Eggplant Is Overrated

Willows along Lake Road in Webster
Willows along Lake Road in Webster. Peggi can be seen along the road to the right.

I enjoyed reading a column in the business section of today’s paper by an old timer who had learned the hard way that you don’t sell your stocks when the market goes down. After four recessions he determined that rather than trying to buy when the market turns around he should be buying each time the market goes down ten per cent from the high. Then again at 20% and 30%. I liked how he wondered aloud if this time might be different before he pulled the plug. “Nothing relieves anxiety more than taking action.”

“Eggplant is overrated. ” This was all we caught of a woman’s cell phone conversation as we passed her on way down to the Sea Breeze. It was seventy degrees and we wanted to walk into Webster one more time before they swing the bridge open on April 1. We were surprised to see people heading in to Don’s Original. One person after the other pushing the door open. I’m surprised we haven’t seen more discussion about getting this quarantine over with. We’ve been out of circulation (other than walks) for over two weeks and some people haven’t even started. Cuomo says our apex is still three weeks away.

A shiny red pickup cut right in front of us as we walked by the boat launch. The guy, wearing his baseball cap backwards, had his window down so I said “Geez. Go right ahead.” His jacked up truck was just a few feet away. He said, “Thanks” and revved the engine. I looked back and saw his “Proud Veteran” bumper sticker.

Heading back in to our neighborhood we saw a young father guiding his daughter along on a small pink bicycle. We said hi and she looked up with a big smile and said “First day without training wheels!”

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Hunker News

Cutting Peggi's wrist cast off in March 2020
Cutting Peggi’s wrist cast off in March 2020

I watched some crazy YouTube videos before trying to cut Peggi’s cast off her wrist. She didn’t really want to go to the doctor’s office and risk getting exposed. Cuomo says we won’t reach our apex in New York for three more weeks and we are just coming to the end of a 14 day near isolation streak. We had four people over for dinner on Friday two weeks ago and we toasted to this thing before hunkering down.

This one guy took his son’s cast off while they were camping somewhere in a trailer. He was wearing a Superman t-shirt and it looked like his sone was terrified of him. The video had thousands of views but he had turned comments off and was selling real estate ads in the about section. Doctors would use a Dremel and vibrate a score line down both sides. I borrowed this Makita oscillator from my neighbor and tried to score the cast with it but the wire cutters did the job.

A few weeks back I replaced the florescent lights in our garage with led bulbs and it made the perfect operating room.

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It’s Only A Song

Personal Effects’ version of Skeeter Davis classic, “End of the World.”

Our neighbor works from home, like we did for so many years, but he says his workload has been cut in half. That’s better than so many others who have been laid off. But the toilet paper factory is hiring.

If you are a glass half full kinda guy there are so many other bright spots to this virus. There is much less pollution in the world. Google and Facebook are selling more ads than ever. Amazon and Instacart are hiring. Paid sick leave should finally be a no-brainer. And child care. Think of the minimum wage health care workers who are scrambling now to find someone to watch their kids while they are out of school. Virtual offices are buzzing. Education should have already moved online. And how about some good old infrastructure. Get out there and fix the potholes while no one is on the roads. I know it is all yin and yang but I’m looking for a positive bump as we navigate these circumstances.

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Ted Talk

Ted and Janet Williams at the Bug Jar in 2002
Ted and Janet Williams at the Bug Jar in 2002

It wasn’t even two years ago when we learned of Janet Williams‘ passing. And now, Ted Williams, who I didn’t know was even sick. I posted the same picture then, one I took at a Margaret Explosion gig in the Bug Jar.

We first met Ted in 1988. His parents were members of Oak Hill Country Club and friends with Jeanne Westerfeld, another member who we were doing a lot of commercial art work for. Ted’s parents were trying to find a job for Ted and they told him he should meet us.

He came up to our attic office at 55 Hall Street and introduced himself as a poet. We made it clear we were lucky to have work ourselves but we hit it off. We were deep into shooting products for the 1989 US Open merchandise brochure and we had them all spread out in the attic. Ted told us he had an idea for a product that would sit inside a golf hole and and make a noise if a ball landed in it, something you could hear from a long distance, in case you got a hole-in-one for example. He probably left us a copy of his book and we probably bummed a Winston off him before he left

The next significant meeting was in our dining room where we hatched plans for an alternative broadsheet, something we decided to call the Refrigerator. Martin Edic, Peggi Fournier, Robert Meyerowitz and Chuck Cuminale were all involved but we decided to publish anonymously, something Ted was never on board with. He was a real writer. We were not. He left after issue 14 and started the Freezer.

Peggi and I played music with Ted as members of his Stage Poetry Group, later renamed the Media Assassins. We’d hang out in Ted’s attic until morning, talking or looking at his slides. He was a poetic photographer. I will miss him.

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No Boiling Of The Beef

Picnic table along Lake Road in Webster, New York
Picnic table along Lake Road in Webster, New York

They will be closing the swing bridge in another two weeks so time is running short if you want walk into Webster. In the past we’d meet friends for lunch on St. Patty’s, at Shamrock Jack’s for many years but then they got so busy they started charging admission. We moved on to the Bayside and tried to get there before noon to grab a table overlooking the bay. It’s not an Irish joint but their food is better and every place has a good beer selection these days.

Today it was just Peggi and me. We made peanut butter sandwiches and we put those and two cans of beer into my backpack. We walked through the park, down Culver to the lake and across the bridge into Webster where we found a picnic table between the lake and the bay.

There are more people than ever out in the park. We ran into Bri from the Little and Brenda from Atlas Eats. But it was so sad to see all the Sea Breeze hot spots closed or doing take out only. Shamrock Jack’s had a tent out front strewn with Guinness banners but the park lot was completely empty.

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Developing My Craft

Shipping container along lake shore. Sea Breeze, New York
Shipping container along lake shore. Sea Breeze, New York

The photo above, taken this afternoon as we walked along the lake, goes well with Todd Beer’s painting from yesterday’s post. These days I spend quite a bit of time thinking about painting. I’ve been getting my digital house in order, scanning old photographs, tucking things away on PopWars and keeping the Margaret Explosion site up to date. And I’ve become addicted to walking. I’m wearing out my third pair of Merrill hiking shoes since we walked the Camino. Those activities, along with reading the paper, can fill up a day. I’m hanging on to the idea that you can become a better painter just by thinking about it.

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Mold Makers

Paul with Leo in 1950. Peggi with John 1950.
Paul with Leo in 1950. Peggi with John 1950.

I’ve been scanning photos I want to hang on to knowing someday I’ll want to downsize further. Old photos take up very little space in the cloud and they are so much easier to find.

I’m guessing my mom took the photo on the left and Peggi’s mom probably took the one on the right. Both of us in our father’s arms, both photos taken the same summer twenty two years before we met.

Peggi’s father’s birthday was on March 3rd and my father’s is today, the 5th. They both had a huge impact of our lives. We continue to be influenced the experience.

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Mes Que Un Club

Winter Aconite just poking out of the ground on February 23, 2020
Winter Aconite just poking out of the ground on February 23, 2020

That’s Catalan for “More than a club.” And indeed FC Barcelona is more than a futbol club. It is Lionel Messi! We watched him score four goals against Eibar this weekend. And then watched Real Madrid lose to Levante 0-1.

We love both these teams and will be hard pressed to root for one over the other in the upcoming “El Clasico.. “Because Barcelona just regained the top position in La Liga, dethroning Madrid, we will probably start out cheering loudest for Los Blancos, the underdogs. Since Renaldo left they are only a club.

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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 real Rochester winter night. A fair amount of fresh snow and cold enough to not be sloppy. Peggi and I both have pieces in a show at Studio 402 in Anderson Arts Building but we saved 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 of those here. These were large, gorgeous, 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 was 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 we 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 a day when the sidewalks were clear again to walk to the 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 to Starbucks and once there we pushed it, continuing on 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 that 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 of the ball field that used to sit at 12 Corners so my father envisioned it (above). My father’s uncle, Paul Dodd, played baseball there 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 the brother in Jamaica had no brother because the lawyer In. New York 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 down, power, cable and phone 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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