April 28th, 2017
Sixty seven years ago today my mom and I were up in the natal section of Saint Mary’s Hospital on Genesee Street, across from Bull’s Head Plaza. That would be where and when I touched down. I can’t say I remember it but I can say my childhood felt like a dream.
When my father brought home his first car we’d come up here to Cobb’s Hill overlooking the city. He’d pull off to the the side of the road that rings the reservoir and my mom would spread out a blanket. We would wolf down our sandwiches and run around the park. At this marker, April 28, formerly the feast day of Saint Paul of the Cross, I can say it has been fantastic ride.
April 27th, 2017
Near record high today and we were inside the Media Arts Watch gallery at the Memorial Art Gallery. Three short experimental films are running in a continual loop over there and went for the full ride. Our favorite was
Terence Gower’s “Ciudad Moderna,” a composite of clips taken from “Despedida de Casada,” a swinging 1966 Mexican film, that animates the architecture of the modern city. Last time Peggi and I were in Mexico City someone swiped our 35mm Canon camera. It was clunky. I like my pocket Sony digital. I want to go back.
April 26th, 2017
CDs are over. We just finished work on or new CD!
We’re doing it with Discmakers. They have templates in all the programs. We used Photoshop for the whole thing and uploaded pdfs. They sent us a proof the next day. They have an online app for loading the audio files, tagging them, writing a proof CD and then uploading to them. That last part didn’t go so smoothly for us. We’d get about half of the songs up and the program would give us an error. After trying all night we used Dropbox in the morning.
Proofing the CD was interesting. We stream our music from our iTunes library. We don’t have a CD player that displays song titles so I went across the street and asked the young couple if either of them had a cd player that displays the titles. Diana took me out to her car where she she had a CD player in the glove compartment, a player she had never used. It worked! The album title, band name and song titles came up as I advanced through the disc.
Since were unable to upload those files we had to write a new proof CD today. The young couple wasn’t home. Peggi went down to the neighbors at the end of the street. THey’re older than us. They gave Peggi the keys to their car but she couldn’t get it started. Something about push buttons. They came down and started it but the CD didn’t work. The neighbors tried some star bought CDs. One was by Enya. Nothing worked. The car was a year or so old and they had never used the CD player. They listen to stuff from their phone.
Peggi headed up the street to some neighbors who had just returned from Florida. Before she got there Rick drove by. He does a daily run to Wegman’s. He popped it in and the titles worked. We approved it and expect shipment in a few weeks.
April 25th, 2017
A resident at the next table was singing wordless music, classical themes. Ray, sitting at a table across the room, was yelling, “Hello.” “Hello.” An aide asked, “What do want Ray?” Ray replied, “I don’t know.”
Peggi was showing pictures from our New York trip to my mom. They paused on this Marsden Hartley painting of the Virgin of Guadalupe. My mom studied it for a bit and then said, “You know what I would like?” Peggi asked, “What would you like?” And my mom said “I would love some spaghetti.”
April 24th, 2017
I had my camera in “Picture” mode, a setting which allows you to adjust the white balance. I had been photographing artwork under my studio lights. This shot was a happy accident! Blue on blue, made bluer with the incandescent setting in the great outdoors.
We had the big plank in the back of our car. It doesn’t quite fit so it was sticking out the back end of our Element. The back seats were up and Peggi had spread out our plastic tarp. We were in wood mode. Our neighbors had a big oak trimmed while we were in New York and they told us there might be some by the road when we returned. Turned out another neighbor grabbed it while we were gone. No problem. There is wood everywhere after the storm.
The day before we left we brought home three car loads of oak from Tami’s place. Tami works at the Friendly Home and she had a big oak come down in her yard. There was a lot more than three loads there but it was too big for Peggi and me to get in the car. Tami said she would have it split while we were gone. She wasn’t home when we returned and the wood was gone. Strike 2. We went up to the Starbucks drive-through with the plank hanging out the back end and ordered a couple Tascaras.
On the way home we spotted a pile of wood near the curb on Culver and a woman was wheeling more. Maple this time. She was using her kid’s red Radio Flyer wagon. We stopped the car and filled it to the brim.
April 23rd, 2017
“Undoubtedly one of this country’s greatest folk singers, Hurley has little in common with the majority of today’s folk performers. While they seem bent on demonstrating that all people are alike, such a suffocating presumption has no place in this man’s work. Michael Hurley is nothing like his potential audience. What better reason to hear what he has to say?”
– Chuck Cuminale
Chuck wrote music reviews for City newspaper, some of the finest, most succinct reviews I have ever read. Not a surprise, his lyrics for the Colorblind James Experience were pure poetry. He also booked shows for more than the Experience. Just before he died he was planning a dream double bill of Pete LaBonne and Michael Hurley at the old Grange Hall in Webster.
Chuck’s wife, his son, Paul, and former members of the Experience were at the Bop Shop tonight for the show. “Cooked fish, baked pie and Bingo on Wednesday nights.” Chuck would have loved it.
April 23rd, 2017
It is a wonder that Central Park is not a bigger attraction in the city. It is an oasis. A cliche, I know, but a hundred yards in and you’re somewhere else. We walked through the park on our way up to the Metropolitan and stopped to watch the tiny sailboats navigate the pond. On the way back down we watched a wedding photographer take shots of the bride standing on a big rock. And a little further down we stopped by the zoo and to watch the seals play in their aquarium. All very dreamy and a welcome cleansing of the big city palette.
Times Square is a big attraction, a big hideous attraction. We walked through it on our way to Port Authority this morning and ran into the “March for Science” coming down Broadway. The crowd of protesters, more like an orderly cross section of everyday people, were able to bring the LED, chain restaurant, nightmare down to human scale. It was magical.
April 21st, 2017
Steve left yesterday afternoon by train and he should be in Charleston by now. Kim left this morning and she she texted us us that she had landed safely in SF. We were planning on driving back to Rochester but we booked another night here. That gave us plenty of time to savor the Maraden Hartley show at the Met Breuer. He is one of my favorite painters, so rough and cultivated at the same time.
April 20th, 2017
Andy Warhol was sitting on a bench off to the side of the outdoor stage. He was sitting with one of the musicians. In my dream I knew the musician but it was the first time I had seen Andy in person. I said, “How are you doin’ today?” and then felt like that was a really awkward thing to say. Warhol stood up and I noticed he had a small portable tape player in his hand, a reel to reel player with a clear plastic window. He turned the tape player on and I woke up.
We had toasted Warhol yesterday at dinner so it was understandable that I would be dreaming about him. The “Myths” portfolio that we bought for 6000 in 1979 was going to be auctioned at Christies in the afternoon. When I say “we bought,” I mean Peggi and I owned 3/10s, my brother and his wife owned 5/10s and Kim (and Dave Mahoney’s kids) owned 2/10s. We were all at the auction this afternoon when the hammmer came down.
Steve Hoy, a good friend of all three parties was also in town to celebrate. Four of us were staying in one room overlooking Central Park. Duane joined us for three days straight and we whooped it up. The ten silk teen prints numbered 135/200 are now in someone else’s hands.
Steve was heading down for coffee this morning and he asked how I liked my coffee. I said “black” because it sounded good but then I switched to “latte.” Steve said, “a black latte?”
April 19th, 2017
Many of the galleries in Chelsea were between shows. It didn’t really matter, we had no real agenda. We were a group of four college friends, wandering and talking like no time had passed at all. I was set on seeing the Alice Neel show at Zwirner and that was fantastic. We never did make it to the Max Ernst show, we went up on the High Line and didn’t touch down until the Whitney where we took in the Bienial.
Dana Schultz’s controversial Emmett Till painting, “Open Cassket,” had no protesters standing in front of it and her lengthy artist’s statement, something that was surely added after it became such a hot topic, took most of the life out of the visual. I really enjoyed the anything goes, fun house approach to the show. Can’t say I went crazy for anything. Duane met us on the fifth floor and we were five.
April 18th, 2017
The tree service guys passed through our neighborhood after the windstorm and pretty much touched base with their faithful customers. That’s all they had time for, clearing driveways or removing fallen trees from rooftops. The real cleanup and pruning had to wait until now, the second round.
We must have had two hundred trees fall in a half mile radius from our house, mostly huge pines and oaks. The oak that fell behind our neighbor’s house was big enough to supply them with firewood for ten years except they don’t burn wood. We were driving by their place yesterday and the tree surgeons were up in a cherry picker. The neighbors offered us some of the wood and we told them we’d take it but we’d have to get to it later. We were on our way over to Tami’s house. She is one of the aides at the Friendly Home and she had an oak fall in her yard too. We have wood coming out of our ears.
April 17th, 2017
We met Matthew and Louise for a drink down on the beach behind Margie’s, a speakeasy during Prohibition. It was a beautiful night but the signs of a rough winter were plentiful. Huge sand dunes hand reshaped the beach. They’re going to need a piece of heavy equipment to make it look all civilized again.
I took this photo on the way in. I wasn’t the only one taking photos. This Ford Flex was abandoned in three feet of water right where the parking lot used to be for Vic & Irv’s. Ben, who lives across the street on the beach wasn’t taking photos, he was calling 911. He told us they call 911 all the time. Boats gets stranded in front of their house and all sorts of crazy stuff happens down there. He surmised someone was “hammered.” If I’m remembering this right, Greg Prevost told me Irv died in this same puddle when he was trying to hook up a pump to drain the parking lot. This car was gone when we came out of Margie’s.
April 17th, 2017
I always found my sister’s Barbie dolls a little creepy. Far from cuddly. like my teddy bear, they were hard and pointy and a little too grown up and serious looking.
“In the Dollhouse,” by Dina Goldstein, currently on view at Rochester Contemporary, pretty much confirms my early impressions but her photo creations are thoroughly engaging as an indictment of the ideal couple. Goldstein “plays Barbie,” as my sister used to call it, with real people and she airbrushes on the obvivious doll features, the ones that allow the dolls to turn their heads 180 degrees. Goldstein says “In The Dollhouse” “offers a profound commentary on the transient nature of beauty, the difficulty of marriage and the importance of authenticity.”
April 17th, 2017
Everybody around here knows Steve Greive. An all around tradesman/handyman, he’s done work for most of the neighbors. He’s a member of the Fish & Game club and a self described “Rack-a-holic.” If he wasn’t getting a knee replaced he would have been combing the woods for deer racks this Spring.
Since a few of our neighbors have Lyme Disease, Steve forwarded an email to all of us about a talk on the subject at Monroe Community College. Peggi and I were the only neighbors who went and I’m glad we did. Since we walk in the woods most days we take the threat seriously. After the presentation by Erinna Chen, author of an upcoming book called “Lyme Light, shown above collecting ticks for research,” we may be looking for alternative walks.
April 14th, 2017
I don’t know if The Penthouse (at One East Avenue) is open tonight but we were up there last Friday. It was First Friday and we walked down here from RoCo. There was snow on the ground and I think we woke the doorman. We spotted a poster for Herb Smith appearing in The Penthouse but the band was just going on break when we got off the elevator on the thirteen floor. Word was Herb was leaving to make a guest appearance with the cast of Wicked at the Auditorium Theater.
We ordered two Southern Tier IPAs and took in the vibe. This used to be Security Trust Bank. We had a safe deposit box here. It was taken over by another bank and then another and it felt the room had been liberated from corporate America. Floor to ceiling windows and spectacular view of downtown. We headed out to the terrace where I took this photo.
Downtown has changed so much in my lifetime. That’s the old Lincoln First building where Tim Schapp used to work. I remember when they tore down the Cavalier Restaurant to build that thing, now The Metropolitan. And the revolving restaurant. Was that the First Federal Building, “Home of the Hard Working Dollar.” My brother worked in the revolving restaurant after it stopped revolving. I think it was called the “Ice Factory.” And of course Sibley’s to the right. I bought my first pot from a guy who worked in the toy department there. This would be a perfect spot for a Margaret Explosion gig.
April 12th, 2017
There are two stalls in the men’s room near the lobby of the Friendly Home. I was in one and this conversation, between an old and a much younger voice, was happening in the other.
“Whoever thought it would come to this?”
“It does for everybody, Pop.”
“You hit a lot of walls and you work through them but this one is a mountain!”
“There are upsides. You can stay up as late as you want. You can have ice cream whenever you want.”
April 11th, 2017
You may have noticed people all over the city working on abstract pink and black crochet projects. Although some people are so adept at crocheting they can carry on a conversation while working and you don’t even notice. I’m thinking of Gloria Monacelli but she knits rather than crochets. Martha O’Conner got Peggi involved in this project and we stopped by the SewGreen shop on West Main in the Susan B. Anthony district to pick the supplies.
Peggi was given a grid that laid out the stitches for her 2 foot by 2 foot portion of the pink and black yarn mural that will eventually go up on the side of the building as part of the Wall Therapy Project. The squares are all abstract but the motif will be very recognizable when they are all stitched together. That’s all I can say about this now other than there may still be some portions that need to done.
April 10th, 2017
Jeff had been talking about this for a few weeks. He wanted to measure a big oak tree at the edge of a farmer’s field behind his house and he enlisted our help. We resisted watching YouTube videos on the subject. I gather there is one that suggests you climb the tree, start your stopwatch as you jump, carefully avoid limbs on the way down and stop the watch when you hit the ground. There would be some gravity based calculations that come into play at that point.
We have our own sources. We talked to our neighbor, Jared, about how he would go about measuring a tree. He suggested we use his six foot level and his telescope so we borrowed those. It seemed like his objective was to form a triangle at a distance from the tree and then sight the uppermost limb and determine the angle. From that we could calculate the height. “Simple Pythagorean theory stuff.” But what would we measure the angle with? The tiny transparent protractor I had when I was a kid seemed like it would leave a lot of room for error.
We brought a tape measure out there and we stepped 200 feet back from the tree. We found some old boards nearby and we stuck them in the mud so they formed supports for our level level. We pivoted the end nearest the tree in the air and the measured the distance from the end of the level to the top of the board. We never used the telescope or came up with the angle but we had measurements for two sides of the right angle and from those we planned to extrapolate to the 200 foot length. The equation would give us the height of the tree.
I didn’t get the best grades in high school but I did get 100% on the Geometry Regents. Back at Jeff’s we did the equations on paper while Jeff made soup. Peggi did the calculations, even the square roots, with her phone. The numbers were in the millions “of inches.” The tree is 98 feet tall.
April 8th, 2017
Who goes to a concert dressed in white? Hundreds of kids were lined up outside the Armory on East Main as we drove by and ninety-five per cent of them were in white. I guessed it must be some sort of religious crusade but Peggi looked it up as I drove. It turns out it was the Rochester performance of Life in Color, “The World’s Largest Paint Party.” There is a dj, of course, paint is for sale and the kids are the canvas. Any more questions?
We were on our way to Ossia’s last concert of the season, something a few blocks but a whole world away. Each performance features five or six adventurous, modern compositions and there is always a knockout in there. My favorite this time was by Tristan Murail, a piece called “Ethers.” Two maraca players were stationed just off stage to the right and left and they shook throughout the piece. Murial has not merely composed the music but also the ambience within which it is perceived. The lead was played on flutes, the whole family of flutes, and he was accompanied by a string quartet and a trombone who function as the soloist’s distorting mirror. I was transported.
April 8th, 2017
I know ruin porn is a thing and all. My wife is from Detroit and we chose to live in another city that could be described as long past its prime. I don’t agree with that description, I’m just saying who’ve been enjoying this stuff for a long time. I took this shot out the car window yesterday afternoon on Clinton Avenue somewhere near Norton where the old Red Wing Stadium was located.