sparky dot com

Sparky with guitar in his younger years. Sparky gave me this photo to scan.
Sparky with twelve string guitar in his younger years.
sparkydotcom logo type
Broken Sparky counter. You are visitor number eight!

Sparky was our next door neighbor for twenty seven years. Sparky is not his real name but the episodes portrayed here are real. At first I thought we had nothing in common but over time I realized he was the iconic everyman. Six years after we moved in he stuck this note on our back door threatening to call his “lawer.” We were coming and going a lot with our band and he didn’t like all the “slaming” of the doors. He wanted us to be “more quite at the wee hour of the nite.”

Letter from Sparky, left pinned to our door.
Letter from Sparky, left pinned to our door.

Sparky grew up in Kentucky where he didn’t go any further than the sixth grade (he says). He told us he played guitar, “country, not rock.” He played at nursing homes and wore a shirt with “Sparky” written in magic marker just above the pocket. I gave him a copy of my cassette compilation , “Stop The World,” songs that the working band I was in Indiana performed but by the original artists. That kind of sealed our friendship. He took a liking to friends of ours, Pete and Shelley. We would talk over the fence. He didn’t like blacks and he made that clear. He would bring us doughnuts and remind us that he doesn’t do any work around the house (if Workers Comp came around).

“I pissed blood last night,” he told me on day. And after a weekend trip to Pennsylvania he said it rained so hard down there we caught fish right out of the hotel parking lot. He told us he saw our cat down at CVS! He had such fantastic stories and did such crazy things I started jotting them down. Sparky loved the camera so I took plenty of photos over the years.

Sparky brought Little Man out to poop in the same spot every morning.
Sparky brought Little Man out to poop in the same spot every morning.
Sparky smoking his pipe while snow blowing.
Sparky smoking his pipe while snow blowing.
Sparky wires apple tree to keep squirrels out of it. I took this shot from our bedroom window.
Sparky wires apple tree to keep squirrels out of it. I took this shot from our bedroom window.

I did a group of paintings of Sparky in 1992 and they they were featured for a month in the window of Godiva’s on Monroe Avenue. John, the owner of the Oxford Pub across the street, bought them and they hung in that bar for years. He told me he was thinking about renaming the place “Sparky’s.” A friend told us she spotted three of the paintings at Murphy’s Law on Empire Boulevard, another bar that John owns.

“SPARKY COOKS THE KILBASA IN HIS OWN SPECIAL SAUCE.”

"Sparky Cooks The Kielbasa In His Own Special Sauce" - Sparky painting by Paul Dodd. "Sparky Goes To A Gig" - Sparky painting by Paul Dodd. House Paint on Wood 56"w x 60"h 1992
“Sparky Cooks The Kielbasa In His Own Special Sauce” – Sparky painting by Paul Dodd. House Paint on Wood 56″w x 60″h 1992

Sparky says, ”Look at those god damn roses.” (still blooming in November)

Sparky gets a Sears Alarm System installed and asks for extra stickers. Puts one in each window.

He tells us about catching fish out of a parking lot after a big rain.

Sparky changes his new dog’s name from “Rusty” to “Little Man” and then to “Little Manny.”

Sparky tells us his kids steal money out of his pants at night.

“SPARKY SHOOTS A SEWER RAT.”

"Sparky Shoots A Sewer Rat" - Sparky painting by Paul Dodd. House Paint on Wood 60"w x 64"h 1992
“Sparky Shoots A Sewer Rat” – Sparky painting by Paul Dodd. House Paint on Wood 60″w x 64″h 1992

Sparky tells us he broke up a crap game at the corner by calling the cops.

Sparky recycles aluminum (he pronouces it ally-loon-ee-mum) – smashes up old lawn chairs, dimantles lawn mowers in his garage. Has an old scale in there.

Sparky demonstrates his new car alarm for the Bosnians next door.

Sparky’s car alarm goes off each time a bass heavy car stereo goes by.

Sparky says his wallet was stolen at the VA Hospital.

Sparky drives off with his cane on top of his car.

“SPARKY GOES TO A GIG”

"Sparky Goes To A Gig" - Sparky painting by Paul Dodd. House Paint on Wood 43"w x 72"h 1992
“Sparky Goes To A Gig” – Sparky painting by Paul Dodd. House Paint on Wood 43″w x 72″h 1992

Sparky kills his lawn with a heavy application of fertilizer.

Sparky pretends he isn’t home on Halloween.

Sparky brings us doughnuts and reminds us to say he doesn’t do any work around the house if the Workers Comp guy comes around.

Sparky burns his mother-in-law’s old inhalers behind the garage in order to recycle the aluminum. They pop loudly as they burn.

Sparky rakes his lawn in his pajamas.

Sparky cuts the extension cord with his electric hedge clippers.

Discussing his garage that needs painting Sparky says,
“I MIGHT JUST SIDE THE BASTARD”

"Might Just Side The Bastard" - Sparky painting by Paul Dodd. "Sparky Goes To A Gig" - Sparky painting by Paul Dodd. House Paint on Wood 24"w x 70"h 1992
“Might Just Side The Bastard” – Sparky painting by Paul Dodd. House Paint on Wood 24″w x 70″h 1992

Sparky says “My hair is not that white” as I work on a painting of him.

Sparky takes Little Man to the vet because he can’t poop.

Sparky hoses down a noisy cricket

Takes a nap in his Lazyboy with his gun by his side and a pet parakeet in a cage next to him.

Sparky goes to a “Body Building Contest” in Buffalo.

Sparky tells me, “I pissed blood last night.”

Sparky washes Little Man’s rug in the rain because Little Man won’t sleep on the rug if he puts the in the washer.

Sparky’s boat cuts loose from the back end of his car and passes him on the expressway.

“SPARKY ROUNDS UP THE NIGHTCRAWLERS.”

"Sparky Rounds Up The Nightcrawlers" - Sparky painting by Paul Dodd. House Paint on Wood 30"w x 48"h 1992
“Sparky Rounds Up The Nightcrawlers” – Sparky painting by Paul Dodd. House Paint on Wood 30″w x 48″h 1992

Sparky sits next to a girl with green hair on a flight to Las Vegas.

I teach Sparky fractions.

Sparky shoots at squirrels with a homemade slingshot.

Sparky alternately calls “Cuz” his “brother-in-law” or “his cousin”

Sparky says he calls home when he is out so Little Man so Little Man can hear his voice on his answering machine. (“Hello my Little Manny” – arf, arf)

Sparky plants flowers in the Spring that are still in their containers.

Sparky says he saw our cat, Ornette, at CVS.

Sparky checks his engine and then closes the hood on his cane, breaking it.

“SPARKY SHOWS ME HIS COLOSTOMY BAG.”

"Sparky Shows Me His Colostomy Bag" - Sparky painting by Paul Dodd. House Paint on Wood 60"w x 30"h 1992
“Sparky Shows Me His Colostomy Bag” – Sparky painting by Paul Dodd. House Paint on Wood 60″w x 30″h 1992

Sparky gives Little Man a haircut on the tailgate of his truck.

Constructs a tripod/copystand out of copper pipe and solder to take photos of prints.

We go fishing with Sparky near the nuclear power plant because the fish like the warm water.

We watch Sparky chase a squirrel off his property with his cane.

Sparky puts his up for sale “By Owner” and no one makes an offer.

Cuz cuts his fingers off in Sparky’s snowblower.

Sparky attaches a Schaeffer Beer can to his lawn mower muffler.

Sparky says he has three kinds of cancer but he will not allow doctors to open him up.

Sparky cracks up his truck and blames it on “Niggers.”

Sparky says he is suing his insurance company over his back injury.

Sparky buys a Ford Escort as a winter car.

Sparky wires apple tree to shock squirrels and keep them away from his apples.

Sparky tells us he got food poisoning at Bill Grey’s hamburger stand.

Sparky says he was born on February 29 (in a Leap Year) so he changed his birthday to February 27.

Sparky mounts a “Push Button For Walk Signal” sign to a wooden handle to make an “ice chopper.”

Hangs six pairs of blue work gloves on line after washing them in old Maytag.

Sparky gets a leaf blower.

Sparky mistakes the keyboard solo on a Sun Ra CD for the nuclear power plant alarm.

Sparky gets a Buffalo Bills jacket for Christmas. It’s at least two sizes too big.

Sparky gives us a bag of tomatoes he got “out in the country” and they have silver spray paint on them.

Sparky drives down the street to let the snow slide off his car.

Sparky meets the gay guys down the street.

Sparky installs the world’s largest security light on his garage.

Sparky picks up Little Man’s poop with a small shovel and throws it over the fence into the neighbors yard.

Sparky tells us his 18 year old cat ate Chinese cat food and died of food poisoning.

Sparky comes to visit. He plays a few songs and tells a few tall tales.
Sparky holding court, out on the sidewalk in front of his house.
Sparky holding court, out on the sidewalk in front of his house.
Dashboard of Sparky's truck as we drive down Hall Street.
Dashboard of Sparky’s truck as we drive down Hall Street.
Sparky preparing the shed door for a new coat of paint.
Sparky preparing the shed door for a new coat of paint.
Sparky gives Little Man a haircut on the hood of his pickup.
Sparky gives Little Man a haircut on the hood of his pickup.
Sparky bought this Dodge Touring Coach for one summer and then sold it.
Sparky bought this Dodge Touring Coach, took a road trip in it, and then sold it.
A squirrel climbs up the asphalt shingles on Sparky's house.
A squirrel climbs up the asphalt shingles on Sparky’s house.
Sparky's shed. So iconic we wrote a song about it.
Sparky’s shed. So iconic we wrote a song about it.
Invisible Idiot CD "Outta Sight, Outa Mind" (EAR 7) on Earring Records, released 1999
Sparky’s Shed” from Invisible Idiot CD “Outta Sight, Outa Mind” released 1999

Invisible Idiot – Sparky’s Shed

Sparky watches our neighbor, Jack, snowplow his driveway. I took this shot from our attic window.
Sparky watches our neighbor, Jack, snowplow his driveway. I took this shot from our attic window.
Sparky sitting in front of his pick up truck after an accident.
Sparky sitting in front of his pick up truck after an accident.
Sparky taking a break while shoveling the sidewalk.
Sparky taking a break while shoveling the sidewalk.
Sparky fixes threshold to his shed.
Sparky fixes threshold to his shed.
Sparky working on his car in the driveway.
Sparky working on his car in the driveway.
We took Sparky fishing in Irondequoit Bay and he caught this sunfish.
We took Sparky fishing in Irondequoit Bay and he caught this sunfish.
Sparky out back with his blower.
Sparky out back with his new leaf blower.
Sparky waters his daffodils.
Sparky waters his daffodils.
Talking with Sparky over the backyard fence.
Talking with Sparky over the backyard fence.
Sparky with his just washed work gloves on the line.
Sparky with his just washed work gloves on the line.
Doors propped open on Sparky's shed. Invisible Idiot named one its songs after Sparky's shed.
Doors propped open on Sparky’s shed. Invisible Idiot named one its songs after Sparky’s shed.
Sparky comes to visit. Shown here with his Dodge in our driveway.
Sparky comes to visit. Shown here with his Dodge in our driveway.
Sparky entertains the firemen out in front of his house. Can't remember why they were called.
Sparky entertains the firemen out in front of his house. Can’t remember why they were called.
Sparky with the newspaper under his arm.
Sparky with the newspaper under his arm.
Sparky's garage, where the magic happens.
Sparky’s garage, where the magic happens.
Sparky's cousin, Cuz, came to visit. I don't think the Ednaswap or Nerve stickers are his but I know the Confederate flag stickers are.
Sparky’s cousin, Cuz, comes to visit.

Sparky calls Cuz “my brother-in-law” one day and “cousin” the next. It finally dawned on me that if he is both then there must be some funky bloodlines here. This might explain why he stuck his arm down Sparky’s snowblower to clear it out. Cuz smoked extra- long, generic cigarettes and he couldn’t stand up straight. He bought this car from Marge, the woman who lived on the other side of Sparky. It belonged to her adult son, who still lived home but spent most of his time at the Main Place bar at the corner. He drove the car to the Veteran’s Memorial Bridge, opened the door and jumped in the river. The Nerve and Ednaswap stickers were his, the Confederate Flags belong to Cuz.

One racist flag on each door of Cuz's car.
One racist flag on each door of Cuz’s car.
Sparky sweeping leaves out front of our house.
Sparky sweeping leaves out front of our house.
Sparky bought our old Olds. It originally belonged to Peggi's parents. He went right to work on it.
Sparky bought our old Olds. It originally belonged to Peggi’s parents. He went right to work on it.
Sparky works on his friends' car.
Sparky works on his friends’ car.
When Cuz comes to visit Sparky his wife often waits in the car.
When Cuz comes to visit Sparky his wife often waits in the car.
Sparky takes apart old lawnmowers and recycles the metal.
Sparky takes apart old lawnmowers and recycles the metal.
Sparky stripping wire in his garage.
Sparky stripping wire in his garage.
Sparky recycling aluminum chairs. He pronounces aluminum "Al-you-minium."
Sparky recycling aluminum chairs. He pronounces aluminum “Al-you-minium.”
Sparky inside his garage with old Maytag washing machine.
Sparky inside his garage with old Maytag washing machine.
Sparky and Jack dressed up for Veterans Day.
Sparky and Jack dressed up for Veterans Day.
Sparky's underwear hanging on the line at night.
Sparky’s underwear hanging on the line at night.
Little Man eyes me suspiciously.
Little Man eyes me suspiciously.
Sparky washes his white pants and hangs them on the line out back.
Sparky washes his white pants and hangs them on the line out back.
Sparky had too many cars. He was always getting one out of the way so he could get the one he was working on up by the garage.
Sparky had too many cars. He was always getting one out of the way so he could get the one he was working on up by the garage.
Sparky loved the camera. Here he is in our driveway with Peggi.
Sparky loved the camera. Here he is in our driveway with Peggi.
We were pretty familiar with Sparky's wardrobe and I know this item, hanging on his clothesline one morning, does not belong to him.
We were pretty familiar with Sparky’s wardrobe and I know this item, hanging on his clothesline one morning, does not belong to him.
Of all the places to put a lawn chair Sparky chose a spot right next to the trash.
Of all the places to put a lawn chair Sparky chose a spot right next to the trash.
Sparky played gigs at senior living homes. He kept this hand painted chair in his trunk.
Sparky played gigs at senior living homes. He kept this hand painted chair in his trunk.
Sparky heading out behind the garage with a mysterious item.
Sparky heading out behind the garage with a mysterious item.
Sparky returning from behind the garage without the item he had in his hand.
Sparky returning from behind the garage without the item he had in his hand.
Jack, who lived across the street, had an electric mower, a "gentleman's mower." Sparky is seen here chewing the fat with Jack.
Jack, who lived across the street, had an electric mower, a “gentleman’s mower.” Sparky is seen here chewing the fat with Jack.
Here it is, in all its glory, Sparky's garage. The hand painted gas can came from the Shell Station that Sparky owned on Hudson Avenue.
Here it is, in all its glory, Sparky’s garage. The hand painted gas can came from the Shell Station that Sparky owned on Hudson Avenue.
Sparky used this hand crank Maytag washer to wash his work gloves.
Sparky used this hand crank Maytag washer to wash his work gloves.
Sparky hard at work, recycling metal, in his garage. I'm pretty sure he slept in this green sweatsuit as well.
Sparky hard at work, recycling metal, in his garage. I’m pretty sure he slept in this green sweatsuit as well.
Sparky returns from Jack's house with the morning paper. They shared a subscription.
Sparky returns from Jack’s house with the morning paper. They shared a subscription.
Sparky's Chevy parked up in his front lawn. Sparky put two flags in his window and one on is car after 9/11.
Sparky’s Chevy parked up in his front lawn. Sparky put two flags in his window and one on is car after 9/11.
Sparky brought Little Man out to poop in the same spot every morning.
Sparky brought Little Man out to poop in the same spot every morning.
Sparky asked if I had some extra plywood and I gave a piece that had an unfinished painting on it. He put in his window, upside down, next to his air conditioner and left it this way for years. This window was right next to our driveway.
Sparky asked if I had some extra plywood and I gave a piece that had an unfinished painting on it. He put in his window, upside down, next to his air conditioner and left it this way for years. This window was right next to our driveway.
Sparky's gutter fell off one winter and it swung in the wind for months.
Sparky’s gutter fell off one winter and it swung in the wind for months.
The blankets Sparky used while working under his car are shown here after they were washed.
The blankets Sparky used while working under his car are shown here after they were washed.
Sparky stops by our new place with his Sparky jacket.
Sparky stops by our new place with his Sparky jacket.
Sparky's backyard.
Sparky’s backyard.
Sparky was forever working on his Chevy.
Sparky was forever working on his Chevy.
Sparky takes an electric sander to the shed door.
Sparky takes an electric sander to the shed door.
Sparky's Chevy jacked up in the driveway.
Sparky’s Chevy jacked up in the driveway.
Sparky contemplates his shed.
Sparky contemplates his shed.
Peggi and Sparky with cowboy hat sitting out front at dusk.
Peggi and Sparky with cowboy hat sitting out front at dusk.
Sparky put his house up for sale and no one makes an offer.
Sparky put his house up for sale and no one makes an offer.
Sparky posing with his Chevy in our driveway.
Sparky posing with his Chevy in our driveway.
After we moved I stopped by to visit Sparky and I found the secret to his agelessness.
After we moved I stopped by to visit Sparky and I found the secret to his agelessness.
Sparky planted fake Poinsettias in the spot where his daffodils were.
Sparky planted fake Poinsettias in the spot where his daffodils were.
Sparky had his bathroom redone and he set up this temporary bathtub in his basement.
Sparky had his bathroom redone and he set up this temporary bathtub in his basement.
Sparky recycling scrap metal with me at Kriegers, now Metalico, on Portland Avenue.
Sparky recycling scrap metal with me at Kriegers, now Metalico, on Portland Avenue.
Sparky and Little Manny (formerly Rusty) relaxing back by his garage.
Sparky and Little Manny (formerly Rusty) relaxing back by his garage.
Sparky comes to visit us with his new car, a used Cadillac.
Sparky comes to visit us with his new car, a used Cadillac.

We moved away from Hall Street in 2004 and Katie Shapiro, who lived in our old house while she was going to Visual Studies Workshop, sent us this photo of Sparky (below). Sparky passed away in November 2018.

Sparky plays guitar in the backyard. Photo by Katie Shapiro.
Sparky plays guitar in the backyard. Photo by Katie Shapiro.

Sparky Dolls found at Small World Books in Rochester, New York

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *