Archive for the ‘Life Is A Spell’ Category

Bug Jar Mug Shot 1998

Thursday, February 4th, 2016

Todd at 1998 opening for Paul Dodd Bug  Jar Mug Shot opening

In 1998 I took my one megapixel Kodak DC210 to Friday happy hour at the Bug Jar on Monroe Avenue. I brought along a simple light fixture, the one I used for painting, with a hundred watt bulb and a big piece of white paper that I hung on the wall in the back room. One by one I approached everyone in the place and asked them if they would like to sit for a mug shot. I found twenty four willing participants. I cropped the photos a bit and converted them to black and white and then to a large dot pattern. I printed the images on our LaserWriter, tiling the files out of a Quark XPress document. Each mugshot image consisted of nine 8 1/2×11 inch prints which I spray mounted to some black cardboard. I hung them in the Bug Jar about a month later.

I recently came across the original color photos so I posted them here for the first time. I also found about fifty photos from the opening of the show. Those are in a separate slideshow below.

Click on the thumbnail below to view a slideshow of the 24 original color photos used for the prints in the 1998 Paul Dodd “Bug Jar Mug Shot” show

Click on the thumbnail below to view a slideshow of 54 photos from the 1998 opening of the Paul Dodd “Bug Jar Mug Shot” show

Margaret Explosion had a weekly happy hour gig at the Bug Jar for about three years and I remember Bill Jones borrowing my camera to shoot a few photos of the band playing at the opening. Here’s Margaret Explosion playing “Floating at the Bug Jar.”

Margaret Explosion - Floating at the Bug Jar
Margaret Explosion – Floating at the Bug Jar

In The Groove

Tuesday, January 26th, 2016

Yellow fish in tank at the Friendly Home in Rochester, New York

As of this afternoon my mom is living in the Rochester Home for the Friendless. At least that is what it was once called. Founded in 1849 as the Rochester Association for the Relief of Homeless and Friendless Females, the organization eventually outgrew its location in an old tavern on the corner of East and Alexander. In 1918 they changed their name to the Rochester Friendly Home, moved further east on East Avenue and began to accept married couples and single men as well as women. It is a skilled nursing facility and perfect for my mom’s needs. I really believe this but with my mom in the car it took a hard sell on the drive out there. By the time we left she was in the groove.

Pick Of The Litter

Thursday, January 14th, 2016

Stella on the scale at the vets

It is always an adventure going to the vet with Stella. For starters, she usually pees on me as I carry her toward the car. She is especially sensitive. She only comes out of the bedroom for a carefully selected group of people. A few neighbors, a few friends, a few family members. Everybody else spooks her. And it has nothing to do with being loud or quiet. She has her own criteria and I would say she has good taste.

We have had a lot of cats. Tori and Sadie and Gato came from Bloomington. Nellie, Nino, Fay and Ornette all came from Lollipop Farm. Stella came from under the porch of Rick Howk’s house in the city. Her mom was all white but mangy. Stella was the pick of the litter.

She is the first cat that we have ever had that didn’t spend most of its time outdoors. She is just too delicate. We could tell that right away so we kept her in. Curiously, she meows at the door when I wake up and goes out for just a minute while I get the paper. She nibbles on the grass near the door and she sometimes throws it up once she is back inside. We have mice in our house but she has never been interested. She is terrified of the vacuum cleaner.

She is the sweetest cat we have ever had but she is almost eighteen years old and it may be time to go. We don’t plan to do anything heroic, we just want to keep her comfortable while we can.

What The Doctor Ordered

Sunday, January 10th, 2016

Saturday evening mass on tv from St Ann's Chapel, Rochester, NY

Things are definitely not the same at my mom’s. My father’s absence permeates every corner of her place. We picked up her mail on the way in, a stack of sympathy cards, and my mom read them all a few times. In her cousin, Suzanne’s card was another card announcing that a mass would be be said in my father’s name on February 26th at Saint Louis Church.

She flicks between American Movie Classics, Turner Classic Movies and the Hallmark station but none of them was doing it for her so we watched the Saturday evening mass that was being broadcast from the chapel in the high rise next door. A guess the broadcast counts as a mass of obligation these days. The pews were filled but only a janitor remained, picking up the flower petals, when I took this shot.

The aide ordered salmon for my mom and when it was delivered we left o have dinner with our friend’s, Jeff and Mary Kaye. Jeff grilled tuna they bought from their fish buying club in a wasabi sauce. It’s the middle of January and we had fresh kale and brussels sprouts from their garden! Jeff drizzled that with with some fresh squeezed lemon juice. The third-rate of a perfect triangle was the potato kugel he made with last week’s NYT recipe. Mary Kaye trumped Jeff’s efforts with a homemade orange sorbet.

Of course the conversation is the best part of any meal. I’m still digesting it long after the food has passed. I made a crack about someone seeing a shrink and Jeff said the word should be “expander.” And only then did I realize my friend, the therapist, was practicing his craft, something he has perfected, as a non-billable gift to us.

Take A Ride

Sunday, December 27th, 2015

Jeanne Perri and her father working in the Ice Cream Shop at St. John's Home in Rochester, New York

Our friend, Jeanne Perri, moved to Nashville years ago but she still comes up over the holidays to visit her dad. He volunteers at St, Johns where his wife once spent some time. Sometimes he works in the gift shop but most of the time he works behind the counter in the ice cream shop. We found Jean assisting her dad as we walked by.

My dad was upstairs, flat on his back. He had just asked if we could take a ride and I suggested he close his eyes and take a ride.

Flow Chart

Friday, December 18th, 2015

Leo Dodd gets his last haircut from Bob the Barber at Highland Hospital, Rochester, New York

Handel’s “Il Pastor Fido: Incidental Music” was playing on the radio station that my father found on the hospital tv last night. The sound was coming out of the tiny speaker in the telephone-sized hospital remote, the same one that cranks the bed up, calls the nurse or changes the channel. It was just perfect. Dreamy and moving at the same time. My dad was sleeping but surely absorbing it on some level.

I took this photo last night. Bob, my father’s regular barber, paid a house call to the hospital. We had been up there all day but my father was encouraging us to stick around and meet Bob. Bob refurbishes pool tables on the side and keeps some in his barber shop on Monroe Avenue. Bob knew “the Deacon,” local pool legend Irving Crane. “He’s got some great stories and some of them are true” is the introduction my dad gave him.

Leo is beginning to let his engineering side go. The first few days up here were an onslaught of doctors and my dad constructed a flow chart on his iPad to keep the players straight. Above a solid line he drew ovals for the three doctors responsible for his health before the hospital and right below it he drew the team he thought was running the show in the hospital. The Palliative Care doctor, nurse practitioner and intern were placed in that spot. Their role here was so outsized my dad put them above his chief hospital doctor. I corrected him and he scrubbed them out, replaced them with the head doctor and put the palliative team on the next tier with the oncologist, physical therapist, occupational therapist and social worker.

That’s the way it was explained to us. This crew all collected their data and reported back to the head doctor who then informs us of the game plan. The thing is, my dad had it right. At some point the Palliative Care team are the only sane ones.

A Trip

Thursday, December 17th, 2015

Construction scene across from Highland Hospital

From my dad’s position, propped up in bed on the fourth floor of Highland Hospital, he can just see the top of the new library going up across South Avenue. A team of construction workers started scurrying about at 8AM. My dad figures the guy with the white hat is the foreman and the blue hats are the carpenters and the green are the plumbers. The red hard hats are the electricians. In better days this would be the formative stage of a painting.

Leo was adjusting to the idea of hospice. A prescription would be ordered soon and we were discussing the location. The prognosis was a longer window than the qualifications for the Leo Center allowed. The appropriately named Palliative Care Center in the St Ann’s complex near my parent’s apartment is considered the Cadillac of hospice facilities. Fred Lipp, the painting teacher my dad and I had for twenty years or so spent his last days there earlier this year. Fred was lucid til the end and told us, “your father is a trip.”

My dad was thinking of the Chinese burial items that we saw in a case at the Metropolitan when we went down to see the Van Gogh. I found some pictures of those items on my iPad. He has an insatiable art appetite, something he passed onto me. We arrived at the Met early that morning to study the Van Goghs, we ate lunch in the cafeteria and returned to the show, we had dinner in the dining room there and went back to the show until closing. Somewhere along the line we saw the Chinese burial objects. Holy Sepulchre’s green burial probably precludes artifacts in the grave.

My dad didn’t care for the lunch that was delivered and the nurse said we could call down and order whatever he wants. My dad was thinking about a peanut butter sandwich so I placed the order. Light on the jelly and whole wheat bread, preferably without the crust. The person on the other end said she couldn’t do that at this hour so I explained that it was all my dad wanted. She thought for a bit and said, “OK but you’re gonna have to cut the crust off yourself.” I described the route Jack Nicholson took in “Five Easy Pieces” to successfully order toast. That produced a hearty laugh.

Last Barn In Town

Wednesday, December 16th, 2015

Leo Dodd taking measurements in old barn on Westfall Road

I took this photo of my dad in action a few weeks ago. We had been out at a doctor’s appointment and I noticed he had his camera, a tape measure and a pile of paperwork with him. I asked if he wanted to stop somewhere on the way home and he said he’d like to go to the barn.

I’d been to the barn on Westfall Road with him before. It’s falling apart and my dad is pushing the town to restore it. In fact he is drawing architectural renderings of what the restored barn would look like. So we took measurements and he shot some photos.

We visited the barn again last week but this time my dad was having a hard time walking. I drove through the field and pulled the car right up to the barn door. We laughed at some spray-painted graffiti that read “Kill Your Friends” and I supported him as we worked our way to the center of the barn. We took some measurements, something was off in his computer model and he was looking for the error. He sheepishly said “I probably shouldn’t be out here” but he was loving it.

What Would Jared Do?

Tuesday, December 15th, 2015

Goldfish in Jared's pond in December

I didn’t expect my last few posts to draw any comments. Too sad. How about this one?

We stopped down to the garden and picked a big batch of cilantro and some spinach. A bounty for mid December. The temperature was near seventy and Jared’s goldfish had come out of hibernation. They were hungry and scurried to the side of the pond when they heard us.

Peggi put the freshly picked cilantro into a plastic bag and I set it down on a burner that had just been turned off. It melted immediately and stunk to high heaven. I threw the bag out and then opened the doors to clear out the stink. That was yesterday.

We wanted to use the burner tonight so I turned on the overhead exhaust fan, put the burner on high and left the room. The melting plastic odor filled the house. I opened the doors again and lit some pine incense. In hindsight I suspect Jared, a former Kodak chemist, would have had a better solution for removing the plastic from the burner.

Holiday Bingo

Saturday, December 12th, 2015

T-Bird in doctors office parking lot, Rochester, New York

They had a great turnout for the afternoon Holiday Bingo event. The lights in the Oak Room were up bright and most of the residents were wearing green or red. Refreshments were on the tables and the moderator was calling out numbers and letters. It sounded like a party and I wished my parents were in there but age has gotten the best of them. And that was never their scene anyway.

I was picking up my dad up for an appointment and driving his car. I grabbed a City newspaper at the Margaret Explosion gig and had skimmed through it the night before. They feature one city house in each issue, a regular column sponsored by the Landmark Society, and this week’s house was 107 Burlington Avenue on the west side, the house my dad grew up in. I couldn’t believe my eyes. I handed the paper to my dad and he laughed so hard he cried.

The radio was tuned to his station, Jazz 90.5, and they were doing a 24 hour Frank Sinatra marathon to celebrate one hundred years since the Chairman’s birth. Non-stop melancholy songs like “Last Night When We Were Young” and “Moon River.” Johnny Mercer is my father’s all time favorite.

We parked next to the Ford Thunderbird, above, and I finally discovered the secret to opening the trunk on my father’s Honda Accord. I had had such bad luck, pressing the appropriate notch on his key fob over and over before the damn thing popped, that I had taken to handing him the key and letting him pop it so I could get his walker in or out. It’s actually my mom’s walker but he has taken to it lately.

We were visiting his primary care doctor for the last time and as we got out of the car I asked, “Why is it that this trunk opener works for you and I can’t get it to work?” He demonstrated his technique and explained that he holds the button down until it opens. The time factor! I am still learning from my father. He has given me so much by his example.

The good doctor pretty much handed my dad’s care off to a Palliative Care specialist and he shook his hand. On the way home I said, “I wish you and mom could trade places.” My mom wants to die. My dad is eternally young and in the middle of few projects. And there are always birds to watch.

Face To Face

Wednesday, December 9th, 2015

Grey brown tree in marsh

I don’t know if it is the dark side of me that finds this extremely limited, grey/brown, late Fall palette so appealing or the minimalist side. It doesn’t much matter. I am attracted to it and I trust my instincts. I feel like I’m living in an austere Bergman movie as of late.

Life Is A Spell

Monday, December 7th, 2015

Ducks in trees on Eastman Lake

Ossia’s program on Friday was especially good. They do four or five performances a year, programs that include five or six compositions by contemporary composers, and there are always one or two exceptional pieces. Friday’s program was all killer, no filler.

It included an out of body piece that reminded us of Gearld Busby’s score to Robert Altman’s “3 Women” and a couple of Morton Feldman-like works by the Japanese composer, Jo Kondo. The one that really knocked us out though was by the Icelandic composer, Anna Thorvaldsdóttir. It is called “Ró.” We were sitting in the front row of Kilbourn Hall and our row gave it a standing ovation. Thorvaldsdóttir says her piece of sustained sound materials “reflects my sense of imaginative listening landscapes and nature.” It certainly did that for these woods walkers. We often stop and stare and listen and this is the experience.

Soul Congress

Tuesday, December 1st, 2015

Mennonite buggy in Penn Yan, New York

I took this photo just after dropping Peggi and my parents off at the funeral home in Penn Yan where my aunt was laid out. The Menonnite family in this buggy had just paid their respects to my uncle and cousins. My aunt and uncle, solid Catholics, lived on a farm near Dundee for sixty years and the land around them was slowly bought up by Menonnites. They became quite close and shared more values then you might imagine. A Menonnite family eventually bought their farm and rented their 200 year old house back to my aunt and uncle.

The reason I left the funeral home as soon as we arrived was to buy a flower arrangement, something my father had asked me to do yesterday and that I had spaced out. I found a place a few miles out of town called the “Garden of Life.” There was a sign in front of an old farm house but no flower shop. I pulled in their driveway to lookup a Plan B and I saw woman out back with her dog. I pulled forward and there was a small shop tucked in behind the house. I told the woman that I was going to calling hours at the funeral home in town and I . . she interjected, “Helen? Come on in and I’ll get you something.” She picked out a coral colored Poinsettia and added some other oddball touches. It was perfect.

A man came in the shop and asked about microphones for some event and the woman told him to go to Musician’s Friend and get a Sennheiser, but not a cheap one, a good one. When he left I said, “that was some good advice you gave that guy.” She asked if I was in a band and I said I was. She said she and her husband played in a band and, as if on cue, her husband, a drummer, walked in the door. He said he left school when he was seventeen and studied at Berkelee when it was still in its original location. His teacher was Louie Bellson and he went out on the road with a big band right after school. He played with the Temptations for six months, the only white guy in the band. They played the same set every night in the same order. He couldn’t take it anymore and quit. His band, “Soul Congress,” backed a long list of soul and gospel groups. They were opening for James Brown on the night that Martin Luther King was shot. Mr. Brown played a long set and wore out his drummer so he asked this guy to sit in. He said, “I’d go out on the road now. I loved being on the road.”

First Of The Storm

Tuesday, November 17th, 2015

England France football friendly at Wembley Stadium

The only green around here is the Wembley Stadium pitch on our tv. Check the enlargement of this photo for our grey/brown surroundings. The French national team pulled it o gather to take on England in a friendly. The English saluted them before the game and cleaned their clocks in the 90 minutes.

The dental hygienist tried to sell me on bite-wing X-rays today just like the last time. I’ve had so many over the years I try to limit my exposure by turning her down and promising to do it next time. She has a kindergarten teacher-like manner. “Hi Paul! Are you all ready for Thanksgiving?” “Ah, no.” I usually dismiss her and that is probably my mistake.

I was looking my last full mow x-rays on her monitor while she cleaned my teeth. I have all these glaring white teeth in mouth, on the x-rays that is. “Those are all caps and bridges,” she said. “I should have taken better care of my teeth,” I thought aloud. She didn’t miss a beat and said, “Life is one long learning experiment. And our experiences make us who we are.” She added, “I don’t think we ever stop learning.”

Cabbage Head

Tuesday, November 3rd, 2015

Head of cabbage in Rick and Monica's garden

Up here, near Lake Ontario, we have not had an official frost so this seventy degree weather cannot be called Indian Summer. I’m only making that distinction because I stayed quiet when the lady at the voting booth called it such this morning. Somehow it always seems like a nice day when we vote. It probably has something to do with our route to the booths which takes us through the woods in the park, across the creek and up into the neighborhood of small houses between Culver and the park. Why isn’t this the new hipster section of Rochester? That would probably have something to do with number of Tea Party flags flying here. And those little placards in the window that read, “This house is protected by 2nd Amendment.”

The firehouse in Point Pleasant Fire is nestled into the aptly-named neighborhood. And the best part of voting here is getting a peek of the dreamy bar in the next room. Every year I vow to rent the place for a party, one with a band and dancing. We could crawl home through the woods.


Saturday, October 31st, 2015

Halloween shower curtain at Rochester Yacht Club

We considered going to the Halloween Bowie Karaoke event, “Bowieoke,” at Visual Studies tonight, just long enough to have “Golden Years” stuck in my head. Someone plans to to re-enact the 1976 Bowie/Iggy Rochester drug bust and I would to see that.

I was thinking we had to drop off art work for the RoCo Members show this weekend but that’s next weekend. And Peggi had set aside a coupon for Parkleigh, where my sister works, so we planned to stop by there, mainly to visit but also to take advantage of the coupon. Turns out the sale is next weekend. We’re gonna need the extra hour tonight to get our life organized.

We stopped in the new India House restaurant on Èast Ridge Road. They’re in a strip mall across from Medley Center in a place that was Chinese and then Thai and they are apparently too new to have any customers yet. We were the only ones in the place and we were ordering to go. We told the waiter we were in the mood for something hearty. He said, “What is hearty?” We tried “substantial, meaty without meat, not light, beans” and a few others. He recommended a spinach paneer dish and it hit the spot.

On the way home we passed a group of kids in costumes. I had the idea to yell “boo” so I pushed the button to lower the window. We were around the corner before I got it down.

Imaginary Yoga

Sunday, October 25th, 2015

The bar at Cub Room on South Clinton Avenue,  Rochester, New York

I was especially tired in Saturday morning’s yoga class. My ears were still buzzing from Big Ditch’s show the night before and the Three Heads‘ “The Kind” was still swimming around. It was our first class inside the Rochester Yacht Club facilities. The weather, now pretty much around the corner, has put an end to the outdoor adventure in the Port of Rochester. If I had to join a social club it would be this one. I don’t think you need a boat or anything.

Near the end of class, when we had been on our backs with a rolled up towel in lumbar curve for about a half hour, Jeffrey had us pretending to lift our arms. In doing so you become acutely aware of the muscles involved with such a simple act, muscles all over your body working together. Isometrics, I guess, but it stuck me as imaginary yoga. I asked Jeffrey if he could do a whole class of imaginary yoga and he laughed. That could but him out of a job.

The Cub Room on South Clinton is surely modeled on the Mad Men craze for cocktails and meat. Rat Pack photos line the walls above the booths and there is an air of glamour days gone by in the unofficial dress code. It is the city’s version of the Yacht Club. We ordered the only vegetarian dish on the menu, Crispy Chickpea Cake with roasted vegetables surrounded by a Romescu sauce. And we split an order of Grilled Octopus with Beluga lentils, grilled chicory, smoked paprika and Sherry vinegar. The octopus, like the cocktail club culture, was a bit overdone.

The Beav

Thursday, October 22nd, 2015

Beaver damage on the east side of Eastman Lake in Rochester, New York

Away from Lake Ontario, further south but at higher elevations, the Fall colors are peaking or past. Up near the lake we are still coming on. We walked around the east side of Eastman Lake and then back along the western side of Durand Lake today. The paths were partially underwater along both lakes, unusual for this time of year. We suspected beaver action and sure enough we found it about halfway down.

We Bowling

Tuesday, October 20th, 2015

Buffalo Bills inflatables on lawn in Rochester, New York

The Buffalo Bills play their NFL game in Wembley Stadium this weekend. And here I’ve been holding out for the English version of football to come this way. We just bought season tickets to Western New York Flash for next year.

I walked with my mom this afternoon. She was too tired to do a lap of the building so walked up and down the halls of her apartment building. There was a real ruckus going on in the big room so we ducked in to see what was going on. A group of woman were playing Wii bowling and we stayed around long enough to watch one of the residents pick off a mean split.

I usually put my iPad in my bike basket but about halfway home I looked down and it wasn’t there. I couldn’t imagine it falling out. I called my mom when I got home asked if she saw my iPad near her chair. She never took to computers and she doesn’t really know what an iPad is so I found myself saying things like, “It’s black and thin and and it has glass on it.” My mom has a little problem with her hearing and lately with her vision so our conversation went something like a Burns and Allen routine. I drove back over there and by the time I got there she had found it.

Rick came over this evening for a few games of horseshoes. We always play best of three and it usually takes the three to determine a winner. Rick’s two and my one. I feel as though I could win more often if I could concentrate on what I’m doing. In a few more years we’ll be sitting in chairs, playing Wii Bowling.

No Small Feet

Monday, October 19th, 2015

Old gas station in Johnsburg, Adirondack Mountains, New York

Arthur Dove’s father ran a brick making plant in nearby Geneva, NY. There were as many as ten brickyards in the Rochester area at one time. Henrietta’s town historian invited my father to give a talk on bricks. Specifically, the Brighton Brick yard, which used to sit on Monroe Avenue near 12 corners.

Peggi and I helped by proofing his slides. Peggi caught a measurement labeled with “(inches) rather than ‘(feet) and of course we had to tell my father about the scene in “Spinal Tap” where Nigel does a sketches for some Stonehenge props. I exported my father’s Keynote presentation to his first generation iPad and I sat with the iPad and projector, advancing the slides at my father’s pace. I went the wrong way a few times but we worked pretty good as a team. This was not the first time and my father is getting really good at this. His slides contain the pertinent information, not too much, and he is able to talk to the slides in a comfortable way bring the graphics to life.

Yesterday’s 2PM presentation was held at the Senior Citizens Center on Calkins Road. Last time I was out this way we saw Captain Beefheart with Frank Zappa at the Dome Arena. It was not a good period for either. The Henrietta officials started the presentation with the Pledge of Allegiance, which caught me completely off guard. I should know the words to that damn thing by now. And it was followed by an announced but unexplained “moment of silence.” The florescent lights were washing out the opening slide so I asked the town historian if she could turn them off and she obliged. They gave my father a wireless mic and when he turned it on it screeched with painful feedback. The speakers for the PA were immediately overhead, built into the ceiling, a no-win situation. I asked them to turn the PA down and my father proceeded to use the mic as a pointer so the only time we really heard it was when he touched the screen with it to point something out. “Thump, thump, thump.”

The audience here was really into it. Peggi and I were as well. The guy sitting next to me was taking notes and scrambling o keep up. Ingeniously, my father used a handful of existing photos and early illustrations to pick up scale and measurements of the equipment involved in the brick making process. He used Google’s 3D illustration program,”Sketch-Up,” to create drawings of the buildings, kilns, machinery, molds, transportation systems, rail tracks and even the housing for the workers. And he employed his fanciful side to illustrate with his paintings what these plants must have looked like. He overlaid his to-scale drawings on old maps recreated the past for us. No small feat!