Ch Ch Changes

More produce from the garden.
More produce from the garden.

My neighbor and I have played horseshoes every other day since April. He just texted to say he would have to cancel today because he suspects he has a torn ligament in his foot. I hope that is not it for the season. Peggi and I spent a good bit of the last two afternoons down at the pool but the weather changed. Today we skimmed leaves off the solar cover. There were some dark spots on the green basil. We have both purple and green. And the bottom half of our tomato plants show signs of brown. But for now the bounty is as much as my t-shirt can hold.

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Too Much For Now

From Philip Guston Small Panels show at McKee Gallery,  NYC 2009
From Philip Guston Small Panels show at McKee Gallery, NYC 2009

Philip Guston has been my favorite artist for a long time and I don’t expect him to lose that position before I pass but you never know. I always loved the photo of Guston’s studio with the late 60’s small panels on the wall. The photo has been reproduced in many Guston books and David McKee rounded up the small panels for a show at his gallery in 2009. Of course we made it to that show and Duane Sherwood took a photo of us there looking at this painting. We used it for our holiday card.

The 60’s was a turbulent time, at least as turbulent as ours and Guston’s paintings spoke to that directly. As bluntly as punk rock. If you don’t see the absurdity of these buffoons pointing out their next victim while hiding under their sheets no wall tag is going to help you. And he went much deeper putting himself under the hood painting a self portrait. Apparently this is all too much for us delicate pansies today. Or so the bone-headed thinking of four major art institutions goes as they pulled the plug the Guston retrospective, “Guston Now.” Even though the show is already on the wall and the catalog is on my coffee table.

The directors of National Gallery of Art, Tate Modern, Museum of Fine Arts, Boston and The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston came up with this explanation.

Philip Guston Now
Statement from the Directors

After a great deal of reflection and extensive consultation, our four institutions have jointly made the decision to delay our successive presentations of Philip Guston Now. We are postponing the exhibition until a time at which we think that the powerful message of social and racial justice that is at the center of Philip Guston’s work can be more clearly interpreted.

We recognize that the world we live in is very different from the one in which we first began to collaborate on this project five years ago. The racial justice movement that started in the U.S. and radiated to countries around the world, in addition to challenges of a global health crisis, have led us to pause.

As museum directors, we have a responsibility to meet the very real urgencies of the moment. We feel it is necessary to reframe our programming and, in this case, step back, and bring in additional perspectives and voices to shape how we present Guston’s work to our public. That process will take time.

In a statement sent to ARTnews, Musa Mayer, the artist’s daughter and a scholar who has written extensively on Guston, took issue with the decision and said she was “saddened” by the show’s delay. “Half a century ago, my father made a body of work that shocked the art world,” she said. “Not only had he violated the canon of what a noted abstract artist should be painting at a time of particularly doctrinaire art criticism, but he dared to hold up a mirror to white America, exposing the banality of evil and the systemic racism we are still struggling to confront today.”

Citing Guston’s Jewish ancestry and his family’s history of having fled Ukraine at a time when their people were under attack, she said Guston’s work resonates with contemporary concerns. “This should be a time of reckoning, of dialogue. These paintings meet the moment we are in today. The danger is not in looking at Philip Guston’s work, but in looking away.”

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The Clown Next Door

Rick and Jeff juggling show in Rick's front yard
Rick and Jeff juggling show in Rick’s front yard

By the time we were coming back from our walk this morning people were gathering on our next door neighbor’s lawn. Rick, the guy in the clown suit with the flaming torches, had been teaching our neighbor, Erica Bryant‘s son, how to juggle this summer and they decided to perform for the neighborhood. Rick invited his former partner to join in and it was a real show.

I typically play horseshoes every other day with the clown next door. We are pretty evenly matched so it keeps us on our toes. I cancelled today’s match to make room for Kathy’s “Brew by the Bay” event, a really small outdoor gathering on her pergola overlooking Irondequoit Bay. It was nice enough today hang out at and in the pool and tomorrow even looks better.

I was gonna complain about the cancelled Guston shows but I will do that tomorrow

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Jimmy Carter Says Yes

Sea Breeze Volunteer Fire Association Inc. Rochester, New York
Sea Breeze Volunteer Fire Association Inc. Rochester, New York

Although the Little Theatre five screens are still closed they have been movies that would have been shown there as streams. The Little gets a cut but we still work about them. “Jimmy Carter: Rock & Roll President” seemed like a stretch of a concept but they pull it off. And on top of that it is a real feel good film. Imagine that considering the current occupant.

Present day Carter has a nice looking turntable. Bob Dylan, Willie Nelson and the Allman Brothers are featured. I could never figure out the appeal of that last one but they were fellow Georgians. A glaring omission though was not featuring “Jimmy Carter Says Yes.”

I’m pretty sure it was Chris from the Squires of the Subterrain that first made us aware of those so-called song poems. I think he may have gotten a copy from Tom Ardolino, NRBQ’s drummer. Somehow we wound up with a cassette with that and other gems, “Do You Know the Difference Between Big Wood and Brush” and the sensational “Little Rug Bug.

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Yoga On The Beach

Turquoise Chevy station wagon parked at Sea Breeze Amusement Park
Turquoise Chevy station wagon parked at Sea Breeze Amusement Park

This BelAir, parked in front of the shuttered Sea Breeze Amusement Park, certainly caught my eye this morning. Maybe its because we’ve been so imersed in Perry Mason re-runs. We started with season 1 but found they really hit their stride in Season 2. The mid-century modern sets are showpieces and cars like these make grand entrances throughout the show. Wurlitzer music was coming out of the carousal building but the merry-go-round was not spinning.

Down at the lake we were surprised to see how much progress the town has made on the project to raise the grade between the lake and the bay. A train of dump trucks is piling stone and dirt along the shore, the boat launch is closed, the parking lot has been excavated and there is a fence around the whole thing. All this in the one week since we were here last.

While we were watching a bulldozer establish the new grade we spotted a sign on the lake side that read “Yoga Today.” we determined the sign was in front of Alayna and Reo’s house and then Martha O’Conner came down the steps followed by Alayna. Peggi and I had both forgotten our masks today so had a conversation at a distance.

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Swinging NY

Beach combing at Durand Eastman Beach
Beach combing at Durand Eastman Beach

In our upside down world each day will get warmer for the next week. We celebrated the equinox last night with our neighbors, Jared and Sue. They walked up the hill from their house, we didn’t wear masks and we sat around a fire in our front yard. The conversation was free ranging but we spent quite a bit of time talking about the electoral college. I had launched into my rant against it when we were last talking to Duane and he sent the recent New Yorker article up to us. I was reading it aloud to Peggi when Jared and Sue arrived so that was our springboard.

Maybe it’s because we watched that Netflix doc on Cambridge Analytica or just because we got stuck with W. and Trump but it is painful to witness another Presidential election play out in a handful of swing states. I want in on the action and I gotta believe my neighbors would like to feel like their votes count for something. And why would any young person bother to jump though all these hoops to vote when New York State is a done deal. Why wouldn’t they just tune out all this noise while our democracy dies?

Walking home from school at Saint John’s there was a Kennedy campaign office on Humboldt Street where we picked up free buttons and bumper stickers. My parents had us go door to door with a Kennedy newspaper supplement. Just before Election Day the City dropped off those little outhouse like structures where people voted. I remember there was one at the corner of the street where Stromberg Carlson was and Radio Social is now. Was New York a swing state back then? It may have been. The whole country should be in play!

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Pandemic Companion

Japanese Honeysuckle on Hoffman Road.
Japanese Honeysuckle on Hoffman Road.

We walked up to Aman’s this morning and noticed their Fresh Corn sign was not out front. In fact I saw it was out behind the building. I can’t believe corn season is over already. Here’s hoping they’ll get a late harvest.

Shelley emailed us about passing along her book to an editor at ADK’s magazine. That reminded us that we were going to put large versions of her artwork online and then link to them from the drawings in her book. So Peggi and I spent the afternoon posting the enlargements as links from her book. We realized “A Year in the Woods” is a perfect pandemic companion. Check it out if you get a chance.

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Apple Country

Apple crates near Pultneyville, New York
Apple crates near Pultneyville, New York

We met our friends, Matthew and Louise, in middle ground, neutral territory, somewhere between their home and ours. B. Forman Park sits right on the lake on property that was owned by Samuel Cuyler, property that was used as a terminus on the Underground Railroad. From here, escaped slaves would board a ship bound for Canada. 

We had never been here before but the name was familiar to us. B. Formans was one step from McCurdy’s. Both department stores were downtown along with Sibley’s, Edward’s and The National. Before the malls ruined everything and Amazon ruined them. The park was named after Benjamin Forman, a Rochester merchant and civic leader, who operated the B. Formans’ department store.

We drove out on Lake Road, easily one of the most picturesque rides in our area. The farms were all gearing up for apple harvest and crates were stacked everywhere. We wondered aloud whether the farms would have enough labor and whether they could be kept safe.

There has been so much going on in Rochester that we spent most of our time together batting around the local news, the mass shooting, the Danial Prude homicide, how much longer before the mayor resigns and what about the interim police chief and the cover-up. We stopped at a farm stand on the way back and bought blueberries, pears, plums and Honey-crisp apples.

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Anthropology 101

IBM typewriters by curb on Wisner Road
IBM typewriters by curb on Wisner Road

Interesting that people listen to loud EDM in their cars so early in the morning. We were headed up to the town hall to put our taxes in the contactless dropbox they have out back, a walk we used to do all the time when we were patronizing the library. Plastic Recipe 21 Premium Vodka bottles are still strewn along Titus.

We spotted an old cot by the road with a thin, rolled up mattress. It reminded me of the one my brother Fran slept on when we were growing up. The five boys were in one room. Mark and me in a double bed, John and Tim in bunk beds and Fran on the cot.

We’ve had a mattress rolled up in our basement for years. It is our guest mattress since our house has only one bedroom. We always ask friends who’ve slept over how they liked it and they have never complained. We recently slept down there ourselves when they were warning of high winds and found it really uncomfortable. We upped our game and ordered an inflatable mattress from REI. We’re going to test that later today.

Although La Liga is already a week into their new fanless season the three teams we care most about have not yet played. Both Real Madrid and Barcelona play this weekend and then Atlético. I watched a pre-recorded Atlético match from last season this morning, a 1-1 draw where they were seriously outplayed by Real Sociedad.

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Sorry You’re So Angry

Tree at end of Hoffman Road in September
Tree at end of Hoffman Road in September

Things that were all green just a few weeks ago are taking on beautiful colors.

I worry that the forced isolation brought on by the pandemic is making us, not just Peggi and me but a lot of us, less “sociable” (adjective: Willing to talk and engage in activities with other people; friendly). Although loneliness is a real problem it is not so bad inside your own head. Confronting strangers is more awkward than ever. Are they wearing a mask? Are they taking this thing seriously? We are more judgmental than ever.

We took the path through Tamarack Swamp this morning and when we got to the boardwalk we were following a woman with two dogs, both off leash. We slowed our pace and watched her put the dogs on a leash when she got to Lakeshore Boulevard. She had earbuds in and was was talking to someone on her phone while taking up most of the path. Peggi masked up and said, “I’m going to pass her.” As she ran by, one of the dogs growled and lurched at her, would have bit her if the leash was six inches longer. She pulled the dogs close and I walked by. We decided to ditch her and walk along the beach but she came up behind us and let her dogs off leash again. Peggi looked at the woman and said, “Really?” There is a leash law.

The woman grinned and said, “Sorry you’re so angry.” We skipped the beach and waited for traffic to slow before crossing Lakeshore Boulevard. A car was coming especially fast so we stepped back and then they hit the brakes and waved us across. People aren’t so bad.

On the ridge trail we spotted a runner coming up the hill toward us. We masked up and stepped into the woods to let him pass while he slowed to a walking pace. When he reached us he said, “Don’t worry about me. I’ve already had it.”

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Life Outdoors

Front yard fire-pit on first day
Front yard fire-pit on first day

Our house came with a big fireplace, a wide opening surrounded by a wall of long, thin Roman bricks from floor to cathedral ceiling. We narrowed the opening by constructing a divider wall out of fire brick and put a wood burning insert in one side. We store firewood in the other. I bought some extra bricks because I like them so much. I used some of them out back to make a base for our chiminea. I modeled the base after Carl Andre’s piece at MoMA and did the same with this one out front. Peggi came up with the layout here. The metal rack came from our old fireplace. It looks like something the baby Jesus would lie in in a nativity set.

We found the little yellow basket on one of our walks and we’ve been using it, upside down, as a table for the a distanced second party, usually Rick when we play horseshoes. We ordered two metal outdoor side tables from Walmart and expect delivery of those tomorrow. Peggi and I had the first fire here and then we had Jeff and Mary Kaye over for a rip roaring fire. This will read like a nightmare to our friends out west. There was a beautiful warm night just a few days ago and we spent that under Kathy’s candlelit pergola overlooking the bay. That may be the last of those so if want to have a social life it will involve burning things.

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I Want More

Three ground hogs on the golf course at Durand Eastman
Three ground hogs on the golf course at Durand Eastman

Our weather app showed rain all day. We walked anyway with rain gear, the hooded things that scrunch up into the zippered pocket when when we’re not using them. There was hardly anyone else out. The woods was dreamy, the soft rain, the degree of separation that the hood provides. I forgot where I was for minute, a sensation I love, similar to the feeling you get when you are on a brand new trail, going somewhere you have never been before.

The three walks we took across Spain had us in this suspended state. I want more.

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Great Stuff

Latino lawn figure in Sea Breeze, NY
Latino lawn figure in Sea Breeze, NY

Our neighbors on both sides feed the birds. And even feed the woodpeckers. We have three kinds of woodpeckers around here. The Pileated are the most dramatic. They sound like monkeys and look a lot like the Woody Woodpecker character. Then there is a medium sized one with red on it. And the smaller ones in various shades of grey, one of which was hammering away at the soffit of our house for a few weeks. We kept shooing it away but but it had free reign while we were out so we wound up with a hole big enough for me to put my fist in.

Our neighbor suggested Great Stuff, the plastic foam filler that comes out of a can. We found it at Lowes and arranged a curb side pick-up. I went up on the roof, laid down on my stomach and squirted the stuff up the hole while Peggi guided me from below. I have this hideous formation of goop hanging down from that spot and plan to go back up there tomorrow to cut it off. I’m thinking of painting the filler brown.

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Dog Days

Blue boat in bay by Newport Yacht Club
Blue boat in bay by Newport Yacht Club

I’m loving these last few days of summer. In spite of Covid it has been one of the best. For the weather, for kicking back, for taking the time to smell the roses. Maybe all that was because of and not in spite of Covid. And I’m looking forward to cooler temperatures and the energy and motivation that goes along with that.

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Liberty Avenue

Giant Puffball in the woods after the rain. My size 12 shoe is in the photo to indicate scale.
Giant Puffball in the woods after the rain. My size 12 shoe is in the photo to indicate scale.

We don’t plan our daily walks unless we need something at Aman’s or Home Depot or Rubino’s. And we don’t like to go out and back on the same route so we make somewhat of a circle out of it and wander for four or five miles. We spotted this giant puffball in the woods at the end of our street and then headed down to the bay via Liberty Avenue, a road we don’t often take. It was surprisingly quiet for a holiday and there were a lot of flags flying like Labor Day has something to do with patriotism. We followed Seneca Road to where it ends in front of both the Mohawk Yacht Club and N.Y.C. (Newport Yacht Club). It was quiet on the bay too.

On the way back we saw a grey Corvette with the top down. The side of the car had the letters TRUMP on them and a Donald Trump dummy was sitting in the passenger seat. We guessed there might have been a Boaters for Trump rally going on down at the lake.

If it wasn’t for this pandemic we’d be downtown tonight keeping Rochester in the national news and demanding justice for Daniel Prude.

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BK

Bishop Kearney High School 2020
Bishop Kearney High School 2020

It figures that Rubino’s would be packed on the day before Labor Day weekend. We walked up there this morning, a 6 or 7 mile round trip, with our N95 masks, hoping to beat the crowds. We needed olive oil and we’re stuck on Zoe’s, the Spanish first cold press gallon tins that they carry. We were also looking for some aged parmesan, Castelvetrano olives and a few packages of figs. And bananas because I left the bunch we had picked out at Aman’s on the counter when left. Rubino’s doesn’t stock bananas.

We took a route that zig zags off Titus and comes out near Bishop Kearney High School. Workers were repairing the roof and teachers were carrying boxes into their classrooms. Peggi related to the dread they must be feeling, a dread that is magnified wildly this year.

Bishop Kearney has not physically changed since I was here in the dark ages. The Irish Christian Brothers no longer run it. They used to live on the top floor but their order went bankrupt under the weight of countless sexual abuse charges. The classes were separated by sexes and we only co-mingled at lunch. The boys were on the right side of the building and the girls were on the left. The gymnasium and auditorium were in the middle along with a small closet-like room were where they whipped you if misbehaved. My only good memory of the two years I spent here is playing soccer.

Bishop Kearney JV Soccer team with Mark and Paul Dodd and Coach Brother Hewlett
Bishop Kearney JV Soccer team with Mark and Paul Dodd and Coach Brother Hewlett

On the way back we found a spot to relieve ourselves. We used to do that at Starbuck’s but we stopped going in there. There is a little tree covered nook off to the left of the school on the field where we used to play soccer that fit the bill perfectly. The tp traces showed we weren’t the first.

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AD España

Spread from September issue of AD España
Spread from September issue of AD España

I was beginning too think AD Espanã was packing it in due to Covid. July/August was one issue and I was jones’n for the September offering and kept checking the Apple bookstore for the new issue. Two days before the calendar flipped they released it. $3.99 a pop. The perfect compliment to dreams of Spain.

Spread from September issue of AD España
Spread from September issue of AD España
Spread from September issue of AD España
Spread from September issue of AD España
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Good Year For The Roses

Beets, basil, tomatoes, carrots and arugula from garden on my t-shirt
Beets, basil, tomatoes, carrots and arugula from garden on my t-shirt

Our garden is giving back. The hours we spent down there this year were more enjoyable than most. The pandemic forced us to gear down and enjoy the ride.

We went all in for Fruition Seeds this year and started everything from seed, their seed, the organic stuff. And we learned so much from Petra and her videos. A PopWars shoutout to her!

It’s Been a Good Year for the Roses.

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Cultural Factor

Train set in front yard of home on Brandon Road, Rochester, New York
Train set in front yard of home on Brandon Road, Rochester, New York

We get a good view of our neighbor’s backyard at the end of our street. Our street borders their yard on two sides. We stopped to chat with their son and his Russian bride and learned she had walked the Camino Portuguese. She is tall and skinny and wears small t-shirts with Russian logos and what looks like gym shorts, the short ones from our high school days. I’m not sure she understood all we were saying but we did compare notes on the adventure. She told us she was hoping to do the Camino Francés with our neighbor’s son.

I hesitate to even mention the walk across Spain that we were planning for this year. So many are missing so much more. But I do wonder if we will ever be able to travel overseas again. We have kept up our walking just in case. We are prepared for the rugged, northernmost Camino to Santiago, the Camino Primitivo. My backpack is ready to go. Our photos from Spain continue to shuffle on our tv each evening.

Spain was hit hard in the first wave. Their national lockdown was largely successful but but when the 17 regional governments reopened some, dependent on tourism, relaxed too quickly. Peggi and I always knew Spain would be hit hard. They are so outgoing. In today’s article about the resurgence the director-general of public health for the Spanish Government said, “We have this cultural factor related to our rich social life. People are close. They like to get to know each other.”

Every year La Tienda, the online Spanish specialty shop, features Pimientos de Padrón when they are in season. We ordered two bins this year and had some last night. We ran into a few hot ones and that slowed us down so we finished them this afternoon, poolside, at room temperature.

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Sauce, Vintage 2020

Charles and helper from Woodchuck Tree Service at Jeddy's house. Jerod is show watching.
Charles and helper from Woodchuck Tree Service at Jeddy’s house. Jared is show-watching.

We stopped down at the pool before heading out on our walk this morning. Peggi checks the chemistry while I brush the yellow, pool boy style, if I see any. Helena called us from across the street. She appeared to still be in her pajamas and she asked if we could bring some wood to the gathering tonight in their backyard. It struck us all as hilarious considering these two giant white oaks were taken down in her yard just a few days ago. They kept plenty of the wood and even split about half but it is not properly seasoned yet so we delivered a small load for the fire pit.

Peggi made the first batch of sauce this year with a t-shirt full of tomatoes that we brought back from the garden. I thinned our carrots again and we threw them in along with a big batch of basil and some jalapeños. .

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