Only Sixteen

December 14th, 2017

Bull's head over the bar at  Ox & Stone on Alexander Street

We spotted our neighbor in Wegman’s buying prescriptions for her mom. We usually see her out skiing in the woods and we told her how perfect the conditions were today. A fresh couple of inches, clear blue sky, newly groomed trails and just 16 degrees. Nothing sticky about that.

The Members Show at RoCo looked really good during the day light hours. Of course in a floor to ceiling, salon style show different things catch your eye each visit. We were there to pick up the Stewart Davis painting we bought from their side gallery. We chatted with Bleu and then headed over to Casey’s new joint on Alexander Street, Lanai. The restaurant wasn’t open yet and we were starved so went across the street to Ox & Stone. It was too early for dinner there too so we sat at the bar under this big bull head and ordered Spanish style tapas.

Bury Me

December 12th, 2017

Paul and Peggi shadows on golf course while skiing

There is a volunteer cross country ski foundation that grooms the golf course at Durand each Winter. It’s $10 for four months and if you are a member you can check out the conditions before leaving the house. They had already groomed a few trails by the time we got down there this afternoon so we were able to ski up to the lake but the ground is not frozen yet so it got sticky. We are supposed to get another foot tonight so that will help.

Mountain Pose

December 11th, 2017

Protected heating controls In gym at Brighton High School

I like mountain pose.There is not much to it. And I love Savasana, the Sanskrit name for the relaxation pose we do at the end of class. Between those two there is some real work to do in opening up the creaky old frame. I like Jeffery’s class because he keeps you engaged. My tendency is to daydream but I surrender myself to watching and listening to him and two hours fly by.

Tonight he read a short passage from a motivational book at the end of class that I really liked. It was about salmon swimming upstream. You would think they’d choose the path of least resistence but they swim into the strongest current because they know that channel is unobstructed. We are meant to tackle things head on. I see the Bills won in OT yesterday.

Alphabet Soup

December 10th, 2017

Red barricade in Durand Eastman Park

Matthew made soup but he forgot to bring it out to the new place where we were rebuilding an exterior wall from the inside out. There was a large can of Campbell’s Alphabet soup out there so we heated that up for lunch and I couldn’t believe how good it was. Is that because of the salt? The first two letters I saw were a “P’ and an “E.’

I’m tired of not being able to reach the 45s on the top shelf of the book case so I’m planning on building a cabinet that will sit on the floor under a table near our stereo. That prompted me to file away some the ones that have been sitting in a stack – black column with no jackets – 45s that Peggi and I had when we were young. We didn’t know each other then but we have plenty of duplicates so I’ve been sorting those out too, keeping the copy with least amount of pops. I can usually tell which one is Peggi’s because she used to write her name on them and in some cases her name plus her boyfriend de jour.

I have a lot of friends who worked in record stores, Martin at Midtown and Record Theater, Kevin and Corrine at Record Theater, Andrea at Discount Records, and they would know the protocol for alphabetizing bands but I’m wrestling with a few things. You certainly don’t file all the “The So-&-Sos” bands under “The” so you drop the “The.” If an artist records under their own name you would file it under their last name but if they record under the name of a band with their name in it like Bobby Fuller Four or Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers I think you file them under the first letter in their first names. Do The 4 Seasons go under “Four” in the “F’s” or “4” at the beginning of the whole alphabet? And what about Little Peggy March or Chubby Checker? Do they go under their nicknames or their last names? Does Dr. John go under Dr. or Doctor or John? I went with Dr. he sits just after The Dovells.

Understanding Our World

December 8th, 2017

Paul and Peggi silhouettes at Durand Eastman Beach

As you can see from the evidence in this photo, the sun, even in the early afternoon, is way down south. Because the temperature was near freezing we felt safe enough to take our woods path up to the lake. The ticks are supposed to be inactive at 40 degrees. We had not been through the Commons in months. Someone has cleared the fallen trees and the trail is ready for cross-country skiing. We did a little extra maintenance, removing branches and fallen debris. We got all the way up to the lake without seeing any deer. Maybe the bow hunters put a dent in the population. We saw Steve Greive the other day and he said he had shot four on his property. The lake is still supposed to be a foot above normal but there is plenty of beach there.

We went by Vic’s Place to confirm the rumor that we first heard from Duane in Brooklyn. The place is clearly out of business. I don’t quite understand it. They had pulled off the impossible, keeping Vic & Irv’s secret hot sauce recipe alive, making real milkshakes and serving the best onion rings in town. They had a real comfortable place there for few years and they seemed to have a good business going. I don’t understand this world.

It’s Not Unusual

December 6th, 2017

Milkweed seeds exploding on Hoffman Road

We have forsythia bushes out front and in the back. Both are are blossoming. And our red maple still has its leaves. Cold weather is on the way but the bits of color we have are hanging on. Reminds me of that Vanilla Fudge cover of a Supremes song. I saw them do that song in the Indiana University Fieldhouse. My college career was short but memorable.

Drawing

December 4th, 2017

Richard Serra oil stick drawing at MoMA

We didn’t want to cut out of yoga early so we missed the first piece of Ossia’s “ShadeShifting” program this evening at Kilbourn Hall. It was called “Zugvogal” and it incorporated bird calls. The pieces we heard, all composed in the past twelve years, were spacey and beautiful, just what the doctor ordered after splitting wood for most of the day.

The final piece was stunning. The program notes described Toshio Hosokawa’s “Drawing” as “composed of highly intimate details. The smallest gestures and lines carry great weight. Subtle changes of color contain whole worlds of meaning. Airy canons at the beginning give way to splashes in the winds, until at the end the piece becomes meditative again, disappearing into a wisp of a cloud.”

It lived up to the billing.

Cacophony

December 3rd, 2017

Performer at John Cage Variations III performance at Visual Studies Workshop

We planned to save the RoCo Members Show opening for last and start our First Friday rounds at Axom Gallery with “NARTCAN: On the Subject of Addiction,” a group exhibition curated by Justin Chaiz, a nurse who cares for people suffering from addiction. I like the meaty theme and the way the artists, who all answered a call for entries, handled it. The multiple black and white photos of one addict were my favorite.

Second stop was the Visual Studies Workshop Auditorium where a good old-fashioned happening was in full swing, a 2 hour performance of John Cage’s “Variations III: For one or any number of people performing any actions.” A lot of familiar faces were participating but like any good happening, just by being there you too were a participant.

Mona Seghatoleslami was playing violin and reading randomly chosen passages from a book. Nuuj had his homemade synth there, Ian Downey was breaking wood with a hammer and his father, Ed, was playing violin in another corner. John Borek was passing out money and then charging you the same amount to make you a play dough gift. Ray Ray from the Little Theatre Café was drawing pictures on small sheets of paper while wearing a mask. Someone was riding a bike around in circles. Scott McCarney had an ironing board set up and he was cutting up pieces of paper and maps while working from a score. He explained the directions he was following but I didn’t understand it. At least twenty other performers were doing their thing at the same time. Drums, flutes, and a lot of banging. It was overwhelming at first but then strangely comforting.

We got to RoCo just before they closed up shop and we plan go back to study the Members Show.

Wall Going Up

December 2nd, 2017

Matthias Neumann "Double Bench"  outside at Rochester Contemporary

Is it enough that the artist finds something interesting? I found myself pondering that question last night while talking to New York based artist, Matthias Neumann, at the opening reception for his “Double Bench.” We told him we stopped to study his sculpture on the way in and there was a woman sitting on it. He offered that he was interested in the juncture between non-objective and functional object. And he pointed out that he did call it a bench.

I was really struck by how beautiful the wood looked. His piece is made entirely of untreated 2x4s, held together with wood screws that are for the most part not visible. I roughed houses for a few years and built walls with 2x4s. We’d build them on the deck of the house. Plates, studs, corners and cripplers all built out of 2x4s. If it was an exterior wall we would sheet it, cut out the openings and then someone would yell, “Wall going up and we’d all help hoist it.” They were clearly walls, functional but beautiful.

Double Bench is part of an ongoing series of sculptural interventions that have been installed in public spaces throughout the US. It will on display all winter outside Rochester Contemporary.

Common Bond

December 1st, 2017

Aloha peppers at Wegmans

Our neighbors, Jared and Sue, came to see the band for the first time this week. Jared was teasing Peggi about watching her split wood during the day and then play sax at night. I’m estimating we have three more days of splitting before all the logs that we’ve gathered will be stacked. Our weather is cooperating. The forties is perfect for working outdoors and it is supposed to be in that range for the next few days.

We had some friends over for dinner last night and we spent most of the afternoon preparing for it. We already had a bag of red peppers or I would have bought some of the “Aloha” peppers (above). Anne Havens and Stewart Davis brought a pomegranate and some dark chocolate. Pete and Gloria Monacelli brought some Australian wine with a mugshot on the label. Our common bond is art so naturally the conversation ran circles around that topic and the night flew by.

Bon Voyage

November 29th, 2017

Jim Shaw Hair Couple Chelsea

Years ago our friend, Kim, sent us a copy of Jim Shaw’s “Thrift Store Paintings,” a book of exactly that, his favorite hand picked purchases. At the time I didn’t realize that he was also an artist who did his own work. The two are not so unrelated. We fell in love with the book and I think we may have bought a copy or two as gifts.

Around that time we were having dinner with the Gardner’s, some friends of Peggi’s parents. I remember a couple of things about that dinner. They were big on some sort of cut of beef and they broiled a whole tray of the stuff. It was inedible. In the living room they had Jim Shaw’s book on the coffee table. They were surprised that we liked it and told us that Shaw was her maiden name and Jim was her nephew.

Margaret Explosion plays the Little Theater Café tonight, last gig there this year. 7-9pm. Hope you can stop out.

Margaret Explosion - Voyage

Margaret Explosion – Voyage

Remains Of The Day

November 28th, 2017

Gilbert & George Beard Painting in Chelsea

Jeffery (with two “f”s, Jeffery) is back teaching. He is easing into it, one class a week on Monday nights in the gym of the school Administration building in Brighton. I love it in there. I love looking up at the lights with their protective shields.

Last night was our third yoga class. It has been over a year since Jeffery was hit by a car in Costco’s Parking lot. He takes his time with each pose and thoroughly explains it while we ease into it. He describes the muscle groups we’re stretching and gives you the Sanskrit name for the pose. He is able to get me to focus even when I don’t want to. His class is supposed to be an hour and a half but he always goes long.

At the end of class he said something about enjoying the remains of the day and the dreamworld we enter in our sleep. Boy, did that last part work out. I had one of my favorite dreams. I was driving and the road opened up to an unfamiliar panorama view of the city. And then it took me into a really old, dense, almost European-looking part of the city, a place that was sort of familiar but I wouldn’t be able to get there if I wanted to.

I had my father in the car and I was trying to find the brick building where his doctor’s office was. We parked the car and watched a group of men swing a large, two storied, wood panel gate across the street between where we were and where we were going. We went into a crowded bar on the corner and sat with a heavy set black man who opened a small box of cigars. I took one for my father even though he never smoked. There was a group of people standing between the tables playing an electric guitar. It wasn’t plugged in. They appeared to be two couples and they were taking turns singing Byrds songs from “The Notorious Byrd Brothers” album. I looked down at the guitar case and there was a Personal Effects sticker on it. Did we know these people?

Back on the street they were swinging the gates open and it became clear that a religious ceremony had been taking place in front of a church. Someone had been speaking but the crowd was dispersing. There were small groups of people with life sized crucifixes, life-sized but with a much longer base, and it took at least three people to hold them up. One of the crucifixes was laying on the ground and I went over to get a close look at it. People gathered around me and helped me lift it up. I was thinking, “Wait, I was only looking” but it was too late. I was struggling to keep this thing upright and almost burst out laughing.

Follow The Orange Hat

November 27th, 2017

Duane in orange hat Broadway Subway stop

Not everyone can get away with wearing a bright orange hat. Peggi’s father could get away with it. I borrowed one from Rich Stim when we were in SF and I look pretty silly in Peggi’s photos. Duane is right at home in a bright orange hat and that is good for us.

We stay at his place when we’re in NY. We sleep on his couch and run around the city with him. But it is easy to get separated in a crowd or in a museum or while darting in and out of subway cars. Peggi and I are always looking around at everything and we can get separated from Duane, the only one who knows where he is going, in a second.

The trains were all screwed up last weekend. Some of the lines were closed. They were replacing the third rail on the F train near Duane’s place. We took trains past our intended stop only to switch and come back on another train. We went downtown when we were headed uptown. You can see from this photo that Duane, like most New Yorkers, gets in the zone when he’s in the subway. Its not at all like driving a car. You don’t have to keep your eyes on the road and you want to go somewhere else in your head while you’re traveling the same route over and over. We leave all the strategizing to Duane. We gawk with one eye on the orange hat.

Brilliant Corners

November 26th, 2017

Art work on the floor for the upcoming  Small Works Show at Main Street Arts in Clifton Springs, New York

If I have my Refrigerator hat on I’m either splitting wood or cross-country skiing. If you know someone who participates in either of those activities I have great Cyber-Monday, $10 gift suggestion. I’m quite sure Thelonious Monk wasn’t thinking about stacking firewood when he named his song but that’s what I was thinking when I built the first corner for a new stack. Of course when I stepped back to admire it looked like the Tower of Pisa.

Our neighbor was out chopping up leaves with his mower and he stopped to chat. He has pretty much given up on the Bills this year. And I’m trying to decide whether to give up on or support the Rhinos by buying season tickets for next year. The current owners have been trying to raise a million plus in the next few weeks or they’re threatening to sell the team. This used to be “Soccer Town.”

Matisse Leaves

November 25th, 2017

Red barricade on Zoo Road in Durand Eastman Park, Rochester, New York

I never noticed this until Peggi pointed it out. The white oak leaves, the ones that look like they belong in a Matisse painting, tend to land with their backsides up in the Fall. The leaf is usually cupped and it must fall like a parachute. The back side of the leaves are duller so you have to turn them over to get the most color.

We didn’t buy anything at today’s Holiday Show at Philips Fine Art. It was one of those shows where you could take the piece home if you laid down the cash so pieces were disappearing as we talked and Warren was quick to rearrange the show, removing the empty hooks and clustering the remaining paintings artfully. I love this space. Warren frames work in the back and rotates work in the main gallery on a monthly basis. Pete Monacelli hangs the shows and is often one of the featured artists. And then there are two other rooms in this gallery with work by big names from Rochester’s recent past, always top quality work that Warren has purchased to resell.

The Holiday Show featured some beautiful watercolor and pen drawings by Kurt Feuerherm, abstracts by Judy Gohringer and George Wegman, and wooden sculptures by Peter Gohringer. Peter is fan of the band and we talked music. If I bought something it would have been Tarrent Clement’s orange and black assemblage. I fell in love with it and it was still on the wall when we left.

Chonodote

November 24th, 2017

Cayuga Bank in Aurora, NewYork

A sign on the outskirts of town read “Lakeview Cemetery.” I was trying to picture that view. Originally a major Cayuga Indian village called “Chonodote,” Aurora, New York was the furthest west town on the official US mail route in 1795. We had a holiday dinner fit for a king and queen in the Inn there and for good measure we stayed overnight. We walked around town from historical marker to historical marker. You have to walk to the outskirts to find anything that has not been lovingly restored. For kicks, we looked up the price of a large home on Cayuga Lake. It was over three million. The house in the picture above was built in 1840 and converted into a bank by Henry Wells, the founder of Wells College, American Express and Wells Fargo. This was the original Wells Fargo bank.

The Inn at Aurora offered “Morning Sun Salutations with Olivia” so we set the alarm. I don’t like soundtracks with yoga and her’s was completely incongruous with the activity. Mainstream vocal jazz, things like Frank Sinatra’s version of “The Way You Look Tonight,” an upbeat version of “Me and Mrs. Jones” and “The Girl from Ipanema.” There was one beautiful minor key ballad by Miles that I loved but even that was distracting. The set list must have been planned because when it came time for deep relaxation it switched to a start-stop roaring noise. It sounded like we were having a severe windstorm outside but I’m guessing it was supposed to be waves coming ashore. I shouldn’t be complaining, the class was just the right way to start the day. And it was a magical, sunny day in the mid fifties.

Space.

November 23rd, 2017

Couple in front of Louise Bourgeois drawings at MoMA

This is my kind of holiday. Gathering with friends and family to celebrate the harvest and express our thanks for such a bountiful life. I’m down with all of that.

My brother came out tonight with his Vietnmese squeeze. I haven’t gotten confirmation from Peggi yet but I could swear she played a South East Asian melody when they walked in. Our Buffalo fans were there, first time they’ve heard the band with Phil. And Phil stood up while he played. Bob established a guitar template before leaving for Chicago and Phil is in the process of shattering that. Geoff and Sara were up from NYC. Ken’s wife, Lisa, was there and it is always so much fun to see her although I get the message that we’re a little too tame for her.

Peggi is our leader and tonight she led us into an ultra lounge thing, suspending time as if there wasn’t anyone in the house. Ken sounded better than ever. The quieter I play the better he sounds. Pete was sensational on the grand piano. Even though we had five players in the mix there was all kinds of space. It was the best gig ever and I’m thankful for that.

Below The Belt World

November 21st, 2017

Durand Eastman Park in first snow of 2017

I found this picture from yesterday on my camera card. It hardly seems possible. It was fifty five degrees today. This is why we love it here.

We stopped into the Downstairs Cabaret tonight to catch students from the Eastman playing jazz in the small theater. The room sounds especially good. I ordered a Guiness and that reminded me that I was going to do something to celebrate the tenth anniversary of this blog. I knew it was coming and then I missed it. My first post, from November 2007, had something to do with the dark brown brew.

Our friend, Pete LaBonne, plans to be here tomorrow night to play piano with Margaret Explosion. He is such a dynamic player he just might bust this whole thing wide open. We could break through to a different dimension. We saw the Rodin show at the Metropolitan on Sunday. Peggi took this photo of a photo there and I made a poster for the event and I came up with a slogan. Margaret Explosion, “the thinking man’s band in a below the belt world.”

Deviating From The Norm

November 20th, 2017

Exterminating Angel poster in front of the Metropolitan Opera

The Metropolitan opera is about seven stories tall. The chandeliers are hoisted to the ceiling as the opera begins. And for The Exterminating Angel they were raised and lowered twice so the opening scene could play out two times like it does in Luis Buñuel’s movie. The theatrical production only deepened the surreal undertones. The cameras were rolling too as this Saturday afternoon production was being broadcast live in movie theaters across the country.

The lavish setting heightened the effectiveness of the minimal production. A large sculptural arch served as the abstract barrier that the guests could not penetrate. It spun slowly while the production unfolded and was dramatically lit in each scene.

The host of the bourgeois dinner party sings, “I’m delighted to see the spirit of improvisation” when it becomes clear his guests are not going to leave. And one of his guests sings “I adore anything that deviates from the norm.” The operatic voices only made the words from the film more absurd. I think Buñuel would have loved this over the top interpretation.

Golden Banana

November 19th, 2017

John Cale at performing Velvet Underground at BAM

How may times a day do you think the accordion guy on the F train plays “New York, New York?” He must be nearly out of his mind. We put a dollar in his hat and he got off the train when the song ended.

The first time we saw John Cale was at CBGB’s. I think it was late 1976. I just remember the New Math guys seemed to be impressed when I tried out for the band and told them we had just seen John Cale. New Math opened for John Cale at the Penny Arcade but I had already quit the band by then. Cale took the stage solo, playing bass guitar and wearing a hockey mask. And on election night in ’84 Personal Effects opened for John Cale. He had a TV set on stage tuned to coverage but with the sound off and he was chanting “four more years.”

He is playing three nights at the Brooklyn Acadamey of Music in celebration of the fiftieth anniversary of the Velvet Underground’s first album. I bought that album when it came out based solely on the cover. It took me a few listens to warm up to it but it has always been one of my favorites.

At BAM he was in good form and he had a great band and plenty of guests. He opened with “Waiting For My Man.” The drummer channeled Maureen Tucker with no rack tom and only two cymbals. A tuba player joined him for “All Tomorrow’s Parties” and Cale played viola on “Venus in Furs.” Kurt Vile sang and played guitar on “Run Run Run” and was fantastic. And TV on the Radio’s Tunde Adebimpe did a great job with “Heroin.”

The various configurations of the band all sounded so good it was a letdown when the drummer put headphones on to play to a sequenced track. Thankfully, they only tried that on a handful of songs. I think Lou would have loved it.