Archive for the ‘Lopsided Observations’ Category

Planet B

Sunday, April 23rd, 2017

Junk in Manhattan store window

It is a wonder that Central Park is not a bigger attraction in the city. It is an oasis. A cliche, I know, but a hundred yards in and you’re somewhere else. We walked through the park on our way up to the Metropolitan and stopped to watch the tiny sailboats navigate the pond. On the way back down we watched a wedding photographer take shots of the bride standing on a big rock. And a little further down we stopped by the zoo and to watch the seals play in their aquarium. All very dreamy and a welcome cleansing of the big city palette.

Times Square is a big attraction, a big hideous attraction. We walked through it on our way to Port Authority this morning and ran into the “March for Science” coming down Broadway. The crowd of protesters, more like an orderly cross section of everyday people, were able to bring the LED, chain restaurant, nightmare down to human scale. It was magical.

Ideal Couple

Monday, April 17th, 2017

Dina Goldstein "In The Dollhouse" at Rochester Contemporary

I always found my sister’s Barbie dolls a little creepy. Far from cuddly. like my teddy bear, they were hard and pointy and a little too grown up and serious looking.

In the Dollhouse,” by Dina Goldstein, currently on view at Rochester Contemporary, pretty much confirms my early impressions but her photo creations are thoroughly engaging as an indictment of the ideal couple. Goldstein “plays Barbie,” as my sister used to call it, with real people and she airbrushes on the obvivious doll features, the ones that allow the dolls to turn their heads 180 degrees. Goldstein says “In The Dollhouse” “offers a profound commentary on the transient nature of beauty, the difficulty of marriage and the importance of authenticity.”


Saturday, April 8th, 2017

Boarded up building on Clinton Avenue in northeast Rochester, New York

I know ruin porn is a thing and all. My wife is from Detroit and we chose to live in another city that could be described as long past its prime. I don’t agree with that description, I’m just saying who’ve been enjoying this stuff for a long time. I took this shot out the car window yesterday afternoon on Clinton Avenue somewhere near Norton where the old Red Wing Stadium was located.

Make America Great Again

Thursday, March 30th, 2017

Bunch of small bananas from Wegman's

Do bananas seem ridiculously cheap? Everybody eats bananas and they don’t grow anywhere near here. How do they get them all way up here for next to nothing? Our Wegmans was out of the regular sized ones this week so we bought a bunch of these little guys. Is there something we can do with our trade deals to make these things cost more?

Are U Experienced?

Tuesday, March 21st, 2017

I love New York signs

OK, I’m weighing in on the controversial “I Love New York” signs that that litter our highways. According to the Democrat & Chronicle the federal government has tried for more that three years to get the Cuomo administration to take down the signs and I agree but not for their reasons. The Federal Highway Administration points to national rules regarding advertisements on federally funded highways like the New York State Thruway. I love the “I heart NY” campaign but I am offended by this graphic implementation.

Compare the layout of a simple utilitarian 55 MPH sign to this unweildly monstrosity above. Imagine driving 55 or 65 miles per hour past this sign. Could you possibly take it in? It is a visual assault. Four logos in white boxes and all four in a horizontal dark blue box with a bold white outline. And in case the logos don’t do their job we have additional type under each. “Attractions,” “History'” “Eat & Drink'” and “Recreation.” I never would have expected New York State to have these common items. This is “The New York State Experience.” But wait, there is more to read on this sign. I see in the bottom left hand corner of the sign that there is a I Love NY app to download and over in the bottom right hand corner, just to balance out the signage, I see there is a “I Love NY” website.

The state spent 8.1 million dollars to print and erect the signs and they didn’t hire a graphic artist. This reminds me of the Post Office redesign from twenty years ago. Texting while driving is crime and throwing all this shit at you is not?

The Janitors

Friday, February 24th, 2017

No Outlet sign, The Janitors sticker and Dawes Road signage.

We took the long route up to Wegman’s by walking east over to Sea Breeze Drive, up to “the Ridge” and then cutting through Aman’s Farm Market. As we crossed Dawes Road I spotted this small sticker for a band called the janitors, a no-so-funny name for a band in a neighborhood so close to a high school. I’ve been stockpiling images for Funky Sign site so I snapped a picture of the sign. It probably won’t make the grade but I thought that it was interesting that someone would stand on something (or someone) to put a sticker on a street sign for a tiny street off a dead-end road. Was it a local band?

When I got back I did a little research on The Janitors. I found a website for a party band in Norfolk Virginia that proclaimed “We are proud to announce that THE JANITORS have been rated by local brides and voted The Knot’s Best of Weddings 2010 Pick.” And then there was another band with name hailing from Stockholm, Sweden. They have an EP on the “Your ears have been bad and need to be punished”label entitled “Evil Doings Of An Evil Kind.” Judging by the size of the sticker I’m going with the local and option.


Friday, February 17th, 2017

Ossia with the Jack Quartet performing Steve Reich's "Triple Quartet" in Kodak Hall, Rochester, New York

My parents, in their later years, had season tickets to the Rochester Philharmonic. Peggi’s mom had tickets too when she was living here. The program is generally too stuffy for us but if we can help it, we don’t miss a performance of Ossia, the experimental, new music group of Eastman students. Last night was their twentieth anniversary performance. Students from the first configuration are long gone but some, the Jack Quartet, students from a decade or so ago, returned for the celebration. Last night they performed in Kodak Hall where the Philharmonic generally performs and the first piece, Morton Feldman’s “String Quartet and Orchestra,” she transcendental. Feldman sculpts with sound and you get to experience the carving, the exquisite execution of each sound. And then the space around that sound carries equal weight. It becomes a meditation.

The second piece on the program, “…Zwei Gefühle…” by Helmut Lachenmann, was hard core. The piano player needed an assistant to open and close the piano cover as he played. It was cold and clinical but arresting.

Their final piece, Steve Reich’s “Triple Quartet,” the program item that brought out the crowd, was drop=dead gorgeous. Romantic with gypsy-like violin solos in E minor. I love Steve Reich for his hallucinogenic patterns but I didn’t know he had this in him.

Doll House

Saturday, February 11th, 2017

Louise Bourgeois Holograms at Cheim & Read NYC

In a dimly lit space, eight small holograms cast a mysterious red glow. The diorama-like images — a little-known body of work produced by Louise Bourgeois in 1998 feature familiar motifs from the French artist’s lexicon. Chairs, beds, and bell jars seem to float just in front of the frames, the ghostly 3-D effect rendering her assemblages more nightmarish than usual. A sculpture rests on the floor in the middle of the room: a dollsize bed and two pairs of disembodied feet, which are entwined like lovers’. It offsets the intimate scale of the other vignettes, while echoing the very Bourgeoisian psychosexual situation of one of them, in which the artist positions the viewer as a voyeur, crouching dangerously close to the action at the foot of the bed. This was our favorite show of the day, a day devoted to wandering without an agenda back and forth on the streets of Chelsea from 18th to 26th Streets between 9th and 10th Avenues.

The Aline Kominsky-Crumb & Robert Crumb “Drawn Together” show at David Zwirner was fantastic but we didn’t hang around long. The work is just as fantastic on the page and seemed like a waste on white walls. Steve Wolfe, in a show called “Remembering Steve,” copied iconic books and records (iconic to our generation) like the Pocket Poets Series edition of Allen Ginsberg’s Howl, Lou Reed’s “Walk on the Wild Side” 45, the John Cage book “Silence” and Kerouac’s “On The Road.” These actual size reproductions looked almost exactly like the real item. Willys de Castro, on West 24th Street, painted small, playful abstracts, some three dimensional. I would have taken one of these home if the price was right.

Out The Window

Monday, January 23rd, 2017

Strong Butterfly Museum in Rochester, New York

“Alternative facts” entered the lexicon over the weekend and now everyone is talking about whether we are in a post truth world. I keep thinking of our friends, Pete and Shelley, and their preference for fiction over non. After every visit we go home with a list of books, mostly ones on loan from the library. Some of which, Sinclair Lewis’s “It Can’t Happen Here” and David Foster Wallace’s “Infinite Jest,” pretty much layout our current non-fiction state. I get the feeling they think our obsession with current events is silly because fiction so much broader. But if the context for understanding fiction is reality based where would fiction be without non-fiction. And with “alternative facts” and “post-truth” that context goes out the window. Might as well merge those two departments in the library.

Free Melania

Saturday, January 21st, 2017

Leo Dodd watercolor painting of protesters at Washington Square Park in Rochester, New York

A couple thousand came out on a fifty degree January day for the People’s Solidarity Rally at Washington Square Park, the site the Occupy protests that my father painted, above. I’m glad I went. I felt really proud of our city. The speakers, all from various contingents of the so-called movement, were mostly inspiring. A fiery Mayor Lovely Warren invoked Susan B. Anthony. Brighton supervisor, Bill Moehle, complimented the crowd on the great homemade signs, “Make America Think Again,” “Second Graders Against Trump,” “Free Melania,” “Babes Against Bullshit,” Pussies Against Putocracy”, “Non Judgement Day Is Near,” “What’s Taking the Impeachment So Long,” and then focused his rowing talk on the common bumper sticker, “Think Globally. Act Locally.”
to the Women’s March father’s Occupy Saint Mary’s Church

We had lunch at Han Noodle Bar on Monroe Avenue and came home to watch protest footage like this clip from Madrid.

A Good Idea

Friday, January 20th, 2017

Trump giving ignaueration speech on tv in Friendly Home Beauty Shop

I thought I might find my mom in the beauty parlor this morning but Cindy, the hairdresser, told me she had just left. I found her sitting, more like lying, in her new chair in the hallway by the office. Kathleen made a milkshake for her, chocolate this time, and she thickened some Cranberry juice in a small plastic glass. I wheeled my mom down to her room and positioned her so she could look out the window, not that she is interested in the outdoors anymore. She was particularly talkative. I only understood a small portion of what she said but when she’d ask, “What do you think?” I pretended and said, “I think that is a good idea.”

Doris came in the room with her walker. I said hi and Doris asked me what my name was. I told her and she said, “I recognize your face but I’m not too good with names anymore.” I told Doris my mom and I were talking and she said, “I remember you dancing with your mom last week.”


Thursday, January 19th, 2017

Downtown Rochester skyline in haze from Cobbs Hilll Park

I’ve been carrying around this list of shows that I want to see in New York for so long that many of the shows have closed. The dark Rothkos at Pace Gallery in Chelsea, Agnes Martin at the Guggenheim, Max Beckmann at the Metropolitan and Joseph Albers at David Zwirner 537 West 20th.

And I only have until the 28th to catch Philip Guston’s Nixon drawings at Hauser & Wirth in Chelsea, a show called “Laughter in the Dark, Drawings from 1971 & 1975.” From the gallery’s website: “These trenchant works were created at an historic moment, amidst the tumultuous political climate of the early 1970s, as the United States suffered under the weight of civil unrest and social dissent following the assassinations of Martin Luther King Jr and Senator Robert F Kennedy, the chaos of the 1968 presidential election, and the enduring violence and brutality of the Vietnam War. In his studio in Woodstock NY, Guston’s distress over the political situation was fueled by conversations with his friend, the writer Philip Roth. The artist and the writer shared an intellectual disposition for the mundane ‘crapola’ of American popular culture, and in Nixon discovered a subject they could each mimic and animate in art.”

Which brings us to the Trumpster. Will the “Bikers for Trump,” “Wall of Meat” be able to protect him?



Sunday, January 8th, 2017

Early January ice formations on Lake Ontario2

It is fitting that I can’t remember the word I stumbled over this morning as a read an article aloud to Peggi. It was a common, multi syllable word but I tried saying it without immediately knowing how to pronounce it and it came out like someone just learning English.

We took a walk through the park and spotted ski tracks but no skiers. There was grass showing through the snow. We spotted more tracks from an ATV that looked like it was joy riding through the park, spitting dirt on the snow as it tore up the trails. Not the first time we’ve seen these tracks. The whole world’s going hillbilly.

We cut through the woods and came back via Center entrance, a dead-end that is about a mile long. We were just rounding the first turn and a car rolled down its windows and the driver “Hi. Bruce Lindsey. I haven’t seen you guys in a while.” We had no idea who he was but we played along just like we do at the Memory Center where my mom is. “Yeah. Why is that?” I said.


Friday, December 2nd, 2016

Lake Ontario as seen from Rochester New York in November of 2016

I post notices for Margaret Explosion gigs, tag Peggi, and then get off Facebook as quickly as possible. I don’t exactly know why but the forum gives me the creeps. I guess it is prompts like “It’s “so and so’s” birthday today! Wish him the best.” Why? So FB can monetize my communication? They keep stats on every hover, every click. The whole thing is suspect. It depresses me that world wide web has turned into this but our civilization is still young. I know most people don’t worry about this and just have a good time with it. I am happy for them.

I’ve been thinking about their business model because at Wednesday’s band gig I talked to two people who said they had quit FB after the election. I could’t believe it. If they liked it before Trump why would they leave it now? Whether you were for or against him, this story is just getting going. I gather there was a lot of political badgering among so-called FB friends and I stay away from that. I like talking about politics but I don’t like provoking a fight. We always talk politics face to face face with Gerry at Atlas Eats and today was no exception.

Trump’s Prayer

Thursday, November 24th, 2016

Bald Cypress in Durand Eastman Arboretum

We started the holiday like a million or so other Americans. We watched Donald Trump’s “Thanksgiving Message” on YouTube. The two minute video felt like a propaganda piece from a Third World country. Comments are disabled on the page. Trump’s “prayer” for unity rings about as true as Rupert Pupkin. But how about that stock market!

A walk in the Arboretum put things right.

Waiting For The White Out

Sunday, November 20th, 2016

Green and brown leaves on concrete driveway

Trump University

Thursday, November 17th, 2016

Everest Institute on Portland Avenue in Rochester, New York

It was so nice out we decided to ride our bikes over to Home Depot. We had a short hose that we wanted to return, one of those that connect your outdoor faucet to the big plastic spool of rolled up hose. Our old hose sprang a leak so we had picked up a new one but when we got it home I realized it had a female fitting on both ends, kind of a lesbian hose. We were in front of Home Depot when I realized I had forgotten to put the hose in my bike basket. We went in the store anyway and bought a second pair of noise cancelling headphones, his and hers. They look like Beats but they are not wired for sound.

Further down the road we stopped in the Starbucks on the corner of Ridge and Goodman. The clerk tried to sell us a holiday version of the “Flat Whites” at two for one but we held up the line quizzing her on the holiday flavoring. Was the flavoring in the coffee? Was it a powder that they added? She was uncertain and we grew suspicious so we ordered two regular “Flat Whites.” We sat down near the door and I speed-read a Wall Street Journal while we waited for our order. It occurred to on me that we were sitting right where the Golden Point was maybe fifty years ago. I used to have a hamburger and fries there while I waited for my father to pick me up after soccer practice, just something to hold me over until we got home for dinner. He worked at Kodak and Bishop Kearney High School is near that intersection. The old Everest Institute is just across the street on Goodman.

I really like this Trump University concept. A millionaire (and now president elect) sharing what he has learned in the real estate business, spreading the wealth around. Studying with a master at a University, not philosophy, history or art but a real profession and not from life-long academics but from a successful entrepreneur. Not some elitist major but an honest, practical trade. Does anybody know where the school is located?

Mr. Enclosure

Tuesday, November 8th, 2016

Red Japanese Maple leaves, pachysandra and wood pile, Rochester, New York

We regularly run into Dan and Lisa at Rochester’s First Friday art openings and we’re always talking about going out to eat together but we eat early and they eat late so the will probably never happen. We went to Lisa’s father’s funeral mass over the weekend and sat by an old neighbor. I was their paperboy years ago and I even babysat for Lisa. The priest talked of how Christ conquered death by His victory on the cross. Only the Catholic church could spin such a tale and then talk about it at someone’s death. If Lisa’s father had lived his life differently he too might have been able to conquer death.

In high school I had a summer job working for Lisa’s uncle. In fact I was his first employee. We drove around the city in a pickup truck and installed aluminum awnings on windows and doors of people’s homes. This guy’s business really took of and he became known as “Mr. Enclosure” by installing patios and sun rooms on people’s homes.

We ran into Chris Maggio at the funereal and I told him I read about his father in Georgia Durante’s book on Rochester’s mob. Chris said he shot the cover and was only recently paid for the shoot.

Someone, maybe a relative, read the book of Ecclesiastes piece, something that has never sounded as good as it did when the Birds did their version in 1965, and through dramatic pauses they they were able to find some life in that passage. And this is why we go to funerals.

Thank You Donald

Monday, November 7th, 2016

Never Hillary sign on Wisner Road in Rochester, New York

It would be so easy to alter this campaign sign. The letters and numbers are off the shelf at Home Depot, a standard size font. I could put a number “4” on top of the letter “N” and it would be so subtle the owner might not even notice. There are very few pro Hillary signs around. Most with her name on it are negative. Trump has the angry supporters, angry enough to make their own signs in many cases. Everyone knows Hillary has New York’s electoral vote sewn up and that only makes them more angry.

We had dinner at Scott and Sue’s house the other night. There were maybe twelve people there and of course the conversation turned to politics as soon as we sat down. There was a sameness to everyone’s point of view, all aghast at Trump’s antics and boneheaded positions so it was a rather boring exchange. It made me realize how Trump has not only given voice to the undercurrent of Republican themes (anti-imigrant, anti-abortion, anti gun control, anti tax, anti science) from the last few decades but how he has energized the campaign. He has rescued politics from the doldrums. He has done us all a favor by crystallizing the fear-mongering stance. It is all out in the open. It should now be easier to rise to the challenge.

Four Gardens

Monday, October 24th, 2016

Ossia performing live in Highland Park 2016, Rochester, New York. Photo by Peggi Fournier

We dressed warmly for Ossia’s outdoor, noon performance in Highland Park this Sunday. I wore gloves for the first time in months. It was the world premiere of Eastman faculty composer Robert Morris’ “Four Gardens” for mixed instrumental and vocal ensembles. Their website said the piece was “designed to be played outdoors, overlooking the reservoir in Rochester’s Highland Park.” We should have read that more carefully because we assumed the performance was to take place in the grotto that was pictured on their website. We went there first and then drove through the park for a half hour or so before we found the groups (four gardens) performing simultaneously around the overlook where the old Pavilion was overlooking the reservoir. I wish we had been there for the entire performance because what we heard was beautiful.