Tiny House

Red ice-fishing tent on Durand Lake in Rochester, New York
Red ice-fishing tent on Durand Lake in Rochester, New York

These lakes in Durand Eastman are so small. I can’t imagine what kind fish people pull out of them in the dead of winter. There must be something else to this ice fishing sport. I picture some incredible homemade soup and black coffee from a Stanley steel thermos. Maybe the guy in this red tent is reading the morning paper.

When Peggi’s parents came up here for six weeks one summer we bought them a temporary subscription to the Democrat & Chronicle. At the time we were subscribing to the afternoon paper, the Times Union, but we picked the D&C for them because it leaned to the right. Well, they found it too left wing so that did’t work out. And golf course in Bristol, near where they were staying, was closed most of the summer because it was the rainiest on record. The Times Union disappeared and I don’t want to see the same fate for the D&C.

Did anybody see David Andreatta’s column on the former Monroe County Supervisor? I know print is dead for most people but we can’t just tune out. I worry that many of my neighbors already have. Why else would we have paid Maggie Brooks for 23 years at the public trough? How about Steve Orr’s reporting on the abuse and coverup at McQuaid? While newsprint sips away the local team here is working harder than ever in hopes enough people care enough to pay a few pennies a day for online access to keep them informed. Don’t be a dumb ass. Give it up.

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Sell The Statues

Cross on tree in the woods, Rochester, New York
Cross on tree in the woods, Rochester, New York

Another perfect day for cross country or “Alpine Skiing” as Ann our yoga buddy from Jeffery’s summer classes at the caught club. We ran into Ann on the course and she tried to give me a hug. I leaned over on my skis and almost fell over. She is the high school ski instructor and she was happy to be skiing on her own while the kids are off for President’s Week. We skied out the ridge to the lake and back along the western edge of Durand Lake. I spotted this cross on a tree on our way up out of the woods.

I was talking to my cousin over the weekend and he asked about our Camino trip. While explaining the centuries old significance of the destination we found ourselves deep in a religious conversation. In no time at all he was talking about he recent Democrat & Chronicle exposé on the priests at McQuaid, the same priests that kicked him out of McQuaid for disturbing the other students. As if that wasn’t a worthwhile pursuit for a high schooler. Yet these guys sexually abused their own students, covered for one another and acted all pious.

My cousin recommended The Keepers” to us, the Netflix series on the murder of Sister Catherine Cesnik, a popular nun at Baltimore’s Archbishop Keough High School. He said he thought it was more powerful than “Spotlight.” Even though we had just started the Ted Bundy Tapes (I fell asleep in Episode 1) we watched the first two installments of The Keepers last night. It is devastating and hard to watch. In this case the evil starts in the school and is covered up by the whole city.

This week Pope Francis meets with the church hierarchy in a last ditch effort to turn his ship around. Unless they seriously clean house, assist in the prosecution of rapists in their midst, open their doors to people of all sexual persuasions, allow women to be priests and roll back the bone headed, 12th Century edict on celibacy they might as well start selling their statues.

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Abraham

Leo Dodd watercolor Statue of Abraham Lincoln in Washington Square Park, Rochester, New York
Leo Dodd watercolor Statue of Abraham Lincoln in Washington Square Park, Rochester, New York

Historic Brighton celebrated their 20th year by serving cake and punch at the conclusion of their annual meeting. My siblings and I were invited because they were presenting an award in my father’s name. He was one of the founding members and he would have been thrilled with the turnout on Sunday. This year’s Leo Dodd Award went to Betsy Breyer, who had a fatal heart attack on the way to last year’s meeting. She was a longtime editor of the newsletter and was nominated for a Pulitzer Prize for her book on George Eastman.

Michael Lasser, host of WXXI’s Fascinating Rhythm, was scheduled to give talk entitled, “The Songs of the Suburbs,” but he had to cancel. Grant Holcomb, the former director of the Memorial Art Gallery filled his slot with a presentation on “The Image of Lincoln in American Art.” It started with traditional, historical paintings of Lincoln in action, signing the Emancipation Proclamation, and then wandered into fanciful portrayals of the young Lincoln and Lincoln pennies. Grant could have stopped at Leonard Volk’s life mask of Lincoln. What a face!

I was thrilled to see a couple of Horace Pippin paintings with Lincoln in them but when we approached modern times Grant sort of went off the rails. David Salle’s painting from the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, with a miniature Lincoln medallion floating above a woman’s breast, got lot of screen time and we did’t get to see Dali’s tour de force.

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A Day Late

Frederick Douglas plastic statue in front of his former home on South Avenue in Rochester, New York
Frederick Douglass plastic statue in front of his former home on South Avenue in Rochester, New York

We were out walking and Peggi had to go to the bathroom. There was a library across the street so we ducked in there, the Frederick Douglas Community Library. They had a big display of books for Black History Month and I picked up “Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass’ and read a few pages detailing a slave master’s demeanor while dispensing a whipping. I think I have a digital copy of this and I keep meaning to get to it.

While we were in the library my watch gave me a news alert that the NFL had reached some sort of settlement with Colin Kaepernick. Maybe they’ll make him Commissioner.

Next door I noticed School Number 12 is now called Anna Murray Douglass Academy after Frederick Douglass’s wife. And just few steps more down South Avenue stands a historical marker, planted in 1984, Rochester’s 150th Anniversary year, that reads “DOUGLASS HOME Frederick Douglas, abolitionist and editor of the the North Star hid many fugitive slaves at his home on this site.” The plastic replica of the statue in Highland Park (above), one of many around town marking the 200th anniversary of his birth, was standing near the sidewalk . His birthday is celebrated on February 14th, yesterday.

The temperatures had dropped below freezing and the sidewalks were a mess but we soldiered on and walked around Highland Park where the real statue of Frederick Douglas, overlooking the bowl, looked magnificent.

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Busted Valentines Day

Busted Valentines performing live at Record Archive in Rochester, New York
Busted Valentines performing live at Record Archive in Rochester, New York

Does anyone remember that gag gift store on Clinton Avenue, right next door to Jay’s Record Ranch? Probably not. They used to sell things like garlic gum and fake puke. Record Archive sells all that stuff today in addition to records. Thank god. I found some cool 45s over there yesterday, KC, Get Down Tonight, Elton John, Bennie & the Jets, Peggy Lee, Fever, a couple bucks each all while sipping The Kind from 3 Heads.. We also caught a couple of bands

Morgxn, that’s how he spells what sounds like Morgan, did a special afternoon in-store at Record Archive in conjunction with 94.1. All we knew about him was what Spevak wrote and that he was on the same label as Rochester’s Joywave. We assumed he would sing to backing tracks but he performed with only a keyboardist and minimal electronic drums. To our ears he sounded better than anything we heard on the Grammys. After his show Alayna told the crowd that “Morgxn is about to explode.”

Frank De Blase, performing with the Busted Valentines has a very different “idea of what a man is for the twenty first century.” – to quote Spevak. But then Frank wears so many different hats. Music reviewer, non-pareil, for City, pulp-noir author of several books featuring Frankie Valentine, pin-up photographer, the chief Frantic Flattop and puts all this together masterfully when he performs live with Busted Valentines.

Back on our living room couch we cued up Chasing Trane, the next item in our Netflix queue. Coltrane sounds so good he could fix all that is wrong with this world.

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Generation Z

Nancy Wiley Generation Z portraits at Main Street Arts
Nancy Wiley Generation Z portraits at Main Street Arts

Clifton Springs is only 55 cents away on the NYS Thruway. Our passengers, Pete and Gloria, paid the toll and provided the kind of conversation that makes time fly. The shows at Main Street Arts, in the center of this restored town, are consistently good. “Perception of Time,” a group there now is a case in point. I liked Nancy Wiley’s loose, painterly Generation Z portraits, particularly the second one in from the bottom right. Wiley apparently likes this one too because she shows it in catalog for the show along with this statement. “I have been struck by the struggle many of them go through to be authentic and honest about who they are as individuals, often challenging old social norms.”

Sam Rathbun, an artist in residence for the month, was working on ideas for an upcoming Glens Falls show in the the studio space on the second floor. She had covered a wall with large, fluid India ink drawings on paper. She told me she grew up on a farm near Naples and is influenced by the equipment her father uses there.

Kurt and Judy Feuerherm have a fun little show up there as well. Kurt was my Fine Arts mentor at Empire State and his work is in the permanent collection of MoMA, Albright Knox and the MAG. The small assemblage sculpture and painting/collage pieces here create an idyllic winter garden.

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Virtual 45

Burning bushes on hill in Durand Eastman, Winter 2019
Burning bushes on hill in Durand Eastman, Winter 2019

FFThe only bobblehead doll we have is Barry Bonds, back from before the controversy, when he was chasing Hank Aaron’s homer record. I’m not counting the plastic, solar-powered, Trump bobblehead that someone gave us for Christmas. I plan to throw that away. I was thinking about bobbleheads long before the article in Sunday’s paper on the bobblehead museum in Milwaukee. Amy Rigby’s “Bobblehead Doll,” from Eric and Amy’s 2009 double A side single, has been stuck in my head for weeks. The 45 has been on heavy rotation our house.

I still visit “So Many Records, So Little Time,” even though it is not getting the attention it deserves – from its owner. Kevin called around New Year’s and Peggi helped him reclaim the domain name after it had expired. The website is still a goldmine. If there is nothing new on the front page I just scroll down the long list of artists in the right hand column, like I did this morning, and get lost in Kevin’s spin on Bootsy, Alan Vega and Heart.

I’ve been cleaning house myself and am in the process of moving the Margaret Explosion site to PopWars where all the content now flows from the database. I’m re-building the virtual 45 page with live tracks from our performances. In honor of Peggi’s birthday here is a song from those vaults. That’s a photo of Peggi on the cover.

"When We Were Young" "Contemplation" by Margaret Explosion. Recorded live at the Little Theatre on 11.20.13. Peggi Fournier - sax, Ken Frank - bass, Bob Martin - guitar, Jack Schaefer - bass clarinet, Paul Dodd - drums.
“When We Were Young” “Contemplation” by Margaret Explosion. Recorded live at the Little Theatre on 11.20.13. Peggi Fournier – sax, Ken Frank – bass, Bob Martin – guitar, Jack Schaefer – bass clarinet, Paul Dodd – drums.

Margaret Explosion – When We Were Young

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Red Envelope

Chinese New Year at Nhung's
Chinese New Year at Nhung’s

We celebrated Chinese New Year last night with my brother’s lady friend and her family. We rang in the the Year of the Pig sitting around a long table with bowls stacked with fresh ingredients plates of rice paper wrappers and two hot plates as centerpieces.

My brother tended the hot plate nearest us and I marveled at how adept he was with chopsticks. He carefully demonstrated how to roll a proper spring roll, how to start with the ingredients close to the edge and roll it snug, tucking the ends in midway. “It’s just like rolling a joint,” he said. Of course, I continually made the same mistake I did with that exercise. I kept trying to put too much in the container.

After dinner red envelopes with gold embossing were spread out on the table. We each took one while our host explained that only three had a two dollar bill inside, a sign of good luck in the new year. I was one of the lucky ones but the others each had a five inside.

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Good Storm

Fallen tree at corner with yellow caution tape.
Fallen tree at corner with yellow caution tape.

I knew something was up when I saw our neighbor, Jared, coming back from the corner with his noise cancelling headphones in his hand. We were still reading the morning paper but we waved to Jared and he came up to the door. He told us his wife had gone out for coffee and had to drive under the power lines that were stretched to the max under a fallen oak.

Jared said Spectrum TV was down there and a “cute little reporter” had interviewed him, inquiring how residents were impacted the storm. He said he told the reporter he likes a good storm. By the time we got down there the power company had stung yellow tape across our street, sealing us in. They cut the power and tree surgeons were preparing to go to work. When the power came back on we found Jared’s interview online. He told us “they cut out all the good parts.”

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Crystallization

Ice covered Witch Hazel in Durand Eastman
Ice covered Witch Hazel in Durand Eastman

We walked up to Wegmans with our Yak Tracks on. The temperature is right at freezing and the rain we had overnight froze on every surface. In the produce aisle we ran into Steve Greive and he showed us photos he took of ice covered trees in the marsh near his house. This particular Witch Hazel (above), which blooms in the dead of winter, smells like a rich butterscotch but the scent is trapped inside the ice.

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Parallel Universe

Liberty Tax Service on Hudson Avenue in Rochester, New York
Liberty Tax Service on Hudson Avenue in Rochester, New York

Ken Frank has a dance song, one he did under a pseudonym, called “Lady Liberty.” First thing I thought of when I saw this place. I like the contemporary lady out front, something the owner apparently wheels in and out each day. He leaves her strapped to the cart.

We gave Duane a call while we were out walking. He was out walking too, in Brooklyn. He was over by the Brooklyn Museum when reached him. We covered all the bases, politics, race relations and the stock market.. He arrived at back at his apartment just as we reached our front door. Both of us did about six miles.

Peggi has been been doing our taxes the past few days so I’ve been fielding a lot of questions. “What did we get at “Ship To Shore?” MX-80 Out of the Tunnel on blue vinyl. “Why did we pay so much to Dropbox?” I went Pro. That reminds me. Duane put a bunch of dub Reggae remixes in a shared folder for us.

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Auto Shutdown

Super Bowl LIII Auto Shutdown Function
Super Bowl LIII Auto Shutdown Function

A low scoring soccer match can have you on the edge of your seat with non stop action. Just saying. There was only a few minutes left in the big football game when my brother’s LG TV threatened to shut down. This happened a few years back and because he had rearranged all his furniture to accommodate the family he couldn’t find the remote for five minutes or so.

It wasn’t just the game that lacked excitement. No one took the knee and the halftime show looked like a Trump rally. I did like the CBS ad with the animated double eye logo mimicking old CBS shows. Bud Light body slammed Coors by calling attention to the corn syrup they put in their product. And the vintage Warhol “EatLikeAndy” Burger King ad was so ordinary it was startling.

My brother is a gourmet barbecuer and I would pick him as the Super Bowl MVP.

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Idea Factory

Hill in Durand Eastman on a beautiful February day
Hill in Durand Eastman on a beautiful February day

Peggi’s sister called from LA during the cold snap and Steve Hoy called from Charleston, making sure we were ok. Both times we had just returned from skiing. We had to get out early today, before the temperatures warmed. All this snow will be gone tomorrow.

Todd McGrain and Fola Akinola’s video “Eclipsing the Sun/A Biological Storm at Rochester Contemporary Art Center is amazing. I won’t spoil it for you.

Peter Monacelli’s show, “These Are My Rivers” opened last night at Colleen Buzzard’s Studio. Curated by Anne Havens and Colleen Buzzard it is a tour de force of paintings, drawings, collages and sketch books pulled from a lifetime of art making. Pete’s work is graphic, tangible abstractions of meaningful elements of his experience. He presents you with gifts that come straight from these influences.

I love this art space. Like the loft jazz, performance spaces in the seventies it is an old fashioned, DIY scene. Conversation is up a few notches here. And since Colleen’s studio is just behind the gallery you have the big bonus of peeking in on her endeavors. Pieces in all stages of development spring from every nook and cranny of her studio. It is an idea factory.

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Psychedelic Jazz

I put this video up last night and then reconsidered it. It was too easy.

We walked Horseshoe Road in Durand Eastman with the camera on. I stuck the video, with no edits, on a song that we played last year at the Little. The song was slightly longer than the walk so I slowed the video down and they end together. It was far from a steady cam so I stabilized it 100%, a move similar to going overboard with auto tune.

I remember riding in our family car when my dad drove this road. It is still just as magical but it’s been closed to car traffic for over forty years now. There are so many weeds growing up through the pavement that the park workers mow it. And there aren’t many park workers left.

I took the song down and even though it is all one take I put some splices in and added color filters to the various sections. The beginning and end are still as they were. I jacked up the transition time as far as it would let me go. I’m happy with it now.

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Moving On

CaminoFavorites2018

I am ready to move on but I am still savoring and digesting our big walk. Peggi and I did the Camino in two installments, a month long each, passing through Madrid on both ends of both trips. I took a lot of photos on this journey and edited them down to this batch (click on “CaminoFavorites” on the photo above and go full screen). It visually tells the story and I may want to reread it.

Jim Mott suggested we do a slideshow. He suggested that on two occasions so I considered it. I’ve not used my projector since “Subterranean Surrogates'” when it ran for a solid month in the Lab Space at RoCo. So I cleared a white wall in the studio and brought every chair we have in our house down to the basement. We invited Ann Schauman who encouraged us to do it after she completed it, people who commented on my Camino blog posts, Hispanophiles, a few artists and friends and Jim Mott, of course. The old fashioned idea worked like a charm. The conversation flowed and it was closer to a party than a presentation. We’re ready to take this show on the road.

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Commute

These elements just fell together, a dreamy, hypnotic Margaret Explosion song from a performance at the Little Theatre Café last year and some blurry photos I took a few years apart on train rides from New York to Rochester.

Peggi Fournier plays soprano sax, Ken Frank plays bass, Phil Marshall plays guitar and I play drums.

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Trikonasana

Paul and Peggi doing triangle pose against the wall in yoga class
Paul and Peggi doing triangle pose against the wall in yoga class. Photo by Jeffery Young.

We had just a touch of fresh snow last night but it was enough to bring some crisp traction back to the ski paths. And at sixteen degrees the trails were crunchy. A wind was coming off the lake as we skied toward it and just as I said, “There’s no one out today,” we saw our first fellow skier. He smiled as we passed each other and said, “It doesn’t get any better than this.”

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Transgender Wall

X Country ski trail groomers at Durand Eastman Park
X Country ski trail groomers at Durand Eastman Park

The vulture capitalists have already taken a big bite out of our local Gannet paper. I’m reporting this because I know full well that no one reads the print version of the paper anymore so you wouldn’t know this. I have been a faithful reader since my pre-teen paper route days.

The paper got smaller at first. That is the sheet size shrank. And then the B section, what used to be local news, went national. The articles were plopped in from USA Today. And the C section, what used to carry arts and entertainment articles, now might have a piece on craft beer, if you’re lucky. There is no one left at the paper to cover the arts scene.

The letters to the editor were dropped on weekdays, a community forum that required only an editor to open the mail. The nationally syndicated columnists were gone too. This week they cut out the B and C sections entirely. The paper is just two sections, A and D. If you go to the Democrat & Chronicle’s website you will be assaulted with full screen pop-up ads and tiny articles.

Local Eagle Scouts are in jail for threatening to blowup Islamberg, a rural New York hamlet. The President wants a powerful wall. There is a lot going on out there and Will Cleveland cannot cover it all.

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Lonely Block

Four "Untitled" entries to Rochester Contemporary 6x6 Show, oil on wood, Paul Dodd 2019
Four “Untitled” entries to Rochester Contemporary 6×6 Show, oil on wood, Paul Dodd 2019

Rochester Contemporary’s annual 6×6 Show has afforded me the opportunity to push the boundaries of one idea for five years now. Revisiting that idea each year, probing it for new life or attempting to reduce it further. You can see all five year’s pieces here.

I pictured a simple block, something with a third dimension to it like those painted toy building blocks we had when we were kids. Years ago we helped our friends, Pete and Shelley, finish the roof of their Adirondack home and I fell in love the rough-cut pine boards they were using. They came from a local saw mill and they gave us a few. I went out to the garage to cut them into 6 by 6 inch pieces but the boards I found weren’t wide enough. So I put two pieces together, ripping the boards in a pleasing proportion, leaving the rough cut exposed when possible and gluing them together.

They are awkward to hang. I ask that they be hung in a specific order and hope they don’t wind up being separated when the show is hung. The first year I painted the two boards a different color, three colors for the four pieces, all straight from the tube. The second year I toyed with leaving the wood unpainted altogether as the the two pieces were different tones but I chickened out. I let the natural wood show and only used two colors.

Year three I reduced the palette to one color. I ripped the boards in three inch widths this time and painted either a square within the square piece or the space surrounding the square. I played with black and white for the fourth year but decided the white would not hold its own on a white wall so went to this silvery color. If they hadn’t sold each year I would have moved on (RoCo takes 100% as a fundraiser.) This year (shown above) I pushed it and left the blocks au natural. After a few days I decided to strengthen the dark portion of each piece by coating it with a quick drying oil.

Finally, I went to the Rochester Contemporary website to see if they had reduced the number of submissions per artist as I heard they might. Sure enough they are only accepting three this year so one of these will be voted off the island.

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In Pursuit Of Magic

Nathan Lyons photos in "In Pursuit Of Magic" show at Eastman Museum
Nathan Lyons photos in “In Pursuit Of Magic” show at George Eastman Museum

When you look at a photo do you respond to the content of the photo or the decisions the photographer has made in presenting this representation of the subject matter to you? Nathan Lyons lets you have it both ways in equal measure. And on top of that he arranges playful pairings, note-perfect in composition, improvisation, texture and subject matter. Furthermore he sequences his photos so the narrative carries forward.

Nathan Lyon’s show, “In Pursuit of Magic,” opened tonight at George Eastman Museum. Lyons was a director there a half century ago and he had a show there called “Riding First Class On The Titanic” in the first part of this century. We bought the book and lent it to someone. Can’t remember who so I may have to buy it again. I remember the photos in the book were bigger than the 5×7 prints in the show. His black and white prints are super rich and when he switched to color, late in his career, they are still small but only got richer.

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