Close Only Counts In Horseshoes

Leo, Mary Alice, Andrew, Peggi and Rick
Leo, Mary Alice, Andrew, Peggi and Rick

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.

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Happy House

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.

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From The President’s Desk

Chemicals on the pool diving board.
Chemicals on the pool diving board.

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.

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Look Out!

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.

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Life Expectancy

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.

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How Do You Do Mr. Lincoln?

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.

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Everybody in the Pool

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.

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Pass the Courvoisier

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.

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Big Ball

Peggi with big green ball.
Peggi with big green ball.

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.

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Dodd Goes Down For Browns

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.

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What’s The Name Of This Town?

Bootsy in Rochester, New York
Bootsy in Rochester, New York

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’?

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Who Invented This Thing?

Leo Pieffer's Dentistry Painting by Frans Schmanke based a Frans Hals painting
Leo Pieffer’s Dentistry Painting by Frans Schmanke based a Frans Hals painting

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.

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Shawn Irons RIP

Shawn Irons at Earring Records company picnic

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.

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No Heavy Machinery

Peggi driving leaf picker upper
Peggi driving leaf picker upper

Here is Peggi driving our neighbor’s leaf picker upper. She had to wake up at four this morning and drink the second half of her MoviPrep. The doctor’s office was cozy. I brought the paper and then moved on to some of the reading material that they had there like “Diseases of the Liver” and “W, The Biggest Issue Ever!”.

The routine procedure went well and her doctor told her that he would see her again in ten years. We drove directly to Golden Dynasty and had Chinese food. Peggi ordered General Tsang Soy but still under the influence of her narcotic, it came out “General Chang Choy”. Her fortune was, “There is beauty in simplicity”. It was about seventy degrees when we got home so we went out to rake leaves. Peggi had instructions not to drive or operate machinery and not to make any major decisions. She broke the first rule and the night is still young.

It’s A Plus, Plus World

Before Christmas I stopped in this women’s clothing store near Starbucks called Avenue. I saw a brown hooded sweatshirt that I thought Peggi would like but they only had one size. It looked like it might fit so I bought it. When she tried it on at Christmas it was to big and we finally got around to returning it.

Peggi saw this sign on the way in that said “for women size 14 plus”. She asked a clerk if they had anything under size 14 and she said, “No”. A large women standing nearby said, “You’re just too teeny, tiny”. As we stood in line to get our money back it couldn’t have been more obvious that this was a plus sized store. We were marveling at the size of the clerks behind the counter and the other customers.

The sweatshirt was only $14 bucks. We walked over to another store called AJ Wright where everything they sell is marked down or discounted and Peggi found a sweater that she liked for $7. On the way home we went by the Dollar Store and Peggi told me she stopped in there before Christmas and someone had just puked so she left. It seems like the whole world is a flea market these days.

Peggi is preparing her insides for inspection. So it was no nuts or fruit with seeds today. We spent some time discussing whether or not that would include apples and pears and figured that they would be OK. She made lentil soup in the Crock Pot and we took that over to her mom’s apartment where we ate in front of 60 Minutes. Roger Clemens told Mike Wallace that he didn’t use steroids. Tomorrow it’s all liquids, the three tablets and the liter of MoviPrep.

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Pizza Without Cheese

It is possible to enjoy a perfectly good pizza pie without cheese being involved. Jeff Munson and Mary Kay proved this last night at their holiday party in Scottsville. He made at least fifteen pizzas. We sampled one with walnuts and spinach and went crazy for this one with arugula, figs and shrimp. Jeff suggests marinating the shrimp and figs for a couple of hours in olive oil, garlic and vinegar (Chinese Rice and Balsamic). Peggi had a cholesterol problem but got it under control by staying away from butter and cheese. Her doctor doubted that it would be possible to bring her levels down with diet but she did. And her doctor was at the party last night.

Orchid in Rochester New York
Orchid in Rochester New York

We were talking to one of Jeff’s neighbors and he told us that he grew orchids in a climate controlled greenhouse next door. So we took a tour of his place and Bob Mahoney snapped this shot on his new cell phone.

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Metal Machine Christmas

Lou Reed performing Metal Machine Music
Lou Reed performing Metal Machine Music

We knocked off a quote for a website for a dance troupe in Detroit this morning. We had promised it last week but we never got to it. Peggi put the turkey in the oven and then headed out to pick up her mom. I watched for the little pecker to pop out. It’s a free range turkey that never ate meat. The label says it has 70% less fat. I don’t think of turkey as having much fat to begin with. We bought it at Palermo’s Italian Market on Culver.

Lou Reed performing Metal Machine Music

Duane stopped by and helped me shoot a new batch of paintings. He works for Lowel Light in Brooklyn and he set up four Tota lights, balanced the white point and set up a manual exposure with his Sony Cybershot V3. They came out pretty good but it will take me a bit to crop them and adjust the levels. When work was done we kicked back with a dvd of a 2002 live performance of Lou Reed’s Metal Machine Music. I have an 8-track of that thing out in the garage that I want to put on eBay some day. Peggi walked in with her mom. My brother and his family are in town from New Jersey and they are headed over here for dinner. My parents will be here too, so with Duane that will be eleven. We put the extra leaf in the table.

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Perfect Weather For Snowmen

We were at a party at Richard Edic’s last night and I was talking to Sheryl about about Neil Young. The conversation strayed into the joys of winter and she was telling me how much she liked the coziness of it all. I like the winter too. I can’t get anything done in the summer.

Snowmen in front of our house
Snowmen in front of our house

We took a walk in the woods today and came across an area where there was a concentration of deer footprints and ground with no snow. There was a pretty big tuft of deer hair (or is it fur?) and blood spots mixed in with the snow. It looked like a fight scene. Maybe it was rough sex. On our way back we saw a buck with a rack wandering by himself and he appeared to be limping. We built a couple of snowmen in the front yard and Peggi headed out to make pecan pies with her mom. She is going to stop by Wegmans and pick up some of those whole wheat pie shells that don’t have any trans fat in them. I’m headed down to the basement to paint.

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Tasha The Fourth

Leo, our next door neighbor
Leo, our next door neighbor

Our next door neighbor, Leo, was featured on the local news last night. I was sitting right here at my desk when they shot the footage yesterday. You can see our house in the background of one of the outdoor scenes.

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