Scat Singing

Peggi skiing home in the woods near Durand Eastman
Peggi skiing home in the woods near Durand Eastman

In case anyone hasn’t noticed, the cross country ski conditions are excellent. We skied around our neighbor’s pond and down into the woods across the street. There is so much snow you can hardly get up enough speed to hurt yourself. There is too much snow for the deer. Judging from piles of scat, they have spent the last few days on our ski trails. Out on the golf course we came across the groomer. He had rolled his snowmobile and the 1,000 pound sled that he drags to groom the trails was buried in the snow.

We took the ridge trail out to the lake and found it nearly frozen out about a hundred yards. Peggi suggested we walk to Marge’s on the ice.

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Miracle Whip

Last night's snowfall on our deck railing
Last night’s snowfall on our deck railing

Wegman’s was wacky before the snowfall. We walked up there along Sea Breeze Way and had spaced out enough on the way to have forgotten about the impending storm. We remembered when we saw cars backed up trying to get in the lot. Shoppers were almost giddy. A guy from Custom Brewcraft was pouring tall samples of their new IPA. Every cashier lane was open and our cashier was moving so fast she put a jar of Miracle Whip from the guy behind us into our bag. Of course we had paid for it so we had get in the Customer Service line to get our money back.

It snowed enough on our walk back that we decided to put our skies on and try the woods. There was just enough to cushion a fall but we both stayed upright. It snowed so much last night that by this afternoon we couldn’t even see yesterday’s ski tracks. There were seven deer standing in the creek. We stopped on the bridge to watch. Only 9ºF my fingers were too cold to take a picture.

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Underside of the Susan B. Anthony Frederick Douglas Bridge in Rochester, New York
Underside of the Susan B. Anthony Frederick Douglass Bridge in Rochester, New York

Am I the only one who misses the early html days? When websites were fun, both to design/program and visit. Before php, css3, html5, responsive coding and social media. I accept that the answer to my initial question is yes so let’s move on.

While standing under the Freddy Sue Bridge I was thinking about this piece I did on the Refrigerator back in the day. I couldn’t even find it online. There were no links to it but it is still out there floating around like a whole lot of other content must be. I managed to find “Click On A BridgeTo Go Under” only by looking at the local copy on my computer and surmising what the url might be. Digital photography was brand new when I did it and that was probably the only reason the photos looked interesting to me at the time. They were only one half or one gig photos and from a camera that was terrible in low light.

In 2001 I did a piece for the “Hide & Seek” show at Pyramid Art Center. It was a digital installation and it ran on a pc at the gallery during the show. It was sort of a digital maze. I visit it every once in a while thinking that it might have totally fallen apart but it has held up pretty well. I’m afraid to look at it on a mobile device. – Check it out.


Iconic Tree

The iconic oak tree is missing from the marsh on Hoffman Road in Rochester, New York
The iconic oak tree is missing from the marsh on Hoffman Road in Rochester, New York

I have photographed this marsh on Hoffman Road many times. It wasn’t always as wet as it is today. Old-timers say there used to be garden plots down here. Development on high ground has repercussions. The giant oak that stood out in the middle, the one I photographed with an eagle perched on it, is gone. It fell over.

When you check a new release out of the library you know you’re going to be back there in a couple weeks. When you bring a newly released dvd home you know you’ll be back in a few days. And each time you visit you come back with something else so this goes on and on. It is a bit of a trick to work a variation into your route each visit.

We walked to the end of Hoffman and across the small foot bridge over the creek. There is an old horse trail that starts there and works its way up to Kings Highway. It is way overgrown and only passable in the winter when there is not too much snow. And there are number of fallen trees laying across the path. Its an obstacle course but it made for an exciting trip. We came home with a restored version George Romero’s “Night of the Living Dead.”

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Walk More

Broad Street Bridge from the west side of the Genesee River in Rochester, New York
Broad Street Bridge from the west side of the Genesee River in Rochester, New York

This mild winter has allowed us to continue walking. We have always walked but we ratcheted up the distance last year in preparation for our walk across Spain and our weather has permitted that to continue. Or maybe it’s not the weather at all. Maybe it is simply that the more you walk, the more you enjoy it so you walk more.

We walked in and out of downtown on both sides of the river and I was thinking about Paris Texas, the movie we had watched the night before. There wasn’t nearly as much walking in it as I remembered. We saw it when it came out and at least once since but I remember marathon walking and there is very little of that in the movie. It must have made an impression.

Like Robert Frank’s “The Americans,” Wim Wenders’ outsider take on America did not initially meet with success. We loved it and the soundtrack. We bought the vinyl and I played it last night during dinner. When Personal Effects was recording the soundtrack for the Planetarium show we deliberately aped Ry Cooder with an instrumental called “Cirrus.”

This time around Dean Stockwell was every bit as good as Harry Dean Stanton. Hard to believe he had quit acting before this film and was apparently working as a real estate agent. The real star of the movie is Sam Sheppard’s script. Hunter, played by Karen Black’s son, was astounding.

The extras had thoughtful interviews with Wenders in German, French and English. I loved “In His Own Words,” Wenders’ movie about/with the Pope and I liked the extras from that, shown on 60 Minutes. My profile has been built and I am ready for more Wim Wenders recommendations.


Down Time

Holiday lights along ledge in living room
Holiday lights along ledge in living room

When the holiday fanfare dies down and the neighbors leave for Florida the heart of the season is just beginning. The lakes in Durand have ice fishermen on them, high school kids are playing hockey in the coves and hundreds of ducks are flocking together beyond the ice formations along the shore of Lake Ontario. The slate grey skies make the male cardinal look like it is on fire. And the threat of 18 inches over the weekend has made us giddy.

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What Are You Looking Up Here For?

Alan Singer painting at Axom Gallery in Rochester, New York
Alan Singer painting at Axom Gallery in Rochester, New York

We were about four hours early for the opening of Alan Singer‘s new show at Axom Gallery. This gave us plenty of clear shots at the vibrant work and it allowed space for a few of the pieces to jump off the wall. Alan mixes science, art, and mathematics in work that looks tightly controlled at first glance but like LSD it opens up, becomes confounding and ultimately delights. I could look at this piece all day.

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Illustrated Fish

Fish guy at Wegmans in Pittsford Plaza with his drawing of a fish.
Fish guy at Wegmans in Pittsford Plaza with his drawing of a fish.

My grandfather was a butcher. It is a craft. He took great pride in his work and it was evident when he cut off a big slice of freshly made liverwurst and passed it over the counter to me. He also owned the store so salesmanship, good business practices and knife work were required for him to become successful.

The Asian behind the counter in the fish department at the Pittsford Wegman’s had all these skills. We were considering buying some Red Snapper. (The fish at the top of the picture above is a Red Snapper.) We had made it a few months back. We baked the whole fish and split it down the middle before plopping it it on our plates. It was delicious but we had to eat each small bite very carefully as it was full of bones.

The fish guy told us he would cook it exactly as we did and then eat it with chopsticks because he knew how to pick around the bones.  He drew the fish (above) in a few seconds. He even made the fish smile. He illustrated where to look for the various bones. He grabbed another fish, one that he had just filleted, and suggested we cut the fish open before we bake it, remove the bones, put it back to gather like a whole fish and then bake it. 

His presentation was so good Peggi that told him that Wegmans ought to video him and share his tips on their website. He liked that idea and said he would propose it.


Post-Apocalyptic Movies

"What Men Want" poster at Regal in Culver Ridge Plaza
“What Men Want” poster at Regal in Culver Ridge Plaza

After Tarkovsky’s meditative psychological drama, “Solaris,” which we spent three nights with, the post-apocalyptic horror film, “A Quiet Space” felt kind of cheap. It was hard to give a hoot about the nuclear family and the director didn’t bother warming you up to the characters before they started introducing the quick cut, scary things. I spent a good bit of the movie wondering if the male lead would have been a better actor if you could see his face behind the bushy beard. But I guess anything would seem bankrupt after Tarkovsky.

We brought a dvd of “The Post” home from the library and really loved that. A meaty true story told at a brisk, edge of your seat pace, there were only a few places where Spielberg felt the characters needed to explain themselves. And they didn’t. The politics were handled really well.

There was only one other couple for a screening of “Vice” in the stadium seating theater in Culver Ridge Plaza. This movie was a mess. They did not handle the politics well. They could have just told the story of big footprint Cheney and it would have read as horror but instead they tried to be cute or something. I was afraid to google what “What Men Want” is all about.


Going Pro


I guess I joined Flickr ten years ago. At least that is what it says at the top of my Photostream page. Mostly I used it as a backup for my photos. With a free membership they gave you an insane, one terabyte of storage. Well, that business model broke and free members were recently informed that their limit will now be a measly 1,000 photos and the new owners threatened to dump the rest of your photos unless you go pro. I didn’t upload a thing for months while I looked around for an alternative. Today I went pro.

I promised my cousin I would send her a link to photos from the second leg of our Camino adventure. Peggi and I did the first half of the Camino with her but we had to be back here for some Margaret Explosion gigs. She continued on without us and then we covered the same ground – Leon to Muxia – in October.

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Poster for Hi-Techs and New Math at Scorgies in Rochester, New York on 04.25.1980 and 04.26.1980.
Poster for Hi-Techs and New Math at Scorgies in Rochester, New York on 04.25.1980 and 04.26.1980.

I played drums with both of the bands on the poster above. I made this poster for a gig at Scorgie’s. I’m not sure how it works today but in the early eighties bands were given the door and if the club owner didn’t make enough over the bar you were not asked back to play. So bands made posters, had them copied or printed, and then plastered them all over town. You had to watch out for cops and it was sort of a nasty job, wrestling with tape in the freezing cold, but a good poster paid off.

It wasn’t always like that. When New Math started playing in the late seventies we were booked through management companies. I remember someone named Jim Armstrong who got us into the Orange Monkey and the Penny Arcade and some gig at a college. There was someone named Howie who booked us into a club on the river. He went on to manage Poison in LA. Somehow we got into the Electric Circus and Big Daddy’s. But the music scene was changing. And so were the clubs. Everything, even the song writing, was DIY.

I wish I had a copy of every poster I made in those days. I tried to keep a copy of each. The Hi-Techs came together at the very end of the seventies and we broke up in the middle of 1981 so it was a short ride. Three of us went on to form Personal Effects and we played gigs from ’81 to ’86 before falling apart and then getting back together for the Planetarium gigs and a few reunions. We took cell phone shots of the posters we have and Bob sent us scans of the ones he has.

Here are links to the Hi-Techs posters and Personal Effects posters.

Personal Effects - Nothing Lasts Forever
Personal Effects – Nothing Lasts Forever

Personal Effects – “Nothing Lasts Forever”


Peaceable Kingdom

Shadows on concrete building along Eastman Lake in Rochester, New York
Shadows on concrete building along Eastman Lake in Rochester, New York

If everyone was nice the world would surely stop spinning. Why someone would go out of their way to send someone that they don’t know a nasty letter is just one of those things. It hardly makes sense. But if you wanted to delve deeply, to descend to those depths, you could probably come up with an explanation. But it would only make as much sense as, “That’s what makes the world go ’round.”

But to call that anonymous someone on it, to rub the letter in their face and capitalize on it, that advances the ball. Bleu Cease did just that when he posted the letter to Facebook and received hundreds of well-deserved, supportive responses. BuzzFeed picked the story. In a brilliant move Bleu took one of the anonymous letter writer’s own phrases, “Cool, Artsy, With It,” put it on a t-shirt and the gallery has sold nearly a hundred.

Everybody has experienced a variation of this story but they usually don’t have such a positive outcome. In 1969 I was jumped by three frat guys at Indiana University. I assume they they were fraternity brothers, they all had yellow Greek symbols on their jackets. The length of my hair triggered a “beat up the fag” response and after getting a few good punches in I was left knocked out, face down on the sidewalk with a broken nose, jaw and glasses.

When we saw Bleu on Friday I told him I wished it was a better slogan on the t-shirt. He said there were others in the letter that he might use down the line. Like, “What Makes You Tick?” “Nothing But A Freak,” “Going Down The Tubes” and my favorite, “Off The Main Steam.”


The Rounds

Scott McCarney "Married After Gilbert & George" on view at Colleen Buzzard's Studio
Scott McCarney “Married After Gilbert & George” on view at Colleen Buzzard Studio

It is getting harder and harder to make the rounds on First Fridays. We get bogged down at each stop, mostly in conversation and we wind up running out of time to complete our short list of stops. Jim Mott reminded us that artists are influenced by one another, sometimes in the least obvious of ways. Colleen Buzzard and Dejan Pejovic asked me if I was doing any painting and I answered that I have been organizing my digital life. That response threw both of them and Colleen said, “That doesn’t sound like any fun.”

I love this 2009 Scott McCarney piece, “Married After Gilbert & George.” And it is great to see it out in the open again at Colleen Buzzard’s Studio. Scott has transformed this gallery space with a collection of work pulled from storage. A large paper quilt fills your field of vision as you step off the fourth floor elevator. The show, entitled “Disjecta Membra,” brings Scott’s prints and artifacts together with the bound bookworks of their origin. Married After Gilbert & George” appears here in book form as well. As Scott says, “The private act of turning pages on a horizontal surface can be experienced in tandem with the public viewing of images on a vertical plane.” The show runs through January 12th.

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Shut Down

Snow covered green at Durand Eastman GolfCourse
Snow covered green at Durand Eastman GolfCourse

I feel as though I accomplished something even though it took the best part of the day to straighten out our Apple ecosystem. I mentioned how our iTunes stream crapped out during our party. The Airport Express, sitting next to our stereo, lost its wifi connection but it still had the green light on. I only found that out the next morning when I opened Airpot Utility and saw it had no signal. I rebooted the Express and my computer and then HomePod played what it wanted while something else was coming through the stereo. I tested HomePod by asking Siri what the definition of is is and then “When was the War of 1812?” I learned that HomePod remembers commands and when we asked it to shuffle music, it will until it gets further instructions (which it lost when the Express went under). And I found out where you go to control it.

I got up the guts to turn iCloud Music Library back on in iTunes and stuff flooded onto my iPad mimi and I’m good to go. What did I learn? I’m thinking maybe I didn’t unplug the Express long enough in order for it to straighten itself out. It is good to shut everything down. It fixes things. Pete LaBonne wrote a song about it, “Shut Down,” on Glob. I’m planning on shutting down right now.

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You Hit My Car

Twigs drawing on pavement with snow
Twigs drawing on pavement with snow

“You are damn right I hit your car.” Actually I didn’t but I said I did. It was Peggi who whacked the back of the guy’s car with her hand after he drove through a red light. We were crossing at the sidewalk. The walk light was on. As if any of that matters. He never saw us and nearly took us out turning right, right in front of us. You think your life is so important and then you realize it could end so quickly. And this guy rolls down his window and yells, “You hit my car.”

We were walking up to the post office on Waring. The commemorative stamp selection had been depleted with Christmas so we came home with a sheet of Hot Wheels stamps and one dedicated to a Muslim holiday.



Candles at New Years party 2019
Candles at New Years party 2019

We managed to round up some friends for an impromptu New Year’s bash. There was plenty of food and some people brought even more. We carried on past two and have nearly a case of champaign left over. Guests seemed to come in two waves so there was plenty of parking on our dead end street.

I was shuffling a folder of about a thousand songs, ones that I had marked as a favorite over the years, and fast forwarding through clunkers with my watch. I had moved our HomePod out to the kitchen and that added clarity to the stereo sound. Everything was cool for a few hours and then the stereo feed quit on me. My computer wouldn’t let me reselect both the HomePod and the stereo. I switched to vinyl and quickly piled 45s on lps, starting records at the wrong speed or missing the space between songs on lps. I sort of crashed then and never played the Stooges 1969, something I had played at every other NYE party. And this would have been the 50th anniversary.

At about two o’clock one of our guests couldn’t find his jacket in our closet. Someone else had worn it home and the keys to his house were in the pocket. We made a few frantic calls and texted likely suspects but weren’t able to reach anyone. A perfect time to be on the road, we drove to a relative’s and picked up a spare key. The jacket returned in the morning and it looked exactly like the one that was left here.

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Lake Ontario at Durand Eastman Beach on New Year's Eve 2018
Lake Ontario at Durand Eastman Beach on New Year’s Eve 2018

The lake looks so beautiful this afternoon. It is ready to turn over and bring on the the new year. We are ready to receive its gifts.

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Push Pull

Leo's two person saw
Leo’s two person saw

We “suited up” (Permethrin-treated tick gear) in yesterday’s fifty degree temperatures and walked through the woods with this two person saw. It belonged to Leo, our former next door neighbor, and it still hangs in his old shed. Monica, the new, proud owner of the shed, let us borrow it. I couldn’t wait to use it.

Peggi and I traded ends a few times and coordinated our strokes to make short work of the big Sassafras that had fallen across our ski path at the very bottom of the biggest hill. We carried the saw all the way to the golf course and cleaned up four of five other blow downs. We’re ready for snow.

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Small Cult

We watched Greendale again last night and it has only gotten better. We are a small cult, those that love this movie. It is in my top ten. I have an affinity for the form, 8mm and family members as cast. I made the movie above in the winter of 69/70. It features my brother, Tim, on drums, my drums. He’s wearing my clothes too. My brother, John, is playing guitar and their friend, John Spar, playing harmonica. I hung one of my lithographs on the garage door and my youngest brother, Fran, and his friends did double duty as a rental crew and snow acrobats. Years later I added a soundtrack from Invisible Idiot.

The cool thing about filming without sound is that you can direct (bark orders or offer encouragement) while you’re shooting. Neil Young adds an amazing soundtrack from Crazy Horse, just three musicians with very few overdubs, and then has his cast lip-syncs his lyrics. The whole thing is beautiful and brilliant. A rock opera without the hysterics.

The characters, all mouthing Neil’s vocals, make you realize how good the lyrics are, the storytelling and the character development. I remember my nephew telling me the only thing he didn’t like about Neil Young was his voice. I love it. And you realize how expressive it is while you watch all these characters voice the lyrics.

The movie is relentlessly good. When this 2003 movie finally catches on I could see it playing with Rocky Horror Picture Show-sized crowds singing and dancing along with every line.

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Negative Image Making

Spray paint art on sidewalk at Wegman's in Rochester, New York
Spray paint art on sidewalk at Wegman’s in Rochester, New York

I’ve stepped over this black paint, on the curb near the entrance to Wegmans, so many times and I’ve never been able to figure out what it was that someone spray painted.

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