Down In The Flats

March 15th, 2018

Sign from down in the Flats near the Genesee River

I took a quick look at the route Peggi had plotted for today. She had Google Maps open on her iMac and the route was plotted in Satellite view. I could see the bay to the left of our starting point and the lakeshore was stretched out across the top of her screen. The river was also visible on the right hand side and our route went right along it for a stretch. I was struck by how much geography there was on the map and then by the notion that we could possibly cover that much ground on foot.

Our street was still somewhat icy so we started with our Yaktrax on but took them off at the cemetery. Those roads are some of the cleanest in the county due to the roster of public service workers with nothing to do. We turned right on Titus and walked to the House of Guitars where we turned north on Cooper just as Irondequoit High was letting out. Cooper meets Saint Paul and from there we began our descent to the river level, a place called “The Flats.” Irondequoit people talk about this place in almost mythical tones and I can see why.

There are wide open spaces between the houses, old barns and fields, undoubtably fertile fields judging by the standing water. It feels like you are out in the country but we just walked here. It was like a dream. We continued north along Saint Joseph which changes names to Van Voorhis and takes you up out of The Flats.

We checked the mileage and we were somewhere near six miles, about ready to begin the return leg. Since we don’t like retracing our steps we headed north on Saint Paul to the lake and walked along the lakeshore, up Zoo Road in the Park and on home.

Greater Knowledge

March 14th, 2018

Paul and Peggi sitting on Veterans Memorial Bridge

Our walk yesterday was interrupted with a visit to the Seneca Park Zoo. That should be a yearly stop for everyone just to keep the lid on our humanity. There is a major expansion going on with red and white concrete trucks rumbling by the the lions’ den. When the new buildings are ready they will tear down the original 1930’s yellow brick building, the one with the sign near the old entrance that reads, “Rochester Zoological Building – To the citizens of Rochester this building is dedicated. May the observation of the denizens of the wild afford pleasure and lead to a greater knowledge of the natural sciences.”

We spent time outdoors with the grey wolves, the lions and sea lions. We watched the tiger pace back and forth and were mesmerized by the elephants trunks. The rhino looks absolutely pre-historic. We were introduced to the exotic Pied Tamarin and Red Rumped Agouti. I felt like a kid again. My family used to come to this park to swim in the public pool but I can’t even remember where that was now. Peggi made some movies of the lemurs. They played a central role in her song, one we performed as Personal Effects, and she is planning to make a video to that song.

We left the zoo on foot and walked across the walking bridge to Maplewood Park, another Frederick Law Olmsted Park on the west side of the river. Instead of retracing our steps from there we tried walking across the Veterans’ Memorial Bridge at rush hour, a near death experience on the narrow sidewalk with three lanes of cars speeding toward you. I used the timer on my camera to record this shot of us on the other side.

Personal Effects - Love Never Thinks
Personal Effects – Love Never Thinks

Plus Sign

March 13th, 2018

Rusty boat on Summerville Dock in Rochester, New York

Peggi took this photo of a dry-docked boat in Summerville when we were wandering around by the river. We saw one very similar to this in Sausalito when we visited our friends.

Snowflakes are in the air this morning and St. Patty’s, the unofficial first day of Spring, is just around the corner. This is ideal walking weather and the first order of business each day is determining la ruta. We can only walk so far north in this part of the country, something like a mile, but the other three directions are unlimited. The trick is to plot a loop with as little overlap as possible. And the route must be somewhere near ten miles.

We pinpoint our location in Google Maps, add a destination and then use the “plus sign” feature to extend our walk to the appropriate length loop. We were on the high side of ten the last few days and need to keep pushing to prepare for the minimum twenty mile first day’s walk over the Pyrenees into España. I am only hoping the walk across Spain will be as much fun as exploring our nearby neighborhoods has been.

Church And State

March 10th, 2018

Charlotte lighthouse in winter

I’m hoping we’ll pick up an additional tenth of a mile just walking around the house tonight because I really want to see that 13 mile tally on our Moves app.

We got a late start because we had a funeral to go to for our sister in law’s father. It was a patriotically themed event as well it should have been. The man served in all three branches of the military! Flag pins were attached to the red, white and blue programs. A trumpet player played taps while we took our seats and then guns went off outside the Baptist Church in Greece. The hymn was “America the Beautiful,” all four verses. Free Masons, wearing white beanies in the front row, presented white roses to the remains. State Senator Joseph Robach gave the remembrance. And a piano player, a seasoned lounge player, played Leonard Cohen’s Hallelujah and a great version of Frank’s “My Way.”

We changed clothes and headed out through the park and along the lake all the way to the river. We thought we might be able to work our way along the river to Silk O’Loughlin’s, which had just opened for the season, but we couldn’t get around the gates of a shipyard. I took this photo in front of Shumway’s Marina and we turned around. With the temperature right around freezing we walked on a variety of surfaces. Some crusty, icy snow, some black ice, some mud, some soft sand along the lake and a few good sized puddles on the sidewalk.

No Draft

March 9th, 2018

No Draft bridge and Peggi on Penfield Road in Rochester New York

Has this “No Draft” graffiti really been on this railroad overpass since the Viet Nam War? Abolishing the draft seemed like such a noble movement back then. Seems like “Call of Duty” buffs voluntarily fight our wars now and the rest of us just tune the whole thing out.

We buy our coffee at Canaltown, Rochester’s oldest coffee roaster. We left our car in their parking lot yesterday and walked over to Phil Marshall’s house to deliver a cd of live songs from our first two months playing together. He wasn’t home so we slid it in the mail slot in his front door. Phil texted that he had a new guitar and a very scaled down pedal board he was looking forward to using at last night’s gig. But he came down with a cold and we had to go to the ME rolodex. Steve Piper joined us on guitar and it was all new again.

We walked up to the library today to pick the copy of “Fire & Fury” that Peggi had reserved. We had an early dinner at Lakeside Hots in the former Vic’s Place overlooking the lake. It is run by former Vic & Irv’s employees and it is every bit as good as it ever was. Peggi left from there to drive along the lake to our tax guy’s place. She’s filing for my mom too, the last piece of business we have to do for her. I walked home and crossed paths with a mailman. I asked him how many miles he walks in a day. It was complicated because he said he does five different routes each week but he came up with a average of eight. I told him eight was pretty impressive and I explained that I was walking to get ready for a hike across Spain.

Margaret Explosion plays Wednesdays in March at the Little Theatre Café. Here’s “Pedal Pusher” with Phil Marshall on guitar.

Margaret Explosion - Pedal Pusher
Margaret Explosion – Pedal Pusher

Getting Real

March 8th, 2018

Drum set in the snow in Rochester New York

The Emirates Group sponsors both teams. Qatar Sports Investments owns Paris Saint-Germain and they spent a fortune on players like Neymar. Real Madrid is owned by their club supporters, hundreds of people called socios and they too spent a fortune on players like Ronaldo. The word Real, Spanish for Royal, was bestowed on the club by King Alfonso XIII and our friend Matthew advised us that if we’re going to cheer for a Madrid team it ought to be Atlético because Real still has cultural ties to the fascists. But we can’t help ourselves, we’ve been rooting for Real in the Champions League and we were ecstatic watching them defeat PSG, both at home and in Madrid. We wouldn’t root for Real against Barcelona, of course. They are on another plane.

Ronaldo is an over-the-top star. Like Trump, you can’t take your eyes off him as he sucks all the air out of the room. Madrid has Sergio Ramos, the captain of the ship. They have Marcello, a back who is an ever threat to score. They have Bale, on the bench with his man-bun. They have the smart, agile Croatian, Luka Modrić, in midfield. And they have Zinedine Zidane in the ever so sharp coach’s suit. They are a real team and a joy to watch.

8 Mile

March 6th, 2018

Snow ice scape along Lake Ontario

We are sort of in limbo with with this white stuff. The big snowfall we had last week is just sitting there. The sidewalks are clear. People aren’t wearing hats or gloves anymore. We have all moved on but the snow lingers. There was so much of it the sidewalk and street plows shoved it into the other’s paths. And it was so heavy and wet when it came down it is now clumped into hard-core sculptural formations on the edges of the sidewalk.

Our route today took us in an eight mile loop with stops. Starbucks, where we had a sandwich and a medium Flat White, the post office where we mailed off (for scanning) 700 35mm slides that my sister culled from my father’s slides, and Dunkin Donuts where we used the bathroom.

We saw “Shape of Water” this evening and I loved it. An old fashioned straight up love story done with loving respect for the medium. I was a skeptic and wanted Greta to get all the awards for “Ladybird” but I was wrong. This was beautiful.

Wonder Bread & Beer

March 4th, 2018

Stairway to houses on Lake Bluff Road in Sea Breeze

We were hanging out with our friends, Jeff and Mary Kaye, last night and we were telling them about all the cool little neighborhoods we had been exploring while walking. We mentioned the dead ends that lead down to the bay on the west side and Jeff told us he lived in a house on Schnackel Drive back in the seventies. He had to get out when the water level rose. He said there was a small store down there that sold nothing more than Wonder Bread and beer. The street sounded so familiar but we couldn’t place it until we found it on our phone. The map showed Riviera’s Liquor store down there, on a a dead end along the bay. I couldn’t believe it. I called the number but it had been disconnected. We were determined to find the place today.

Point Pleasant Road, the third traffic circle on your way to the lake, leads to Pleasant Avenue which takes a dive down to the bay where it turns into Schnackel Drive which hugs the shore of Irondequoit Bay. You can wind your way around the inlet to the right or walk to your left around the gated Point Pleasant Estates and the opening to Bay Front Lane, a street with about fifteen homes that can only be accessed by foot. We’re guessing the store Jeff remembers was the first place on Bay Front Lane but we couldn’t find the liquor store.


March 3rd, 2018

Kelly Jacobson untitled piece on wall at Colleen Buzzard's gallery space

Even the MAG was closed yesterday with the big snowfall so we expected First Friday to be slow. We intended to start with Colleen Buzzard‘s Studio and then move on to Axom and RoCo. We got as far as Colleen’s and settled in with a beautiful show of Kelly Jacobson’s work entitled, “The Difference Between Their and There.” Colleen told us when she booked the show there was the hope that Jacobson would do a new installation piece for it but when that didn’t work out Colleen rounded up Kelly Jacobson work, books, prints, portraits in stone and these (above), from local collectors. The show is stunning. I fell in love with these three concrete-filled metal tubes. This piece is hanging in Colleen’s husband’s work space at UR and he was there last night to visit it. In fact it was their anniversary and we celebrated part of it with them and this beautiful work.

Mini City

March 2nd, 2018

3D model of 148 Huntington Hills South

Our neighbor has a 3D printer and the skills and patience to do an architectural drawing of his house in a CAD-like program. He fed the drawing to his printer and created this train set scale model of his Don Hershey home. He has printed a number of accessories from public domain files as well like a to-scale model of his dog. I’m wondering how we fit into his Mini City.

You’d think we’d be excited by the foot of snow we got last night but we need cold temperatures on the side. This stuff is so heavy and sticky it is good for only one thing. Snowmen. We trudged through the woods and up to the park. There were so many branches hanging low, laden with snow, and small trees bent over under the weight that we could hardly find the trail. There is something exhilarating about being disoriented. We wound up off trail about half the time and the woods was all new.

Dramatic Intersection

March 1st, 2018

Intersection of the Erie Canal and the Genesee River

Rivers don’t cross one another at right angles. But a river and a man-made canal can and they do just south of downtown Rochester. You are looking west from one of the beautiful, arched, concrete bridges in Frederick Law Olmstead’s Genesee Valley Park. The canal runs across the state, and the river, coming from the left in this photo, flows north to Lake Ontario. This is a really dramatic intersection.

We have shifted gears and are now wearing only the gear we will be bringing on our walking trip. I feel like we are already on the walking trip but it doesn’t start for another thirty days. So, no more layers of cotton clothing. We have been outfitted in man-made high-tech gear. Our friend, Olga, who has a keen fashion sense, works part time at REI so we texted her for her hours and then stopped in the store on Tuesday night to take her recommendations.

I came home with a SmartWool base-layer top, some Royal Robins pants, a 100% Polyester Pantagonia Fleece lightweight jacket and my favorite item, a cool Kuhl rain jacket. Oh, and then we bought hats to keep the rain and sun away. They are too goofy looking to link to.


February 27th, 2018

Leo Dodd painting of Corn Hill in Rochester, New York

UR, formerly the U of R, started out in a cluster of buildings on University Avenue and wound up purchasing Oak Hill Country Club’s site on the Genesee River and moving their campus. Of course, as a historical marker on the site notes, those nine holes and swanky clubhouse were Native American settlements before that. UR has isolated itself out here with its fledgling College Town and the makings of another spread across the river.

UR is not that far away if you have all day to walk. We started downtown at the Broad street Bridge which formerly carried the Erie Canal across the Genesee River, and wandered through Corn Hill. At one point we found ourselves looking at the setting of my father’s 2015 watercolor, shown above. We worked our way down the west side of the river and crossed over it at Elmwood Avenue. As dreamy as the UR campus is, you are back in the South Wedge in no time at all.

History Buff

February 26th, 2018

Old subway bed under Broad Street Bridge in downtown Rochester, New York

Breakfast sandwiches are now a mainstay. How did that happen? Should we blame brunch? We had one this morning, along with a large coffee, at the Founder’s Cafe in the Academy Building on Fitzhugh Street. We were just upstairs from Edward’s Restaurant where we used to take Peggi’s parents when they came to visit. And we were right next door to the oldest public building in Rochester, “Two Saints Church.”

We started the day at the Co-op by parking our car in their lot and walking downtown. They’re building something on top of the old Lehigh Valley train station right next door to Dinosaur Bar-BQ. Those tracks went under the library and across the river under what is now the Broad Street Bridge. We peeked in and I took this photo. There is so much history here. It is time to celebrate it.

Dix Street

February 24th, 2018

Old Glen Haven Railroad bed

Thirty-eight degrees is just right for walking. Our twelve and a half mile walk today took four hours to complete but that included a number of stops. Starbucks was the first and then a stroll down Dix street, thinking of Otto and the book Angel has of his work before stopping in Dunkin Donuts to use the bathroom. And then down the access road that runs along 590 near the Norton Street exit and into the woods in the county park that follows the old subway bed, the same line that ran from Garson Avenue along Shaftsbury and down to the bay where the old amusement park was.

It’s a beautiful trail with all sorts of turns and small bridges and there’s remnants of old houses along the way, just the foundations and slabs and the hint of a fireplace. There are occasional markers. We followed the blue to the green and we came out on bay right across from the entrance to the Fish and Game club. We called our neighbor, a member, from the entrance and I was picturing him inviting us in for a beer but he was at home. We stopped at a gas station on Culver to use their bathroom and then Wegmans to pick up some salad for the family gathering we’re planning for tomorrow where we will prepare of my dad’s next show.


February 23rd, 2018

David Cay Johnston at Barnes & Nobel in Pittsford, NY

David Kay Johnston has the goods on Trump and he shared some of the teasers from his new Simon & Schuster book, “It’s Worse Than You Think,” with the crowd last night at Barnes & Nobel. The chairs were full and people were standing around the periphery and ten deep outside the doors. We sat on the floor a few feet from the author.

The takeaway: It is “our government” not “the government.” Get informed, help people register to vote, drive people to the polls. Trump belongs behind bars but then what?. Think about how destructive a less-than-inept politician with Trump’s agenda could be. And his final word of advice to the mostly gray haired crowd. “The next time you come to see me bring a younger person.”

Floss and Toss!

February 22nd, 2018

Winter Aconite in bloom on February 22, 2018 in Rochester, New York

We better make sure our car still starts. We haven’t driven it in a week. We walk everywhere now. Not that we go anywhere. We mostly walk in circles, circles that keep getting bigger. We are averaging ten miles a day and one of us is carrying the pack. Today we came home with 24 pounds of groceries.

We spotted a yard full of snowdrops as we walked down to the lake. They are such a delicate flower. They seem shocked to be up out of the ground so early. The hardy Winter Aconite, on the other hand, bursts out of the dirt and often right up through the snow. The ones we have on the hillside out back are just now unfurling and orienting themselves to the sun. I’ve tracked the date we first notice them for the past ten years and this is almost the earliest.

I was sickened to read about the amount of plastic scientists found in tiny fish at the bottom of the ocean. And when you walk as much as we have been your eye catches the plastic debris along the edges of the sidewalks. These freakin’ dental picks are everywhere. And someone in the vicinity of Titus and Culver drinks an incredible amount of Fireball Cinnamon Whiskey, incredible in that they are apparently behind the wheel while chugging these plastic fifths. And then there are all the tiny little drug bags. I collect them.

Both Ends

February 20th, 2018

Subtle Lake Ontario colors in winter

We didn’t walk along the lake today and I missed it. The sand, the water, the sky. These three elements in combination never look the same from one day to the next. This view, the way it looked yesterday, is at both ends of the spectrum between subtle and dramatic. The dark purple at the horizon, the pink just before it and the torquoises before it. The dirty snow and grey brown sand bring out the red in the branches. And the sky, on an overcast day in the middle of February is the stuff Agnes Martin and Mark Rothko played with.

I used a photo of the horizon on the the lake for the cover of “Disappear,” the title song of Margaret Explosion’s “Disappear” cd. Curiously, the song is not on the cd. It was recorded after the Disappear cd was released. Margaret Explosion returns to the Little Theatre Café on Wednesdays in March.

Margaret Explosion - Disappear
Margaret Explosion – Disappear


February 19th, 2018

Johnny O'Neal at the Penthouse in downtown Rochester

Leon “Ndugu” Chancler recently died. He played drums with Miles Davis, Thelonious Monk, Weather Report and Hugh Masekela but also did some serious session work. That’s him playing the drums on the intro to Michael Jackson’s “Billie Jean.” I really like this quote from his NYT obituary. “The player has to do much more listening than the listener coming to enjoy the music and if that player is doing that listening, he will become a great player.”

We heard Johnny O’Neil over the weekend up in the old corporate boardroom of Security Trust Bank. The eleventh floor space is surrounded by glass and you get a great view of downtown Rochester. It sounds good in there as well. Johnny O’Neil made a name for himself in New York in the early 1980s, drawing comparisons to classic jazz pianists like Art Tatum and Oscar Peterson. We had heard him before in an Exodus to Jazz series at Hochstein.

He plays piano in a trio setting. The bass player and drummer stay out of the way while Johnny works the room. He’s at home with the blues and sings about every other song. “She puts whiskey in her coffee, whiskey in her tea. Whiskey in her whiskey, too much whiskey for me.”

Full Pipe

February 18th, 2018

Old yellow guard rail in Durand Eastman Park

Edgerton is a big name in Rochester. I don’t know the reason but I know there is a big grave stone in the cemetery near our house with the name on it. And there is an Edgerton Street in the city near the Upper Falls. The neighborhood is called Edgerton. There is an Edgerton Park near Jefferson High School on Dewey. And there used to be an Edgerton Road that ran through Durand Eastman Park. It is still shown on the map and there is even a street sign labeling it near the end of Pinegrove at the western border of the park.

The road used to connect Pinegrove, which now dead ends, to Kings Highway near the clubhouse. I’m not sure whose idea it was to put the sewage treatment plant in the park (I know it is downhill from the city and I have heard there is huge pipe, probably the diameter of those halfpipes the Olympic snowboarders compete on, that runs from downtown to the plant) but that operation grew into the VanLare Wastewater Treatment Facility which now seems to accept truckloads of shit for hire. And so what was public park land has a smattering of “No Trespassing” signs and the road itself which was closed to traffic has been mostly been swallowed up by the land.

There are still cement guard posts and occasion pieces of metal guard rail and you can pretty much tell where the road used to lie because of the geography. Parts of the old road are used by the treatment plant, pieces are used by park maintenance workers and parts of it are the golf cart path on the back nine. We were determined to follow Edgerton Road yesterday and we did it! The park is huge and other areas have been reconfigured over the years. Ever wonder why Horseshoe Road runs off of Lakeshore and stops instead of coming back out? Ever wonder why three roads run up from Lakeshore Boulevard and all come together in a circle with a barrier in front of Wisner Road, a road that would take you out of the park. Somebody has to think about these things.

Shuffle My World

February 17th, 2018

Lester Beall drawings at RIT University Gallery

One of my favorite features of the map app on my tablet is its ability to suggest a restaurant. I’ve used in with great success in unfamiliar neighborhoods when we’re out of town but just as often when we’re in Rochester. We were on University Avenue, coming home from an art opening at RIT, and we found Fiamma Centro on nearby Elton Street. We found Roux on Park Avenue a few months back with the same feature. The function compliments the shuffle feature on my music library or shuffle slideshow feature on my photo library.

Lester Beall is the first Graphic Designer to have a one man show at MoMA.He was also creatively involved in drawing, painting and photography. These abstract drawings above predate Jackson Pollack’s work. In 2017 his son-in-law found a crate filled with Beall drawings done between 1946 and 1954 and they are on display now at RIT’s University Gallery. We saw the show yesterday afternoon and stuck around for Roger Remington‘s lecture on Beall’s contribution to American design language. My eyes were still dilated from an earlier eye doctor appointment so I was seeing starbursts around all points of light even with my dark plastic sunglass inserts.