These Times

September 21st, 2017

Brian Wilson playing Pet Sounds at Eastmanl Theater in Rochester, New York

The Squire was there. Rob Filardo too. And Kinloch Nelson. Brian Wilson played Pet Sounds start to finish in Kodak Hall. We got our tickets at the the last minute, nudged into it when our thirty yer old neighbor asked if we were going. Brian had an eleven piece band with him, a Wrecking Crew on wheels. His cousin, Rochester native, Al Jardine , was there along with Al’s son on vocals. The musical director played every kind of horn. Mike D’Amico and a percussionist played drum fills like Hal Blaine. A keyboard player sang like a Beach Boy and a second keyboard player, from Heart’s old road band, solidified the sound. Brian pretty much just had to sit there but he went for it in about half the songs.

First set was Beach Boys gold, Little Honda, In My Room, Surfer Girl, Wild Honey, Darlin, Add Some Music. No Surf’s Up but that that masterpiece should not ever be touched again.

We had to be there. I bought every Beach Boy album as they were released and still love them. Brian is a musical saint. He introduced Pet Sounds, the song, by warning the crowd that the song had no words. His version of Carline No, the last song on the album and the evening’s last tune was fittingly, achingly longing. “Where did your long hair go?” sung by the boy that wrote that in his latter years. I wanted to cry. Love and Mercy was a great tune to send us home with but I woke up singing, I Just Wasn’t Made for These Times.


September 19th, 2017

Venus statue in Wolcott New York

I’m determined to swim today. Although we’re in charge of the chemistry for the street pool this week I haven’t had time to get down there. I’ve been trying to complete a painting for this upcoming show and it has taken all my time. Even when you are “finished” with a painting there is is no real sense of satisfaction.The painting may be finished but the next one is already all you can think about.

There must be some good in collecting your thoughts. Reluctantly. I have done so and I’m now ready to move on. I may find clarity in the swimming pool.

I am not comfortable in front of the camera. It is hard for me to stand still and a broad smile seems unnatural. I feel vulnerable, trapped. Maybe that is why I find mugshots so interesting.

Maybe it is because my brother was arrested at such an early age. He served time for possession of a small quantity of marijuana in 1970. I posed five of my friends in front of a white canvas shortly after that. My entire family’s life was impacted by his arrest.

In 1976 I took a job as a graphic artist for the City of Rochester. I worked on the fourth floor of the Public Safety Building in the Rochester Police Department’s Crime Analysis Unit. I had access to the mugshots and I constructed flyers and posters with them in an attempt to link perpetrators to crimes in particular areas of the city.

In the mid-nineties I started painting portraits of local people. My source was, and often still is, the Crimestoppers page from the Democrat & Chronicle, people who are wanted for violation of parole. I have continued to revisit this subject for many years and recently competed twenty charcoal drawings for this show.

Plastic Arts

September 15th, 2017

Hazelnut on picnic table in Elison Park, Rochester, New York

With this string of gorgeous days the outdoor palette is changing ever so slightly. Oranges and browns are creeping in. Nuts are falling from the sky. I heard an acorn fall on our neighbor’s trailer as I drifted off last night. The horseshoe pits are dusty. Although it was forecast we haven’t had rain in a week or so. It’s good that we can’t count on a particular kind of weather. You never know. And that’s why we live here.

Plastic has been around so much longer than plastic, way before Dustin Hoffman’s line in The Graduate. “Capable of being molded or modeled. Capable of adapting to varying conditions.” There is a time-lapse video out there of someone working on a painting. He reworks a section and it look exactly like it did before he reworked it. I have not seen the video, I have only heard about it. I don’t want to see it.

Paint is malleable. I’ve been reworking sections of a painting for the last week. Does it look any better? Am I going around in circles? Painting always gets the best of you. That’s the way it should be.

That’s my Uncle Bob heading to the bathroom in the blowup of the photo above.

Points Of Departure

September 14th, 2017

Tate Shaw's InkJet watercolors at Mercer Gallery Rochester New York

Colleen Buzzard, the thinking man’s artist, along with Karen Sardisco, has brought together twenty or so artists who explore the idea of mapping as thinking. The show, at MCC’s Mercer Gallery and six satellite locations, turns out to be whole lot of fun. We started with a three page handout that associated 61 artworks with the artists. There are some familiar names like Ann Havens, Scott McCarney and Jim Mott but many from other cities. A postcard for the show listed the six satellite locations but you might need a map to find them. Three are on the UR campus, one is at RIT, one at VSW and one opens sat RoCo in the Lab Space on October 6.

Ryan Boatright, from Paris France, deconstructed a failed email attachment and translated it into a score for music. The binhex code is printed on a stack of pages on the gallery floor and the music is looped on an iPod. Tate Shaw’s watercolors above, photos printed on watercolor paper and reworked with water, were stacked in an especially inviting way but accompanied by two little notes that read “Please do not touch.” By clicking on the photo you can see six beautiful works that we were allowed to look at. It’s a wildly interesting show including even a circuit board negative for an old MXR effects box.

There is a four foot high pile of US Geological Survey maps at the door of the gallery and we were invited to take a map home with us. Mine shows Santa Margarita Lake in California.

Pure Creation

September 13th, 2017

Paul Dodd "Models From Crime Page" paintings from 2008 getting sun at the pool in 2017

Peggi is practicing sax upstairs while I work on a painting in my studio. There has hardly been time to come up for air since I found out about this show last winter. I suppose I could have just just put work in from the past. Bleu, the gallery curator, wanted to show the scope of this project, the “Models from Crime Page.” I’ve been revisiting it for over twenty years now. But as he was pushing me to show examples of the earliest pieces I could only think about doing something new. So the summer flew by and I’m still banging away, but not on my drums. I haven’t touched those since June. Not that I have any chops to lose but I don’t like cramping up after the first hour. Margaret Explosion is back at the Little on Wednesdays in October and we will be joined by the great Phil Marshall.

I haven’t been listening to music while I paint. It is too distracting. But the sound of Peggi’s sax, as she plays along with Margaret Explosion recordings and melodies that she originated the when those songs were recorded is very inspiring. I can barley hear the backing tracks over the dehumidifier but her lines come through perfectly. From my vantage point it is extraordinary, the way Peggi pulls these melodies from the air. An act of pure creation. She is my favorite artist. I can always tell when she’s winding down because the last few play-alongs are from John Coltrane’s “Ballads.”

I took a bunch of paintings from 2008 down to the pool so they could sit in he sun. A funny thing happens to white oil pigment when it sits in a box for a few years but a few hours in the sun bleaches that yellowish tint.

Margaret Explosion - High Life

Margaret Explosion – High Life

Park Nuts

September 11th, 2017

Walnut Man in Durand Eastman Park, Rochester, New York

On a good day we don’t see anyone in the park. Actually, that is not entirely true. On really nice days we always run into other people. Most days, though, we hardly see anyone in the park. I used to find that surprising but not anymore. People have stuff to do.

We were coming back up from the lake on Pine Valley Road when we watched this guy pull over, hop out of his car and walk directly over to a tree near the side of the road. He didn’t even look back at us as we walked by so I asked, “What’s going on with that tree?” He said, “I didn’t know there was a walnut tree here. I’ve been picking walnuts from the tress over there for years but I never new there was one here.” He had a few of them in his hands already. They are about the size of a tennis ball before you get the outer green layer off. And inside that there is the wooden shell and inside that the fruit.

He told us he takes them home and soaks them in a bucket, about a hundred at a time. “If they rise to the surface I throw them out because they are rotten but that only happens to two or three.” He said he cracks them open with a rubber mallet and eats them while he’s watching tv. As he was talked he got a small shovel out of the back of his car and he cracked a few nuts open and gave us taste. They were great, nice and moist. Then he showed us a long handled pruning sheer that he uses to cut them from higher branches. I asked if the park people ever bothered him while he was picking and he said, “No, but I’m not picking nuts today, I metal detecting.”

Big Bird

September 9th, 2017

Eagle in dead tree  in marsh off Hoffman Road, Rochester, New York

As we leave our street we get a good view of a few of the neighbors backyards. One is mostly unused, but professionally maintained, lawn. Periodically dosed with chemicals and surrounded with the yard-worker version of yellow police crime tape. A small evergreen tree, the size you would buy as a live, tabletop Christmas tree, sits in the middle of the lawn. Still in the red plastic pot from a few years back it is partially brown.

The house next door is like Noah’s Ark. They have one of everything back there. An extra car, a boat, a camper, a small patio with chairs and fire pit, a dog pen, a small vegitable garden and an old treasure chest. It wasn’t surprising that they picked up the small pink tent that we saw out by the curb further down the street last week. It caught our eye too but we assumed a little girl had outgrown it and another would find it, not these middle aged scavengers.

The other day there was a hawk on their garage and we didn’t scare it off. It was so close to us I wondered whether the bird was right and then I put it together that we had interrupted it. Instead of taking more photos of it I looked down at the ground and sure enough there was a dead squirrel about ten feet from us.

We continued down Hoffman Road and stopped at the marsh like we always do. There was a really big bird sitting on top of the tallest dead tree and I assumed it was another hawk with its prey. As we moved closer we started to think it might be an eagle. Steve Greive came around the bend in his Jaguar and he honked at us. That scared it off. I had to come home and compare my photo with a google “eagle” search to be convinced.

The Experience Of Experience

September 8th, 2017

Irondequoit Bay from front porch of MacGregors on Empire Boulevard in Rochester, New York

John Ashbery grew up in Sodus NY, near where our literary friends just bought a house, and he went to school in Rochester, later living on Dartmouth Street where Peggi and I lived when we moved (back here in my case) from Indiana. I di not know much about him until died. I still don’t but I love the snippets o poetry hat have been quoted in his obits and related remembrances.

“I feel the carousel starting slowly
And going faster and faster: desk, papers, books,
Photographs of friends, the window and the trees,
Merging into one neutral band that surrounds
Me on all sides, everywhere I look.
And I cannot explain the action of leveling,
Why it should all boil down to one
Uniform substance, a magma of interiors.”

Ashbery claimed that he was trying to convey “the experience of experience.” What a noble pursuit.

I Remember Maggie

September 7th, 2017

Actually I don’t remember doing this show at all. And I wish I didn’t remember all those years we had Maggie Brooks as our County Executive. I read this morning’s obit for the Cuban boxer, Sugar Ramos, whose opponent, Davey Moore, died three days after their bout in Dodger Stadium. Bob Dylan’s “Who Killed Davey Moore?” started going through my head and sure enough, as I read on, Dylan wrote the song based on this story. He lays the blame right where it belongs.

So off to the right, as I’m watching the video to Dylan’s song I see this “Personal Effects featuring Eddie Allen” link suggestion. Who the heck is Eddie Allen? The WHEC guy who talks over the performance and says “Let me see the little girl singer Camera 5″?

Animated Violence Mild

September 6th, 2017

Deer Hunting Game at MacGregor's on Empire Boulevard in Rochester, New York

I know someone that would love this video game. We were sitting next to it at MacGregor’s overlooking the Irondequoit Bay. The place didn’t come up when I searched for nearby “sports bars” in my map program but I remember coming out here with Matthew and Louise to see a match during some other tournament. We were looking for someone who had the BeIn network so we could watch the US Men’s team play Honduras in a near must-win qualifying match for the 2018 World Cup in Russia.

The US is still relatively new to the sport but we are lucky to be in Concacaf, the North, Central American and Caribbean confederation. Other than tough competition from Mexico it should be pretty easy for the US to finish in the top three of these 35 nations yet we’re getting right down to the wire. We watched the US lose to Casta Rico again a few nights ago and they barely squeaked out a tie via Honduras last night.

I still hold a grudge against MacGregors for leaving their original location in the South Wedge but the guy that manages this location was pretty accommodating. He told us he was a soccer player for thirty five years and he said he has arthritis so bad he has to stretch before getting out of bed. He said his team won the sectionals. Webster went to the sectional finals in my senior year so I asked where he played. He said Wayne County and I asked what year. I had him pegged for “older than me” but he was seven years behind. He was probably thinking the same thing of me.

Day Off

September 5th, 2017

Kathy Krupp's Porch

The lakeshore is usually overcrowded on Labor Day but there has been nothing usual about this summer. It felt like summer as walked along the beach but there weren’t enough people down there. The lake levels are still high. There is not much beach. It rained a lot this year and the rain kept the temperatures down. We swam after walking but the water in our street pool is down to 70 degrees. I’m not complaining, just cataloging. I use the search engine in this blog to keep track of the last ten years.

We have plenty of jalapeños but our tomatoes are still mostly green. We made salsa with those ingredients and had our neighbors down for a visit. I showed them my new drawings and we talked mostly about race and prejudice. It was a lot more fun than it sounds.

It was a perfect night for reading on the porch.

Full Swing

September 3rd, 2017

Mizin Shin woodcut prints and silkscreen prints in the Lab Space at Rochester Contemporary

First Friday in September. Gallery night out. We started with the show at R Gallery on College Avenue. Mitch Goldstein’s large scale abstract photograms made from small objects. Both were artfully displayed in the front room. The back room was surround projections from Nancy Bernardo. She creates intentional and accidental glitches by manipulating the scanner bed while digitizing and then layering the results in moving pictures.

“Under Pressure,” Rochester Contemporary‘s new show features work by four printmakers, very unusual printmakers. They push the boundaries of printmaking big time. We spent quite a bit of time talking to Michael DeLucia about his high tech process for making low tech contact camera-less prints and 3d cork sculptures. They were beautiful and the more questions you ask about the work the more engaging they became.

Mizin Shin (photo above) really wowed us in the Lab Space. That space has been transformed as never before with her B&W silkscreen and woodblock prints.

We finished our night at Roc Brewery where A.R. Stone’s early aerial photos of downtown Rochester were on display. Stone’s great great grandson was on hand to talk about the prints that were handed down from his grandmother. He told us how she accidentally broke the glass negatives so we were looking at the only surviving prints. The Brewery crafted a beer named after Stoney for the evening.


September 1st, 2017

Milkweed caterpillar at pool

Our hike took us along the beach this afternoon and we were surprised to see the water level was still so high. Our garden and horseshoe pits are dry.

We ran into Hal, our jazz fest buddy, at the entrance to the park. He told us he had been geocaching and he had located three today. He wants to have a hundred by year’s end. Hal was wearing a Chelsea FC hat and he told us he has been following the Flash in their new North Carolina home. We asked if he was going to watch tonight’s US men’s World Cup qualification but he said he doesn’t have cable.

Hal likes to change topics so we talked about upcoming arboretum tours, Bop Shop shows and the Toronto Film Fest. He told us he was the first speaker at the City Hall hearing on the theater proposal for Parcel 5. He thinks the idea that the theater will bring business downtown is a sham. I don’t like that park idea either. I say sell the property to the highest bidder without incentives or tax breaks.

East Main Street

August 31st, 2017

1111 East Main Street store window, Rochester, New York

East Main is looking up. There was a time when I’d get propositioned by hookers while riding my bike home from New Math rehearsal on my bike. I’ve been spending a lot of time at Warren Philip’s frame shop at Main and Goodman. He’s helping me frame work for the show. He’s making birch wood frames for my father’s watercolors and I’ve order matts, glass and metal section frame champs from him for my work.

They’re re-working the intersection out in front of his shop but there is construction going on up and down the street with some buildings getting gutted and a whole block of new housing going up. It was pretty bleak twenty five years ago. The Hungerford Building by Warren’s, mostly artist’s studios and illegal lofts, is always busy. I took this photo of the new store in front of that building.

Welcome To Somewhere

August 29th, 2017

Welcome To Somewhere sign near Mexico, New York

Peggi spotted this sign on the road to Mexico. Mexico, New York over near Oswego at the western end of Lake Ontario. We were in the back seat of Jeff and Mary Kaye’s car traveling up to Watertown to buy organic maple syrup and I was doing something on my iPad. I’m thankful Peggi spotted it. It’s a beauty.

It seemed like a long ways to go to buy maple syrup but when Jeff asked if we wanted to ride along we said, “Sure.” They used to belong to some sort of food co-op and they liked the syrup so they called the number on their empty container. Jeff called the guy again when we were close to town and had us meet him at the Sunoco Station on Rt. 81.

He was with his girlfriend but she never got out of the car. They looked like they might be Native Americans. He dropped his receipt book when he got out of the car and he bent over in slow motion to pick it up. He told us he doesn’t get out in the woods anymore because he had a downhill skiing accident. He buys most of his syrup from others but no synthetic defoamers or formaldehyde pellets are used in the trees. I wished he hadn’t told us that. It’s the last thing I would have thought of. And added that a rabbi had just been up to his warehouse so his syrup was kosher too.

We made the deal and Jeff put the containers in the trunk. It felt like a drug deal but it all went smoothly. We came back through Sodus in time to have dinner at El Rincón.

Ignoring The Crowd

August 28th, 2017

We have been to Salvatore’s on Bay Road in Webster three times now and we’ve never had their pizza. We go there to hear the Debbie Kendrick Project. It’s a pretty comfortable place. No cover, a good choice of craft beers and a nice sounding room. The band sets up in the corner and sit in a circle with Sean, the guitar player with his back to the crowd. They basically play for themselves and we eavesdrop.

Mike Patric plays bass with Joe Beard and is a real pro. Drummer Pete Monacelli got his start playing with big bands in Albion and he has a perfect touch. I have no idea where Sean Pfiefer, the guitar player, came from but I love the way he plays. And Debbie Kendrick is otherworldly. She has an incredible voice and a beautiful spirit. Her voice fills the room. The first time we heard them I spent half an hour trying to figure out where the speakers were for her voice. Turns out she runs her mic cord into Sean’s tiny Fishman guitar amp. They play blues and R&B and anything in between. Here they are doing a song Amy Winehouse made popular.

Get Well Sparky

August 27th, 2017

Sparky gives Little Man a haircut

We got a message from the woman who bought our old house that our former neighbor, Sparky, was in the hospital. Apparently he had a stroke. He had just stopped down here a couple of weeks ago and he looked so good we were thinking he had stumbled on the fountain of youth.

I’ve probably namedropped Sparky in these pages more than anyone else. Ours is such an unlikely association. We lived next door to each other for twenty six years and our first morning there the woman he was married to for a short time rang our bell with a pot of coffee in her hand. Her first words were, “We’re so glad you’re not niggers.”

We stayed away from them for years. They divorced, she left and we’d talk to Sparky over the fence. He collected junk and fixed things. He gave a us a mower that he found on the street and repaired. I started sneaking photos of him. Little did I know at the time that he loved it when you took his photo.

He played guitar and liked country music. He burned garbage in a barrel behind his garage. He told us he shot a sewer rat out front. He blew our minds and we became intrigued with his every backyard activity. Before we moved, I had keys to his garage and his shed.

We stopped up to see him in the hospital. He’s doing physical therapy but he is in rough shape. We made a card for him with this photo on it.

Invisible Idiot - Sparky's Shed
Invisible Idiot – Sparky’s Shed

Rescue Tree

August 27th, 2017

Grasshopper in the middle of Hoffman Road, Rochester, NY

We walked by this Rhododendron a few times in the last week. About ten foot tall, it was laying on its side but the leaves were still perky. Someone had dug it out of their yard and put it out by the road for the town to pick it up. There was a pretty good sized ball of earth wrapped around the base and I tried picking it up but couldn’t.

When we got back home, we saw our neighbor, Jared, was working on his pond with his friend John. We told them about the tree and they offered their truck. We got it back home and dug a hole out front and dropped it in. It looks like it’s always been there.

Free Cookies

August 24th, 2017

Funky yard sale sign at Seneca Road traffic circle in Rochester,New York

This sale was almost scheduled for today. Whether they made a mistake or changed their minds, they covered their tracks well with some blue paint. I rode my bike up on the traffic circle to take a photo of it.

The first thing that caught my eye is the closed letters, the inside of the “a”s, the zeros and the the “d’s. Clearly a spray painted sign from a hand cut stencil. But then when they did the number “8”s, they cleverly cut the stencil so the inside of the eights resist the paint. I love the small caps usage on the name of the street and the ghostly starburst announcing “Free Cookies.” The finishing touch, the thing that really drives this thing home, is the wiggly red arrow with drip running uphill. I know where I’m going to be tomorrow sometime between 8AM and 3. This sign is going on my Funky Sign site when I get back to it.

Mid Century Thugs

August 23rd, 2017

Nonchalant after questioning: Robert J.  DeMay, Charles F. Guldenshuh, Edward B. Lanagan, Robert G. Mental Jr., from left, booked in connection with assault on Julius Morrison, who thwarted robbery by wrecking truck against tree.

When I was growing up on the east side the neighborhood was dotted with small grocery stores. There were two near our house, one on Humboldt and one on Atlantic and then there was an early behemoth, Star Market, at Merchants and Main. Peggi and I lived in that same neighborhood for twenty-six years and there were still a few small stores nearby. Bertha’s was only open at night. There was no fresh food in the place. She mostly sold six packs and magazines. Fleckenstein’s was a great meat market. But Fred’s, on the corner of Main and Wisconsin was the best small grocery. Fred’s nephew, Sam, a recent East High graduate, opened the first Salvatore’s Pizza across the street in 1978.

In 1940, long before my two stints in the neighborhood, a group of thugs robbed the owner of a grocery store at 2121 East Main, a few blocks down from Fred’s, where State Farm is located today. The owner of that store was robbed by these four thugs. Peggi found the article while tracking down a tip from a reader of her site, We knew nothing about Don Hershey when we lived on the east side and never really noticed this cute little place on Melville Street, just off Culver by Nino’s Pizzeria.

Don Hershey, Rochester’s foremost mid-century modern architect, designed the house on Melville for Julius Morrison in the late thirties and the shopkeeper had just moved in in 1940 when this event took place.