What Happened To Roebuck?

August 31st, 2014

My brother Fran's kitchen

Our refrigerator came with our house. It was made by Amana, a brand that seems to have dropped off the face of the earth. It keeps things cold alright but lettuce and fresh produce freeze unless you have them right up front and the motor is really noisy. Peggi did a some research online. We had access, through a friend, to Consumer Reports’ website and they rank models on temperature control, design, reliability and noise. We rode our bikes over to Sears, one of the only stores left in Medley Center, to check them out in person.

The local power company, RG&E, is offering a fifty dollar rebate if you get an energy efficient model, Sears was having a Labor Day sale and they gave us five percent off if we opened a charge account. They deliver, they haul away your old model and if we pay the total on the first bill they give us an addition twenty bucks off. The salesman over there said he only works Sundays,”to pay for dance lessons, not mine, my daughter’s” but he really new his stuff.

I was thinking about the refrigerator we had in our first apartment. It was my grandparents old unit. Every couple of months it would swell shut with frost engulfing whatever it was we had in there. After that bit the dust we picked up a used harvest gold GE that we brush-painted an eggplant color. The sale man said he wasn’t supposed to tell us but Whirlpool is the same as Kenmore. We checked out a Samsung before choosing an LC (formerly Goldstar) model in black with French doors and the freezer on the bottom. We rode our bikes home and expect delivery in two days.

Guardians Of The Galaxy

August 30th, 2014

Security Guards reporting for duty at Regal Theater, Culver Ridge, in Rochester, New York

This morning’s news that North American Box Office sales were way down was no surprise. The Little Theater is always fun but we hadn’t been to a chain theater in ages. We did “Get On Up” last night for the James Brown movie in hopes that it would at the least be fun. The armed security guards were showing up for work as we walked toward the door, a reminder of the youth unrest that has plagued the sixteen screen Regal Theater at Culver Ridge.

James Brown’s music is so good, so powerful, so dynamic that Hollywood could only fuck it up. A better tribute to his musical contribution would be the re-release of his 1964 T.A.M.I Show. We saw him at Red Creek and the Auditorium Theater and we heard he was still sensational at the Jazz Fest before he died. This Mick Jagger financed biopic is not the bomb.

Let’s hope Martin Scorsese doesn’t blunt the Ramones with his 2016 biopic.

Grotto of Agony

August 29th, 2014

The Grotto of the Agony at St. Michael’s Mission House in Conesus, New York

There is no way in hell that the Evangelical group that has taken over St. Michael’s Mission House in Conesus, New York will eve restore the The Grotto of the Agony. Christians have a lot in common but only Catholics wallow in the details of Christ’s crucifixion by entertaining thoughts of or practicing self-flagellation as penance for atonement their sins or as a path to sanctity.

We were in the back seat of Jeff and Mary Kaye’s car last week, traveling south along the western edge of Hemlock Lake, on a small country road when we came across a huge abandoned complex. The former seminary for “Societas Verbi Divini” or Divine Word Fathers is the perfect setting for “ruin porn” or a horror movie. The missionary order left the complex in the mid eighties and took the statues off their pedistals.

An Evangelical group has taken possession of the grounds and a caretaker told us about the “Grotto of the Agony.” We wandered around and found concrete structures for the fourteen outdoor stations of the cross that had been stripped of the depictions of Christ’s final hours. A life size cross near the Grotto showed signs of the body that had once been nailed to it. The Grotto’s centerpiece was a stone, cave-like structure that had been built into the hillside. I took some photos in the early nineties, studies for recasting the stations of the cross, and I really need to get back on that project.

There are a few websites devoted to St. Michael’s, one official and one fan-based.

Call Before You Dig

August 28th, 2014

Jared graphic on road in Rochester, New York

A long time ago I worked as a commercial artist for Hart Conway in the Triangle Building downtown on East Avenue. My boss smoked pot every morning and she was the most organized person I have ever met. We had some cash cow clients like RTS, the local bus service, and a bunch of car dealers who placed daily ad spreads in the paper and we had this organization that coordinated efforts to get local utilities approval before a backhoe digs in to a construction site and hits a water main or worse, an underground cable. The mascots for this campaign were two furry little animals that we had to draw in different poses for each ad, the two color pieces were always green and brown and the slogan was always the same, “Call Before You Dig.”

There are nine houses on our street and we pitch in on road repairs. One neighbor, though, can’t help but contribute more than others. Jared is our leader and a joy to work with. We’re preparing to put a drainage ditch in near our mailboxes because the mail lady (Jared thinks “she is as cute as a button”) drives in exactly the same spot every day and she has worn a ditch that fills up with water and freezes in the winter making getting the papers or mail a life threatening experience. He artfully outlined the drain (I’m not sure what the extension shown in the enlargement is all about) and then two of the utilities have signed off on it.

Double Double

August 27th, 2014

View of brick walls from Highland Hospital's fifth floor

You would think hanging around hospitals would give you plenty of time to keep up on your news consumption but I seem to have fallen behind as I visit, email updates, walk up and down the halls and compile confusing notes on tests results.

I just checked in at Google News and see that a nine year girl accidentally shot her shooting instructor with an Uzi. “Scientists ‘Rewrite’ Bad Memories in Mice.” And Burger King, the Home of the Whopper, is buying Tim Hortons. Their signature drink is a “Double Double,” coffee with two creams and two sugars. I take mine black and I’ve never been to a Tim Hortons. The last time I was at a Burger King was when I was living in a dorm in Indiana. I see DropBox is now offering a terabyte of storage and I’m dreaming about what I could do with all that space.

We stopped in at Record Archive’s new back room last night to watch an early trailer for an upcoming documentary on the thriving record store. I was hoping to see some archival footage of MX-80 in their old “Back Room” or maybe even that time I played drums with Greg Prevost from the Chesterfield Kings. There was some great old footage though and plenty of new stuff with the colorful cast of current, long time employees, mostly guys with long hair and beards.


August 26th, 2014

Deer friendly flowers at the pool

The guard behind the emergency room check-in desk yelled “Where are you going, mam?” My dad was sleeping, I was on my way home to sleep for a few hours and this woman in a blue hospital gown and socks was trying to get out. She said she just wanted to step outside and the guard said, “I can’t let you do that.” He was someone not to mess with, former military, muscle bound, busting out of his security uniform.

He looked uncomfortable, like he couldn’t even let his bulging arms relax at his side. “Did you have an IV? It looks like you did?” “Look, I just want to have a smoke,” she said. “Didn’t they give you a patch.” “They did but I just want to step outside.” “I can’t let you do that.” A fellow guard called upstairs and said, “You have a patient down here who is trying to leave the hospital.” I got out while I could.

Colors Of A Dream

August 24th, 2014

Tom Harrell "Colors Of A Dream"

We’ve seen/heard Tom Harrell a few times at the Jazz Fest and once at the Exodus to Jazz Series. Each performance was outstanding. He writes beautiful melodies and surrounds himself with sensational players, real pros. His “Colors of a Dream” sextet, who played last night in the auditorium at Hochstein School of Music, had two bass players, Ugonna Okegwo and Esperanza Spaulding, a star in her own right.

I loved drummer, Johnathan Blake’s playing. His father, who just died a few days ago, played violin on Archie Schepp’s “Attica Blues.” And I love his setup. You can see it in the enlargement of the photo above. All the drums and cymbals are are aligned horizontally. We played a gig with the Romantics when I was with New Math and their drummer set up the same way.

MyCare vs. MyChart

August 24th, 2014

View from forth floor of Rochester General Hospital, formerly Northside Hospital

The guy in the hospital bed next to my father is on the phone, talking to his wife. He has had some sort of cardiac event that he suspects was caused either by the salty air in Massachusetts, where he had been on business, or possibly the salty paella he had, a Spanish dish whose title he mangled by trying to pronounce the to “l”s like we would in English. The cardiologist here recommended a test for him that he suspected was only ordered because they make “90,000 dollars with the machine.” He had been doing some reach online.

My dad is being released in hour or so having slept like a baby last night. My mom was in Emergency with a UTI at this same hospital last week at he same time as my youngest brother was in surgery upstairs, having a sliver, that had been lodged in his finger for over a month, surgically removed.

My mom’s primary care doctor is in the General system and my dad’s primary care doctor is in the Strong system. Both my parents have specialists outside their “system.” Sharing records to provide prompt professional care would seem a no-brainier today but the systems don’t talk to one another. I got my dad’s hospital urologist going on this bureaucratic topic and he went off. He told me his own primary care doctor is in the other system. He finished the tirade by apologizing for his rant. I apologize for mine.

Ground Rounds

August 22nd, 2014

Sea Breeze, New York at dusk

About one or two times a year we go down to the lake for an ice cream. I say “down” because it is downhill, otherwise we’d be underwater, but it is really “up” if your compass is working. We like the Chocolate Almond custard at “Don’s Original. If we were here for ground rounds we’d be next door at Viv & Irv’s.

When a restaurant call’s itself “Original’ it only calls attention to the fact that there is some shaky history to the lineage and I don’t claim to know the rundown but I vividly remember going with my dad to Don & Bob’s on Monroe Avenue where we’d pick up burgers and fries for the whole family and drive back home as quickly as possible while the car filled with the aroma of those thin, flat patties that hung over the edge the bun by an inch or so. It was beautiful torture. Jeff Springut from the Red Creek took the place over and ran it into the ground.

There is good reason why Sea Breeze Amusement Park used to call itself “Dreamland.” Sea Breeze, a tiny enclave at the end of Culver Road is nothing but dreamy. We walked out on the pier while we ate our custard and felt like we were much more than a mile from home.

There’s always more photos over here.

Always Right Now

August 21st, 2014

Mark, Ann and Paul Dodd on steps of 68 Brookfield Road in Rochester, New York

I loved Richard Linklater’s “Boyhood.” I think it is a masterpiece, an understated, big slice of life, some twelve years worth. Oddly, it didn’t feel like a movie. It was as comfortable as a daydream, the unconscious desire we all have to recapture the time when we weren’t trying to recapture anything. The long movie felt short and crystalized out of the blue with the closing line, “It’s like it’s always right now.”

Beautiful Corpse

August 20th, 2014

Purple Indian Pipes mushrooms

“Indian Pipes” are sometimes called “Corpse Plants” because they have no chlorophyl. I always thought they were mushrooms. The ones we see around here are white when they’re fresh and black as they die. We were knocked out by the delicate purple vessels we stumbled on in the mountains.

The apartment building where my parents live had an art show this afternoon and my father held court with his paintings and sketch books. A woman brought quilts and a copy of the “American Quilts” book that she was featured in. A man brought a wooden model of the USS Ammen that started making while he was stationed on the battleship in WWII and another woman showed her abstract work. She “likes to start with nothing.” Pete Tierney, who is 101, sat behind a table with his hand carved birds. A younger resident showed us a picture of a painting her grand daughter had done. It was featured in an article about 25 artists under 25. She said I always tell my kids, “You are only as good as think you are.” It was really inspiring. I came home and got to work.

Reading Gumbo

August 19th, 2014

Zucchini pizzas as prepared by Pete LaBonne

Some people only know Pete and Shelley for their dandelion wine. It is superb and only seems to get better every year. The yield is small but the reputation is huge. It richly deserves the smiley face on the label.

We know Pete to be a fabulous chef. Gumbo, fried chive flowers, vegetable stews and zucchini pizzas (sliced zucchini dredged in flour and then beaten egg, fried on top of sliced garlic and flipped to keep the garlic on top, topped with a tomato sauce and small pieces of pepperoni, green olives and cheese.) The fresh from the garden green beans on toast for breakfast, the lobster mushrooms from the woods and stew we had for dinner were all sensational but the chicken mushrooms and beet greens we had for breakfast were out of this world.

We also came home with a suggested reading list: Flannery O’Conner’s Collected Works “Wise Blood,” “A Good Man is Zhard to Find,” “The Violent Bear It Away,” “Everything That Rises Must Converge,” “Essays and Letters.” James Tiptree Jr.’s “Her Smoke Rose Up Forever,”and “The Soul Is Not A Smithy” from David Foster Wallace collection “Oblivian” and Mark Twain’s “Joan of Arc.”

Everybody, Clap Your Hands

August 18th, 2014

Rochester Red Wings 2014

I used to like baseball a lot. I played it. I collected the cards. My favorite team was the Milwaukee Braves. This was all a long time ago. Fred Costello is still grinding the organ but everything has changed. Gone are the Knot Hole afternoon games when you could get out of school to see the game. Gone is the game itself.

The Red Wings had a good crowd tonight, eight or nine thousand, but no more than a handful were watching the game. The whole world has moved on. The management provides distractions between every inning because no one is watching the game. And that may actually be backwards. No one is watching the game because the management is bent on providing distractions. The guys that used to sell popcorn, peanuts and beer can’t even compete with the concessions stands. We watched people walk up and down the aisles with piles of food, ice cream sundaes and 25 ounce beers for the whole game. It was all rather startling to an old timer. There was a game here but nobody gave a shit.

There is no hole in the home rum fence waiting for a ball that would give the hitter a brand new car like there was on Norton Street. The outfield is an LED overload. They blast snippets of the Violent Femmes, the Ramones and Queen. If they played more than forty five seconds they would have to pay royalties. If this was a soccer game you couldn’t take your eyes off the game. Maybe that is the whole point.


August 17th, 2014

Lichen and moss on  on stump in the Adirondacks

It is possible to travel in New York State without taking the Thruway or major interstates. We took 104 west to 370 to 31 through Baldwinsville and across the bottom of Onieda Lake to Verona and on to 365 along the top of the Hinkley Reservoir onto Route 8 into the Adidondack Park where we eventually followed Route 9 along Loon Lake, Schroon Lake and our destination near Paradox Lake. This area is a dead zone which hardly matters to our hosts, who choose to live off the grid.

Here we talk, tell stories, take long walks in the woods and stay up way too late. Just five hours away (with the above route and multiple stops for photos) the plants and wildflowers, the lichen, moss and mushrooms are all different, not better, just different. It is so beautiful. We are so lucky.

End Of The Earth

August 15th, 2014

Rusty guard rail in Rochester, New York

We been sifting through Margaret Explosion songs this summer trying to cull a cd’s worth from a batch of starred live songs. There are a hundred songs in the folder, almost too many to listen to but we have been giving it a go.

Even though we’ve put songs online, for free, for years people still want to buy cds. Maybe it’s our demographic, maybe it’s just part of seeing a band, dropping some cash in the tip jar and taking something home. Peggi and I checked the dates on our products and we seem to be putting something out every five years or so, a modest pace. This one’s been on the site for a few months. Do you think anyone would buy it?

Margaret Explosion - Fisterra
Margaret Explosion – Fisterra

Go Red

August 14th, 2014

Red pick up truck near the Public Market in Rochester, New York

We felt a little guilty watching the Flash play their last match of the season on ESPN2 last night. We could easily have been downtown watching the game in person but it was a real treat to see our favorite players up close. And the Flash Mob drum section sounded especially good on tv.

The Flash lost but it was a good match with the lead changing hands a few times before it was over. All three of the Spanish Flash players were on the pitch at the same time with Adriana scoring on a cross from Wambach and Sonia Bermúdez putting a wild long shot in the upper right corner. Brittany Taylor, Zerboni Samantha Kerr were all in top form and it is always great to see Jasmine Spencer come on late in the match. I hope they’re all back next year.

A Walk In The Park

August 13th, 2014

25 ounce Budweiser can, golf balls and drug bags found near Durand Eastman Park in Rochester, New York

Admittedly, the pickins are slim out here. I filled whole scrapbooks with the stuff we found on walks in the city. I don’t expect to find junk in the woods and I’m happy not to but when we cut through the park little things, like golf balls and drug bags catch my eye.

I’ll have to check my records but it seems when we first started bringing home the Budweiser cans, that we always find in the same spot, they were 22 ounce cans. The one we brought home today is a 25 ouncer.

That’s My Mom

August 13th, 2014

Mickalene Thomas photo of her mom at George Eastman House in Rochester, New York

Near the end of Mickalene Thomas’s short film, “Happy Birthday to a Beautiful Woman,” her mom, a former fashion model, tells Mickalene, “You have made me the model of the art world.”

The piece, mostly the artist interviewing her mom (her muse), packs a wallop. It is a loving tribute, a moving story with fame, abuse, drugs, forgiveness and then an illness that takes her mom’s life. You have until October 19 to see this show at the George Eastman House. And just look at the funky furniture you get to sit in while you take it all in.

Upon The My Oh My

August 11th, 2014

Tuggy boat in Rochester, New York

This little plastic boat was out near the curb on a dead end street in that neighborhood of funky homes along the west side of the bay. Some of the houses remind me of the ones in Bloomington where Peggi and I went to school and more importantly, met. It was hard to tell if the owners of the boat were discarding it or just loose with the “pick up your toys” routine. If we weren’t on our bikes I would have been thinking about taking it home. And then down to Irondequoit Bay.

Summer Gallery Hours

August 10th, 2014

Paul Dodd "Model From Crime Page" charcoal on paper 2014

Singapore artist, Stephen Black, arranged an art show for the two of us in Brooklyn this summer. My bio was updated and a poster was created, modified and approved. we corresponded back and forth on the details. I mounted fifteen drawings under glass in frames, the same frames I had used in the recent I-Square show. Peggi and I were planing to play at the opening and we were going to stay nearby with Duane. About a month before the show Steve told us he was not able to get to the states.

I’m fine with this. It’s tough going anywhere when it is so nice out. The only bummer is that we won’t see Steve.