Crown Of Thorns

May 28th, 2016

A crown of thorns made with pencils by Bernardi Roig, an artist from Palma de Mallorca

We flew though cotton candy like clouds before landing in Madrid at 8 AM. The guy in front of us on the plane was reading “The Promise of a Pencil.” I made a note to look that up. We had forgotten that Peggi requested a wheelchair at the airport gate and then we heard a man say my name the way a Spaniard would say my name. I was wheeled to a small bus that cruised around the back of the airport and dropped us off on the street where we waited for a bus (5 E) that took us to Cibeles in the center of the old city.

From there we walked to our hotel near Plaza Santa Anna and they let us in early. We slept for a few hours and headed back out for some cafe con leche and Tortilla Española. They served the coffee in small glasses, almost too hot hang on to. We had seen signs for an art show, one of those Fundacion government sponsored things, when we got off the bus so we hobbled back down to Cibeles. On the any we found another, free, government sponsored, art show by Bernardi Roig, an artist from Palma de Mallorca. The show near Cibeles was a real slice of Spanish culture by Jose Suarez, a Spanish photographer who went into exile during the Spanish Civil War.

We kept looking up at the Bellas Artes building and wondering why no one was up there. When we got up there it was actually more crowded than we had ever seen it and we quickly realized why it didn’t look crowded from the street. They had installed a stainless steel railing around the entire perimeter so you could not possibly get out to the edge. Although only six stories up you can see right out beyond the city, to the mountains and into the country and hillsides where Madrilenos celebrated the feast of San Isdro, the scene Goya pain to vividly. And you get a great view of the black domed Metropolis building that is featured in the Grand Via production credits of Breaking Bad and Better Call Saul.

Pile Of Rubble Behind

May 27th, 2016

Pile of rubble in the filled in Inner Loop

Our planned trip was doubt for bit with my injury but I have decided to move forward with what is now a pilgrimage to Madrid. I will hobble into the city and leave my crutches there just as the faithful do across the border in Lourdes, France.

Name Dropping

May 26th, 2016

Chuck Close at his gallery show in Chelsea 2002

I guess there is some sort of logical progression in the artists I drift toward over the years. Andy Warhol, Alex Katz, Alice Neel, Rodin, Kirchner, Robert Irwin, John Baldessari, Matisse and Philip Guston (from the moment I laid eyes on him.)

I liked Chuck Close for a while and ran into him at one of his shows in Chelsea. I took his photo and still intend to paint a portrait of him.

A few posts back I mentioned a Baldesarri project. I came across the full entry while soaking my leg last night and have reprinted it here.

From “More Than You Wanted To Know About John Baldessari”
A written piece called, “The Backs of All the Trucks Passed While Driving from Los Angeles to Santa Barbara, Calif., Sunday Jan 20″

“I was intrigued by how much the backs of trucks resembled paintings I had done – basically a rectangle broken up into an infinite variety of possibilities,the is, variety with a standard shape in dialog with the edge. My painting investigation was merging with my work in photography.”

Tether

May 24th, 2016

Tables set for an event at Art Gallery of Ontario

I consider myself one of the luckiest people in the world, to be in a band with Peggi Fournier. Over and over again, she pulls beautiful melodies from the thin air, marvelous stuff that you could hang your hat on. To my ears she is a rare breed.

The song below is from last week. I only brought two drums to the gig as my right foot is out of commission for a month or so. A young couple there, both of them nurses, told us they saw Margaret Explosion on their first date and they came back tonight because they both had off.

Chuck Cuminale, aka Colorblind James, was born the 23rd, the day before Bob Dylan’s birthday, and he was a lifelong fan which is not to say he loved everything Bob did. Far from it. I went to high school with Chuck. He always took music seriously and loved to share his opinion. I haven’t had a good argument with a friend about music since he died.

He wrote the following when he was working for City Newspaper. “The Margaret Explosion is not screaming for your attention. At its weekly Friday night happy hour gig at the Bug Jar, the band sets up in the darkest corner of the club. It makes no announcements or introductions. The musicians don’t take flashy solos, or make grandiose musical statements. What they do, from their dark corner, is provide the crowd with a cool, knowing, improvised soundtrack for its early evening activities. They cast a bohemian glow over the room, and, like magic, people look more interesting, conversations become more engaging, and Rochester seems like a better, hipper place to be.”

Margaret Explosion plays one more Wednesday at the Little Theatre and then we’re off for the summer.
I used Angel Corpus Christi‘s photo (without permission) for the cover of this one.
Margaret Explosion - Tether
Margaret Explosion – Tether

Not Really

May 23rd, 2016

White and yellow wildflowers in Durand Eastman Park

When I hobbled into the the Friendly Home this morning Brandon was reading the newspaper aloud in the newly remodeled sun room, an article about Ithaca using sheep to mow their Cemetery grounds. He had about ten people seated in a circle around him, all in wheelchairs. “What time did the sun come up this morning?” The other Mary guessed 5:30 and was off by only nine minutes. He read each person’s horoscope but when he asked my mom if she wanted to hear hers she said, “Not really.”

When the important news was digested he turned on a Pandora oldies station on his phone and connected it to a portable speaker. It was basketball time. He stood in the middle off the circle and bounced the ball back and forth with each of the residents to songs like “Chattanooga Choo Choo.”

New Leaves

May 22nd, 2016

Young oak leaves in trees out front

Jill Ellis, the women’s national team coach, was in the house last night. She was introduced before the game and then we spotted her at halftime hanging over the railing in front of her box seat while talking to Abby Wambach’s parents (who just happened to be sitting next to us.) She’s here to study the Flash players, Jaedene Hinkle and Sam Mewis in particular. She’ll be gong to the Olympics in Rio with only eighteen players (there were 21 on last year’s World Cup roster). Of course, she could still be evaluating Sky Blue’s Christie Rampone and Kelley O’Hara. But the way Hinkle played last night I wouldn’t be surprised if Ellis left town with Hinkle in the back seat.

We got to the game early, as we usually do,to watch the warm-ups from behind the goal. You have to keep your eye on the ball because you can get clobbered back there. And I was already injured. I was hoping to get a chance to talk to the Flash trainer about my injury. I’d ask him what he would do to get a player back on the pitch asap after an injury like mine. But that was only a pipe dream.

I was soaking my leg in the tub this afternoon, reading my John Baldessari book, and the room was getting all steamed up. I gave up reading and just relaxed but in a few minutes our smoke alarm went off, loud as hell. So I hobbled over to the damn thing and pulled the battery out. Why would a smoke alarm go off with steam?

Journey Inward

May 21st, 2016

Fallen Magnolia flower petals in Durand Eastman Park, Rochester, New York

When Josef Albers left the Weimer Bauhaus in Germany to teach at the Black Mountain School in North Carolina he was asked what he planned to teach. He responded, “To make open the eyes.” My limited mobility issues had me thinking about this and I can’t think of a better time to work on it. Instead of walks in the woods I’ve been sitting on the couch with an endless stream of my photos on the tv. A few big doors are closed but others are opening.

It is a toss-up as to whether the dictation tool on my iPad is any better than my typing skills. Of course, I don’t really know if it is the tool’s listening skills or my poor diction that causes so many errors. In my down time I’ve been transcribing the handwritten journals from our previous nine trips to Spain. Peggi and I take turns at the end of each day recording what we did that day. We’ll take short notes during the day with the name of a menu item or a painting we saw but we collect our thoughts at the end of the day in the form a short journal entry. The last few trips were entered on an iPad. I’m transcribing a handwritten entry now from 1998, the year we spent a week in Granada following Semana Santa processions, and I just spoke “down the street to the Monestario de San Geronimo.” My iPad heard “down the street to the monastery all day sun hey Ronnie mall.”

Clouds

May 18th, 2016

Two clouds over Rochester, NY

I remember this sensation. I used to do this all the time back in the very early fifties. And then I pulled myself up on a chair or something and I never went back to crawling. My knees are pretty good but they’re getting sore. I might have to pick up some knee pads at Home Depot unless I can manage to walk again.

“Stare. It is the way to educate your eye, and more. Stare; pry; listen; eavesdrop. Die knowing something. You are not here long.” – Walker Evans

288-0880

May 17th, 2016

Magnolia collection sign with Magnolias in full bloom in Durand Eastman Park

When we started our business we called the phone company to ask for a business line and we asked if they had any easy to remember numbers. They gave us 288-0880 and I always felt like it was lucky. I liked the way the numbers lined up on a push button phone. And I liked the way 4 and “D,” the fourth letter of the alphabet, seemed numerically connected to 288.

When a new Pizza Hut opened nearby they printed our number on refrigerator magnets. We got free shitty pizza for a bit. And we would get calls for JAy-Ve Tackle all the time just because the people who shop there can’t distinguish between 6s and 8s. Most of the calls we get these days are cold calls from India.

When we were growing up, about ten blocks east of where the 4D Advertising office was we had a 288 number as well. That was when people referred to those exchanges with words or two letter abbreviations. 288 was Butler 8 and the Butler was abbreviated as BU. People could tell what part of the city you were from by your exchange. I think our number back then was BU 8-3041.

4D has closed shop so I called the phone company today to pull the plug on that number. They said it would be disconnected at midnight tonight. I just called it thinking I wouLd leave one last message on our answering machine but it was already dead.

Walking Upright

May 15th, 2016

"Lourdes 2000" by Paul Dodd, now destroyed

Once each year we try to rid our property of the the invasive galic mustard plant. We try to get it just before it flowers when it is big enough to identify. It would cover the hillside out back if we let it go. I spent a lot of time standing on that hillside and I overextended my calf muscles.

We took a walk in the woods yesterday and on the way back I decided to run up the last hill the way my friend in San Francisco does. I felt like someone shot me in my calf and I crumpled to the ground.

I borrowed my neighbor’s walker and hopped into Urgent Care where I was diagnosed with either a strained or torn muscle. Only time will tell. They wrapped my leg with an ace bandage, gave me some anti-inflamatory medicine and a pair of $35 aluminum crutches. They are still in the shrink-wrap. My leg is too sore to stand on so I’ve been crawling around the house on my knees and getting along fine.

Heaven

May 15th, 2016

Candy Kitchen on Main Street in Webster sometime in the mid 1960s

My family moved to Webster when I was ten and I got a paper route pretty soon after that and had plenty of disposable income, most of which I spent on candy bars and baseball cards. That could very well be my bike, laying on its side behind the car in this photo of the Candy kitchen. The D&C knows it’s dwindling demographic and caters to it with these “Whatever Happened To” series.

There was a line at the counter when Holy Trinity let out. Joe Barrett’s father, the town lawyer, and Wilbur Finn, the owner of the Texaco station met here for lunch regularly. It was a genuine soda fountain with a jukebox, home made ice cream and vanilla Cokes.

Colorist

May 14th, 2016

Cherry tree in bloom on Log Cabin Road in Rochester, New York

One of the residents at my mom’s place was hunched over a book, intently adding yellow crayon to a geometric pattern. I told her it looked really nice and she thanked me. She said, “I’m not really an artist. I’m a colorist.” Matisse was a colorist. Bonnard, Josef Albers and Wolf Kahn were all colonists. They use color as a tool. Their work speaks with color. A very small percentage of artists are colorists.

We did a lot of balance work at yoga this morning. Standing dancer to tree to eagle. We were inside because rain was forecast and we were downstairs because some sort of event was happening upstairs. The students were spread out in front of the bar and our teacher was standing in front of a big window that looked out over the lake. About halfway through the class the bartender started setting up for the evening. We were on our backs in some sort of triangular position and I noticed the yacht club had some local, micro-brews on tap. And I spotted a pennant behind the bar with the Rochester Yacht Club logo on it and the years “1877-1977.” This place has some history.

After class I was making small talk with the bartender and I said, “I see you have eight beers on tap.” He said “Yeah. Would you like one?” I looked at the choices and said, “I’ll have a Guinness.”

Memories Are Made Of This

May 12th, 2016

Paul Bunyan statue on the corner of Portlad Avenue and North Street in Rochester, New York

Does anybody else miss the Paul Bunyan statue that used to hover over the intersection of Portland Avenue and North Street? Ah, but that is what black and white photos are for.

The local gas and electric monopoly came down our street a few years ago laying new gas lines and moving every house’s gas meter outside. Easier for the meter reader to keep to see[ track of your usage. Fr some reason thy were unable to move ours so the guy rings the bell every couple of months and goes down in our basement with a flashlight. Today when he got here I was outside playing horseshoes with Tom Burke. The meter reader, with dreadlocks, was dressed in day-glow and Tom asked him if he wanted to throw a few. He did, two down and two back, but he never hit the pit. I thought about taking a photo but I wouldn’t want to get the guy in trouble.

Canadian Driftwood

May 10th, 2016

Driftwood pieces In the window

Peggi was chatting with our teacher, Jeffery, after yoga class. I had climbed out on the big rocks that are protecting the docks at the Rochester Yacht Club. I was taking a photo of the Charlotte pier and I looked down at all these pieces of driftwood that had gotten trapped between the rocks. They were all about the same size but there was such beautiful variation in the color. I rounded up an armload and took them home. Each one is a finished piece of art.

Margaret Explosion plays the four Wednesdays in May at the Little Theatre.
Margaret Explosion - Mountaineer
Margaret Explosion – Mountaineer

Sitting In The Park

May 9th, 2016

NRBQ at Lilac Festival in Rochester, New York

The guy standing next to us was screaming so loudly at the tv in O’loughlins he must have bet the farm on “Gun Runner.” His horse was in the lead for a bit but only showed in the end. We were down there years ago on warm Spring day, watching the boats pass by, when we realized it was Kentucky Derby day. The bar owner was selling tickets for a pool and we bought a few but our horse didn’t come in. The Kentucky Derby was Peggi’s and my first date, the real thing, in Kentucky. We were there the year Secretariat won. Anyway, we come down to this joint every year to have a pint, watch the race and look out at he river.

If you are gonna come home with your ears ringing it might as well be for good band. We heard NRBQ in the park yesterday and just like dozen or so times we’ve seen this band, we got right down front, on Terry’s side. He had the same lineup as last time he was here but a different drummer, a young kid, and he sounded great. Couldn’t swing like Tommy could, but right-on otherwise. Even sounded great on “Sitting In The Park.”

Living Room

May 7th, 2016

Twin Talk performing live at Bop Shop in Rochester, New York

Katie Ernst plays bass and sings. The two sound beautiful together and they are made more beautiful by her choosing to not sing words in most cases. She is accompanied by a tenor sax player and a drummer and the Chicago trio, Twin Talk, played last night at the the Bop Shop. Their sound is youthful and fresh, as in a few years out of school, but rich and melodic. Katie, the bass player, went to Eastman. Here she is playing on the street in 2009.

As abstract as their song structure is, the band is extremely musical and very enjoyable to listen to. They color their songs with everything at their instruments’ disposal. Not swinging club jazz, not even close to the traditional bebop thing, they are arty and idiosyncratic. My kind of stuff. They get under your skin and you are not sure why. All three players wore watches, not Fitbits or Apple Watches but the old school kind. Katy is a hell of a bass player and that may be why.

Reversals Will Delight You

May 6th, 2016

Metal detector guy on Charlotte Beach in April

My mom was down in the sun room when we stopped by this morning. Brandon was sitting with about ten of the residents and he was preparing to read the newspaper to them, something he does every Friday. We stuck around and I am so glad we did. It was extraordinarily beautiful.

Brandon is so good with them. Everyone loves Brandon. He started by asking if anyone knew what the date was. One of the woman offered a guess but she was off by a few months. He asked the group what time the sun came up today. My mom said “early” and we laughed. The other Mary guessed 5:30 and she was surprisingly close. Surprising because we had no idea the sun came up that early. Brandon tries to involve everyone and he asked a woman what temperature Lake Ontario was. She answered, “6:30.” He said, “Guess again” and she guessed “8 o”clock.” Brandon said, “You’re guessing times. I’m looking for a temperature.” She guessed another time.

Brandon touched on all the important issues of the day. He read the caption on a Kentucky Derby photo. He read Dagwood and Pickles and then moved on to the horoscopes. He knows most of the residents’ birthdays and read a few signs. “Virgo: What you once struggled with is now so effortlessly accomplished, you hardly remember you’re doing it. Details you got hung up on don’t matter to you anymore – all signs you’re on to bigger and better things.” My mom is a Leo. “Don’t let things get boring. Reversals will delight you, especially those pertaining to familial roles. You’ll find charm in the way children act like adults and adults play like children.”

Next week is National Nurses Week and the Friendly Home made a video of the residents paying tribute to their nurses. There is a shot of my mom in it and the marketing department asked us to sign a release form. We are getting to know most of these people in the piece so we got a real kick out of it.

Keeping Up

May 4th, 2016

Trump and family after winning Indiana primary

Are we supposed to be dumbfounded? Peggi and I were going to school in Indiana when Bobby Knight was in his prime. It only figures that guy could do Trump some good. And how about this first family? I find them far more interesting than the Kardashians.

Maybe Worse

May 3rd, 2016

Peggi Fournier, Dale Mincey, and Robert Marsella at Dale's apartment in Rochester, New York

Still in tidy-up mode I found this photo. Taken somewhere in the late seventies, I may not come across again for another thirty years. Dale Mincey, stretched out across the couch, was the lead guitar player in New Math when I was in the band. Robert, with the shades in his hand, was the bass player. And I found a yellow Post-It note with my father’s Spotify password on it. Not that we could forget. The Mayflowers, the May Apples, the Trillium and every other wildflower he introduced us to, remind us of his passing. And we are tuning into the birds.

I came across this this quote and it has fired me up. “Failure is my best friend. “If I succeeded, it would be like dying. Maybe worse.” – Alberto Giacometti

Margaret Explosion plays the four Wednesdays in May at the Little Theatre.
Margaret Explosion - Feminismo
Margaret Explosion – Feminismo

PostScript

May 2nd, 2016

Brush pile in farm field along Lake Ontario Parkway

Peggi and I have been doing some serious housecleaning. Working our way to the bottom of piles that have been building up for years, sorting though my parents business affairs, dividing our iCloud documents between our two separate IDs, preparing for a new bookshelf that is being made to order and looking for two old journals that we can’t seem to put our hands on. They contain notes from our trips to Spain and we had the bright idea to consolidate all ten journals into one document. Well, the tenth one hasn’t been written yet.

We came across an old business card, one for our business. The original was done on an Atari ST. Bit map was big. Our next computer was a MacII. We were setting postscript and there was no going back. We’ve been fans of Apple for a long time and we’re still trying to convince ourselves that their best days aren’t over. That’s why they call us stockholders.

I love my watch. This iCloud thing, though, is problematic. The infrastructure is not here yet. I’ve been trying to upload my photo library for two weeks now. All I wanted to do was share the library on another mac, the way I used to with iPhoto but Apple removed that feature when they rewrote the program they now call Photos. How and why were they able to use such a generic name? The only way to share now, even locally, is to put everything in the cloud. And the photos are getting crunched on the way up. I’m sticking with Flickr as a BU and probably could have just shared through Flick but I’m getting with the program. Meanwhile, no Netflix streaming, no YouTube. I can barely get a map to paint up. I wish my neighborhood had Greenlight. I plan to work on that. TW cripples our upload speed.