Black Vortex

I looked down at our land line expecting another scam call but found a familiar name instead, Steve Black . He was in town unexpectedly, after being invited to a symposium at MIT on augmented reality. He met someone from RIT there and road to town with him. He called us from RoCo where he successfully talked the attendant into giving him our phone number. And when we arrived he reminded us that many years ago he got off a bus downtown and called information for our number. The operator said, “Oh, I know Paul Dodd.” It was Betsy Nosco who I went to high school with.

The next day, a gorgeous winter day, Steve got right to work shooting scenes for a video for a Margaret Explosion song, “Tonic Party.” The footage, every bit of it from from near our home, astounded us. We should be way overly familiar with this location but we couldn’t tell exactly where it came from. The eye of a master.

We first met Steve when he was going to RIT. He asked Personal Effects if he could do a video to “Don’t Wake Me,” a song on our first ep. He printed out each frame of his film, hand-colored the frames and reshot the still images for the video. See “Don’t Wake Me.”

Back in 2003 when our “1969” cd came out Steve made a magical video in the back yard of our Hall Street house. See “Assembly Line.”

And his video for “Trophy Bowler”vaulted Pete LaBonne to YouTube sensation status. See “Trophy Bowler.”

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Anthropomorphism

Rick and Monica's garage door in Winter
Rick and Monica’s garage door in Winter

Last night’s opening for Bea Nettles show, “Harvest of Memory,” was in fact a harvest of memories. Nettles taught art here at Nazareth College. She finished her masters at Visual Studies and went on to teach at RIT. She raised a family and continued to work. Old friends and students of hers were there. We didn’t know Nettles but some our old friends did and they were there.

Nettles uses alternative photographic processes and achieves organic results. She plays with mythology, family, motherhood, place, landscape, dreams, the passage of time and she makes art with it all. She gives a talk on her work on Saturday, February 1, at 1 p.m.

Jason Farago’s bad review of a photography show at the International Center of Photography in NY was fun to read. “The Case of Art vs. Instagram.” He calls out the Center for playing to the gate, a problem for all the art institutions>

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Civic Duty

Blue snow on steps in front of Monroe County Court House, downtown Rochester, New York
Blue snow on steps in front of Monroe County Hall of Justice, downtown Rochester, New York

Peggi dropped me off in front of the Hall of Justice this morning. I was bracing for the worst. They couldn’t even get somebody to shovel the walk. Someone just threw this blue chemical on the snow and was waiting for it to melt. I was here for jury duty, called back after only four years because I had weaseled out of the last one. It was the middle of summer, I was shuttling my father back and forth to doctors and they picked me for a trial they expected to last three more weeks.

The lawyers had already presented the gist of their case. The trial was moved from Niagara Falls because the incident had been covered so heavily there. Three cops answered a 911 domestic abuse call. They came into the courtroom in their finest cop regalia, all puffed up, and sat right in front of me. The guy who was beating his wife was representing himself in a orange jump suit, claiming the cops had roughed him up. Within twenty minutes the cops were all slumped down in their chairs while the guy prattled on.

My name was called for a morning case but it wound up being postponed. Forty of the four hundred people in the jury room were instructed stick around for an afternoon trail. The judge want a four part form filled out. “Have you ever been the victim of a crime? Been accused of a crime? Been a witness to a crime? Have you ever been employed by Law Enforcement or Criminal Justice Agency? I answered yes to all four and that case was settled out of court. I’m free for another eight years.

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Dreaming Again

Everett Shinn "Sullivan Street" 1905 Memorial Art Gallery collection
Everett Shinn “Sullivan Street” 1905 Memorial Art Gallery collection

Wouldn’t you love to have been around before the first cars mucked everything up? Just like the guy in the painting this Everett Shinn piece from 1905 always stops me in my tracks. I’m waiting for self driving vehicles so we can all sit back and dream again.

I put a bunch of new songs on the Margaret Explosion mp3 page. This one is from a few weeks ago.

"Oh Yeah" by Margaret Explosion. Recorded live at the Little Theatre Café on 11.13.19. Peggi Fournier - sax, Ken Frank - bass, Phil Marshall - guitar, Paul Dodd - drums.
“Oh Yeah” by Margaret Explosion. Recorded live at the Little Theatre Café on 11.13.19. Peggi Fournier – sax, Ken Frank – bass, Phil Marshall – guitar, Paul Dodd – drums.
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Pronounced Infrastructure

One of the local wonders of the world, this broken, fake rock, hiding some mysterious machinery, formerly nailed to a surface and now sitting in a parking lot near Starbucks on East Ridge Road.
One of the local wonders of the world, this broken, fake rock, hiding some mysterious machinery, formerly nailed to a surface and now sitting in a parking lot near Starbucks on East Ridge Road.

Jeffery was calling our class a restorative one. We spent good bit of the yoga class on our backs with a rolled up blanket in various positions under our spines. I fell asleep at one point. But before that I was restless. I was noticing all the infrastructure on the walls and especially the ceiling. There is a four-way speaker up there, one horn-like speaker pointed in each direction, maybe something from the nineteen fifties for a duck and cover drill. And then there is a small wooden PA speaker with a grill cloth. I was picturing getting called down to the office on that thing. There is a grey plastic box mounted to the wall with a few short ethernet cables hanging out. And a brand new wifi repeater that looks like it could double as a drone.

The classes held in the small gym in the former Brighton High School administration building. It must have been a grade school at some point. The gym is small, not regulation size for basketball but the sealed wooden floor is lined for free throw marks, half line and out of bounds nonetheless. I spent a lot time in gyms when I was growing up and I feel really comfortable in here.

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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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Lock Number 2

Lock 2 along Genesee Valley Greenway
Lock 2 along Genesee Valley Greenway

Our friend, Kathy, suggested the Genesee Valley Greenway to us. It is an old canal bed that runs from the Genesee River near RIT to the Allegheny River. It was at its peak in 1854 when 5,345 boats passed through Lock Number 2, pictured above. Our friends Jeff and Mary live along the river so we started at their house. They were busy packing for a trip to Mexico so Peggi and I walked it alone. We headed toward Scottsville but didn’t make it. I was picturing us stopping there for a beer. It was like being back on the Camino and it is a lot closer to home I recommend it.

"International Velvet" 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.
“International Velvet” 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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Pulling The Plug

Turquoise camera case on Durand Eastman beach
Turquoise camera case on Durand Eastman beach on Lake Ontario

There were a lot of people on the beach today, like maybe twenty, twenty five. All it took was a little sunshine. And there was more beach to walk on. I’m wondering if the lake level is already going down. The Saint Lawerence shipping routes are closed for the season so they have lowered the level there. We still have four other Great Lakes upstream of us so we will probably each record high levels again this Spring.

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Smashing Mailboxes

Center Entrance mailboxes after being hit by a car
Center Entrance mailboxes after being hit by a car

It must have been noon or one when we cut through Center Entrance on our way up to the lake and it would appear none of the four houses that collect their mail here had even noticed that their mailboxes had been hit overnight. One of the boxes still had mail in it and a morning newspaper was thown on top. We thought about setting them upright so the mailman could deliver the mail this afternoon but then there is that whole federal crime for tampering with US mail thing so we continued on.

When my brother was here over Christmas we took a walk with him along Hoffman Road and noticed someone had run off the road down there. They skinned all the bark off a tree and left a pile of plastic car parts in their wake. Too much holiday cheer.

My dentist doesn’t work Fridays. He gets a three day weekend and he deserves it. On Thursday I was eating some of Peggi’s Mahogany Almonds, a recipe she got from Karen Miltner when she used to work for our ever string paper. It’s roasted almonds with Chinese five spice and maple syrup. Something cracked in the back of mouth and by the afternoon I had a bad toothache, one of those where you can’t ever smile without it hurting. I made it through the night but kept waking up in pain. Funny thing is it seemed to quiet down as the weekend unfolded.

I called him at eight this morning he got me in at ten. They took an X-ray and showed me the crack. It will need to be pulled but it has a cap and its already the post for a bridge that will have to be rebuilt. This time the bridge will have to straddle two missing teeth. It gives a headache thinking about it.

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Chill Pill

Lake Ontario in late December
ILake Ontario in late December

I know I’m not the only one who finds the holidays stressful but I feel lucky to have an antidote. A walk to the lake is a chill pill for me, one that works every time. I loved having my family over for dinner on Christmas Eve, a good part of them anyway. My stress comes from the string of holiday parties, friends in from out of town, the holiday shows, all the activity packed into a two week period. I just want to stay home and watch Perry Mason.

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Rainbow Drive

Delivery truck stuck in the snow on Rainbow Drive
Delivery truck stuck in the snow on Rainbow Drive

Were were headed out for a walk but I had to finish something on my computer. Peggi was shoveling the driveway while she waited for me. We only had an inch or so. I heard dance music cranking out there and then Peggi talking to someone so I took my time. When I got out there Peggi told me she was chatting with a delivery guy. He told her they gave him 300 packages to deliver each day. And he had a cold. But he got a little too friendly when he asked her how long she has lived here.

We walked down Hoffman Road Road and at the very end, where Rainbow Drive darts up the hill, we saw the delivery guy. His radio was silent and he was standing outside the van which had slid off the road and came to a halt against this tree. He told us the red light at the top of the back door was smashed but he seemed completely unconcerned. We chatted some more and took off.

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Not Kidding

Anti Vaccine people on Monroe Avenue in Pittsford
Anti Vaccine people on Monroe Avenue in Pittsford

Funny how all these signs look alike, like Barbara Kruger made them all. And kind of creepy how some parents enlist their kids to stand out in the rain in front of Pittsford Plaza with signs they couldn’t possible understand. The little guy in the green mittens and a red Santa hat is holding one that reads “Vaccine Mandates Violate Bodily Anatomy.”

There were about twenty of these signs out there with variations of the same message. “Stop Government Research.” “HPV Vaccine Known To Cause Death.” I rolled the car window down to photograph them and one women with a sign smiled at my like I was a supporter. I shouted, “You’ve got to be kidding” and she shouted back, “No, we’re not!”

My brother’s lady friend celebrated her 60th birthday last night out at Trio on Winton Road. The sign above the door reads “Drink, Dine Dance,” a trio of “D” words. The agenda makes life easy.

The bar had 80’s videos playing on the big screen without the sound and they looked especially fun that way. At some point a dj or vj, someone who appeared older than we are, got in the booth and stood in front of two big shelves of 12 inch records. The sound system kicked in and the videos were all current hits. I went up to check out his set up and saw a turntable off to the side with some stuff piled on top it. There were two digital turntables front and center, those little ones that look big enough for a cd. He wasn’t using those either. Instead he stood in front of a touch screen monitor with a playlist of videos. The wind kind of goes out of the room when everyone is focused on the video images.

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Holiday Red

Inflatable Penguin Family  on Culver Road
Inflatable Penguin Family on Culver Road

If we had taken Peggi’s sister’s suggestion we would be on our way to Miami for Christmas. Our nephew and his girlfriend have a restaurant down there, Boia De, and we’ll have to check it out but not over Christmas. We walked up to Wegman’s today and stopped on front of this house grab a picture of the inflatable penguin family. By the time we returned it was dark enough to turn on the blue lights which line our roofline.

Our neighbor across the street works from home and they do most of their shopping online so there are delivery trucks there throughout the day. I watched as he accepted a delivery and then saw the driver walk up to our door. He had the MX-80 album we ordered, “Crowd Control.” I helped Rich prepare the mechanical art for the re-release and Rich offered to send me a copy but I said no. We already have the album. But from time to time I would wonder how the thing came out. I simplified the 4 color formulas thinking the reissue would be a more electric combination of the red and yellow and when I thought of MX80 for some reason I found myself working about the result. So I ordered one from Ship to Shore. It’s being offered for $6! Red vinyl and a bonus track, the Theme from Halloween. And who doesn’t want a clean copy of “Obsessive Devotion” or “More Than Good?”” As a holiday gift it is guaranteed to please the most discerning taste.

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A World Away

Gnarly Willow along Lake Ontario
Gnarly Willow along Lake Ontario

“Here Denonville’s French Army landed to invade the Seneca Country; July 12, 1687. ” So reads the historical marker on the lake side of Lake Road in Webster. We walked over there this afternoon, across the seasonal bridge, and we stopped across the street from this sign for a salad and sandwich at a place called the Bayside. It is out of time and a world away.

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It’s A Family Affair

View from inside the big tent in Roc Village downtown Rochester
View from inside the big tent in Roc Village downtown Rochester

This post has been uppdated:
In my original post here I stated the Roc Holiday Village was constructed by the City. Martin contacted me to say a private company is responsible for the winter paradise. This makes a lot more sense. It is too well done,

Our friend, Kathy, recommended we check out Roc Village. The area between between the skating rink and jungle gym in Martin Luther King Jr Park is elevated on a giant wooden plank patio. Fire pits are scattered about. Vendors and transparent hospitality tents are lined up. We bought some olive oil and handmade soap and after watching the kids skate we had a beet salad and a Space Kitty in the big tent. It was great to see so many people outside in the winter.

We were in Ottawa a few years back for their Winterlude, skating through downtown on the canal with hundreds of other people and wondering why Rochester doesn’t do something it. They have.

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A Collection Of Wonders

Jeremy Irons in The Prado Museum: A Collection of Wonders
Jeremy Irons in The Prado Museum: A Collection of Wonders

Why did they pick Jeremy Irons to narrate The Prado Museum: A Collection of Wonders? Because he is so damn dramatic! And he rises to the challenge of talking about some of the most dramatic paintings in the world as the Prado celebrates its two hundredth anniversary. The documentary played for just two showings this weekend at the Little and we were lucky enough to catch it.

Marina Saura also narrates and talks of first visiting the Prado with her father, the painter, Antonio Saura. When we were in Madrid in October we saw a show of Saura’s work at Antonio Macon where the gallery owner, Margarita, encouraged us to visit The Museo de Arte Abstracto Español in Cuenca . We saw more Saura there along with Tapies and the champions of Spanish abstract art in Spain. We were blown away and when we returned to Madrid we found even more of his work in a show at the Reina Sofia. The worlds are colliding.

We visit the Prado each time we visit Spain but my favorite was the first time. After flying overnight we rented a car at the Madrid airport and drove directly to the Prado. We sat in the car until the Museo opened and we had coffee in the basement café. I remember people smoking in there, in the museum. We went upstairs and were blown away.

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Virgin Mary To Appear in Rochester

One square inch Refrigerator ads from Issue 14
One square inch Refrigerator ads from Issue 14

The first Refrigerator was an 8 1/2 by 14″ broadsheet, offset printed and available in restaurants and bars in Rochester for free. The circulation grew from 500 to 3,000 and the number of pages climbed to twelve. I did most of the graphics and wrote some, Peggi Fournier was the production manager. Ted Williams, Martin Edic, Chuck Cuminale, Carol Bradley, Chris Schepp, Rob Tyler and Frank Petronio all contributed content. The late Norm Davis hysterically surveyed the shops on Monroe Avenue. This was back in the nineties, before the internet, and all of this work was done anonymously until the D&C did a story about the Refrigerator..

With front page tag lines like “Does Caffeine Make You Smarter?,” “Love World’s Mental Heath Tipsheet,” “Recycle The Earth Issue,” paid for by the advertisers With a tag “George Eastman Is Dead,” “My Funeral,” “Bad Acid Trip,” “Because You Don’t Need an Entertainment Guide,” (a dig at Freetime Magazine), “Rochester’s Only Demolition Derby Fanzine” and “Virgin Mary To Appear in Rochester” we attracted a faithful readership. The “Why Are You Here? issue was especially popular as was Pete LaBonne’s “Dream Breakfasts.”

Lead-ins to pieces like “Rewriting Rochester’s Cultural Heritage,” “Readers Are People Too,” “Dealing With Denial,” “The Difference Between Right and Wrong,” “The End of the World,” “Thel Sound of Doom,” “Virtual Rochester,” “Finally, The Future,” “The Tediousness of Facts,” “I Live Next Door to a Genius” and “How to Stop Worrying and Start Living” were often the whole story.

The back page of “The Refrigerator” carried ten dollar, one square inch ads like those shown above. Pyramid Arts Center, The Village Green, The Bug Jar, The Cadillac Hotel, Squires Of The Subterrain, the Rochester Club and City Newspaper were all regulars. Nicholson Baker, the author, was an advertiser. 

Peggi skiing with Refrigerator Hat
Peggi skiing with Refrigerator Hat

All 28 editions are available in pdf format here. There is also a PayPal button for $10 Refrigerator hats.

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Bittersweet

Bittersweet against early snow on Hoffman Road in Rochester, New York
Bittersweet against early snow on Hoffman Road in Rochester, New York

With the temperature near fifty today I got up on the roof and blew the leaves off. And then we raked those same leaves out of the pachysandra and out on to our so called lawn. I only mowed once this year. We don’t get all that much sunlight through the trees. When all the leaves are out in the lawn I use the mower to mulch them and we just let those chopped leaves turn into dirt. It takes about a year for that to happen and then we start all over again. This cycle is bittersweet.

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Showtime

Music Man, Professor Jim Porter, in Penn Station
Music Man, Professor Jim Porter, in Penn Station

We were kinda late for our train or I would have stopped to talk to this guy in Penn Station. He looks like a one man band with his stage gear on and his equipment case advertising a Funky Percussion Machine, Country, Irish, Polka, Zydeco and something called Bachata. I wanted to go where he was going but our train was boarding in the other direction.

Maybe it was the cup of coffee we had up at Starbucks but I had a hard time getting with the program in our yoga class tonight. Jeffery usually starts by going around the room asking people what they want to work on. I always say “anything.” Someone suggested shoulders so we got on our backs and stayed there the whole class, opening our spines, breathing deeply in three stages, stretching our shoulders and putting tennis balls under our piriformis (butts).

That was another problem. We walked up to Target this afternoon and ate rather hurriedly before class . Jeffery talked about being in the moment, how the class was just for this group at this time but my food was still settling. I must have stared at the ceiling lights o long because when we closed our eyes I kept seeing a small dancing bear, like one of those little Grateful Dead figures, moving from right to left.

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Cheap Seats

Bleachers on beach in Portugal
Bleachers on beach in Portugal

We saw the Elton John movie on Netflix and then Pedro Almodovar’s new one at the theater and now I’m getting them both mixed up. They both had similarly dysfunctional upbringings and both were clearly gifted. We put the subtitles on for “Rocketman” and I was amazed at how good Bernie Taupin’s lyrics were. As good as Elton John’s amazing melodies. I woke up singing Tiny Dancer.

Almodovar’s “Pain and Glory’ is his best yet. Having just been in Spain it was visually sensational but that is just scraping the surface. The movie was deep. Aging, mortality, futility, all that stuff. Check it out.

I put a photo in the annual RoCo Member’s Show. I came home with so many good ones from the Iberian Peninsula. I had Joan down at Frametastic cut a piece of glass for me. Visiting her is always a treat. She and her husband built the business but he is long gone. Joan, at 87, is the only employee. She had Jazz 90.1 on when I walked in and she was cutting nine holes in one piece of matt board. Each opening was a different size. She showed me the boxes of glass that she starts with, sheets that are 32″ by 40.” “i used to be able to handle a bigger sheet but not anymore.” She only takes cash.

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