Love And Hopiness

July 22nd, 2018

Intersection of Greenlawn Drive and Brown Road in Rochester, New York

We were walking back from Starbucks on Brown Road when I looked down an especially boring looking side street. The lawns were so brown. I looked up to see it was Greenlawn Street. We need rain.

I love the ride out Route 18. Like Highway 1 in California it follows the shoreline, in this case from the Port of Rochester to Niagara Falls. We didn’t go that far. We stopped in Olcott Beach where they were having something called the Jazz Trail, one band after another all day long at various locations in the tiny town. It is just far enough away from the cities to be funky. There was a big amusement park here years ago and there still is a small one for kids. We saw a few signs on people’s lawns that said, “No Dollar Store In Olcott.” Bars change hands here and the shops are all tiny souvenir places. I looked at t-shirt with a foamy pint class on it. It read “Love and Hopiness.”

Saxophonist, flautist and vocalist Bobby Militello was playing with his quartet on the stage in the middle of a park. He was a member of the Dave Brubeck Quartet and Maynard Ferguson’s band. They sounded great. We walked around town and watched a fishing charter take off. Olcott was hit hard last year when the lake levels were so high. They had to line the beach with concrete slabs to keep the sand in. The lake had turned over last night. The water temperature was 48 but there was a few kids in.

We stopped at a few farm stands on the way back and came home with cherries, peaches and corn.

Rochesterville

July 21st, 2018

Gideon Cobb Day 2018 in Brighton New York

William Keeler, Librarian & Archivist at the Rochester Historical Society, gave the featured presentation at the annual Gideon Cobb Day Celebration in Brighton. His talk, “Rochesterville on the Rise,” started with the Native American trading post near Indian Landing a couple hundred years ago. The British controlled the waters of Lake Ontario before the War of 1812. A reenactor can be seen in the photo above along with John Page and Brighton’s Town Supervisor William W. Moehle.

Tryon, where the bike park is now, was where all the action was, a boomtown on the move until the sandbar at the mouth of Irondequoit Bay filled in, cutting off access to the port of Tryon. Carthage, on the other side of the Genesee River, the next biggest nearby settlement collapsed when influenza swept through town. Rochesterville, just south of the High Falls, was nowhere as big as Geneva, Bath and Canandaigua. Gideon Cobb was one of its first inhabitants. He ran a brickyard where Cobbs Hill is today and my father restored Cobb’s folk hero status.

Early Gideon Cobb days were celebrated at Mario’s where the new Whole Foods is going in. Ray Tierney, former Brighton councilman and Historic Brighton board member, has organized the last two and they now feature an award presentation, the “Leo Dodd Heritage Presentation Award.” Last year’s went to Sandra Frankel and this year it went to John Page of Bero Architects. I’m happy Historic Brighton has carried on but I couldn’t help but feel the void left in the organization. They need someone with the desire to dig through the past, willing enough to attend the meetings, lobby the politicians to preserve the remnants, someone who likes taking pictures and illustrating a story and someone who likes to share what they have found. They need someone as enthusiastic as my father was.

Personal Effects - Boom Boom Town/Violince
Personal Effects – Boom Boom Town/Violince

Personal Effects – “Boom Boom Town/Violince” from “Personal Effects – A Collection”

Rewritten In Translation

July 19th, 2018

Wards of Time: Photographs of Antiquities by Larry Merrill

We had tickets to the MAG opening on Saturday night. We talked about going that afternoon and when the time came we completely spaced it out. So we tried backtracking and went over there yesterday. We started with Bill Viola’s video installation, a piece with four monitors, one at each quarter hour devoted to one of the four elements. Called “Martyrs,” Viola says: “The Greek word for martyr originally meant ‘witness.’” (where have I heard that word before?) In today’s world, the mass media turns us all into witnesses to the suffering of others. They also exemplify the human capacity to bear pain, hardship, and even death in order to remain faithful to their values, beliefs, and principles.” It is quite stunning if just a bit too precious.

The summer MAG show features three local artists, a substitution for the old Finger Lakes or Biennial shows. The Nancy Jurs exhibit is fun. The video was unnecessary but the dryer lint piece really drew us in. We took a break for lunch at the Brown Hound. I liked that place better when they had art from the MAG’s collection on the wall instead of all that dog stuff. I don’t find the cheap dog images all that appetizing but the Bistro Salad with Tofu was really nice. After lunch we spent some time with “The Surreal Visions of Josephine Tota.” Her work is small and it would have worked better if someone hadn’t put it in all those loud clunky frames. It was really hard to see the paintings. The white wall tags and signage didn’t help either. The woman has an interesting back story but let us see her work. Her paintings look better online. Larry Merrill’s “Wards of Time: Photographs of Antiquities” could never be as good as the real antiquities but they looked great mounted on the brown walls of the Lockhart Gallery. This poem on the wall in Merrill’s show really struck me. But how does a translator get something this old to rhyme in translation without just rewriting it?

Age is the heaviest burden man can bear,
Compound of disappointment, pain and care;
For when the mind’s experience comes at length,
It comes to mourn the body’s loss of strength.
Resign’d to ignorance all our better days,
Knowledge just ripens when the man decays;
One ray of light the closing eye receives,
And wisdom only takes what folly leaves.
– Pherecrates, about 430 BCE
Richard Cumberland, translation

What Is The Server Saying?

July 17th, 2018

1966 Cadillac convertible in driveway up near the lake

I will talk about politics here just enough to say that following it is really eating into my day. My comfortable middle class life is being impacted by just trying to stay abreast. And imagining the damage being done to the less fortunate is completely draining. It seems you soil yourself by just bringing the divisiveness up. Ignoring it all is certainly an option, an irresponsible option, so we’re stuck. Let’s change the subject.

What is the best looking car on the road today? They pretty much all look alike. We were having dinner with my parents, near what turned out to be the end of their lives, and I asked my father if he thought things were getting better or worse. My father was progressive, an optimist and forward thinking, an early adapter and enthusiast of new technology. I was certain he would say things are getting better but his answer wandered into what I would characterize as a longing for the time when the parish priest knew what you were up to, what kind of trouble you might be getting into. There was accountability. Things were not allowed to run amok.

At my age I want to believe that things are getting better but Im worried. Maybe this is what the trumpster has tapped into with his “Make America Great Again” slogan. Maybe this is why so many bands are content to play roots music – comfort food. Cars were pretty cool in the sixties but nostalgia is killing us.

Irresistable

July 15th, 2018

Three Rochester Contemporary 6x6 purchases 2018

Eleven o’clock seemed a little early for a beer so I passed until halftime but then gave in when Croatia scored. We watched the World Cup Final down at our neighbor’s place. They had a few of their Jamaican friends over and we all pretty much cheered for Croatia. They played a better game but lost. The only statistic that really counts is the number of goals. There was quite a bit of food and the match flew by. I wanted it to last forever. One of the guys brought cod fritters (cod, broccoli, batter and habanero peppers). They were killer! We brought two home for dinner and had them with a fresh salad, arugula, kale and cilantro, all from the garden.

We picked up our 6×6 purchases this afternoon and I photographed three of them out in the driveway. I’m really happy with these. The first one, probably done by a kid, is every bit as cool as Hans Hoffmann’s push pull stuff. It commanded the main wall as you walk in the gallery. The beachball is an irresistable knockout. Just a bit of the air has escaped and the three primary colors heroicly define the form while the white circle on the top of the ball is just small enough to make you question it all. And that hotter than July ground! As my neighbor pointed out “La Avocat” should really be “L’avocat” but it is not. The painting is not the fruit either even though it says it is. We had to bring this home.

Sensitive To Sound

July 14th, 2018

We needed coffee, both beans and a cold brew cup, so we stopped in Canaltown Roasters and had Pete package up 2 five pound bags of “Rochester Choice.” We took our cups down East Avenue to Rochester Contemporary where the annual 6×6 show was in the last weekend of its run. The San Francisco based, Symmetry Labs, were still installing their sculpture, “Tree of Tenere,” in the garden next door. Inspired by the Hindu legend of the most isolated tree on earth, it was first realized at Burning Man in 2017. The director, Bleu Cease, said Margaret Explosion was on a short list of people to perform under the outdoor tree which is sensitive to sound.

They have finally run out of room over there. Next year Bleu says they will go down to maximum of three per person. I remember when it was ten. I was happy to see that mine had sold. I’ve been using my submissions in an ever more minimal direction. And I was thrilled to find that three small paintings that I liked the most were all still available. That says something about either my taste or everybody else’s. Peggi found one as well. She brought me over to look at it and as luck would have it the artist was standing nearby. Kishan Pandya told us they travelled to South Carolina to see the recent eclipse and he took this amazing photo. It reminded me of a Sol Lewitt.

We plan to watch the World Cup final at our neighbor’s down the street. Two teams with a lot of finesse. We are going down pulling for the underdog, Croatia, but I could easily switch camps and scream for France. I just hope it is a good contest.

Margaret Explosion - Tonic Party

Margaret Explosion – Tonic Party

A Perfect Night

July 13th, 2018

Chuck Prophet at Abilene in downtown Rochester, New York

We offered to let Eric stay at our place. He had played in Cleveland the night before and got held up fulfilling the checkout list at his Airbnb so he arrived just as we were heading out for dinner at Kerry and Claire’s. When we returned near midnight Eric was playing his Alvarez on the couch. He showed us the wafer thin spot above the F hole that he had worn down on this tour. Rochester was his last stop.

Peggi and I intended to watch the last half hour of the England-Croatia match before going to bed. We had recorded the game and then the two shows in the time slots after the game in the event that the match went into overtime. It did but something went awry. Judge Judy, the first show we recorded after regulation time, started at the 117th minute and Croatia had already scored the go ahead goal. Eric isn’t much of a football fan but he told us his friends in England were all bummed out.

I had a premonition that Amy would show up and sure enough she walked in minutes before Wreckless Eric took the stage at the Bop Shop. Eric’s set was sublime, a sonic adventure where new and old songs were supercharged, interrupted and amended and footnoted like a David Foster Wallace novel. Eric looks a bit like a priest with his white hair, black sport shirt and bolo, black jeans and shoes, a priest who can get a monstrously crunchy sound from an acoustic guitar. Between songs he went off on a hunch that his guitar wanted to do a solo album without him and his fuzz tone and boxes were just conspiring to get him to drive them around. I loved the rich contrast between his old songs, pop anthems really, and his wry, world weary new ones.

Chuck Prophet was playing at the same time, downtown at the Party in the Park, on a bill with G Love. Rumor had it that he would also do a late set on the deck out back at Abilene so we headed downtown. We had heard him with the band when they opened for Sharon Jones a few years back and we weren’t really buying it but it was such a beautiful night.

A five dollar cover, a seven dollar beer and we found a spot up front just as they started. Prophet has a great band and he is a really good entertainer in a charming, sort of goofy way. His first few songs were ok but then came the covers, one carefully chosen song after another. They all sounded great. Pipeline, Telstar, KC’s Boogie Shoes, Shake Some Action with Amy and Eric on backups and then Tom Petty’s American Girl with Amy Rigby doing the middle section, a rip-roaring version. Of course they did an encore, Alex Chilton’s Bangkok. It was a perfect night.

Going Home

July 10th, 2018

Spanish postcards from the 1970s., a gift from the O'Hara/Sullivan branch of the family.

I certainly wasn’t cheering for Belgium when they went against Brazil but once that ended badly I was convinced Belgium were the stronger team and a deserving finalist. In fact, I even entertained thoughts of the end of the so called beautiful game. Brazil’s finesse and ball control was no match for the strong, physical Belgium side, sort of the way it was when I was playing for Webster Thomas. Our coach wore a beret and drove a Citroen. He taught us an early version of the light touch, European style. (He’s currently serving life in prison for molesting kids.) Our rival, Penfield, had a football player die the year before so they did away with their football team for a few years and all those big lugs played on Penfield’s soccer team. It was a nasty matchup but I think we prevailed.

So, I had resigned myself to the new world order. No Neymar, no Marcello, no Brazil. Spain, with seventy per cent possession had gone home. Germany, last year’s untouchable champion, was home. Argentina, with the world’s best player, was home. I tried to warm up to the Belgium side. They had the possession. They kept putting it in the box. It was only a matter of time and then, after a few dazzling fast breaks, France scored on a corner. Belgium had the big guy lurking in the box but he couldn’t get a touch on the ball. France was nimble, quick on defense, very few fouls, and when they got the ball, the whole team moved toward the goal. They passed (my favorite part of the game) beautifully. Mick Jagger was in the stands. They are the youngest team in the tournament. Their star player is nineteen. If they can play this well in the final England will be going home.

The Man

July 8th, 2018

Garage sale Christ purchased for fifty cents.

Somebody stole our neighbor’s Buddha statue. A hollow black plastic thing that sat about twelve inches tall on an old stump in their yard. Talk about bad karma.

I grew up with Warner Sallman’s 1940 picture of Christ, one of 500 million reproductions of the image from the Chicago Offset Printing Company, so this garage sale Christ with short hair and mousse really struck me. We were out walking and stopped at an estate sale, one that had been going on for a couple days so everything was half price. This picture was hanging on the wall and it had a one dollar price tag on it. Small print at the bottom read “Christian Education Press 1955″ and it was signed by Barosin. I looked it up and found the image was painted by famed Holocaust Survivor Jacob Barosin. I plan to give this to a friend.

Lamp Left On All Night

July 6th, 2018

Janet Williams oil painting "Lamp Left On All Night" from about 2008

I knew Janet was sick but I didn’t think she could possibly die. In my mind she was immortal. Janet was always a delight to see and foremost to talk with. Insightful and funny, each encounter was memorable. She was also my favorite local painter.

I fell in love with a painting she had at the High Falls Gallery, the one with her brother in a vortex entitled “Ooops!” It had a $200 price tag on it and I will forever regret not taking it home. For years I maintained a web page of her paintings. Ten years ago she sent jpegs of her latest batch along with this note. I never got around to posting them.

“The whisk broom and dust pan are from my Primordial Fleamarket Series. I allow one object per canvas, life size. I want them to appear to be in process of being made, like in a geological rather than a manufacturing process, with the varying layers of paint mimicking aeons.  The typewriters, lamps, sewing machine and guitar are also in this series. I’m working on a 1896 Fairbanks Banjo at the moment.

Baby Bird’s title is now “Fledgeling” 2007. “Whisk Broom” 2008, “Dustpan” 2008 and “Fledgeling” 2007 are now at the Oxford  Gallery Awakenings Show, until May 10. “Embers” and Ted’s Typewriter” 2006. “QWERTY 3” and  “QWERTY 4” 2007. They are all 12” x 12.” “Dave’s Guitar: C. F. Martin’s D28 Dreadnought”  40” x 30” 2007
Janet”

Janet wrote the following introduction to her paintings on the site.
“I seem to always want to paint either my kitchen table, or the view out my window of Pinnacle Hill. Pinnacle Hill has been encroaching upon, interfacing with, and persistently stepping up its allurements to me as an interior artist. I’m taking it one step at a time. I only want to paint it through the windows and ceilings of my house, with all its seas and deserts and nebulae, and its population of cowboys and saints, horses, maybe soldiers, sharks and flying dogs also.

I am allowing my paintings also to “borrow,” shall we say, from the images of other artists. For example: the one of the Sea of Galilee Lapping the Shore of PS 35, shamelessly appropriates from Delacroix. But Lawrence Lazarus’ Battered Blue Cube is in there, also, in quadruplicate. School 35 is a low brick building with seemingly no appeal, yet with 4 or 5, (I really haven’t counted them) blue doors, Battered Blue Cubes! They were painted beige for awhile, a while back, and my heart sank. I was wracking my brain for a way to convince myself that my memory of their blueness would serve me just as well, as an artist who knew something and could brook all obstacles in her path, when they got painted blue again! like a miracle, in answer to a prayer I didn’t dare send up!

The one of the Fight for the Waterhole at PS 35 borrows (HA!) from, as you can guess, from Remington. But, again, the doors of school 35 are DEFINITELY Lawrence Lazarus’ Battered Blue Cube. He probably wouldn’t have seen the point of there being 4 or 5 of them, but that’s how it is.

My latest painting, Pope Cake, is the Pope and my mother at the kitchen table, with a Thiebald wedding cake on the table, and the table holding its own, if I do say so myself! It’s really a picture of my mother’s arms, I think. They express her earthy fretfulness, without giving up a bit of her translucent leaving this earth quality.

Janet Williams”

Cantalouped

July 5th, 2018

End of Sea Breeze Pier in Rochester, New York

Our neighbor, Jared, emailed that he had found gopher holes in the garden. We have a plot in his backyard because we have very little sun in ours. He also informed us that the animal had eaten two of our four Kale plants. We had been picking leaves off them for salads and the damage was not fatal. There is enough of the plants left for them to rally but we had to trap the thing before his next meal. Jared said he had a rotten cantaloupe in his refrigerator, left over from the last time he set the trap, so I cut off a piece. It had black and white mold spots on it but it was still juicy. It worked like a charm and we snagged a young groundhog within hours. I called Animal Control but they had closed for the holidays so fed him apple slices and strawberries until the they came this afternoon. Meanwhile more holes appeared and our neighbor’s broccoli and squash has been pruned. I reloaded the trap and will report back.

We have watched so much soccer in the past few weeks there has been little time for anything else. Except walking, of course, and Andrei Tarkovsky’s “The Sacrifice,” which we watch three times. The 1986 Swedish film is astoundingly beautiful. The long shots and limited cuts draw you in and won’t let you go. Erland Josephson’s character, after renouncing religion, makes a bargain with God, (a common Catholic tactic, one that promises you a vague eternity) if God can stop the impending holocaust of WW3.

Despite a numbing possession rate Spain let Russia beat them overtime with penalty kicks. I intended to wear my my Spain jersey for the match but it was too hot so I went shirtless. And Japan, playing the delicate, quick passing in thick situations type of game that is irresistable just couldn’t hold on to their sixty minute 2-0 lead over Denmark. Mexico, our default home team, took it to Brazil but couldn’t finish. We gave that match our all but we’ll now route for Brazil. Is it just us or is this the best World Cup ever?

Permutations

June 29th, 2018

Pilc Moutin Hoenig at Rochester International Jazz Fest

Soccer, like music, is a shared international marvel, a phenomenon. The World Cup puts all the nations though a big funnel. The first round, which ended yesterday, culled the top thirty two teams to sixteen. The mash-ups, Germany vs. Mexico, Senegal v. Colombia, Iceland vs. Croatia were monumental. I was thinking about how the the World Cup is constructed, and the possible permutations that will produce a winner from the last eight matches, as we sat down for Pilc Moutin Hoenig’s set.

Finally. We heard our favorite band of this jazz festival. The band was introduced, the bass player plucked a few notes and the drummer answered with a few strategically placed taps. Were they just checking their levels? No, they were starting a dialog, one that turned into a cat and mouse game before taking on the form of a fully developed piece. But just as we were digesting that development the piano player stood up and walked away. The bass and drums were revealed in a dramatic new light. He sat back down and piece evolved into something else.

Was their set all improvised? Surely they revisit favorite themes. The three were great players but their greatest strength was their arranging. They fearlessly deconstructed their music in the same way they constructed it. The trio was confident enough to explore smaller configurations. Just think of the possible combinations. Piano and bass, bass and drums, bass and piano. Just piano, just bass, just drums. And when it came down to just one instrument wasn’t so much a solo as it was music, played on one instrument. Pilc whistled a tune while accompanying himself with a one note piano repetition. It was brilliant.

They continually let things gracefully fall apart. One of them would duck out of the arrangement and the song immediately took on a new shape. They did this over and over again through the whole night. About thirty minutes into their set they found themselves all playing an ending and they went with it. There was applause. And they went back to work.

Jazz Fest Vs World Cup

June 26th, 2018

Windy clear day at Sea Breeze, New York

Today is the halfway point of the Jazz Fest and The World Cup so it is too early to predict a winner but if I had to choose now there is no question, the World Cup wins. There has been an abundance of sensational matches. Unpredictable and thrilling, two words I could associate with this year’s lineup. We’ve time shifted games so we can watch them all but we’re at the stage now where two games are played simultaneously to settle the final standings of each group. Half go on, of course, and yesterday Spain tied Morocco with a late goal at the same time as Iran tied Portugal. And today we learn whether Messi goes home.

Life is short. Except if you’re Pete Tierney (no relation to the Tierney side of my family). Pete lived at Saint Ann’s down the hall from where my parents were for the couple years of their lives. He was in his 105th year and his obit was in the paper today. He attributed his long life to Mt Gay Rum. “Just the right amount every day.” There was another fellow on the same page who died with only one regret, that he didn’t live long enough to see Donald Trump thrown out of office. Old guys like me say they check the obits everyday and if we don’t see our picture in it we carry on.

I’ve been keeping track of the groups we’ve heard at the Jazz Fest over here.

Chamber Jazz

June 25th, 2018

Kuala Trio at the Rochester International Jazz Fest 2018

We started the night at Montage without knowing anything about the band. The room was packed, standing room only, and it was about thirty degrees warmer than outside. Their air conditioning was not up to the task so they had the back door open and a large fan whirling away. Christian Sands Trio, piano, bass and drums, was tearing it up with a big back beat and showman-like piano swells that had the crowd cheering. They brought it way down for “Deep Purple” and still had the room in the palm of their hands as they had us with the melody. Sands does two solo piano sets at Hatch Recital Hall tonight.

Sonidos Unidos, the popular local Latin music band, had twelve people on the small RG&E tent stage and I counted seven strings on the bass player’s instrument. They always sound good.

It wasn’t until the third song that I realized there was no bass player in the trio at the Lutheran Church. Kuala Trio held themselves together with the space around their perfectly placed parts. Mostly slow, even mournful at times, and always pretty in a sad sort of way. They mixed European folk with classical and jazz and played like a chamber ensemble, at times just sax or sax and drums or long stretches of piano and drums. They were each such great players they made their instruments sound like a million bucks.

We pushed our earplugs in and stepped into the big tent for a few songs by Moon Hooch. Two tenor sax players darting around the stage like professional wrestlers with a great dancehall drummer. They augmented this sound with some keyboard programming and got the party going on a Sunday night.

Huge Generalization

June 24th, 2018

Drummer and keyboard player on East Main Street in Rochester, New York

These two street musicians had switched instruments tonight and they sounded great.

The line for the Bad Plus went around the corner to Franklin Street but we weren’t worried, we’d been in this venue, now called Temple Theater, back in the eighties to see Yellowman, Grace Jones and The Replacements and we knew there was plenty of space. I was excited to see the Bad Plus with their new pianist, Orrin Evans. I found him just as melodic but more angular and impactful. The band has carved out their own space with a sound that is hard to pin down. One attribute is a constant. The group playing, one player’s part hanging on the other, creates the sound. I especially liked “Savages,” a hypnotic groove of a song from their new record.

Saxophonist, Sigurdur Flosason, left Iceland to study with David Baker at Indiana University in Bloomington. Peggi Fournier also went to Indiana University but she studied saxophone with Rich Stim. His band was a perfect fit with the Lutheran Church where we sat in the pews contemplating the setting sun through the stained glass windows. He finished with with “Serenading the Moon,” a tribute to Hoagy Carmichael (a Bloomington native)/Johnny Mercer song, “Skylark.” We talked to Flosason after the performance and never mentioned Iceland’s 2-0 World Cup loss to Nigeria.

Django Bates’ Beloved Trio has a new record produced by Manfred Eicher at ECM. Funny how a record label, Impulse, Blue Note, ECM, informs the sound. To my ears ECM leaves the blues out of jazz. A huge generalization. Bates’s free flowing piano melodies hardly needed the adornment of the rest of the beloved trio.

Melissa Aldana, the Chilean tenor saxophonist at Kilbourn works in a moody, blue territory, steeped in the right parts of the tradition but the band seemed oddly disconnected from the songs. We only heard a few songs but I kept waiting for them to dig in. I might have missed that part. We went home to watch Germany score in the last minute of stoppage time.

Drawn In

June 23rd, 2018

Drummer and keyboard player on nEast Main Street in Rochester, New York

These guys, performing on the street near Hatch Hall, posed for me while they were playing. The drums were about five times louder than the keyboard.

We didn’t know the names so we listened to the samples and were left with only a few choices for the opening night of the Jazz Fest. More time to watch the three World Cup matches we had time shifted.

Seventeen years in and we are still able to find free parking downtown. We walked by the old Milestones, what was once a venue for the festival, James Blood Ulmer comes to mind, and a solo guitarist was playing in the parking lot patio. He had a foot pedal rigged to play a tamborine and an old suitcase that played like a bass drum. Can’t even remember what he sounded like. We were on our way to the Xerox Auditorium and we were drawn into the Rhythm Dogs performance in front of the Inn on Broadway. Drawn that is by the rock solid R&B drummer, Laris Ashford. Anybody could have played anything in front of that guy. We only lasted a few minutes because it was painfully loud.

Alfredo Rodriguez and Pedrito Martinez at Xerox Auditorium were a pure joy to hear. We had heard both at past festivals in completely different settings, Rodriguez with his trio at Kilbourn and Martinez leading Cuban dance/pop ensembles. They played fast and furious and then slow and pretty. The classically trained pianist’s free flowing melodies worked magic with the rhythms of the Cuban streets. We were tempted to return for the second set but the World Cup called.

Marius Neset at the Lutheran Church went from dreamy pretty to frenetic in the same song. Their material was richly orchestrated and executed with near precision. We sat between the piano and vibraphone and those two instruments sounded especially good in stereo harmony. Their arrangements were mostly joyous and the band was clearly having fun so the progressive tendencies remained infectious.

Downsize

June 22nd, 2018

Small house at 236 Coolidge in Rochester, New York

Everyone is buying less, driving less, eating locally and reducing their footprint. If you’re thinking of downsizing, this small house on Coolidge Road is for sale. We’ve walked by it many times but have never seen anyone coming or going. We asked a neighbor if anyone lives in there and he said someone did for many years, a relative of someone else on the street, but he said it had been empty for a while. We noticed it had just come on the market and it comes with a full sized house right next door. It caught my eye because it is about the size a the small house Dave Mahoney and I lived in in Bloomington. Someone broke in there and stole our stereo. “Burnt Weeny Sandwich” was on the turntable and we were left with just the jacket.

Peggi and I did battle with some wasps today, a fairly big project for us. They were building a paper nest inside the umbrella by the pool. Bees kept coming and going and you couldn’t get near enough to open it so we really weren’t sure what was going on under there. We brought a candle down there, something Peggi had picked up to keep bugs away. We lit that for starters and set it on the table under the umbrella. My cousin had just paid us a visit a few days ago and she gave us a small box of essential oils. Peppermint and Lemongrass were in there, oils that are supposed repel bees. We put some of that on a cotton ball and taped it to the end of a long stick which I shoved up under the umbrella. They didn’t like it and flew out but stayed close. Others kept coming and there were twenty or so around the umbrella but they were more confused than anything.

We went home for some soap and water, something we had read they really don’t like. We put it in a spray bottle and misted them and the umbrella. Once we got the umbrella up we found two paper nests and no bees. Its supposed to rain tonight so that will clean up the mess.

Salute

June 21st, 2018

Summer Solstice Sea Breeze New York 2018

Rick and I were in the decisive third round of our horseshoe match. Duane was in town and he and Peggi were talking and watching from the yellow and blue chairs. And three “gals” (one of my cousin’s favorite words) came walking down our dead-end street. Marilyn, who had moved to the mountains years ago, Olga and Kathy walked over from Kathy’s sweet spot on the bay. We toasted the Summer Solstice by splitting a tall Genny in small glasses.

A sunset walk on the pier was in order. Jumbo Shrimp was playing on the beach at Marge’s. They were doing J Frank Wilson and the Cavaliers’ “Last Kiss”” when we got to the end and they sounded fuller than the the guitar/drums duo we had heard a few years ago. The night was still young. We had to see Ronaldo score again and then cheer Spain on as they barely bested Iran in the World Cup. All this and Jazz Fest starts rudely starts tomorrow.

We Are All Mexicans

June 18th, 2018

Brown cow posing on Himrod Penn Yan Road

We had to watch the host team, Russia, play Saudi Arabia in the the opener. The opening rounds come fast and furious. The only reason they qualified is because they were the host so it was fun to see them win 5-0. Spain and Portugal, the Iberian rivals, played to a 3-3 tie. We desperately wanted Spain but despite their incredible possession stats, Ronaldo was unstoppable with three goals. And he could have had a winning fourth if he had done what any minor league player would have, just run toward the goal for scraps after you set your teammate up. Wouldn’t want to muss his hair.

Argentina and Iceland was a great matchup. Smallest country ever to qualify vs Messi and company. We sided with Argentina and the 1-1 tie is what they deserved. As bad as we wanted Brazil to win they couldn’t top Switzerland so their 1-1 tie gives both of them just 1 point in the standings and Serbia vaults to the top of that group with their win over Costa Rica.

The ties were good games, all of them, but it felt so good when Mexico defeated Germany 1-0. I think they blew Germany’s minds, like Jessie Owens did in the 1936 Olympics. This was an exhilarating match, probably the best of the Cup but I hope not. The methodical Germans kept their cool and maintained 61 percent possession but Mexico, when they got the ball, knew exactly what to do with it. They sprinted toward the goal. And although they took only half the shots Germany tried, they put one in. Without the US in this thing we are all Mexicans!

Apostle Of Beauty

June 16th, 2018

White Lincoln Continental parked at Sea Breeze, New York

No, this isn’t the Popemobile. Although Pope Paul VI did use a modified 1965 Lincoln Continental to greet crowds in New York City. The current pope’s ride is a more modest, Ford Focus.

The world, our world, would be a better place if everyone saw the new Wim Wenders’ movie, “Pope Francis: A Man of His Word.” In it Francis has plenty of advice for mankind, common sense advice that you can’t argue with regardless of your religion or lack thereof. I think he is a genius or at the very least, a living saint. The first pope from the Americas, the first from the Southern Hemisphere, the first Jesuit, but most of all, the first pope ever to choose the name of Francis, the patron saint of the environment.

He likens the neglect of the Earth to the neglect of the poor and he looks to artists for a way out. He says, “The biblical story of creation is a mythical form of expression” and “an artist is an apostle of beauty.” He asks us to “imitate God with our hands.”

The movie is playing at the Little now. If you can’t get there you could watch the 60 Minutes interview with Wenders. It is full of wisdom.