Iron Cannibal Choppers

August 17th, 2018

Woods off of Kings Highway in Rochester, New York

There was hardly anyone on the golf course when we cut through this afternoon. Maybe it was too wet. We saw the beer lady in her cart and she was just sitting under a tree studying her phone. We came across a dead skunk on one of the greens with a puncture wound in his stomach and surprisingly it didn’t stink.

At the lake we took Kings Highway up to the library. We walk on the shoulder going against traffic as cars act like its a drag strip in that isolated Stretch. The undeveloped part of the park was thick and lush, too thick to even walk through this time of year. We usually stop in the library, study the new releases, and use their bathrooms but we didn’t have any time for that today. We were headed over to Deborah Ronnen’s to check out some new prints. Our favorite was by Kiki Smith.

We passed a Harley up on the sidewalk and grey haired biker on his cell phone. It wasn’t until we were right on top of him that we were able to read his t-shirt. “Iron Cannibal Choppers.” At the end of street we spotted a big patch of orange Chanterelle mushrooms. While we were walking a I made a mental note to look up Genesee beer and BlackkKlansman when I got back. I thought someone would be talking about the Genesee neon signs in the bar scene. Either they carry the local beer in Colorado Springs or someone scored a strategic product placement. I didn’t find anything.

After our art preview we had the Sesame Tofu special at Lanai and talked to the chef, Rico, about Hawaii. Peggi complemented him on the soundtrack, most of which she first heard her mom play on weekends back in the first Polynesian wave.

Italian Power Forever

August 16th, 2018

SoccerB ball chair out by the curb, Rochester, New York

We are only a week away from the start of the season for La Liga and this guy is dumping his match time chair!

I like it when late summer slows things down to a crawl. Boring is not the right word for it, I find myself in too much of a stupor to feel bored. We linger longer after the horseshoes fly. I’ve been on a losing streak, though, and I’m wondering if it might be the logy weather. But why wouldn’t it affect my opponent? In a few weeks the cooler weather will clear my head and I’ll be productive members of society again.

I volunteered to do the name tags for an upcoming high school reunion. I did them ten years ago and I still have the files. Someone in the class is sharing a Google spreadsheet of who’s coming with me and I’m working my way through them. I see Matt Sanfilippo has not sent his check in. He signed my yearbook, “Italian Power Forever!”

The Corn Is As High As

August 15th, 2018

Jared and tall Indian Corn 2018

Jared’s grandkids broke his glass rain collector but he estimated we had almost two inches of rain the other night. Other parts of the county got up to nine. I expected to find some of our tomato plants laying on the ground but they were all still standing. Peggi brought home a bag of them and we plan on making gazpacho. We’ll use the cucumbers from next door. Maybe try this recipe. We were trying to estimate how tall these corn stalks are. Our best guess is fifteen feet.


August 13th, 2018

Yellow wrought iron chairs on Fairlea in Rochester, New York

These are the kind chairs that you don’t sit at. They are in the front yard of house near us. We pass by often and we have never seen anyone sitting in them. They are nice looking and perhaps that is enough.

We started getting serious about putting away some money rather late. Our band was doing a Happy Hour gig at the Bug Jar and Steve Brown, one of the three original owners, was behind the bar those nights. He worked for Merrill in the day and he encouraged us stop by his office. He made it all fun, recommending a few things but mostly coaching us to buy what we like. Of course we bought some Apple. Steve moved on and these days we check in with Joe Marchese out at MCC every couple of years. He guides us toward a comfortable 60/40 balance of equities and fixed income. After a ten year bull market we had some shuffling to do. Our key strategy though is fairly simple. We just don’t spend that much.

It seems you can’t talk about anything these days with Trump coming up. I think we said said something about tariffs and Joe said, “I understand economics but we’re dealing with a nut case.”

Right On!

August 12th, 2018

Modern apartment building in Buffalo, New York

Press for “BlacKkKlansman” was everywhere so we bought tickets on opening night. The screening was followed with a discussion, part of a monthly presentation the Rochester Association of Black Journalists (RABJ) and the Little Theatre. Both the movie and discussion were great. The discussion, the range of reactions from disgust to anger, was actually better than the movie but then it would not have happened if not for the movie. It was heartwarming to hear how fired up people in attendance were. There was a real resolve to do something.

This passage in A.O. Scott’s review of the film really caught my attention. “Spike Lee has often been a gleeful curator of racial invective, and he observes the Klansmen with a fascination that stops only a few degrees short of sympathy. They are monstrous and clownish, but more than just figures of fright or mockery. Understanding what makes them tick is as much Ron’s (main character) mission as bringing them down.” This is exactly how people interrupt Philip Guston’s portrayals of the Klan, the hooded characters in his late paintings. We laugh at them because they are hideous and tragic and so much like ourselves. This is an artful movie.

Where Were We

August 10th, 2018

View of Buffalo skyline from top floor of City Hall

It’s too bad this view from 25th floor of Buffalo’s City Hall building doesn’t show you what the building itself looks like. With tips from the NYT Travel Section column we spent 36 Hours in Buffalo and were just starting the final 24. We had already been to Big Ditch Brewery for their award-winning IPA and we had dinner at the Mexican place recommended in the article. We had walked along the waterfront as the sun went down in Canalside Park. We were staying at the refurbished Lafayette Hotel downtown. The article had recommended two other places. The Lafayette was designed by America’s first woman architect, Louise Blanchard Bethune, and was intended to be ready for the Pan American Expo but it wasn’t finished in time. It was big and funky, something like the Overlook Hotel in the Shining. My uncle told us he used to have lunch there but in later years it became what he called a flophouse. We located these places from the the observation deck of City Hall and we met an Indian couple up there who were visiting their daughter in Buffalo. They told us they had been to the Hindu Temple in Rochester.

When our band played Buffalo in the late seventies and early eighties I never knew where we were. I could get to places like the Continental, McVans, the Garage and Nietzsche’s but then we’d head off to a late night party in loft downtown or an apartment off Delaware or to some crazy late night food joint and I’d be totally lost. It would take us forever to get out of town.

This time stayed downtown and walked up to the Albright Knox. We zig aged and found Rowhouse Bakery, a dreamy coffee shop/bar/restaurant. We walked around the museum of course and then back downtown, stopping in Allentown for a local beer and dinner at Tempo, an Italian place with an Ellsworth Kelly print hanging over the fireplace. We ate out on the patio and split two appetizers and a beet salad. We were full before dinner so we stopped. We clocked ten miles before the day was done and now have a much better sense of the lay of the land.

We stayed up late watching the display in the fake fireplace and we started our day with a Cortado in Public Espresso + Coffee on the ground floor of our hotel. They had cool black and white art on the walls, paintings somewhere between Franz Kline and graffiti, and design magazines scattered about. Most of the customers seemed to be carrying on business via laptop or phone. We entered my Aunt and Uncles address in Niagara Falls into our phone and headed up there for the afternoon.

Happening Again

August 9th, 2018

Black and white photo of  György Ligeti 'Poème Symphonique' performance at Albright Knox

This black and white photo in a display case was the first thing that caught our attention at the “Giant Steps: Artists and the 1960″ show at Albright Knox. A recording of the metronome piece was playing overhead and a February 1965 letter from John Cage, addressed to Albright Knox, was sitting next to the photo. We wrongly assumed the photo and letter went together. The metronome piece, ‘Poème Symphonique,’ was performed by György Liget at the gallery and John Cage was here for a performance and lecture the same year. Buffalo was and is a happening town. Well, it was really happening when the Pan American Expo was herein 1901 and with a resurgence underway it is happening again.

The show here was was called, “Giant Steps: Artists and and it features major works by some of the leading artists of the period, Bridget Riley, Frank Stella, and Andy Warhol, and it reconsiders those who played an underrecognized, but vital, role in furthering the visual avant-garde in the United States and beyond. The permanent collection here is outstanding. Seymour Knox was buying the the collection, mostly modern art, as the artists were making it. This show digs deep into their collection and is well worth a ride along the lake to civilization.

Let Go Of Time

August 5th, 2018

Monarch Caterpillars Butterfly Pupa at Sues

We set the alarm this morning so we could be on the beach by 8 AM for Marijana’s yoga class. It was already hot and I spent half of the class under my towel. Marijana worked a mindfulness theme about taking the time to enjoy the moment. She said when you are thirteen you can’t wait to be fourteen but if are sixty four you are in no hurry to turn sixty five. English is not her first lanquage so she had cute way of urging us to let go of time. She didn’t exactly say “let go” but I can’t remember what she said. I made a point to remember it but now it is gone. We all went swimming in the lake after class.

We read the paper down at pool and then visited our neighbor, Sue, who has been tending to Monarch butterflies. She spots the butterfly eggs on the bottom of the milkweed plants and brings those portions of the plants to the netted cage on her porch. The eggs turn into small caterpillars who eat the eggshell and then the leaves of the plant until they get big at which point they crawl to the top of the cage and curl up into a pupa. That thing stays green and then turns clear enough for you to see the butterfly inside all curled up. They drop out of the pupa and Sue releases them. If it isn’t a miracle it is pretty close.

Dumb Luck

August 4th, 2018

Sailboats returning to Rochester Yacht Club from Lake Ontario

We rode bikkes over to the the Port of chestier and and sat down just as it started to pour. There is some sort of sailboat race going on at the Yacht Club and we watched them all come in from the storm. Lou Reed’s “Waiting For My Man” was playing on the sound system when we sat down at the restaurant there. I told the waitress the music was god and she said that isn’t often the case. It stopped raining before we finished and we rode home in the sun. We walked up to Starbucks today for a Cold Brew and get in the door just as a thunderstorm struck. We need the rain. We took a few sips and the storm moved on. It never even rain back home.

I consider myself lucky but I am not as lucky as my neighbor. He has thrown so many bounce ringers, ones that hit the pit maybe one or two feet from the post and then bounce at an angle right on to the post. I have not won a round of three in a week now. He is good, no question, and I don’t mean to diminish his abilities. He has thrown so many of these that if it was just luck he would be one lucky SOB.

I have analyzed this situation. He throws a double flip. I throw a single flip, that is one revolution before ideally heading for the stake in an open position. And he has a much higher arc than I do. My tosses are low and hit the pit with forward momentum. His drop from a higher elevation and when they hit the scooped out pit they often bounce toward the stake. Another factor is the unusually dry summer we have had. The ground is firm enough to support a good bounce. I have to either make a change to my toss or wait for the weather to change.

Welcome To The Jungle

August 2nd, 2018

Red Wing Stadium as seen through sun glasses

We had not been to a Red Wings game in years but we see still has the naming rights to the scoreboard. We parked off Alexander Street where there was free alternate side parking and we hoofed it over to State Street. The Wings were losing 2-1 to the Scrantom/Wilkes Barre Railriders at the top of the second when we walked in.

I caught a foul ball. Well, I didn’t actually catch it. It bounced off the seats next to us and I grabbed it. I gave it to some kids sitting behind us. 7,000 people were in the stands for a day game and I felt like I was back at the Norton Street stadium with my father on a Knot Hole Day. The Wings were wearing different uniforms and playing under the name of “Rochester Plates,” some sort of promotion marking the 100th anniversary of the Garbage Plate which originated at Nick Tahou Hots just around the corner from Frontier Field. Between innings the announcer said, “There is nothing more Rochester than a Garbage Plate.”

They still play ten second samples of the Ramones, “Hey Ho, Let’s Go!,” Gary Glitter’s “Rock n’ Roll” and “Welcome to the Jungle. Fred Costello’s live organ sounded better than any of that. He did snippets of “In A Gadda Da Vida” and Mungo Jerry’s “Summertime” and then a full, jazzed-up version of Donovan’s “Sunshine Superman.” There are distractions galore, kids games between innings, conversations going on all around you, people on their cell phones and generally not watching the game.

I tried Louise’s sunglasses on when we were out at their place boating. I loved the color of the lenses and I bought my own pair at a local Rite Aid. I took this picture through the sunglasses. We went into the bathroom and they were playing the radio broadcast of the game over the speakers in there. Only there was I drawn into the nuances of America’s favorite pasttime.

Holding Court

August 1st, 2018

Bobby Henrie and the Goners at Radio Social in Rochester, New York

Cheryl Laurro, the former Godiva’s shop owner, restauranteur, singer and spiritual advisor, was in town. She held court over at Radio Social, the old Stromberg Carlson plant. It was the first time we had been in the place even though I grew up on the street, on the other side of Humboldt. We used to play in the parking lot. Bob Henrie and the Goners were playing there so it was a double draw. They sounded better than ever. Bobby is a dynamo with a wealth of songs he can call on. He keeps the band on their toes as they play two long sets with no setlist. I had the opportunity to video the same two dancers as caught eight years ago at another Goners’ show. They are still the best band in the city.

Mini Forever Wild

July 31st, 2018

Oatka Creek falls at night in Leroy, New York

Leroy, New York is only forty five minutes away but it feels like another world. Like so many small towns it has seen better days. The Jello Museum is still here. Donald Woodward, the son of the original owner, bought Amelia Earhart’s airplane, the “Friendship”, in 1928, and Amelia Earhart drove here to visit her airplane. The airport is being revived. And the Creekside Tavern, built in 1820 on the banks of Oatka Creek, has been completely redone by Billy Farmer. He has bands out back on the weekends and we’ve driven out here twice to hear the Debbie Kendick’s project. I recommend the band for sure and I’d take route along the river. We took 490 the second time and it is deadly how boring that stretch can be. Maybe if you were shopping for an RV it wouldn’t be so bad.

Our neighbor thinned out some pachesandra and offered it to us. We decided to plant it along our driveway. That project took up the better part of day, digging little holes and winding up the roots to poke the plants in. To do something like this now you have wear your tick armour, socks, pants and long sleeve hoodies soaked in Permethrin. While I was suited up picked a handful of blackberries from the vines growing in mini forever wild area.

Dining In Peace

July 29th, 2018

I don’t usually read the food section but I do look at it. I found myself pretty deep into an article about some guy, about our age, who really like the food at a particular restaurant but couldn’t stand the music that they played. He asked the owners if he could do a set list for them and they said yes. Turns out the guy, Ryuichi Sakamoto, was in Yellow Magic Orchestra, a group we followed in the late seventies.

I recreated his playlist in Apple Music and added one at the end, a Philip Glass piece that I stumbled on it while mistyping a song title. The playlist might not work for you but here is the link. I was unfamiliar with most of the music but instantly feel in love with this Bill Evans track called “Peace Piece.”

For Janet

July 28th, 2018

Ted and Janet Williams at the Bug Jar Margaret Explosion performance in 2001

“Primordial Fleamarket: Sometimes the communist household object strikes you as having been made in geological times, rather than some manufacturing era. Glorified objects . . . rarefied.” Wendy Low echoed this quote from Janet Thayer Williams when she asked, “Who can look at a whisk broom and not think of the stitching in Janet’s painting?”

Friends of the William’s family gathered on Laburnum Crescent today to remember Janet. Someone made a convincing argument that Janet was still with us. Her paintings were were on display throughout the house and once I found this one, “Wite Out” from 2006, I stayed put beneath it. I first saw it in the tunnel between the new downtown library and the old building across the street. They often display art there and this painting stopped me dead on my tracks. The typewriter keys sang and leapt off the canvas as if some fantastic story was unfolding. It wasn’t on the page. It was somewhere between the mind, the keys and the page. I told Janet how much I loved it.

Self Published

July 26th, 2018

Man With Crossed Arms by Paul Cezanne

First of all, like all the photos in this blog, there is an enlargement available if you would like to see the whole picture. In fact, I invite you to look at the whole painting before reading my gibberish. I would like to hear what other people think is going on in this late Cezanne. Fred Lipp first brought it to my attention but as was his way he did not tell me what to think about it.

The painting is in the Guggenheim’s collection and I took the next few sentences from their website. “Cezanne’s work was motivated by a desire to give sculptural weight and volume to the instantaneity of vision achieved by the Impressionists, who painted from nature. Relying on his perception of objects in space as visually interrelated entities—as forms locked into a greater compositional structure. The strangely distorted, proto-Cubist view of the sitter—his right eye is depicted as if glimpsed from below and the left as if seen from above—contributes an enigmatic, contemplative air to the painting. ”

Cézanne is considered the precursor of Cubism. You read this all the time when people talk about Cezanne and I don’t particularly like Cubism but I love this painting. There is so much space in it that I never tire of looking at it. The wood trim on the wall below the sitter’s left elbow is coming at us and it wraps around the sitter. The wall is far from flat. The way the wall is painted it creates real space around the sitter. His left leg is coming out of the painting at us and the right falls away. The left side of his body is turning toward us while the right arm, which is actually closer to us, turns away. The chair under him shown only to his right, accents the turn in his body. With his left eye lower, much lower, than the right his head is almost spinning. His upper body is unusually long, he is way present. Cezanne has created so much volume in this painting with what some people dismiss as distortion.

I think the painting is a marvel. The card players are over the top with spatial illusion. I see aspects of these features in most of his portraits and yet when a new book, Cezanne Portraits from a show that was recently at the National Gallery, arrived there was hardly any spatial discussion. I would like to hear what others think. We will write our own book.


July 25th, 2018

Beale Street Bandwagon playing at our wedding.

Our wedding was kind of loose compared to today’s productions. We had been living together for three years so it wasn’t a surprise or anything. And we had just moved to (in my case “back to”) Rochester so it was kind of small. My parents friends and relatives made up a bigger portion of the attendees. We had a few friends in Rochester and a bunch came from Indiana where we had previously lived. Most of them stayed at our apartment where they slept on the floor.

We had an anniversary the other day and I got the wedding photos out. We asked my brother to take photos and I remember him saying he had some problem with his light reading but the photos we have look great. I forgotten who all came. I remember hiring this band. Peggi and I heard them down at the lake in a place called “The Showboat.” It was right across the street from the Penny Arcade. I think they were called “Beale Street Bandwagon” or something close. They went over really good especially with the old folks. Judging by the pictures I’d say my parents’ friends had more fun than almost anyone. Peggi and I had a blast.

How To See

July 23rd, 2018

Tiny first tomato from 2018

Our neighbor, Jared, thinks we might have another ground hog in the garden. Some of his sunflowers and squash were eaten so we will have to set the trap again. We caught a raccoon in the trap the other night. It was open and but not baited and the raccoon wandered in so our neighbor let it go. We’ve been eating kale, jalapeños, spinach, lettuce and cilantro faster than the groundhogs can, Our tomatoes are just starting to come in so we’ll need to guard the fort.

I never cared much for David Salle’s paintings but I picked up a book he wrote and read a few pages in the store. I had a hunch that he was a more interesting writer than painter and “How To See” confirmed that hunch. The book is a series of short pieces on various artists, some young, some his contemporaries, and some as ancient as Pierro della Francesca. Some of the writing was originally done for magazines like Art Forum and Town & Country but it all holds together and he talks a good game. He opened my eyes.

Salle brilliantly lumps two of my favorite painters, Philip Guston and Marsden Hartley, in the same chapter, saying “They took painting head-on, a little brutally. There’s a truculence in their attitude — why try to hide it. Wrestlers of paint. A painting is something to be grappled with, brought to the ground. It’s a promethean effort. The artist prevails, but at a cost.”

On Sigmar Polke he writes, “Polke’s pictorial inventiveness is so generous, so viewer-friendly makes you feel that, on a good day, you too could do it. His painting gets at something elemental about how we live today., and seems to whisper,’You are not locked into your own story. You could be otherwise.’ The strength of that conviction, the sheer vitality of it – I can’t think of anything more that we could ask for from art. Like all great artists, Polke was in pursuit of ravishment, and he wanted to stun, but only on his own terms. His work asks, ‘Can this be enough? What are you afraid of? Immerse yourself in his art and weep for the diminished spirit of our present age.”

Love And Hopiness

July 22nd, 2018

Intersection of Greenlawn Drive and Brown Road in Rochester, New York

We were walking back from Starbucks on Brown Road when I looked down an especially boring looking side street. The lawns were so brown. I looked up to see it was Greenlawn Street. We need rain.

I love the ride out Route 18. Like Highway 1 in California it follows the shoreline, in this case from the Port of Rochester to Niagara Falls. We didn’t go that far. We stopped in Olcott Beach where they were having something called the Jazz Trail, one band after another all day long at various locations in the tiny town. It is just far enough away from the cities to be funky. There was a big amusement park here years ago and there still is a small one for kids. We saw a few signs on people’s lawns that said, “No Dollar Store In Olcott.” Bars change hands here and the shops are all tiny souvenir places. I looked at t-shirt with a foamy pint class on it. It read “Love and Hopiness.”

Saxophonist, flautist and vocalist Bobby Militello was playing with his quartet on the stage in the middle of a park. He was a member of the Dave Brubeck Quartet and Maynard Ferguson’s band. They sounded great. We walked around town and watched a fishing charter take off. Olcott was hit hard last year when the lake levels were so high. They had to line the beach with concrete slabs to keep the sand in. The lake had turned over last night. The water temperature was 48 but there was a few kids in.

We stopped at a few farm stands on the way back and came home with cherries, peaches and corn.


July 21st, 2018

Gideon Cobb Day 2018 in Brighton New York

William Keeler, Librarian & Archivist at the Rochester Historical Society, gave the featured presentation at the annual Gideon Cobb Day Celebration in Brighton. His talk, “Rochesterville on the Rise,” started with the Native American trading post near Indian Landing a couple hundred years ago. The British controlled the waters of Lake Ontario before the War of 1812. A reenactor can be seen in the photo above along with John Page and Brighton’s Town Supervisor William W. Moehle.

Tryon, where the bike park is now, was where all the action was, a boomtown on the move until the sandbar at the mouth of Irondequoit Bay filled in, cutting off access to the port of Tryon. Carthage, on the other side of the Genesee River, the next biggest nearby settlement collapsed when influenza swept through town. Rochesterville, just south of the High Falls, was nowhere as big as Geneva, Bath and Canandaigua. Gideon Cobb was one of its first inhabitants. He ran a brickyard where Cobbs Hill is today and my father restored Cobb’s folk hero status.

Early Gideon Cobb days were celebrated at Mario’s where the new Whole Foods is going in. Ray Tierney, former Brighton councilman and Historic Brighton board member, has organized the last two and they now feature an award presentation, the “Leo Dodd Heritage Presentation Award.” Last year’s went to Sandra Frankel and this year it went to John Page of Bero Architects. I’m happy Historic Brighton has carried on but I couldn’t help but feel the void left in the organization. They need someone with the desire to dig through the past, willing enough to attend the meetings, lobby the politicians to preserve the remnants, someone who likes taking pictures and illustrating a story and someone who likes to share what they have found. They need someone as enthusiastic as my father was.

Personal Effects - Boom Boom Town/Violince
Personal Effects – Boom Boom Town/Violince

Personal Effects – “Boom Boom Town/Violince” from “Personal Effects – A Collection”

Rewritten In Translation

July 19th, 2018

Wards of Time: Photographs of Antiquities by Larry Merrill

We had tickets to the MAG opening on Saturday night. We talked about going that afternoon and when the time came we completely spaced it out. So we tried backtracking and went over there yesterday. We started with Bill Viola’s video installation, a piece with four monitors, one at each quarter hour devoted to one of the four elements. Called “Martyrs,” Viola says: “The Greek word for martyr originally meant ‘witness.’” (where have I heard that word before?) In today’s world, the mass media turns us all into witnesses to the suffering of others. They also exemplify the human capacity to bear pain, hardship, and even death in order to remain faithful to their values, beliefs, and principles.” It is quite stunning if just a bit too precious.

The summer MAG show features three local artists, a substitution for the old Finger Lakes or Biennial shows. The Nancy Jurs exhibit is fun. The video was unnecessary but the dryer lint piece really drew us in. We took a break for lunch at the Brown Hound. I liked that place better when they had art from the MAG’s collection on the wall instead of all that dog stuff. I don’t find the cheap dog images all that appetizing but the Bistro Salad with Tofu was really nice. After lunch we spent some time with “The Surreal Visions of Josephine Tota.” Her work is small and it would have worked better if someone hadn’t put it in all those loud clunky frames. It was really hard to see the paintings. The white wall tags and signage didn’t help either. The woman has an interesting back story but let us see her work. Her paintings look better online. Larry Merrill’s “Wards of Time: Photographs of Antiquities” could never be as good as the real antiquities but they looked great mounted on the brown walls of the Lockhart Gallery. This poem on the wall in Merrill’s show really struck me. But how does a translator get something this old to rhyme in translation without just rewriting it?

Age is the heaviest burden man can bear,
Compound of disappointment, pain and care;
For when the mind’s experience comes at length,
It comes to mourn the body’s loss of strength.
Resign’d to ignorance all our better days,
Knowledge just ripens when the man decays;
One ray of light the closing eye receives,
And wisdom only takes what folly leaves.
– Pherecrates, about 430 BCE
Richard Cumberland, translation