Geek Squad

View from hallway in front of Nancy Valle's Studio in the Anderson Arts Building, Rochester, New York
View from hallway in front of Nancy Valle’s Studio in the Anderson Arts Building, Rochester, New York

Nancy Valle contacted me to let me know the digital slideshow I put in the Sounds & Sights show had stopped running. She was out of town for a week and someone unplugged the computer after the Thursday night figure drawing class. We stopped up there to address that problem and I took this shot.

We spent a good part of the week helping friends with a variety of computer problems. Jeff’s MacBook Pro was dropped. The track pad is cracked and unusable but he has his whole iTunes library on the laptop. We spent some time learning how to navigate sans mouse but couldn’t figure out you click on stuff without one. Return didn’t do it. We suggested he take it in.

Steve Black, our house guest, has an iPad that is completely full of photos and movies, so full he can’t do anything with it. We air dropped a bunch of his movies to one of our computers And put them on a flash drive.

Duane in Brooklyn had HomePod reception issues that we tried to help him with. But we left him hanging with the mysterious events That are showing up in his Calendar app.

The toughest problem was our neighbors’. Sue had reduced a couple of overstuffed filing cabinets in her basement to digitized folders of scans, iPhone photos and text files which she tucked away in Apple’s Notes application. At some point the 3,884 folders, which are sorted by title by default, went out of order. They went random on the phone but they were still in order on her iMac. They were in order on the cloud as well but there was no why to tell it to get organized on the phone. We called Apple for this one and they couldn’t help. They suggested we fill out a request at

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Black Vortex

I looked down at our land line expecting another scam call but found a familiar name instead, Steve Black . He was in town unexpectedly, after being invited to a symposium at MIT on augmented reality. He met someone from RIT there and road to town with him. He called us from RoCo where he successfully talked the attendant into giving him our phone number. And when we arrived he reminded us that many years ago he got off a bus downtown and called information for our number. The operator said, “Oh, I know Paul Dodd.” It was Betsy Nosco who I went to high school with.

The next day, a gorgeous winter day, Steve got right to work shooting scenes for a video for a Margaret Explosion song, “Tonic Party.” The footage, every bit of it from from near our home, astounded us. We should be way overly familiar with this location but we couldn’t tell exactly where it came from. The eye of a master.

We first met Steve when he was going to RIT. He asked Personal Effects if he could do a video to “Don’t Wake Me,” a song on our first ep. He printed out each frame of his film, hand-colored the frames and reshot the still images for the video. See “Don’t Wake Me.”

Back in 2003 when our “1969” cd came out Steve made a magical video in the back yard of our Hall Street house. See “Assembly Line.”

And his video for “Trophy Bowler”vaulted Pete LaBonne to YouTube sensation status. See “Trophy Bowler.”

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Old School

Cuba Cheese truck delivering the goods to Aman's on East Ridge Road
Cuba Cheese truck delivering the goods to Aman’s on East Ridge Road

Cuba Cheese makes some kick ass extra sharp cheddar. Imagine a slice of that with a Honey Crisp apple. Aman’s was our first stop today and then Wegman’s where we bought so much stuff it didn’t all fit in our back packs. Peggi had two packages of rice cakes sticking out the top of her backpack. When we got home we discovered one was missing. Peggi went back with car and spotted it next to the sidewalk on East Ridge Road. There was loaf of whole wheat bread sitting right beside it.

I feel like Kanye dumping on Taylor Swift when I say I was disappointed that Parasite won so many awards. We worked hard to see as many of the nominated movies as we could before the ceremony and the only one I fell asleep in was Parasite. It was right around when all the characters started getting killed off. I was liking the movie up til it was obvious the sister was going to get a job in the rich people’s house too. And then of course, the father and mother. Best screenplay was certainly a stretch.

I liked “Pain and Glory,” “Once Upon A Time” and “The Irishman.” Old school.

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Young And Innocent

Paul, Ann and John standing on foundation of our new home on Hawley Drive in Webstaret, NY
Paul, Ann and John standing on foundation of our new home on Hawley Drive in Webster, NY

I came across this photo while looking for another file. It’s one of the old family slides that my sister, Amy, picked out to have scanned and shared. My sister, Ann, brother John and I are standing on the foundation our new home in Webster so I know I would have been nine years old.

What struck me about the photo is the t-shirt I am wearing. It’s from Camp Stella Maris, the Diocese of Rochester’s summer camp on Conesius Lake, the camp where my cousin was sexually abused by Rev. Albert H. Cason, then a counselor. We were so young and innocent.

And we never imagined that if we told someone about the abuse, like the bishop himself, he would cover it up and let the guy go on to abuse others.


A Big One

Former Hallman Chevrolet building, now Spot Coffee, on East Avenue in Rochester, New York.
Former Hallman Chevrolet building, now Spot Coffee, on East Avenue in Rochester, New York.

It was a perfect night for gallery openings. A really rochester winter night. A fair amount of fresh snow and cold enough to not be sloppy. Peggi and I bot had pieces in a show at Studio 402 in Anderson Arts Building but we seed that stop for later. We started with Aaron Winters show at the pop-up gallery near the Little. He’s out every night shooting bands and he’s up first thing in the morning shooting birds but he showed neither here. These were large Nat Geo like photos from a safari he took toTanzania.

The RoCo opening, Makers and Mentors, was great. All three artists were no-shows for the opening because of the weather and there plenty of space to study the paintings. A real painting show and something we will return to in the next few weeks.

On the forth floor of the Anderson Arts building we found a something like an open jam going on in Studio 402. The show, “Sight & Sound: Art by Musicians – Music by Artists” was asking for it so I can’t complain. Peggi and I just pictured an event with this name a little differently.

We finished the evening listening to the glorious sounds of Nod at Skylark over on Union Street where toasted to Peggi’s birthday. A big one.

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Knowledge Bump

Quonset hut house on Titus Avenue Rochester, New York
Quonset hut house on Titus Avenue Rochester, New York

The funky neighborhood south of Lake Bluff Road in Sea Breeze will surely come up some day. Maybe just after we leave, the way the triangle between East Main, Culver and Merchants came up just as we left. Not that I’d want to live in a neighborhood that has arrived. I’m just noting that it is under appreciated. And funky. 

There’s tiny houses with views of the lake, dead end streets surrounded by woods and an anything goes attitude to property management. 

We walk in here a lot. Sometimes we work our way up to the lake on Birch Hill Drive which skirts the edge of the park above Tamarack Swamp. We’ve even found a way to connect that end of that street, where you overlook the lake, to the dead end of Lake Bluff. This is Tom Sawyer stuff. 

Yesterday we found a street we had never been down before. Trelawne Drive. It too dead ends at cluster of homes, some of which have a view of the lake. Finding a new street is like the best part of a dream, the part where a whole new scene unfolds and you think, “I’ve got to remember how I got here.” It’s like finding out there is a new album of unreleased Eric Dolphy recordings. Thelonious Monk called the swollen protrusion on Dolphy’s forehead his “knowledge bump.”

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Are You Ready?

3 color silkscreen poster for New Math gig at R.I.T Grace Watson Hall on October 7, 1977
3 color silkscreen poster for New Math gig at R.I.T Grace Watson Hall on October 7, 1977

We were at the Bop Shop for “With The Cows” performance and I spotted this crude poster on the wall behind the band. I had not seen it since I did it. I was taking a silk screen class with my father at B.O.C.E in Fairport. Loretta Murawski was the teacher. I sort of remember painting the words with a rubber cement like substance, something that rinsed off once the screen was coated with a fixative. You can barely read it. If you weren’t ready for the new wave in ’77 you could could have caught New Math (a later version of the band) at the Lovin’ Cup last Saturday.

Amy Rigby has really hit the big time now. She was interviewed by Terry Gross in connection with her fabulous memoir, Girl to City.”

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One hundred year old tree down in our neighbor's yard.
One hundred year old tree down in our neighbor’s yard.

If you count the rings on this beautiful red oak you get up near a hundred. And if you asked the people who had it taken down why they did it they would probably say they wanted more sun. They could have put the money toward a moving van.

We were looking for the day when the sidewalks were clear again to walk to new Irondequoit Beer Company for lunch. We had their Shakespeare IPA and some roasted Brussels sprouts. The following day we both felt like we needed more coffee so we walked up Starbucks and once there we pushed it and walked over to Home Depot where we picked up masks like the ones they wear in China.

We celebrated 02.02.2020 by not walking anywhere. We met friends for brunch in Sodus. El Rincon was supposed to be open but they weren’t. The bistro in town was closed Sundays so we headed out to the Point and had some calamari and beer. We talked about movies and books and it hardly felt like winter.

Back home I made some guacamole and we headed over to my brother’s house for the Super Bowl. Luckily it was a good one. The hour long game takes four hours to unfold. Quite a contrast with the Real Madrid match we watched the day before where Los Blancos beat their cross-town rivals, Athletico. Two forty five minute halves separated by a fifteen minute ad break. The non-stop action was no longer than the total.

We were sorry to learn my brother and his lady friend were probably going to pull out of their upcoming trip to Vietnam Nan because of the virus.

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Rick and Monica's garage door in Winter
Rick and Monica’s garage door in Winter

Last night’s opening for Bea Nettles show, “Harvest of Memory,” was in fact a harvest of memories. Nettles taught art here at Nazareth College. She finished her masters at Visual Studies and went on to teach at RIT. She raised a family and continued to work. Old friends and students of hers were there. We didn’t know Nettles but some our old friends did and they were there.

Nettles uses alternative photographic processes and achieves organic results. She plays with mythology, family, motherhood, place, landscape, dreams, the passage of time and she makes art with it all. She gives a talk on her work on Saturday, February 1, at 1 p.m.

Jason Farago’s bad review of a photography show at the International Center of Photography in NY was fun to read. “The Case of Art vs. Instagram.” He calls out the Center for playing to the gate, a problem for all the art institutions>

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White On White

Small white table and chairs by the street in the snow
Small white table and chairs by the street in the snow

I had something else in mind for today. And I’m sure Peggi did too but the big trucks backing into our neighbor’s driveway while we were still reading the paper signaled a change of plans. Instead of working on my small wood panel paintings we would be collecting wood. The owners of the house across the street were taking down a huge oak, the one that snuggled up to their front door and towered over their house.

We dressed for the weather, mid twenties and just perfect for working outdoors, and Peggi walked down to Jared’s place to see if we could borrow his pickup while got the wheelbarrow out. She was ringing their doorbell when she noticed their truck was gone. We put a plastic tarp down in our CV and loaded it it up. Four times and then a fifth load load for Jared who is still getting over his chemo treatments.

We have a mountain of wood to split and a fire in the fireplace before the sun has set.

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The Year Of The Rat

Leo Dodd watercolor Brighton Baseball Sheehans Field 15"h x 22"w
Leo Dodd watercolor Brighton Baseball Sheehans Field 15″h x 22″w

My father would so proud to know that Historic Brighton, a group he was one of the founding members of, has an annual award they present in his name, the “Leo Dodd Heritage Preservation Award.” This year it went to Mary Jo Lanphear, the Brighton historian and someone my father thought very highly of. When she was appointed town historian she went back to school to earn her masters in history. My father was a history buff. No degree the subject. When a photo didn’t exist he illustrated the source. There are no photos the ball field that used to is at 12 Corners. My father’s uncle, Paul Dodd, played baseball here for money.

We celebrated the Asian New Year last night at the home of my brother’s Vietnamese lady friend. One her son’s friends gave us this riddle. “A lawyer in New York has a brother in Jamaica but the brother in Jamaica doesn’t have a brother in New York. how can this be?” The women sitting around him were all stumped. I was too. Of course, Of course the brother in Jamaica had no brother because the lawyer is a woman.

Last year I was lucky. My red envelope had a 2 dollar bill in it. I was not so lucky at the start of the year of the rat. My envelope had a five dollar bill in it.

We recorded the Grammys and came home expecting to cut to the good stuff but our recording quit about an hour in. The show was still on so we switched to live tv and found we were not getting the station through our cable. All the other stations worked. How does something like that happen? We were happy to see Billie Eilish clean up. A breath of fresh air! And recorded in a home studio with her brother.

Turned out the cable outage was just a warning shot. We were out walking this afternoon when a tree, a tree on our property, came down out back. It took all three wires, power, cable and phone down and it stopped traffic in both directions for hours. I took my saw down there and we grabbed some firewood.

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1982 letter from Gary Lucas concerning our inquiry about purchasing Don Van Vliet artwork.
1982 letter from Gary Lucas concerning our inquiry about purchasing Don Van Vliet artwork.

Our friend Duane, tells us “Parapliers the Willow Dipped,” the first show of Don Van Vliet’s paintings in New York in over a decade, opens January 31st at the Michael Werner Gallery on 77th Street. We may not be there for the opening but we plan to see that show. Years ago (1982) someone told us Gary Lucas was the guy to talk to about purchasing a Beefheart painting so we wrote him a letter. Peggi had a radio show on WRUR at the time and we told him she played his records. We thought the prices he quoted were too high. We were part owners of ten Warhol prints and they weren’t even near a grand a piece. Our reasoning was seriously flawed!

Stan the Man gave me a box of Beefheart stuff from Justin Sherrill, someone who was leaving town or something. These photos were in there, from an opening at Michael Werner in 1995.

I was lucky enough to see the Captain a few times, in Cincinnati in 1970 for the Trout Mask tour, Columbus in ’71 for Lick My Decals Off and here at Red Creek in ’77. I recorded that show on our little Sony mono tape recorder.

Captain Beefheart performing Low Yo Yo at Red Creek in Rochester, New York 1977.


Looking Very Strongly

Bridge over Horseshoe Road in Winter.
Bridge over Horseshoe Road in Winter.

We needed to get out early this morning as the sun and warm temperatures were ready to take a toll on the ski paths. We skied out to the lake and down Horseshoe Road, over the bridge (above) and then back up to Hoffman Road before our second cup of coffee. The only other person we saw out there was the guy that zips around like it is a matter of life and death. He doesn’t even look up as he passes.

I had Annie Wells’ version of Phil Marshall’s “Nothing Left To Lose” stuck in my head as we skied. And something Peggi said triggered Trump’s, “I’m looking at it very strongly” quote. That’s become one of my go-to phrases. There are ski tracks going in every which direction on the golf course. We’ve had five days in row of near perfect conditions with very little new accumulation. It is time For Mother Nature to cleanse the pallet.

"Fe La" by Margaret Explosion. Recorded live at the Little Theatre Café on 11.20.19. Peggi Fournier - sax, Ken Frank - bass, Phil Marshall - guitar, Bob Martin - guitar, Paul Dodd - drums.
“Fe La” by Margaret Explosion. Recorded live at the Little Theatre Café on 11.20.19. Peggi Fournier – sax, Ken Frank – bass, Phil Marshall – guitar, Bob Martin – guitar, Paul Dodd – drums.

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Love Letter

Zanne Brunner and Nancy Valle have organized another “Sight & Sound” show (2012201320162020) in their studio. It will open the first Friday in February and I was planning to do some abstract watercolors based on a series of photos I have taken in Spain over the years. I spent quite a bit of time culling the photos and then sequencing them and eventually decided to enter the photos themselves. I’m calling it “Abstracting Spain.”

I have them running on an old iMac and will carry that up to their space for the show. I dressed up the grey brushed metal screen frame with some black duct tape. We saw Nancy last night and she was trying to talk me into showing them on their projector but I am concerned the studio won’t be dark enough at the opening.

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Civic Duty

Blue snow on steps in front of Monroe County Court House, downtown Rochester, New York
Blue snow on steps in front of Monroe County Hall of Justice, downtown Rochester, New York

Peggi dropped me off in front of the Hall of Justice this morning. I was bracing for the worst. They couldn’t even get somebody to shovel the walk. Someone just threw this blue chemical on the snow and was waiting for it to melt. I was here for jury duty, called back after only four years because I had weaseled out of the last one. It was the middle of summer, I was shuttling my father back and forth to doctors and they picked me for a trial they expected to last three more weeks.

The lawyers had already presented the gist of their case. The trial was moved from Niagara Falls because the incident had been covered so heavily there. Three cops answered a 911 domestic abuse call. They came into the courtroom in their finest cop regalia, all puffed up, and sat right in front of me. The guy who was beating his wife was representing himself in a orange jump suit, claiming the cops had roughed him up. Within twenty minutes the cops were all slumped down in their chairs while the guy prattled on.

My name was called for a morning case but it wound up being postponed. Forty of the four hundred people in the jury room were instructed stick around for an afternoon trail. The judge want a four part form filled out. “Have you ever been the victim of a crime? Been accused of a crime? Been a witness to a crime? Have you ever been employed by Law Enforcement or Criminal Justice Agency? I answered yes to all four and that case was settled out of court. I’m free for another eight years.

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Pain And Glory

Snow covered trees near the creek at the end of Hoffman Road in Rochester, New York
Snow covered trees near the creek at the end of Hoffman Road in Rochester, New York

If every winter day was like this one we wouldn’t appreciate this one as much. Full sun can turn the ski trails to mush so you need temperatures well below freezing for crisp, squeaky traction and today was perfect. Except for the part when I went off trail on short hill and caught my skis under a frozen branch. It was pretty much a face plant but I did manage to break the impact with my arms. I would go out there again in a second but I have jury duty tomorrow.

We’re scrambling to watch the Oscar nominated movies before the awards so our queue is all contenders. I’m hoping Anthony Hopkins gets best supporting actor for his role in The Two Popes. He made the creep he played enduring. And I’m pulling for Antonio Banderas for best actor in Pedro Almodóvar’s “Pain and Glory.” We had more fun watching “Once Upon A Time In Hollywood” than any other movie so that gets our vote.

We watched the Linda Ronstadt documentary, “The Sound of Voice'” and I was blown away by how good she was. She was so popular I pretty much dismissed her. The Gilbert and Sullivan and especially the Mexican work she did near the end of her career was amazing. And I really liked listening to her talk. We have three friends with Parkinson’s and her story made the debilitating effects all too clear.

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Dreaming Again

Everett Shinn "Sullivan Street" 1905 Memorial Art Gallery collection
Everett Shinn “Sullivan Street” 1905 Memorial Art Gallery collection

Wouldn’t you love to have been around before the first cars mucked everything up? Just like the guy in the painting this Everett Shinn piece from 1905 always stops me in my tracks. I’m waiting for self driving vehicles so we can all sit back and dream again.

I put a bunch of new songs on the Margaret Explosion mp3 page. This one is from a few weeks ago.

"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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Allegory Of The Month

Gaston LaChaise "The Mountain" Memorial Art Gallery collection
Gaston LaChaise “The Mountain” Memorial Art Gallery collection

I love this sculpture by Gaston LaChaise. It is in the permanent collection of the Memorial Art Gallery. We stopped there yesterday to see the Art Nouveau before it leaves town. Our favorite part was a reference book in the main gallery that had a section on Moderismo in Barcelona.

A bi-monthly visit to the MAG is always in order if only to see/hear the rotating shows in the Media Room. Ja’Tovia Gary”s “NÉGRESSE IMPÉRIALE,” shot in Claude Monet’s French garden connects her experience as a Black woman with art history.

Maureen Outlaw Church has some beautiful en plan air paintings in a show that opened last night at the Williams Gallery. Not the best weather for that (en plan air) but something to look forward to.

Annie Wells has a stellar band at the moment. We heard them last night the Little Theatre Café, Phil Marshall on guitar, his son Roy on drums Mike Kaupa on trumpet and Dave Arenius on bass. I hope Annie records with this band before youngest one leaves town. The band makes magic with Annie’s Cool Ice Age song and others by Joni Mitchell, Tom Waits, Phil Marshall and The Squire himself.

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Pronounced Infrastructure

One of the local wonders of the world, this broken, fake rock, hiding some mysterious machinery, formerly nailed to a surface and now sitting in a parking lot near Starbucks on East Ridge Road.
One of the local wonders of the world, this broken, fake rock, hiding some mysterious machinery, formerly nailed to a surface and now sitting in a parking lot near Starbucks on East Ridge Road.

Jeffery was calling our class a restorative one. We spent good bit of the yoga class on our backs with a rolled up blanket in various positions under our spines. I fell asleep at one point. But before that I was restless. I was noticing all the infrastructure on the walls and especially the ceiling. There is a four-way speaker up there, one horn-like speaker pointed in each direction, maybe something from the nineteen fifties for a duck and cover drill. And then there is a small wooden PA speaker with a grill cloth. I was picturing getting called down to the office on that thing. There is a grey plastic box mounted to the wall with a few short ethernet cables hanging out. And a brand new wifi repeater that looks like it could double as a drone.

The classes held in the small gym in the former Brighton High School administration building. It must have been a grade school at some point. The gym is small, not regulation size for basketball but the sealed wooden floor is lined for free throw marks, half line and out of bounds nonetheless. I spent a lot time in gyms when I was growing up and I feel really comfortable in here.


Drinking And Driving

Mulched leaves in the back yard
Mulched leaves in the back yard

Just imagine if you were on the cross country ski team this year. Our dental hygentist was telling me her kids meets have been canceled. It was perfect weather for a walk up to Wegmans.

Without the snow covering you notice all sorts of debris along the sidewalks and roadways. I collected discarded drugs bags for a while. I have a project in mind for them. It keeps getting better in my mind. Maybe it will stay there.

Lately we’re noticing more and more little plastic airline-sized bottles of liquor. Not just Fireball whiskey but maple whiskey, vodka and gin. I guess you could paint them and line ’em up.

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