Archive for the ‘Life Is A Spell’ Category

Homegrown Hotdogs

Sunday, March 29th, 2015

Tree in icy snow on Hoffman Road in Rochester New York

I emailed Martin to see if we could bring some hummus to his party. The message went as “bring some humans” but he figured it out and responded, I emailed Kathy Farrell about picking up my paintings. I said “I guess pickup is at nine” and that message went through as “Iglesias pick up at nine” Kathy didn’t miss a beat and confirmed the time. Peggi was reading about the local food fair at Harts and I thought I heard her say one of the vendors was offering “homegrown hotdogs.”

After birthday parties on Friday and Saturday night for friends that turned 60, 50 and 65 (all milestones of a sort), I had the hardest time putting down the “T” Magazine Design Issue this morning. I started with it and must have spent two hours with it. The front cover read “The Revival of Everything,” a glorious concept. We’ll pass the issue on to Olga when we’re done with it. She broke her leg this winter, cross-country skiing, and she has another four weeks of immobility. We been saving anything “style” related and passing it on to her. She is going to love the piece on the Gerald and Betty Ford house.

Peggi and I took my show down at the Little on Saturday just in time for Richard Margolis to walk in with some big photos for behind the piano. When the car was loaded with piles of paintings we walked next door for the Hart’s Grocery “Vender Market.” We strolled from outpost to outpost in the store sampling local sweet potato chips, Ouzon licorice pop, Schutts cider and fried cakes, Hedonist chocolate, Native American roasted corn flour cookies, spiced olive oil dippings, Escabeche carrots, Rohrbach Brown Ale, fish oil, Daicon radish kimchi and Coffee Conection coffee.

Yellow Marker

Tuesday, March 24th, 2015

Winter Aconite in backyard, 2015

I was kind of jealous, seeing that picture in the paper of the Winter Aconite blooming on the front yard of the Eastman House. I have been looking for the ones we have in our yard but they are still under the snow. Just a few years back they were out on February 20th. I like thinking about them isolated by the snow, ready to pop with just a little sun. They are official Spring marker. Sure, the geese are squawking overhead, the witch hazel is out, the pussy willows are in bloom but the winter is not over until the yellow Winter Aconite pop. And I found this one out back today, a full month later than in 2012.

Imaginary Emoticon

Saturday, March 21st, 2015

Don't Tread On Me Flag on Saint Patrick's Day in Rochester, NY

My niece is big on the emoticons. They all look the same to me. Noisy. I would rather read into text messages or read between the lines but most of the time I just take them at face value. These flags are a lot like emoticons. I’m big on imaginary emoticons.

Touchstones

Saturday, March 7th, 2015

1840 white house on Stoney Clover Road in Pittsford New York

We pushed it yesterday and skied down one side of Lake Eastman then across the lake on the ice and back on the other side and then crossed back over again just because we could. Consequently I was late for a doctor’s appointment, an appointment that was scheduled at the same time as JD McPherson’s free show at Record Archive. We headed over there anyway gambling that maybe the show started on rock ‘n roll time but no such luck. Danny Deutsch, who was promoting the show was walking out as we approached the door. Guess “they played their asses off.” We had never heard them but we liked Spevak’s interview with the guy in the Thursday’s paper.

It was nice sunny day so we headed out to Pittsford, just south of Rochester, to track down a short list of Don Hershey homes for Peggi’s website. According to Don’s notebooks there are either three or four Hersheys on Stoney Clover. Stoney Clover Lane is off Stone Road which is off of Clover. I was riding shotgun and shooting photos. We are pretty good at spotting them. Low slung ranches with his mid-century modern touchstones like glass brick, corner windows and most importantly, houses that are ideally situated on their piece of property.

My first photo caught a young woman standing in the window of big, brick, monastery-like house. She came out and told us it was “a little unnerving” to have someone take photos of their house. The houses out here are huge and the lots are all at least an acre. I took the photo above of one that looked like the White House or a southern plantation in snow. I just assumed it was a MacMansion but we looked it up when we got home and discovered it was built in 1840.

Art Decade

Saturday, March 7th, 2015

Carnegie Building on Goodman Street in Rochester, New York

Our painting class was canceled on Tuesday because of the weather. It was somewhere between snow and rain so the roads were iced over. We were disappointed but a make-up class will be tacked on to the schedule. We already missed another session the night after this building on the old UofR campus burned down. It was being rehabbed and going condo like every other hundred year old building in the city. Our class in the basement of the Cutler Union building is directly downwind of this building so we were literally smoked out.

We ran into Jim and Gail Thomas at an art opening tonight and they were telling us about the time they were living in Medina and the winter came to a quick end and the snow melted so fast that water came rolling down the street and filled their basement. We are headed toward 50 next week so this conversation course was only natural.

We heard Bowie’s “Art Decade” on the way home. What ever happened to him? He had good thing going with Eno in that “Low/Heroes” period.

If God Was A Man

Thursday, March 5th, 2015

"I Am Legend" New York licence plates on car at the art store in Henrietta

I was happy to see Janet Williams studying my basketball players at last night’s opening. I remember talking to her about the first batch of paintings that I did of these guys. I love Janet’s paintings and couldn’t wait to hear what she had to say about this batch. Her husband, Ted, showed up as we were talking and pulled out a picture of his high school basketball team. He wanted me to find him in the picture. Unlike the six member Mynderse Academy team that I painted Ted’s Brighton High School team had almost twenty players on it. Without thinking I said, “Wow, I’ll bet you never played.” Ted told me they put him in once and and he ran a layup and slammed the ball against the backstop so hard it bounced all the way to the other end of the court. The sports reporter, Bob Mathews, and former County Executive, Bob King, were both on his team. I found Ted in the photo right away. He looked just like one of his sons.

Kathy Krupp brought me a little laminated photo that she found on the ground over by the UofR. About one inch by one inch, a close cropped photo of a man’s head, like something you would see on an id. Bob Martin thought I was one of the ones pictured in the basketball series. Brian Peterson wanted to know all about my source material, the Crimestopper page, now online as a pdf. Most people wanted to talk about who these people were, which one was the homeless girl, that sort of thing. Fred Lipp was there even though he had seen everyone of these pieces in class. If I didn’t do them in class I at least ran them by the master before officially considering them “done.” I would rather talk about the paintings and did so for quite a while with Steve Caswell. He was making a connection between the way I paint and way I play drums. That was a springboard for the whole minimalism as maximalism thing. The importance of each element, what to leave out.

Richard Margolis asked me if he could ask me a business question. I said “no” without missing a beat and he asked anyway. Ken Franks asked me what I thought of the band name, “Sun Rags.” Pete Monicelli, who is on the board at BOA Editions, read us a poem that he wrote in response to a recent book that BOA published, something about if god was a woman. I was thinking a better title would be “If God Was A Man.” There were quite a few artists there but a lot of current and former art teachers there last night. I mean like ten that I can think of now.

I would have been happy to keep the art buzz going all night but a little after 8 Bob started making noise with his guitar. The band did have an engagement last night so with Martha O’Conner’s help we moved the hors d’oeuvres table against the wall and band began playing. Martin Edic came up to me while I was playing and said, “I want you to know. I really love your show.”

A better title for this entry would be “Leftover Vegetables and Hummus.”

Outage

Friday, February 20th, 2015

Ski path through Commons

I moved my painting upstairs to our big south-facing window in order to capture the last few moments of sunlight. Then, as the sun went down, I moved toward the sink to wash my brushes, instinctively trying each light switch I passed. That impulse is almost hard-wired. I was thinking about our friends, Pete and Shelley, living up in the woods with a permanent power outage.

The phone was out too, not because there was any problem with the phone lines, our phones all depend on electricity. And there probably wasn’t any problem with our cable internet connectIon, just that the modem requires electricity. Of course, if we had a cell phone we’d call Rochester Gas & Electric. Ah, but I did purchase a twenty dollar, one gig data plan for my iPad so I went to RG&E’s site and clicked on the “outage” tab. I entered our customer id and and submitted my report. The response read, “There are no power outages reported in your area.”

It was only 5 degrees out. We’re also taking care of our neighbor’s house and I was beginning to panic. We built a fire and I submitted my report again. This time the response read, “We are aware of an electricity outage in your area affecting 917 customer(s). The estimated restoration time is Thursday, February 19 at 7:00 PM.”

You have to wonder about a message like this. The power goes out unexpectantly due to an accident or something and yet they can give you a time for when it will be back up and running? But we put our faith in the power company and went to a movie, the documentary shot in Canadaigua, outside Rochester, where the national Veteran’s Suicide Hotline has received a million calls from current and former soldiers considering or threatening suicide. The neighborhood was all lit up on our return.

Italian Assorted

Wednesday, February 18th, 2015

Original Rubino's on East Ridge Road in Rochester, New York

I have had a craving for Rubino’s for a while now so I emailed my father and suggested we bring some sandwiches over there for lunch. Two “Italian Assorted” and a meatball sub for my mom. No peppers or olives on my father’s Italian assorted. He still pronounces the first “I” in Italian as a long vowel.

My sister had found a tin of Charlie Chips somewhere, something I hadn’t seen in thirty years or so, and my father put those on the table. Peggi looked at the ingredients. Cottonseed oil doesn’t sound too heathy but there was zero cholesterol. We had a tough choice between almond and fig cookies at Rubino’s but we settled on almond. The coffee is bottomless down the hall from their apartment. My dad had two Cokes. This might become a regulat gig.

New Brain Cells

Wednesday, February 11th, 2015

Ryan Lamfers "Degradation" at R Gallery in Rochester, New York

“Through rain, sleet and snow the mail must go through.” Well, forget about that.

We had an envelope in our box for two days and no one picked it up. We’ve been collecting our neighbor’s mail while they are away and their box was empty as well. So I called the Post Office. “Monique (our regular carrier) was on vacation and the substitute got lost.” That was the excuse for the first day. On the second day (Monday) we had some snow, not too much, just enough to freshen up the ski paths through the woods. But I guess it was enough delay the substitute carrier and at five thirty or so they all the delivery people were called off the roads.

So the New Yorker was a couple days late.

The apartment building where my father lives has a subscription to the Wall Street Journal and my father picks it up at the end of the day. He cut out a few articles for us, one on books about the Spanish Civil War, one on the abstract expressionist, Franz Kline, and one on cultivating new brain cells.

Frederick Gage of the Salk Institute says our brains regenerate new cells while taking long walks. Because we are still evolving, thank god, “our bodies associate the exertion with moving from an existing territory, which had perhaps become depleted of food or too dangerous, to a new, unexplored territory whose details must be learned. In anticipation, the brain releases new cells and growth factors, which create a more plastic state and make possible new neural connections.”

According To My Junk

Thursday, January 29th, 2015

Found photo of people, found in our house

We hear they hauled away two dumpsters of stuff from our house before we bought it. The former owner lived alone, he had no relatives here and he had a heart attack in our bedroom. I wish they had just left the stuff here. I kind of like going through junk.

The house was empty when we moved in except for a giant candle, maybe a foot tall and six inches in diameter with a huge wick. We left it burning on our porch one night and reduced it to a small puddle of wax. There was a deer rack mounted over the back door of the garage and we kept that up. There was a pool cue rack on the wall of the basement which we threw out. And beneath a built-in seat in our living room we found a big, cardboard box of photos.

There were five different Kodak, photo business cards of his were in the box so we arranged them chronologically. He looked a lot like they in the photo above but we’re pretty sure that is his father and mother. We were able to piece together his hobbies (going to auto races and shooting telephoto shots of women’s rear ends) and the places he visited (amusement parks with his two kids during his visitation stints). He probably had free film processing so he shot thousands of of bad photos, not even interestingly bad. We filled a garbage bag with them but I did manage to fill a small scrapbook with a strange assortment. Some day maybe someone will piece my life together with my junk.

Zen & X-Country

Wednesday, January 28th, 2015

Freshly groomed cross-country ski trails in Durand Eastman Park in Rochester, New York

Donations to the Rochester X-Country Ski Foundation are in order this year. The groomed trails in the parks are the best option for skiing due to the lack of a substantial snowfall that would cushion the trials in the woods. And all that time out in the open covering a vast expanse of open land (golf course) has made us better skiers. When we first started it was clearly a trudge. I would say we skied no faster than we would move through the snow on foot. Then came a slow glide and it was much less effort than walking and we covered more ground. Now we have taken to studying the motion of skiers who ski like you would skate. We mimic them for a few strokes and then stop to marvel at the scenery.

Galaxie 300

Tuesday, January 27th, 2015

Bowling balls at Park View Bowl on Culver Road in Rochester, New York

I’ve read that Rochester used to have more bowling lanes per capita than any other city in the world. Park View Bowl in Sea Breeze might have capitalized on that boom, somewhere in the fifties or sixties, when they busted a hole in the side of their concrete-block building and added a seventh and eighth lane. That’s where they put our crew on Monday night, a perfect spot as we surely would have disrupted the regular’s groove.

Louise wore her Hendrix t-shirt and she and Peggi were the only women in the place other than the owner’s sister who was behind the bar while her brother bowled. But they did have room for us tonight so we each picked out a ball. Louise chose a “Smart Ball.” It was so light it couldn’t fully return on the ramp that brings your ball back. My solid black ball weighed a ton and was labeled “Ebonite.” Peggi chose a blue sparkly ball called “Galaxie 300.” We laughed about that one because Louise’s bother played in a band called “Galaxie 500.” Matthew’s ball was nicknamed “The Hammer.”

One dollar bought three tunes on the juke box. Mine went for the Righteous Brothers, Temptations and Stones. I bought the second pitcher and the owners’s sister started to pour Yuengling. I asked if she could make this one Labatt’s Blue and she gave me a Marlene Dietrich worthy look of exasperation. Earlier, when I asked for size eleven shoes, she said, “I can’t reach those.” Her brother, Kevin, is a sweetie. He tallied up our scores at the end of both games because we none of us could keep score.

Louise tell this story better.

Welcome To The World

Monday, January 19th, 2015

Saint Ann statue at Saint Ann's Home in Rochester, New York

We parked our car in Saint Ann’s lot across the street from Rochester General in order to save the parking fees. An added bonus was the short walk on a 40 plus degree day. All it takes is one of these days to screw up a winter groove. The rink in front of the town hall looked as sad as can be. We had been on a pretty good X-country ski run until this happened.

Our niece had a baby girl. Penelope. I’m thinking “Peña” as a nickname but me niece didn’t seem to like that one. Penelope is really quite a wonder, not even a day old on her literal “birthday.”

On our way back the lights were on statue of Saint Ann. Saint Ann is Mary’s mother so that would be the future virgin mother standing in front of her. Presumably Mary’s birth was not an immaculate conception. I know my niece’s wasn’t.

Satan In A Bind

Friday, January 16th, 2015

Funky signs near Clifton Springs in Rochester, New York

We drove out to Clifton Springs with my parents to attend a birthday party for my. She turned ninety. She was my godmother and one of my earliest memories is being at her wedding. She was a nurse at Saint Mary’s on Genesee Street where I was born and she met her husband while attending to a farm injury that he sustained.

We got off he NYS thruway at Manchester and we took the first left on a road that would take us right into Clifton Spring. Right there, near the intersection I hit the mother-load of content for my Funky Signs site.

The Next Call

Thursday, January 15th, 2015

Tree on Lake Ontario, January 2015

“This is the return call you requested regarding the back brace commercial you saw on tv.” ‘Your computer is reporting suspicious errors. Press 1 to talk to a Microsoft representative now.”

We registered our home phone number with the “Do Not Call Registry” but got these two calls this week. I went to the government’s site and found this alert on their front page. “Scammers have been making phone calls claiming to represent the National Do Not Call Registry.” I’m trying to decide whether to go skiing or wait for the next call.

12

Tuesday, January 13th, 2015

Path to Horseshoe Road near Lake Ontario in Rochester, New York

Twelve degrees is the perfect temperature for cross country skiing. Crisp, light snow with lots of plenty of glide. Not so cold you that want to turn back but cold enough to make the experience exhilarating. I remember being twelve. I thought I was on top of the world. It was my lucky number for a while because I won a box of Snickers at the Saint John the Evangelist fair by placing my bet on that number. A whole box of Snickers!

Science Fiction

Friday, January 9th, 2015

Bench on small lake in Durand Eastman Park

I’ve been meaning to check out the Bad Plus’s version of Ornette Coleman’s “Science Fiction” lp. That album knocked me out when I first heard it and it still does. The two songs with exotic vocals were a great entry point into Ornette’s world. I felt like I had waited all my life for the song, “All My Life.”

But I never cared for science fiction, the genre, or at least I didn’t think I did until Andrei Tarkovsky’s “Solaris.” It took us four sittings to get through it but that was only due to us being knocked out four separate times, so knocked by its beauty that one of us fell asleep.

The movie is not only visually stunning and otherworldly, the soundtrack moves freely from electronic to Bach and at times is totally silent while the main character sleeps.

To top it all off the director uses paintings by Pieter Bruegel to maximum effect. Check out this amazing piece of the movie.

I’m Free

Tuesday, January 6th, 2015

My computer in Apple Store at Eastview Mall

I know desktop machines are outdated. I know I am outdated but I still like the big monitor on my iMac. So I took it in to the Apple Store to have them run diagnostics on my machine. It passed. So why do my external hard drives, even the Apple DVD/CD USB SuperDrive get disconnected when my computer goes to sleep? It has been a minor problem since I bought the computer six months ago and I probably would have lived with it if there wasn’t this other issue. My monitor, which is really the whole machine, has lost its ability to hold its position. It just falls to the most downward facing slot. A gravity-related hardware issue.

It’s all covered by the warranty so I left it in the store. They are replacing the motherboard but they told me this may not fix the problem. They said they’d call in five days or so, the longest I’ve been without a computer in years. I’m thinking of that Who song from Tommy, “I’m Free.” I know the Stones did a song with the same name but I’m thinking of the Who song. And I’m happy Amy checked in. Wondering which song she and Eric would chose for the occasion.

If Not Exists

Monday, January 5th, 2015

Amaryllis blossoming in living room on New Year's Day 2014

Following directions this morning for backing up a database through phpMyAdmin we were instructed to uncheck “Add IF NOT EXISTS” in the SQL Options. That always gets me going. “If not exists.”

Somehow the conversation at our dinner party on Saturday turned to speculation as to where missing socks went. Statically stuck inside other clothes was the best answer. I tried to end the topic by announcing that I always buy the same socks, black, Gold Toed in six packs at Lord & Taylor. I never notice a missing sock because all of my socks look the same.

I don’t blame them for not liking my smart aleck answer but the point is it is harder to get a good group conversation going with eight people. Too many people to stay engaged, not enough space to find an opening, not enough opportunity to elicit responses or to take wild turns into deeper subjects. Too many passengers to expect to hang on as the conversation diverges or even disappears.

So in a splinter conversation I told Louise I really liked her Disappear post. She apologized for the diversions in the post but that is exactly why I liked it so much.

I feel as I have really stumbled on something that has been right in front of me forever and it is endlessly fascinating. It is therapeutic even. “Letting go.” And this is why I liked Louise’s diversions, invisible in her parents home and Jesus in the temple.

You can’t try too hard to meditate. When we’re playing the magic happens when I have no idea what I’m playing, not that it is complicated by any stretch, but my contribution is out of my control. It is just happening and I have essentially disappeared.

Some Margaret Explosion songs, these days a five way conversation, just slip away as we’re playing. They just turn into a daydream that slowly evaporates, while we’re playing. Some, even on playback, just seem to disappear while you’re listening so the concept became a cd title and eventually a song but the concept is still the thing.

My father uses the word to discuss his condition someday, an eloquent way of putting it. I am practicing.

Love, Peace, and Soul

Thursday, January 1st, 2015

Martin answers the door at his Art Deco apartment in Rochester, New York

Like Boy Scouts we were prepared for anything last night. Peggi even ran down “Auld Lang Syne” before we left the house and we finished the evening with a rousing version. Bob brought his laser lights and pointed them toward the band. The circus movies he grabbed from YouTube played on the wall behind us so I kept my eyes closed the whole night. We went an hour and a half before taking a break only because the line at the bar was so long we would have never got a drink.

We were thinking we would invite some friends back to our our house to ring in the New Year but Martin sent us a message just before we left that said he was having a party in his Art Deco apartment on East Avenue. Good thing I brought my iPad because he was having a hard time getting the sound from Pandora on TV out to his speakers. Maria Friske organized a Soul Train revue and I found some James Brown, Marvin Gaye and Kraftwerk that did the trick.