Big Night Out

December 5th, 2016

We’ve had tonight’s Ossia performance on our calendar for months but it just got bumped. Kahil El’Zabar’s Allstar Ritual Trio will performs at the Bop Shop with David Murray, a founder of the World Saxophone Quartet. Kahil has been here many times with both his Trio and his Ethnic Heritage Ensemble and we have seen every show. Tonight will be no exception. I took this video six years ago he played the Atrium in Village Gate.

Standing Rock

December 4th, 2016

Inside out Pomegranate on kitchen counter

I was so happy to read that the Army will not approve an easement for the Dakota Access Pipeline. A real victory for the Native American tribes and protesters!

The RoCo Members show is always a treat. It is my favorite show of theirs most years with one work from every member and there are a record number of members this year. The show is still visibly pleasing and credit must go to those who hung the show. Or maybe it is simply the abundance of engaging work. This is really something for Rochester to be proud of.

Louise brought us two Pomegranates for Thanksgiving dinner. We had one with Mascarpone for dinner that day and we hung on to the other. I cut into it this morning and squeezed and knocked the seeds out as she had shown us. It was juicier and much sweeter than the first. The inverted shell looked quite exotic, like coral or something, and I took a few shots of it. It would look good in Instagram’s square format.


December 3rd, 2016

Peggi doing Farfisa organ overdubs  with Arpad engineering

CD Baby offered a Black Friday special on album submissions. The 50% off deal was good until midnight last night even if your project wasn’t ready to submit. Ours is not. We had to come up with a name for the cd. We chose “Seventeen,” for the year, certainly not the sequential number of Margaret Explosion albums, and not so much for the age but maybe a little.

We got together six times in small groups, and played. The amazing Pete LaBonne was here for a couple of those days. Twelve things rose to the top. Bob, our guitar player, has yet to contribute parts to many of the songs. He hopes to have time over the Christmas break. In the meantime here is a rough mix (with no Bob guitar yet) of something that ha the working title of “BigBassBounce.”

Margaret Explosion – Rough mix of BigBassBounce


December 2nd, 2016

Lake Ontario as seen from Rochester New York in November of 2016

I post notices for Margaret Explosion gigs, tag Peggi, and then get off Facebook as quickly as possible. I don’t exactly know why but the forum gives me the creeps. I guess it is prompts like “It’s “so and so’s” birthday today! Wish him the best.” Why? So FB can monetize my communication? They keep stats on every hover, every click. The whole thing is suspect. It depresses me that world wide web has turned into this but our civilization is still young. I know most people don’t worry about this and just have a good time with it. I am happy for them.

I’ve been thinking about their business model because at Wednesday’s band gig I talked to two people who said they had quit FB after the election. I could’t believe it. If they liked it before Trump why would they leave it now? Whether you were for or against him, this story is just getting going. I gather there was a lot of political badgering among so-called FB friends and I stay away from that. I like talking about politics but I don’t like provoking a fight. We always talk politics face to face face with Gerry at Atlas Eats and today was no exception.

Red Hats

November 28th, 2016

Our neighbor, Larry, with his Trump hat and dog, Topher.

We never talk politics with our neighbor. We don’t have to. His hat sums the subject up. There are plenty of other things to talk about. His dog. The weather. The neighbors who don’t bring their trash receptacle back after pick-up.

Listen to Pete LaBonne’s “We Live Like Kings”
Pete LaBonne – We Live Like Kings

Earth Art

November 27th, 2016

Chopped up leaves on the front yard

My watch says I walked 7.56 miles yesterday and I never left the yard. We raked and then mowed our leaves. In a good year we only mow the so called lawn once but we have mowed (aka mulched) the leaves four times. This should it. We have about two inches of chopped up leaves out there and it looks something like Robert Smithson’s earth art.

Gravitational Arch

November 26th, 2016

Vapourspace as seen on poster in PBS "Soundbreaking" show, "Four on the Floor" episode , 45 minutes in.

Jim Jarmusch’s “Gimme Danger” is a pretty tame Stooges movie but it is still a must see if you are a fan. It sounded great in Little 1, the original and largest of their five screens, and the sound system in there is great. Jarmusch uses the Rich Stim playbook for animations constructed to illustrate Iggy’s stories and I like that. Funny to picture of Iggy, a Discount Records employee, playing drums in his parent’s trailer. And then kinda sad to see the band move back in with their parents after those first two brilliant albums.

We watched the “Soundbreaking” series on PBS. About 45 minutes into the “Four on the Floor” episode we spotted Vapourspace listed on a poster for the “See The Light” tour with Moby, Aphex Twin and Orbital. I texted Mark Gage to make sure he had seen it and he hadn’t. You can listen to Mark’s smash dancehall hit on this page.

Trump’s Prayer

November 24th, 2016

Bald Cypress in Durand Eastman Arboretum

We started the holiday like a million or so other Americans. We watched Donald Trump’s “Thanksgiving Message” on YouTube. The two minute video felt like a propaganda piece from a Third World country. Comments are disabled on the page. Trump’s “prayer” for unity rings about as true as Rupert Pupkin. But how about that stock market!

A walk in the Arboretum put things right.

I Don’t Know

November 23rd, 2016

Maple leaves standing in the snow in late November

Many Maple trees, the Sugar Maples in particular, turn brilliant colors early and drop their leaves before the oaks but Norway Maples turn yellow and hang on. When they fell en masse a few days ago, with rain/wind/snow punch, they landed upright in the snow. It looked unnatural, like an art installation or something.

Recording live, as we do at the Little Theater, has spoiled me. The song is done as soon as we play it. We put a title on some and post them on the site but when we hit two hundred songs I started looking for ones to retire before putting another up in its place. The song below was recorded last week. Conceived, played, mixed and recorded in as much time as the song is long. Simple.

Multi-track recording is a whole other story. We got together here a few months ago, six sessions, a couple hours each and laid down some improvised tracks. Since then we’ve done piano overdubs. We’ve looped sections created ending through editing. We mashed a few songs together as one. Peggi doubled one of her sax tracks. We’ve replaced whole tracks with new takes. We tore the drums and bass out from under one song and put congas and electric bass on it. We’re adding bass clarinet next week. All this is a lot of work. Many nights are consumed with compressor settings and reverb plug ins. I haven’t even had time to check in here.

Does all of this sound any better than closing our eyes and knocking the songs off live? I don’t know.

Listen to “Inner Dialog” by Margaret Explosion, recorded last week at the Little Theater Café
Margaret Explosion - Inner Dialog
Margaret Explosion – Inner Dialog
Margaret Explosion plays Wednesday evenings at the Little Theatre Café.

Waiting For The White Out

November 20th, 2016

Green and brown leaves on concrete driveway


November 19th, 2016

Sewer manhole cover at the top o Hoffman Road in Rochester, New York

I guess I never came across our town seal until the other day. Gerundegut is the Native American word for “Where the Land and the waters meet,” a perfect description of town, now know as Irondequoit. When we lived in the city I chronicled the nearby manhole covers in this slideshow. I’m going to start looking down again.

National Bird

November 17th, 2016

Peggi on trail around Eastman Lake in Rochester, New York

We visited our garden this afternoon and brought back a couple of eggplants, some lettuce and cilantro, a big bag of kale and one small tomato which we cut in half and had with our dinner. Not bad for a mid November harvest. Seventy five degrees tomorrow and then the snow will fly.

Our friends, Pete and Shelley, wrote us that they spotted an American Eagle up in the mountains. It was off to the side of the road picking at a bag of McDonalds trash. We sold an Invisible Idiot cd this week. I just put it in the mail. Pete played bass in that band with Peggi and me and Jack Schaefer played guitar. We recorded it about twenty years ago. It may be time for a follow-up.

Listen to “Kudzoo” by Invisible Idiot
Invisible Idiot - Kudzoo
Invisible Idiot – Kudzoo

Trump University

November 17th, 2016

Everest Institute on Portland Avenue in Rochester, New York

It was so nice out we decided to ride our bikes over to Home Depot. We had a short hose that we wanted to return, one of those that connect your outdoor faucet to the big plastic spool of rolled up hose. Our old hose sprang a leak so we had picked up a new one but when we got it home I realized it had a female fitting on both ends, kind of a lesbian hose. We were in front of Home Depot when I realized I had forgotten to put the hose in my bike basket. We went in the store anyway and bought a second pair of noise cancelling headphones, his and hers. They look like Beats but they are not wired for sound.

Further down the road we stopped in the Starbucks on the corner of Ridge and Goodman. The clerk tried to sell us a holiday version of the “Flat Whites” at two for one but we held up the line quizzing her on the holiday flavoring. Was the flavoring in the coffee? Was it a powder that they added? She was uncertain and we grew suspicious so we ordered two regular “Flat Whites.” We sat down near the door and I speed-read a Wall Street Journal while we waited for our order. It occurred to on me that we were sitting right where the Golden Point was maybe fifty years ago. I used to have a hamburger and fries there while I waited for my father to pick me up after soccer practice, just something to hold me over until we got home for dinner. He worked at Kodak and Bishop Kearney High School is near that intersection. The old Everest Institute is just across the street on Goodman.

I really like this Trump University concept. A millionaire (and now president elect) sharing what he has learned in the real estate business, spreading the wealth around. Studying with a master at a University, not philosophy, history or art but a real profession and not from life-long academics but from a successful entrepreneur. Not some elitist major but an honest, practical trade. Does anybody know where the school is located?

If I Knew You Were Coming

November 15th, 2016

Nick Massa behind the service bar at Club 86 in Geneva, New York1953

Next time we go to Nick’s Seabreeze Inn I plan to record Nick as tells a few stories. His high school class at Geneva High School easily fit in one 8×10 and it included the great Scott LaFaro and Philip Seymour Hoffman’s father. In high school Nick was already working at Club 86 where Duke Ellington and Louie Armstrong did one week stands. Admission was $2.50 with a two dollar and fifty cent minimum per person at the table. Nick wound up with the photos from the bar and has them displayed on the walls of his restaurant in Sea Breeze. I knew there must be a good story behind the upside down promo photos in this picture of Nick from 1953 so I called him over. “Why are the pictures of Eileen Barton and Sammy Kaye used down?” “The house took a bath with them.” I asked if the performers were paid and he said,”Oh yeah. They got paid they didn’t draw enough for the house to make any money so we hung their pictures upside down.” Of course Nick then sang a few lines of Barton’s 1950 novelty hit, “If I Knew You Were Comin’ I’d’ve Baked a Cake.”

Most of my family was having dinner at Nick’s after we accepted the Paul Malo award for outstanding work in the field of historic preservation on behalf of my father from the Landmark Society. At the event Chris Brandt told me they had almost given the award to Leo last year which would have been nice considering he died in December. Brighton’s town supervisor was there and he told us he had just dropped his iPhone on the Brickyard Trail. He lives across from the newly opened trail, whose name my father championed, and the supervisor told us he sees people reading the sign at the trail’s head all the time. He said Leo would be so happy to have reached so many people with the history of Brighton’s brickyards. I agree. He would be thrilled. I gave a short rambling thank you speech and tried to make the point that my father’s enthusiasm and pure joy of discovery as he worked on these projects were infectious and inspiring. We told my mom about the award when we visited her today and she cried.


November 12th, 2016

Big concrete blocks at quarry near Starkey, New York

This could be the best photo I have ever taken. And I didn’t do anything but push the button. These concrete blocks were out in front a quarrel in Starkey near Seneca Lake. We passed it, stopped the car and I got out o take a few photos. I could not take a bad photo here. The lighting was perfect, the Fall colors were peaking, the piles of distinctly different earth elements were beautiful and those concrete blocks! I would love to have some of those to scatter about the yard.

We hardly ever go to Ithaca without visiting the Johnson Museum at Cornell. I was thinking about their Otto Dix painting all day. We stopped to visit my mom on the way out of town, then stopped at the diner in Penn Yan for lunch. We sat at the counter and both ordered a club sandwich with coffee. I read the little plaques on the walls and took note of my favorites.

“Boss spelled backwards is double S.O.B.”
“When the white man discovered this country the Indians were running it. No taxes, no debt, women did all the work. White man thought he could improve on a system like that.”
“Helen Waite is our credit manager. If you want credit, go to hell and wait.”
“Tact: The ability to tell a man to go to hell and make him feel happy to be on his way.”

Our next stop was Robert Treman State Park where we walked three miles up the gorge and three miles back down on the other side so we didn’t make into Ithaca until dark. Just enough time to walk the Commons, browse the used book store where Peggi picked up a copy of “Exquisite Corpse, and have dinner at a French restaurant. Couples on both sides of us were talking election results.

Check out the audio of this Leonard Cohen interview. He left us with some solid advice.

Bare Bones

November 9th, 2016

10 point buck off Wisner Road in Rochester, New York

The day before election day we saw “A Palo Seco” perform at the Dryden Theater as part of the Eastman’s World Music Series. The New York based company puts a contemporary spin on raw, “a palo seco” or bare-bones flamenco, minimal musical accompianment with some improvisation. Mostly this was voice and percussive dancing, heals clicking and hands clapping. We loved it. Check out their video.

The day after the election there was blood on Hoffman Road in two different spots, both near houses with “Repeal the Safe Act” signs. I know there is a controlled deer bow hunt on property nearby and maybe the wounded wandered around before dropping but we’ve always thought people take deer on their own property even if they do live within the the town limits. There’s far too many deer around here. They decimate the undergrowth and the next generations old growth. But you can stop and look at these guys standing still just ten feet away and they don’t flinch. There can’t be much sport in taking them out.

Mr. Enclosure

November 8th, 2016

Red Japanese Maple leaves, pachysandra and wood pile, Rochester, New York

We regularly run into Dan and Lisa at Rochester’s First Friday art openings and we’re always talking about going out to eat together but we eat early and they eat late so the will probably never happen. We went to Lisa’s father’s funeral mass over the weekend and sat by an old neighbor. I was their paperboy years ago and I even babysat for Lisa. The priest talked of how Christ conquered death by His victory on the cross. Only the Catholic church could spin such a tale and then talk about it at someone’s death. If Lisa’s father had lived his life differently he too might have been able to conquer death.

In high school I had a summer job working for Lisa’s uncle. In fact I was his first employee. We drove around the city in a pickup truck and installed aluminum awnings on windows and doors of people’s homes. This guy’s business really took of and he became known as “Mr. Enclosure” by installing patios and sun rooms on people’s homes.

We ran into Chris Maggio at the funereal and I told him I read about his father in Georgia Durante’s book on Rochester’s mob. Chris said he shot the cover and was only recently paid for the shoot.

Someone, maybe a relative, read the book of Ecclesiastes piece, something that has never sounded as good as it did when the Birds did their version in 1965, and through dramatic pauses they they were able to find some life in that passage. And this is why we go to funerals.

Thank You Donald

November 7th, 2016

Never Hillary sign on Wisner Road in Rochester, New York

It would be so easy to alter this campaign sign. The letters and numbers are off the shelf at Home Depot, a standard size font. I could put a number “4” on top of the letter “N” and it would be so subtle the owner might not even notice. There are very few pro Hillary signs around. Most with her name on it are negative. Trump has the angry supporters, angry enough to make their own signs in many cases. Everyone knows Hillary has New York’s electoral vote sewn up and that only makes them more angry.

We had dinner at Scott and Sue’s house the other night. There were maybe twelve people there and of course the conversation turned to politics as soon as we sat down. There was a sameness to everyone’s point of view, all aghast at Trump’s antics and boneheaded positions so it was a rather boring exchange. It made me realize how Trump has not only given voice to the undercurrent of Republican themes (anti-imigrant, anti-abortion, anti gun control, anti tax, anti science) from the last few decades but how he has energized the campaign. He has rescued politics from the doldrums. He has done us all a favor by crystallizing the fear-mongering stance. It is all out in the open. It should now be easier to rise to the challenge.


November 6th, 2016

Thieves attempting to break in to house  off Hoffman Road in Rochester, New York

Burglaries are good for business. Good for the video camera business, the alarm business and presumably profitable for the theives. These kids look like they are about 16 years old. Their images were caught on a newly installed camera which was mounted on a house these kids had already broken into a few weeks ago. There have been seven break-ins or attempted break-ins in our neighborhood in the last three or four weeks and everyone is talking about it or what they can do prevent it. I know some of the neighbors are armed. I don’t really “know” that they are but they have those “Stop the Safe Act” signs in their front yard and I assume that follows.

The young couple across the street just ordered a 3-pack of video surveillance cameras. If something moves over there while they’re out they’ll get an image sent to to their phones. I spotted a Doyle Alarm vehicle on the next street over and the neighbor down the street was talking about installing his own glass break sensor. The local police have really increased their patrols. It will be interesting to see how this all ends.

Seductive Curves

November 2nd, 2016

Peggi working on the slate sidewalk

I like puzzles but don’t go out of my way to tackle them. I get addicted and can’t stop. This one sort of fell into our lap. My brother, the best stone mason in the city, poured a new concrete driveway for us. Of course there was a lot more work than the pouring. He was over here every day few a couple of weeks preparing the surface and forms. He even offered his artist eye to give the driveway some seductive curves. The concrete was poured on a Saturday and he returned one more time to seal it. We threw a game of horseshoes when he finished and he beat me one out of three.

There is a slate sidewalk from our old driveway to the threshold of our front door and the new driveway, which gently slopes from the garage to the street, is now two inches higher than our sidewalk. So 200 pound piece by 200 pound piece Peggi and I have been raising the level of the sidewalk. We’ve been working on this for over a week now and we can’t wait to get to work each day. We find ourselves looking out the window at our project at night. The pieces of slate or Pennsylvania Bluestone or whatever you call this stuff are all different sizes and some of the old ones were broken so putting it all pack together with shovels, sand, fill, levels, a grinder and diamond blade circular saw that our neighbor Jared let us borrow, and a 2 by 6 to grade the surface has been a real puzzle. It feels great to be outdoors the whole day and I find manual labor to be immensely satisfying. I wonder why that is.

Listen to “Girls With Balloons” from Margaret Explosion Disappear CD
Margaret Explosion - Girls With Balloons
Margaret Explosion – Girls With Balloons
Margaret Explosion plays Wednesday evenings in October and November at the Little Theatre Café.