We won’t be able to get this view of the Sea Breeze lighthouse again until November as the State will be opening the swing bridge on April Fools Day. The trail, just to the left of the willow trees, what’s left of the former Hojack line, is one of our favorites. There are still some railroad ties buried just below the surface and it eventually runs across a restaurant deck but eventually leads you to a small park with picnic tables across the street from the old Peg’s Hots. I wouldn’t expect anyone to remember where that place was but my friends, Tim Schapp and Joe Barrett. worked there one summer.
Peggi suggested that we may be better prepared for the quarantine than most because of the three Caminos we did. The whole thing of simplifying your world, all your possessions in your backpack, a room to eat, clean up and sleep in. Maybe so. We were planning to take a fourth walk in April, the northerly Primitivo from France to Santiago, but that is only a dream now.
I enjoyed reading a column in the business section of today’s paper by an old timer who had learned the hard way that you don’t sell your stocks when the market goes down. After four recessions he determined that rather than trying to buy when the market turns around he should be buying each time the market goes down ten per cent from the high. Then again at 20% and 30%. I liked how he wondered aloud if this time might be different before he pulled the plug. “Nothing relieves anxiety more than taking action.”
“Eggplant is overrated. ” This was all we caught of a woman’s cell phone conversation as we passed her on way down to the Sea Breeze. It was seventy degrees and we wanted to walk into Webster one more time before they swing the bridge open on April 1. We were surprised to see people heading in to Don’s Original. One person after the other pushing the door open. I’m surprised we haven’t seen more discussion about getting this quarantine over with. We’ve been out of circulation (other than walks) for over two weeks and some people haven’t even started. Cuomo says our apex is still three weeks away.
A shiny red pickup cut right in front of us as we walked by the boat launch. The guy, wearing his baseball cap backwards, had his window down so I said “Geez. Go right ahead.” His jacked up truck was just a few feet away. He said, “Thanks” and revved the engine. I looked back and saw his “Proud Veteran” bumper sticker.
Heading back in to our neighborhood we saw a young father guiding his daughter along on a small pink bicycle. We said hi and she looked up with a big smile and said “First day without training wheels!”
I watched some crazy YouTube videos before trying to cut Peggi’s cast off her wrist. She didn’t really want to go to the doctor’s office and risk getting exposed. Cuomo says we won’t reach our apex in New York for three more weeks and we are just coming to the end of a 14 day near isolation streak. We had four people over for dinner on Friday two weeks ago and we toasted to this thing before hunkering down.
This one guy took his son’s cast off while they were camping somewhere in a trailer. He was wearing a Superman t-shirt and it looked like his sone was terrified of him. The video had thousands of views but he had turned comments off and was selling real estate ads in the about section. Doctors would use a Dremel and vibrate a score line down both sides. I borrowed this Makita oscillator from my neighbor and tried to score the cast with it but the wire cutters did the job.
A few weeks back I replaced the florescent lights in our garage with led bulbs and it made the perfect operating room.
We miss the people who come out to hear the band. We miss the Little Theatre Café, the rotating monthly art shows, the espresso, the Scotch Ale, the lively conversations and the laughter (all captured on the live recordings we make at the Café). But most of all we miss playing with our bandmates, improvising and creating skeletons of songs from thin air. We want to thank you all for supporting the band for so many years. We hope you all stay safe and we look forward to seeing you all on the other side.
We watched the PBS special on Miles Davis las night. I loved it. There was a period there, 1968 to 1975, where each album he released blew my mind. I couldn’t get enough of the stuff. “On the Corner” and “Get Up With It” were my favorites but every lp or live double lp from this period is phenomenal in my book. Eventually I grew to love the earlier albums.
The song above, recorded at the Little Theater in 2014, is Margaret Explosion’s tribute to Miles. The video was just recently created by Stephen Black.
Our neighbor works from home, like we did for so many years, but he says his workload has been cut in half. That’s better than so many others who have been laid off. But the toilet paper factory is hiring.
If you are a glass half full kinda guy there are so many other bright spots to this virus. There is much less pollution in the world. Google and Facebook are selling more ads than ever. Amazon and Instacart are hiring. Paid sick leave should finally be a no-brainer. And child care. Think of the minimum wage health care workers who are scrambling now to find someone to watch their kids while they are out of school. Virtual offices are buzzing. Education should have already moved online. And how about some good old infrastructure. Get out there and fix the potholes while no one is on the roads. I know it is all yin and yang but I’m looking for a positive bump as we navigate these circumstances.
We used to have a Pussy Willow tree in the backyard of our house in the city. It grew like a weed and I would cut six feet off the branches every year to keep it away from the power lines. We got in the habit of picking fresh bunches for the house. Out here, by the lake, we spotted one on what we think might be park property, the undeveloped part. We keep our eye on the tree and raid it when the time is right.
Only those who are sick have a right to complain so this isn’t a complaint. It is an observation. I am finding it impossible to get anything done during this stay at home shut down. I thought I would be putting dents in all sorts of projects but I spend the whole day reading about the virus, reading about the president’s free-styling, talking to friends and relatives, placing online orders, taking a walk and then worrying. And everyone who has ever picked up a guitar has a down home performance on social media so you can pretty bogged down there.
It wasn’t even two years ago when we learned of Janet Williams‘ passing. And now, Ted Williams, who I didn’t know was even sick. I posted the same picture then, one I took at a Margaret Explosion gig in the Bug Jar.
We first met Ted in 1988. His parents were members of Oak Hill Country Club and friends with Jeanne Westerfeld, another member who we were doing a lot of commercial art work for. Ted’s parents were trying to find a job for Ted and they told him he should meet us.
He came up to our attic office at 55 Hall Street and introduced himself as a poet. We made it clear we were lucky to have work ourselves but we hit it off. We were deep into shooting products for the 1989 US Open merchandise brochure and we had them all spread out in the attic. Ted told us he had an idea for a product that would sit inside a golf hole and and make a noise if a ball landed in it, something you could hear from a long distance, in case you got a hole-in-one for example. He probably left us a copy of his book and we probably bummed a Winston off him before he left
The next significant meeting was in our dining room where we hatched plans for an alternative broadsheet, something we decided to call the Refrigerator. Martin Edic, Peggi Fournier, Robert Meyerowitz and Chuck Cuminale were all involved but we decided to publish anonymously, something Ted was never on board with. He was a real writer. We were not. He left after issue 14 and started the Freezer.
Peggi and I played music with Ted as members of his Stage Poetry Group, later renamed the Media Assassins. We’d hang out in Ted’s attic until morning, talking or looking at his slides. He was a poetic photographer. I will miss him.
I didn’t sleep that good last night so I did an extra dose of walking thinking I will sleep better tonight. It’s hard to get the day started with all the dreadful news and protocol revisals to wade through. And now Vitamin supplements might be good again. It is only 27 degrees so I’m hoping my face was able to take enough of that in.
I love this time of year. Hints of color everywhere after a sustained absence. Spring is so dramatic. More dramatic than the virus.
We picked our third batch of Forsythia branches today and brought them into the house to replace the first batch that is beginning to fall. This will surely be the last because the bushes are just beginning to flower outside. All I can say about the photo above is that the yellow motorcycle looked cool so I photographed it. It did not look like it was floating.
I don’t shop at Parkleigh but my sister works there and they stayed open through the weekend and then closed, laying of my sister after ten years of loyal service. Everybody has a story like this.
We found the press conference given by the top Medical experts at UR sobering but helpful. We don’t have anywhere near enough tests and there is nothing they can do to treat you if and when you contract the virus. Their top concern is isolating those with it. Keeping health professionals safe and isolating hospital patients with it. Good luck.
This, from Paul Krugman’s column, pisses me off.
“Compare, for example, America’s handling of the coronavirus with that of South Korea. Both countries reported their first case on Jan. 20. But Korea moved quickly to implement widespread testing; it has used the data from that testing to guide social distancing and other containment measures; and the disease appears to be on the wane there.
In the U.S., by contrast, testing has barely begun — we’ve tested only 60,000 people compared with South Korea’s 290,000, even though we have six times its population, and the number of cases here appears to be skyrocketing.”
NYS prison laborers are making hand sanitizer to keep up with demand. I read an article about how dangerous the grocery store is. The place to go if you want the virus. It fed my suspicions of live shopping. Instead of going in Wegman’s we used their Instacart service and drove up there to pick up the items they had in stock. I was surprised how long an online order takes to fill. Our wait was just over two days.
Our shopper texted us when she began filling the order. They had no dried beans, no canned beans, no beans of any variety. She sent us a photo of the empty shelves. Organic brown eggs. Forget about it. We texted back. “OK, any large eggs.” She texted back, “We have no eggs.”
Out walking today we saw groups of teens. A cluster of girls that wouldn’t give us space on the boardwalk in the park. We had to hold our breath as we passed by. They’re out of school and hanging with their friends. I don’t blame them. I wouldn’t have taken any of this seriously at that age.
Our friend Kathy walked by our house this afternoon. She texted us to say say and we waved from the window.
They will be closing the swing bridge in another two weeks so time is running short if you want walk into Webster. In the past we’d meet friends for lunch on St. Patty’s, at Shamrock Jack’s for many years but then they got so busy they started charging admission. We moved on to the Bayside and tried to get there before noon to grab a table overlooking the bay. It’s not an Irish joint but their food is better and every place has a good beer selection these days.
Today it was just Peggi and me. We made peanut butter sandwiches and we put those and two cans of beer into my backpack. We walked through the park, down Culver to the lake and across the bridge into Webster where we found a picnic table between the lake and the bay.
There are more people than ever out in the park. We ran into Bri from the Little and Brenda from Atlas Eats. But it was so sad to see all the Sea Breeze hot spots closed or doing take out only. Shamrock Jack’s had a tent out front strewn with Guinness banners but the park lot was completely empty.
I am really impressed by the effort the park people put in on this fallen tree. They had cleaned up all the branches by the time we come across it. The stump is off to the right and from the sawdust evidence it mast have been laying across the road. This portion of Log Cabin Road is closed to car traffic all year so the situation allowed the park tree surgeons leave this upside down, organic, three pronged sculpture in the middle of the road. What amazes me is forethought that surely went into cutting the angles on those three big limbs. This thing is firmly planted. We took turns walking through the gateways.
Peggi was’t much help when I brought the first load of wood up from the fallen oak down below, the one they had to take down because the power line had singed it. But the next day our friend Steve, helped. He was staying with us and didn’t have the proper footwear or gloves for working outside so I offered him some mine. He asked if I was aware of the term, “LumberSexual.” I wasn’t but he joked that I could take a photo of him for his “Timber” profile. We got two car loads of wood up to the wood pile and we’ll let it sit there until Peggi gets her cast off.
That’s my dog, Andy, sniffing the 1970 Census forms that I was responsible for filling out. It was one of the many part-time jobs I had in Bloomington, Indiana where I went to school for a couple of years. I’d go door to door, trying to catch the homeowner at home so I could ask him three or four pages of questions. Not everyone was cooperative. I’m guessing the Census taking process is all digital now. I wouldn’t want to be going door to door in this climate.
Wednesday was Margaret Explosion’s last gig at the Little for a while. They closed their doors at 5PM today and promised to make the dates up when we get to the other side of this contagion. The “Broken Wrist Series” went out with a bag. Mark Bradley and Roy Marshall sat in with us the first week and Jack Schaefer sat in with us last week. Peggi’s cast comes off a week from Wednesday and we’ll start doing Margaret Explosion gigs from home.
In the Fall our neighbor, Jared, had a Hickory tree come down on the hillside behind his house. It fell across the road and took the power lines down. Peggi and I cut the wood to log lengths and hauled it up to our yard in preparation for splitting. This winter one of our trees came down and took the lines down again. The telephone pole between our properties, the one that carries the primary (high voltage) line, was yanked in both directions.
Sometime after one of these incidents we noticed a black patch of bark on one of our trees. About twenty five feet up in an oak that is well over a hundred feet tall we guessed that it had been hit by lightning. The spot, about eighteen inches in diameter, appeared charred and was shinny when wet. When we looked at it from our bedroom it appeared to be reflecting a light source, maybe from the neighbors down the road who leave a light on by their driveway around the clock. In the last week or so the light points became more intense like lasers. Our house guest, Steve Black, became sort of obsessed by it and alerted us to especially active periods.
When he called our attention to it yesterday there was a small flame shooting from the tree. Outside we saw smoke and for the first time realized one of the power lines had burned a deep gouge in the tree. We called the power company and they called the fire department. Three trucks answered the call but they didn’t want to touch the wire. When the power company got there they lassoed the wire and pulled it away from the contact point. They tied the rope to another one of our trees. Rather than move the pole backing place they decided to take the tree down.
This morning we woke to a guy way up in the tree. It took him about four hours to lower the branches and ten the crew dropped the 30 foot long tree trunk and left it for us.
The photo above, taken this afternoon as we walked along the lake, goes well with Todd Beer’s painting from yesterday’s post. These days I spend quite a bit of time thinking about painting. I’ve been getting my digital house in order, scanning old photographs, tucking things away on PopWars and keeping the Margaret Explosion site up to date. And I’ve become addicted to walking. I’m wearing out my third pair of Merrill hiking shoes since we walked the Camino. Those activities, along with reading the paper, can fill up a day. I’m hanging on to the idea that you can become a better painter just by thinking about it.
All the best stuff is “Untitled.” Todd Beers had a rockin’ opening at Lumiere last night. A dj was spinning old 45s, a mixmaster was serving craft cocktails (I had a can of Genny), and Todd’s mom was there. And there were plenty of red dots on the wall by the time we got there. Todd was showing a wide variety of work and I’m guessing it was from a long stretch of time. Peggi and I used to back Todd up at some of his poetry readings and it was a thrill to see him and his paintings.
We were dog people for a day when the dog sitter next door asked us to cover for him while he went out of town. We got to the corner with Gus after he stopped to smell almost every plant and we came face to face with the big black dog, off lease again. We’ve had several run-ins with the creature but were worried about Gus this time. Gus emptied his bladder by the time we got to the park he surprised us by holding up for a two hour walk. We circle Durand Lake on the trail that hugs the shoreline, one of the prettiest walks in the park.
Heard the trio, Twin Talk, tonight at the Bop Shop. Hit the spot. I came home with a Mingus album, Live in Europe Volume 1, with Eric Dolphy.
Steve Black is back in town with a new collection of video footage. It has been a joy to watch him work. He commandeered Peggi’s computer and finished this one last night in iMovie.
We managed to lose another set of Margaret Explosion music. Ever since Bob Martin left town it has been somewhat a struggle for us to get our sets recorded. This time we remembered to to turn on before we started but one off us unplugged the power before the Zoom recorder had written the files. You’d think the battery would take over in a situation like that but it doesn’t work either. There was some interesting stuff in the first set. Peggi played keyboards with her good hand and led us in a particularly good fugue. Mark Bradley played tenor sax and Roy Marshall played drums in the second set and made sound like pros.
We got out early in order to beat the rain but it never really came. The temperature was near fifty and queese were overhead heading generally in a northerly direction. There wasn’t much sun out and we didn’t expect the lake to look so dramatic. We came back with so many photos. This was my favorite.
We stopped in the park to chat with some people on our way back. One of the guys in our cluster had come up the road from the direction of the lake and I asked if he had seen the lake. He hadn’t but he said he and his wife lived on Lake Bluff Road for four years and their bedroom looked out over the lake. He said the lake has a different personality every day.