Picturing Patrons In The Nude

September 21st, 2014

Museum Hours director, Jem Cohen at George Eastman House in Rochester, New York

I’m so happy Louise invited us to “Museum Hours” last night at the Dryden. We met for a drink beforehand at Carrol’s and Mathew wore his “Dean & Britta shirt. There was some sort of retirement party so we sat outside. The mosquittos chased us out just before showtime.

I was the first to raise my hand when they opened the floor to questions from the director, Jem Cohen. I was bugged by the moderator’s lengthy discussion of of the relationship between the museum guard and the visiting Canadian. I didn’t think that was what the movie was about and I was hoping to hear the director bring the discussion around to art, appreciation of it and an understanding of where the urge to create comes from. I ran circles around that thought and confused myself more than him. He takes his time and gives very careful answers, the exact opposite of my process.

I loved how he dove into the paintings in Vienna’s Kunsthistorisch and cut to his hauntingly beautiful scenes of the dreary, winter city. Back to the the museum, the Rembrandts and especially the Bruegals and then to the museum guard studying the patrons the way we studied the paintings. That connection to Bruegal’s process picturing museum goers as subjects for paintings crosses centuries of art making urges. I thought it was quite powerful and beautifully expressed. A fine tribute to fine art.

Out On A Limb

September 20th, 2014

Mathew Shipp and Michael Bisio performing at the Bop Shop in Rochester, New York

Was Matthew Shipp’s performance at the Bop Shop part of the Fringe Fest or did it just blow away any of the other performances that we didn’t see Friday night? Shipp is amazing. His duo, with Michael Bisio on bass, played for an hour and a half straight. That is, no breaks at all. Melodic pieces overlapped one another and morphed into something else before your eyes. I had mine closed for maximum effect.

Opportunity City

September 20th, 2014

Plastic tricycles and graffiti, Rochester, New York

Forbes Magazine ranked Rochester second on its list of “opportunity cities, places where it is possible to have a business impact, build a successful career and make a comfortable living in a relatively short amount of time.” Delmonize Smith, commissioner of neighborhood and business development for the City of Rochester, is quoted as saying “The creative class that’s here that typically has to make this choice between expanding on their passion or their creativity or paying their bills–they’re able to find a decent place to live, pay $400-$450 a month and focus on their passion.” This is exactly why we’re here.

But as lucky as we are to have such a healthy cultural scene the housing would not be so affordable if the city proper did not have real economic problems. Half of its children live in poverty for starters.

Meanwhile Attorney General Eric Holder announced the arrest of a Rochester convenience store owner as the first American to be charged with recruiting fighters for ISIS and plotting to kill returning servicemen.

Una Nación. Un Equipo.

September 19th, 2014

Rochester soccer stadium pre-game USA vs. Mexico

The Fringe Fest started here last night but we were over at the soccer stadium where the US Women’s team met Mexico in their last pre World Cup qualifying game. We got there early to watch the warmups up close. There was a large contingent of “Followers,” people who follow the US team from international city to city with drums and banners and chants. Their theme song, which they belted out throughout the game was Little Peggy March’s “I Will Follow Him.” I hope she’s collecting some royalties for this gem.

The players on this team are getting a little too familiar. Like Spain’s national men’s team they may be at the end of their run. But in women’s soccer the US is still dominant regardlesss of an internal changing of the guard. Still I panicked when I didn’t see Heather O’Reilly. I could handle seeing Abby Wambach and Alex Morgan on the bench but not Heather.

Luckily the new coach came to her senses and brought in Abby, Alex and Heather at the start of the second half. Heather has more hustle than anyone else on the pitch. She consistently puts herself in position to receive the ball on both sides of the field and when she gets it she delivers it to the center. Her cross to Morgan for their fourth gaol last night was picture perfect.

U2 Removal Tool

September 18th, 2014

Wind surfers on Lake Ontario near Rochester, New York

We tuned in for part of Apple’s recent keynote, the part with the Chinese translator competing with CEO Tm Cook’s delivery of the goods. We’ve been early adapters for the desktops and the iPod and we stood in line for the iPad on it’s launch day. I’m updating to OS8 on our mini as I write this but we still don’t have a phone.

As much of a fan as I am. I’m a little worried about the behemouth. Does Apple really want to stick their brand neck out there with Apple Pay? Couldn’t they give it another name, something that doesn’t stake the company’s reputation on on such a tempting target? And how did they let iTunes grow from a juke box to a such the monster we use to keep our apps up to date and our devices synced? And why don’t the icons for the apps we use on both a desktop and IOS device look the same? Blue “Message” icon on desktop and green on the iPad and the same goes for the whole suite of Apple apps. Is this the same design company that brought us the watch that requires a phone to do more that tell time? Will I be able to take a shower with that watch? And can’t Apple align themselves with a hipper band than U2?

Nobody wants to hear this primitive tech talk. It’s perfect weather for windsurfing or watching the women’s National soccer team play Mexico in downtown Rochester tonight.

Off Grid

September 17th, 2014

Bing car on East Main Street in Rochester, New York

I had almost forgotten about Microsoft’s search engine until i spotted a Bing car with Colorado plates on east Main Street yesterday. The little periscope was twirling around up top so I assume it was collecting data, mapping our corner of the world.

I must say it was a lot less exiting than when the Google car came our street a few years ago. The Google car was all decked out in the corporate colors and the driver waved and smiled while I took a photo of the car. The Bing car was as low profile as you can get with all that apparatus strapped to your hood. I’m thinking these collectors have met some resistance now that the novelty has worn off and surveillance has gone too far.

I had a dream last night that there were two Bing cars and they were mapping a section of the city that overlapped somehow. They were trying to sort out the confusing data they had collected in a city they knew nothing about.

Margaret Explosion plays the Little Theater Cafe tonight. 7:30-9:30

Records From The Archive

September 15th, 2014

HiTechs 45s at Record Archive in Rochester, New York

We stopped in Record Archive over the weekend where they were celebrating their “Almost Fortieth Year Anniversary” with live performances by bands, food trucks of every stripe and 20 percent off everything in the store. We caught Anonymous Willpower and we came home with a few used singles. We were talking to Dick Storms in the far corner of their huge space and he pointed to some boxes of Archive Records 45s up on the top shelf, Hi-Techs‘ “Screamin’ You Head” among them.

We were laughing about the old times and Alayna, the store manager joined the conversation. They cooked up an idea to get the bands form those days back together in some form or another to celebrate the long defunct, in-house label. That would be a hoot. I found this old photo I took of Dick as we signed the contract for the second and last Hi-Techs single, “Screamin’ You Head.” Bob Martin is in the picture because we had already formed a new band, Personal Effects. Dwight Glodell produced the single.

HiTechs - Screamin' You Head
HiTechs – Screamin’ You Head

Self Published

September 13th, 2014

Pub Fair at Visual Studies Workshop in Rochester, New York

I was afraid to even touch one of the books on display at Visual Studies Pub Fair this afternoon, great big sheets of photos with art and poetry, all hand printed. The person behind the desk ask’ “Do you want me to flip the pages for you?” I said yes and stood back as flipped through the $16,000 bound and boxed volume.

It’s nice to know people still do books, artist’s books and short runs and it was nice seeing so many people out thumbing through the photo books by independent publishers and DIYers but I can’t help but think the stuff would look so much better online and it would take up so much less space and it would probably cost a lot less. Although I was rather taken in by “Another 26 Gas Stations,” sort of a response to Ed Ruscha’s “Twentysix Gasoline Stations.” Instead of the point black shots of modern petro stations, this one is all surveillance footage from security cameras, shots capturing hold-ups inside the convenience stores. And then there is Scott McCarney’s work. Beautifully crafted, visually seductive, witty little marvels like his box set of autobiographies.


September 12th, 2014

T-shirt in shop window in Culver Road Armory, Rochester, New York

When Peggi was teaching Spanish at Pittsford Sutherland High School she would use our Abba “Gracias Por La Musica” album in her class. Their enunciation was very clear. The Swedish group did many different vocal versions of their songs and had incredible diction in each language. Think of any of their English songs and you can hear their spot-on, percussive pronunciation. Mamma Mia. Funny that Anni-Frid Lyngstad’s daughter was a foreign exchange student, living here in Rochester and going to Sutherland High School at that time.

We are still big Abba fans and we just finished back to back Abba movies. The first, made as they toured Australia in the seventies is a bad movie with sensational concert footage. 1999′s “The Winner Takes It All” has many of the videos for the original songs, some footage from the “Mamma Mia” musical (which only makes you die for the original versions), and some great interviews with the band.

Benny got his first accordion at six. Their songs are rich with cabaret, classical and folk roots and they were influenced by Brian Wilson and Phil Spector. I can’t decide what my favorite song is. “Chiquitta,” “Fernando,” “Knowing Me, Knowing You?” All triumphs. Long live Abba!

Gear Talk

September 11th, 2014

Saint Josephats Ukrainian church on East Ridge Road in Rochester, New York

The Barcus Berry pick-up that Peggi uses on her sax started acting up last night. It made a horrendous noise at the most inopportune time and pretty much forced Peggi to take care of it first thing today. She made an appointment to see Chuck in the back room (Rob Storms old nest) of Sound Source and he spent about an hour with her and only charged fifteen bucks. Peggi reports the space has been completely straightened up since he retired. No more Fudgsicles or non-sequitors. No more 3D viewings of Rob’s high school band.

When she got home I took off for House of Guitars to return the cymbal that Bruce let me take home to try. I had stopped in there on my bike and rode home with it under my arm. It almost fit with my kit but I felt like I could find a better match if I brought my existing cymbals up there. I tried every one in the place and finally settled on an old Zildjian that someone had traded in. Bruce had gone home to dinner by that time and the kid that was upstairs didn’t know how much to charge me so I said I’d stop back tomorrow.

Blunt World

September 10th, 2014

Drug trash near entrance to the Durand Eastman Park

Who picks up for the low-lifes? Public works employees, conscientious neighbors, walkers? Somebody is keeping us from drowning in rubbish.

Check out what this one kid dumped down at the end of Hoffman Road, right near an informal entrance to Durand Eastman Park. 2-for-99 cent Garcia y Vega Grape cigar packages, a fat free Gummy Bears bag, Hershey chocolate and Reese’s peanut butter cup packaging, a receipt from the 7-Eleven on Culver and some small drug bags. Think for a few minutes about what this character might look like.

As A Matter Of Fact, We Do Own The Road

September 8th, 2014

Green grasshopper with Peggi on Hoffman Road

The mailboxes for four nearby houses are clustered between two big oak trees across the street from us. We repaired some potholes out there earlier this summer and set aside today to dig a drainage ditch right in front of the mailboxes. I took a photo of our neighbor’s layout for the project a few weeks ago. There is a depression there from the mailtruck and last winter it filled with melted snow and turned to a sheet of ice. It was especially dangerous in my slippers when I’d go out to get the papers.

The hole was about three foot deep and we filled it with leftover stone that another neighbor had lying around. Peggi usually drives the tractor but she was still at yoga when we started. Manual labor like this counts as exercise so we skipped our walk today and will probably go to bed a little early tonight.


September 7th, 2014

Mark Bradley playing sax with Bobby Henrie and the Goners

It was very gracious of Bobbie Henrie and the Goners to host a Buddy Holly Birthday Bash at Abilene but as good the guests are in their own rite (the Bradleys are great)they can only diminish the lean, rock ‘n roll of this well-seasoned trio. The Goners are a treasure and in their minimal trio setting their rough edges are a feature. And they only have rough edges because the three great musicians are always reaching. Punk rock didn’t invent anything, it just brought these qualities back. The Goners never left.

Primitive XXIst Century

September 6th, 2014

Francesca Lalanne show at Axom Gallery in Rochester, New York

Francesca Lalanne had just finished hanging her “Metropoliticoncious II” show at Axom Gallery when we arrived last night. We were a day early. Galleries are moving their openings to avoid the First Friday crush and her opening is tomorrow. It worked out for us because we had a chance to chat with the artist and see her show in the rather intimate space without the crowds. Francesca grew up in Haiti and her artwork carries mysterious subject matter into the primitive twenty first century.

Every ten years or so we stop by the Clothesline Show on the grounds of the Memorial Art Gallery. This time we rode our bikes and chained them to the gallery gates. We signed up up for Fred Lipp’s painting class in the Creative Workshop and then circled the gallery. Peggi bought a neckless from Boo Poulin, we heard a few songs by Woody Dodge, saw a bit of the belly dancers and ate a five dollar ice cream cookie sandwich from Pittsford Dairy. It was nice to see Patricia Wilder doing a bang-up business with her abstract photos.


September 5th, 2014

Six deer inloods near Durand Eastman Park, Rochester New York

What do six deer in the woods near our house have to do with the tragic breaking news of a private plane going down in Jamaica? Developer, Larry Glazer, and his wife were on board. By some reports he was the biggest real estate developer in New York Sate and pioneered Rochester’s downtown re-development. He owns the formerly iconic Midtown Tower, Xerox corporate headquarters building. Bausch & Lomb headquarters along with large swath of downtown Rochester’s booming loft space.

Were headed downtown for First Friday tonight. The nearby woods and the downtown scene are all part of our local quality of life package. Forget about how Rochester lost it’s industrial mojo. Larry was bringing it back and I hope someone is on board to carry on as a tribute to his optimism.

Everything Is In Season

September 4th, 2014

Produce stand in the country near Rochester, New York

It’s bounty time here in the northeast. The carefully tended gardens are offering far more than we can consume. So it was a little strange to come across this roadside stand without any corn or blueberries or peaches. Everything is in season.

We brought back three good sized eggplants from our garden with a handful of oregano and a bag full of tomatoes. Our neighbor was marveling at the beautiful purple fruit on our counter and he offered his Jamie Oliver recipe for “Mellonzanne alla Parmigiana.” His recipe suggests that you grill the eggplant slices on an outdoor barbecue, no drenching of the poor thing in egg and batter just roasted dry on the grill. We used our fresh tomatoes, some onions and parm from our brand new fridge. You bake the dish for a half an hour and it was fantastic. The eggplant was light and creamy, not heavy and greasy.

Skin I’m In

September 3rd, 2014

Cicada emerging from it's shell in the woods

At first I thought this was a new branch, popping out the side of a tree. I’ve rotated the photo above. Cicadas spend most of their life underground living off roots. They crawl out of the ground when they’re mature and emerge from their shells as adults. The Cicadas song is loud enough to cause permanent hearing loss in humans should it sing in your ear. I love the sound and I love coming across the exoskeletons but this is the first time we’ve witnessed the molting.

Margaret Explosion returns to the Little Theater Café tonight 7:30 – 9:30.

Burning Man

September 2nd, 2014

Our porch at night

We worked our asses off on Labor Day. I found an email at around eight informing us that a large branch had fallen on the fence between two neighbor’s yards. We were welcome to wood if we helped clean-up. I hesitated for a half hour or so on this one. We burn wood to supplement our heat in the winter but we have a huge pile now. It only seemed neighborly to show up.

The branch was over two foot in diameter and it had fallen on a hillside. I cut it into sixteen inch lengths and we hauled it up the hillside in arms, heart attack style. We loaded up the back of our Element and dumped the wood near the our pile in order to split. We finished the job around three and spent the rest of the afternoon soaking in the pool.

Bobby Henrie and the Goners were playing on the beach at Marges so we headed down there after dinner. They cordoned off the area between the bar and the lake and it looked like the backyard in “Easy Money.” It was packed.

We spotted Frank DeBlase out in the lake in kayak so we hopped the ropes and hung out with him and Alanya from Record Archive at a nearby party. We had a great earshot of the band, two George Jones songs in the set, and a giant bonfire to watch watch as sunset came. Alanya’s husband had built a Burning Man figure out of driftwood and he was having a hard time getting it going. We got out of there when he asked how you throw gasoline on a fire that was already burning.

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 knew 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 salesman 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 Theatre 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.