Lazy Eye

July 20th, 2017

Out of focus sun spots on pavement on our street

My ears are still ringing from Saturday night’s Big Ditch/Nod double billing at the Firehouse Saloon. That’s a great place of rock n’ roll. Mostly an empty room with very few clunky chairs and a great sound system. Big Ditch was tight as a drum and Nod was loose as a goose, at one point stopping a song because something was out of whack. I hadn’t seen a band do the in years. In fact I thought that was one one the rules of rock; roll. You never stop a song. Anyway, I loved both bands.

The place is loud as hell. You can’t distinguish one word of the vocals. I’m think next time I’ll bring my Home Depot ear muffs and it will be perfect.

We have been spending an unhealthy amount of time following the antics of the US royal family. I’m getting tired of mind-blowing. House of Cards is much better/ We just wrapped up season 5. The show got off to a great start early on but got bogged down with complications in the the 3rd and 4th season. And I was really worried about the Trumpster upstaging season 5.

I’m happy to say he could not. The House of Cards players are better looking. They’re smarter. Trump is a pretty good actor but the HoC actors are much better and therefore much more engaging.

Moby Dick

July 16th, 2017

Figurines on counter at Captain Jim's in Rochester, New York

I’m happy to report our old neighborhood is really coming up. Not that there is anywhere to go. Beachwood is mostly single family, four-square homes built in the early part of the last century. When we moved there in ’78 it even had its own post office on Culver near Main. We identified the triangle between Main, Merchants and Winton as affordable and stable and looked at only a handful of houses there before making an offer on Hall Street. Our realtor, my uncle, suggested we go in at 20,00O, two thousand below the asking price, and they accepted it.

We stopped in Captain Jim’s on Friday and picked up a fish fry to go. That place is exactly the same. Jim’s mom still lurks in the dining room. I took this photo there. This Moby Dick-like drama was playing out on the counter while we waited for our order. Coincidentally, our neighbor on Hall Street looks just like one of these guys.

It only took forty years or so but there’s now many more restaurants, bars, a barbecue joint and a micro brewery.
Of course, there were plenty of places to get a fish fry back back then. This has always been Rochester. Club Soda, at the corner of Hall Street and Main, was called My Brother’s Place back then and they had a pretty good one. Carroll’s irish bar had one. Fleckenstein’s Meat Market turned into a Greek fish store and people lined up for their fish fry and that was when Captain Jim’s opened.

He put the others right of business. He runs a tight ship. His cold slaw is top notch and the secret with the fish is – you gotta eat it when it’s hot and after the first few bites you’re best off picking the fish out of the breading.

Long Live Suicide

July 15th, 2017

Kid jumping logs on bike at the end of our street in Rochester, New York

Are we really going to be going back down to New York for the fourth time before July is out? NYT had an article a couple of weeks ago about Alan Vega and his art work. I really liked the portrait they pictured, one of his last paintings, and Invisible-Exports, a gallery on the Lower East Side, has a show on now of those portraits. The article mentioned that Jeffery Deitch will also have a show in his SoHo gallery “that will feature drawings and assemblages from Vega’s earliest days to his last, as well as a larger-than-life projection of Suicide in concert that, he promises, will make people “feel as if they’re there.”

I sent a link to the article to Duane and sure enough the live Suicide video is the footage that he and Howard Thompson shot in that same gallery (from a Suicide performance that took place in that same space if I am not mistaken.)

25million posted “Dream Baby Dream” from the old Midnight Special show and it has crossed the one million views mark. Duane is, with approval from Vega’s wife, is assembling the compilation video for Deitch. Let’s hope his footage is rendered in time for the opening.

We did get to see Suicide a few times and I know I’ve told this story before. But here goes. After their first album came out we drove down after work to hear them at Max’s on a Friday night. It was during the gas crunch and we were unable to find a gas station that was open. We finally ran out and spent the night in the car, parked in front of a gas tank in New Jersey. Let’s hope Trump doesn’t trigger something.

Dolce Vento

July 13th, 2017

Chairs on back deck at Rocco's in Rochester, New York

The dining room at Rocco was full when we arrived so we sat on the back deck in a light rain. We knew nothing about the wines on the list so we asked the server for a full-bodied, dry red. Mark, the owner and chef, stopped by the table and we asked how his father was doing. Rocco is named after our old dentist. We were told Rocco passed around Christmas.

I’d like to recommend:

Polpo Alla Griglia $12
grilled octopus, gigante beans, green sauce

Insalata Caesar Cardini $9
romaine, garlic-anchovy dressing, pecorino

soundtack

Bob Spelled Backward

July 12th, 2017

Orange flowers with yellow centers at Bob and Liz's mid-century modern place in Rochester, New York

I have been to Chicago a few times. Our soccer team at IU played Northwestern and one of the other forwards, a little guy, a foreign student like most of the team, took us all to a Turkish restaurant in the city. His name was Attila. We had a tiny cup of Turkish coffee.

And then Dave Mahoney and I hitchhiked up there from Bloomington. Can’t remember why we went up there but I remember staying at the Y downtown and getting chased by some guy after we got out of the shower. And I went up there with Steve Hoy in ’69 to hear the Stones. Peggi was at that show too but we weren’t together. Terry Reid and Chuck Berry opened.

Peggi went there together in 2001 to see the Van Gogh/Gaugin show at the Art Institute. It was weeks after 9/11 and there were rumors hat the ears Tower was next. We took the train and walked everywhere once we got there. It seemed very friendly.

Bob Martin left town today behind the wheel of a big U-Haul. He’s headed for Chicago where he bought a house. There is a magnet out there. His grandson. We stopped over return a hard drive and say goodbye again. We will miss him in so many ways.

We played music together for thirty-five years. That’s how we met. That conversation will end. Bob is an expert on all things technical. Software, hardware, recording. We turned to him all the time for advice. He is a good friend. It is all kinda sad but I guess that is why they invented Facebook. Except I’m not gonna join in those political rants even if I agree with Bob. But I will miss Liz Valentine’s eloquent letters to the editor in our local paper.

Garage Sales For Dummies

July 11th, 2017

Books at garage sale in Rochester, New York

We were headed up to Wegman’s on our bikes. We needed just about everything so I had three bags in my basket. There were garage sales on every side street and we turned down one that had sign pointing to a “Monster Garage Sale.” I was kind of intrigued by this graphic poster but we moved along without buying anything.

Peggi had pointed out the book, “Blogging For Dummies,” and I’m wondering now what kind of advice it would have offered.

I think the hardest part is just doing it. Like meditation you have to stop what you’re doing and collect yourself for a few moments. To make that act more tolerable I just try to amuse myself by what I write. If I don’t have anything to say I just start typing and it is fun to see where it goes. For me, my photos are an aide. They get the ball rolling even if they have nothing to do with the content of my post. And often the photo is far more interesting than what write. That’s ok with me. I get get a sense of release when I hit “Publish” and then I get on with my day. It is ridiculously selfish.

Road Mask

July 8th, 2017

Catalytic converter cover found on Wisner Road in Rochester, New York

We were out riding our bikes and Peggi spotted this catalytic-convertor cover on Wisner Road. I don’t even see them anymore. I collected them for years. Early Spring before the city sweeps the streets is the best time to find them. And of course you need to be on your bike to even see them. They get run over until they as flat a pancake. I had this Road Mask piece in Tap and Mallet when they opened. No idea where it is today.

My camera card has been acting funny. I think I mentioned this a while back. Sometimes I can’t change the names of the jpegs on it unless I copy the files onto my hard drive. And sometimes I can’t drag the files I don’t want to the trash. I am not allowed.

This morning I put the card in my computer and things were working fine. I had five really nice photos on there and I was allowed to rename the ones I wanted to keep. There were three photos of clouds from yesterday, really dramatic looking cummulus clouds set against dark black cloud with brilliant blues sky behind it all. We had just finished dinner with at Vic’s Place and my sister was having a cigarette in the parking lot. I saved three of the cloud photos, real beauties. There was one of a tiny baby rabbit on the lawn in front of Writers and Books. And a shot from the forth floor stairwell leading up to Colleen Buzzard’s studio in the Anderson Building. I was looking at a row of turn of the last century buildings with saw-tooth rooftops which used to allow natural light in for the factory workers before electricity came along. That shot was just at dusk in low light.

It occurred to be that I was renaming the files on the card and my next thought was, “I wonder if I can drag them to the trash?” I could and I did and I dumped it.

Follow Up

July 6th, 2017

Pig roasting on the beach July 4th at Durand Eastman Park in Rochester, New York

“A relaxed mind is a creative mind.” So my Yogi tea bag read tonight. I don’t know about that. When I’m relaxed I don’t seem to get anything done. But instead of dismissing this fortune I plan to take it for a spin.

I’ve been preparing for an art show and I’ve been pushing it. I’ve been preparing the coffee maker before we go to bed so all I have to do is push the button in the morning. I’m down there drawing before I am awake. And I stop only when I’m nearly exhausted. I’m going to start relaxing and I will report back.

Unity, Pride, Strength

July 4th, 2017

Teamster truck and fans at Durand Eastman Beach on 4th of July

It was a perfect day for cruising along the lakeshore. Full sun but not too hot. The sand beach, which is still mostly underwater, was packed with bathers but most people arranged themselves on the lawn where the old railroad tracks were. Giant boom boxes were cranking competing salsa tunes and barbecue equipment was everywhere, even those stainless steel consoles that run on propane. One group was grilling a whole pig on spigget rotating above a double wide oil drum cooker. The whole trick was riding our bikes slow enough to take this all in.

On top of all this, a super patriotic trucker drove slowly through the parking lot with a sound system mounted on the outside of his cab. His playlist included AC DC’s “You Shook Me All Night Long.”

Happy Independence Day

July 3rd, 2017

Highlife

July 2nd, 2017

Pink earth art on filled in Inner Loop

I thought it was interesting that people pulled right out onto the filled-in Inner Loop to park for free last night. The city was packed for the last night of Jazz Fest. Tonight was for the backup musicians, David Bowie’s Blackstar band at Xerox and Bruno Mars backup band at one of the outdoor stages. I’ve kept track of the acts we saw here and posted some notes below.

We started with the Donny McCaslin Group, a four piece, who sounded really great in the Xerox auditorium. The keyboard player has a big role in their sound and he had plenty of unusual sounds but his Mopho x4 was a little overbearing. And there was a little too much four-on-the-floor from the drums for my tastes. I really liked the sax player’s playing. Peggi talked to him after the gig about his EarthQuaker effects. The band’s new record is based on their experience working with David Bowie and they played an instrumental version of Bowie’s “Lazarus.” It was the best song they did.

The trio over at the Lutheran Church was led by the drummer. Gard Nilssen’s Acoustic Unity had a light airy sound but they played fast and furious. The drummer soloed with brushes. The sax player played tenor and soprano and both at once. The bass played reminded me of Charlie Haden. They played so well together it was quite amazing.

We stopped in Christ Church to hear a bit of Tessa Souter. I was glad to see Billy Drummond in the drum chair. Souter sounds like a really good lounge singer. I don’t mean that as any kind of slight. I would love to be stuck in a hotel bar somewhere or on a cruise ship and have the Spanish guitar, the double bass and Billy’s drums backing her chanteuse show. They weren’t serving drinks in the church though.

We ran into my brother the other night and he was disappointed because there was no band in front of the University Club. He comes down for the free stuff. He likes blues and he usually finds something he likes there. Tonight there was a band there and they were doing James Brown’s “Cold Sweat” when we walked by.

The guitar player in International Orange at the Little Theater was really great. He played all kinds of fingerpicking, slide and whammy bar stuff. He sounded a bit like one of those African Highlife players. I kind of wish he had a different band. The drummer was a little heavy handed and the electric piano just didn’t sound that good with the guitar. And the bass player certainly didn’t need two five string basses. They did a Pat Methany song and something off Keith Jarrett’s “Belonging” but the guitar player’s stuff was the best.

One To Go

June 30th, 2017

Mushroom on the front lawn

Day 8 of Jazz Fest. We are experiencing prime mushroom weather. I found this baby on our front lawn.

We stuck our head into the Wilder Room but the band sounded way too ordinary.

We caught Phil Marshall’s son, Roy, playing on the Gibb’s Street stage in an odd combo with kids and maybe a music teacher on bass. Roy sound like a million bucks.

Binker and Moses, a duo with sax and drums tore it up in Christ Church. They used the ambience here like street performers in a giant subway station. They reached for the sky like those Coltrane and Rashid Ali duos near the end of Coltrane’s life. But this wasn’t all they had. The next number reminded me of something a band would play in an early 60’s movie where the partygoers, drinks hoisted, would form a conga line and dance out of the living room. How old are these guys?

We only heard Bonarama long enough for Peggi to go to the bathroom and we were out of there. Horrendous, bombastic sound.

We tried Iris Bergcrantz Group at the Lutheran Church but no luck. Not much of a line-up tonight. We made an early night of it.

No Monk

June 29th, 2017

New light sculpture at Memorial Art Gallery

4 By Monk By 4” started at 4 o’clock at the Lyric Theater. Four piano players were on the bill but only two pianos were on the stage. Cyrus Chestnut started alone and then Benny Green played one and then George Cables played a duo with Green. Kenny Barron played a duo with Cables and then a couple on his own. Then, of course, all four players, two on a piano, which made me think of the merry-ground music at Sea Breeze. George Cables was the most interesting.

Young Sun Nah did an Al Green song, a Joni Mitchell song and a Hendrix song all in a row. A pretty good set list of other people’s material. She has an odd manor, smiling during sad songs, an incredible voice but strangely detached from the material.

Phronesis was back, for the third time, at Christ Church. It is not the best venue for them. They have a frenetic sound and the cavernous church takes that edge off. The bass player and band leader is both the foundation and the lead instrument. The piano and drums decorate his playing. It is kind of unusual. No matter how flowery the piano player gets you are still drawn to the bass. And rhythmically the drummer never gets out front of the bass. Here I am trying to describe the band and the bass player just invited the crowd back to the second set by saying. “All different music. If you like weird rhythms, slightly dark, melancholic, Scandinavian music, by all means, come back”

Oskar Stenmaek NYC Quartet let their arrangements run and wander but they always landed with a lovely, mellow, folky, flugelhorn melody from Stenmaek. Despite their name the melodies were all old world.

Cello, djembe, tom tom, accordion and vocals from all four and even some throat singing. Dakha Brakha are from the Ukraine. We were standing next to Olga and Peggi asked her if this was pretty authentic Ukrainian music and she said it was but the music is usually sung by old women and there usually are no drums.

We finished the night over at the MAG where they unveiled their newest acquisition, the light sculpture above.

Full Monty

June 28th, 2017

Jesus freaks with a camera downtown Rochester, New York

Here I was taking a picture of these Jesus freaks downtown and I now see he had a small video camera pointed at me. My camera card has been acting up. While it was mounted on my computer I wasn’t able to rename photos on the card or drag unwanted photos to the trash. I reformatted the card in the camera and that fixed the issue but when I went to take a photo of Monty Alexander and Peggi out on the street this afternoon the camera read “No Card.” Re-inserting fixed that issue but Monty was gone.

Tommy Smith is an Scottish gentleman who plays a gorgeous tenor sax. I don’t mean his horn is particularly good looking. His tone is rich and warm and it sounded especially good in the round opera hall. He played solo at the Lyric Theater this afternoon and it was everything you would want from a jazz performance. Melodic, rhythmic and moving.

Back at Kilbourn for more Monty Alexander, this time in a trio setting. We sat next to Gap Mangione. Monty had the same bass player as when we last heard them here, someone who has been with him for thirty years or so. And I think the drummer was a former Eastman student because after the show he addressed John Beck, the former head of the percussion department, as “Mr. Beck.” With a rythmn section, Monty is grounded. And when he is grounded he is more astonishing, melodically and rhythmically, in equal measure. He is so musically gifted and has such fun with it all that it is pure joy to be a witness. Corny enough to quote the Flintstone theme mid song and get away with it. And he finished with a heart-wrenching version of “No Woman, No Cry.” Monty gets our vote (again) for Best of the Fest.

At the Lutheran Church we heard something other than jazz. Klabbesbank. Three horns up front playing arrangements on top of sequenced keyboard tracks. A guitar player and drummer played along.

Anthology was our last stop of the evening. Kind of amazing how loud this club is. There’s a whole second row of speakers in the back of the club just so you can’t possibly get away from the volume. Electric Kif is a little bit of everything, mostly over the top with it all. Too many gnarly keyboards for my taste and progressive with no ideas. The jazz fest slide show by the door was more interesting than the band.

Painting On Piano

June 27th, 2017

Little Black Chairs in Christ Church

Monty Alexander, playing solo piano at the Lyric Theater, introduced one of his songs, “Hurricane,” as his “painting on piano.”
Monty’s bout with pancreatic cancer seems to have slowed his manic pace a notch. He can still shift gears and quote so many songs you just wish he would milk what he brings to each one a little longer. So when he slowed things down to play a melancholy version of September Song he captivated the room and then brought the house down with “Sweet Georgia Brown.” He plays with a trio tomorrow at Kilbourn.

I have a slow meditative Steve Kuhn song in our iTunes library called “Trance” that I love. I meant to play it today before the show but it slipped my mind. Tonight he played a lot of standards. My favorite was “Stella By Starlight” Billy Drummond played drums and it was hard to take my eyes off him. He was the perfect foil/accompaniment to Kuhn’s fluid, rolling melodies. I know I have him on a few records at home.

About four songs into their first set Kendrick Scott Oracle announced that pianist Geri Allen had passed away. He had played with her as did Ornette Coleman and she played the festival here a few years back. Kendrick Scott dedicated a song to her and followed that up by playing along with a recorded montage of Obama’s speech on the black incarceration rate. Scott said he was “all about togetherness but you have to talk about it.”

Ole Mathisen Foating Points at the Lutheran Church was a four piece with sax, trumpet, piano and bass and their music was all notated. The sax player and leader even read from notes between songs. They played like a small mysterious orchestra and were very dreamy.

Vanishing Sun Band in the RGE tent were laying down a great, heavy, funk groove that could be heard a block away so we stopped in the RGE Fusion Tent for a beer but then the band dipped into fusion for some reason.

Dave O’Higgens Atlantic Bridge Quartet at Christ Church did just that. They bridged the Atlantic with an international band of proper jazz musicians. Clean cut jazz.

Mario Rom Interzone at the Little were just called Interzone last time we saw them. The Austrian band has so much youthful energy and such a love of jazz they are Infectious. Just when you think they are too young and too European to really swing they sound like Louie Armstrong in a Bourbon Street bar. And they are so very entertaining.

Make Out Machine

June 27th, 2017

Michael Blake's Red Hook Soul performing at Xerox during the 2017 Rochester Jazz Fest

We stopped in to hear Michael Blakes’s Red Hook Soul on Sunday night but we only stayed for a few songs. The sound in the big tent is so oppressive. We had already decided to hear them at Xerox on Monday and they were so good we caught both the early and late shows. Every member of this band is a solid pro and the sound here was perfect. We sat in the front row for both sets and we had an incredible stereo mix of the two mostly rhythm guitars. Tony Scherr on the left had the crunch and Avi Bortnick the classic clean soulful scratch. Of course none of this would work without a way in the pocket bass player. The band plays vintage 70’s soul and Blake writes songs in that vein (“Make Out Machine”)for the band. He chooses the best and Michael calls out songs on stage. Last night they played a different Gladys Knight song in each set along with Rahsaan Roland Kirk’s “Volunteered Slavery” and Taj Mahall’s “Buy You a Chevrolet.”

Bill Frisell was at the first show with his wife, Carol d’Inverno, and his current bass player, Thomas Morgan. Margaret Explosion played the Mercer Gallery opening for Carol’s art show at MCC last year and we had her over for dinner. She told us they are in the process of moving to Brooklyn where she begins a residency next month.

En route to the Xerox hall we spotted Bernie Heveron, formerly of Personal Effects, playing bass with the Red, White and Blues band.

Ikonostasis at the Lutheran Church was the most avant-garde guard band of the festival so far and maybe my favorite. A trio with no bass player. This one worked, unlike the band we saw at the Little Theater last night. Kari Ikonen, the piano/synth player is the leader but I was sitting so close I could only get two players in the frame and the sax player, Ole Mathisen, and drummer, Ra-Kalam Bob Moses were far more interesting to look at. The band went from pretty to abstract to outer space and back. “What time is it?” asked Ikonen after an hour or so. “Just keep playing’ said someone in the crowd. And they did with a beautiful middle eastern piece that started like a call to prayer.

In The Burning Of The Republic

June 26th, 2017

View from inside the Golden Port Restaurant

I didn’t hear the Peruvian half of the Gabriel Alegria Afro-Peruvian Sextet but the Afro-jazz part was right on. The rhythm section, piano, bass and drums were all amazing players. The percussionist was rough and tumble and that’s where the magic was. The combination was beautiful.

When Eivor was in Rochester with Yggdrasil about thirteen years ago she bought an electric guitar at the House of Guitars. In fact she was playing that guitar at the Lutheran Church. She told the crowd she went back to the HOG today and bought another guitar, something from the sixties. She finger picked Leonard Cohen’s “Famous Blue Raincoat” on it tonight. Her lofty voice was perfectly suited to the church.

Hey, we know that Guy, chatting up the cigarette lady.

This young trio laying in the street sounded pretty damn good.

Derick Lucas from WGMC introduced the Neil Cowley Trio and told us we were in for “a life changing experience.” Well, not quite. More progressive rock than jazz with lots of unison parts they were melodic and a joy to listen to but I found myself exhausted before the set ended.

After securing our wrist bands for early entrance to Kilbourn Hall on Sunday night we took refuge in Golden Port where we split a Curried Vegetable dish. It rained twice while we were in there but the sun came out just as we left.

We spotted Bill Frisell and his bass player, Thomas Morgan, going in the side door of the Eastman for their soundcheck. We’ve heard Frisell everytime he’s been here and almost decided to skip this one but I’m glad we didn’t. We found front row seats and sat right next to Bob Martin and Ken Frank from Margaret Explosion. In this duo setting Frisell sounded better than ever. The musical exchanges between the two were intense. The minor key “Rambler'” an early song of Frisell’s, was my favorite.

Matthew Leonard from the D&C introduced the band at Harro East.

Shabaka & the Ancestors tore it up. They started with a chant and the “In the burning of the republic. . .” theme ran throughout their set. “We need you people. You need these hymns. Feminize the government. Feed our children. Black lives matter.” I assume the Ancestors are artists like The Last Poets and Sun Ra. Shabaka Hutchings certainly channelled Pharoah Sanders on tenor sax.

Red Hook Soul does classic, King Curtis style, r&b. Tenor sax player, Michael Blake, whose band, Blake Tartar was one of our favorite groups of the fest a few years back and was just in town performing at the Bop Shop, leads the band, a money making project for him. Bill Frisell’s long time bassist, Tony Scheer, plays guitar in this band. They play again tomorrow night at Xerox Auditorium.

Fred Costello was playing Bill Dogget’s “Honky Tonk” on the stage at Gibbs Street. His band sounded great and we couldn’t help thinking how his R&B sounded so much more authentic than Red Hook Soul. Could have just been the great Bill Dogget number.

Elliot Galvin Trio at Christ Church was contemplative and very pretty. Their spartan sound and delicate touch worked really well in this space. Not entirely ethereal, they even played an off kilter blues.

Like Jazz

June 24th, 2017

Old brick building in downtown Rochester near Richmond Street

We checked out the sound samples on the jazz fest app, looking for the stuff that sounded the most like jazz, and found a parking spot on Richmond Street. This trio was playing a party in the patio of the modern apartment with all the gee-gaws. They sounded pretty good.

The Huntertones met at Ohio State and got their start playing house shows. They were doing a Stevie Wonder tune when we walked into Montage. They used to call this “frat rock.”

The leader of the Moscow Jazz Orchestra, the only one not wearing a red, white and blue striped tie, sounded fantastic on his own. His song, “Nostalgic,” was, slow, romantic, cinematic and bluesy. His tenor tone reminded us of Gato Barbieri.

After 21 years of continuously singing the good news of Jesus Christ, Tim Woodson & The Heirs Of Harmony, billed as “True Gospel psalmists,” sounded like a loud festival rock band. The singers all wore white and hadn’t taken the stage yet.

Yggdrasil, we have heard many times at the jazz fest but their sound has remained the same. They work in a folky, sometimes Bjork austere, sometimes Pink Floyd ponderous fairyland.

You can’t see the vocalist of this band playing in Spot coffee. He was more like a metal shouter. It looks like they might have cleared the place. We were drawn to the barefooted guitarist. His heavy pschedelic sound was spilling out into the street.

Santo Smiles

June 22nd, 2017

Deck at dusk after rain

I don’t think we have been to an opera since Peggi’s mom died. Maybe that Wagner, “Live from the Met,” broadcast that we saw at the mall was after she passed. I’d like to go to Glimmerglass this summer but we say that every year.

I have a ready-made opera in my head. It came to me in a flash this morning. We stopped by the Friendly Home where my mom spent the last year and half of her life. Someone else’s name was on my mom’s room. We caught up with the staff and I commented on how quiet the main room was and they told us there was a group in the sunroom so we headed down there.

Brandon, the former activities director, was promoted and I thought he was irreplaceable but I was wrong. A woman named Molly was in the center of a circle of residents. She was throwing a large ball with “Life is Good” on it to one person at a time. This must be one of the last skills to go because people who have lost all the rest can still catch and throw the ball.

Brandon was a genuine gentleman and so casual. The residents loved him because he never talked down to them. He was able to engage people who I thought had already checked out. But Molly one-upped Brandon.

She sings to the residents, not just songs but everything she says to them. “Here comes the ball, Tony.” She came over to us and said she had learned that music engages the whole mind where talking does not. She didn’t have to explain a thing. We were watching this play out. Philomena laughed and Santo smiled! The residents were so stimulated Molly had to call for help. Beverly and Nancy got out of their chairs. The opera was just getting going.

Don’t Explain Yourself

June 21st, 2017

OzzieInBloodlineTVinLivingRoom

We must be drawn to Monroe County. Peggi and I met while going to school in Bloomington, Indiana in Monroe County. We moved, Peggi to and me ‘back” to, Rochester in Monroe County. And we just finished slowing our way through Netflix’s “Bloodline,” the dysfunctional family drama set in the Keys, Monroe County, Florida.

Bloodline got in trouble early on. They killed off the best character, Ben Mendelsohn’s Danny, and the others had to fill the void. They couldn’t so Danny kept reappearing. Kyle Chandler as John Rayburn does the nightmare deed, killing his brother Danny, and his guilt drives the rest of the show. You’d think heavyweights like Sam Shepard and Sissy Spacek would have been given more to work with as the family matriarchs but Shepard dies early and Spacek never feels present. The second most dysfunctional sibling, Kevin, played by Norbert Leo Butz, almost gave Danny a run for his money but the writing completely fell apart.Jamie McShane and Chloë Sevigny, as Eric and Chelsea O’Bannon, were both great as support, so good they outshone the leftover leads. And latecomers like Beau Bridges and John Leguizamo helped bring some new life into the show but the whole thing crash landed when characters started explaining themselves and even each other.