Extreme Patience

February 7th, 2016

Pavement on Hoffman Road in winter

You don’t have join the Rochester Yacht Club to enjoy the incredible setting they have down there on the mouth of the Genesee. You can just show up for Jeffery’s Saturday morning yoga class. The views from the club are seriously distracting in all all seasons. The one and a half hour class just flies by. It helps that Jeffery wings it and sometimes spins out on stream of conscious tangents.

We were on our backs for a good bit of Saturday’s class doing twists and little bridges and he got going on addiction and how we cross the dominant leg over the other and then announcing “humans are an addictive species.” That launched him into a story about living in a hotel for a year, after his house fire, watching cable tv and a show about hoarders.

Back to anatomical awareness of the fascia muscle that runs from our feet all the way up our backs to our eye sockets. I was trying to imagine that while starring at the textured ceiling. I was picking out faces and generally getting lost in it. And then there is that small green gob of something, probably food, stuck to the ceiling. Oil has seeped from the gob, spreading in a four inch radius.

Chris Zajkowski and Heather arrived at Abilene the same time as us but we had to turn back. Our earplugs were still in the car. Little dig we know, we didn’t need them tonight to protect what little we have left. The Phil Marshall Band was not loud. They were just right. They gingerly felt their way through songs from Phil’s new album. It was beautiful. After the show we told Phil how much we loved his cd and the night’s performance. He told us he owes it all to Chris, his co-producer. He told us, “I was gonna make a pop album.”

Here’s Chris and Heather from ten years ago.

The World Is Full Of Words

February 6th, 2016

Super Bowl cup-cakes at Kneads & Wants on Lake Avenue in Rochester, New York

It was good to see writing, or more accurately reading of one’s writing, take first prize at this month’s First Friday gallery night. Of course, the prize is not even tangible and entirely subjective. We only saw three shows last night but Sonya Livingston, reading from her book, “Queen of the Fall” (working title, “Land of the Lost”) was as good as it gets. She possesses the keenest of observational skills and an extraordinary ability to elevate the ordinary. She is a joy to read and a double delight to hear read. I went ape over her first book and Writer’s & Books has selected this one as its 16th year “If All of Rochester Reads the Same Book…” selection.

Poet, Sally Bittner Bonn, read a couple of pieces from her upcoming memoir about raising a child (Oscar) with a disability. Both were deeply felt and moving. Oscar is a Margaret Explosion fan, we played at a few benefits to raise money for his power chair. Oscar was there for his mom’s readings and we had a chance to say hi. Always a delight.

Gettin’ Like Unreal

February 6th, 2016

Today’s blue skies had me in lockstep with this MX-80 song from their newest, “So Funny.” It is a pretty healthy pace for the woods. We passed a neighbor and she was listening to the Saturday afternoon broadcast of the Metropolitan Opera. We never take sound producing devices in the woods and why would you need it when you can’t get some songs out of your head?

I miss the hard-core drive of Dave Mahoney’s drumming and I wish people would quit dying but Bruce Anderson’s guitar is still stellar and the band sounds more melodic than ever. You can watch the entire lp, cd or whatever it is on YouTube or FB.

Bug Jar Mug Shot 1998

February 4th, 2016

Todd at 1998 opening for Paul Dodd Bug  Jar Mug Shot opening

In 1998 I took my one megapixel Kodak DC210 to Friday happy hour at the Bug Jar on Monroe Avenue. I brought along a simple light fixture, the one I used for painting, with a hundred watt bulb and a big piece of white paper that I hung on the wall in the back room. One by one I approached everyone in the place and asked them if they would like to sit for a mug shot. I found twenty four willing participants. I cropped the photos a bit and converted them to black and white and then to a large dot pattern. I printed the images on our LaserWriter, tiling the files out of a Quark XPress document. Each mugshot image consisted of nine 8 1/2×11 inch prints which I spray mounted to some black cardboard. I hung them in the Bug Jar about a month later.

I recently came across the original color photos so I posted them here for the first time. I also found about fifty photos from the opening of the show. Those are in a separate slideshow below.

Click on the thumbnail below to view a slideshow of the 24 original color photos used for the prints in the 1998 Paul Dodd “Bug Jar Mug Shot” show

Click on the thumbnail below to view a slideshow of 54 photos from the 1998 opening of the Paul Dodd “Bug Jar Mug Shot” show

Margaret Explosion had a weekly happy hour gig at the Bug Jar for about three years and I remember Bill Jones borrowing my camera to shoot a few photos of the band playing at the opening. Here’s Margaret Explosion playing “Floating at the Bug Jar.”

Margaret Explosion - Floating at the Bug Jar
Margaret Explosion – Floating at the Bug Jar


February 3rd, 2016

Fallen tree in the woods near our house

Some tree trunks grow into two trunks and sometimes three, dividing just a few feet from the ground. They are always compromised. Moisture and debris gather in the crevice and the two or three trunks lean away from each other seeking light of their own. Most of the growth on the separate trunks is weighted toward the lean. The trees are beautiful but doomed by gravity. We have seen so many of them split apart with one trunk crashing to the ground whether we were there to hear them hit or not.

We had seen the split in this one and knew it was on borrowed time so it was no surprise to find it laying across our walking path. It would be a ski path if we still had winter around here but it was 60 degrees today. It wasn’t just crossing our path it fell along the path so it would have been impossible to ski around without stopping and taking off our skis. We had to address this problem but we needed to enlist an engineer so we stopped down at Jared’s.

We had our chainsaw in our wheelbarrow along with the oil and gas containers and Jared contributed a couple of wedges, a maul and a short handled sledge hammer. We spent a good part of the afternoon making strategic cuts in this seventy foot tree. You can see how the bottom part of the tree was hovering above the ground. It had fallen into a few other trees and was hung up but spring loaded between the trees. Many of our cuts resulted in surprising releases. A most enjoyable afternoon.

Das Model

February 1st, 2016

Ebony Fashion Fair Show at Memorial Art Gallery in Rochester, New York

All the big names were represented at the MAG’s Ebony Fashion Fair Show. Mostly male fashion designers, Christian Dior, Yves Saint Laurent, Oscar de la Renta, Stephen Burrows, Patrick Kelly, Valentino, Alexander McQueen with their fabulous creations for women and a few fabulous women like Vivian Westwood. We were there for the opening and I found the people in the crowd more interesting than the dresses. Actually I was most intrigued by the mannequins. I’d like take some of those home and use them as models for drawings.

“She’s a model and she’s looking good
I’d like to take her home that’s understood”

10 Commandments

January 30th, 2016

We bought a new light, a floor lamp to stand in the corner over our drawing table and pretty much light up the whole room when we need it. I had a homemade rack for cassettes under the table and it just looked ridiculous with the new lamp. And when was the last time anyone but a hipster listened to a cassette? Well, today! We got into it, Playette, a mix tape from ’84, my recording of Talking Heads from the Village Gate as a threesome in ’77. It’s all stuff that doesn’t exist in any other format unless that Roir Stuff eventually went digital. Even Pete LaBonne has gone digital.

I put all the tapes in a box and we’ll probably never listen to them again. I was intrigued by one labeled “10 Commandments” from 1985, the same year as the video above. 10 Commandments was the name of a band that opened for Personal Effects at Scorgies and the band was us, Personal Effects, doing other bands’ material as the opening band for Personal Effects. So I kept that one out for a listen. Funny thing, Taana Gardner’s “Heartbeat” was not in the set. Now you know this just don’t make no kinda sense.

Here’s the set list:
“Heaven” – Talking Heads
“What Goes On” – VU
“Connection” – Stones
“End Of The World” – Skeeter Davis
“Big Bottom” – Spinal Tap
“More Than Good” – MX-80
“Sex Machine” – JB
“Maggot Brain” – Funkadelics
“She Belongs To Me” – Dylan
“It Came Out Of The Sky” – CCR
“FunTime” – Iggy

Ice Sculpture Garden

January 30th, 2016

Man with camera on Lake Ontario, Rochester, New York

You have to keep a close eye on Lake Ontario. It looks different every time you check in on it. The upcoming warm weather is going to wreck the sculpture garden at Durand so you better stop down soon.

Pennied In

January 29th, 2016

Hill on golf course with ski tracks

We were running out the door this morning, off to see the lawyers that are handling my parents’ estate, and I had my jacket in my hand. Guess I didn’t have time to put it on in the house. I was too busy reading the paper. The zipper in my jacket got caught near the bottom of the door and I couldn’t free it. I couldn’t open the door either. The key wouldn’t turn the lock. I tried ramming the door with my shoulder. That didn’t work either so we left. I had a hat on but no jacket in the middle of winter.

But that’s another thing. What kind of a winter is this? Imagine if you were on the high school cross-country ski team. They’ve had one week to ski. In that week I did notice that cross-country is a co-ed sport. I should have figured that out in high school.

We had lunch at Joe Bean. Ran into Fireball Jr. and Linda. I was still running around without a coat. We stopped in to see my mom in her new digs and signed a contract for her room and board. When we got home I went down to Jared’s place and borrowed a pry bar to pop the door open. In the dorms back at IU we used to “penny” people in their rooms. We’d lean on the closed door and push pennies into the space between the door and the door jam. Guys would be locked in for hours. We were essentially pennied out of our house.

Leather Trousers

January 28th, 2016

Snow on bridge grate in Durand Eastman Park in Rochester, New York

Is there a Tinsel Town in every city? Ours is on Buffalo Road and about half way to Buffalo in Gates. Tonight, for one night only, they were showing “Florence and the Uffizi Gallery.” Their Renaissance masterpieces include Michelangelo’s David, Leonardo’s Annunciation, Birth of Venus by Botticelli and the Shield of Medusa by Caravaggio so we had to go.

The good parts, the long closeups of the paintings and sculptures were sensational. The bad parts, well, “Quince Jam”s” YouTube review says it better than I can. “The music is appalling, suitable only for a Hollywood panshot around the Grand Canyon. Totally inappropriate for this film and FAR too loud and overblown. And the dreadful actor playing some ridiculous conceit about being one of the Medici… Only go with earplugs and prepare to shut your eyes while he hams it up as an ACTOR in his leather trousers.”

In The Groove

January 26th, 2016

Yellow fish in tank at the Friendly Home in Rochester, New York

As of this afternoon my mom is living in the Rochester Home for the Friendless. At least that is what it was once called. Founded in 1849 as the Rochester Association for the Relief of Homeless and Friendless Females, the organization eventually outgrew its location in an old tavern on the corner of East and Alexander. In 1918 they changed their name to the Rochester Friendly Home, moved further east on East Avenue and began to accept married couples and single men as well as women. It is a skilled nursing facility and perfect for my mom’s needs. I really believe this but with my mom in the car it took a hard sell on the drive out there. By the time we left she was in the groove.

Nothing Lasts Forever

January 25th, 2016

Orange cone on golf/ski course at Durand Eastman in Rochester, New York

I don’t have a photos of these two scenes but I will do my best to describe them. The settings for both are the same little room, the computer room, at my mom’s apartment building. Two days ago I walked by and two grey-haired people, one man, one woman, were sitting in front of the two Windows machines. Both were looking intently at the monitors playing Solitare. The next day the same woman was alone in the room playing Solitare. At least she was playing Solitare before she nodded off.

We ran into a guy on the golf course today. It was too warm for the woods. The packed down, well travelled paths on the golf course are still skiable when the temperature gets in the upper thirties. Anyway we were stopped, just kinda looking around, he stopped and said hi. After some small talk he asked why we looked so familiar. “Did you play in a band?” Peggi said, “We still do. Margaret Explosion.” “No,’ he said, Personal Effects.” Peggi said, “That was like thirty some years ago.”

Personal Effects - Nothing Lasts Forever
Personal Effects – Nothing Lasts Forever

Personal Effects – “Nothing Lasts Forever”


January 24th, 2016

Box  of teeth from Leo's house

The most efficient way to to store stuff is digitally. After that there is flat filing cabinets. I put my father’s old cabinet in my studio and that set off a chain reaction of purging to make space for the new. Out with a pile of paintings and older work, sifting through piles of junk and then into the closets where we found boxes of 4D Advertising samples. All to the trash. Now, what about this box of teeth molds that our former neighbor, Leo, an orthodontist who often worked out of his house, left in his basement when he passed? I took a photo and thought about Leo.

Phil Marshall has a rubber soul. We are friends and have played together but I was not aware of his Beatle affinity. We recently donated to his Indiegogo CD project. Our level entitles us to have Phil as a guest on a podcast. Our promo copy of the cd arrived in two versions, “Scatterbed,” fleshed out tracks with guest musicians, and “Scatterbed Sleeper,” basic tracks of guitar and voice performed simultaneously, described as “the album in its rawest and most immediate form.” Both are produced by Chris Zajkowski and they sound fantastic.

While in hospice my dad occupied a scatterbed at St. John’s. He filled an open bed on the fifth floor next door to long-time nursing home residents, wanderers and people who talk non-stop in non-sequiturs. This was David Greenberger Duplex Planet territory. We intended to engage Phil to play music for my father while he was there, a few Johnny Mercer songs between the madness, but it never happened. Phil is a professional music therapist, what must be a heroic profession. “Scatterbed” arrived two weeks after my dad’s passing and Phil’s self described “reflection on loss, grief, faith and the lack thereof” resonated big time.

Our listening session began with “Sleeper,” the basic tracks. The first song, “Heaven is Waiting,” made me cry. As rich as Gershwin or Nilsson. The rhythm guitar in the next song, “Black Ice,” immediately called to mind Beefheart’s, “Harry Irene.” “In the final instant, Beyond all love and fear, Is there a perfect moment, When everything is clear?” “Faith,” which is inevitably called into play in the final hours meets a worthy opponent. “Faith, I doubt, is true, Faith, in love I do believe.” “Ebb And Flow’s” innocence echoes the Velvet Underground’s “After Hours” as it looks death in the eye. “Surrender it all to ebb and flow.” I’m quoting the lyrics here but, more importantly, Phil’s gorgeous melodies get under your skin and stay there.

Our session was interrupted so we started over the next day. “Sleeper” to “Scatterbed” full blown. I found myself thinking not only of my father but our painting teacher who also left a huge hole in the last few months back. We let a week go by and played the two in reverse order this time. “Sleeper” speaks more clearly, more directly and I am thankful to have a copy. For me the transition from “Sleeper” to “Scatterbed” could have gone more raw, more fragile and more vulnerable. But then our eighteen year old cat is in hospice.

N Ice

January 21st, 2016

Snow covered path around Eastman Lake in Rochester, New York

OK, so this will be an abbreviated winter. In short spurts it feels like any other winter. The cross country ski conditions the last three days have been near perfect. We skied from our front door to the lake and came back along the western shore of Eastman Lake. That path, a favorite with birders, is so close to the water, parts of it are often under water, especially when the beavers have been active. And it gets so much sun the snow often melts. The day after a fresh snow though is always nice and today was especially nice.

Three Dee

January 20th, 2016

Peggi with skis up near Lake Ontario

Gary Pudup, a former sheriff and head of the local ACLU chapter, is very active in New Yorkers Against Gun Violence. When he ran for office we tried to support him by posting a NYAGV sign on the road behind our house. Someone stole it. Gary lost his race but we are still friends. He and his wife come to every Margaret Explosion performance.

Last night the Little Theater screened “No Control,” a documentary about gun violence, and Gary brought in the head of the statewide group and a photo journalist for a discussion. Joe Quint’s photos were really powerful. “No Control,” the movie, was a little messy. They contrasted an anti-gun artist with a pro-gun, freedom loving, Cody Wilson, who was busted for making the plans for his 3D printer gun called “The Liberator” available online. I didn’t care for the artwork and was kind of drawn into Cody’s open source argument.

Scratch And Sniff

January 18th, 2016

Durand Eastman Witchhazel blossoming in JanuaryBlossom

This year everything is different. We waited until January 18th for the first significant snowfall. Significant as in enough to cross country ski on. And we had to wait until the end of the day for sufficient accumulation. The moon was visible, the conditions were perfect and Durand’s most fragrant witch hazel, the one that normally blossoms at the end of February, was in full bloom.

Sunday Drivers

January 17th, 2016

David Bowie poster on East Avenue in Rochester, New York

A photo in this morning’s paper of a spunky Irene Gossin speaking in 1970 about environmental issues in front of a map of Irondequoit Bay caught my eye. She is in her nineties and went on to become Penfield Town Supervisor. The article rattled off all the issues she fought against over the years, some of them the same issues my father battled.

They described the home she and her husband built – three acres of land at the edge of a high bluff with a sweeping view of Irondequoit Creek and the wetlands that surround it. The article described the “home’s clean lines, open plan and careful situation in a copse of trees atop the bluff, concepts that Gossin said were meant to echo Frank Lloyd Wright, embraced the home’s location and, perhaps, helped inspire Gossin’s ardent defense of the wetlands so close at hand.”

I stopped right there. This must be a Don Hershey house. Sure enough Peggi found it in her database but we had no address. We have no pictures on the site and of course she is an original owner so there are no real estate photos online. We headed out to track down the house and spent the better part of the afternoon driving around. It took us to a neighborhood we had never really explored with dramatic views of Irondequoit Bay. We were essentially east of Tryon Park, south of the bay, west of Creek Street and north of the old Browncroft Boulevard.

I like to think Don Hershey’s design of the house fit Irene like a glove and she in turn was inspired to defend the beauty that surrounded her whole life.

Building Awareness

January 16th, 2016

Audio-Visual performance at Axom Gallery in Rochester, New York

Remember AV Club? Probably not. Nerdy high school kids messing with video so the picture flickered or maybe even manipulating the picture with the audio signal. No idea how you do that but they figured it out. These same kids had a completely different notion of music too. Not so much melody, harmony and rhythm but more blips and sampled noise with feedback. The kind of stuff you’d watch and listen to late at night with some incense burning and recreational drugs.

Axom Gallery last night featured visual art by John Lake, tiled black and white print-outs of a young man in the water, along with experimental music performances by City Harvest Black, Licker, Mike Shiflet and Joe + N. Not sure who we caught but it was completely engaging. There are more of these types than you would imagine. It was one of the biggest crowds I’ve seen at the gallery.

There was beer there too but I was too full to have one. We had eaten dinner at Atlas Eats where they were doing something they called “American Melting Pot. “Cured Salmon Pastrami Style with Creamer potatoes, Homemade 1,000 Island dressing and Rye Caraway Crumbs, Winter Vegetable Puree with Roasted Beets, Quark and Pommes Allumettes and Seared Scallops in Kimchee Butter with Braised Escarole and Cracklings. They could have stopped right there but there two more courses. One included a delicious, over-easy quail egg and that was nice. I can’t eat that much but I did. And it’s not so much the bloated feeling that bums me out it’s more the dread I feel with the excess of it all. And dessert just has a way of spoiling a perfectly good meal.

Yoga class was back after a holiday recess. We worked the lower back today, mostly trying to undue damage we do just walking around in a gravity bound atmosphere. At the end of class Jeffery reminded us we are building awareness with our practice. I like that.

Pick Of The Litter

January 14th, 2016

Stella on the scale at the vets

It is always an adventure going to the vet with Stella. For starters, she usually pees on me as I carry her toward the car. She is especially sensitive. She only comes out of the bedroom for a carefully selected group of people. A few neighbors, a few friends, a few family members. Everybody else spooks her. And it has nothing to do with being loud or quiet. She has her own criteria and I would say she has good taste.

We have had a lot of cats. Tori and Sadie and Gato came from Bloomington. Nellie, Nino, Fay and Ornette all came from Lollipop Farm. Stella came from under the porch of Rick Howk’s house in the city. Her mom was all white but mangy. Stella was the pick of the litter.

She is the first cat that we have ever had that didn’t spend most of its time outdoors. She is just too delicate. We could tell that right away so we kept her in. Curiously, she meows at the door when I wake up and goes out for just a minute while I get the paper. She nibbles on the grass near the door and she sometimes throws it up once she is back inside. We have mice in our house but she has never been interested. She is terrified of the vacuum cleaner.

She is the sweetest cat we have ever had but she is almost eighteen years old and it may be time to go. We don’t plan to do anything heroic, we just want to keep her comfortable while we can.

Logic Is Dull

January 13th, 2016

Dodds and friends on Hawley Drive in 1969

My father gave me a Kodak Instamatic in 1969. It was my first camera. Left to right, top to bottom, my mother, my brothers John and Fran, my friend Brad Fox, Joey Occhipinti with the soccer ball, another Occhipinti with the basketball, my friend Dave Mahoney, and three neighborhood kids with toy guns. Tim Meisenzahl, at the bottom right, was dad’s financial advisor. I think my dad actually started with Tim’s dad. They lived across the street from us when I took this photo. I have to bring my dad’s death certificate out to Tim tomorrow and settle an account he had with Wells Fargo.

“Hitchcock/Truffaut” played to a packed House at the Dryden Theater last weekend. The 2015 movie based on the the 1962 week-long interview François Truffaut conducted with Hitchcock. That interview, the greatest cinema lesson of all time, became a book, a “bible” to filmmakers. The movie is footage from the interview. footage from Hitchcock movies along with commentary from Martin Scorsese, Kiyoshi Kurosawa, Wes Anderson, Richard Linklater, Paul Schrader and, of course, Peter Bogdanovich. The Hitchcock quotes are mint. “Logic is dull.”

Time to march through the Hitchcock oeuvre again.