Mob Hit

Paul with Molly near pool on Hawley Drive
Paul with Molly near pool on Hawley Drive

I can’t remember how I came by this dog. Her name was Molly and she would decide to point at the weirdest times. She would just assume the position like someone had trained her and that always cracked me up. She had a bad habit of getting in our neighbor’s trash though. My parents wouldn’t let her in the house at first but pretty soon she was part of the family – until she dragged her rear end across the living room floor while I was talking to my father. She left a streak on the carpet and was not allowed back in the house.

I put the dog in the car one day to go somewhere. It was a black VW bug. You can see it in the swimming pool shot from a few days ago. I was coming out of Dunning Avenue, turning right on South Avenue in Webster and I spotted Brad Fox on the side walk coming up to my place. I swung the passenger door open, checked on the dog, Brad got in and I turned left right in front of a car – Sammy G Gingello‘s car. I totaled the VW, our family’s second car. The dog took of running, Brad went after it and I was left with Sammy G, waiting for the cops to come.

The mob was everywhere in this town. In high school some of my classmates’s fathers were in the mob. At my summer job in Kodak’s Hawk Eye guys would come around every day to collect money for the mob’s numbers racket. My softball team was sponsored by APO International. They organized gambling junkets on charter flights to Las Vegas. Our t-shirts were black with yellow arms and white lettering and trim. Thirty five years I was working downtown when Sammy G was blown up outside Ben’s Cafe Society. I place I worked at did ads for them that were run in After Dark Magazine. On my noon hour I rode my bike over to Stilson Street to look at the hole in the pavement.

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Disproving An Adage

Deer in woods without rack
Deer in woods without rack

We managed to stay off trail the entire way through the woods to Durand Eastman Park today. In fact Peggi was off to one side of the path and I was on the other – looking for deer sheds. I managed to disprove the adage that says you won’t find something if you go out of your way to find it. I found a rack yesterday or one side of a rack (is that a half rack?), a four pointer that and a really old Canada Dry Ginger Ale bottle, so now we have the bug.

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Hidden Valley

Dodd's swimming pool being constructed on Hawley Drive in Webster
Dodd’s swimming pool being constructed on Hawley Drive in Webster

When my family moved out of the city in the sixties Webster was still a small town surrounded by farms. Although in the village and pretty close to the four corners our subdivision, referred to as the Schantz track by the locals, was a muddy old corn field. Beyond that was still woods, the first, second and third woods and the spot we called Hidden Valley. That place was magic.

My dad decided to put a pool in the backyard and the idea was to dig it ourselves. You can see in this picture how much help we were. My dad did most of the work and he took this shot. From left: Norm Ladd, Paul Dodd, Billy Mahoney, David Hill, Frank Palozolo, Dave Mahoney (no relation), Fran Dodd, Mark Dodd, Brad Fox, Tim Dodd, John Dodd and Joe Barrett.

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The New Phone Books Are Here

Webster Park tree sculpture
Webster Park tree sculpture

This beautiful grey/brown palette won’t last so I’m making the most of it. We went off trail today, (it is so much easier to do that this time of year) ducking under branches and stepping over fallen branches and looking for sheds. Thats what our local deer authority calls them. Deer shed their racks this time of year. They become uncomfortable and deer bang their heads against trees to knock them off. Our neighbor Monica found both sides of a ten pointer yesterday and that got us going.

Funny how many people still haven’t picked up their phone books. Nobody wants those damn things anymore and they’re still sitting in the white plastic Frontier bags at the base of mailboxes a week after they were delivered. I put ours directly in the the recycling box.

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Got Guns

Paul Dodd photo of Tim Meisenzahl and John Mahoney with toy guns in front of the Dodd's house at 24 Hawley Drive in Webster, New York
Paul Dodd photo of Tim Meisenzahl and John Mahoney with toy guns in front of the Dodd’s house at 24 Hawley Drive in Webster, New York

I think this is from one of my first batches of photos. I used to babysit for these two kids. It wasn’t unusual to have kids running all over the neighbor hood with guns, hiding behind bushes and pointing these things at strangers.

We heard Bill Frisell at Water Street Music Hall tonight in a solo performance. I really liked hearing him this way. He is such a lyrical player and his delicate guitar tone is perfectly suited to a one man band. Besides he is a sly sampler and built some beautiful tracks on the fly to accompany himself with. And he takes enough risks to spin out for the hell of it.

We thought the concert tonight was a benefit for Rochester Contemporary and it was but not the art center. This was for Rochester Contemporary School of Music, a worthwhile cause but it doesn’t seem right that they can borrow the name.

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Double Cynical

Abstract sign on Lake Road near Sea Breeze
Abstract sign on Lake Road near Sea Breeze

I thought I was the only one in the world with the John Philips solo album with “Holland Tunnel” on it but there it was in a movie we watched last night. For a minute it made me wish I hadn’t sold that at our garage sale last year. The Amazon review of the soundtrack to “The Squid and the Whale” with The Cars “Drive”, Lou Reed’s “Street Hassle” and The McGarrigle’s “Heart Like A Wheel” says it will “probably be most enjoyed by the cynical” but that doesn’t make any sense at all unless it’s one of those double negative situations.

We watched the movie last night and it seemed like we had seen it already but we weren’t quite sure. Maybe we saw it at someone’s house or somewhere where we couldn’t give it our undivided attention. Regardless it was great to see it again and it was a real surprise to see the end credits for soundtrack go to our neighbor’s brother, Dean Wareham. The cast was perfect and amazing. I felt like we were watching a play in our living room.

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I’m Against It

Three willow trees on Lake Road near Sea Breeze
Three willow trees on Lake Road near Sea Breeze

The Ramones had some classics. “I’m Against It” was one. George Winter, Webster’s code enforcement officer, is quoted in this morning’s newspaper as saying “A few people called and said, ‘I’m not sure what it means, but I don’t like it.’ I think it’s something from a Bob Dylan song or something.”

He was talking about a sign that read “HOW MANY DEATHS WILL IT TAKE ‘TIL WE KNOW TOO MANY PEOPLE HAVE DIED?” The sign was put up on one of the seven empty lots where houses used to stand before the Christmas eve gunman set fire to the place. In fact he was standing up on the ridge pictured in this photo when he shot and killed the firemen who responded to the fire. We had seen the sign before and I thought about photographing it for my sign collection but it was ugly, all caps lettering, and the sign itself was already commentary. The sign is in violation of code so someone covered it with a tarp and then someone else sprayed “Censored” on the tarp. I photographed that and maybe that will work on my sign page.

The article prompted us to walk down there again. You go across a small seasonal bridge (it will swing open for fishing season in April) and you’re on a sliver of land barely wide enough to contain the road, an old railroad bed and some tiny houses. Lake Ontario is on the north and Irondequiot Bay on the south side. It’s a beautiful spot but the elements make it too rough for luxury homes. There’s an impromptu shrine to the firefighters and an historical marker from the 30s denoting the spot where the French army landed in 1687 before invading the Seneca Indian territory. Both of these displays are permissible.

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Fresh Roasted Peanuts

Main and Clinton in 1976
Main and Clinton in 1976

I miss downtown. I worked at a few ad agencies down there and loved hanging around midtown at noon. This photo from the mid seventies looks pretty bleak in black and white but it was quite lively and a lot more interesting than it is now. Can we get that Inner Loop filled in and just start over?

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Revelation

Mugs Up on the corner of Gibbs Street and Main in Rochester, New York 1976

Back in the 70’s Mugs Up was a pretty cool spot to hang around in the afternoon. You could sit at a booth right near the window and look out at the street as Eastman students scurried by with their musical instruments in tow. They tore the place down to build the Sibley Library which is today the largest academic music library in the US. I’ve never been in the music library but I miss Mugs Up.

The thing that caught my eye in this old photo is the little guy in the hat waiting for the bus. The worst bike accident I ever had was when I ran into a guy that looked a lot like this when he stepped off the curb in front of the old Music Lovers Shop about a block down the street. I was whizzing by and he stepped out right in front of me. He didn’t look and probably didn’t hear me coming. I slammed into my handle bars and then rolled over them and onto the street. I broke a few ribs and was all scraped up. He was crumpled in a ball on the street. I remember asking, “Are you alright” Are you alright?” over and over because the guy was not saying a word. I guess he was in shock. After a few minutes he got up slowly with my help and worked his way back to the curb. I asked again, “Are you alright?” and he said, “Jesus Christ.”

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Hanging Out

John Sparagana leaning on car with Ann and Jan
John Sparagana leaning on car with Ann and Jan

My dad bought me one of those square format, plastic Kodak cameras after I quit school and just before I traveled to Europe with the rest of my student loan. And I took this photo when I returned. It was my first camera and I must have been 19 or so. My sister and her boyfriend were hanging out in his car and John Sparagano, a friend of my younger brothers, was hanging out in the driveway. We all did a lot of hanging out in those days. At times the seven of us all had friends over at the same time.

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Tarta De Santiago

Tarta De Santiago
Tarta De Santiago

Our first morning in Madrid a few years ago we found big tent set up in the plaza in front of our hotel with food vendors inside. One of them was selling tray sized cakes with crosses on them. On closer examination the crosses were only visible because of the absence of powdered sugar. There was no way we going to buy a cake that large but the image stuck.

Peggi found a recipe for the pastry, mostly crushed almonds with eggs and some butter. Santiago (the apostle Saint James) is the patron saint of Spain and they probably sell cookie patterns in this cross shape in Spain but I made the pattern with paper mounted on cardboard and wrapped in packing tape. It took me about as long to make the pattern as it took Peggi to make the cake.

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Paint It Black

Guinness display in East Ridge Road Wegmans
Guinness display in East Ridge Road Wegmans

Kind of funny that our neighbor spent time and money building a stage for his living room concerts and then the band spent a good bit of the night performing in the crowd like Sun Ra used to do. But then just about everything the Chandler Travis Three-O does is funny in a melancholy way. They do adult pop like the sweet side of NRBQ with no drums, a great sounding standup bass and a horn player who teaches at Berklee School. I came away singing NRBQ’s “Mona,” a song they didn’t do. They are great musicians and entertainers and sounded best when they were off mic.

Chandler distilled the whole of Saint Patrick’s Day in a three minute rip-roaring version of Danny Boy, the dark brew, the parade, the boiled beef and the debauchery. They performed three David Greenberger songs and brought the house down with their hootenanny version of Pete LaBonne’s “Turning The Page.”

“One hand tied around my back
two thieves steal away in the night
in a jungle gym frame of mind, I’m turning the page.”

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Bud Weiser

Budweiser cans in pile on Hoffman Road
Budweiser cans in pile on Hoffman Road

I before e except after w. I dug this batch of cans out of a pretty little spot near the creek that crosses Hoffman Road. You couldn’t hit this spot if you were driving and tossing your cans from an open window. You would have to be on foot. These are all the work of one man and are usually all Budweiser cans. I had just cleaned this area a few weeks ago so I’m guessing the guy walks down this dead end road every day while slurping on of these big boys. I found a few torn up lottery tickets near the cans and because I didn’t have a bag with me I left the cans up near the road in this pile. When we returned today the cans were all gone and there was a new can down in the little hollow.

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Higher Plane

Fallen tree in the ice near Lake Ontario
Fallen tree in the ice near Lake Ontario

The grey skies of Rochester got to our neighbor. It’s her first Winter here and she was ok until March when she expected a change. We walked up to the lake with her and I tried to cheer her up by pointing out the snowdrops that were blossoming off to our left but it was a bright sunny day and that’s all it took. She told us she always feels like she’s high when she gets near the lake but only when she is alone so we missed out on that one. On the way back she asked if we wanted anything from the new Trader Joes. We told we hadn’t been there yet and then we made plans to go today.

We filled up our little red buggy with fun stuff and then got on the wrong side of the check out lane so we were invading the cashier’s space. She told us to get on the other side and relax and asked if we’d seen any good movies lately. We said, “Yeah, we just watched the Jean Luc Goddard’ Contempt last night with Bridget Bardot” but we got kind of a blank look so we dropped it. Goddard movies make sense on a higher plane than plot.

Jerry Prokosch (played by by Jack Palance): “I like gods. I like them very much. I know exactly how they feel – exactly.”
Fritz Lang (playing himself): “Jerry, don’t forget. The gods have not created man. Man has created gods.”

Peggi is reading Neil Young’s book now and she tells me Jean Luc Goddard is his favorite director. Somehow I missed that.

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Stackhouse

Greg Prevost performing with the Chesterfield Kings
Greg Prevost performing with the Chesterfield Kings

Funny that I live so close to the HOG now and I haven’t set foot in there since I bought a snare drum a few years ago. There was a period when I’d go there every week or so to buy music. That round display rack in the front of the store was always stuffed with the newest albums and the singles moved all over the store. They were upstairs with the instruments and out back and then for a while in the mid seventies all the cool stuff (UK imports and American underground stuff like the Cramps and Television) was kept in a locked case at the top of the stairs. They had everything but it was almost impossible to find it. You had to ask for help and Kim and Greg were the best. They would walk right over to an unruly pile and put their hands on what you were looking for.

Kim Torgerson married Dave Mahoney. Dave’s sister, an avid House of Guitars shopper, married Kim from the HOG. Greg got famous in the Chesterfield Kings. We ran into Greg at Spevak’s holiday party and did some serious catching up in the kitchen. Greg has a solo album out now and an action packed bio here.

Listen to Playette – Roomful of Voices. Dave handles the lead vocals and Kim does back ups.

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Face Of The Earth

iTunes magic set
iTunes magic set

I have one of our old computers set up in the painting room that streams music from a drive in another part of the house. It’s on shuffle and I love it that way, random with a one big control factor, it only plays stuff that I put in to the library in one form or another. Of course I ripped most of the cds we had before selling them and some lps and I’m not above borrowing cds from friends and giving them back in five minutes once they’ve been ripped. I’ve taken my laptop over to my brother-in-law’s and ripped while we celebrate a holiday and I occasionally buy downloads from Amazon or the Apple Store. And then there were those Napster years and the news groups so there are plenty of surprises in there. If I stumble on something I don’t like I hit the delete key and it’s gone forever.

But the coolest thing about this setup is the moods that iTunes gets into. It’s been on a Joni Mitchell kick lately. This afternoon it really hit a sweet spot and got on a good run. I was struggling with a drawing and iTunes was as gentle as could be. Think Afro Harping or Below The Bassline. It started with a modern loungy Tango Club thing (cover has woman’s fishnet stocking legs crossed) and then a Gypsy King instrumental and then the real gypsy king, Django Reinhardt, a slinky Cuban piece from Ry Cooder & Manuel Galban, a spacey piano thing by Bill Dixon, something from Kronos Quartet’s Early Music release, Miss Peggy Lee, a beautiful chamber jazz number with cello from Chico Hamilton, Pete LaBonne’s quiet anthem, “Arouse The Thunder,” a Nino Rota piece from Amacord and Bill Frisell, Ron Carter & Paul Motian doing a very slow number called “Introduction” and sounding a lot like Bob Martin.

This set got me where I wanted to go and when I got there all hell broke loose with MX-80’s “Face Of The Earth.”

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Watching The Sistine Chimney

Yellow flower blooming in March 2013
Yellow flower blooming in March 2013

All it took was a 60 degree day in March and the geese formations are overhead, although they seem to be headed west instead of north, the witch hazel is out down at the park, I spotted an ant in the kitchen and these little yellow flowers are are poking through the snow.

We stopped at an estate sale at the old Parsons’ farmhouse on East Avenue. It was a Jack Wanderman (Susan Plunket’s brother) production and Dick Storms was there. He told us he doesn’t go to those things early anymore and he was only there to see Jack. Of course Jack brought most of the stuff into the estate. We looked around for some of Peggi’s mom’s stuff but didn’t find any.

We met a guy in a beard there. His beard seemed to swallow his whole persona. He said,”You probably don’t remember me but I used to come see your band.” He said he’d been out in LA and was back for family reasons and his name was Brian and he had made a movie that was coming out on Netflix. He told us he had fought to keep the music of John Martyn in his film because music is very important to him. We were thinking, “Wow, we know another guy from Rochester named Brian who made a movie with John Martyn music in it” but when he told us the name of the movie, something to do with a river, it wasn’t “The Butterfly Knot.” Could it be that this was the same Brian and something as simple as a big black beard made everything so different?

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Who Stole The Keeshka?

Adirondack furniture at Arhaus in the mall, Rochester, NY
Adirondack furniture at Arhaus in the mall, Rochester, NY

We took my mom out to the mall today. It was real treat watching her roam the aisles in full hunt mode. She has great taste and used to give us a shirt or sweater each year, one time a bike bag that I still use, but always something I would wear, like all the time. People still compliment me on a shirt and I’ll say, “My mom gave me this.”

She got a little flustered though when the saleswomen in Lord & Taylor took her pants out of the dressing room while she was trying on another pair. Peggi had to go find my mom’s pants and when she did the clerk apologized, saying, “we like to keep a clean fitting room.”

We looked at this furniture for a bit. Our friends, Pete and Shelley, make chairs like this. They seem right at home in the Adirondacks but look a little wacky in the mall.

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No Drawers

Passersby rush past Moondog as he stands at his panhandling post in front of the CBS building in Midtown Manhattan
Passersby rush past Moondog as he stands at his panhandling post in front of the CBS building in Midtown Manhattan

With a name like Moondog you would be hard pressed to come up with an album title as good as your moniker. I’m guessing that is the reason there are so many different recordings called “Moondog.” I had one on vinyl back in the late sixties and then in February of 1970 the Sunday Democrat & Chronicle featured Moondog on the cover of their Upstate Magazine. I kept the magazine inside the gatefold lp for a long time, then scanned the article for the Refrigerator. While staying with a friend who was living in Hell’s Kitchen, we walked over to Sixth Avenue where Moondog was holding court. I was a fan and so was his onetime roommate, Philip Glass.

Later I found two of his cds in the downtown library, one called “Moondog” and the other “More Moondog/The Story of Moondog,” both recorded in the mid fifties, with sound collages and poetry and a glimpse through the eyes of a blind man. We were on an Amtrak train coming back from Manhattan in 1999 when we found Moondog’s obit in the NYT. I folded that up and stuck it in Moondog’s “Sax Pax For a Sax” cd.

Hark Pictures from Midlands UK is making a documentary about Moondog and the director found the Upstate article that I had transcribed. She asked if I still had the original article. Good question, I have digitized so much of my stuff over the years. I just bought a new desk for my computer and in keeping with my minimal aesthetic it has no drawers so I filled the trash can three times with old stuff. But I surprised myself and found the magazine squirreled in one of the few remaining hiding spots. The brittle old newsprint cracked as I did 600dpi scans of the pages.

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Work In Progress Administration

Janet Williams is one of my favorite painters. We have a pretty good reproduction of one of her pieces, a broom from her “Primordial Household Objects” series, but there is nothing like the real thing. Some of her older paintings can be seen here and she shows her recent work at the Oxford Gallery on Park Avenue.

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