Not Who We Are

John Travolta in John Carpenter's "Blow Out." Personal Effects is the name of his video company.
John Travolta in John Carpenter’s “Blow Out.” Personal Effects is the name of his video company.

We worked our way through three Criterion Collections of Noir movies and we just dove into one called “NeoNoir.” We started withBrian DePalma’s “Obsession” (thumbs down) and then “Blow Out.” We had seen this one in the theater. Bob Martin had just joined our band, formerly the Hi-Techs, and we were looking for a band name. Bob was with us in the theater and we all looked at each other when John Travolta opened the door to his film studio. Travolta’s character witnesses the assassination of a governor who is running for president and enters a tangled web of conspiracy.

The activities of a bullied Pennsylvania kid with his dad’s firearm and the many articles on Shelley Duval that we’ve read in the last week put Robert Altman’s “Nashville” on our “Up Next” list. We saw that in Toronto when it first came out. Interesting watching it with a theatre full of Canadians. I remember people smoking cigarettes all around us. We saw “3 Women” in NYC and left the theater feeling as if we had had an out-of-body experience.

Don’t you hate it when politicians tell us, “This is not who we are?”

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The End Of The World

We usually included one cover song when we played and this Skeeter Davis song was a favorite in ’83/84. I have a folder of movies from those days and no idea who took most of them. With long distance help from Bob Martin I located three performances that included this song. Two were labeled Scorgie’s Early ’83 and just Scorgie’s ’83 and the third video was a complete mystery. It looked like a sound check somewhere. I put some of that footage at the front of this (above).

The one I liked the best showed Peggi singing the song without playing her Farfisa. The resolution was rough and the camera person loses track of Peggi a few times. She floats out of the frame but you can hear the crowd and just barely make out bodies moving in front of the band. I used that audio but the video and audio cuts out when we get to the bridge so I had to cut to another version for the audio. I patched it all together by overlapping the three versions of the visuals and Peggi and I struggled to get them all in sync. But if it really is the end of the world it doesn’t matter much.

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The Greatest Thing You’ll Ever Learn

Found sand sculpture along the beach at Durand Eastman
Found sand sculpture along the beach at Durand Eastman

We’ve been preparing to paint our house for the last month. Had to repair some of the concrete blocks and let that set up before painting. We finish work by dinner time and eat while watching soccer. We. usually have the summer off but this year the Copa America and Euros were happening at the same time. We don’t have cable anymore so we started out with Sling. in order to record the matches, stay away from the news and then watch them one at a time. We dumped Sling about halfway through. They were trimming the games, starting the second half at 70 minutes or so and then cutting away with four or five minutes to go. We settled on Fubo and now we are paying as much as we did with cable but we’re doing it without Spectrum. We will dump it after the finals tomorrow, both on the same day so we”ll save the Copa final for Monday. Posting here has taken a back seat. Did I mention that Spain is going all the way. Peggi will wear the Jersey tomorrow!

One of the most popular 45s in our house is Nature Boy by Bobby Darin. Peggi’s childhood friend, Chris Firth, wrote her name in magic marker on our copy. We might also have Nat King Cole’s version on an lp. I know we used to have it. Bobby Darin does a swinging version and his backup singers almost steal the show. Of course Coltrane’s version is beautiful. Elvin Jones almost sounds melodic. And Etta James does a great version. But “who wrote this thing?” we wondered while out walking.

I looked it up when we got home and that led me down a long rabbit hole. Known by the lower case moniker, eden ahbez (1908 – 1995), he was possibly one of the first hippies, long hair and a beard, white robes, sandals, he lived outside under the first “L” in the Hollywood sign. He left the sheet music to his song with Nat King Cole and it went to number one in 1948.

The greatest thing you’ll ever learn
Is just to love
And be loved
In return


Waiting For The Lord Almighty

Tesla Cybertruck in front of Hollywood Traders
Tesla Cybertruck in front of Hollywood Traders

We had taken our friend, John, to his doctor in Geneseo and we stopped at Schaller’s on the way home so John could pick up a bacon burger. As we were leaving with the goods we spotted this silver spaceship of a car. It pulled into the parking lot next door and the driver got out and went into Hollywood Traders (“We Buy Gold”). I stopped to take a picture of the car. I wasn’t the only one doing so. Two teenagers were grinning, flashing hand signs and taking selfies in front of the beast before I got out of the car. The license plate read LKY 8466. Peggi looked up the price and found they are north of 100G

On top of our existential crisis, the president has forced people my age to confront our eventual demise. If he doesn’t step aside and let the Democrats nominate a vital, clear headed woman (like Gretchen Witmer) in the next week we’re going to be forced to have a Trump Bible in every household. Maybe she could initiate campaign finance reform and get rid of the electoral college. Great Britain, France and even Iran have all shifted leftward. I want to be optimistic. When asked about stepping down Biden said: “If the Lord Almighty comes out and tells me that I might do that.” We are overdue for the second coming.

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Cool Bus

Cool Bus on 104 near Goodman
Cool Bus on 104 near Goodman

It was hotter than the Fourth of July this fourth. We walked to the lake, lounged at the pool and watched France beat Belgium in the Euros. We are all in for Spain in this one. Our favorite players from La Liga are all on the national team. Young for the most part, really young – Lamine Yamal joined FC Barcelona’s youth academy when he was seven years old. He’s a sixteen year old wunderkind now. Peggi made Shrimp Adobo from our Miami Spice cookbook. We watched “The Stones and Brian Jones” after dinner and then fireworks from the town hall out on our deck.

We found obituaries from two people we know/knew in the paper. We first met Julie when she was going out with Brian from the Paper Faces. As HiTechs, we shared gigs with Faces in Buffalo and here. Peggi remembers dancing with Julie when Brian Horton’s band was playing at the Firemen’s Exempt on Saint Paul. She took her bra off while dancing and Peggi still doesn’t know how she managed to do that. Her funeral mass is Monday.

We got another call for help from our friend, John. He’s been having a hard time lately and he got too weak to get out bed. I microwaved a Chicken Teriyaki package for him, washed his dishes and fetched him a clean pair of underwear.

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Testing, 1, 2, 3

Musical equipment on way to gig
Musical equipment on way to gig

It is hard enough for Peggi and I to get the Zoom recorder set up and running before our gigs and then harder still to remember to write the files before unplugging it. On top of that the batteries stopped working so if someone trips on the cord we loose the recording. And now it sometimes shuts off in the middle of a set, so we bought a new one, the Zoom H4essential. It comes with an eighty page pdf manual and whole new interface. We spent most of the day before Wednesday’s gig trying to record us saying “hey” into the mics at home. We used the old recorder at the gig and it worked.

The gig was hectic, the day before the 4th, but we managed to find some nice space on a few songs. We had relatives on both sides of the family there. Our niece, Lora, and her son, Dylan and his girlfriend were in town from Colorado. And my cousin, Colleen, was there with her friend. Peggi bought some beers at the break. I get woozy if I drink while we play. It was especially hot in the Little and I pretty much chugged the beer when we finished. We came home and took a midnight swim in the pool down the street.

Lora came over the next day with her two other sons, Lucas and Jude, and spent the afternoon in the pool.

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Close To Heaven

Chris Schepp with Sea Breeze pennant.
Chris Schepp with Sea Breeze pennant.

Chris threw a “grill thing” in his backyard, just blocks from where I grew up in the city. He picked a rainy day but we surmounted it by hanging out under a tarp and in his detached garage where he was cranking the tunes, old WAYO radio shows of his. Arpad and Danita were there, Joe from Nod, Gary from New Math, Pete and Gloria, Kathy and Jan and Chris’s brothers, the Floating Anvils.

The Schepps grew up in West Irondequoit and Joe lives there now. We spent some time discussing the difference between East and West Irondequoit. We couldn’t come up with much other than different water districts. Our water meter recently stopped working. Sea Breeze Water Authority sent us an email that read, “Either no-one is living at the this address or the water meter is broken because it has had the same reading for six months. Please call our office.” Someone came out a few days ago and fixed it and told us we probably wouldn’t be charged for the water we used in that period.

Irondequoit is a Native American word for “where the land and waters meet.” The town is bordered by Lake Ontario, the Genesee River, Irondequoit Bay, Lake Ontario and the City of Rochester. It is close to heaven.

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Turkey vulture with dead raccoon on Triphammer Road
Turkey vulture with dead raccoon on Triphammer Road

I had dream that Peggi and I were working with someone who was doing orchestral arrangements for songs on the new Margaret Explosion record. We just sent sixteen files across town to Arpad for post production and I’m afraid the dream came out of the hours I’ve spent editing the live songs. I’m kinda stuck on the orchestration idea now.

Peggi and I drove our friend, John, down to his doctor in Geneseo, a small college town about an hour south of here. We hadn’t been down here in years. My brother Mark went to school here. He roomed with Chuck Cuminale, aka Colorblind James. We drove past John’s old house on Triphammer Road and stopped to look at the new metal roof and red door. John built the place with the help of his friends back in the day. Peggi and I will never forget his party when the house was finished. John, shirtless, sitting up on the hood of a car, singing “Crown of Creation” at the top of his lungs while the driver circled the house. We drove past the Statesman where John and Catherine used to play pool every other Friday and dropped John off at his doctor.

While he was in the doctor we went down Main Street and stopped in Sundance Books and Buzzo’s Music. I studied a promo shot of a young Buzzo playing trumpet with a jazz band while his assistant went in back to bring out a box of 45s. I found a KC and the Sunshine band single and a George Jones song. On the way home we stopped at Schaller’s so John could pick up a bacon cheeseburger for dinner.

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Larry Champoux, Pat Thomas and Dick Storms at Record Archive
Larry Champoux, Pat Thomas and Dick Storms at Record Archive

I’m still trying to figure out what it was that held Thursday night’s cultural mash-up together. Pat Thomas was in town on a short book tour. I’m not even sure what the most recent book is. Either the “Material Wealth: Allen Ginsberg” or “Did It! From Yippie To Yuppie: Jerry Rubin.” Larry Champoux, a former director of Pyramid Art Center, Writers & Books and Action for a Better Community, skillfully directed traffic.

Dick Storms, the owner of Record Archive, told his San Francisco stories. He went out there in ’67 and found the scene already over. He sold copies of a bogus underground newspaper to tourists and kept the profits, enough for a banana and a pack of Pall Malls. Mark Weinstein was sitting next to us. Dick’s wife Lucinda took a fantastic photo of Dick and Mark. Lucinda posted it to her IG page.

A poet named Anderson who works with Black Box Theatre on Joseph Avenue, read five poems, one a response to Nina Simone. This may have had a connection to Pat’s book, “LISTEN, WHITEY!: The Sounds of Black Power.” Pat played a track from a record he reissued from 1968 that sounded every bit as fresh as the Last Poets – a band called Watt’s Prophets, all vocals with no instrumentation. Stream them when you get a chance! And buy one of Pat’s books!

Pat played drums with Absolute Grey back in the eighties. Their first lp was on Earring Records. His bandmate, Mitch, was in the audience with his two daughters. We all had dinner back at our place on Friday and had a great time.

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Gifts From Fred

Osprey with fish snatched moments ago. Photo by Fred Sanfilipo.
Osprey with fish snatched moments ago. Photo by Fred Sanfilipo.

We’ve been walking early this week, before our second cup of coffee that is, in order to beat the heat. We were amazed at how many people were already at the beach on Juneteenth. You run into different people at that hour. This morning we ran into Fred Sanfilipo. His camera looks like a military weapon. He said he had been taking photos in the park since six.

Fred had his own agency back in the Mac II days and each year we’d see him in the front row at Jazz Fest. A couple of years ago we ran into him in the park. He brought our attention to an unusual bush with magnificent flowers, a Harlequin Glorybower. He gave us the address of his Flickr page and said he would put us on his mailing list. Now three or four times a week we find an email with a nature photo, just the photo and a witty subject line. These two photos are recent examples. Almost all his photos are taken in Durand Eastman Park and all are something special.

Korean dogwood. Photo by Fred Sanfilipo.
Korean dogwood. Photo by Fred Sanfilipo.

Fred says he hates Facebook (we seconded that) but he loves sharing his photos. If you would like to be added to his mailing list comment here and I will pass your email address along to Fred.

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29 And Holding

Construction of "Brief History of the World • Vol XXIII"
Construction of “Brief History of the World • Vol XXIII”

We kept the last disc we rented from Netflix and we have yet to watch it. The “Muscle Shoals” documentary is still sitting by the tv. Funny how antiquated that process looks already. I know newspaper home delivery is just a matter of time. I went to the NYT site to report a no show for our paper this morning and found this message when I logged in. “We’re sorry, but we’re unable to deliver your paper today. However, we’ll redeliver it tomorrow.” Redeliver? They’ve already fired their copywriter.

We stopped out to hear Wren Cove at Red White and Brew on State Street. It was the same night the Yankee sensation was on the mound at nearby Red Wing Stadium. They had a record attendance that night and the bar was nearly empty. Wren Cove is just a duo so they only sounded better. Melissa, the cello player (she also plays with Margaret Explosion) turned 40 that night so we had a card for her. After the set Melissa told us she feels so old now. We laughed. Andrew, the guitar player in Wren Cove said, “You’re a musician. Musicians are 29 forever.”

I’ve taken over the table in our place with the construction of another “Brief History” episode. It takes about a year to collect the images (please redeliver) and a few idle hours for the match-making. And then I will take my time with the digital release.

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Lucky Flea

Found photo (speed boat) - $1 at Lucky Flea
Found photo (speed boat) – $1 at Lucky Flea

This Sun Ra Sunday (link) was a gorgeous sunny day. So sunny I felt the back of my neck burning as we sat on a blanket in the middle of Parcel 5. Gentle Sun Ra music was coming from a blue bag and Jason was reading what he described as an Appalachian gothic novel. It was a small book with wide leading. An envelope with found photos spilling out of it was sitting in front of us. Each was a jewel, intriguing for completely different reasons and each prompted digressive conversation.

The second musical selection was a collection of Arkestra tunes featuring June Tyson. My head was swimming with memories of Midtown Plaza and the promised revitalization shows. The Manhattan Restaurant, the stores that used to surround this area, the friends that worked in the buildings around us. The music was transporting us.

Tents lined Broad Street, near where we were sitting, a flea market overstuffed with vintage gear. I bought the found photo (above) for a dollar. On the back of the photo was a handwritten description, “Bob’s new boat. He built it. It will go 70-80 miles per hour. This is at Millerton.”

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The Raven

Jet Ski and swimmers at Durand Eastman
Jet Ski and swimmers at Durand Eastman

We have been putting together songs for a live cd (is there any other kind?) and a few of the tracks are from a night when Peggi couldn’t play because she had broken her finger. She is playing around with overdubbing (I know that would make the track not quite live) electronic sax parts. I shared the songs with her from my Apple Music (formerly iTunes) app and Peggi found she could only play along with the first 30 seconds of each song because of some sort of copy protection. I sent the songs to her directly from my hard drive as a workaround.

We watched the Apple Event, not live and not the whole thing but enough. The presenters were creepy, even Tim Cook. If I have the gist right Apple has borrowed ChatGPT, branded it as Apple Intelligence and incorporated it into their family of apps, all of which we use. The stock went bonkers and we sold some more. We bought our first shares back in the 90s when we were playing the Bug Jar happy hours. Steve Brown, one of the three original owners was tending bar and selling stock.

Our neighbor, Rick, bought the Lou Reed tribute lp at Record Store Day and he just let us borrow it. We have watched the Keith Richards “Waiting for My Man” video many times. It turns out it is the best thing on the album. Second best actually. The cover is the best thing. A Mick Rock photo of Lou with a mirrored reflection printed on a silvery stock. I was looking forward to Joan Jett’s track but it was a flop. Mary Gauthier does a beautiful version of “Coney Island Baby” and Bill Bentley writes the thoroughly enjoyable liner notes.

Bentley talks about working for Warner Brothers when Lou recorded “The Raven,” an album we never caught up with for some reason. So this morning, before our walk, we streamed The Raven! It is sensational!

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Between The Spaces

"8/12/22" by Judy Gregory at Richard Margolis Studio
“8/12/22” by Judy Gregory at Richard Margolis Studio

In Judy Gregory‘s artist statement at Richard Margolis’s Gallery she says, “Throughout history, regimes and individuals who have felt threatened by words have done their best to eliminate the sources from which those words have come.” Gregory was in the audience at Chautauqua Institution on August 12, 2022 when Salmon Rushdie was nearly killed by a knife-wielding attacker. In response to that experience she created the piece “8/12/22”, a panel made from transparent used tea bags in which “WORDS turn into SWORDS. “

Sheet of paper on wall in hallway of Anderson Arts Building
Sheet of paper on wall in hallway of Anderson Arts Building

On the wall, in the fourth floor hallway between Margolis’s space and Colleen Buzzard’s space, I found this sheet of paper taped to the wall. That is indeed where the magic happens – between the spaces.

Jon Gary photos in "High Contrast" show at Colleen Buzzard's
Jon Gary photos in “High Contrast” show at Colleen Buzzard’s

I liked Jon Gary’s photographs at Colleen Buzzard’s, particularly these two. The show was called “High Contrast” and I was thinking about that property when I said to Jon, “So, these are high contrast.” Jon said they were but also he was thinking of the contrast between the photos he had separated into pairs when he hung this show. Even though I was drawn to the pair above I had missed that aspect.

In the back room of Colleen’s, where Hucky holds court, art books are typically laid out on the big table. An open invitation to browse and ideally, prompt art talk. Hucky said they were in NYC last week and I’m guessing they stopped by Printed Matter. I found a Laura Fields book in which each spread had the top half of the front page of an issue of the New York Times with one color photograph on the left and a reproduction of a flat, abstract painting on the right. I flipped through the book a few times and was drawn to the paintings but I could not figure out the connection with the newspapers. Peggi pointed out that Fields had picked up a detail in the NYT photos, a linear pattern, whether it be from a piece of cloth or made of metal pipes, and created a painting with that motif.

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Zebra Moire

Small wooden wheel
Small wooden wheel

Our brakes have been squeaking, not when we use them but when we go around corners. Pretty sure it is just rust build-up due to not using the car much. It prompted us to look at the little stickers on our windshield. Not only was our car overdue for an oil change, it was months past due for NYS inspection. We dropped it off at B&B Automotive at 8 this morning and took a walk in Seneca Park while they serviced our car.

We walked by John Gilmore‘s house on the way to the park. The shades were all drawn and he surely was sleeping so we walked on by. We stopped at a garage sale on his street and bought an orange ceramic bowl with turquoise trim, perfect for a summer salad. It was two dollars and there were two of them. We settled on one. We told the lady we would be back in an hour or so to pick it up.

John’s street ends at the zoo. We skirted the boundary and walked along the big wooden fence that keeps the freeloaders out and the animals in. We stopped every few minutes to look through the cracks and and at the far end would found some knotholes in the wall. one at Peggi’s height and one at mine. On the inside but behind a chain link fence were three zebras. As they moved about the fence and the stripes played moire tricks with our eyes.

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More Noir

Alan Ladd, William Bendix and Hugh Beaumont in "The Blue Dahlia" 1946
Alan Ladd, William Bendix and Hugh Beaumont in “The Blue Dahlia” 1946

“The Blue Dahlia” was Raymond Chandler’s first original screenplay. The 1946 American film noir starring Alan Ladd, Veronica Lake and William Bendix is a masterpiece. Made just one year after WWII, three army vets get off a bus and head straight to a bar for a scotch with a scotch chaser. Then the married Alan Ladd character goes home to his wife whom he had suspected had not waited for him. The movie unfolds so fast with one colorful character after another. William Bendiix tops his performance in “Lifeboat” with this role, a shell shocked veteran with a metal plate in his head. I didn’t want this one to end.

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Warehouses on Atlantic Avenue
Warehouses on Atlantic Avenue

We stopped out to see Brad yesterday. He was playing songs from a playlist on his laptop which he has wired to his monster stereo system and we found him in good spirits. I looked at the playlist and it was all Spyro Gyra songs from various albums. He told us they were his favorite band. Peggi brought along her electronic sax and she played examples of twenty or so different settings. Brad liked the baritone sax the best.

We’ve been editing songs for a new cd and I wanted to hear a couple of them on Brad’s system but I struggled to AirPlay the songs from my iPad over to his Roku setup. I went to my Dropbox page on his laptop and streamed them from there. I was really struck by how rough the live, improvised music from Margaret Explosion sounded compared to Spyro Gyra. We sounded like a punk rock band.

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Better With Age

Wings of Desire viewing party, photo by Peggi Fournier
Wings of Desire viewing party, photo by Peggi Fournier

The concept of guardian angels was a big thing in Catholic grade school. It is also something I hadn’t thought much about until last night.

We had seen Wings of Desire back in the eighties and for some reason it went right by. We decided to take a break from our Noir binge although we’re finding that is not really possible. We are so deeply emerged that the whole world feels noir now. Even the sunny days. Shot in mostly in black and white in Berlin, Wings of Desire fits right in there. In fact, the movie is closer to a dream state.

We watch angels, invisible to those in the film, observe and listen to the thoughts of the characters. One angel falls in love with a trapeze artist and decides to abandon his eternal, incorporeal existence and become human. Peter Falk, playing his John Cassettes character self, wanders through the film as a former angel and makes a connection to both worlds. The Berlin night club scenes with Nick Cave are sensational.

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Dark Horse Comes In

Invisible Idiot (aka Margaret Explosion) "Outta Sight, Outta Mind" black, blind embossed cd cover 1998
Invisible Idiot (aka Margaret Explosion) “Outta Sight, Outta Mind” black, blind embossed cd cover 1998
Invisible Idiot (aka Margaret Explosion) "Outta Sight, Outta Mind" digital cd cover 1998
Invisible Idiot (aka Margaret Explosion) “Outta Sight, Outta Mind” digital cd cover 1998

Although the 1998 Invisible Idiot cd has been a steady seller at our gigs, it never received digital distribution until now. The album has always been something of a dark horse but it is still one of our favorites. It features the original Margaret Explosion lineup (Peggi on sax, Pete LaBonne on bass, Jack Schaefer on guitar etc., me on drums and Shelley on shakers.) We played every Friday evening at the Bug Jar that summer but we didn’t find time to record until later in the year. By then we had a different Margaret Explosion line-up for our live gigs so we recorded as Invisible Idiot and called the cd “Outta Sight, Outta Mind.”

listen to “Son of Telly Savalas” first song on Margaret Explosion cd “Invisible Idiot”

Invisible Idiot is now available at all the streaming services
Spotify | Amazon | Apple

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"Flat Fix" sign along Main Street in Niagara Falls
“Flat Fix” sign along Main Street in Niagara Falls

We’ve stayed at the Giacomo in Niagara Falls so we were ready for funky. The building was built in 1929 and is owned by Carl Paladino who ran for NYS governor on the “Take Out The Trash” platform. The radio in our room was tuned to a Toronto jazz station and “Blue Monk” was playing when we arrived. There was a Gideon bible by the bed. I opened it to a random page and landed on Psalm 19.

1. Give unto the LorD, O you mighty ones, give unto the LORD glory and strength.
2. Give unto the LoRD the glory due to His name; worship the LORD in the beauty of holiness.
3. The voice of the LoRD is over the waters; the God of glory thunders; the LoRD is over many waters.
4. The voice of the Lord is powerful; the voice of the LoRD is full of majesty.
5. The voice of the LoRD breaks the cedars, yes, the LoRD splinters the cedars of Lebanon.
6. He makes them also skip like a calf, Lebanon and Sirion like a young wild ox.
7. The voice of the LoRD divides the flames of fire.
8. The voice of the Lord shakes the wilderness; the LorD shakes the Wilderness of Kadesh.
9. The voice of the Lord makes the deer give birth, and strips the forests bare; and in His temple everyone says, “Glory!”
10. The LorD sat enthroned at the Flood, and the LoRD sits as King forever.
11. The Lord will give strength to His people; the LORD will bless His people with peace.

Our friend, Pete, illustrated the Psalms. They read like journals from psychedelic trips. The voice of the LoRD thunders over the waters. And we were just two blocks away from the Falls. We had walked along the river gorge from Whirlpool State Park to the Falls and back. We cleaned up and headed out to my Uncle’s wake. I have a big family and he was our favorite. My brother and his wife came up from New Jersey and we had dinner with them in the historic Red Coach Inn. I love Niagara Falls, the New York side, but parts of the city are so run down it will make you cry.

The young priest made my Uncle’s Mass of Christian Burial meaningful and welcoming. The organist was a one woman choir. As he shook the incense burner over my uncle’s casket the priest said, “May the martyrs come to welcome you.” I remember my Uncle Bob picking out a Thomas Merton letter to share with my dad when he was dying. He lived his faith.

When we got home we watched Marilyn Monroe in the 1959 movie, “Niagara.” The honeymoon capitol looks empty but the Giacomo Hotel building towers over the city in quite a few shots.

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