October 31st, 2014
Old friends and a huge hip-hop contingent packed Miller Funeral Home last night for Sam Lowery‘s calling hours. We’ve known his parents since the Scorgie’s days but we weren’t familiar with Sam’s music. And we had never heard of the genre, “battling.” Peggi asked Pat, Sam’s dad, if his son played any instruments and Pat said his son would say, “Why take all that time to learn an instrument when I have all this stuff at my fingertips.” In the clips I found this morning on YouTube it didn’t look like Sam, aka I.D., even needed beats or backing tracks. He had a confident, authoritative voice, a great sense of humor, surefooted confidence and literate lyrics.
As I was looking for I.D. tracks this morning a beefed up deer sauntered across our yard. It might have been one of the two bucks we saw battling in the creek last week. They were head butting, crashing into one another with their racks, and making an awful racket. The brawl finished with one of them in the water and the other took off after a doe. It was raw and real like I.D.
“I just want my listeners to stay true
and Imma continue giving you
shit you can relate to
Thank you” – I.D.
October 30th, 2014
My mom, back home after two days in the hospital, passed the baton to my father this morning. I was up so early I met the neighbor out near the mailbox. He’s too young to have any interest in newspapers but he does have to walk the dog each morning before he leaves for work. That’s an old school activity for you. I still haven’t met this dog because every time he/she sees me he barks and the neighbors pull the dog away to discipline it.
In the pitch black of the night, at the end of our street, I met another neighbor with her two little Jack Russels. They both were wearing red, flashing LED collars. I really should get up early more often. I think I am both a morning and night person but the night wins out.
The top and bottom chambers of my dad’s heart stopped co-ordinating with one another, a condition called heartblock, and he was scheduled for a relatively simple but incredibly sophisticated fix, insertion of a chip called a pacemaker.
October 28th, 2014
My current dentist has a cute little bulldog that he keeps in the office. It seems a bit unprofessional but he pulls it off. His office is out in Webster where I used to be a patient of his father. I went out with that guy’s receptionist. The elder recommended I see Dr. Cupolo for a bridge and I liked Rocco so much I switched to him. Dr Cupolo had an interest in a bagel store in Culver Ridge for while and his son ran the Victor Grilling Company. Today his son owns Rocco, a great downtown Italian eatery. The place is named for his father.
My mom used to take the six of us (my youngest sister had not yet arrived) up to Dr. Cleary’s office in the Medical Arts building on Alexander Street. His office was in the sixth floor with a great view of the Emergency department of the old Genesee Hospital. They had an elevator operator back then. We’d wait our turn while we read Highlights (Find Ten Things Wrong With This Picture), and ran up and down the stairway of the place. There was a soda fountain downstairs in the pharmacy but we never had any money for that.
Dr. Cleary was old school. No novocaine. “Hang on,” he would tell us as swung that old, slow-speed drill with a 1/4 inch bit around. He was a Red Wings fan so we talked baseball and between patients he would smoke cigarettes in the office.
I just rode my bike over to the hospital where my mom spent last night. She has a few blood clots that they are attending to but she slept well. When I walked in she had just finished a breakfast of pancakes and bacon.
October 27th, 2014
I worked on part of a painting for quite a while this morning and then ran out to the post office. When I got back I scraped off what I had painted. This is progress.
It is a good thing that I recognized the bad in the painting. The fresh take on the painting allowed me to see it. Why I painted it that way is complicated. I didn’t get any better while standing in line at the post office. I know what I did wrong. I stopped seeing my painting. I got bogged down in the process of making parts of it look right. I isolated the offending parts from the rest of the painting and labored to get those damn things right. The parts were badly painted in the first place and they needed work but I got in trouble when I repainted those parts without considering the whole. If I could only learn this lesson I think it would easier to paint.
October 26th, 2014
Christ Church, next to RoCo in downtown Rochester, was packed last night a showing of “La Passion de Jeanne d’Arc,” a 1927 silent movie that is available on YouTube for free. Marc Hamilton was projecting the Criterion DVD of the movie on the big screen and the faculty of the Eastman School of Music were improvising a soundtrack on the two organs, the Baroque one in the balcony of the rear of the church and the Romantic one off to the left of the alter. They were joined by the Christ Church Schola Cantorum, a sacred music choral ensemble who were also improvising with guidelines provided by the director. This soundtrack was one step beyond pulling out all the stops as is fitting for this masterpiece of a movie.
I’ve seen the movie a few times and am looking forward to seeing it many more. I want to get back to drawing the faces from the movie.
Here is my blog post from April 2012, my first experience with this movie:
They really were better actors in the silent days. If you don’t believe me check out 1928 movie “The Passion of Joan of Arc”, “one of the greatest movies of all time” according to the Netflix envelope. The expressions on the actors faces are so over the top I kept wanting to pause the dvd and take a photo. Cindy Sherman could have shaped her whole career with this movie. No movie has ever effected me this way. I couldn’t wait to watch it again in the morning before the sun light steams into the room and wrecks the mood.
Joan is a heroine in France and a saint but in the fifteenth century her claims of divine guidance were met by the church hierarchy with a drawn out trial and death by burning at the stake. This movie portrays the leering old men of the cloth in devastating fashion as they challenge Joan on her manly dress and push for details on her vision of Saint Michael at one point asking “Was he naked?” They wish. And they couldn’t wait to pile into the torture room to exact a toll on nineteen year old Joan.
The poor church did not like the way they were portrayed and the movie was denounced, cut, and burned just like Joan was. So little has changed this movie could have been made today! Perfect fare for a Good Friday evening. I hesitate to mention that the entire movie is available on YouTube because you really should see the higher res Criterion Collection dvd.
October 25th, 2014
I’m thinking of painting landscapes of Maine or maybe abstracting the landscapes, seascapes actually, in paint but I probably won’t ever get around to it. I’ve got to finish the basketball players I’m working on.
I spent the better part of the last few days sorting the photos I took in Maine. I understand why so many artists live there, work there. The natural surroundings are drop-dead gorgeous and light is forever changing. The sound of the surf swallows you up. We barely escaped its spell.
October 22nd, 2014
I met Alice in Fred Lipp’s Advanced Painting class where she would often be working on abstracted versions of Maine landscapes. She’s living in one of those landscapes now and when we visited our conversation often turned to art and Fred’s class. She told us that one of the things she misses is overhearing Fred’s advice to another painter, someone working in a different medium and manner on a different subject and overhearing advice that would applicable to her at that moment.
I had this experience last night as Fred was talking to father. He comparing the beautiful little watercolors in his sketchbook to the sheet my father was working on, one that got away from him. The sketches, which Fred was calling finished paintings, captured fleeting moments with expression and confidence. The big sheet had been carefully planned and worked up with he sketch as a reference and my father said he felt as though he was just coloring it in. This is one of Fred’s favorite topics and was my father setting him up for another “painting should be an adventure not the execution of a plan” raps. Its a topic that bears repeated revisiting. This time I heard Fred say that you want to see the questioning in the final piece. I love that concept and intend utilize it in my own work.
We sent this song (one recorded live at the Little Theater) over to Saxon Recording on East Main where Dave Anderson applied his digital/analog mastering tools to the file. The cover graphic is a photo of a Robert Irwin piece in the Albright Knox collection. Stop out tonight and hear the questioning.
Margaret Explosion – Fission Hole
October 21st, 2014
Someone had looked at the weather and warned us we had better get going unless we wanted to get caught in the rain. It was our second day in Maine and of course we were headed out for another walk, this time in the opposite direction of yesterday’s adventure, out to Pemaquid Point and its storied lighthouse. Years ago my father took a watercolor class near here and they sat on the rocks at the end of the point while looking back at the lighthouse. He has the painting on the wall in his art room. The weather remained sunny. The day was filled with magic.
We found a spot where the tide had rolled large round rocks back and forth thousands of times wearing tracks in the large stone surface and rounding the bowling balls of the gods. The lanes ran downhill out into the sea and diminished into the sun. We got lost in the nonstop sound of the waves so much so that I considered infinity. Is this what afterlife looks like? Have we already moved on?
Back at Alice and Julio’s we decided not to go anywhere for dinner. Jeff prepared a knock vegetable pasta dish from on-hand ingredients. We never left the table. The night went on forever. We were lost in the rhythms of Julio’s animated Castilian pronunciation. I had a view of three of Alice’s paintings, some of my favorites. Peggi asked Julio, who has split his life two if he dreamed in Spanish or English and Julio said “both, depending on where he is in the dream.”
October 20th, 2014
It is possible to drive to Maine without getting on the highway but it’ll take you a little longer. We broke up the trip by stopping in New Hampshire and spending the night at Jeff’s brother’s place. His brother is an architect with clients in Concord and on the nearby lakes. Say someone wants to build 3500 square foot addition onto a 3000 square foot vacation house, he would get the call. His place, in the woods off a dirt road, is a wonder. His most recent project is a redesigned chicken coop in their backyard.
When we arrived at Alice and Julio’s on the coast of Maine we waisted no time in organizing a walk. Hopping from one rock to the next and stopping to study the infinite variety of rocks and minerals, the washed up lobster traps and buoys, the monstrous waves and swelling sea, the spectacular, ever changing views of the islands or engaging in divergent conversations on all matters we filled the the rest of the day in spectacular fashion.
October 19th, 2014
What do they call those big rocks, really big rocks, that stick out of the ground in the Adirondacks and White Mountains of New Hampshire and the Green Mountains in Vermont and even in Maine? Maybe they are everywhere. There is a name for them that I have heard my father use and maybe Bob Mahoney, a geologist. We spotted a few near the side of the road. We needed internet access to find out.
As luck would have it, Alice and Julio used the term in conversation our first day in Maine.
October 19th, 2014
“Do you have any idea why I pulled you over,” he asked as I rolled the window down. I went with, “I have no idea why you pulled me over.” He said I clocked you at forty-seven in a 30 MPH zone. The speed limit was 55 last I looked and I apparently missed the sign that dropped it to 30. It was a speed trap and he had me.
Thing is I wasn’t driving fast to get somewhere in a hurry or anything. I just spaced out. No excuse, I know. So when are these Google cars going to hit the market. I would be perfectly content to leave the driving to the robot.
October 18th, 2014
Someday this dead tree, that stands so regally in the middle of the marsh, will be gone. I know this but it has nothing to do with my appreciation of it. Like Matisse or Guston or Van Gogh the tree at this late stage of its life is at the height of its powers.
The bald, parched colors of the wood contrast with the changing colors of the surrounding trees. Surely the tree drowned and yet it’s very predicament, this setting in a marsh that makes it so beautiful. Of course the form of the tree, seductively designed to outwit gravity until the last minute, is its finest feature.
When we were growing up my father dragged a dead tree home with him and he planted it in a berm in our backyard. The neighbors kidded him. It was quite beautiful.
October 17th, 2014
Word: A speech sound or series of speech sounds that symbolize and communicates a meaning usually without being divisible into smaller units capable of independent use.
Pete Monacelli’s artwork is all over town. He is included in a group show at the Little Theater and his “Searching for Home” series absolutely sings on the walls of Warren Phillip’s new space. At MCC’s Mercer Gallery the stable of artists from the Southwedge’s Wildroot Gallery were reunited in a show that opened last night. Pete’s acrylic, abstract paintings on seven foot hollow core doors, all hinged together in a circle are the energy center of the presentation.
We slowly walked around the piece studying the black and white abstracts. They reminded me of the much smaller drawings Pete showed a few years ago at Joe Bean based on the lyrics of Richie Havens’ “Follow,” intriguing combinations of tight line and loose brush with delicate ink washes.
We waited our turn to get inside the doors where Pete, armed with Anne Sexton’s poem, “Words,” had “transfigured” words of his own choosing. Each door’s word is titled in hand cut letters in font that Pete designed. The drawings, on paper from an old scrapbook and mounted on the doors, communicate meaning.
October 16th, 2014
When we passed by the Little Free Library next to the playground at Seneca and Sea Breeze Drive the door was swung open and three junior high aged girls were browsing the contents. I had had photographed those contents a few weeks ago. It was an odd mixture of Ann Rice, Dante’s Inferno and a small New Testament caught my eye. These little, big birdhouse-like structures are popping up all over town. I think there may even be one in front of our old city house. It’s a take one, leave one arrangement and it crossed my mind that fervent religious types might be swapping bible fare for the juicier stuff. I checked the organization’s website and found tis frequently asked question.
“What if someone places inappropriate books in my Library? Does someone monitor the Library to approve its contents?”
And their reasonable response:
“Everyone who uses the Library has the right of helping make sure the types of books in it are appropriate to neighbors of all ages and backgrounds. You are as capable as anyone else to remove a book…but we encourage you to be open-minded about it. For example, if the Library becomes a place for promoting controversial causes, it might lose a good number of customers. Censorship is not the answer, but a balanced collection can be. Don’t ban books, but instead of 5 or 10 copies of something, 1 copy might do. Instead of a messy collection of handouts and brochures promoting almost anything, try limiting pamphlets to recruitment for tutoring or reading programs.
October 15th, 2014
Nothing gets in the way of painting class so I didn’t even check the start time for the Empty Hearts gig at Sticky Lips. We just got in the car after class and headed out to the club/BarBQ joint. I expected the place to be packed for the free, warm-up gig for the bands’ upcoming tour in support of their debut album. The band had been rehearsing in Andy Babiuk’s practice space for the last week in Rochester.
More people were leaving than arriving when we showed up and the place was jammed but kinda quiet so we made a beeline for the bar. We ordered two Southern Tier 2XIPA’s and headed toward the stage just in time to grab this shot of the roadies packing up the gear. And this isn’t any ordinairy gear, this is all vintage gear or state of the art gear as would be the case with Andy’s pedigree. Guys were taking cell phone pictures of the the teardrop bass and Gibson SG that Elliot Easton apparently never touched. He played his Les Paul all night through the Marshall stack above. Someone pointed out that Andy’s bass amp, an Ampeg, was sporting a Vox grill cloth.
I stopped in the bathroom before leaving and ran into Wally Palmer, the lead singer. I had not seen him in person since New Math played a gig with the Romantics in 1978. Olga said the show was great and it took her back to the Scorgies days. In fact there were more Ramones shirts here than you could shake a stick at. Olga’s brother, Victor, the former Chesterfield Kings road manager, drove up from Philly. He told us Clem Burke has his own drum roadie. There was pretty good vibe in the room. I wish we had seen the show. When we talked to Andy we acted as though we had. I know it was a good one.
Here’s their video.
October 14th, 2014
How does Duane, in Brooklyn, know about these things before us? Maybe it’s because he does look at his fb page. We live about a mile away from Vic and Irv’s and had no idea they were closing their doors and moving up Culver Road to Fioravanti’s old place. Of course, about the only time we eat there is when Duane is in town.
Once informed of the move we had to get down there so we arranged to dine with parents last night. The signs, posted all over the store, say they will be open until October 25th at 9PM and then reopen in the new place on November 1. They will still have a view of the lake from the new location and workers were inside getting it ready as we drove by. The manager at Vic & Irv’s gave us the scoop.
Vic sold the property and the name to someone before he died. They rent the space to the people who own the business but they are going into foreclose on the property. So the current owners are moving the location uptown bait and changing the name to “Vic’s Place.” If I sound obsessive about all these details, I am. I used to ride my bike down here some fifty years ago, the place is celebrating their 80th year and I’ve sweated the death of the partners, the ownership changes, the switch to Styrofoam plates from cardboard, the giant jar of pickles, the best onion rings in town and Vic’s secret hot sauce.
Time marches on. My mom ordered a Veggie Burger, something that was unheard in Vic’s early days. I had the same thing I’ve always ordered. Cheeseburger, onion rings and a vanilla shake. My dad went the classic. “Baloney and Onions.”
I snapped some photos of the photos on the wall before we left.
Vic & Irv’s 30s, 40s, 40s, 40s, 50s, 80s.
October 13th, 2014
Anne Havens, one of my favorite artists, is taking a break, not from life by any means, just from the struggle that accompanies any worthwhile art. At least that is what she says. But you cannot stop the wheels and her case the industrial sized gears from turning. We had brunch with her and her artist husband, Stewart Davis. (No, not Stuart Davis but it does sound the same.) Their home is filled with art, even one of Peggi’s pieces from a 6×6 show, but their studio is in the garage. Stewart has been busy with no boundary abstracts and figurative pieces. Anne is gearing up. I found this lovely pile of Stewart’s old socks that Anne had painted and stacked. I said I loved it and she said, “I need more socks.”
October 13th, 2014
We’d seen heard Dave Liebman at the Jazz Fest in 2003 and 2008. He is always a musical delight. On Saturday at the Lovin’ Cup he had the same bass player as the other shows but this time he was playing with an additional horn player (alto sax player, clarinet and flute), Matt Vashlishan, a former Eastman student. He wrote some especially beautiful tunes for the band and the horns were great together. Dave continues to teach and he keeps his ears open. His piano player and drummer are young and gifted. Their two sets, finishing with Coltrane’s “India,” covered some rich terrain.
Liebman played with Miles on some of my favorite lps, “On The Corner” and “”Get Up With It,” so I would follow him anywhere.
October 11th, 2014
The Ramp Gallery at Record Archive is an awkward space for art but no more more so than the sloping Guggenheim in NYC. The intense yellow walls could take the life out of most paintings. The store itself is an awkward space for anything visual. Everything in there screams or gets lost. El Destructo easily overcame the challenge with a sensational display of recent paintings, many of them versions of paintings he has sold in the past like the three Bride paintings in this show. The Sun Ra painting above already had a sold sticker on it when we got there.
We had already been to another record store last night. We had stopped in the Bop Shop to pick up tickets to Dave Leibman’s show at the Lovin’ Cup and I couldn’t help but notice the difference in the vibe. You want hang out out at the Archive, and shop, and listen to music. You want to browse and get distracted and laugh. The new lounge area in the back is like something out of a dream. You could picture Bobby Darin coming out from behind a curtain and taking the stage. And the wall of forty-five boxes is especially inviting.
Marshall Allen, who played with Sun Ra for almost fifty years, has released an incredible collection of Sun Ra music. The two cd set has a few extras for those that have it all and the songs have been remastered but Allen did a great job of selecting the tunes. A far better round-up than Evidence’s “Greatest Hits” collection. This in more like “Mind Blowing Hits” but the songs are as comfortable as hanging out at the Archive.
October 10th, 2014
My father worked from his sketches of the Charlotte lighthouse to create this watercolor in class last week. Amazing to watch him work so quickly in an additive medium that is so unforgiving of missteps. There are, certainly, missteps whenever you stretch or do something new. He is not beyond putting the whole sheet in the bathtub and washing it out. And he has a short, stubby brush that he uses to scrub out small sections. I watched him the other night as he took some figures and a sign right out of an Adirondack scene. The color came up and ran all over the piece as he soaked it up with a sponge. It is nearly impossible to reclaim a white. Opaque white is a sickly looking substance. You protect whites and they are often the strongest element in the end. It is a dangerous but seductive process.
One week later this lighthouse painting is in a show in the gallery at the Creative Workshop and I was taking this photo of it, trying to dodge the reflections from the glass, when someone behind me exclaimed, “I love that painting.” I proudly said, “My dad did it,” and he said, “I teach the watercolor class.” All very cool but you have to wonder why most classes are segregated by medium. Fred Lipp’s “Advanced Painting” class is the exception. I recently switched from charcoal to watercolor and then oil and needed to be be reminded that the intent is exactly the same. The change in form is described by change in color rather than graphic black and white.