Archive for the ‘Lopsided Observations’ Category

My Family?

Tuesday, October 17th, 2017

Pick-up truck with bumper stickers near Park

We occasionally see this pick-up sitting near the entrance to the park. He is probably out there walking a dog, we’ve never seen anyone getting in or out of the truck. Don’t know if anyone has seen “The Meyerowitz Stories” yet but there is a hilarious scene in there where the brothers, Ben Stiller and Adam Sandler, try to beat the shit out of a car with sticks and stones. It is not that easy. Anyway, I thought of that scene when I saw this truck.

Elizabeth Marvel plays their sister, Jean. Her character works at Xerox and lives in Rochester. Dean & Britta do some of the music. Dean’s sister lives in Rochester.

Death to the Inner Loop

Sunday, October 15th, 2017

Cat equipment on top of a pile in the middle of the old Inner Loop in Rochester, New York

I am still struck by this sight. What was once a wild idea, the movement took hold at the highest levels of city government and they filled half of the damn thing in. The moat that once surrounded the city suffocated the city. Just an idea and now a reality. “Death to the Inner Loop.” If only we could undo all the other urban renewal projects.

Points Of Departure

Thursday, September 14th, 2017

Tate Shaw's InkJet watercolors at Mercer Gallery Rochester New York

Colleen Buzzard, the thinking man’s artist, along with Karen Sardisco, has brought together twenty or so artists who explore the idea of mapping as thinking. The show, at MCC’s Mercer Gallery and six satellite locations, turns out to be whole lot of fun. We started with a three page handout that associated 61 artworks with the artists. There are some familiar names like Ann Havens, Scott McCarney and Jim Mott but many from other cities. A postcard for the show listed the six satellite locations but you might need a map to find them. Three are on the UR campus, one is at RIT, one at VSW and one opens sat RoCo in the Lab Space on October 6.

Ryan Boatright, from Paris France, deconstructed a failed email attachment and translated it into a score for music. The binhex code is printed on a stack of pages on the gallery floor and the music is looped on an iPod. Tate Shaw’s watercolors above, photos printed on watercolor paper and reworked with water, were stacked in an especially inviting way but accompanied by two little notes that read “Please do not touch.” By clicking on the photo you can see six beautiful works that we were allowed to look at. It’s a wildly interesting show including even a circuit board negative for an old MXR effects box.

There is a four foot high pile of US Geological Survey maps at the door of the gallery and we were invited to take a map home with us. Mine shows Santa Margarita Lake in California.


Friday, September 1st, 2017

Milkweed caterpillar at pool

Our hike took us along the beach this afternoon and we were surprised to see the water level was still so high. Our garden and horseshoe pits are dry.

We ran into Hal, our jazz fest buddy, at the entrance to the park. He told us he had been geocaching and he had located three today. He wants to have a hundred by year’s end. Hal was wearing a Chelsea FC hat and he told us he has been following the Flash in their new North Carolina home. We asked if he was going to watch tonight’s US men’s World Cup qualification but he said he doesn’t have cable.

Hal likes to change topics so we talked about upcoming arboretum tours, Bop Shop shows and the Toronto Film Fest. He told us he was the first speaker at the City Hall hearing on the theater proposal for Parcel 5. He thinks the idea that the theater will bring business downtown is a sham. I don’t like that park idea either. I say sell the property to the highest bidder without incentives or tax breaks.

Talking ‘Bout My Generation

Saturday, July 22nd, 2017

Green chairs and small wood tables at Mass MoCA

I should not be depressed at a birthday party. The room was crowded, a band playing and many people got up to perform. Some solo and at times there were six guitars on the stage. So what is my problem?

Let’s say you are in a position to go out to see a band. Maybe you would like to hear something creative, exciting, maybe something with an edge. What qualities do you look for? Maybe throw the dice and catch something wildly unexpected. If there was a room full of people and they were all around my age there would be a lot of water under the bridge. Just think where we came from with Motown and garage rock and straight up pop. Hendrix and psychedelia and jazz pushing frontiers. Punk offering a major correction. EDM for crying out loud.

Let’s say you play an instrument. What qualities would you be thinking about adding to this lexicon? Would you go out of your way to do a mediocre version of some roots, Americana thing?

Don’t Explain Yourself

Wednesday, June 21st, 2017


We must be drawn to Monroe County. Peggi and I met while going to school in Bloomington, Indiana in Monroe County. We moved, Peggi to and me ‘back” to, Rochester in Monroe County. And we just finished slowing our way through Netflix’s “Bloodline,” the dysfunctional family drama set in the Keys, Monroe County, Florida.

Bloodline got in trouble early on. They killed off the best character, Ben Mendelsohn’s Danny, and the others had to fill the void. They couldn’t so Danny kept reappearing. Kyle Chandler as John Rayburn does the nightmare deed, killing his brother Danny, and his guilt drives the rest of the show. You’d think heavyweights like Sam Shepard and Sissy Spacek would have been given more to work with as the family matriarchs but Shepard dies early and Spacek never feels present. The second most dysfunctional sibling, Kevin, played by Norbert Leo Butz, almost gave Danny a run for his money but the writing completely fell apart.Jamie McShane and Chloë Sevigny, as Eric and Chelsea O’Bannon, were both great as support, so good they outshone the leftover leads. And latecomers like Beau Bridges and John Leguizamo helped bring some new life into the show but the whole thing crash landed when characters started explaining themselves and even each other.


Sunday, June 18th, 2017

Garth Fagan reading poetry in front of Sol Lewitt prints at R1 Studio in Rochester, New York

“Poetry is an embarrassing affair. It is born too near the functions we call intimate.” That line is from Czeslaw Milosz‘s “Road-side Dog.” Milosz’s writing is not precious enough to be called poetry. It lies somewhere between poetry and prose. It is economical. He is not afraid to be simple or advance dumb ideas. And yet he effortlessly uncovers essential truths. His writing shares the properties of minimal art but it is also emotional.

Louise thought I would like his writing and I do. I was planning on returning her book when we met at a poetry reading on Friday night so I re-read most of it while we sat by the pool. It was too nice an evening to go in, that and she suspected the event, the last of a series of tie-ins with the Minimal Mostly show at R1, this one chosen poetry read by local luminaries, might just be “intolerable.” We were there for a half hour or so and it was delightful. But not even close to Milosz.

In a Landscape
In a landscape that is nearly totally urban, just by the freeway, a pond rushes, a wild duck, small trees. Those who pass on the road feel at that sight a kind of relief, though they would not be able to name it.
Czeslaw Milosz

Minimalism Is In The Air

Monday, June 5th, 2017

Daily Mirror headline for Tate purchase of Carl Andre piece from Minimal Mostly lecture slideshow at Memorial Art Gallery in Rochester, New York

Cathleen Chaffee, Senior Curator at Albright Knox Art Gallery, gave a lecture at the Memorial Art Gallery on Sunday afternoon on the topic of minimal art. Although the minimal aesthetic is easily applied to most art-making she concentrated on 1960 to the present, artists like Robert Ryman, Sol Lewitt, Agnes Martin and Dan Flavin. But she started back in the 1800s with a French woman who did illustrations of an all white painting, an all green painting and an all black painting. That joke about a blank canvas being a painting of a polar bear in a snowstorm has been around awhile.

1914 was to be a pivotal year with Marcel DuChamp the master, Kazimir Malevich making some of their strongest work. Ad Reinhardt and Rauschenberg did solid color paintings in the fifties as they fought their way out of Ab Ex. And John Cage’s silent “4:33″ piece was a response to that. Art does not exist in a vacuum.

This lecture was in conjunction with Deborah Ronnen’s sensational “Minimal Mostly” show at R1 Studios on University Avenue. Her show features some of these same artists along with Ellsworth Kelly, Annie and Josef Albert, Carmen Herrera and Frank Stella. The pop-up show is up til the end of June so do yourself a favor and find some time to visit it.

Small Dreams

Monday, May 22nd, 2017

Looking east from the northern end of the High Line in Manhattan

Duane was up before us this morning and had already left the apartment. I sat down to read one of his art books and he walked in with fresh bagels. We gabbed for another couple of hours and headed off on the F train.

From the train I could barely read the yellow sign pinned to the IDT Energy building in Newark. The tall building, right next to, has very few windows and the top ten floors are covered with a huge American flag. Curious as to whether the yellow sign was also making a political statement I looked for a picture of it online. I found one. The sign reads, “America is too great for small dreams – Ronald Reagan.” What kind of bullshit is that?

We picked up our car at brother’s place and hit the road for Homer. The coffee shop there is half way and an oasis. We drove up the eastern shore of Skaneateles Lake and had a fish fry at Doug’s. As we crossed over a bridge near Montezuma’s Wildlife Refuge there was a large turtle in the middle of the road. We straddled it with our tires and and Peggi suggested going back. There were more cars behind us and we didn’t but I hope she/he made it.

How High Is The Water Mama?

Sunday, April 30th, 2017

Trailer Park in high water along Route 18

It poured this morning, a couple of times. And there was another article in the paper about the unusually high lake levels. Everyone is talking about whether the new regulation, that limits the amount the levels can be adjusted, is to blame or whether it is just part of natural cycle. Right now the wetlands surrounding Lake Ontario are being renewed with the ebb and flow of high water but property owners are grumbling. I have to side with the the wetlands on this one.

The town has passed out 6,000 sand bags for nearby residents. Its gonna take a lot more than that to save the beach. At moment it is gone. We walked along Durand Beach this afternoon, along the sidewalk that is. The sandy beach is entirely under water. Now if you were living in a houseboat you would simply have to re-tie the knots on the lines to your moors.

One Of Seven

Saturday, April 29th, 2017

Horseshoe Falls and sky from Niagara Falls, New York

Our friends, Matthew and Louise, went up to Niagara Falls recently for a night and we copied their plan. A “Wonder of the World” in our own backyard, we hadn’t been there in years. I guess you could get there in an hour and a half but we took the scenic route along the old Erie Canal towns.

We stayed in an old Art Deco hotel on the American side. The bartender there told us the building was revamped by Carl Paladino. I said, “Take Out The Trash Carl Paladino?” Either the bartender didn’t remember Carl’s run for governor or he didn’t think it was funny because he didn’t even smile. As I watched him I got worried he might be Paladino’s nephew or something.

At some point the government gave a Native American tribe six blocks in the middle of the city of Niagara Falls. They owed them the whole town, at least, but what you have now is a convention center, empty most of the time, a hideously tall hotel with a screaming LED billboard, “THE TEMPTATIONS with THE FOUR TOPS,” and a casino. We walked through the casino. Peggi got depressed in there. I was blown away by it all. Smoking is still acceptable and it goes perfectly with the low-life, Black Jack, Backgammon and whatever you call those things that used to be slot machines. Surrounding theses builds are blocks of parking lots. The city is stuck between decay and mis-managed renewal.

The magnificent falls are on the American side but the best singular views of the falls are from the Canadian side. We walked through Customs and into Canada seven or so miles along the shore of the river and back. The Canadian parks are manicured but they’re surrounded by honky tonk. There are Hard Rock Cafés on both sides of the border. I prefer the funkiness of the struggling American side and the casual park on this side, Goat Island, is sensational. Sensational because the views, as you walk around its perimeter, are astoundingly beautiful.

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.