A Big One

Former Hallman Chevrolet building, now Spot Coffee, on East Avenue in Rochester, New York.
Former Hallman Chevrolet building, now Spot Coffee, on East Avenue in Rochester, New York.

It was a perfect night for gallery openings. A really rochester winter night. A fair amount of fresh snow and cold enough to not be sloppy. Peggi and I bot had pieces in a show at Studio 402 in Anderson Arts Building but we seed that stop for later. We started with Aaron Winters show at the pop-up gallery near the Little. He’s out every night shooting bands and he’s up first thing in the morning shooting birds but he showed neither here. These were large Nat Geo like photos from a safari he took toTanzania.

The RoCo opening, Makers and Mentors, was great. All three artists were no-shows for the opening because of the weather and there plenty of space to study the paintings. A real painting show and something we will return to in the next few weeks.

On the forth floor of the Anderson Arts building we found a something like an open jam going on in Studio 402. The show, “Sight & Sound: Art by Musicians – Music by Artists” was asking for it so I can’t complain. Peggi and I just pictured an event with this name a little differently.

We finished the evening listening to the glorious sounds of Nod at Skylark over on Union Street where toasted to Peggi’s birthday. A big one.

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S.A.D.

One hundred year old tree down in our neighbor's yard.
One hundred year old tree down in our neighbor’s yard.

If you count the rings on this beautiful red oak you get up near a hundred. And if you asked the people who had it taken down why they did it they would probably say they wanted more sun. They could have put the money toward a moving van.

We were looking for the day when the sidewalks were clear again to walk to new Irondequoit Beer Company for lunch. We had their Shakespeare IPA and some roasted Brussels sprouts. The following day we both felt like we needed more coffee so we walked up Starbucks and once there we pushed it and walked over to Home Depot where we picked up masks like the ones they wear in China.

We celebrated 02.02.2020 by not walking anywhere. We met friends for brunch in Sodus. El Rincon was supposed to be open but they weren’t. The bistro in town was closed Sundays so we headed out to the Point and had some calamari and beer. We talked about movies and books and it hardly felt like winter.

Back home I made some guacamole and we headed over to my brother’s house for the Super Bowl. Luckily it was a good one. The hour long game takes four hours to unfold. Quite a contrast with the Real Madrid match we watched the day before where Los Blancos beat their cross-town rivals, Athletico. Two forty five minute halves separated by a fifteen minute ad break. The non-stop action was no longer than the total.

We were sorry to learn my brother and his lady friend were probably going to pull out of their upcoming trip to Vietnam Nan because of the virus.

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The Year Of The Rat

Leo Dodd watercolor Brighton Baseball Sheehans Field 15"h x 22"w
Leo Dodd watercolor Brighton Baseball Sheehans Field 15″h x 22″w

My father would so proud to know that Historic Brighton, a group he was one of the founding members of, has an annual award they present in his name, the “Leo Dodd Heritage Preservation Award.” This year it went to Mary Jo Lanphear, the Brighton historian and someone my father thought very highly of. When she was appointed town historian she went back to school to earn her masters in history. My father was a history buff. No degree the subject. When a photo didn’t exist he illustrated the source. There are no photos the ball field that used to is at 12 Corners. My father’s uncle, Paul Dodd, played baseball here for money.

We celebrated the Asian New Year last night at the home of my brother’s Vietnamese lady friend. One her son’s friends gave us this riddle. “A lawyer in New York has a brother in Jamaica but the brother in Jamaica doesn’t have a brother in New York. how can this be?” The women sitting around him were all stumped. I was too. Of course, Of course the brother in Jamaica had no brother because the lawyer is a woman.

Last year I was lucky. My red envelope had a 2 dollar bill in it. I was not so lucky at the start of the year of the rat. My envelope had a five dollar bill in it.

We recorded the Grammys and came home expecting to cut to the good stuff but our recording quit about an hour in. The show was still on so we switched to live tv and found we were not getting the station through our cable. All the other stations worked. How does something like that happen? We were happy to see Billie Eilish clean up. A breath of fresh air! And recorded in a home studio with her brother.

Turned out the cable outage was just a warning shot. We were out walking this afternoon when a tree, a tree on our property, came down out back. It took all three wires, power, cable and phone down and it stopped traffic in both directions for hours. I took my saw down there and we grabbed some firewood.

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Drinking And Driving

Mulched leaves in the back yard
Mulched leaves in the back yard

Just imagine if you were on the cross country ski team this year. Our dental hygentist was telling me her kids meets have been canceled. It was perfect weather for a walk up to Wegmans.

Without the snow covering you notice all sorts of debris along the sidewalks and roadways. I collected discarded drugs bags for a while. I have a project in mind for them. It keeps getting better in my mind. Maybe it will stay there.

Lately we’re noticing more and more little plastic airline-sized bottles of liquor. Not just Fireball whiskey but maple whiskey, vodka and gin. I guess you could paint them and line ’em up.

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Contemporary Eyes

Abandoned house on Saint Paul Boulevard in Rochester, New York
Abandoned house on Saint Paul Boulevard in Rochester, New York

“Swatted a fly the other day and thought, Outlived you.”

Like my brother, Mark, I would start reading the New Yorker at the back, in the Critics section, with Peter Schjeldahl’s column on contemporary art. So the news that he was unable to continue writing is devastating. In his exquisite parting essay, “77 Sunset Me,” he says, “Oddly, or not, I find myself thinking about death less than I used to.” I was happy to read that line.

And this: “I like to say that contemporary art consists of all art works, five thousand years or five minutes old, that physically exist in the present. We look at them with contemporary eyes, the only kinds of eyes that there ever are.”

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Under My Radar

Guy with Suicide Shirt in line at Wegman's Pharmacy
Guy with Suicide Silence shirt in line at Wegman’s Pharmacy.

I stood behind this guy at Wegman’s while waiting for my Shingles vaccine. That’s Peggi, off to the right, up at the counter with her backpack on. We were doing a shop on foot. I made a note to look up Suicide Silence when I got home and I found this. Some 87,000,000 people beat me to it. I watched it with the sound off and still heard it.

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I’ll Take It

Christmas tree at Eastview Mall
Christmas tree at Eastview Mall

It was like Christmas in LA when we would stay with Peggi’s sister or Christmas in Savannah where Peggi’s parents retired to when they left Detroit. Rochester has had temperatures near 50 degrees and blue skies. It just ain’t right. But I’ll take it.

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Hearty Greens

Fresh Kale from the garden in Refrigerator Hat
Fresh Kale from the garden in Refrigerator Hat

We skied from our front door through the woods into the park and around the golf course almost to the lake before turning around. Of course we stopped often, just to marvel at a tree that was hanging on to its color or a sign of life. Unless you have lived in this climate for say your whole life you don’t appreciate how dramatic the winter palette can be.

On our way back we stopped in the garden to find our kale still kicking. We didn’t have a bag so I filled my hat.

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We Need A Movida

Antonio Saura, Carlos Saura, their father and sisters
Antonio Saura, Carlos Saura, their father and sisters

Spain’s transition from the darkness of the Franco era to democracy started well before the death of ‘El Caudillo’ in 1975. This we learned on our last visit to Madrid. We saw the “Poéticas de la Democracia” show at the Reina Sofia and then talked at length to Margarita at Antonio Machón Gallery where she was having a show of Saura’s work, an artist from that time that she represents and who was also featured in the Reina Sofia show. She emphasized how the underground was coming out before the dictator collapsed. And there is no doubt that the suppression under Franco fueled the movement.

Spain’s Transition led to La Movida in the early eighties, specifically La Movida Madrileña where people coined the now famous war-cries of the city: “Madrid nunca duerme” (“Madrid never sleeps”), “Esta noche todo el mundo a la calle” (“Tonight everybody to the street”) or “Madrid me mata” (“Madrid kills me”).

The US is overdue for a correction, a transition or a movida.

Here’s a song recorded at the Little Café a few weeks back..

"La Movida" by Margaret Explosion. Recorded live at the Little Theatre Café on 09.04.19. Peggi Fournier - sax, Ken Frank - bass, Phil Marshall - guitar, Paul Dodd - drums.
“La Movida” by Margaret Explosion. Recorded live at the Little Theatre Café on 09.04.19. Peggi Fournier – sax, Ken Frank – bass, Phil Marshall – guitar, Paul Dodd – drums.
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Carousal Of Time

Checkered garage door along Portugal Coast
Checkered garage door along Portugal Coast

We are still working our way through the photos we brought back from our Iberian Peninsula trip. Walking through so many towns, taking in streets you have never been down, affords an abundance of opportunities for seeing. And then, with some composition, preparing to take the image home so we can savor the experience a little longer.

With temperatures expected to fall below freezing tonight and white stuff falling from the sky but not sticking we tore up our garden. We brought back the rest of our lettuce, peppers and a few pale tomatoes and we pulled the plants up by the roots. The seasons crashing into one another. “We’re captive on a carousal of time.”

After at least five years on the market there is a “Sold” sign on the front of the Playground Tavern. And a small hand written sign on the side door that reads, “Closed for Remodeling.” They have taken the sign down so I’m guessing the new owners are going to change the name. The bar sits on the corner of Webster and Bay across the street from the grade school and it’s ball field. They are never going to find a better name than the “Playground Tavern.”. 

Playground Tavern BY MARGARET EXPLOSION
Video for “Playground Tavern,” a song from Margaret Explosion CD “Skyhigh.”
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Purgatory

Relief image of Purgatory in Capela da Peregrina, Pontevedra Spain
Relief image of Purgatory in Capela da Peregrina, Pontevedra Spain

The first thing Peggi did when the alarm went off was check the weather. She was excited to see that it wasn’t going to rain after all but it was going to be about ten degrees cooler than the day before. And then she realized she was looking at Rochester’s weather. 

We headed out of Pontevedra, crossing the river and thinking we were following the Camino along a tributary. We saw some official markers counting down the kilometers to Santiago and after about an hour only one sign marking the Camino as “Spiritual Variant.” That sort of puzzled us but we soldiered on. We climbed a hill that led to a church where the bell was ringing. We couldn’t find any way to get in so we stopped at the Casa Rural across the street and had a cup of coffee. The proprietor told us the bells were ringing for someone in the town who had just died.

While we were in there it started pouring rain and we prepared ourselves to head out into it but first we looked at the map and discovered we were way off the Camino. We were in fact on an additional route, one that adds a day to the journey to Santiago, one called the Spiritual Variant. 

A long discussion ensued as to how we could get back on the real Camino without just, god forbid, going back the way we came. With the proprietor’s help we identified the town of San Caetano as being both up ahead and on the Camino. We mapped a walking route on Google which was just amazing. We wound our way through tiny villages, farm fields and vineyards on the smallest of dirt paths turning left or right when Google spoke and we found the Camino. What was billed as an easy day became eighteen miles but it was nothing short of beautiful the whole day. 

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Life Is A Beach

Two people  with cooler at Durand Eastman Beach
Two people with cooler at Durand Eastman Beach

The park was especially quiet today. Odd for Labor Day weekend but then the forecast was for rain later in the day. Only one of the picnic pavilions was occupied. 

We headed for the beach and found a holiday’s worth of vehicles parked along the lake. A woman’s arm was hanging out of the first car window. She had a long cigarette between her fingers and the second hand smoke was nice. I noticed quite a few people just sitting in their car looking out at the lake. A young guy in a t-shirt was starting a fire in one of the metal barbecues. He was using Briquettes, lighter fluid and one of those long, slim, gun-like lighters. His girlfriend was taking hits off a vaping device. A guy with beard got out of a car with Maryland plates, dropped his skateboard on the path, and took off with perfectly silent bearings.

We watched some kids playing in the water while their young mothers were eating sandwiches on the beach. There was more sand than we had seen all summer so we tried walking down the beach and we made it all the way to where the big private homes of Rochester’s Gold Coast start.

We passed a goth couple sitting at a picnic table. The woman had bright red hair and she was wearing a long black skirt. A group of Indians or Pakistanis were shaking sand out of their clothes. A guy who looked like a classic hippie was sitting on one of those tree trunks of driftwood. He was all alone, long hair and beard, shorts and no shirt. We passed a large woman in a bathing suit sitting alone in one of those really low beach chairs. She looked up from the book she was reading and said hello. A man in a wet suit was in the water, up to his waist with a metal detector and net in his hands. And at end of the public beach this couple sitting on either side of their cooler. He was drinking Genny from the can and she was sipping wine.

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Minor League Wonder Of The World

Chimney Bluffs, near Sodus Point 2019
Chimney Bluffs, near Sodus Point 2019

Chimney Bluffs, just beyond Sodus Point, is a one of the minor league wonders of the world. We hadn’t been here since a Personal Effects photo shoot back in the eighties. We met friends yesterday for a picnic and we walked the trail along the ridge where I took this photo.

I don’t now if my mother even subscribed to House & Garden. We certainly don’t subscribe but we’ve been getting it for the last couple of years. We had my parents mail redirected to our house at the end and we’ve been getting it ever since. The cover story promises to help you “Find Your Creative Spark.”

Our garden, for the past six or seven years, has been down at our neighbors’. They converted their old tennis court into a garden and it comes with a fence to keep the deer out. They get a lot more sun than we do too. The new born fawns found a way in through the gate so Jared spent the afternoon rebuilding it.

We came back with a bounty of lettuce, kale,  jalapeños, basil, tomatoes and cilantro. Tonight we watch “The Discreet Charm of the Bourgeoisie.”

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One Big Loop

Small statue of VirginIn Mary at base of tree in Irondequoit Cemetery
Small statue of VirginIn Mary at base of tree in Irondequoit Cemetery

I updated the PopWars architecture months ago. My default template wasn’t mobile compliant and I was in the habit of posting small cropped versions of my photos, ones that would link to a larger version. After the update, my old posts looked awkward so I began chipping my way through them, going backwards in time, inserting the full sized photo into each post. I was determined to get through August 2009, ten years, and I made it last night. I read the entry from the last day of July 2009 and was struck by how familiar it seemed.

PopWars entry from last day of July, 2009

The gauzy reminiscing, the Catholic baggage, another opportunity to mention Buñuel. It is all there. Peggi just finished “My Last Sigh,” the autobiography of Luis Buñuel. She read parts aloud and we dove into another Buñuel movie binge. Just watched Exterminating Angel” and “Discreet Charm of the Bourgeoisie” should be in our mailbox later today. Duane read the book as well and told us, “Buñuel may be a better writer than he is director.” “I’m still an atheist. Thank God.”

I’m realizing my life is like one big loop.

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Handle With Care

Hi-Tech's lyrics "Handle With Care" by Paul Dodd
Hi-Tech’s lyrics “Handle With Care” from 1980 by Paul Dodd

Peggi and I brought a beer down to the pool and put the umbrella up. I was reading my Chillida book and Peggi was reading “The Collector” by John Fowles. Time slipped away and the pool was entirely in shade. We swam and and were drying off when our neighbors came in with their two grandkids. The little girl asked if I wanted to see her do a cannonball and I said I did. She is so tiny it wasn’t much of a splash. I told her, “Us skinny people have to can openers to get good splash.” I toyed with demonstrating one for her but wasn’t sure I could still do one.

Her grandfather had just come back from chemo treatment. He had a small portion of his colon removed and they found some cancer in his lymph nodes. He was wearing a bag that distributes the chemo though a port that he had put in his chest a few weeks back. He is scheduled for twelve treatments, one every other week and he already has two down.

He goes to an office and they give him a few drugs through the port. Something to jack up the red cell production and anti-nausea drugs and there may be a steroid involved. I did not follow it all and Peggi was talking to his wife at the same time so I missed some of the details. None of it sounded good but he was in good spirits. He spends a little over two hours at the place and then comes home with the bag which continues to distribute the poison for two more days. As he talked I thought I could smell the stuff. When it is empty a visiting nurse comes out to pick up the bag. I was trying to imagine sleeping with the thing on. I’m back and forth from stomach to back all night long. He said if you knock it on the floor and the tube comes out you have to call them immediately because the chemical is too toxic to clean up yourself.

I turned to Peggi and she said, “Sue (his wife) has Lyme disease. She checks herself regularly and never saw a tick, just a red rash on her knee which spread. Her doctor looked at it and sent her home. At a friend’s house she started losing feeling in the right side of her face and then found that the rash had spread. She went to a dermatologist and he started her on antibiotics right away saying you don’t want to mess around with Lyme.. He did a Lyme biopsy and it came back positive.

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Nut Case

Julianna Furlong Williams Untitled Painting at Monroe Community College
Julianna Furlong Williams Untitled Painting at Monroe Community College

This luscious painting, by Julianna Furlong Williams, presented itself to us as we stepped off the elevator at MCC. We met with our financial advisor there while stocks were having their worst day of 2019 because of Trump’s escalating trade war. Our advisor teaches Economics here and he told us “If that nut case was in my Economics 101 class I would fail him.”

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Let’s Go To The Zoo

Zebra at the Seneca Park Zoo2019
Zebra at the Seneca Park Zoo2019

The road at the end of our street didn’t always dead-end at the berm. It used to continue right into the park where it became Zoo Road. The road is still there but the zoo is gone. They had fifty or so buffalo, elk, goats and deer who all roamed together in a big, fenced-in big valley, just south of where the Park’s service area is now. It closed in the early sixties but the deer are still here.

We get our car serviced at B&B on Saint Paul and usually walk home while they work on it. This time we walked up to Seneca Park and along the river. They used to have a big outdoor public pool here. My parents would bring the whole family, or what there was of it back then. We’d swim, picnic and visit the zoo. Rochester had two zoos!

We had not been to Seneca Park Zoo since they added the new Savannah section with the giraffes, rhinos, elephants, lion and tigers and these zebras. They tore down the big old brick building, the one that housed the lemurs, and moved them temporarily while they build a new tropical environment for them. Peggi was planning on shooting some lemur footage for her long-in-the-works video for “Love Never Thinks.”
Personal Effects – Love Never Thinks

The zoo seemed plenty busy. I was glad to see that. Mostly young kids and caregivers. The kids were really taken by the shaved rear ends of the baboons. They pointed to the piles of poop and got really excited when one of the baboons relieved himself. One of the males, visibly excited, tried mounting a female baoon right in front of where we were standing. A mom, just behind us, said, “Let’s get going kids,”

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Cruz Roja

Light pole, pavement, concrete, spray paint and shadow on Mount Hope Avenue
Light pole, pavement, concrete, spray paint and shadow on Mount Hope Avenue

Donating blood is not exactly painless. There is a mind-numbing series of questions to be filled out on a barely responsive portable tablet. And then there is the interview, blood pressure and pulse readings. They prick the tip of your finger to determine if you have enough iron in your blood. And there is a bit of a wait regardless of your appointment time. But the toughest part is all those eighties songs that you never wanted to hear again. “We Can Dance If We Want To.” Sally, who works fifty hours a week at the Prince Street collection facility, makes all this near painless. 

Pete Monacelli has talked many times about the letters between Thomas Merton and Ad Reinhardt. I had them open on my iPad while I sat in the big chair pumping my fist until the blood bag was full. There is a currently a critical shortage so stop by if you can.

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Open Big

Flooded boat launch at Sea Beezee, New York
Flooded boat launch at Sea Breeze, New York

My regular dentist is shy about telling me to open wider. He is so gentle it seems like he tip-toes into the room. I’ve never had a bad experience there and he has done some grisly work. In high school I went to his father in the very same building. I went out with the receptionist. His father introduced me to Novocain, a god send. 

Our childhood dentist, who worked out of the sixth floor of the Medical Arts building on Alexander, would just say, “Hold on.” And then he would grind away with his low speed drill. He would make a fist and act like it was my tooth. He’d say, “I went in here and it opened up and the cavity went this way.” He would take a break while I was in the chair and smoke a cigarette in the other room.

While I was going to school in Bloomington I went to a dentist on Kirkwood, a jovial older guy. His wife was the receptionist. I had a tooth pulled there. He gave me a sedative with instructions to take it twenty minutes before arriving for my appointment. I was on my bicycle and I barely made it there. I came to while he was struggling to extract my tooth. I remember helping him yank it out.

When I moved back to Rochester I started seeing Rocco Cupolo, a dentist my mom recommended. He remarried and had a second family so he worked a long time. Rocco’s, the Italian restaurant on Monroe Avenue is owned by his son and is named after him.

I had a root canal yesterday from a specialist. He worked furiously and continually asked me to “Open Big.” I was afraid to say anything to him for fear he would break one of those long skinny files off in my tooth. Other than asking his assistant for tools the only other thing he said was “What nice long roots you have.”

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The Eternal Light

Kenny Rogers Yard Sale
Kenny Rogers Yard Sale

Maybe it was the hot sun but this was a particularly strange yard sale. We were only here because we were walking right by it. I can’t figure out what the advantage of using those Perfect Push-Up handles would be. And ten dollars for the John F. Kennedy plate is crazy.

The “Kenny Rogers” photo, in a brown envelope previously used for “Paid Bills” was intriguing. I pulled it all the way out of the envelope. Kenny was photographed at the Rochester Airport wearing short white shorts. It was hard to tell whether the woman proprietor was suggesting you put it on eBay or whether she had researched the photo there and determined it was worth five dollars. The skinny old man figure at the bottom right was missing some fingers. The masking tape called our attention to them. But the missing fingers were taped to the base of the figurine.

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