Jumping in a quarry in Bloomington Indiana – click for full shot
I think it was the summer between my brother Fran’s junior and senior year in high school when my parent’s had had enough. They asked if Peggi and I would take Fran for the summer. We said yes and they drove him out to Bloomington and dropped him off.
He got a part time maintenance job at Peddler’s, the woman’s clothing store that Steve Hoy’s sister ran. I was finishing concrete for a construction company and Peggi was working as a dental assistant. Dave Mahoney was working in the dorms and he lived down the street from us. We all spent a lot of time at the nearby quarries. We didn’t usually wear bathing suits but we did when my parents came back out to pick him up. My father took this shot. You can tell which one of us was more of a rebel rouser by the body language in this shot.
My friend (and neighbor) Rick, is always ready to play. Horseshoes, pool, fishing, those sorts of things. Our 90 year old neighbor Leo, a workaholic, says, “He really knows how to live”. Rick teaches school so summer is party time. He caught some striped bass in Maine, brought them home frozen and invited us over for dinner. Rick is a great cook too except his gas grill ran out of gas before the fish was cooked. He didn’t miss a beat and moved the fish to the oven. It was delicious. Rick had a few glasses of wine at dinner so I challenged him to a game of pool thinking I could whip his ass for a change. We played three games of 8 Ball and Rick won all three.
4D Advertising is surly the only design company still doing sheet music in Rochester, New York. Tony Stortini brought two new songs over this morning for us to do cover illustrations for. The first, is an old world, romantic number for violin and piano is called “Hearts of Gold” and the other, a lively number for piano and horns, is called “Tippy Tap Joe”. That one is dedicated to Tony’s brother Nunzio who loved to dance the Jitterbug. Tony wrote the music and had someone from the Eastman School of Music transcribe it on his computer. Once it was transcribed this guy had his computer play it back like only a machine can and then he burned these two songs to a cd. The sound is something like the carousal at Sea Breeze.
I had a meeting tonight with the committee that is working on our high school reunion. We met at the VFW in Fairport where we will be having the event. Someone from our class is a member here. The place is comfortable and funky. We’ll rock this place.
We started last evening at the Village Gate with extreme entertainment from Watkins and the Rapiers who were playing outdoors on the patio. We had planned to meet Rick and Monica there for a bite to eat but we got there too late for that and they didn’t seem to mind. Rick had already celebrated his last day at work with his fellow employees and then met Monica there. He asked if I could drive his car home so he could keep celebrating.
After their set Peggi and I headed over to the Public Market for Latin Night. They had a great turnout, mostly Puerto Ricans and us. Unless I’m missing something, Puerto Ricans do a lot better job of mixing the races than we do.
Our final stop of the evening was Abilene where a band with a lot of horns and no vocalist was playing on the back deck. Peggi and I both ordered a Scottish style ale in a can called “Old Chub” and talked to a Ron Stackman who had just returned from Stockholm. He told us he had seen Patti Smith perform there and she played the worst clarinet he had ever heard. We headed back to the Village Gate to pick up Ricks car. It is a stick shift Subaru and it was a lot of fun to drive. I followed Peggi home down Culver. It took me about half the trip to find the volume control for the stereo so I could turn it down. Rick likes Americana singer songwriter stuff. I this one lyric stuck with me. She went to school while I hung around. I ain’t never gonna leave my home town”. I was thinking of me and Peggi.
We did a little yard work today, mostly cleaning up after ourselves, and opened the windows so we could hear our stereo in the back yard. It rained for bit so I cme in to work on some web pages. I called Bill Jones for tech support. I’ve been doing this since the day I met him back at Publisher’s Workshop. I will never catch up to Bill.
Party Shuffle in iTunes was cookin’. The eighteen minute “Little House I Used To Live In’ from 1969’s Burnt Weenie Sandwich came up with Sugercane Harris’s violin solo. I remember learning the Art Tripp drum parts with Brad Fox. And then I remembered that someone broke in to the house Dave Mahoney and I lived in while we were out tripping somewhere in Bloomington. When we got back the stereo was gone along with our copy of “Burnt Weenie” which we left on the turntable. Th empty album jacket was still there. And then I put it all together that that was “the little house I used to live in”. This place was tiny. It was the size of single car garage. The bed was in the living room. There was tiny kitchen, just big enough to make peanut butter sandwiches and Progresso Minestrone soup, and a shower.
“American Gangster”, from Netflix, is waiting for us in the living room.
Olga had a big birthday yesterday. We bought her gift at Wegmans, a “W’ magazine and a biker mag. We put them both in one of those fancy little bags. Coincidentally Olga’s significant other had a gig with Bobby Henrie & The Goners at Abilene so the stars were alligned. Dale Mincey from New Math who married Myrna from Human Switchboard was in town from Montclair. It was a beautiful Saturday night so the band played outdoors behind the bar and it was quite a party. The place was rocking or swinging or both. The Goners have been together for something like thirty years and they still sound timeless like a dream. Not too loud, not too soft, sophisticted and rough around the edges, somewhere between rockabilly and swing. They had the dance floor packed for most of the night. They did Chuck Berry’s “Havana Moon”. Olga was beaming.
The pool temperature hit 70 degrees today and the air is supposed to be near 90 this weekend so summer has begun. One of the past presidents of the pool club told Peggi to add chlorine tablets even though the chlorine reading was above normal. He said, “I know it’s counterintuitive”. We are trying to figure this out.
I have been painting a lot in the basement, putting a push on before the last class next week. I’m ready to start spending more time outdoors. We have tomato plants, jalapeño, basil and cilantro plants in the garden. We don’t really have a garden. The deer would get it if we planted anything here. Our neighbor, Leo has an extra lot that he has put an electric fence around and he lets us use space in there.
I brought a painting into class tonight that had some wacky eyes. One was too low but expressive. The pedestrian way I painted the nose and mouth killed the expression in the eyes so the thing needs work. My teacher suggested that I look at Cubism. He said it started with Cezanne and was driven home by Picasso and Matisse. He found a reproduction of Picasso’s “Gertrude Stein” painting that perfectlyly illustrated what he was talking about. I did a little google research and found out Picasso and Stein were both influenced by Cezanne.
I’m getting the picture that I need to be more expressive. The elements of my faces have to carry more form. Thinking about this will be my summer project.
Rick lives across the street and he played a lot of horseshoes while growing up in Troy. They had their own “project rules” like what happens when one ringer tops another and something about a leaner that came into play last night. He’s competitive in a good natured way. He really likes to win and gets kinda bummed when he loses. I can’t even remember what the score is so I just look to to him to say who’s winning. It is usually him but I won last night.
I was making some stir fry tonight (onions, red, yellow and jalapeño peppers in olive oil with tofu and pineapple) and Rick knocked on the front window. He had a red drink in his hand and he was ready to reclaim his crown. I put the dish on low and went out front where our pits are. I was a little uncertain when we moved here whether horse pits in the front were cool but know I know that it is the perfect place for them. Sometimes we get a crowd. I beat Rick in the first game and he asked to play another. I won again.
I wish I was at the Five Spot at 5 Cooper Square in the East Village for Eric Dolphy on July 16th of 1961. I almost feel like I was, I have listened to the music so much. Thank god Rudy Van Gelder was there to record it. The trumpet player, Booker Little, died of uremia a few months after this show and Eric Dolphy died of diabetes complications a few years later. This amazing date is available on two cds even though the night fits easily on one. I know because I’ve made copies for friends. The musicians, Eric Dolphy — bass clarinet, alto saxophone; Booker Little — trumpet; Mal Waldron — piano; Richard Davis — bass; Ed Blackwell — drums; are firing on all cylinders. This music will energize you. It is my favorite painting music.
Margaret Explosion finishes a three month stand at the Little Theatre Cafe tomorrow night. Fred Marshall may sit in on piano if he is not on call. Brian Williams sat in on bass for a tune three weeks in a row and Phil Marshall played guitar last week. Phil’s band, The Horse Lovers, stole the show at the Dylan tribute last weekend. I saw him before he went on and he told me he had never seen me lose my cool like I did when he and Rich Thompson were at the Margo gig. I told him I could barely play with Rich out there. Rich teaches percusion at the Eastman and is one third of Trio East. He is such an amazing drummer, I just feel apart fumbling around on my kit like I do.
As presidents of the pool association on our street, we are responsible for the chemistry. Today the alkalinity was 120 and the the pH was 7.4 and of course there is no chlorine in there yet because we just took the cover off. The water temperature is a cool 59 degrees but on the way up.
Someone tracked me down on the internet and I joined a small group of people who are trying to organize a reunion for our high school class. There is one woman who works at the school who is very organized and we have been meeting at her house. I had been riding out to the meetings with Jeff Munson but he was out of town for the last meeting. There were only three of us at Diane’s house when I got there so we sat around talking about the people we had or had not contacted. Doug Klick, who teaches at our old school showed up with a box of chocolate cookies. I used to play Bop Baseball with Doug when we were kids. He told a funny story about someone who had just seen this guy from our class while he was in town visiting his mother. Apparently his mom caught him smoking pot in her house and she kicked him out so he stayed at a hotel for the rest of his visit.
About a half hour later Colin showed up. He had been at Burke’s since about noon drinking with his son. I had already tracked Laurice Densmore down online because she was on my page but Colin had called to her for about an hour. He seems to just pick names from the whole list, not just his page, and calls them from Burke’s. And somehow he found my page on Dave Mahoney and liked it quite a bit. Maybe they have internet access at Burke’s.
Mike Rifenstein, a lawyer now, called to say he was working late with a client. He showed up about an hour into the meeting. We picked a menu from the options that were provided by Proietti’s and then we discussed the advantages of hiring a dj over just using the XM radio feed from the VFW and we settled on a dj. I thought it would be more fun to be able to request songs. And then we started talking about classmates again until I had to go pick up Peggi at her Dreamweaver class. Colin was parked behind me but he couldn’t find his keys so Diane said it was ok to drive out across her lawn.
Peggi’s mom was checking her mail in her new motorized scooter (I call it her electric chair) and she lost control of the thing. She crashed into a few empty chairs and then hit a wall with her leg. She was taken to emergency where a very nice Asian doctor glued her wound together. The skin was too thin to suture. Peggi was teaching her Dreamweaver class and I was at a meeting so we missed her call, her neighbor’s call and the nurse’s call. This is probably why people have cell phones and I guess it is why we don’t.
We met her at emergency and took her home. Peggi spent the night with her. I woke up to a loud thud from a huge limb that fell across the street. Our neighbors took a tree down and offered me the wood. I dragged it home and spent most of the day with the chainsaw. My ears are ringing. We’re off to see Dreamland Faces.
You know someone is playing the numbers on how long you are likely to live. Our neighbor is ninety and I know someone who is eying his house. We are considering a Met Life annuity and we can’t decide whether it is a better idea for us or the insurance company. My life life expectancy is 78 years but I am determined to prove someone wrong. There so many deer around here and as soon as we get to know some of them, like “dog deer” and the “one eared deer”, they disappear. So I assumed they only lived for three years or so but, wrong.
Rich Stim has created a video called “Animal Life Spans” that provides some surprising statistics. Deer live 10 to 15 years. Elephants do better in the wild than in captivity, just the opposite for guinea pigs. And Daddy Long Legs make it through the winter and live three years. And those carpenter ants in your ceiling live for seven years.
We finished a rush job for a guy who kept making changes after accepting our proposal-acceptance form. We hadn’t even made some of the changes when a new email would come in telling us to ignore the last one and do something else instead. The job went way over budget and the guy wanted to make further changes after he gave us the check so I took it right over to the bank. Our branch is right across from the Wegmans on Hudson so I stopped in there to pick up a New York Times.
As I parked the car, I noticed an old man walking between the cars with his groceries. He looked sort of lost. I snagged the paper and came back out and and the guy was still standing there. He had four bags of groceries at his feet and he was clutching a five dollar bill in his hand. He asked if I was driving and I said, “Yeah”. He told me he lived in Seneca Towers on St. Paul. He had a hard time climbing in our Element and I kidded him about it. He told me his nickname was “Hercules” and he was 94 years old and then he launched into a few stories. He worked for the old Rochester Hotel. I grew up here and have no idea where that was. He started as a bus boy and then became a waiter and then a bartender. “The bar only served men in those days”.
He had a hard time hearing me and told me, “My daughter said, ‘Pop, you need a hearing aid’ and he said, ‘What?’ “. He laughed at his own joke. He met a guy at he hotel who was a hobo and they made plans one summer to hop a train. He told me you hop a train at the beginning of a car so when the momentum swings you back you don’t get flung off. They weren’t even to Syracuse when he got a cinder in his eye. They got off there and a pharmacist flushed it out for him. They wound up in Brookline, Massachusetts and bummed around for a while before he realized that kind of life was not for him.
I pulled up in front of Seneca Towers and he tried to give me that five dollar bill again. I said no and shook his hand. He told me one more story. When he was in grade school, a Lieutenant who had served in the Union Army during the Civil War came to speak to their class. He told the kids he had met Lincoln and had shook his hand. So before he left, he shook hands with all of the kids and told them that they could tell their friends that they had shook hands with someone who had shook hands with someone who had shook hands with Abraham Lincoln.
There is a pool on a vacant lot on our street with a swimming pool that was built in the mid sixties. Tonight we started our first of two years as pool club presidents. We had a meeting on our deck and decided who’s going to do the lawn this year, who’s going call the power company to turn on the juice and when to open the pool (in three weeks!).
As presidents we get to balance the chemistry. Last year’s president let it get away from her twice and the water turned green. We have a little chemistry kit that we will check the water with and we’ll add chlorine cakes as needed. We also get to make a schedule for what week each neighbor is responsible for skimming the pool and running the underwater vacuum.
Our neighbor, Rick, told me that Bob Mahoney reviewed the Pete LaBonne house concert. He did a lot better job than I did.
We raked the yard and planted some grass seed. It feels like we skipped Spring and shot right into summer. It’s near eighty and dry already. We had dinner with Peggi’s mom out at Richardson’s Canal House, an historic, early 1800s’ inn on the Erie Canal. The new owners are an Austrian couple and the food was great. I had an espresso for dessert and Peggi and her mom had a Courvoisier like Busta Rhymes. I had to tell my mother-in-law which way to turn when she got off the elevator to her apartment. Peggi helped her get her PJs on. I felt like we were watching a sneak preview of our later years.
Hoffman Road dead ends down at the park. It gets real low and wetland like at the end. There’s a creek that flows under the road and when it rains real hard it flows over the road. All sorts of stuff floats down the creek and gets stuck trying to get through the big pipe. We found a day plastic day glo sword a few weeks ago and big green ball the other day. We kicked it all the way home.
In the middle of fifth grade my parents moved from the city and I started school at Holy Trinity in Webster. There was immediate pressure to join the group that smoked in the woods on recess. I resisted but made friends with them. Some people teased me and made me the brunt of jokes that I didn’t understand. Mostly it seemed like there was this intense challenge coming from all parties to see where I was coming from and what I was made of. I must have bent over to pick up a penny in the hallway or something because I remember kids kids teasing me with, “Dodd goes down for browns”. I survived and had a good time there.
I told Peggi this story a long time ago and today we found a penny on the ground while we were walking and of course you can guess what Peggi said.
I spent the morning in the basement working on a painting that required a fair amount of attention to detail. The face I was working on emerges from a white background and I was struggling with the edges so it wouldn’t look like a mask. Every move I made felt heavy handed so I’d paint it out and sneak up on it again. Bootsy Collins’ “Can’t Stay Away”, especially the falsetto refrain, was stuck in my head. I find the only way to deal with something like this is to play the song and exorcise it so I came upstairs and cranked it.
4D Advertising did a cd cover for “The King Allstars” on After Hours Records and I’ve had this Polaroid of Bootsy in my desk drawer since whenever that was. Tom Kohn and Marty Duda brought all the King Records guys to Rochester and recorded them in PCI Studios. We did the packaging for the cassette and lp as well in those days.
Peggi and I saw Bootsy in the late seventies at the War Memorial with Parliament and Funkadelic. Anita Ward opened the show with a twenty minute version of “Ring My Bell”. Don’t get started with that song. That’ll stick in your head for a while. We saw George Clinton in the eighties at the Warehouse in Rochester and Bootsy was a special guest. He was sensational and stole the show both times. What’s Bootsy doin’?
Yesterday we skied in the woods with Jeff Munson and Mary Kaye. Today it was 67 degrees so everything was melting. We took a walk on the dry roads and spotted this sign. I now have a backlog of 43 signs to post in the Refrigerator Signs section.
Our neighbor, Leo, is a sprightly 91. His typewriter died a few years back and he became very frustrated that no one would repair it. Everyone told him to get a computer so he finally bought a new Dell with his grandson’s help. He is able to email but he keeps getting confused as to what happens in his email package and what happens in his browser. He got an offer in the mail to subscribe to Consumer Reports but he had to register online. So Peggi and I helped him through that process.
Leo keeps his computer in the basement by his wood stove and he shuts it off after using it. So when we go over to help, we have to sit through his lengthy boot process. His grandson has all kinds of virus software running even though Leo has no files on his computer. Leo worries about viruses and he doesn’t even know what they are.
We turned on the printer to print the confirmation of his transaction with Consumer Reports but the only thing that came out was a letter to an old friend that he wrote a few weeks ago. The print dialog box was backed up with old jobs so we tried to delete them and squeeze our page out but there was one file in the queue that we could not delete. Peggi worked on this for about ten minutes and then the Consumer Reports page timed out so we gave up. Leo told us that last week he got so frustrated he was going to take a pick ax to his computer. He asked, “Who invented this thing?” We laughed. He went to shut down his machine and looked up at us. “That’s another thing. Why do I go to ‘Start’ to shut this thing down?”
Leo was a dentist and he still has a dentistry chair in his basement. And on the wall near his computer he has this painting from 1952 that a patient of his did in exchange for a break on a tooth extraction. Leo told us that the patient painted himself as the dentist holding his tooth. The patient’s name was Frans Schmanke and he based this painting on a Frans Hals painting. Leo said he hung the painting in his office but he had to take it down because his patients didn’t like it.
The first thing I remember about Shawn Irons is him driving some sort of mobile home thing that he had rented for us to do a couple of out of town dates. We were on the New York State Thruway playing some sort game and laughing when he got pulled over. He was doing ninety and didn’t even know it. As the cop approached our vehicle, Shawn turned toward us and said, “I don’t have my license. Can someone let me borrow theirs?” There was total silence.
He printed up Personal Effects business cards with his name on them and then told us he wanted to manage the band. He had no managerial experience or managerial skills but he had a mischievous smile and lots of energy. Martin Edic described him as a “big character” and he was a ball to be around. We hear Shawn died in his sleep last week in San Jose.