Fly Into The Sun

October 27th, 2016

Amy Rigby solo gig at Abilene in Rochester, New York

We packed up our gear as quickly as possible last night and headed across town to Abilene where Amy Rigby was doing a solo set. Game 2 of the World Series wasn’t enough of a conflict for Margaret Explosion, Amy was playing at the same time as Margaret Explosion. Rochester was the first stop on a tour celebrating the 20th anniversary of her “Diary of a Mod Housewife” cd with a first-time vinyl release. We were thrilled o find her still on stage, performing a new song, but it was the last song of her encore.

She did a booming business at the march table after the show and posed for photos with fans and then showed us one of the silk-screened towels that she and Eric made for the people who contributed to the campaign to fund her record. It was beautiful and we wanted one but we’ll have to wait until more are printed.

Rick Simpson has a weekly show on WRUR called “Gumbo Variations” and he plans his shows around musician’s birthdays or the anniversaries of their death. It has been three years since Lou Reed’s death and he he asked Peggi and I if we would put together a few sets of his music. We chose “Perfect Day”, “I Love You, Suzanne”, “Walk On The Wild Side”, “Last Great American Whale”, “Pale Blue Eyes” and “All Tomorrow’s Parties” from the Velvets period and then “Fly Into The Sun.”

I was a little leery about how the big 80’s drum sound in “I Love You, Suzanne” aged but Peggi lobbied hard for it. We’re listening to his show now.

Moving Images

October 25th, 2016

Marsh off Hoffman Road in Rochester, New York

The Memorial Art Gallery has an exciting new Media Arts space, a gallery devoted to the moving image, a three year project that will feature different work every three months, work by major artists. They even plan to commission three pieces for an upcoming show. The inaugural exhibition, “Bodies in Space,” features work Nam June Paik (“Experiments with David Atwood, 1969″) and Bruce Nauman, key artists from the early years of video art, alongside more recent work by Sondra Perry and Takeshi Murata. The gallery plans to purchase the work and eventually assimilate it in their collection.

On Sunday afternoon John Hanhardt, MAG’s new Curator of Media Arts, gave a lecture on the work and media arts in general. Hanhardt worked in the department of film and video at the Museum of Modern Art, the Walker Art Center in Minneapolis and from 1974 to 1996 he was curator of the film and video department at the Whitney Museum of American Art. He was the senior curator of film and media arts at the Guggenheim from 1996 to 2006 and he joined the Smithsonian Museum’s staff in 2006 as a senior curator of film and media arts.

Hanhardt curated both the Whitney and Guggenheim retrospectives of Nam June Paik. He recently arranged for the Smitsonian to house the Nam June Paik archive, eight tractor trailer trucks worth. Hanhardt convinced Warhol, when he was still alive, to let him preserve his film archive. He knows his stuff. He is a Rochester native and we are glad to have him back.

Four Gardens

October 24th, 2016

Ossia performing live in Highland Park 2016, Rochester, New York. Photo by Peggi Fournier

We dressed warmly for Ossia’s outdoor, noon performance in Highland Park this Sunday. I wore gloves for the first time in months. It was the world premiere of Eastman faculty composer Robert Morris’ “Four Gardens” for mixed instrumental and vocal ensembles. Their website said the piece was “designed to be played outdoors, overlooking the reservoir in Rochester’s Highland Park.” We should have read that more carefully because we assumed the performance was to take place in the grotto that was pictured on their website. We went there first and then drove through the park for a half hour or so before we found the groups (four gardens) performing simultaneously around the overlook where the old Pavilion was overlooking the reservoir. I wish we had been there for the entire performance because what we heard was beautiful.

Memories Were Made Of This

October 24th, 2016

Leslie Hewitt "Untitled Candid" Eastman Museum

I’m not so sure about curator, Lisa Hostetler’s premise for the new show at the Eastman Museum. “Personal and collective memories are so inextricably intertwined with photographs,” that the disappearance of the physical print in the digital age “is altering society’s relationship to memory.”

In “A Matter of Memory: Photography as Object in the Digital Age” she has rounded up work from contemporary artists whose work speaks to the potential consequences of the medium’s metamorphosis. Often the photographic process and material are intregal to the work and that physical property brings the work closer to an art object than a digital image. Alison Rossiter exposes outdated paper, sometimes from the forties, and without a camera she creates stunning landscape-like images. And Phil Chang has mounted prints that were not fixed. They are fading away under glass and he promised to put new prints in a few days. Even without knowing the premise it is a sensational show, a feast for the eyes and even nourishment for memories.

Completely Seperate

October 22nd, 2016

Eggplants, Tomatoes and lettuce from the garden in October

I set both the clock radio alarm and the one on Peggi’s iPhone to ensure a 7:30 awakening. Pete Monacelli had asked me to talk to his commercial art class at Monroe Community College. Pete is a fine artist and carpenter as well as a teacher and he told me he thought his class would be interested in what I had to say about the connection between fine art and commercial art. How do you make both work?

I pulled into the parking lot on time but I wandered around campus before I found the art department and then I had trouble finding his room until I heard his vice and his unmistakable laugh. The kids, most just under twenty or so, were pretty unruly and all talking among themselves when I walked in. Pete introduced me and I started by saying I don’t have the strongest voice and Pete jumped in in with, “So shut the hell up.”

Pete had a computer connected to a projector so I planned on working from the links on my Popwars homepage. I called up a slideshow of some recent photos and talked over that about my background. I dropped out of school when I was about their age (around the same time my friend, Dave Mahoney, dropped out of this very school). I fooled around for a few years, met my wife, worked construction framing houses, came home exhausted, had to find an easier job and started doing commercial art at ad agencies. I worked at one for five years and noticed that the free lancers, who were hired when we got too busy or took on a new client, were getting paid more than me. So I started freelancing for almost every agency in town and slowly collected work that I could do at home. The Mac II came out, enabling us to set type output film, my wife quit her teaching job and I never left the house again. Some twenty-five years later we retired.

I interrupted the slideshow at this point and showed them some of the logos I did over the years for some of the companies we worked for and talked about the business cards, brochures and websites that went along with the log. I took a quick detour into how to get paid. Make sure you do a simple proposal acceptance form before you start a job and get the client to sign it, preferably with half down to begin. I told them the logos were fun, the work was fun but the most fun was doing my own stuff which I keep completely separate from the commercial work.

I brought up some of paintings and told them how I liked painting the local wanted guys. The room came alive when I clicked on my source material. I showed them some paintings of priests and the basketball players and they really reacted to this drawing from the silent film, “Passion of Saint Joan.”

I was going to mention my blog but I forgot. I finished with my Funky Signs site and they loved that. I was thrilled. There were questions throughout and plenty of students came up to talk after class. School seemed a lot more interesting than it did in my day.

Very Little Bleeding

October 20th, 2016

Little wagon with split wood

A pile of cardboard boxes of my paintings separates the double bass from the drums. We have a snake running down our basement stairway and another under the rug in our hallway that ends in our bedroom where Peggi has set her amp up on our wicker laundry basket. We have been in record mode for the last month or so but the red light is only on when Arpad is in the house. Margaret Explosion is making a new record, a multi-track affair, and we’re doing it in our home where we are trying to get separation between the instruments by setting up in various parts of the house. We recorded six sessions of bass, drums and various combinations of sax, guitar or synth. Pete LaBonne was in town for two of those evenings and then he came back to add piano tracks on all but one of the tunes.

This is something different for us. Margaret Explosion recordings have all been live two track stereo mixes with no overdubs, mostly recorded at the Little Theater Café where we have had a weekly gig for fifteen years or so. And the music is all improvised. We don’t have any songs until we play them. This time we toyed with taking melodies from some of those songs as foundations for new recordings but we’ve found, in fact, “you can’t reheat a soufflé.” Paul McCartney said that. So we winged it but in a situation where we can pull an instrument out of the mix or redo the track without leaving trails on all the other tracks. Very little bleeding.

Arpad stops by two nights a week and we lay down overdubs. His pc and mixing console is set up behind me. Peggi is replacing a sax track as I write this entry. Arpad records with “Reaper.” It is available on the Mac as well and I may download a copy. I’ve been importing his tracks to Garage Band so I can do some editing and simple looping. Bob plans to do his guitar overdubs in his home. It would be simpler if everyone used the same software and we could work from files shared in the cloud but we haven’t got there yet.


October 19th, 2016

Circle at in Sea Breeze at Durand in Rochester, New York

The Women’s National Soccer team plays Switzerland tonight and three of the WNY Flash have been called up for the occasion. We’ll be at our gig but our hard drive is in record mode. That match is happening in Utah at the same time as the third presidential debate in Las Vegas. We’re recording that too.

Hope you can stop out tonight for Margaret Explosion’s special “Pre-debate Cleansing” performance at the Little Theater Café 7:00-9:00. We promise no politically tinged lyrics. In fact there will be no lyrics at all.

Listen to Fallopian from Margaret Explosion Disappear CD
Margaret Explosion - Fallopian
Margaret Explosion – Fallopian
Margaret Explosion plays Wednesday evenings in October and November at the Little Theatre Café.

Peanut Butter Bagels

October 18th, 2016

Musical entertainer at the Friendly Home in Rochester, New York

We had lunch with my mom yesterday and I struck up a conversation with the woman sitting next to me. A Vassar girl some seventy years ago, she told me she was in the Yale Commons that morning and they were serving peanut butter bagels. Her mother and dad were there too. I was trying to figure out whether the peanut butter was baked into the bagel or spread on top. She said she was trying to eat one with a fork and she just couldn’t get a piece of it. I told her most people pick up a bagel with their hands and eat it that way. She said I know that but I couldn’t get a hold of it so I asked for a fork.

Adios Mex

October 18th, 2016

Mural on stairway at Mex Restaurant in Rochester, New York

Margaret Explosion played a Friday happy hour gig at the Bug Jar for almost three years in the late nineties. Casey, one of the three owners of the Bug Jar brought in vegetarian Indian food and Rolling Rocks were a dollar. In 1999 Casey got out and he and his brother bought an old building on Alexander Street. They rehabbed it and opened as Mex, a hip, mostly vegetarian, Mexican food place with a few bars scattered about the building.

Casey asked me to paint a mural on the winding staircase that led up to the restaurant and I worked on it for three or so weeks. I used acrylic paint with a little bit of retarder because the stuff dried so quickly and I mixed the colors right on the wall using two, one inch brushes. I still had whole sections to do when they were getting ready to open so I asked my father for some help. He painted the Marigolds that the Mexican woman is selling right by the door as you come in. They were part of the early East End resurgence and the area got so hot it was eventually Mex’s downfall. A group of us used to sit out on the patio Friday evenings and watch people parade by. Their last day of business will be November 1, the Day of the Dead. Peggi and I stopped in there over the weekend. We didn’t know a soul but we ordered a Margarita and wandered about the place one last time.

Adios Mexico!

Cleansing My Palate

October 16th, 2016

Drug bags on table in front yard

I pointed to a spot at the end of Hoffman Road where I have found quite a few drug bags. We were out walking with Pete and Shelley and there were none to be found here that day. I have made it a practice to round up the inorganic material that I find on our hikes. Golf balls, pink, blue and orange plastic tied to branches to mark trails in the woods, Budweiser cans and now drug bags. We continued down the road and turned at Jared and Sue’s to cut through their property and return home. Right there, near the edge of the road, Pete spotted a drug bag. That makes about fifty in the last few months. I keep them in my Elvis Presley ash tray and I brought them outside to take this photo.

They are usually right next to plastic packages for flavored cigars so I have always thought kids were hollowing out the cigars and filling them with this tiny amount of weed but I really have no idea what was in the bags. Some of them are so tiny they could only hold one capsule of something. I’m beginning to wonder if they might have something to do with the recent burglaries in our neighborhood.

We walked down Hoffman to a neighbor’s place this afternoon. It was Danelle’s 60th birthday and coincidentally Damnika’s, another neighbor, 65th birthday. The Bills were on the tube. The sound was off so we didn’t hear any of the crowds’ USA protest against San Francisco’s quarterback, Kapernick. It was in the seventies so we spent the whole party out on the back porch. When Olga came I went in to say hello and I put some Brie cheese on a cracker while we talked. I was thinking, “this is is some funky Brie cheese.” And it dawned on me. I blurted, “These crackers are bad.” Turned out they were Olga’s crackers, organic with no preservatives, and they had gone rancid. She was embarrassed but I can still taste the damn things.

Amateur Sleuths

October 14th, 2016

Milkweed explosion in Fall

There have been five burglaries in our neighborhood in the last three weeks and, needless to say, the neighbors are all on the lookout. Each car carefully checks us out when we’re out walking. We saw two Doyle Security trucks come out of the street next to us, so someone has a new alarm system. I was laying in bed in the dark last night and a cop car drove by with its searchlight shining in our windows. And when I woke up another cop, this one in a fluorescent green trench coat, came down our street on an ATV. I am happy the police are responding.

Peggi and I have been acting like amateur sleuths and I’ve reached back to my experience in the Crime Analysis Unit of the Rochester Police Department to look for patterns in the locations and possible getaway routes. A neighbor behind us told us a Sergeant had stopped by her house and told her they think the guy is traveling on foot and coming from the golf course on Kings Highway. He is apparently interested in jewelry.

We chatted with a middle aged man who was also out walking and asked if he lived nearby. He was wearing a Dunkin’ Donuts t-shirt and couldn’t possibly have been the suspect. He said he lived on the other side of the park and he told us he had seen something very strange a few days back. A scruffy man came out of Conifer Lane and turned right toward the golf course. He was carrying a suitcase and the the guy said he tried to say hello to the man but the guy looked away. We told him that a house on Conifer was broken into that day in daylight and he probably saw the the suspect. On our way back I waved down a cop car and we told him what the Dunkin Donuts guy had told us. The cop immediately called it in while we were relaying the story and when it became clear that this had all happened a few days ago he cancelled the call and the cop got pissed at us. “You have to call it in immediately,” he scolded us.

We took a walk with Pete and Shelley yesterday and at the end of Hoffman Road, near the golf course, we saw a black windbreaker hanging on a tree. It had white block lettering on he back that read “POLICE.” I looked at the size and it was extra large so I hung it back up. I looked for it today and it was gone. I’m wishing now that I had at least tried it on and had a photo taken in it.

Deep Garage

October 10th, 2016

High Falls and gorge by Genesee Brewery in Rochester, New York

“Press one for popular music, two for classical and three for jazz. If you would rather hear silence while you are on hold, press four.” I called Apple to get to the bottom of my music syncing issues. I’m not sure if I got there but I got some guidance. With the “iCloud Music Library” button switched on on my iPad I could not sync a new playlist (live Margaret Explosion music from last Wednesday) from iTunes on my desktop to the iPad. Apparently you have to switch “iCloud Music Library” off on the iPad and then the iTunes syncing menu on your desktop will then allow you to add new playlists. I don’t think any of my music is in the cloud Apple is trying to sync my device with the desktop music library through the cloud and there is not nearly enough room so I a mess of partial playlists. I pressed “four” by the way.

In the car I generally listen to AM 137, the PBS affiliate, or the Spanish language Poder 97.1 on the FM side. But if I’m chopping vegetables I listen to “Deep Garage” on Vicious Radio.

Margaret Explosion plays Wednesday evenings at the Little Theatre Café.
Margaret Explosion - Tether
Margaret Explosion – Tether

Some Day You’ll Thank Me

October 9th, 2016

Crazy Firemen band at Octoberfest celebration  at Genesse Brewery in Rochester, New York

We didn’t attend the event. We are outside of the whole singer/songwriter scene. But we did hear Bob Martin’s version of the song when we stopped by his place to drop off a hard drive with new Margaret Explosion songs on it. It makes me nervous, sitting in a chair as someone strums a guitar and sings carefully crafted songs. An informal call for entries goes out to songwriters to write a song with the same title. Last year it was “Don’t Go Drinkin’ on an Empty Heart.” This year songwriters gathered at Benunzio’s and performed their version of, “Someday, You’ll Thank Me.” I cannot think of a good reason to not go drinking on an empty heart but this year’s title is workable.

I never liked it when my mom made me send a thank you card. I appreciated the gift but the thank you part was forced and awkward. And it makes me uncomfortable when someone goes out of their way to thank me for something I did. I didn’t do it to be thanked. Love means never having to say “thank you.” Maybe sub-consciously I would just rather have the upper hand after helping someone but when I am thanked it just doesn’t ring right. I guess it supposed to make me feel better but it doesn’t. For me, it sort of cheapens the act of helping.

I don’t have the lyrics for my version or even a melody but I do have the hook. “Someday you’ll thank me but I wish that you wouldn’t.”


October 7th, 2016

Traditional Chinese instrument, a "Pipa," being played at the Little Theater Café during Margaret Explosion break.

Our fifteen minute breaks at the Little Theater Café are usually noisy. It seems everyone in the place at once. But not not so night. A Chinese woman, here visiting her boyfriend asked us if she could play her pipa during the break. It is a traditional Chinese instrument but she made it sound really modern as she strummed the strings by opening the fingers of her right hand with incredible rhythmic precision.

The ushers handed us pink foam earplugs along with our program at Kilbourn Hall tonight. The first piece, “On and Off and To and Fro, was as loud as it was challenging. A board member thanked Home Depot for helping them construct a few the instruments. This was the beginning of the 20th season for Ossia, the student run modern music, small ensemble program. Of the five pieces the oldest was written in 2008 and one of them was performed here for the first time, a world premier. This music never swings but it often strange and beautiful. My favorite, “Of Being Is a bird,” featured soprano voice singing John Keats poems and harp.

Bush Whack

October 5th, 2016

Red Algae near Brickyard Trail in Brighton New York

We met Richard Carstensen in the back corner of Temple B’rith Kodesh’s parking lot and headed off into the woods, bushwhacking style. We were wearing our socks on the outside of our pants, our shirts were tucked in and our Permethrin hoods were up. We skirted but deliberately stayed off the newly dedicated Brickyard Trail. We found fox holes and frogs and butterflies. They are still out there.

We Love The Flash

October 4th, 2016

Homemade bike trailer in Brighton, New York

The WNY Flash match, which was broadcast on Fox 1 this Sunday, is up on YouTube now. It is the best Flash game we have ever seen and we have season’s tickets. Without entirely spoiling the game for you I will say the Flash are headed to the finals in Houston this Sunday. I wish I could be there to cheer them on and just go crazy like we did hollering at the tv in Kerry and Claire’s living room last Sunday with Barb from the Flash Mob.

The D&C’s Jeff DiVeronica has been doing a great job reporting on the Flash all season and his wrap-up in this morning’s paper was outstanding. The Flash, without any National team starters, are playing like a real team. No weak parts on the whole pitch and plenty of personality. They are playing better than they ever did with Abby or Carley or Morgan or Sinclair or even Marta, the biggest names in Women’s Soccer. And they beat Portland in their home stadium, with over twenty thousand fans, and National team players Tobin Heath, Megan Klingenberg, Allie Long, Lindsey Horan, Emily Sonnett, Nadi Nadim and Christin Sinclair.

Above The Thick Of It

October 2nd, 2016

Frank Paolo waving from his apartment on Saint Paul Boulevard in Rochester, New York

We bought tickets to the Landmark Society’s “Inside Downtown Tour,” mostly newly renovated loft spaces in the old garment district but a couple of historic churches and the Clade Brandon designed Chamber of Commerce building were included. My grandmother worked at Suberba Cravet, the tie makers, whose building was right around the corner and my grandfather worked for a shoemaker here before he opened his restaurant. Frank Paolo lives right in the the thick of it or, more accurately, above the thick of it, but his Brutalist building was not included. Someday it will fit landmark status. We called him and asked him to step out on his porch so I could take this picture.

Most of the open plan lofts were under a 1000 square feet but the ceilings were so tall and the windows so large, in some cases floor to ceiling, that the spaces felt very livable. One of the developers of HIVE@116, Dan Morganstern had his place place open and his wife greeted us at the door. We ran into Gap and Janet Mangione there. The Morgansterns had a huge place and the walls were covered with art. Peggi spotted two of her clown paintings from RoCo’s 6×6 show. They looked sensational!

Our Lady of Victory Church was giving away Saint Theresa medals from Italy so I put on on my keychain. I had not been in World Wide News in years. I went in just to see if they still sold magazines. They do so I bought aN Art Forum. We finished with a complimentary Genny beer inside the the Micheals-Stern Building.

Food Issue

October 1st, 2016

Display in waiting room at Thai Mii Up Restaurant in Rochester, New York

We checked out Thai Mii Up, the new restaurant up on Ridge Road, by bringing home an order of one of the chef’s specials, “Salt and Pepper Shrimp.” It was especially lively with a whole jalapeño pepper sliced like you would slice bread and mixed in with the lightly battered crustaceans. I would go back.

Aman’s will be taking their “Fresh Corn” sandwich sign in for the winter pretty soon. The corn was coming from a farm in Hamlin and now one in Penfield but the clerk told us it was coming to the end of the line. We had some black bean and mango salad at the Genesee Co-op the other day and I wrote down the ingredients. It was delicious and corn was in there(Black bean, mango, corn, sweet bell pepper, garlic, olive oil. cilantro, red onion, lime juice). I plan to make it with last night’s corn leftovers.

Louise brought us a small grape pie. We split that for breakfast.

We took care of my sister’s dog for a few days. Clarabell looks exactly like the Hush Puppy dog and people can’t resist her. We had neighbors come out of their houses to pet the dog while we were so-called “walking” her (letting her poop on someone else’s lawn and then retrieving the poop in a Wegman’s bag). My sister bought us some peanut butter fudge to thank us and made short work of that.

It is our neighbor, Sue’s, birthday so Peggi made her a cherry pie and plan to walk it down to her as soon as it cools.

Fake Out

September 30th, 2016

Tree with big lips in woods near Durand Eastman

Peggi reads everything by Stephen King. I read only his “On Writing.” I experience King through the movies and Peggi keeps reminding me that the book is so much better. Except in the case of “The Shining.” I guess they got that one right. But I hear Stephen King didn’t like it. We just finished watching the eight part “11/22/63,” something we rented from Netflix, and we were telling John Gilmore about it. He told us his Kennedy assignation story.

He was in band class in the first trumpet seat. The teacher and band leader was forever banging his baton on the lectern trying to bring order to the class. When he announced the president had just been shot, John assumed it was a ploy to get the kids to behave so he shouts, “Fake Out!” The teacher orders him out of the class and he never played trumpet again.

Free Range Conversation

September 29th, 2016

Dogwood fruit on Dewberry in Rochester, New York

The dogwood tree by our bedroom window had a rough summer. It hardly ever rained and we didn’t water it. It is already losing its leaves and instead of turning a beautiful red it just went brown. This tree on Dewberry Street must have an arborist as a caretaker or maybe it’s all the sunshine.

We took my mom down to the lobby of the Friendly Home where we had a cup of black coffee and clinked our plastic cups to National Coffee Day. We looked at old family pictures on my iPad. I have to skip over some because my mom starts to cry. Shirley Zimmer, a high school classmate of mine and a member of the Pittsford Art Group, was hanging her pictures in the gallery so we chatted with her for a while. She has a series of paintings there of funky motels, many from the Adirondack Mountains.

One of the residents in my mom’s place has a way of weaving me into her life. I start by just saying hello to her and then she has me responsible for not letting her go to her room or today, she had me in charge of the next bell choir performance. Earlier this week I looked up one of her relatives, someone she was referring to in a free ranging conversation. His name was Henry Ward Morgan and I showed her the entry I found. She said he was her grandfather and she read every word on the page. Before I could get my iPad back I had become one of his descendants, a member of her family on a part of the tree that has long since departed this world.