Archive for the ‘Dear Diary’ Category

Touch Down

Friday, April 28th, 2017

Cobbs Hill Resevoir and radio tower in Rochester, New York

Sixty seven years ago today my mom and I were up in the natal section of Saint Mary’s Hospital on Genesee Street, across from Bull’s Head Plaza. That would be where and when I touched down. I can’t say I remember it but I can say my childhood felt like a dream.

When my father brought home his first car we’d come up here to Cobb’s Hill overlooking the city. He’d pull off to the the side of the road that rings the reservoir and my mom would spread out a blanket. We would wolf down our sandwiches and run around the park. At this marker, April 28, formerly the feast day of Saint Paul of the Cross, I can say it has been fantastic ride.

Ciudad Moderna

Thursday, April 27th, 2017

Terence Gower Ciudad Moderna at the Media Room , Memorial Art Gallery

Near record high today and we were inside the Media Arts Watch gallery at the Memorial Art Gallery. Three short experimental films are running in a continual loop over there and went for the full ride. Our favorite was
Terence Gower’s “Ciudad Moderna,” a com­pos­ite of clips taken from “De­s­pe­dida de Casada,” a swinging 1966 Mexican film, that animates the architecture of the modern city. Last time Peggi and I were in Mexico City someone swiped our 35mm Canon camera. It was clunky. I like my pocket Sony digital. I want to go back.

Black Latte

Thursday, April 20th, 2017

Andy Warhol Myths series on preview dusplay at Christies in NYC

Andy Warhol was sitting on a bench off to the side of the outdoor stage. He was sitting with one of the musicians. In my dream I knew the musician but it was the first time I had seen Andy in person. I said, “How are you doin’ today?” and then felt like that was a really awkward thing to say. Warhol stood up and I noticed he had a small portable tape player in his hand, a reel to reel player with a clear plastic window. He turned the tape player on and I woke up.

We had toasted Warhol yesterday at dinner so it was understandable that I would be dreaming about him. The “Myths” portfolio that we bought for 6000 in 1979 was going to be auctioned at Christies in the afternoon. When I say “we bought,” I mean Peggi and I owned 3/10s, my brother and his wife owned 5/10s and Kim (and Dave Mahoney’s kids) owned 2/10s. We were all at the auction this afternoon when the hammmer came down.

Steve Hoy, a good friend of all three parties was also in town to celebrate. Four of us were staying in one room overlooking Central Park. Duane joined us for three days straight and we whooped it up. The ten silk teen prints numbered 135/200 are now in someone else’s hands.

Steve was heading down for coffee this morning and he asked how I liked my coffee. I said “black” because it sounded good but then I switched to “latte.” Steve said, “a black latte?”

Moving Something

Wednesday, April 12th, 2017

Neighbor Jared's long yellow gloves for working in his pond

There are two stalls in the men’s room near the lobby of the Friendly Home. I was in one and this conversation, between an old and a much younger voice, was happening in the other.

“Whoever thought it would come to this?”

“It does for everybody, Pop.”

“You hit a lot of walls and you work through them but this one is a mountain!”

“There are upsides. You can stay up as late as you want. You can have ice cream whenever you want.”


Tuesday, April 11th, 2017

Peggi's top secret pink and black crochet project

You may have noticed people all over the city working on abstract pink and black crochet projects. Although some people are so adept at crocheting they can carry on a conversation while working and you don’t even notice. I’m thinking of Gloria Monacelli but she knits rather than crochets. Martha O’Conner got Peggi involved in this project and we stopped by the SewGreen shop on West Main in the Susan B. Anthony district to pick the supplies.

Peggi was given a grid that laid out the stitches for her 2 foot by 2 foot portion of the pink and black yarn mural that will eventually go up on the side of the building as part of the Wall Therapy Project. The squares are all abstract but the motif will be very recognizable when they are all stitched together. That’s all I can say about this now other than there may still be some portions that need to done.


Tuesday, March 14th, 2017

Twenty deer in the Commons near Durand Eastman Park

We’re having us a real disaster. Electric utility trucks from all over the northeast are restoring power to the 100,000 or so that lost it in the wind storm. Our power came back over the weekend and then our cable went out and with that 3-in-1 plan, that means no internet, tv, or phone. And on the heels of that we’ve received about half of the expected 18 inches of snow. I shoveled three times today.

We skied down Hoffman Road and into the woods. These deer were all clustered together and the woods was beautiful. This amount of snow disorients you and even when we found the path, we couldn’t take it because there were so many trees down.

Wind, Trees and Power Lines

Thursday, March 9th, 2017

Hockey games on Mirror Lake in Lake Placid, New York

Our refrigerator is plugged into our neighbor’s generator. They are down south somewhere at a camp site and they called us while we were on break at the Little. I took the call on my watch but I couldn’t hear a damn thing. We had winds up near eighty miles an hour today and 100,000 people are without power. Our part of the city, up near the lake, is in a state of emergency and we’re downtown playing music.

Skunk Sighting

Wednesday, February 22nd, 2017

Skunk Cabbage Powder Mills Park, Rochester, New York

My father was always talking about skunk cabbage, something he found in the woods near the end of winter, an optimistic sign of Spring. We had seen his pictures. The stuff is exotic and sculptural, something like Georgia O’Keeffe meets Henry Moore, and startling as it pokes its way through the snow. We walk in the woods most days and we have never seen any skunk cabbage. That is until yesterday.

We stopped to visit my mom and and continued east out to Powder Mills Park. In high school I worked at my uncle’s grocery store, right next door to Uncle John’s Pancake House, and most of the other guys went to East Rochester. We would go out to Powder Mills after work and drink beer and that’s the last time I was there. It’s a happening park. The fish hatchery is teeming with Brown Trout and Salmon. The ski hill was covered in man-made snow and the hiking trails run in all directions. We took three or four and found an area of rich, fertile soil at the bottom of a steep slope and near a marsh that was so thick with skunk cabbage that we kept stepping on them.

The weather has been so crazy warm we wondered if this might be especially early for a sighting but I looked back at my father’s iPhoto library and he usually found it in early March, some in early April but in 2006 he found some on February 19th on a slope in Ellison Park.

Fat Tire

Wednesday, February 1st, 2017

Fat-tire bike rider on beach at Lake Ontario

There used to be a bike jump, a ramp made out of dirt that had been dug from the trail and piled up in front of the hole it came out of. It was up where the undeveloped part of Durand Eastman comes close to that sub-division at the end of Spring Valley. We never saw the kids that used it but I pictured those small bikes that ten year olds ride until they either outgrow them or graduate to a 26 inch. The kids would leave empty pop bottles and candy bar wrappers there and I think they even had a board that they rode up on before the big jump over the pit. You hardly ever see kids in the woods anymore so we think of those kids every time we take that trail.

Off road biking is now an adult phenomena. Just like dogs they have their own parks. Thankfully Durand isn’t one of them. There sporadic signs that say “No Biking on Trails” but we occasionally see a big guy zoom by us on a bike. It just seems kind of rude.

These fat tire bikes though are kind of intriguing. They’re ugly like a monster truck but I would like to ride along the beach on one sometime.

An Alter Boy Vignette

Tuesday, January 10th, 2017

Paul Dodd, Andy Finn and Rick Switzer from the Holy Trinity bulletin

The two paragraphs below accompanied the photo above in a Holy Trinity church bulletin from the early sixties.

“An alter boy’s performance is not all glamour. Parading before the congregation is only part of it. These fellows, thanks most often to diligent parents, get up at (and sometimes before) the crack of dawn and are “in uniform” before 6:45.

Most of them like to receive Holy Communion when they serve. This presents a breakfast problem which they solve very well. After Mass we find them huddled (these mornings) around the new alter-boy-sacristy gas heater enjoying their own chow. In the photo below we see, left to right, Paul Dodd, Andrew Finn and Richard Switzer fueling up.”

Some people may not know that in order to receive Holy Communion back in the day you had to fast from food for three hours before receiving, an heroic sacrifice for growing kids and reason many in my skinny family fainted during the service. The nuns in the convent next door made the hosts and they would stock the shelves of the priest’s sacristy. If we were there before the priest had crawled out of bed we would dig into the bags of hosts (unconsecrated, of course) and swallow them by the handful. As you can tell from the photo, we had a good time. Our main objective became cracking the other alter boy up during Mass. Things like pronouncing the Latin responses so badly that that we would laugh uncontrollably.

Rick Switzer, on the right, lived in Union Hill and his family had a trampoline built into the ground in their yard. Rick sat in front of me. His mom packed a lunch with a macaroon cookie in it everyday. Rick didn’t like macaroons so he would give it to me, often before lunch time even rolled around. We spent a lot of time carving our erasers into tiny bulldozers and street sweeping vehicles. We’d push them across the desk collecting the eraser filings and running them out the side of the vehicles. Andy Finn lived in an old farmhouse. They had a big barn and field big enough to play baseball in. His father owned the Texaco gas station in the center of town and his family rented a cottage on the lake down near Hedges Nine Mile Point. The old folks sat around drinking beer while Andy and I caught carp, big, sluggish fish that lingered close to the shore. He now resides in Finn Land.

Way Pond

Thursday, January 5th, 2017

Island in Way Pond, 1000 Acre Swamp in Rochester, New York

Democrat & Chronicle contributor, Missy Rosenberry, had an interesting article in today’s paper about visiting 100 parks on the east side of Rochester in the last calendar year, many parks that we had never heard of. She’s posted a photo of a sign from every park on her blog so it isn’t the most interesting thing to look at but she has a brief description of each. We choose 1000 Acre Swamp in Penfield, a gorgeous place even in the middle of January. We walked every trail, most on boardwalks, a total of four miles and I froze my hands taking photos. We stopped at Schutt’s Cider Mill on the way back and picked up a bag of apples for applesauce, another for eating and a gallon of cider.

Good Form

Wednesday, January 4th, 2017

Melting snowman in front yard

Our power went out this morning, a quick outage due to the wind. Peggi’s computer restarted on its own, mine needed to be rebooted. I was in the middle of editing songs for our new cd. Guitar tracks have been coming in fast and furiously, delivered by Dropbox. We took a walk after the blackout but stayed out of the woods because of the wind. There were some good sized branches in the street and the barricade on Zoo Road had been blown over. Peggi and I uprighted that. This snowman had a head that fell off a few days ago. It has completely melted body is in good form.

Roman Numeral L

Thursday, December 29th, 2016

Burlesque dancer at Frank's 50th birthday party

“Fifty Years of Frank” fans filled the parking behind Sticky Lips on Culver Road. It was a celebration for Frank’s fiftieth birthday and his girlfriend, Deb, made sure all his friends were there. Jack Allen’s Big Band was on the bandstand when we arrived and Frank and Deb were out on the dance floor. They set the perfect party mood. Because this was a Frank affair a dancer, above, did her thing when the big band finished while Bob Henrie and the Goners set up behind the curtain, a surprise appearance by Rochester’s best band. It was a swell party.

Eat Your Vegemite

Wednesday, December 28th, 2016

Mysterious circular pattern in ice on pond in Durand Eastman Lake

Peggi and I waited until the end of the season last year to look for new cross-country boots. Thought we could get something on sale. Our old boots were cracked and had a generous amount of duct tape on them but they still leaked. We learned the binding mechanism had changed and new boots would not fit our old skis so looked at skis and they were all so ugly we gave up. This year we bought boots and skis, ordinary, nice looking things, although Peggi did try on some white Space Oddity boots that looked like something Abba would have worn in the day. We’re still using our old poles. I don’t imagine they’ve made any breakthroughs in pole technology.

The ski package was our Christmas gift to each other but there was another we received, a red and yellow jar of Vegemite. Our friends, Matthew and Louise, gave it to us with instructions to spread a very thin layer onto of your toast in the morning. I looked at the jar every morning and then went ahead and poured olive oil on my toast. When we saw Louise again the first thing she asked was, “How did you like the Vegemite?”

She showed us a set of wooden plates that her family used when she was growing up. Small, rectangular plates that had two recessed areas in them, one for the bottom of your the cup and the other for a piece of bread with Vegemite spread on it. She was going to send the plates out to her brother as a house-warming gift. We promised to give it a try.

This morning Peggi spread it on some toasted Italian bread that we had left over from my family Christmas dinner. It is most unusual. We plan to report back but I am still trying to figure out what to say about it.

We’re happy little Vegemites
As bright as bright can be.
We all enjoy our Vegemite
For breakfast, lunch, and tea.
Our mummies say we’re growing stronger
Every single week,
Because we love our Vegemite
We all adore our Vegemite
It puts a rose in every cheek.

A Christmas Story

Sunday, December 25th, 2016

Deer with red nose on sign at top of Hoffman Road in Rochester, New York

My father had some money in an Oppenheimer account that was involved in some sort of class-action suit so he got a check in the mail a year after his death so we took it to our bank. We signed in electronically and were called into a cubicle by a young woman with ruby red painted nails. In fact her nail shade matched exactly the stone on her ring and her lipstick. We spent about a half hour with her filling out forms that would allow us to deposit the money, about forty-five dollars, in my mom’s account. It was the day before Christmas and the calendar on her wall, one with a big white block for each day of the month, had only a magic-marker diagonal line drawn exactly in the same manner through 23 blocks. The 24th had not yet been killed.

She called a screen that had a picture of my father smiling and I asked, “You have that in you files?” She said, “No, I just called up his obituary from the funeral home.” She took the paperwork that I had up to the front office for approval and left us us in her cubicle for about ten minutes. We studied the two pictures of her son and daughter. Both were were wearing a Lancer sports uniform. There were two middle-aged guys outside her office waiting to meet with her and one of them was talking loudly about a woman he had “the hots for.” We had just come from Wegmans and we talked about how we had forgotten to buy Brussels sprouts. The bank employee finally came back with the approval and wished us a Merry Christmas.

We took a chance and decided to stop at Aman’s Farm Market for the Brussels sprouts. They had them and I filled up a big bag wile Peggi waited in the car. The guy in front of me had a cart full of craft beer. He let me go ahead of him and told the cashier, “I only let him go ahead because I can’t stand looking at those things. We roasted them for our family Christmas party and every last one went.

National Bird

Thursday, November 17th, 2016

Peggi on trail around Eastman Lake in Rochester, New York

We visited our garden this afternoon and brought back a couple of eggplants, some lettuce and cilantro, a big bag of kale and one small tomato which we cut in half and had with our dinner. Not bad for a mid November harvest. Seventy five degrees tomorrow and then the snow will fly.

Our friends, Pete and Shelley, wrote us that they spotted an American Eagle up in the mountains. It was off to the side of the road picking at a bag of McDonalds trash. We sold an Invisible Idiot cd this week. I just put it in the mail. Pete played bass in that band with Peggi and me and Jack Schaefer played guitar. We recorded it about twenty years ago. It may be time for a follow-up.

Listen to “Kudzoo” by Invisible Idiot
Invisible Idiot - Kudzoo
Invisible Idiot – Kudzoo

If I Knew You Were Coming

Tuesday, November 15th, 2016

Nick Massa behind the service bar at Club 86 in Geneva, New York1953

Next time we go to Nick’s Seabreeze Inn I plan to record Nick as tells a few stories. His high school class at Geneva High School easily fit in one 8×10 and it included the great Scott LaFaro and Philip Seymour Hoffman’s father. In high school Nick was already working at Club 86 where Duke Ellington and Louie Armstrong did one week stands. Admission was $2.50 with a two dollar and fifty cent minimum per person at the table. Nick wound up with the photos from the bar and has them displayed on the walls of his restaurant in Sea Breeze. I knew there must be a good story behind the upside down promo photos in this picture of Nick from 1953 so I called him over. “Why are the pictures of Eileen Barton and Sammy Kaye used down?” “The house took a bath with them.” I asked if the performers were paid and he said,”Oh yeah. They got paid they didn’t draw enough for the house to make any money so we hung their pictures upside down.” Of course Nick then sang a few lines of Barton’s 1950 novelty hit, “If I Knew You Were Comin’ I’d’ve Baked a Cake.”

Most of my family was having dinner at Nick’s after we accepted the Paul Malo award for outstanding work in the field of historic preservation on behalf of my father from the Landmark Society. At the event Chris Brandt told me they had almost given the award to Leo last year which would have been nice considering he died in December. Brighton’s town supervisor was there and he told us he had just dropped his iPhone on the Brickyard Trail. He lives across from the newly opened trail, whose name my father championed, and the supervisor told us he sees people reading the sign at the trail’s head all the time. He said Leo would be so happy to have reached so many people with the history of Brighton’s brickyards. I agree. He would be thrilled. I gave a short rambling thank you speech and tried to make the point that my father’s enthusiasm and pure joy of discovery as he worked on these projects were infectious and inspiring. We told my mom about the award when we visited her today and she cried.

Cleansing My Palate

Sunday, October 16th, 2016

Drug bags on table in front yard

I pointed to a spot at the end of Hoffman Road where I have found quite a few drug bags. We were out walking with Pete and Shelley and there were none to be found here that day. I have made it a practice to round up the inorganic material that I find on our hikes. Golf balls, pink, blue and orange plastic tied to branches to mark trails in the woods, Budweiser cans and now drug bags. We continued down the road and turned at Jared and Sue’s to cut through their property and return home. Right there, near the edge of the road, Pete spotted a drug bag. That makes about fifty in the last few months. I keep them in my Elvis Presley ash tray and I brought them outside to take this photo.

They are usually right next to plastic packages for flavored cigars so I have always thought kids were hollowing out the cigars and filling them with this tiny amount of weed but I really have no idea what was in the bags. Some of them are so tiny they could only hold one capsule of something. I’m beginning to wonder if they might have something to do with the recent burglaries in our neighborhood.

We walked down Hoffman to a neighbor’s place this afternoon. It was Danelle’s 60th birthday and coincidentally Damnika’s, another neighbor, 65th birthday. The Bills were on the tube. The sound was off so we didn’t hear any of the crowds’ USA protest against San Francisco’s quarterback, Kapernick. It was in the seventies so we spent the whole party out on the back porch. When Olga came I went in to say hello and I put some Brie cheese on a cracker while we talked. I was thinking, “this is is some funky Brie cheese.” And it dawned on me. I blurted, “These crackers are bad.” Turned out they were Olga’s crackers, organic with no preservatives, and they had gone rancid. She was embarrassed but I can still taste the damn things.

Amateur Sleuths

Friday, October 14th, 2016

Milkweed explosion in Fall

There have been five burglaries in our neighborhood in the last three weeks and, needless to say, the neighbors are all on the lookout. Each car carefully checks us out when we’re out walking. We saw two Doyle Security trucks come out of the street next to us, so someone has a new alarm system. I was laying in bed in the dark last night and a cop car drove by with its searchlight shining in our windows. And when I woke up another cop, this one in a fluorescent green trench coat, came down our street on an ATV. I am happy the police are responding.

Peggi and I have been acting like amateur sleuths and I’ve reached back to my experience in the Crime Analysis Unit of the Rochester Police Department to look for patterns in the locations and possible getaway routes. A neighbor behind us told us a Sergeant had stopped by her house and told her they think the guy is traveling on foot and coming from the golf course on Kings Highway. He is apparently interested in jewelry.

We chatted with a middle aged man who was also out walking and asked if he lived nearby. He was wearing a Dunkin’ Donuts t-shirt and couldn’t possibly have been the suspect. He said he lived on the other side of the park and he told us he had seen something very strange a few days back. A scruffy man came out of Conifer Lane and turned right toward the golf course. He was carrying a suitcase and the the guy said he tried to say hello to the man but the guy looked away. We told him that a house on Conifer was broken into that day in daylight and he probably saw the the suspect. On our way back I waved down a cop car and we told him what the Dunkin Donuts guy had told us. The cop immediately called it in while we were relaying the story and when it became clear that this had all happened a few days ago he cancelled the call and the cop got pissed at us. “You have to call it in immediately,” he scolded us.

We took a walk with Pete and Shelley yesterday and at the end of Hoffman Road, near the golf course, we saw a black windbreaker hanging on a tree. It had white block lettering on he back that read “POLICE.” I looked at the size and it was extra large so I hung it back up. I looked for it today and it was gone. I’m wishing now that I had at least tried it on and had a photo taken in it.

Free Range Conversation

Thursday, September 29th, 2016

Dogwood fruit on Dewberry in Rochester, New York

The dogwood tree by our bedroom window had a rough summer. It hardly ever rained and we didn’t water it. It is already losing its leaves and instead of turning a beautiful red it just went brown. This tree on Dewberry Street must have an arborist as a caretaker or maybe it’s all the sunshine.

We took my mom down to the lobby of the Friendly Home where we had a cup of black coffee and clinked our plastic cups to National Coffee Day. We looked at old family pictures on my iPad. I have to skip over some because my mom starts to cry. Shirley Zimmer, a high school classmate of mine and a member of the Pittsford Art Group, was hanging her pictures in the gallery so we chatted with her for a while. She has a series of paintings there of funky motels, many from the Adirondack Mountains.

One of the residents in my mom’s place has a way of weaving me into her life. I start by just saying hello to her and then she has me responsible for not letting her go to her room or today, she had me in charge of the next bell choir performance. Earlier this week I looked up one of her relatives, someone she was referring to in a free ranging conversation. His name was Henry Ward Morgan and I showed her the entry I found. She said he was her grandfather and she read every word on the page. Before I could get my iPad back I had become one of his descendants, a member of her family on a part of the tree that has long since departed this world.