When we were young my mom would put us all in the car on days like this and drive us from our home in the city out to the lake. We would go one of two ways, out Culver Road to Durand Eastman Beach or out Lake Avenue to Charlotte Beach. Both routes had markers along the way, things we would look for and then shout about when we saw them. The trip down Lake Avenue was longer so when we spotted the flag flying above the CSX railroad crossing in Charlotte it was really dramatic. The water tower in Sea Breeze would come a little quicker when the destination was Durand. Peggi and I rode our bikes up to Wegmans yesterday and we spotted these guys installing a new cellphone receptor. I’m guessing the town makes more money leasing the space on the water tower to cell phone companies than they do from the sale of water to its residents.
I was reading an article in the morning paper about the custom of chaining a used bike to a light post near where a bicyclist has been killed. The bike is called a “Ghost Bike” and it becomes a shrine to the bicyclist. The one they pictured in the article was for a guy who was run over yesterday by a Black Camaro. The car was driving in the bike lane and the accident was caught on a store’s security camera. The car drove off as if nothing had happened. I was prepared for a car that pulled up to the stop sign on a side street off the road we were on. I had my eye on the woman as she pulled out right in front of me. I was prepared to stop if she did that and sure enough she did. Her radio was turned up loud. Maybe her favorite song.
Wisner Road used to lead right into the park. This barrier wasn’t here. You could continue through the park on Zoo Road and come out on Lakeshore Boulevard and I’ll bet it was quite a short cut. As it stands, it’s a deadend and you have to drive around the park. A brilliant move on someone’s part because it keeps all that traffic out of the park.
When we moved here we were told this part of the park is a hangout for gay hookups and there has always been plenty of tiny drug bags on the ground, not that those two things go together. It is mostly populated by dog walkers, people who drive to the park and let their dog run free despite the sign that reads, “Dogs Must Be On Leash.” I mention these infractions because the lettering on the sign and the road in front of it reads like someone is upset by something the police did. Probably not the dog walkers.
A fellow named John May wrote a letter to the editor that was published in today’s New York Times, a well written letter in response to the Sunday article about how lies don’t really matter anymore when it comes to politicians. With a name like that I didn’t think it could possibly be the John May in our painting class but when he walked in tonight he was wearing an especially large smile.
Christo and Jeanne-Claude are already starting to dismantle their newest art project, the wrapping of the Seneca Road water tower near the Sea Breeze Water Authority headquarters. You had better hurry on up to the lake to take this dramatic sight in before it is all wrapped up. Each day provides distinctly different views. The top of the tower was partialy unwrapped on Saturday and it looked impossibly blue against the blue skies. Air flow is also a factor as the framework of the structure appears to bend as the sheets billow. The tower is normally fairly quiet as gravity has been harnessed to supply pressure to the residents below but during the installation you’ll be treated to something akin to a white noise soundtrack.
As is usually the case with the Christos, the securing of the permit, the town hall meetings and negotiations with the various neighborhood factions that are opposed to the project are all part of the art piece. In fact a documentary crew has been filming each of these related events.
In this case the town had to vote on the approval of the spending for extra security. The vote passed by a wide margin but because this is Irondequoit an outspoken stickler and member of the opposite party called the town supervisor’s attention to an “T” that wasn’t crossed and the whole town had report to the auditorium of Christ the King to vote on the tax expenditure a second time.
Matthew’s company car, a hybrid, lost its charge in Syracuse so our bowling date was cancelled or rather postponed until last night. But the eight lanes at Park View Bowl were all occupied with a women’s league when we got there. The idea contained in the name of a view of the park (Durand Eastman) while you’re bowling is crazy. We had a drink at the bar and I returned Matthew’s “Speaking of Art: Four decades of art in conversation” book. I wanted to show Louise this quote from Nancy Spero, Leon Golub’s wife and one of the artists in the book, but there wasn’t enough light at the bar for her to see it.
“There’s a basic risk in the practice of art itself, in that it’s something that’s not wanted particularly by society. Only a few understand the need for this innocence in a culture, and yet it is the artifact of a culture in the final sense of the word.”
And I thought this one from Ed Ruscha was nice especially because he found common ground between his work and Morandi’s. “One of my favourite artists is Giorgio Morandi, and he painted the same picture for all of his life and did it very well. He fulfilled his destiny without doing any of this pushing into new frontiers. So pushing into a new frontier is not a necessity for any artist. But unless it’s done by someone, things end up at a standstill.”
The night was young so we moved down the road to the Reunion, another bar we had never set foot in. Sea Breeze apparently used to have a small shop that supplied the word with clown shoes and sure enough there was one over the bar. They have a print of Goya’s “Naked Maja” in an ornate frame and a sign that looked vintage but used contemporary jargon. “Wine. How classy people get wasted.” We pumped dollar bills into the juke box and played three games of 8-Ball on the pool table. We were both good and bad.
Everything in our town is split down the middle by the north/south extension of Goodman Street, Kings Highway. I love that name now but it used to bug me when I was going to Kearney. Even though the high school was at the start of Kings Highway I preferred to call it Goodman. We were called the Bishop Kearney Kings and I figured they named the street after that dump. I couldn’t wait to get out of there and after two years my parents finally gave in.
Kings Highway may have been a highway when kings ruled but it is not what we know as a highway today. When it crosses Titus, right where this picture was taken, the road becomes a miniature, two lane, Blue Ridge Parkway as it winds its way northward to the lake. There are very few houses, the road washes out frequently and it is surrounded by undeveloped parts of Durand Eastman Park. The view in fact is regal.
We have always had two libraries in this town but they plan to close both when this new library building, at Titus and Kings Highway, is complete. I’m holding my breath that the art section will be better than the one we have up by Wegmans.
About one or two times a year we go down to the lake for an ice cream. I say “down” because it is downhill, otherwise we’d be underwater, but it is really “up” if your compass is working. We like the Chocolate Almond custard at “Don’s Original. If we were here for ground rounds we’d be next door at Viv & Irv’s.
When a restaurant call’s itself “Original’ it only calls attention to the fact that there is some shaky history to the lineage and I don’t claim to know the rundown but I vividly remember going with my dad to Don & Bob’s on Monroe Avenue where we’d pick up burgers and fries for the whole family and drive back home as quickly as possible while the car filled with the aroma of those thin, flat patties that hung over the edge the bun by an inch or so. It was beautiful torture. Jeff Springut from the Red Creek took the place over and ran it into the ground.
There is good reason why Sea Breeze Amusement Park used to call itself “Dreamland.” Sea Breeze, a tiny enclave at the end of Culver Road is nothing but dreamy. We walked out on the pier while we ate our custard and felt like we were much more than a mile from home.
Admittedly, the pickins are slim out here. I filled whole scrapbooks with the stuff we found on walks in the city. I don’t expect to find junk in the woods and I’m happy not to but when we cut through the park, little things, like golf balls and drug bags, catch my eye.
I’ll have to check my records but it seems when we first started bringing home the Budweiser cans, that we always find in the same spot, they were 22 ounce cans. The one we brought home today is a 25 ouncer.
It was such a delight to hear Louise Wareham Leonard read at Writers & Books last night. I’m still getting over it. The Performance Space there is dramatic. Stadium style seating, theatrical lighting and Louise at the podium with a short stack of pages. There is a “this better be good” vibe to the setting and Louise delivered in rather surprising fashion, surprising only because hearing her read something of hers I had already read brings it to a near boil.
She read from four of her books, some still in progress, and I particularly liked her comments as introduced a piece from “Fiery World,” the first chapter of which is published in this month’s Rochester POST magazine. The book is set in Durand Eastman’s Arboretum, “a spectacularily beautiful place that none goes to.” “I almost don’t even want to tell you about it.”
We were attempting to call up the tv show “Fargo’ with our new TW “On Demand” box when we came across the public access channel, something we had never seen before. A guy with the worst crop of jet black hair on top of mismatched sideburns was addressing a woman about a driveway variance and the subhead read “66 Wisner Road,” a road that is only a block from us. This was real local tv and it was better than Fargo.
The gentleman who lives on a corner lot, across the street from the woman was petitioning the town to let him add a second driveway, one on each street of the corner, because he has so many cars. He works nights and his girlfriend’s kids moved in with them and they come home at different times and he has to wake up and move his car so he can out and it would be so much easier if he could just put another driveway in – something like that. This was riveting stuff.
The next guy up wanted to build a six foot fence around his house in order to park and hide his RV next to the garage. The town only likes to see four foot fences close to the street. The guy after that took the cake. He and his wife had five cars between the two of them and in the next couple of year two of his kids will have their own car so that would be seven vehicles and he wanted to widen his driveway by eighteen feet or something. The town has a regulation that limits the percentage of your lot that you can pave to 35 and they weren’t buying his argument.
This was an especially bad year for potholes with the wild temperature fluctuations. The ground would freeze and heave and then settle down with a thaw. Water would get in and then it would freeze and the pavement cracked and the snowplow scraped off the high spots and salt got in and melted the ice until the temp dropped again and it expanded.
No one told us that we own our road when we moved in here. We found out when the first Pothole Day was scheduled. The twelve houses on this street jointly own the road, not the town. This could be problematic if we all don’t get along but fortunately we do. Today was Pothole Day and it took a couple of hours to patch a series of holes that one of our neighbors had already cleaned out with a leaf blower.
I met Teddy on the morning of the 5th, one day after he apparently disappeared at Target on East Ridge Road. He was right at my door and would have come in if I had opened it but I was afraid to do so. Our white cat, who had just gently woken me, as is her habit, was right at my feet and there would have been an ugly confrontation.
It was snowing that day and as Teddy ran off I could see tiny snow balls clinging to the poodle hair on her legs like she had been traipsing through the snow all night. Target is not that close to us either so I felt bad when I saw this sign today.
I helped our neighbor Rick bring chairs upstairs for his house concert tonight, My Darling Clementine, an English duo doing George and Tammy style country. When you like something the first time around there is no going back so we might stay home. I’m kinda tired from last night’s art opening. I’m so happy so many people came out to see my father and brother’s stuff. There were no red dots on the wall at the end of the night but there was plenty of good talk.
We were standing in my parents living room looking at their glass coffee table, the current centerpiece of their room. My mother had just announced that my brother was going to take it. I said, “Are you sure you don’t have room for it?” My father, who is really good at visualizing things, said “Our new living room is as big as the rug in this room. So if you move the furniture on to the rug you can see what we have room for.”
In ten days they will be in their new apartment and my father is working out the new floor plan in Google’s free SketchUp 3D drawing program. He has been able to find many of the pieces of furniture that they own in the Google 3D Library. He just plops the drawings that other users have contributed into his floor plan and sits my mom down in front of he computer while spins rotates the drawings in space.
We stopped by their new place this morning to take some final measurements and afterwards headed down to Nick’s for some lunch. We parked in the little park across from Sea Breeze Amusement Park next to the restored cobblestone smokehouse that was moved here a few years back from its original location near the Ridge Culver Fire Department. My parents new place is small but it is bigger than this smokehouse.
Nick came over and sat down with us. We told him a bit about Spain and how we found a place there that reminded us of his place. We talked about the food there and he said his mom used to make an Italian version of Tortilla Española. He got going on how she’d make homemade pasta on Sundays and “Eggs in Purgatory” where she would drop eggs into simmering sauce and pull them out when they were poached. He was nearly lost back in time when he said, “We thought that would last forever.” I told him the memories do.
I hadn’t checked the beer spot on Hoffman Road since our last thaw. The Budweiser man is still active. I should say I don’t know for a fact that it is a man who has been dumping these cans in the same spot for the last five years. Heck, it might even be the little woman who drives down to the marsh to walk her scruffy white dog. Her mother rides in the back of the car and used to get out but those days are over. Now she sits back there and waves to us through the glass. Like us they are regulars and the only thing we talk about is the weather. All other topics are pointless.
The road is a dead end so sometimes the women just stop their car right in the middle of the road. There is so little traffic down here that each car you see is either one of the few homeowners or a Budweiser suspect. I’ll bring a bag with me next time and clean up after the guy. I don’t really mind. I bring the cans to Michigan where I collect ten cents for each 22 ouncer.
I may have done this same post this last year. I’m afraid to look. I do know the Church of the Transfiguration had the same plywood nativity scene on display and I can’t imagine me not wanting to to photograph it. I would like to believe this spot on Culver Road is the exact spot where the young baby Jesus was born.
The oversize ballot, maybe 16 by 9 inches, that we filled out yesterday at the special election at Christ the King School was absurd. When I say “filled out” I mean we used a Sharpie to fill in one circle that was no more than an inch in diameter. And to do so we had to wait in a long line, but I’m not complaining. At issue was whether the Town of Irondequoit should consolidate the two libraries by building a new bigger library next to the Town Hall on property that the town already owns.
The thing that makes this absurd is that the town already approved the plan in a special election held last year. They failed to properly complete an environmental impact study and the no tax/no services crowd seized the opportunity to force another election. I’m quite certain this kind of drama plays out in various ways all across the country. I just want a better fine arts section.
Only the committed ventured out on such a snowy day and getting so close to West Irondequoit gave us the opportunity to stop into Atlas Eats on the very northern end of Clinton Avenue. Their bowls of Kimchee Fried Rice with Tofu and cilantro are out of this world, that is off any map you’ll find on the walls of the restaurant.
It was cold today as we walked by the marsh down on Hoffman Road, a magical spot spoiled only by the albatross of a house on top of the steep hill overlooking the wetlands. Is it ok for me to wish that someone would torch it? It was another neighbor who said, “I wish someone would torch it.” I won’t mention her name, I’m just seconding the motion.
No one lives there, the previous owner, who also owns at least ten houses in the city, and we only know this because we saw his name listed in the paper among those who owed back taxes on their property, walked away from it for some reason. The town should never have let him build there since he violated every set-back/steep-slope regulation on their books but that was another administration, Schantz, and they were probably desperate to get more property on their tax rolls.
The guy who had this house built couldn’t even engineer a driveway that would allow him to drive up to his garage. They would be able to pull a feat like this off in Bel Air where swimming pools with glass walls hang out over cliffs and money is no obstacle but this guy went to court with his neighbor when he tried to snag a bit of his neighbor’s property in order to negotiate a switchback driveway up to his house. Needless to say, he lost and now we’re stuck looking at an ugly-ass, abandoned house. The siding is falling off and the trim around the garage door is rotted. You could put your fist through the wood. I try not to look at it.
Heavy rains in the Spring and Fall wash over the house and race down the hillside so erosion may someday allow the marsh to swallow up the house.
The deer are out of control around here but there is one less because my brother hit one a few nights ago. He did a few thousand dollars worth of damage to his vehicle. The ten point buck in the photo above comes by our place every day. When he’s not chasing women he likes to rub his antlers on our trees. The trees can’t live without their bark.
I wish I could walk around with my neighbor’s yellow, six foot level. We’ve borrowed it for a few long term projects and I really hated giving that thing up. Does this bench look level to you? The road here goes downhill and the trees aren’t exactly perpendicular to the world. Regardless, I like the look of it. It could almost be a Noguchi.
The park really empties out in September. You could grab any shelter you like on Log Cabin Road without reserving it. We used to do exactly that we had our company picnics in one of pavilions here. Puts me in the mood for something char-broiled. How about a Portobello mushroom?
Main and Clinton used to be the unofficial four corners of downtown Rochester. Now it is more like an ongoing construction site. The Rochester Club used to be downtown and we did a logo for them when they changed the name to “Gerry’s.” If you take Clinton Avenue north from downtown you’ll go through some pretty funky areas but you will eventually cross the 104 moat and Ridge Road where the Avenida Clinton turns into a sleepy old neighborhood. You’ll cross the northern boundary of the city limits and break into Irondequoit where Clinton Avenue ends just short of Titus. On your left in a beautiful old brick building with leaded glass and tin ceilings you’ll find Atlas Eats, Gerry and Diane’s new place.
They keep it pretty simple. Old maps and clocks showing times around the world draw you in. Dinners are one price, a fixed menu, served at two settings, 6 and 8pm but menu changes every few weeks to a different locale. Last night was “New England” and the lobster bisque was killer. We had to walk all the way to the lake today to get right.
Wisner Road used to lead right in to the park. It still does if you are on foot but it used to lead right into Zoo Road back when there was a zoo in Durand Eastman. Two zoos for one city seems rather extravagant but that was then. Some how the residents were able to convince the town to turn their road into a dead end back in the seventies and I’m glad they did. It took all of the through traffic off the park roads. Most of the traffic on Wisner now is people driving their dogs to the park entrance where they let take a dump on park property.
We were heading back from the park the other day and were just in time to catch an open house on Wisner. The house is made for Mad Men parties with a big sunken living room, big picture widows and a wall of blue stone fireplace. There were a few scented candles burning in the house. I like candles but hate the scented ones and it makes me suspicious as to what scent they are masking. I thought this little shrine in the hallway was pretty cool.
Margaret Explosion “When Saints Were Saints” from last Wednesday at the Little Theater Café.