannel boxer shorts with cartoon characters on them. I went in the house and they started work. About five minutes later the main guy rang our bell and said he had to go to Urgent Care because he smashed his knuckles with his hammer. He had his blue stocking cap wrapped around his hand.
They came back out the next day but this time there were three of them. The new guy seemed sharper than the others but he kept his cell phone in his pocket playing music the whole time. They cracked the facia board ripping the old gutters off and used long screws to attach the new gutters. They came out the back of the facia board and are visible if you look up. I came out to check up on them and the lead guy showed me the pitch by holding a six inch level along the bottom of the gutter. My neighbor has a six foot level. This looked like a toy. When they left we found scraps of metal and nails in the driveway and I noticed a long sections of the new gutters wasn’t even screwed in. They did me a favor. I’ll do that with shorter screws.
While we were in Spain we got a message from the PopWars server that read, “Our performance monitoring system noticed that your account hit its memory limits. When you hit these limits, our system temporarily stops the related web processes, slowing performance.” Could it be because I was still using the default WordPress theme, something Google kept warning me was non-responsive? We bit the bullet and updated the php version, the theme and the plug-ins and then we moved the blog to the root folder of the site. No more www.popwars.com/blog, just www.popwars.com will do it. It was quite an undertaking.
Peggi and I spent the better part of the last five days researching templates, plug-ins and ways to tweak the code. Peggi did all the heavy lifting, using an outdated version of Dreamweaver, the hosting control panel and custom code in the child theme and additional css panel. I was afraid to touch it until now.
Everything works better than ever and it should be compliant for a few months but I’m waiting for one strange behavior to get sorted out. If you try to go to the old address (www.popwars.com/blog) you are immediately sent to a post of mine from 2014 (http://www.popwars.com/2014/05/bloggers-law/).
What a treat, coming back to Rochester for the peak of Fall colors.
We walked down to the lake yesterday and over to our polling place in the Point Pleasant Fire House. Our friend, Kathy, lives near there and she votes up at East High. On our way home we noticed people voting at the Church of the Transfiguration, right at our corner. Does this have something to do with voter suppression?
Groceries were in order today. We walked along the Sea Breeze Way up to Amans on Culver. We usually go in the back door there and then out the front so we can check out the local produce before heading to Wegmans. The place is no longer open air. There was only one shopper in there and a new worker who asked us if she could help us. Outside the shrubs and small trees were all 75% off, their gardens were turned under, firewood was on display and the pumpkins were marked down. Nothing waits for you when you leave town but it is all good.
Margaret Explosion plays the Little Theater Café tonight.
Kind of funny how the barista at the Starbucks in Penn Station gave us that command. The tone was closer to “I have headache” than “enjoy.”
Peggi proofread my Spain posts on the train up to Rochester. I was reading over her shoulder and it took a bit of tidying up. I have a hard time with spelling for starters. I misspelled innovator in a head. I used the word “flea” instead of “flee.” But my most common mistake is is typing a short word like “our” or “the” two times. Almost like a stutter.
Duane got forced out of his old place when Greenpoint followed Williamsburg and you needed your income to be supplemented by a trust fund to afford the housing. His current place in Kensington is coming up now. He is a trendsetter. We read about an Austrian restaurant in the New Yorker that is a block away so checked that out a few months back. Last night we ate in a hipster, Mexican place right across the street, La Loba Cantina. The owner gave a each of us a shot of tequila for dessert. We couldn’t finish our orders so we had the leftovers for breakfast.
The photo above, was printed on the editorial page of El País a few days before we left Madrid. I absolutely love it. There was no copy connected, no current show or anything. Just an important piece of art communication.
We were in the Madrid airport so long I forgot we were in Spain and then we had another cup of coffee. I’ve mentioned the coffee so often in the last months’ posts because it is more significant than you may realize. It is very rare to have anything close to this ritualized experience in the States.
We’re on the street, walking by shops, and looking in the open doors of cafés. We’re a little fussy. We like a café with food on the counter, Tortilla and exotic tapas under the rounded glass case. And the old man bars with holy cards by the cash register are always more interesting than the ones with a contemporary spin. We walk in and immediately say “Buenos Dias.” It is directed to the person behind the bar but also to the room as well. “Dos con leche” does the trick. You are waited on immediately. We like standing at the bar, occasionally sitting if we’ve been walking all day but we’d rather not sit at one of the small tables. You miss all the action.
These people aren’t underage kids, they are professionals. They load the coffee and slam the handle in the espresso machine with gusto. The coffee drips into both cups at once. Our favorite places serve it in a glass, sometimes too hot to handle. The cup or glass is placed on a small saucer along with a packet of sugar and a tiny spoon. We never use the sugar and I’m sure it winds up on the next guy’s plate. The arrangement is placed in front of you and then the hot foamy milk is poured into your cup. You say, “Gracias” and they say “de nada.”
We had no plans for our last full day in Madrid and those are the days that usually work out the best. We had not been to the Prado yet, something we’ve done every time we’ve been here, so that was on our short list. In fact the first time we came to Madrid we rented a car at the airport and drove straight to the Prado. They had a small parking lot out front on the Paseo del Prado which is gone now. We sat in the car until the Museo opened and we went right to the café for coffee. I remember being struck by people smoking inside the museum.
We walked along Recoletos and had coffee in the historic Gran Café Gijón, a long time favorite with Madrid’s literati. There was a Fundación exhibition space nearby with a substantial show called “Redescubriendo El Mediterraneo.” Van Gogh, Cezanne, Braque, Dali, Picasso and Matisse were all there. The loose theme rounded up artists who found ways to reinterpret classical themes in an idyllic setting. Arcadia. Bathers. Heaven on earth.
We went across the street to have a coffee in a glass surrounded café in the park and then wandered further down Recoletos and found yet another Fundación, a show of the great Spanish photographer, Humberto Rivas. We asked the guard at the gallery if he could recommend a restaurant and had dinner nearby. We strolled into Las Letras area and found a bar with the Real Madrid game on. They won but waited til the 82nd minute to put one in.
It is amazing how many good shows we have seen at the Círculo de Bellas Artes. We walked over there this morning, after coffee at the place around the corner, and we were thrilled to find a show about Andrei Tarkovsky’s movie, “El Espejo.” The film portrays a re-occurring dream the director had about growing up. An actress plays his mother and then his real mother appears in the movie. A portion of the film, in Spanish, touches on the horrors of the Franco era so the film is especially important here.
Film clips were projected on a big wall, clips were looped on monitors, sometimes with headphones, other times with the sound in the room and there were lots of extras. His notebooks were under glass cases with still photos, studies for the film. He worked with a photographer before shooting and the photos were displayed here along with contact prints from the movie, and many photos of the making. All exceptional. We must track down a copy of this film when we return.
“La madre lavó cabeza del niño inclinándose hacia él y con un gesto familiar para mi, empezó a estirar su cabello duro y húmedo. En aquel momento, de pronto me sentí tranquilo, y comprendí con claridad que mi madre es inmortal…”
— Andrei Tarkovsky, guión literario de Espejo
In a gallery upstairs, “ Psico Delia,” psychedelic posters from 1962-1972 from the private archive of Zdenek Primus, a Czech/Germán art historian and collector. And in the basement gallery, a delightful show by the architect, Lars Lerup.
And for an extra euro we rode the elevator to the top of the building for a 360 of the city. Madrid is spoiling us.
All Saints day was always a day off when we were growing up. A holy day of obligation, mass was a must. It is a big holiday in Spain. It was loud as hell outside our hotel room at four in the morning when the clubs let out. All the shops were closed today but there was a book fair in the Plaza Mayor. Lots of weighty material, literature, poetry and books on Machado, Lorca, Buñuel and the Spanish heroes, modern day saints, but all in Spanish.
We walked over to the Museo de Arte Contemporáneo for a show of Ramón Gómez’s work. A Dada artist, he was forced to flee Franco’s Spain and spent the rest of his life in Argentina. The Museo reconstructed his apartment, reproduced his witty drawings and showed some of his crazy movies.
We asked the gallery workers if there were any festivities in connection with All Saints/All Souls days and they suggested we take a bus to Cementerio de la Ermita de San Isidro where people decorate the graves of their loved ones. Peggi asked how far it was if we walked and they said maybe an hour. She told them we just walked the Camino, we can do that.
The cemetery was alive with people, fresh flowers and candles. The grave stones were covered in crosses and crucifixes and the mausoleums are surrounded by statues. We stumbled onto the tomb of La Argentinita, the famous flamenco dancer, who was forced to leave Spain when Franco took over. In 1943 she presented the flamenco troupe El Café de Chinitas at the Metropolitan Opera House in New York, with her own choreography, text by Lorca and scenery by Salvador Dalí.
One grave had a beautiful quote from Aurelio Muñoz Garcia on it. “Nacemos sin traer nada, morimos sin llevar nada, consciente de ello jamás ambicioné ser dueño de nada.” We are born with nothing, we die without taking anything with us, conscious of that, we never strive to be owner of anything.