Determined to do something that didn’t leave me exhausted I quit my carpentry job the week before we were married. I could tell my boss, a hard working immigrant named Salvatore Caramana, was completely bewildered by my announcement.
After our honeymoon I found a job working for the City of Rochester as graphic artist. My salary was paid for one year as part of a grant package and I was told they would cover most of my tuition if I wanted to take classes at night. I signed up for two four hour photo classes, taught by Bill Jenkins, at UR (then the UofR) and decided to cobble together a degree from Empire State. They gave me credit for the job I was doing, my semesters at IU, the paintings and prints I did on my own and they assigned an art mentor, Kurt Feuerherm, who I could work with.
The only other teacher I remember was Bill Ciroco, who taught English and lived across from us on Hall Street. Bill gave me a list of ten books to read and we met to discuss them in his office. I came across the list (all men) today and may have to reread them all because I only remember “100 Years…” and how much I liked Italo Calvino.
Gabriel Marquez – One Hundred Years of Solitude Julio Cortazar – Blow-up and Other Stories Donald Barthelme – The Dead Father Samuel Beckett – How it Is John Hawkes – The Blood Oranges Robert Creeley The Island Italo Calvino – The Watcher and Other Stories Cesare Pavese – The Devil in the Hills Italo Svevo – Confessions of Zeno Henry Roth – Call It Sleep Bernard Malamud – The Assistant John Fowles – The Magus
If I’m not mistaken, and I usually am, this would be the weekend Sea Breeze Amusement Park opens. I haven’t been inside in years but the screams from the Jack Rabbit riders are an essential sound of summer. It was eerily quiet when we walked by.
Peggi had a dream that we had a deer in our bathtub. But it wasn’t our bathtub here, it was the one we had in the city. And then she saw a snake in the road with a toad in its mouth. Half of the toad was still visible and she was going tp tell me about it when she came in but she forgot.
We walked down to Sea Breeze this morning and came back up Culver where we checked on the many restaurants. Don’s Original is letting five masked customers in at a time. Vic & Irv’s old parking lot is under water. Bill Grey’s had yellow tape around their outdoor seating section. Marge’s was doing curbside. Curbside what? Lakeside Hots delivers. 222-HOTS. Giuseppe’s is open four days a week for take-out. Nick’s looked closed but we heard our neighbor had ordered take out. The Union, formerly the Reunion was closed. And Shamrock Jack’s had five curbside pick-up stations clearly marked. Our neighbors had take out from Pasta Villa last night. We’ve been strictly home-cooked meals for the last few months but we wanted to see how the over half lives.
America is opening up again. We figured out a way to play horseshoes while distancing. I don’t touch the green shoes and Rick doesn’t touch the blue ones. Instead of trading off we each shoot our two shoes, one after the other, and then step out of the pit. The opponent shoots their two and we walk to the other pit where the player who goes second picks up his shoes and steps aside. The only thing we haven’t figured out is how to drink beer with the mask on.
Jim Mott was up early this morning. Something like four. He emailed, texted and then called to revise the suggestions he had made in the email. The warblers are migrating through and he offered to be our guide. But the cold, drawn-out spring has thrown the birders for a loop. The hot spots are not so reliable. He told told us we might have just as much luck in Durand which happened to be where we were when he called.
As we walked along the lakeshore we heard someone coming toward us before we saw him. He had earbuds in and was singing along with the Mamas and Papas’ “California Dreamin'”. Not so much singing but loudly reciting the lyrics in a flat monotone. We tried not to look. While we were down on the beach he came back by us. This time it was the Beatles’ “Michelle. “
Back home Peggi had to call the Social Security office. The woman who helped her was working from home and her young child could be heard by her side. He or she had some of the words to Old MacDonald and he or she definitely had the refrain down.
On this clear spring day, the second in a row with blue skies and near zero humidity, I have decided to post these dreary, industrial, black and white photos. Both show the Genesee River flowing north from the upper left hand corner, through downtown Rochester, over the High Falls, past Kodak and eventually out to Lake Ontario.
The photo above was taken by an anonymous City photographer sometime around 1950 and the one below was taken by me in the mid seventies. Although there is twenty five year gap between the two these are both old photos now. And it has been forty five years since I took the one below. The smokestacks are gone. Someone invented the internet. The city is reinventing itself.
I put about thirty old photos of Rochester on page called “city of rochester” under the “pictures” tab above. Check ’em out and see how far we’ve come.
For the last six days I have posted a found photo to my IG feed. I have one more lined up for tomorrow, my favorite. All of them were found along the curb or just in the road. The one above is sort of a found photo. I had had a friend who worked as a photographer for the City of Rochester. Can’t image they even have a position like that anymore. He had access to all the photos in their library and this is one of them. I can’t tell if the photo session was done on the sly or if they really thought a glam shot on one of the city’s garbage trucks was a good idea. There is an alternate shot.
My neighbor is anxious to resume our summer horseshoe ritual. He texted this morning wondering if I had given any thought to how we could safely play. I ignored the text.
Just days after posting my picture of a fox eating a squirrel outside our bedroom window we came across what we first thought were turkeys, about ten big birds in the trees over the marsh. A few of them were on the ground picking at something. They didn’t startle or take off like turkeys do, they held their ground as we approached. They turned out to be vultures feasting on a dead fox. It didn’t look like the same one.
Don’t know why “New York Is Now” popped into my head. I had to hear it and it still sound fresh. It is now. Ornette recorded the album in 1968 and he used John Coltrane’s rhythm section, Jimmy Garrison and Elvin Jones. I had forgotten that until the second song, “Toy Dance.” Ed Blackwell, Ornette’s go to guy, is my favorite drummer in the world and this didn’t sound like his distinctive parade style. It doesn’t sound like Elvin Jones either. Jones was so physical with Coltrane and on New York Is Now he sounds limber and free.
Coltrane’ s lp, “The Avant Garde,” recorded eight years earlier, features Ornette’s line-up, Don Cherry, Charlie Hayden and Ed Blackwell. Three of the five songs on this lp were written by Coleman. I plan to listen to that today.
We’ve noticed bike tracks on some of the trails through the park and we’ve occasionally seen guys on bikes, those fat tire things. They don’t pay any attention to the “No Biking on Trails” signs. We noticed a new sign yesterday planted right in the middle of a trail that goes straight up a hill. In addition to being obnoxious the bikes tear up the trails and lead to erosion. I spotted this pink flag on trail today, probably alerting other bikers to the path. I brought it home with me along with six golf balls and three Sweet Gum seed pods that looked like a brown version of the Corona virus.
There was a period, five or six years ago, when I was bringing home Budweiser cans from a spot near the marsh on Hoffman Road. I put all those photos in a slideshow below.
We’re finding the nearby neighborhoods are less crowded than the park in the morning. We walked down to the bay today, down the big hill at the end of Point Pleasant and out Schnackel Drive where the homes are barely above water. Schnackel continues further along the shoreline but only as a walking path. There are a handful of more homes right on the water but we ran into a dog back there a few years ago so we left it unexplored today.
Zig zagging through the neighborhoods we’ve noticed a few garden projects underway. Big pressure treated poles stuck in the ground for fencing on the south side and some sort of open air structure up top tying it all together. There must be plans online for these Victory Gardens because we’ve seen a few and they all look alike. We’re lucky to have a small plot of and in our neighbor’s backyard where there is sunshine and a short electric fence to keep the animals out. And what’s with these fantasy doors in people’s yards that are hung on a frame and apparently swing open to more yard?
We heard the woman at the end of the street found a tick stuck on her side. She had it tested and it was negative. Our friends, Pete and Shelley, in the mountains, have already found a few on them. And Jim Mott, the painter and birder, has three attached to him.
And why isn’t the government putting unemployed people to work rebuilding our infrastructure? It’s not like no-one has ever thought of this. The WPA was a win win. AmeriCorp could be fully staffed. What are we waiting for?
The street we moved onto has a swimming pool on one of the lots 1960. Ten families belonged to the association then but only three households, all couples, belong now. We do meetings with Roberts Rules of Order. This one was via Zoom. We took the cover off under the threat snow and we all wore masks.
Certain words keep coming up during the pandemic. “Exacerbate” is one. Every move that Trump makes, it seems, exacerbates the crisis. In a conversation with Peggi’s sister she used the word “cavalier” in reference to potentially unsafe behavior while out in public. That stuck and Peggi and I now use that word every day. There was a restaurant downtown, where the Metropolitan Building is now, that my brother and I used to go to when we skipped school. It was called “The Cavalier.”
It was too cold for the golfers this morning although we did see two solo parties. One guy was wearing gloves and a down jacket as he teed off. We took one of the paths that skirts the course and I found three balls. A Wilson, a Titleist and a Precept.
There was hardly anyone out this morning. Must have been the low temperatures and the threat of rain. The gentle waves hitting the shoreline had me in a meditative state. I could have walked all the way to Niagara Falls where my cousins are having a closed funeral for my Aunt Ann. We perfected this state while walking the coastline of Portugal last year on our third Camino.
The waves work like a mantra because they are not perfectly timed. I take that back. They are perfectly timed but not quantized. And each wave sounds different from the last. It is nothing like a drum sample. I paid 45 dollars to learn TM when I was in college. The person who gave me my mantra told me not to time it with my breath or say it in a rhythmic way but just let it be the next thought each time. This is really tough for a drummer but I got it.
Right now I would like to just drift off with these wave and let them wash this whole thing away. This is Day 59.
I remember how easy it was to record the Margaret Explosion album, “Skyhigh.” Pete and Shelley were in town for a few days. I think Bob came over the night before and we set up the mics and recording equipment. Ken came over the next morning and we made a few pots of coffee. We recorded the album in the basement, just started playing, and we got five keepers that first day. “Sleep of Reason,” named after the Goya print, was one of them.
Just before the pandemic Steve Black was here with videos he shot in NYC the week before. He picked “Sleep of Reason” to accompany his butterfly footage. Easy.
I don’t know if I ever knew what my parents were discussing when I took this picture. With seven kids there was always something going on. If I had to guess I would say someone had gotten into trouble.
The last of my mom’s siblings, my Aunt Ann, has died. Her husband is the last man standing in the generation before me. They were our favorites on that side. So easy to talk to and laugh with. Interested and interesting. Her parents, my grandparents, are both in the big family picture from 1920 that I just put up on the Tierney Market page. Although she wasn’t yet born she knew these people and that link to the past is gone.
A big pine fell across this path in Durand over the winter. We crawled under it quite a few times and today we found that they had cleaned it up. The park has such a slim staff it takes them months and sometimes years to clear a trail. This is an especially nice one as it connects Zoo Road to Pine Valley.
Tom Kohn from the Bop Shop stopped by this afternoon to pick up some Personal Effects CDs for his store. Can’t keep em in stock! I found a video on my hard drive that someone had shot at Club Mirage in 1985. I chopped one song out yesterday and posted that but there was also a pretty cool version of “A Love Supreme” in there. And whoever it was that shot the video got some good footage the crowd dancing to a sang called Baby Baby. I might have to chop another song out in my Corona time.
Margaret Explosion was scheduled to be performing in the Little Theatre Café on Wednesdays this month. We would be there tonight but were not. With Bob Martin’s help we’ve been researching ways to stream a performance from multiple locations.
Short entry for a short song. Still sounds good to me. Personal Effects. Mid 80s. Video shot at a downtown Rochester bar called Club Mirage. Song clocks in at just under two minutes. Peggi Fournier – keyboards, Bob Martin – guitar, Paul Dodd – drums, Robin Goldblatt Mills – bass. Kevin Vicalvi – sound. Duane Sherwood – lights.
I love these Snowy Magnolias, so aptly named. They’re much prettier than the clunky, tulip-like Magnolias.
Is it because of the pandemic that this is the best spring ever or in spite of it? The wisteria which typically herald the new season are still yellow after almost four weeks. The daffodils still standing. The cherry blossoms are still on the trees. We’ve not had a wind storm or heavy rain or heatwave to crash the party. This year it is a slow orgasm.
I suspect the pandemic has shaped my perception. I’m not an essential worker or a high school senior. I didn’t lose my job. I am healthy. It’s just that the world moves more slowly now. Why is the newspaper so big. Oh, it must be Sunday.
My appreciation and respect for the natural order, the plant and animal world, has only grown deeper. The virus is throwing our bad behavior in our face. And the pause has provided a glimpse of a possible correction. Maybe we haven’t completely fucked up the earth. Maybe its not too late.
Jared describes the scene in his fish pond each spring as an orgy. When that trilling sound fills the air on a sunny day the toads are happy! They are so sensitive it is hard to sneak up on them. They stop trilling when you’re twenty feet away. But in time they get right back into it. There were at least three other pairs of toads getting it on while we were there. Our neighbors plan to have a few friends over tomorrow to watch the proceedings – at a safe distance of course.
Speaking of rear entry. The Zoom meeting we attended last night, a virtual First Friday art studio tour, was bombed. Full blown. It started with someone writing “Nigger” and drawing swasticas on a white board. The hosts and participants tried to carry on but their voices were being drowned out with all bitch talk. And then the little squares and full screen went graphic. We bailed but checked back after an hour the rude quests had left.
Damn, did I go down a rabbit hole with these old photos of my grandfather’s stores. He had three stores starting with this one at 312 North Street, right where Hudson Avenue splits off. “The first blazer from Main Street corner,” as my grandfather describes it in his memoir. He opened a much larger store in 1935 at 634 South Avenue.
Before my father died he made one of his infamous charts plotting the Tierney Markets timeline against Harts Grocery and Wegmans and he showed the second store at “639” South Avenue which would have put it across Hickory Street on the wrong side of South Avenue. Peggi used her Newspapers.com subscription to track down a front page story about the 1939 fire which forced my grandfather to move to his final location, 999 South Clinton. I mention the discrepancy because I am finding out how easy it is to make a leap based on someone else’s hunch or typo. Some of the dates on the original photos have question marks next to them. I made a few leaps myself in identifying the photos on my Tierney Markets page.
My mom’s cousin brought some photos to a family reunion years ago and I scanned them. Her photos all had identifications on them. My father left all these old family photos on his computer and I’m still sorting those out. I had list of questions for my aunt, the youngest daughter of the man pictured above, but I found out last night that she had been taken to the hospital with Pneumonia. She will be tested for Coronavirus.
After I rounded up my Bloomington photos, a few weeks back, I sent the link to our old friends. Joe emailed back that if he had all those old photos he would wallow in them. Isn’t that what old people do? I think might have to do with how fast time moves as we get older. Too fast for you to savor the moment.
It was supposed to be warm today but it barely made it. We walked to down to the Sea Breeze pier without any close encounters. We had the small beach to the left of the pier to ourselves. Guess everyone was in the park. The lake was still. It was beautiful but kind of strange.
Our friends, Pete and Gloria, stopped by to wish me a happy birthday. They were the first friends we’ve had over since the pandemic. We had coffee out front and resisted the urge to touch.
Our neighbors (and friends), Jeddy and Helena, stopped by to sing happy birthday. We stood in the driveway and they stood in the road. Helena was playing some reggae on her portable sound system. But all I could think of was Ornette’s “Friends and Neighbors.”
Phil did a version of “Harry Irene” for me on Facebook live.
Our good friend, Louise, dedicated a blog post to me.
Kathy walked over from the last traffic circle and texted us that she was out front. While we were out there Rick and Monica stopped by and Rick asked how we were going to make horseshoes work.
We had not driven anywhere in weeks so everything about the trip down Culver Road was weird. A lot of people, mostly women, were out doing yard work. Peggi and I had been in the basement all day working on art projects. A young couple was sitting in lawn chairs out by the sidewalk, maybe six feet from it. They weren’t wearing masks. They looked desperate for interaction.
A man and a woman were having coffee out in front of Dunkin Donuts. The woman had a mask on. Two twenty somethings with masks on were taking a selfies in front of the Vape Shop. A man on Webster Avenue was moving the lawn with a mask on but we saw quite a few young kids playing and teenagers hanging out without them.
Our mission was a safe drop-off of our RoCo 6×6 entries. We parked in front with our trunk open and Jess came out with a mask on. Ideally she would have picked up the artwork and disappeared but I complicated things because I lost one of my entry forms. She told us to roll down our window and she would come back out with a basket. The basket was hanging on the end of a long stick. I took the form and filled it out and we drove down East Avenue where even joggers were wearing masks. The outing was somewhere between a zombie movie and an acid trip.