The Way In

May 15th, 2018

Old man with beret in small town in Spain

We’ve been back from Spain for weeks but out walking partner, my cousin Maureen, kept going and just finished today. She arrived in Santiago, got her certificate stamped and continued on to the first alternate ending, Finistere (end of earth), and then to the hardcore final stop, Muxia, in the northwestern corner of Spain. We have kept in touch each morning as she is finishing her day’s walk and I couldn’t count the number of times we have said we wish we were on the trail with her.

We walked up to the high school today to vote on the town’s budget and it became clear to me what one of the best features of the Camino de Santiago is that each day is an entirely different walk from all the rest. A new starting point, new route and a brand new destination. It made the five mile round trip to the high school kind of ho hum.

I finally got my photos sorted, If I used a smartphone or if my camera had GPS it would have been done for me but before I put a name on the file I try try to figure out where we were. We were in and out of so many small town and so many churches. I have a picture of a crucified woman and I couldn’t remember her name so a little research was in order before labeling it “Santa Librada” and throwing the Camino Photos up on Flckr.

I discovered there is a trans-fronted rock band in Baltimore called Santa Librida. In the Middle Ages Santa Librada was the patron saint of prostitutes and over time she became the patron saint of women in labour. Apparently pregnant women visit her tomb and recite the following:

Santa Librada,

May the way out

Be as sweet

As the way in!

Distractions

May 14th, 2018

Mermaid statues in garden store outside Leon Spain

In Spain for the month of April we got to experience an early Spring and because it was so cold here in April we are enjoying it all over again in May. We put lettuce, spinach and cilantro in today, all from seed. I realize we’re late with those but we’ll see what happens. We picked a batch of kale from last year’s plants. They try to start up again and only get so far. We plan to get over to Case’s on Norton pick the plants we intend to put in. We may be pushing it with those but we hear Mother’s Day is the new Memorial Day for clear of frost days.

My sister thought we were goin to Lourdes and she asked us to pick a rosary up for her. She got confused because we had told her our cousin was going Lourdes for Easter before meeting us in St. Jean Pied de Port‎. Lourdes would have been the place to buy one but we found a nice one in Pamplona at religious store connected to the Cathedral. We dropped that off tonight after yoga.

It was hot in the old Brighton School No. 1 gym. Jeffery had the doors open. Brighton High School had a lacrosse game going on and they cranked a recording of the national anthem through their P.A. system. Jeffery told us the longer you practice yoga the easier it is to block out distractions.

145

May 13th, 2018

Kurt Ketchum show at Axom Gallery

Axom’s parking lot was full on Saturday, not with cars parked for the gallery but with vendors selling locally handmade goods. It was a Second Saturday and Rick and Robin Muto let them use the lot each month for the event. We had seen them the night before at an art opening on the ninth floor of the Bank of America building. Rick and Robin had taken one of the artists in that show under their wing years ago. Dan Armbruster from Joywave was up there too. I told him how much we liked his band. Rick told us he wasn’t able to make the opening of my father’s show because he had an opening at his own gallery, Axom, a show that features new work by Kurt Ketchum. We made a point to stop up there the next day and we really enjoyed the show. Kurt puts his own stamp on everything he touches. He brings a new kind of order to objects by interacting with them.

We met my aunt and uncle up at the Geisel Gallery. They live in Niagara Falls and were former traveling partners with my parents. They came into town to see the Leo Dodd show there. My cousin was driving and she called to say they were at Main and Clinton and they couldn’t find the building. My cousin refuses to get a smart phone so it was verbal instructions that were going land this ship. They were only two blocks away but Clinton is one way, the wrong way. And they we pointed west on Main so we had to turn them around. Stone Street, their first left would take them right to the entrance but you can’t turn onto it from Main. We had look for South Avenue and told them to turn left. South Ave. is labeled “”Saint Paul” when goes north and that’s all they saws they called back form Washington Street! They were on the other side of the river. A half hour later they came up Court Street where the Dachshund Parade was happening in Washington Square Park. They unwound in the elevator and they loved the show.

My mother has been gone a year but we still get some mail for her, things like “Better Homes & Gardens.” I took a look at this one on Mother’s Day and found some cool stuff, a simple recipe for grilling Kale, Radicchio and Bok Choy along with high heat, non-stick steel grill fry pan with holes in it for the small stuff. And a feature on house numbers in various colors, fonts and materials. The aluminum Neutra numbers would look good on our house.

Art Market Depression

May 12th, 2018

Panelists at Rochester Contemporary talk entitled "Think Globally. Create, Experience & Collect Locally."

RoCo’s event was billed as “Think Globally. Create, Experience & Collect Locally.” Sounded great.

Louis Perticone from Artisan Works, Nan Miller, who ran a gallery under her name for forty years, and Bradley Butler, a painter and gallery director/curator at Main Street Arts in Clifton Springs, just thirty five minutes from here, were the featured panelists. Grant Holcomb, the former Memorial Art Gallery director was sitting behind us. RoCo ran out of chairs, they had a good crowd.

Nan Miller, who represented Albert Paley and specialized in prints and multiples by internationally known artists addressed how everything has changed with the internet. People become aware of an artist and track him or her down on their own. Art Fairs are putting gallery owners like her out of business. Louis Perticone buys artists’ work in bulk, by the thousands, and rents it out to institutions. “I look for something I can put in a hospital, nothing too far out.” He said he has over a thousand photographs in Rochester General Hospital. And if I heard him right he does this as a not-for-profit. He stressed that less than one percent of artists make money. Instead “they fuel the art market by being consumers of art materials.” Bradley Butler’s “Main Street Arts” in Clifton Springs is an oasis. With artfully curated theme shows, curated group shows and artists in residence he brings art lovers to that small town, a real feat. He is not the owner however his situation is more like a dream.

Peggi and I went because we consider ourselves very small time collectors. We have very little wall space but we buy what we love. We bought Warhols with my brother in the mid seventies and took them to auction at Christie’s last year. We found this talk depressing but we probably have our heads in the clouds.

Gone

May 9th, 2018

Albert Paley sculpture in front of old B&L Headquarters, Rochester, New York

It wasn’t the best night last week. The band sort of floated around themes but never nailed anything until that one song in the second set. We trapped ourselves in a spell and stopped time. The room got really quiet and we all knew we were into something good. I remember thinking. “I don’t want to blow this,” and then the power went out on the recorder. I don’t know if kicked the cord or what happened but we lost the recording. If I hadn’t let the batteries run down they would have taken over but they were dead so, poof, the second set was gone. The really cool thing was that all four of us were bummed. We are all on the same page and knew we had touched magic.

Of course, if we did have the recording, the chances are it would never have sounded as good as we remember it. Mike Rea tapes a lot of shows. Maybe he has a recording.

Margaret Explosion - Daydream

Margaret Explosion – Daydream

Redolent Of Pig

May 8th, 2018

Stone fence, green pasture, cloudy sky

I came home from Spain with way too many photos and if I had any common sense I would be rethinking my picture taking hobby. Around Rochester I collect a few photos everyday and I don’t even notice the time it takes to squirrel them away. When they pop up randomly, while the library is shuffled on our tv, I am usually happy to revisit the reason I took the photo. But we’ve been back for ten days and I still haven’t even seen all the photos from the Camino. I’ve seen most of Peggi’s iPhone photos and I envy the gps tagging on them.

“A Pilgrim’s Guide to the Camino de Santiago” by John Brierley is the bible for most but we ended up using my cousin’s guidebook, “Hiking the Camino de Santiago” by Anna Dintaman and David Landis. Neither come in a download version (because the profit margin is too slim?) and we didn’t want to lug the actual book so Peggi took photos of the pages. She figured we’d get to Leon before we had to return to Rochester and we did so that’s all she scanned. We went downtown today to check the book out again. We parked in the Culver Road Armory lot and walked through the Park Avenue neighborhood to the library. The Magnolia blossoms on Oxford street were falling so fast it looked like it was snowing.

The books on the Camino were in two places, the history section on the third floor and filed under “Religion” in the reference room across the street in the old building. I picked up a book written in 1926 called “Forgotten Shrines of Spain” by Mildred Stapley Byne. Quite a few of the landmarks we had just seen are listed in the index. When we got back to the Armory, a six mile round trip, we stopped in Trata for dinner and sat out on the deck. I started skimming the pages and found this timeless passage. “The vegetarian would be hard put in a Spanish monastery. The chick peas and spinach are redolent of pig just as an arroz is of cod, chicken or chorizo.” But then this, a section talking about the Virgin of Guadalupe, how her appearance was connected to a myth that the Spaniards brought to “the savage Mexicans,” a reminder that 1926 was almost a century ago. And then some downright nasty lines about “the old Muslim and Jew choked streets.”

The Courage To Create

May 7th, 2018

Hamid Drake and Adam Rudolph performing at the Bop Shop in Rochester, New York

Two nights in a row at the Bop Shop. I wish I still bought records. I did look through a few boxes of 45s labeled “New This Week,” all vintage but in great shape, but I didn’t buy anything. We were there for performances by Amy Rigby on Friday night and then Hamid Drake and Adam Rudolph on Saturday. Hamid reminded us at the end of their set that we should all be thankful for performance spaces like this, an outlet for people with the courage to create. Drake was part of the first act Tom booked in his old space in the Village Gate and that was thirty years ago.

We have heard Hamid Drake with Fred Anderson and Ken Vandermark and Peter Brotzmann. He is a sensational drummer. Both he and Adam Rudolf played with Don Cherry, Yusef Lateef and Pharaoh Sanders. They learned from the masters. Years ago when Hamid played Milestones I asked him who his favorite drummer was and he told me it was Ed Blackwell, who he studied with. I reminded him of that conversation last night and he said he had moved on from Blackwell’s influence because he felt he was sounding too much like Blackwell, as if that’s possible. His mentor, Yusef Lateef, taught, “the tradition is to sound like yourself. To play your aboriginalness.”

Hamid says he “has been developing a hand drum concept on the drum set while Adam has been developing a drum set concept on his hand drums.” They played one long but perfectly controlled set and finished with a mesmerizing piece where Hamid sang a Buddhist chant while playing a frame drum and and Adam played sintir while throat singing backups. Despite subscribing to music streaming services, we bought their new cd,”Karuna.”

Amy Rigby Holy Card

May 6th, 2018

Amy Rigby holy card on table at home

I still have my holy cards spread out on the rug in our living room. Still sorting and identifying the ones with no identification, apart from the distinctive iconography. Of course that is Santa Agueda with her breasts in a bowl but who is that shown with two lions and a Roman building? A half hour’s research proves it is Santa Thecla, the first woman martyr. Meanwhile the post card announcing Amy Rigby’s gig at the Bop Shop is still on our table. Catching it out of the corner of our eyes, both Peggi and I keep thinking it is a holy card.

Amy Rigby, performing without her famous husband, captivated a large crowd in the performance space at the Bop Shop on Friday night. She was in fine form as she presented her many gifts – her devotion to song craftsmanship, her charm and wit, her shared fandom and literary lyrics. I get “From PhilipRoth@gmail.com to rzimmerman@aol.com” but I’m still mulling over the lyrics to the enigma,”Robert Altman,” as well I should be. I am a huge fan of Amy’s writing so of course we bought her new augmented song book with lyrics to her new lp, “Old Guys.” as well as a hand picked selection of blog posts.

Derby Day

May 5th, 2018

Durand Eastman in full bloom, Spring 2018

Brandon, from the Friendly Home, spotted us on the deck at O’Loughlin’s. He knew exactly why we were there, the anniversary of our first date, the Kentucky Derby. We must have shared that information with him during one of our visits. It has been almost a year since my mom passed but Mary Dixon is still there, along with Sandy, Nancy and June.

Last night’s art opening was a smashing success. If my father had been able to make it he would have been beaming. Everyone else was, while admiring his watercolors.

Our walking partner in Spain, my cousin, Maureen, made her triumphant entry into Santiago de Compostela this afternoon. We’ve been back well over a week and she has completed the Camino. We are so proud of her and eager to join the club.

You Don’t Know What It Is

May 3rd, 2018

Mr. Jones' mailbox in Pittsford, New York

Peggi has a whole set of fans in connection with her Don Hershey website. One of them emailed this afternoon to see if Peggi wanted to get inside a house designed by Hershey on Parker Drive in Pittsford that she was considering buying. It was built for Robert Brown in 1951 and was featured in “Quality Budget Houses, A Treasury of 100 Architect-Designed Houses from $5,000 to $20,000.” The most recent owner was an RIT professor named Jeffrey Jones. Jeffery was an intern at Time magazine in 1965 when he interviewed Bob Dylan at the Newport Folk Festival. Dylan wrote “Ballad of a Thin Man” about Mr. Jones.

“You walk into the room/With your pencil in your hand/You see somebody naked/And you say, “Who is that, man?”/ You try so hard/ But you don’t understand/ Just what you’ll say/ When you get home/ Because something is happening here/ But you don’t know what it is/ Do you, Mister Jones?”

I went along for the ride and was surprised to see Mr. Jones’ name on the front of the house by the mailbox. And there was a poster for the 1965 Newport Folk Festival in what was called the “Play Room.” Mr. Jones died in 2007 and NME did this piece.

Not sure who lives here now but the house was rather sad. It had been neglected for well over a decade and every so called improvement that was done to the home before that was half-assed. And on top of that it appeared the original owner took Hershey’s plans and then built the house himself, cutting every corner imaginable. There is no basement for starters and the exposed interior rafters aren’t even long enough to do the span so pieces were bolted together. The porch, which is enveloped by the house on three sides rather than sticking out from the house, has a fireplace and floor to ceiling screens on the front. I wanted to sit down with a book.

Instead of the quarter million asking price it should be a tear-down. With a few modifications the Hershey plan should be re-executed.

Motorcycle Weather

May 2nd, 2018

Accordion player in Plaza Mayor, Pamploma, Spain

This guy (above) set such a dreamy mood in Pamploma’s Plaza Mayor we didn’t want to leave. A reminder that there is such a thing as civilization and the inclination to stop what you’re doing and just marvel at it all.

Leo Dodd’s show, a retrospective at the Geisel Gallery in the former Bausch & Lomb headquarters, is up. Thirty paintings will be on view until May 31st. I had only met Jean Geisel a few times, had never worked with her. She is a dynamo. I had a layout for the show but she took charge. We butted heads a few times and she won. The show looks great. I hope you can make it out on Friday evening to see for yourselves. 6-8pm.

Margaret Explosion returns to the Little Theater tonight. I usually print a few posters for our Little gig but we ran out of cyan ink. We were going to walk through the park where the magnolias are in full bloom but Staples became our destination. We took the same route we used to take to my parent’s place in Chapel Oaks. Its seven miles round trip, a drop in the bucket.

Margaret Explosion - Pretty Things

Margaret Explosion – Pretty Things

Clang

April 30th, 2018

Horseshoes repainted for the 2018 season.

You can always tell if someone in the neighborhood is playing horseshoes. All that metal on metal makes it a noisy sport. I don’t know if it is a sport really, more like a pastime. By the end of a good summer I have a hard time telling my shoes from my opponent’s. They get pretty beat up. And then over the winter the bare metal rusts so I have to take steel wool to them each spring before giving them a new coat of Rustoleum.

This afternoon my neighbor, Rick, asked if the shoes were dry yet. I checked and they were. We always play best out of three, three games to 21,and I managed to squeak out a victory in the third game. This will be a good summer.

Can’t Talk Without A Pencil

April 29th, 2018

Leo Dodd watercolor "Ice Fishing Irondequoit Bay" on view at Geisel Gallery in downtown Rochester, New York

Ice fishing is over for this year. We were down at the lake today and someone was out there windsurfing in a wetsuit. This painting is one of thirty one Leo Dodd watercolors in an upcoming retrospective at the Geisel Gallery in the former Baush + Lomb Headquarters in downtown Rochester. The show goes up on Tuesday and runs for the entire month of May. There is an opening reception on Friday, May 4th from 6 to 8PM and all art lovers are invited.

Four of paintings in the show were done in 1994 during the construction of the Bausch + Lomb World Headquarters. My father, wearing a hardhat on the downtown site, sketched and painted the project as the building went up. Jean Geisel, the director of the gallery, bought the four paintings for the Bausch + Lomb Art Collection and they were showcased in Bausch + Lomb’s “Rochester Room” for many years. Leo passed away in 2015 so he won’t be able to see the show. He will be there in spirit though with a gallery full of his delightful paintings. I hope you can stop out for the show.

“Can’t Talk Without A Pencil”
A Retrospective of Watercolors by Leo Dodd (1927 – 2015)
Opening reception Friday, May 4th, 6-8pm
Show runs May 1 to May 31, 2018

Geisel Gallery
The Geisel Gallery is located on the Second Floor (Mezzanine Level) of Legacy Tower
(Former Bausch & Lomb Headquarters downtown)
One Bausch & Lomb Place, Rochester, NY 14604

Baseball Cards & Holy Cards

April 28th, 2018

Me on my bike at 68 Brookfield Road in 1960

My father gave me his old bike for my birthday and then he took this picture of me. The bike had the strangest kickstand I had ever seen. You picked the back wheel up and and swung this triangle stand down to the ground. I was big into baseball cards back then. It’s my birthday today and I spent it sorting out my holy cards. I brought back a bunch of new ones, many related to churches and saints connected to the Camino, and I wove them into my collection.

There was nothing to eat in our house so we walked up to Wegmans with our backpacks and took the long way home with about thirty five pounds of fresh food. Peggi is making a cake and we plan to have a few friends over.

My cousin, Maureen, is continuing on to Santiago without us and she emails each day with an update. She said a little Russian woman latched on to her today but she continued on when Maureen stopped. And each day we hear how beautiful the trail is and how great the food is. We’re counting the days until October when we can finish it.

Sleeping With The TV On

April 26th, 2018

Olives at El Barril in Barrio Las Letras, Madrid

I’m missing Spain already and we’re still in the air.

The first time I saw “Far From The Madding Crowd” was in the Ridge Theater in Webster, a Saturday afternoon matinee. I fell asleep but I remember liking Julie Christie. We watched the remake on the plane and I fell asleep again. The story was so predictable and I wasn’t buying the beautiful people doing farming thing at all. Just like on the way over, the person in front of us was watching the Billie Jean King movie and I found myself more attracted to that.

The new Bladerunner was the second part of our double feature. I couldn’t give a hoot about the story but it was beautiful to watch. The grey cities, the drones and space ships, the ruins, the artfully composed shots and camera movement and then an Elvis impersonator and Frank Sinatra under glass. I fell asleep again, a few times, and never got to the end of a really long movie.

Things We Carry

April 25th, 2018

Recreation of Dali’s Mae West in “Duchamp Magritte Dali” show at  Palacio de Gaviria in Madrid

An accordion player in Plaza Santa Ana is working his way through “My Way” as I write this. I just finished jamming all the stuff we accumulated in Madrid, Torrons, holy cards, art books and dried fruit for the plane, into my backpack. The thing was just over ten pounds total when we left Rochester, maybe eleven with the last minute addition of a sketchbook. I’m pushing twenty now.

We’re waiting for the Real Madrid/Bayern München match to start and I’m thinking about all the things we accumulate. You become acutely aware of your belongings when you carry them on your back for twenty miles a day. You also get a real taste of the stress that is put on your feet, your knees and your back when you start carrying that ten extra pounds.

There is a satisfying purity to the minimal lifestyle. I already leaned that way but have gained a deeper appreciation of it. And I am in awe of the beauty of this country after walking halfway across it. Entering towns through Roman walls, stopping at statues and monuments, you begin to feel the impact of history. Following this ancient pilgrimage route with others you get a fuller understanding of the power of legend and faith. We will make it to Santiago after a short break.

Los Problemos De Los Pies

April 24th, 2018

Cathedral in LEON from the top floor of our hotel

Our friend, Jeff, texted us asking “are you wearing down or feeling stronger?” I texted back, “stronger.” I lucked out. I didn’t get any blisters but I think my feet have grown because the fronts of my toes hit the front of my shoes with every step. Peggi has blisters that she has been able to manage with Compeed and Maureen has a variety shin, feet and knee issues. You don’t complain on the Camino. Anyone who looks at you in your pilgrim gear can tell at a glance just how you’re doing. It isn’t supposed to be easy. Otherwise everyone would be doing it.

We check the headlines online and we’ve bought a few newspapers, mostly El País, but we’re finding it is pretty easy to let go of the news cycle. We see prostitutes are still dogging the president. And I haven’t been to Facebook since we left. I can’t even remember my password, but I don’t miss that format. It is surprisingly easy to live out of a knapsack.

Peggi and I have to be back in Rochester for the Wednesday’s in May Margaret Explosion gigs and the opening of Leo Dodd’s show on May 4th. So we have to push the “Pause ”button on our Camino. The band is off in October so we plan to return to Leon, walk out of town and continue on to Santiago then. Maureen, my cousin and our traveling partner, is continuing on without us. We didn’t know if we would like this Camino thing and we were prepared to bail and head back to Madrid. But I can’t wait to get back to Leon and pick up where we left off.

Día de Castilla y León

April 23rd, 2018

Parade in LEon for Castilla y Leon Day

Total luck that we would be in León for Castilla y León Day, the anniversary of the Battle of Villalar, in which Castilian rebels called Comuneros were dealt a crushing defeat by the royalist forces of King Charles I in the Revolt of the Comuneros on April 23, 1521. It coincides with Saint George’s Day and this whole area celebrates with a day off, parades and feasting.

We ran into the couple from Tasmania the other night, the ones we met three weeks ago at the Spain/French border. They’re doing this portion (Burgos to Leon) of the Camino on bikes. It looks like cheating to us but we didn’t say as much. And we saw a few familiar pilgrams, fellow Camino travelers, here in León. This is a perfectly livable city. It is 75 degrees today and we just had the best salad of our lives. Of course it was augmented with Jamón Ibérico, atún, walnuts, raisins, white asparagus, anchovies and drenched in olive oil.

There is a Gaudí building here, something he built for a fabric merchant and there’s a church on every block in the city center where the Roman walls surround us. We had coffee in a café called “Converso” where the sugar packets had a quote from Juan Manuel Serrat that read:
“De vez en cuando la vida
Toma conmigo café
Y es tan bonita que da gusto verla …”

Santiago Matamoros

April 22nd, 2018

Entering the city of Leon on the Camino de Santiago in Spain

A couple from Cairo, an oil guy and his wife, were leaving the hotel in Mansilla de Las Mulas at the same time we were, somewhere around seven. They were doing the Camino too, or at least part of it, and they wanted a cup of coffee before hitting the road, just like us. There was not much open on a Sunday morning but we found a place where it looked like the same scene had played out there everyday for the last century. Regulars at the bar and others stopping for a cup, tostada and conversation. A woman came in with the day’s papers and set the stack on the bar, one copy of four different newspapers (one devoted to sports), copies that patrons would share throughout the day.

The Cario couple had their coffee outside on the patio because the woman smoked. They left the same time as we did and the guy informed us that we had a 200 meter climb ahead of us before we reached Leon. That’s nothing really but he said we had been spoiled by the flat trail the last few days.

We walked through the old Roman wall, across the river, and out of town. We passed through Villamoros (village of the Moors) and climbed some hills that led into the woods before our dramatic decent into Leon. An outdoor mass was taking place in front of the Cathedral in front of a statue of Santiago. So why did Spain adapt Santiago as their patron Saint? There is another facet to this story, the Santiago Matamoros legend.

The apostle Jamesa appears as a miraculous figure at the legendary Battle of Clavijo, helping the Christians conquer the Muslim Moors. The story was invented centuries after the alleged battle took place but it provided one of the strongest ideological icons in the Spanish national identity.

Teresa of Ávila, the mystic, was a worthy contender for patron saint but the Santiaguistas won the debate. Santiago Matamoros or Saint James the Moor-slayer it is. Onward.

Calzada Romana

April 21st, 2018

Fresh potatoes being harvested in countryside, Spain

This was our second day on the alternate Camino. We followed an original Roman road, the largest stretch of Roman road left in Spain, built in 100 BC to haul gold and other riches from Galicia back to Rome. It was incredibly quiet and rural with very few pilgrims.

We left at sunrise, too early for coffee, and walked eleven miles before stopping in the tiny town of Reliegos for our first cup. The place was called the Elvis Bar and reminded us of the Bug Jar. It was painted bright blue and they let customers write on the walls. They were playing early rock and roll.

We rejoined the mainstream Camino in Reliegos and walked on to Mansilla de Las Mulas where we stopped for a second cup, one served in a small glass with no handle, just as we like it. We found a hotel and had an early dinner before strolling around the town. Most of the original stone wall that surrounded the city is still intact. Tomorrow we reach Leon.