Que Es Berro?

Cow along the Camino de Santiago near O’cebreiro
Cow along the Camino de Santiago near O’cebreiro

We had settled into a valley last night in Portomarín and then climbed 1500 feet or so today to the ruins of a pre Roman town. Enroute to Palas de Rei we sat on the steps of a cemetery gate while we ate part two of last night’s chorizo and Manchego sandwich. I took my shoes off to air out my socks and stepped back to take a picture of Peggi only to land on a chestnut shell, one of those armadillo looking spheres.

Galicia, the northern portion of Spain, above Portugal, is delightful. Green and lush, we walk along ancient, stone lined gravel paths between pastures and farms. There have been chestnut, apple, fig and quince trees all along the way. We saw a lime tree as well and tomatoes are still on the vine. Don’t know if they start them late or if they last this long. Ours come and go so fast. And we keep trying to identify this tall, big leaf, cabbage or kale like vegetable that everyone seems to have on their property. The locals call it “Berro” and it is a key ingredient in Caldo Gallego, a vegetable soup that we plan to make when we return.

It is easy to ask for directions in Spain because Spanish people love to talk. It is not always easy to understand the directions. They talk fast and there are a lot gestures involved. Peggi picks up most of the language and I concentrate on the physical movements, a la izquierda, a la derecha and todo derecho.

The last few days have been around eighteen miles but tomorrow is longer. We are only seventy five kilometers out of Santiago now. It is easy to see why people (like us) push it and go on to Fisterra and Muxia. You just don’t want this thing to end.

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Street lights on the outskirts of Leon, Espana
Street lights on the outskirts of Leon, Espana

We’re thinking it is a good thing that our news sources have been limited. Our preferred news feed, Google News, doesn’t even work here because the Spanish newspapers have successfully sued to keep their content on their own sites. We stopped our newspaper delivery when we left Rochester so now we leaf through the Spanish newspapers in the coffee shops. They don’t follow the boy who would be king as closely and the world seems a little more stable.

We set the alarm for seven, an hour and a half before sunrise, so we were out on the streets of Leon in the dark looking for El Camino markers, the yellow arrows. It was a clumsy start but after three café con leche stops and some help from the locals we were out in the country.

We arrived in Villar de Mazarife in time for the menu del dia but the internet connection was was so weak we were unable to use our credit card. I tried to put a photo online and and it kept giving me error messages. The cord has almost been cut and I’m looking for the advantages. We wandered around town after dinner and found a building labeled “Casa Cultural” so we stuck our heads in. Men, all about our age, were sitting around tables in groups of four. They were playing cards and having a good time.

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King Of Pop

Snow covered trees over creek

The fresh snow is either evaporating or melting. We need some more. But it is a perfect day for YouTubing. We followed a Lincoln ad to Beck’s over the top performance of Bowie’s “Sound and Vision.” Low is still one of the greatest records of all time so maybe this will recharge sales. Watched a trailer for the David Mamet Phil Spector movie with Al Pacino and Helen Mirren and we longed for the real thing, “The Agony and Ecstacy of Phil Spector.” We saw it a few years ago at the Dyrden Theater and then heard the producers were having a hard time securing the rights to all those classic Wall of Sound songs. Whether that is true or not the movie has been unavailable. I have a feeling in this BBC link is only temporary so you better watch it soon. Finally, we primed ourselves for Matt & Kim‘s Monday night Armory appearance and got back to work.

The Pope had a press conference today. He said he just wants to spend more time with his wife and kids.” –David Letterman

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Across From The Barrel O’ Dolls

Judd Williams charcoal/graphite drawings at Axom Gallery in Rochester, NY
Judd Williams charcoal/graphite drawings at Axom Gallery in Rochester, NY

Jim Thomas ran a gallery on Prince Street about ten years ago. It was a beautiful space for art. One of the more memorable shows we saw there was Judd Williams. I feel in love with his charcoal drawings. Judd taught painting, printmaking, sculpture and figure drawing at Rochester Institute of Technology and Jim taught there as well. The Axom Gallery on Anderson, run by Rick and Robin Muto with their daughter Margot is one of the finest spaces for art in the city now and and they are currently featuring Judd Williams. Boo Poulin, a student of Judd’s, and I were drooling over these charcoal and granite drawings at the opening, wondering how Judd got such even tones of grey and Boo went directly to the source. Judd explained how he masked areas and layers graphite by rubbing and manipulating and then drawing with rich black on the grey. They are really wondrous.

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Perfect Gift

Peggi skiing in woods on her birthday

Peggi described today’s snowstorm as the perfect gift for her birthday. The trees were so laden with snow that we could not make out the trail. It was a little sticky especially if you stood still for a few minutes but it was exceptionally beautiful.

454 5300. Thank god today was the last day of the WXXI pledge drive. Don’t you think the local PBS station would be more successful if they kept Norm Silverstein off the air? I know he’s the president but where in the world did he pick up that affectation?

We had dinner at Rooney’s in Swillburg. The place has been around forever and if it wasn’t so expensive it would be mobbed. Maybe the economy will come back. We were some of the only diners there tonight. They had quite a few cancelations with all the “No unnecessary driving” orders. Celebrating Peggi’s Bday was a necessity and the food was fantastic.


The Natural

Bowling ball return at L&M Lanes on Merchants Road in Rochester, New York

Our friend and neighbor, Rick, got a bowling ball for Christmas. He booked the upstairs lanes at L&M on Merchants Road last Saturday and brought his laptop and microphone to dj while he bowled. This place has real wood lanes, 6 upstairs and 6 downstairs and eighteen beers on tap, Rick’s idea of heaven. D&C music editor, Jeff Spevak, was there but not bowling, he was taking movies on assignment and he came up with this short little movie. He caught me picking off a spare.

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Get Up Early

Mattress sign on Clifford Avenue in Rochester, New York

When I think of mattresses I think big and cushy. This sign is so slight and the lettering so compact it is surprising that it’s mounted on wheels. It would be quite a sight to catch the owner wheeling this thing out in the morning.

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Disco Devil

We stepped out for a walk at the exact same time as our neighbor so we walked together down the road in to the park and back through the woods. We ordered new Merrill hiking boots when got back. Been meaning to do that since we’ve both worn through the bottoms with all or construction work. We called MedVed but they were out of both of our sixes so we shopped online.

We listened to a lot of music while we worked on our project and I got a little tired of all the big musical notes that my iTunes library shows when it can’t find the cover graphic for a song so I’ve started what could be an even bigger project – tracking down graphics through Google image search. Found a good one for Lee Perry “Disco Devil.”

Ethnic Heritage Ensemble plays out at the Lovin’ Cup tonight with the great Corey Wilkes on trumpet. How great is he? He filled the trumpet slot for the Art Ensemble when Lester Bowie passed away. I took this movie of Kahil El’Zabar’s drum solo last time they played the Village Gate.

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Ala Franz Kline

Fallen trees in winter ala Franz Kline

Scenes like this, scattered throughout the woods, always draw my attention. It would be such a drag if all the trees stood upright. Natures battlefields make the woods so much more interesting than parks or people’s well tended property. Trees die and sometimes take out others when they go. Micro bursts of wind take out whole sections of the woods. Lightning brings down the tallest trees. Our hiking and ski paths get rearranged by the carnage. It’s all very dramatic like big bold rough and tumble charcoal drawings or Franz Kilne paintings.

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Changing The Channel

Duane Sherwood shot many of the Personal Effects videos back in the day so it is only natural that he would want the best quality of his videos up there. Copies of his videos were posted years ago when YouTube’s standards were lower and if you don’t have a channel YouTube will make one for you with those clips. So we set up a Personal Effects Channel last night and Duane is posting better quality videos as I write this.

On the other side of the coin he found some live footage of the band performing at the Community Playhouse in the SouthWedge nearly thirty years ago. Not sure who shot it, maybe Russ Lunn, but this stuff is low quality, underground and I love it. Duane masterminded the visuals, co-ordinated the dancers and prop guys and ran the light show.

Reset the counters.

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Third Generation

Bleu Cease, Peter Monacelli, Kurt Kurt Feuerherm and Kristine Bouyoucos at Maker Mentor 2013 show at Rochester Contemporary

WXXI hosted the Rochester premier of the “The Central Park Five” at the Little Theater last night. There was a reception beforehand in the café and we planned to attend but we were so close to finishing the wood trim around in our new room that we stayed and slugged it out. Our methods have evolved through experience and most importantly our mistakes. We measure twice and cut once and we sneak up on tight fittings by cutting pieces a little large, trying them and then fine tuning. And Peggi and I are a damn good team when it comes to ripping long pieces the Sears table saw that we inherited from our former neighbor, Leo Pfeiffer.

We finished in time to make it to the opening of Makers/Mentors at Rochester Contemporary. The mentor, Kurt Feuerherm, was my mentor as well back in the seventies and his influence was evident in the work of the three makers, evident in the three makers, Peter Monacelli, Kristine Bouyoucos and Patricia Dreher. I managed to glom on to a photo op with three of the featured artists. California-based Patricia Dreher was not in the house but her Stinson Beach Winter Light Series and several paintings of the Port of Oakland were beautiful. This is an especially strong show. Pete Monacelli’s abstract interpretations of downtown Rochester, entitled “Midtown Transfiguration,” are outstanding and Kurt’s abstract landscapes are sensational.

Pete normally teaches at MCC on Thursdays so last night’s opening was a field trip for his students. Their assignment was to take in the show and interview Kurt Feuerherm.

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World Go ‘Round

Paul, Larry, Kenny, Steve, Bill, Dave Bloomington 1969

My father is planning an open house for the Super Bowl. I don’t even know who’s playing and by that I mean the half time show. I could give a hoot about the game. Last great halftime show for us was Prince’s amazing performance in the Florida rain. Prince is always making a comeback and I love his new song with the double bass drums.

Facebook is great but almost everything about it bothers me. Do I really want to reconnect with my old friends in this photo? Do I want to know their birthdays? I don’t participate much the FB scheme but I accept friends when I go there and I’m always suspicious about who FB puts in my stream. Why are they there and not others? FB keeps track of every click of course, mine and my so called friends, and they build my page around those stats. They’re dying to get more content on their pages so they can sell ads and it is only a matter of time before photo albums will be interlaced with ads. I’d rather not think about their business model all the time.

Duane Sherwood recently rescued some thirty year old footage and posted some clips on the barely maintained Personal Effects FB page. He not only designed the production, he ran the show and then edited the video footage. He’s preparing a proper YouTube release this weekend.

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The Seldom Used Plural Of Men

Funky signs added to Tumblr in January 2013n

We spent most of the day yesterday at the Don Hershey presentation put on by Historic Brighton. It was a delight to meet Don’s two sons, Ken and Al and hear their fascinating stories about their father and the homes he built around town.

After the meeting Peggi and I wandered through the basement of the Brighton Town Hall looking for a bathroom and finally spotted the “Mens” and Womens” rooms. That was just the jolt I needed to post a few updates to my Tumblr site.

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Open Plans

Clarence and Dottie building their Don Hershey designed house in 1947

Clarence Maier, who died last year at 100, gave us a few photos of our house being built. It was in the late forties and he did most of the work himself, cutting down oak trees on our lot and having them milled and kiln-dried for the pegged floors. His wife Dottie not only helped, as you can see above, but she also suggested that architect, Don Hershey, put a vaulted ceiling in living room because she had seen some pictures of one in a magazine. According to an article on the Don Hershey website Don always insisted on talking with both husband and wife. “Women usually have the best ideas,” he said. “I always said, let me design this house for both of you. After all, the woman is the commander of the house.”

Legend has it Don would show up on your site and start sketching. House should sit here and face that way with a big window here etc. Historic Brighton, a local history club, is featuring Hershey tomorrow in their “Masters of Mid-Century Design” presentation. We plan to be there along with other fellow Don Hershey owners. In fact we met with a couple today who just bought one off Panarama Trail in Penfield. Their’s was built in the mid sixties and they have furnished it accordingly with turquoise and cork and Saarinen tulip chairs and Trent Reznor’s keyboard stand from NIN. Their design sense makes ours look absolutely spartan but the Hershey characteristics dominate. Open plans, sunken living room, angular bump outs, corner windows, big ass overhangs and problematically flat roofs for this climate.

Jeffrey Owen Jones, a film professor at the Rochester Institute Of Technology, who was “Mr. Jones” in Dylan’s “Ballad of a Thin Man” lived in a Don Hershey until died a few years back.

The craziest thing is the fold out carpenter’s ruler shown in Clarence’s back right pocket. That is exactly where I’ve been carrying a similar ruler for the last six months or or so. He and his wife are shown constructing our bedroom. And the commander of our house has been right by my side.


Bubble Coffee

White Swan Restaurant in South Wedge, Rochester, New York

There was an article in the Food section of the NYT’s recently on dealing with people who take photos of the food the’ve been served. High end restaurants have started provided high quality photos of their dishes and are making them available to diners at the table who are anxious to post real time shots to social media. They’re tied of people standing up on their chair to get a good overview of the meal. I’m certainly guilty of that. Mostly they’re concerned with people taking bad, i.e. flash, photos of their elegant servings. They are over-reaching to protect their designer brand. It’s food for Pete‘s sake.

My favorite Chinese place is White Swan in the South Wedge. I could tell they’re not crazy about photos either but the food is cheap and the place is popular with healthy young Asians so the atmosphere is fun. The language issue is fun too. I easily confused our server by briefly going off topic. I over-stress the “steamed not fried tofu” request when I ordered my dish and would up with fried.

I like their Bubble coffee and their fortunes. “Music melts all the separate parts of our bodies together.” “In the eyes of lovers, everything is beautiful.”

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Draconian Interaction

No texting message at the East Ridge Road library in Rochester, New York

Our neighbor, a writer, reads plenty and she is a library regular. We returned a pile of their books when they left town for a bit and she commented that “the library fines here are draconian.” We had a short pile of books that we forgot about until the automated reminder call came from Monroe County. Our fine, which we chalk up to supporting the library, totaled twelve bucks. The little note above was tacked to the cash register.

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Femme Fatale

Vic & Irvs in winter, Rochester, New York

When Duane Sherwood was town over Christmas we made the obligatory pilgrimage to Vic & Irv’s (they are closed until March) and hatched plans to go to the John Cale Nico tribute at the Brooklyn Academy of Music. We were going to take the train down and get off in Beacon. We had all read Robert Irwin’s book and were obsessed with seeing the former Nabisco box-printing facility that was renovated by Dia with Irwin as designer. The only tickets left to the BAM show were scattered about. Peggi, Duane and I contemplated sitting in different locations and then nixed the plan. It’s not like Nico would come back from the dead. Here’s what we missed.


Minor Milestones

Pete Monacelli's drawing with Paul Dodd's painting on drywall

We started a little project in our basement last August and have been in construction mode for so long now that art projects have taken a back seat and the slight posts here have grown even slighter. Bearing down with the drywall primer I almost covered the Pete Monacelli directions for creating our window trim. I wiped off my work, took this shot of the collaboration for reference and then painted it out with white. Pete helped us with our project and has an opening of his art work next Thursday at RoCo as part of the Maker/Mentor series. His mentor, Kurt Feuerherm, was my also my mentor when I cobbled together an art degree from SUNY at Empire State.

We have half of the flooring down in our new room and that was just enough for me to set up an easel this weekend. I broke into my art supply box today for a new stick of charcoal. The box had been tucked away when we piled our belongings under a big tarp back in November. The Lowel lights that I used to use for drawing have been serving as shop lights months but I put one of them back in art service on Sunday.

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