Archive for the ‘We Live Like Kings’ Category


Thursday, March 3rd, 2016

Peggi on woods trail in winter

The stereo is rapidly losing its place as the gravitational center of homes. Ear buds and tiny bluetooth speakers supply sound for our personal devices so you’re not likely find a group gathered around the record player or tv set anymore. We send three signals to our stereo, a wireless stream of music from a desktop in another room to an Apple Express wired to the amp, two long RCA style plugs from our tv and the two phono plugs from our turntable. And the outbound lines go to an “A” and “B” set of speakers. There is a subwoofer wired in-line with the “B” speakers. It’s a fairly simple setup, no surround sound or HDMI connections.

For the last few months we’ve had an intermittent problem with the left channel on both sets of speakers. It gets badly distorted and then cuts out and it happens with all three input feeds so we assumed we had a problem with our amp. To confirm this, we borrowed a spare amp from our neighbor, Rick. It behaved the same way. We hired an unemployed acquaintance, a former audio specialist, someone who smoked pot in the back room and sold high-end equipment to audiophiles.

We were desperate to figure out what the problem was but this guy could care less about finding the problem, he just unplugged every connection, re-stripped the ends of the speaker wires and plugged everything back together again and it all works. This is why you hire a professional.

Some Work

Tuesday, February 23rd, 2016

Roman head sculpture from 300 AD at the Getty Villa in Los Angeles

We visit the Getty Center almost every time we’re out here but this trip we decided to check out the Getty Villa, a recreation of a Roman house, a really palatial spread for a very wealthy Roman, someone who was as wealthy during the Roman Empire as J. Paul Getty was in his day. Getty built this place for his third or fourth wife. She’s still alive but living downtown. Getty filled the Villa with art and in the seventies moved the Van Gogh and Rembrandts to the new Getty Center while leaving the Greek, Roman, and Etruscan antiquities in the Villa.

We took an audio tour, something we usually avoid in museums preferring to follow our eyes. Our guide was a retired high school principle and brought a lot to the experience even telling us how we were dressed – togas and sandals – as we entered the dining quarters.

I love these early idealized sculptures of the human form. The one above is from 300 AD. They have an abstract fertility statue here from 3,000 BC that looks like something Modigliani would have done. Some of of the statues were repaired in antiquity and the Getty has a restoration department that has reworked some of these pieces. A placard called attention to the nose and chin of a woman’s head from 10 AD that had been rebuilt by the staff. The work looked seamless but there is something off about contributing to an artwork completed a few millennium ago. A diagram of their statue of Hercules pointed to all the work the staff had done on him. I couldn’t help but notice they didn’t reconstruct his penis.

Repared Roman sculpture of Hercules at the Getty Villa in Los Angeles

The World Is Full Of Words

Saturday, February 6th, 2016

Super Bowl cup-cakes at Kneads & Wants on Lake Avenue in Rochester, New York

It was good to see writing, or more accurately reading of one’s writing, take first prize at this month’s First Friday gallery night. Of course, the prize is not even tangible and entirely subjective. We only saw three shows last night but Sonya Livingston, reading from her book, “Queen of the Fall” (working title, “Land of the Lost”) was as good as it gets. She possesses the keenest of observational skills and an extraordinary ability to elevate the ordinary. She is a joy to read and a double delight to hear read. I went ape over her first book and Writer’s & Books has selected this one as its 16th year “If All of Rochester Reads the Same Book…” selection.

Poet, Sally Bittner Bonn, read a couple of pieces from her upcoming memoir about raising a child (Oscar) with a disability. Both were deeply felt and moving. Oscar is a Margaret Explosion fan, we played at a few benefits to raise money for his power chair. Oscar was there for his mom’s readings and we had a chance to say hi. Always a delight.

Das Model

Monday, February 1st, 2016

Ebony Fashion Fair Show at Memorial Art Gallery in Rochester, New York

All the big names were represented at the MAG’s Ebony Fashion Fair Show. Mostly male fashion designers, Christian Dior, Yves Saint Laurent, Oscar de la Renta, Stephen Burrows, Patrick Kelly, Valentino, Alexander McQueen with their fabulous creations for women and a few fabulous women like Vivian Westwood. We were there for the opening and I found the people in the crowd more interesting than the dresses. Actually I was most intrigued by the mannequins. I’d like take some of those home and use them as models for drawings.

“She’s a model and she’s looking good
I’d like to take her home that’s understood”

Building Awareness

Saturday, January 16th, 2016

Audio-Visual performance at Axom Gallery in Rochester, New York

Remember AV Club? Probably not. Nerdy high school kids messing with video so the picture flickered or maybe even manipulating the picture with the audio signal. No idea how you do that but they figured it out. These same kids had a completely different notion of music too. Not so much melody, harmony and rhythm but more blips and sampled noise with feedback. The kind of stuff you’d watch and listen to late at night with some incense burning and recreational drugs.

Axom Gallery last night featured visual art by John Lake, tiled black and white print-outs of a young man in the water, along with experimental music performances by City Harvest Black, Licker, Mike Shiflet and Joe + N. Not sure who we caught but it was completely engaging. There are more of these types than you would imagine. It was one of the biggest crowds I’ve seen at the gallery.

There was beer there too but I was too full to have one. We had eaten dinner at Atlas Eats where they were doing something they called “American Melting Pot. “Cured Salmon Pastrami Style with Creamer potatoes, Homemade 1,000 Island dressing and Rye Caraway Crumbs, Winter Vegetable Puree with Roasted Beets, Quark and Pommes Allumettes and Seared Scallops in Kimchee Butter with Braised Escarole and Cracklings. They could have stopped right there but there two more courses. One included a delicious, over-easy quail egg and that was nice. I can’t eat that much but I did. And it’s not so much the bloated feeling that bums me out it’s more the dread I feel with the excess of it all. And dessert just has a way of spoiling a perfectly good meal.

Yoga class was back after a holiday recess. We worked the lower back today, mostly trying to undue damage we do just walking around in a gravity bound atmosphere. At the end of class Jeffery reminded us we are building awareness with our practice. I like that.

Rev On The Red Line

Sunday, October 11th, 2015

Needs & Wants bakery on Lake Avnue in Rochester, New York

Since the beginning of time the northern end of Lake Avenue in Rochester has been biker. Biker bars, bikers riding up and down, bikers in the restaurants. You want to stare at them and their “old ladies” but you’re sort of afraid. Only Diane Arbus could get away with that.

Lou Gramm’s (Grammatico) Band, Black Sheep, used to play the Penny Arcade, the hard rock club at the very end of Lake Avenue, more than forty years ago. The bar tenders there wore “Punk Rock Sucks” t-shirts when New Math played there in the seventies. Of course that may have been WCMF that put them up to that. Lou Gramm wrote a song about the gear-head sub culture here with the lines,
“Running all night on Lake Avenue
It’s a piece of cake
If you know what to do”

Charlotte, as this part of the city is known, is a magnet, though. The city meets the lake in dramatic fashion as Lake Avenue ends. Engineers plan to water the new marina next week. Condos in the Port of Rochester are on the horizon. And “Kneads & Wants” the artisan bakery on the east side, just north of the old Stutson Street bridge is an oasis. Olga told us about the place. We had driven by it many times but were never seduced by the sandwich sign.

We stopped after our Saturday morning yoga class and had coffee and cinnamon scones as we talked to the owner. We had been in the habit of stopping at Sips for coffee but the service there is so slow I started shopping at Herrama’s while Peggi waited for our iced lattes. I need and want to return here.

Loudest Note

Saturday, October 3rd, 2015

Claude Bragdon's Universalist Church in Rochester, New York

Martin Edic’s friend, Lucia Guarino, had the nicest stop on the Landmark Society’s tour this weekend. Her Capron Street condo in a former canal warehouse is fabulously decorated, has a perfect layout and a rooftop terrace with a great view of downtown. And she was there in person to welcome the throngs. The tour wasn’t as spectacular as last year’s but it did get us out to new Edge of the Wedge lofts, the Cub Room and Local Meat Market.

It was hard for me, an ex-Catholic, to appreciate the Claude Bragdon designed, Arts & Crafts, Universalist Church. Where is all the iconography, the Stations of the Cross, the heavenly aspirations? It was kind of fun to get into the old National Clothing Store where the new Holiday Garden Inn has set up shop. The National was always a step above Sibley’s and McCurdy’s. I remember my mom picking out a pretty adventurous sport coat for my Confirmation. I was nine or ten and had some input but she had great taste. This was a wide striped cream and maroon number making me the loudest note in the class photos.

Our First Friday route has to be rethought with the closing of Lumiere’s gallery. The photo gallery was one of our favorite stops. R Gallery, next door, had a solo exhibition of sculpture and installation by RIT alumni and Dedalus Foundation Fellowship recipient Cecily Culver. Her work “aims to shift viewer perspective and celebrate the mundane phenomena of the everyday” and it did that.

Pete Monacelli’s “Midtown Plaza” works on paper at Richard Margolis’s next door gallery looked fantastic. And on top of that Pete was holding court with a small crowd gathered around him in the center of the room when we got there, talking first about Midtown, his love of the city, and the changes he has seen in his years here. The conversation quickly swerved to Ad Reinhardt’s cartoons and then Thomas Merton’s letters to Ad Reinhardt. And then the many facets of Thomas Merton who was born one hundred years ago. Someone said, “he sounds like a Unitarian.” Please, the Catholics need all the help they can get. There is a show of Merton’s “Zen” photos at Nazareth College, up until November 4th.

Make It Funky Pt. 2

Friday, May 29th, 2015

"Miniture Fairy Garden" sign at Case's Garden Store on Norton Street in Rochester, New York

I spent the better part of the last couple days reworking my “Funky Signs” site, installed a new template, “Hipster” by Precrafted. It’s one column, infinite scrolling and mobile friendly.”

The sign above is so good it might not even need a snarky comment. I spotted it near the cash register in Case’s Garden Store over on Norton Street and added it to my to do list. I have two hundred signs up there and about a hundred in the kitty.

Mint Juleps

Sunday, May 3rd, 2015

The Flash Mob with Todd Bradley Western New York Flash home opener 2015

We had to leave home before the race started so we missed this year’s running of the Kentucky Derby. Peggi and I went to it on our first date, the year Secretariat won, and lately we’ve been in the habit of driving or riding our bikes down to the lake to watch the race at O’Laughlins overlooking the river and Port of Rochester. But this year we had a conflict. The Flash were playing their home opener.

Kerry Regan and Claire pulled into the parking space next to us and they didn’t have tickets either so we bought four from a guy on the street for ten dollars each. Without Abby Wambach and Carli Lloyd and all the players they traded away, the attendance was way down so we ignored the seat assignments and sat where we wanted. And as luck would have it forwards Sidney Leroux and Jasmyne Spencer switched sides so we had a great view of the action.

The match was against Boston so I was hoping to see my favorite player in the league, Heather O’Reilly, but apparently they traded her to Kansas City. Kansas City will be here Friday to meet the Flash but by then all the national team players will be training for this summer’s World Cup.

The Flash played pretty good in the first half but dominated the game in the second and scored three goals against Boston’s Alyssa Naeher, the national team’s backup to Hope Solo. All three of the goals were solid. Sydney’s was picture perfect as she moved right and shot back to the left near the post. Kristin Edmonds is back on defense and playing like she really wants the ball. She’s always moving to an open space and covers a lot of ground. She plays like O’Reilly and I would put her at midfield if I was coach.

The Flash Mob, shown above, sounded better than ever last night, even added some new samba beats so it was no surprise to see Todd Bradley playing with them. He’s recently put together a Bossa Nova combo with his two brothers and Brian Williams.

Fake Deer Project

Friday, March 27th, 2015

Deer posing as deer target in Rochester, New York

There is a guy who lives in our neighborhood. We call him the “trench-coat father” because his son walked home from EastRidge HS in a trench-coat in the days after Columbine. The kid is long gone but the guy is out in the yard quite often sporting a mullet. Their fenced in yard is sort of a mini theme park with incongruous stuff like a big black pick-up on a circular driveway with colored rocks and ornate flower holders in the center. There is usually an American flag flying on the pole in the yard and below it are two life-sized fake deer. One of them is lying down and the other is standing nearby.

I’ve always thought it would be fun to collect photos of fake deer in people’s yards but a lot of them are in back yards and they’re surrounded with hay bales. People use them as targets and these are the type of people I would rather not mess with. So this will remain a conceptual project.

DaVinci’s Thumbprint

Thursday, March 12th, 2015

Da Vinci Drums of War at Rochester Museum & Science Center

If we hadn’t spotted the announcement for today’s lecture in the morning paper we certainly would have spent the day outdoors. The gas company is replacing the lines on our street and attempting to move everyone’s meter outside. There is a lot of commotion out there and it was especially sunny.

Instead we settled into a darkened auditorium and struggled to understand French scientific engineer, Pascal Cotte, as he described the multi-spectral digital camera he designed to photograph the Mona Lisa for the Louvre. His camera takes images that are 240 million pixels using less light than the painting would receive in the gallery on a typical day.

His reconstructed photos show the incredibly detailed and intricate patterns of lacework on the clothing, You can see the individual strands of hair that made up the eye lashes and what’s left of the eyebrows. You can see DaVinci’s thumbprint in several places. He used it to spread the paint just so. The virtual restoration removes the varnish and restore the painting to the colors that were available in DaVinci’s day. You would think museums would be clamoring for this camera to authenticate paintings in their collection but Dr. Cotte says, “They do not want to know.”

Leonardo started painting the Mona Lisa in 1503 and kept her with him until his death, retouching and reworking her constantly and still felt she was incomplete. X-Rays reveal a different woman at the bottom of this painting. In 1911 an Italian worker at the Louvre stole the painting. He kept it in his home for two years. He added some orange paint to the picture and then tried to sell it to the Uffiza Gallery in Florence, calling it “her rightful home. A madman threw a rock at the painting in 1956. You can still see the damage.

The exhibit, on the top floor of the Museum & Science Center, has several reproductions of Dr. Cotte’s photos of the Mona Lisa along with seventy five of DaVinci’s life-sized, machine inventions. It is rather mind-blowing. The show makes it’s case. “DaVinci is surely the greatest genius the world has ever known.”

Log On

Friday, February 20th, 2015

Pat Pauley quilt "Mummy Bags Influence" at Axom Gallery in Rochester, NY

Pat Pauley’s quilts are works of art first and only nominally something to snuggle up with. She starts with white fabric and dyes and paints on the cloth while she sews the pieces together. They look fantastic in Axom Gallery. They are big and yet they make the room look bigger. This one would look exceptionally fine on Duane Sherwood’s wall in Brooklyn. I told Pat I love the conga drums and she said, “Thanks, but they are really mummy bags.” Her show runs for a couple more weeks.

We stopped by the opening of Arena art group show at The Williams Gallery tonight but we hardly had a chance to see the work before we were smoked out. It is really a beautiful space but I never noticed the fireplace in there. Someone put a log in it, one of those fake logs that you buy at the grocery store. It filled the room with smoke while some people fooled with the flue and then the thing just burst into flames. They were three feet high and someone was pouring pitchers of water on it. As we raced for the door we saw someone take the big painting off the wall above the fireplace. My suspicion is the log they burned was actually one of those fake plastic logs that are meant for show only.

Transfiguration Ice Sculpture

Wednesday, February 18th, 2015

Icicles on Church of the Transfiguration on Culver Road in Rochester, New York

I have lived in Rochester for a long time but I have never seen an icicle as big as this one on the side of the Church of the Transfiguration on Culver Road. It runs from the roof, two stories up, to the ground where it is anchored to the parking lot.

Just like Jerry Ludwig says in his home improvement column, the ice damning in this case is right where an addition was connected to the existing structure without regard to the pitch. They have some serious heat loss going on here, either a cathedral ceiling or just poorly insulated or possibly no vents for draft from the eaves. A little more money in the collection basket will cover the loss.

American Royalty

Saturday, December 27th, 2014

Psychedelic George at Skylark in Rochester, New York

Was Frank DeBlase really born on Christmas day or is that something the writer/photographer made up? To ease the confusion his Australian girlfriend arranged a birthday party at Skylark Lounge on Boxing Day. Skylark is an Ed Repard museum and the bartender looked like a cross between Hermie and Casey. Even “Psychedelic George,” who used to come see the band but is someone we thought disappeared some thirty years ago was there. It was a joy to watch Frank hold court like American royalty.

Tegular Tiles

Saturday, December 13th, 2014

DNI. "Do Not Inventory" for you lay people.

This sign is one of the reasons I keep getting further behind with my signs to post.

When you’ve been to Home Depot and Lowe’s in the same day you know you are in the throes of a home remodeling project. We were looking for what turns out to be an slightly unusual product, ceiling tiles that didn’t call attention to themselves. The ceiling in our basement is not that high, nothing like the twelve foot ceilings in the Bevier Building downtown that is currently being rehabbed, so we don’t want to draw the eye to that feature. Plain white with a simple non-directional texture would be ideal but they are so yesterday.

The key feature of dropped ceiling panels today is “tegular.” Spell check hasn’t even caught up with it. These tiles are 2 feet by 2 feet, not 2 by 4 like the one ripped down, and they drop down because they’ve been cut with a right angle on all four sides. One half of their depth hangs below the surface of the grid. They come in all sorts of crazy styles but they look too busy to us. We would like our ceiling to disappear. They still make no-tegular but they are a special order item. And just so you both stores carry Armstrong with virtually the same line-up and price.

Kings Highway

Wednesday, November 26th, 2014

New Irondequoit library under construction in Rochester, New York

Everything in our town is split down the middle by the north/south extension of Goodman Street, Kings Highway. I love that name now but it used to bug me when I was going to Kearney. Even though the high school was at the start of Kings Highway I preferred to call it Goodman. We were called the Bishop Kearney Kings and I figured they named the street after that dump. I couldn’t wait to get out of there and after two years my parents finally gave in.

Kings Highway may have been a highway when kings ruled but it is not what we know as a highway today. When it crosses Titus, right where this picture was taken, the road becomes a miniature, two lane, Blue Ridge Parkway as it winds its way northward to the lake. There are very few houses, the road washes out frequently and it is surrounded by undeveloped parts of Durand Eastman Park. The view in fact is regal.

We have always had two libraries in this town but they plan to close both when this new library building, at Titus and Kings Highway, is complete. I’m holding my breath that the art section will be better than the one we have up by Wegmans.

Jesus At Mr. Dominic’s

Tuesday, September 30th, 2014

Jesus at Mr. Dominic's, Rochester, New York

A lot of restaurants aren’t even open on Mondays. Mr. Dominic’s at the lake in Charlotte is packed on Mondays. They went through some tough times (of their own making.) They have always had a faithful following, waiters and waitresses who had been there for decades, great chefs with hard core Italian cred and reasonable prices but when Dom (the guy with the profile) died the kids forgot to pay the taxman, or so we heard. The doors were shut. They remodeled. They reopened.

We were there early and I ordered my usual, Manicotti Elizabeth (with mushrooms). I had a good view of the back corner where an elderly (our age) couple was dining. I couldn’t help but notice the image of Christ in the faux marbleized wallpaper. So when Donald (Mr. Dominic’s son) strolled by I caught his attention. “What’s with Christ’s face on the wall over there?” “I know, I know. Isn’t that something? It came with the wallpaper.”

What Happened To Roebuck?

Sunday, August 31st, 2014

My brother Fran's kitchen

Our refrigerator came with our house. It was made by Amana, a brand that seems to have dropped off the face of the earth. It keeps things cold alright, but lettuce and fresh produce freeze unless you have them right up front and the motor is really noisy. Peggi did a some research online. We had access, through a friend, to Consumer Reports’ website and they rank models on temperature control, design, reliability and noise. We rode our bikes over to Sears, one of the only stores left in Medley Center, to check them out in person.

The local power company, RG&E, is offering a fifty dollar rebate if you get an energy efficient model, Sears was having a Labor Day sale and they gave us five percent off if we opened a charge account. They deliver, they haul away your old model and if we pay the total on the first bill they give us an addition twenty bucks off. The salesman over there said he only works Sundays,”to pay for dance lessons, not mine, my daughter’s” but he really knew his stuff.

I was thinking about the refrigerator we had in our first apartment. It was my grandparents old unit. Every couple of months it would swell shut with frost engulfing whatever it was we had in there. After that bit the dust we picked up a used harvest gold GE that we brush-painted an eggplant color. The salesman said he wasn’t supposed to tell us but Whirlpool is the same as Kenmore. We checked out a Samsung before choosing an LC (formerly Goldstar) model in black with French doors and the freezer on the bottom. We rode our bikes home and expect delivery in two days.

Double Double

Wednesday, August 27th, 2014

View of brick walls from Highland Hospital's fifth floor

You would think hanging around hospitals would give you plenty of time to keep up on your news consumption but I seem to have fallen behind as I visit, email updates, walk up and down the halls and compile confusing notes on tests results.

I just checked in at Google News and see that a nine year girl accidentally shot her shooting instructor with an Uzi. “Scientists ‘Rewrite’ Bad Memories in Mice.” And Burger King, the Home of the Whopper, is buying Tim Hortons. Their signature drink is a “Double Double,” coffee with two creams and two sugars. I take mine black and I’ve never been to a Tim Hortons. The last time I was at a Burger King was when I was living in a dorm in Indiana. I see DropBox is now offering a terabyte of storage and I’m dreaming about what I could do with all that space.

We stopped in at Record Archive’s new back room last night to watch an early trailer for an upcoming documentary on the thriving record store. I was hoping to see some archival footage of MX-80 in their old “Back Room” or maybe even that time I played drums with Greg Prevost from the Chesterfield Kings. There was some great old footage though and plenty of new stuff with the colorful cast of current, long time employees, mostly guys with long hair and beards.

Corporate Personhood

Sunday, July 6th, 2014

50's Chevy in front of Playground Tavern, Rochester, New York

Still have not set foot in the Playground Tavern. It has been up for sale for over a year and I couldn’t even find a listing for it so I doubt if it will be going anywhere soon but I’m itching to get inside.

We celebrated the fourth down at the lake at some friends’ house. The neighbors in the Crescent Beech area have parties that night and they collect driftwood all year to burn in the giant bonfires that line the beach. This year it got a title out of control with one of the neighbors calling the fire department on someone who built a three story tiki bar to burn when the sun went down. They must spend a fortune on the Chinese fireworks. They all come from stores on the Pennsylvania side of the border. The Chinese Lanterns, silently floating in the wind, were my favorite part. I was hoping the things burnt up before landing but we spotted a purple one in the woods today when we took our walk.

My father was telling me how his family used to take the trolley down there to the beech in front of where Schaller’s is now. His dad would go in the bar that was across the street and have beer or two while he watched the ballgame and he and his sisters would swim. He told us he never saw his mom or dad go in the water.

I was going to try and connect corporate personhood to this post, the way Maureen Dowd connected the US World Cup loss as a way to advance beyond American exceptionalism, but the two words themselves don’t even go together.