Paving Paradise

Abby Wambach scores 2 goals on Sunday for WNY Flash
Abby Wambach scores 2 goals on Sunday for WNY Flash

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.

Abby scored two goals this afternoon.

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Matter Of Fact I Do Own The Road

Driving north on Hudson Avenue in Rochester. New York
Driving north on Hudson Avenue in Rochester. New York

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.

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Missing Teddy

Missing dog Teddy reward sign
Missing dog Teddy reward sign

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.

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Living Large In 3D

Leo Dodd walks around Cobblestone smokehouse in Irondequoit
Leo Dodd walks around Cobblestone smokehouse in Irondequoit

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.

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Pointless Topics

Budweiser beer cans in Winter
Budweiser beer cans in Winter

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.

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Why Not?

Nativity scene at Transfiguration Church on Culver Road
Nativity scene at Transfiguration Church on Culver Road

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.

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Off The Map

Little angels at Christ The King school in Rochester, New York
Little angels at Christ The King school in Rochester, New York

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.

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Fool On The Hill

Marsh off Hoffman Road in Rochester, New York
Marsh off Hoffman Road in Rochester, New York

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.

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Mating Season

Ten point buck out back
Ten point buck out back

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.

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Poor Man’s Noguchi

Stone bench on Log Cabin Road in Durand Eastman Park
Stone bench on Log Cabin Road in Durand Eastman Park

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?

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12:20 In Bilbao

Atlas Eats restaurant on Clinton Avenue North in Rochester, New York
Atlas Eats restaurant on Clinton Avenue North in Rochester, New York

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.

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Patron Saint Of Realtors

Realtor shrine in houe on Wisner Road in Rochester, New York
Realtor shrine in houe on Wisner Road in Rochester, New York

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.

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King Of Beer

New 24 ounce Budweiser cans on Hoffman Road in Rochester, New York
New 24 ounce Budweiser cans on Hoffman Road in Rochester, New York

The phantom Budweiser guy is back with a whole new look, the newly designed 24 ounce Budweiser cans. He dumped three of them in the his favorite, exact same spot in the last few days. I don’t really care for the new look. If they had asked me I would have suggested something clean with lots of white space or maybe red space and a bold retro looking crown icon. Certainly not the hideous bow tie if they they’re going after young kids.

I also came back with a golf ball that I found when we crossed the course. It must be left over from last year because they haven’t opened the course yet. A groundsman told us “maybe tomorrow.”

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Submarine Races

No paid parking graffitti in public park! Durand Eastman
No paid parking graffitti in public park! Durand Eastman

I agree with the sentiment expressed in this graffiti. Governor PaTacky got the ball rolling when he jacked up the State Park entry fees, boat launching fees, fees for each dock you go through on the canal etc. “Pay as you go” rather than having our taxes cover it for everyone. Rochester’s mayor started charging for parking at the lake so if you want to take the view in down there or just watch the submarine races you have to feed the meter. It’s public land and it should be free to visit but don’t go desecrating the park to voice your opinion. Get creative.

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Woods, Burp, Outdoors, Burp

Trimble Lake in Durand Eastman Park in Rochester, New York
Trimble Lake in Durand Eastman Park in Rochester, New York

It was seventeen degrees when we took our walk this morning, a brief taste of winter before it heads to sixty on Wednesday. We walked the same loop as yesterday so we could check up on a recent batch of beer cans. We had found these in the usual spot so we tried a new approach to this ongoing situation. I tossed the cans back out on the road and left them there instead of bringing them home to recycle. When we returned today all the cans were gone but the Budweiser guy had thrown a new one down in the ditch.

How many 24 ounce cans can one guy drink?

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Bootleg Bench

Bench in Durand Eastman Park at the top of the luge hill.
Bench in Durand Eastman Park at the top of the luge hill.

I not sure but I think this is a bootleg bench chained to a tree at the top of the luge hill in Durand Eastman Park. Not as brazen an act as Anthony Pilato driving a bulldozer through the undeveloped part of the park so he could ride his horses up there but still pretty bold. The bench doesn’t look like any of the others in the park. It’s the kind you could buy at Home Depot and it’s in the same spot as the makeshift bench that was placed here when the luge fans were out last year (and then hidden behind a tree when they went home).

There is a metal plaque nailed to the bench that reads, “In Loving Memory of Elizabeth Salathiel 1921-2009 From The USA Luge Team.” I looked her up. She’s for real or was for 87 years. This is the same hill where we used to see the man child, nick-named “Mayor of Durand.” He’d sit at the top and drink Genny’s from the can between occasional sled runs. Haven’t seen him in a few years but there is quite a crew here when the weather is right and plenty of regulars who we say hi to as we ski by. I’ve seen some of them videoing their ride and I found this clip online.

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Civil War

Murph's on Titus Avenue in Rochester, New York
Murph’s on Titus Avenue in Rochester, New York

East and West Irondequoit have separate school systems, separate libraries (for now) and separate Wegmans. Kings Highway, the Goodman Street extension, serves as a moat or wall between the two. They share a town hall and lake frontage but there is not much lateral movement between the two. Neither of us can go any further north unless by boat so most of the movement is toward the city and back.

We did some gallery sitting in the I-Square gallery yesterday and it got me thinking about the divide. Mike Nolan, the entrepreneur responsible for developing the future “four corners” of Irondequoit, now called I-Square, lives on the dividing line and is donating this empty storefront gallery space to the community. Most of the funky little shops in this old strip mall will have new homes in his revision although the consignment shop where we took many of Peggi’s mom’s furniture pieces has moved around the corner.

Mike stopped in the gallery before he headed down to Murph’s for a meeting and Peggi noted we had never been to Murph’s. We asked his co-worker if the food was any good. She hesitated and said, “They have good wings and I hear their fish fry is pretty good.” That wetted our appitite so we walked down there when our stint was up. I expected to see Armand at the bar with the locals but he wasn’t there. Everyone seems to know one another in here and it’s strangely comfortable but the fish fry was nasty, three quarters of it deep fried batter, at least, and it was hard to separate the fish from the batter like we usually do. There was a sign above us advertising “25 Wings and a Pitcher of LaBatt’s Blue” for twenty dollars. And classic rock and tv monitors tuned to some sort of lottery in the middle of the afternoon is depressing.

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Not On The Wagon

22 ounce Budweiser cans on Hoffman Road in Rochester, New York
22 ounce Budweiser cans on Hoffman Road in Rochester, New York

We thought this guy moved away or went on the wagon or died maybe but he’s still around. At least he has slacked off a bit. These are the first cans we’ve found in months. Same guy for sure because the 22 ounce Budweiser cans were in the exact same spot. They look kind of Christmasy.

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Bridge It

Picnic table in park along Lake Road near Sea Breeze in Webster, New York
Picnic table in park along Lake Road near Sea Breeze in Webster, New York

Three days in a row with temperatures in the sixties. We headed down to the lake and crossed the seasonal swing bridge that connects Culver Road to Lake Road in Webster. This tiny strip of land between Irondequoit Bay and the lake used to have houses on both sides of the road but quite a few on the north side were washed away years ago before they got he lake levels under control. The Army Corp shored it up with a pile of rocks and the town of Webster turned it into a nice little park. Next time we come down here we’ll bring some sandwiches.

A permanent bridge was planned for this spot but the money for the project was diverted to San Francisco after their earthquake and we’re stuck with this winter only solution. If anybody asks I’m all for keeping the bridge open all year. And while we’re at it let’s keep daylight savings on all year.

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Subterranean Surrogates

Photo of "Subterranean Surrogates" photo installation by Paul Dodd at Rochester Contemporary August 5 through September 25
Photo of “Subterranean Surrogates” photo installation by Paul Dodd at Rochester Contemporary August 5 through September 25

I skipped the Patron’s Preview last night for the “State Of The City” show at Rochester Contemporary. Gallery director, Bleu said they would be serving “the good wine” but I nixed it. Can’t remember exactly what I did instead but we’ve been weeding out junk around the house and I keep getting sidetracked. We’re planning to have a garage sale in September and we have some stuff on Craig’s list. A guy just called because he wants to buy the golf balls. He’s on the way over here with the cash.

My show, a photo installation entitled “Subterranean Surrogates,” is in conjunction with the “State of the City” show and I will probably be at the opening.

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