Channeling

Buildings outside Abilene at night
Buildings outside Abilene at night

Chuck was an old soul in high school. At an age when most of us were turning our backs on our families he shared his deep connections with city relatives who made doughy pizza for his friends. He has been dead for twenty years now but his stature remains legendary. Former bandmates, what some would call the classic, core line-up, the band that played the John Peel session, performed two sold-out shows this weekend at Abilene. Chuck’s son, Mark, sang and strummed guitar like a chip off the old block. Chuck’s wife, Jan, said he “was channelling his father.”

My brother, Mark, Chuck’s bf in HS, planned to meet us at the show. Driving up from New Jersey, he texted to say his ETA was 9:36. A counselor in Newark he got hung up helping a kid and we didn’t see him until 2:30. Mark was one of three people to have witnessed Gary Bennett’s recording of Chuck’s songs, “Live at Rising Place,” in 1976. My brother is credited with “background inspiration.”

Colorblind James performing “Copernicus” from “Live At Rising Place,” 1976

The shows were moved inside due to the weather and no-one was drinking beer with their mask on. We are holding our breadth that it wasn’t a super-spreader. We listened to a good bit of the second set out back. It always sounds better out there. You can hear the bass notes and the mix becomes comfortable rather than harsh. The seven piece band sounded great as they knocked off two, twenty song sets in muscular fashion. Chuck would have loved it and he would have been so proud of Mark.

After the Rising Place cassette the next thing we heard from Chuck was when he played a date it the Red Creek in 1980 with The White Caps, his band from Oswego. We came home with a 45, “America, America.” Chuck’s songs were sing songs catchy but out of time somehow. He had a band on the west coast which we never heard and then near the tail end of the Scorgie days he moved back to Rochester. His brother-in-law, Phil, was playing guitar and he was looking to form a band here. Bernie had just left Personal Effects so he joined on bass.

Chuck’s music, which he liked to describe as “circus rock,” was out of step with punk and new wave. He favored the polka-like, two-beat. The melodies had an old world feel, a sound track for traveling street performers, His brilliant, wryly delivered lyrics read like modern day liturature, the Bible and poetry.

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Laid To Rest

Outlet from Eastman Lake flowing into Lake Ontario at Durand
Outlet from Eastman Lake flowing into Lake Ontario at Durand

We were unable to cross the outflow from Eastman Lake this morning. Of course we could have taken our shoes off and waded across but we turned around and walked back along the beach. Someone had left a big round metal fire pit fixture on the beach with ashes and charred beer cans from the night before. We passed twice and considered taking it home both times but it was way too heavy.

We watched a virtual funeral mass yesterday for Joe O’Keefe, my mom’s cousin. He was a real sweetheart. At my mom’s funeral he told me a rather significant story about their common grandmother, a Kelly, who left Dublin on a ship bound for New York as a caretaker of an elderly man. She was supposed to return but she fell in love with a man named Walsh. They married as soon as they landed but only on the condition that Walsh drop his affiliation with the Church of England and get right with Catholicism. 

He told me they used to hold these teen dances all over the city and kids would usually go without dates. He said he always made sure he danced with my mom and said he was determined to find a Mercy girl like my mom. And he did, my mom’s lifelong friend, Virginia, who he married.

Tomorrow we drive to Niagara Falls for the funeral of my aunt and Joe’s cousin, Ann Oliver, the last of that generation of Tierneys. She died during the pandemic and the family delayed the Mass and remembrance until now. She was my favorite aunt on that side. I painted a picture of her for “The City” show at Pyramid in 1990 where I depicted one member from each of my relatives’ families working somewhere in Rochester.

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Chimney Sweep

Wisner Road Halloween puppets
Wisner Road Halloween puppets

You always think, “this will be the last nice day of the year” when we get a day like this (sunshine and somewhere in the seventies) in late October. I borrowed Jared’s chimney scrub brush yesterday and went up on the roof, our new metal roof. It is slippery and we decided not to get those bars that catch the snow before it slides off on top of you because they look ugly but they would provide something to hold onto if you’re sliding off. My Merrill walking shoes have a pretty good grip but I wasn’t prepared for the loose panel that slid out from under me when I stepped on it. I grabbed ahold of the sharp edge the next panel and cut my left hand. I was still able to play horseshoes.

I called the roofing company and they came right out to address it. I climbed up on top of the chimney, took the cap off and shoved the long pole down to the point where it reaches our flu. I was working it up and down, scraping the creosol off the inner walls, when I suddenly felt no resistance at all. The brush had come off the pole and it was stuck in our chimney. I was picturing what it would smell like if we started a fire and I looked toward my neighbors and saw Jared was doing something in his fish pond. I pulled the pole up and he got the picture. He suggested putting our pole saw down there and trying to grab on to it. An hour or so later I came up with the brush. Maybe we’ll have our first fire this weekend.

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VU

Peggi Fournier, Dale Mincey, and Robert Marsella at Dale's apartment in Rochester, New York
Peggi Fournier, Dale Mincey, and Robert Marsella at Dale’s apartment in Rochester, New York

The coolest thing about “The Velvet Underground,” Todd Haynes new documentary on the seminal band’ is seeing people dancing to their music in the fabulous old clips of the band performing live. They worked enough for Jonathan Richmond to estimate that he saw the band sixty times but they never caught on or made any money. They were too arty and that aspect is the second coolest thing about this movie.

Plenty of foundational footage establishes the VU links to Lamont Young’s drones, Tony Conrad’s noise, John Cage’s minimalism and Allen Ginsburg’s poetry. John Cale’s rich European musical roots and Lou Reed’s dirty street smarts, pop sensibility and lyrics that read as poetry was a match made in heaven. Moe. Could any other drummer have bridged that gap so well. The movie sets the record straight on Warhol’s involvement. Nico was a brilliant addition and the songs she sings will live forever. Sterling Morrison and then Doug Yule completed the picture. The best rock band of all time!

I was so lucky that Tom Campbell, a year older so much hipper (before Viet Nam did a number on him), talked me into buying the first record at Midtown Records. That original pressing had the upside down guy on back, before he sued the band for using his image. I played that lp to death, lost the banana skin and gave the lp to my nephew, Eli Enis.

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Noisemaker

Noisemaker along Lakeshore Boulevard near Zoo Road
Noisemaker along Lakeshore Boulevard near Zoo Road

The instrument above comes with a reflector so you can find it in the dark. The others, on the same chunk of guard rail, stand straight up but this one has been clobbered. I use the reflector as a lever to push down on as we walk by. Peggi recorded the sound on her phone.

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Last Swim

Colorful five leaf vine near pool
Colorful five leaf vine near pool

We picked a batch of fresh pimientos de Padron yesterday and cooked them just before leaving the house for Kathy’s where we dined out back overlooking the bay. The peppers were cold when we got there, of course, but they tasted great and to our surprise none were too hot. There are plenty of white flowers on the pepper plants so if the frost holds out we’ll be enjoying many more rounds.

We brought home some more tomatoes but the plants are exhausted. Our arugula, collard greens, carrots, beets and kale are still overproducing. Our refrigerator is so full of bags of greens that things are freezing.

We checked in with our neighbor down the street and he told us he has trapped eight raccoons in the last week. I wondered if he had asked Animal Controller where they were taking the creatures and he said the guy told him the the town had some property on the other side of 590. I pity the neighbors over there.

We took our last swim of the year in the pool this afternoon. We’ll be closing it over the weekend. We’re planning to watch Todd Haynes’ “The Velvet Underground” tonight,  in our neighbors’ home theater if we are lucky

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Not For The Art Market

Wooden Makonde mask from Mozambique
Wooden Makonde mask from Mozambique

I always thought the Wildroot Gallery was in an active barbershop. The group that showed there back in the seventies has had many shows, in many different places, since the original space in the South Wedge closed. At their current show in Warren Philips Gallery I learned the Wildroot was a former barbershop when the five artists reclaimed it. The five have continued to turn out work and we have become big fans if George Wegman and Peter Monacelli.

Due to Covid Warren had a soft opening on Saturday. We suspected the artists would be there, the first day of the show, and they were. As we entered the gallery we were stopped in our tracks by the glass case that Warren had in the window. He had just purchased a collection of Africa artifacts and they sort of upstaged the show. We came home with this wooden Makonde mask from Mozambique and a cowbell with a sculpted wooden head as a handle from Cameroon. Warren told us both these pieces were made to be used in rituals. They were not made for the art market. That was reassuring. 

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Calling All Mushrooms

Mushroom bouquet near Erie Canal in Pittsford NY
Mushroom bouquet near Erie Canal in Pittsford NY

We had a week of weather that was apparently hard to forecast. My watch is tethered to Peggi’s phone but they have different default weather apps. And both were consistently wrong when it came to predicting the hourly chance of rain. Not that we study that kind of thing but we’d like to be prepared when we we’re out walking.

The on again, off again rain acted as calling card to the mushroom spores. I added quite a few specimens to my My Mycology Album.

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Shoot Your Shot

Wreckless Eric performing at the Bop Shop in Rochester, New York 2021
Wreckless Eric performing at the Bop Shop in Rochester, New York 2021

We got to the Bop Shop an hour before the show, just enough time to rifle through a few boxes of used 45s. I came up with Sir Douglas Quintet “It Didn’t Even Bring Me Down,” Jr. Walker & The All Stars “Shoot Your Shot,” Ray Price “Make The World Go Away” and yet another Sly & The Family Stone single, “Hot Fun In The Summertime.”

My brother-in-law had it exactly right in his IG post when he said “Wreckless Eric is a treasure.” We have seen him seven or eight times now and his show last week was the best yet. Performing solo with acoustic and electric guitars he had a sense of urgency as he segued autobiographic songs with poetic lyrics into a focused, musical soundscape. We were transfixed. Knowing full well that he had a bad case of Covid I would say the  pandemic was good for him. 

His “Whole Wide World” is an anthem. How could he show up in your town and not perform it? Better yet, after all these years, how could he do the best version of that song you have ever heard? I don’t know, but he pulled it off.

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Our Town

Boat along the Erie Canal near Fairport
Boat along the Erie Canal near Fairport

We have not played horseshoes in a week. First Rick thought he might have Covid so we were awaiting test results. That turned out to be a cold, a common condition that almost disappeared during the pandemic. And then Peggi’s sister came to visit from LA along with her man friend. We had dinner here the first night, an evening warm enough to sit on the the deck while I roasted corn. The corn was cold by the time we ate but the seared tuna that Peggi made was fantastic. It occurred to me that I need to up my game with the salad, both the dressing and the green stuff. Salad should rightfully be the best part of any meal. Peggi made Tarta de Santiago for dessert and we finished the evening playing 45s, some from the collection of the Fournier sisters. Bobby Darin’s “Nature Boy” was the hit of the night.

The next day we took a walk along the canal, starting in Pittsford where our guests were staying. We walked from there to Fairport, thinking there would be a place to eat. The walk was a lot farther than we thought and I was thinking about a pint of cold beer but unlike Pittsford, Fairport is a blue collar town and the restaurants don’t open til 4. We met at Rocco’s for dinner that night and ordered traditional Italian fair. Peggi and I recommended the salad and we all ordered it but it bombed. Despite the fancy name, “Tres Colores,” the radicchio and lettuce mix were downing in a bitter sherry vinaigrette. You notice these kind of things when you recommend a place to guests. It is still one of our favorite restaurants. 

We asked our guests what they would like to do the next day and were delighted to hear they wanted to to see the apple orchards so we worked our way around the bay and drove along the lake to Pultneyville where we  stopped at B. Forman Park. Fully loaded apple trucks were everywhere along the way and I was surprised at how large an industry it really is when you go looking for it. The cobblestone houses are a sensational and we stopped in front of one just to gawk. We took Middle Road back and stopped at Lagoner Farms in Williamson where we sat at a picnic table in the sun while enjoying their cider and a cheese plate.

We finished our visit with a meal and conversation outdoors at Redd. Everything is right with the world there.

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Good Grub

Our neighbor's raccoon problem
Our neighbor’s raccoon problem

Our neighbor down the street likes to obsess over things. We obsessively watch him obsess and we listen when he wants to talk. He is always doing something in his garage or in his yard, often deep in thought, standing in one place looking down at the ground. As we walked by yesterday he invited us in to look at his lawn. It had been dug up by an animal during the night and he was pretty sure it was raccoons digging for grubs. He doesn’t like to use chemicals on his lawn and in fact he said he never had much of a lawn until this year when the gypsy moths ate all the leaves on his trees allowing extra light in.

He asked if he could borrow our Have-a-heart trap so I brought the wheelbarrow down to the garden (in Jared’s yard) where we keep the trap. We use it to catch groundhogs in the spring before they mow down a row of our lettuce. We’ve inadvertently caught possums and raccoons but just let them go. Jared let us borrow his trap too and he offered that it may be a skunk that is feasting on the grubs. Peggi and I wheeled the two traps down the road and explained how they worked. When we walked by later that day our trap was closed and there was a squirrel inside. The next day our neighbor caught a couple of raccoons. The town Animal Control will transport them to a Black Site.

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International Break

Trimble Lake in early autumn
Trimble Lake in early autumn

I have some friends who are Yankees fans and I am sorry they lost last night, to their archival. We put our sports energy into watching LaLiga, three teams in particular, and last weekend’s matches went pretty quickly because two of those teams played each other, as they do two times every year. Atletico beat Barcelona, a very enjoyable match, and then it was fun in a twisted sort of way to see the first place team, Real Madrid, one of our favorites, lose to the new team in the league, Espanyol. That defeat moved Atletico (our No. 1) closer to the top. The league and we are on break now, the “International Break,” where players go back to play for their home countries in the World Cup qualifiers.

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Underground

Metal detecter dude at Durand Eastman Beach
Metal detecter dude at Durand Eastman Beach

There is always someone on the beach regardless of the weather. It always different, having been rearranged by the weather, the waves and the night’s revelers. It is always beautiful.

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That Kind Of Saturday

Old concrete wall holding back the Genesee River in downtown Rochester, New York
Old concrete wall holding back the Genesee River in downtown Rochester, New York

Our neighbor was right. We did almost hit 80 today. And everyone on our street, it seems, had the same idea. “Let’s mow the lawn.” Peggi’s sister is visiting from LA next week and we plan to have friends over tonight so the neighbor should be in tip top shape.

On a good year we can get through the summer with only one mowing. We have a large oak canopy above our house. Most years I mow twice, once in the spring before the trees have filled out, and the weeds and scattered grass in front of house takes off, and then again in the late summer. This year with all gypsy moth damage and the trees struggling to put out a second set of leaves a lot of light has gotten through.

We plan to cook paella in the backyard tonight. Our pan is big enough for eight and we spent the rest of the day preparing a the Spanish themed event. Vegetables needed to be split, the cheese is out, seeking room temperature. I have olives in small dishes, some Rioja on the counter and 8 glasses in a cluster. Our Spain playlist is already on shuffle and all 1000 of our photos from Spain are shuffling on the tv. We will start with a fresh batch of Pimentos de Padron from the garden. Hope they aren’t so hot they damage our guests.

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Spirit Communication

Shannon Taggert "Messages & Mediums " at Rochester Contemporary
Shannon Taggert “Messages & Mediums ” at Rochester Contemporary

We met met Shannon back in her RIT days. She photographed some of my painting back when film was king. She became entranced by the spiritualists at Lillydale. She moved to Brooklyn and is now based in Minneapolis but she is still following that thread. Her most recent photographs were taken over Skype, Zoom, and FaceTime during the pandemic and uses a computer screen and her camera to memorialize recent digital séances. At her opening last night she reminded us of parties in our house in the city where we danced til the sun came up.

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Creating A Sensation

Court Street Bridge as seen from Most Hope Avenue
Court Street Bridge as seen from Most Hope Avenue

I took the photo above yesterday. Today was just as nice.

We were heading through the park along Log Cabin Road on our way to the lake when an exceptionally clean cut man approached us. Peggi thought he might be a religious missionary. He asked if we had heard that a body was found in the park last night and we told him we had seen the headline. He asked if we minded answering just a few questions. At that point we started putting it together. His shirt read “WROC News” and he had a camera in the bag he wore around his shoulder.

He introduced himself as Alex Love and and I asked if that was real name. He said it was. “How often do you walk in the park?” “Almost everyday.””Do you think there should be a bigger police presence in the park?” “No.” “Are you afraid to walk in the park now?” “No.” He told us he had talked to woman earlier who told him she usually walked alone in the park but she brought her Rottweiler with her this morning. And then, “Do you think this is some kind of trend?” We laughed. Sure, this is the second body found in the park this year but people aren’t gonna start stabbing people because it is trendy. Here is the news clip.

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Oh Yeah!

Ed Buscemi painting in Pete and Gloria's bathroom
Ed Buscemi painting in Pete and Gloria’s bathroom

We stopped in Canaltown to pick our usual order, ten pounds of Rochester Choice whole bean. We ordered two lattes while we talked to Pete about business and retirement. He’s sixty now and toying with not being in the shop seven days a week. While we talked a customer came in and ordered a cold brew. It was sitting on the counter in a large glass jar with a spigut. I asked Pete if he brewed it in that container and he started to explain his 18 hour process. While he talked the cold brew was overflowing and I felt bad for having distracted him.

Over at the Co-Op they were playing a satellite radio station with early disco and things like Blondie’s “Dreamin” mixed in. Last time I heard that was in Home Depot.

NYT had a nice obit for Pee Wee Ellis, Jame’s Brown’s musical director and co-writer of “Cold Sweat” and “Say It Loud, I’m Black and I’m Proud.” Pee Wee spent his formative years in Rochester, played with Cheryl Laurro‘s father and every jazz band in town. The story had a great photo from that period taken by Rochester’s Paul Hoeffler at the Python Room when he was playing with Ron Carter.

The scooter below brought Bob Martin into town from Chicago. He’ll be joining us at the Little Theatre Café on Wednesday.

"Oh Yeah" by Margaret Explosion. Recorded live at the Little Theatre Café on 11.13.19. Peggi Fournier - sax, Ken Frank - bass, Phil Marshall - guitar, Paul Dodd - drums.
“Oh Yeah” by Margaret Explosion. Recorded live at the Little Theatre Café on 11.13.19. Peggi Fournier – sax, Ken Frank – bass, Phil Marshall – guitar, Paul Dodd – drums.
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Sound Of Rochester

Yellow and white wrought iron chairs in front of house on Culver Road
Yellow and white wrought iron chairs in front of house on Culver Road

If I was a few years younger I would have been at the Joywave show last night at Parcel 5. And if I was even younger than that I would have loved to hear Roy, son of Margaret Explosion guitar player, Phil Marshall, playing drums with Spencer, one of the four opening bands. It was a perfect night for an outdoor concert. Our windows we’re open but we couldn’t hear the sound system.

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Shrooming

Rounded Earthstar mushrooms in our backyard
Rounded Earthstar mushrooms in our backyard

The guy in the wheelchair was all alone, sitting in the middle of a grassy area off Log Cabin Road in the park. I was trying to picture how he was able to to roll up the path and out that far when we spotted a woman scooping up something  under a tree. As we walked by her I asked, “What are you collecting?” She smiled but clearly did not understand what I had said. I asked again and she said “mushrooms,” pronouncing it like a Russian. She looked Russian as well.

She opened her hands and showed us a batch of little reddish mushrooms. Peggi showed her a picture that she had just taken of the egg or breast-like mushrooms that we had just seen. She shook her head no like they were not desirable. At that point I noticed the woman was wearing a Home Health Care t-shirt and realized she was out in the park with her client.

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There Goes Sam

"Sam" painting by Paul Dodd oil on canvas 68" w x 44"h 1998
“Sam” painting by Paul Dodd oil on canvas 68″ w x 44″h 1998

In 1998 Sam used my camera to take a self portrait. I did the painting above based on his photo. It hangs near the front door in our home. Geri called us this morning to give us the bad news. Her son, Sam, died last night of an apparent heart attack. I can’t imagine her grief.

Eternally youthful, Sam was special in so many ways. He had his oxygen supply cut off during childbirth and he was later diagnosed with autism but his personality was fully developed. Like his late father, Bill, he was an early Macintosh enthusiast. He sent us a photo of his old Mac Plus which he kept in the basement. For years he would call us whenever a new Mac OS was available and he always kept all his gear up to date. We took him out to the Apple Store when he broke his iPad and we watched as the Apple representative explained that breakage was not covered and then he gave Sam a brand new iPad. He was that sweet.

Sam Jones camping at Pete and Shelley's
Sam Jones camping at Pete and Shelley’s

We celebrated a few of Sam’s birthdays at Chuck E Cheese’s in Henrietta, Sam’s choice. The place was heaven to him. Sam and his family camped out at Pete and Shelley’s place in the mountains the same weekend we were up there. He formed an immediate bond with them.

For the last few years Sam was living in a group home in Elmira and then independently in an apartment with the same organization. We went down there to visit one weekend and Sam took us to Five Guys and Target. We will miss him.

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