Dave died fifteen years ago. And now Norm. We were so full of life. It doesn’t seem possible. But then again it does.
Norm was in my sister’s class, two years behind me, but we were friends in high school. Our moms were friends before we met. When I went away to school in Indiana Norm’s mom called me to say Norm had run away. “He’s coming out to stay with you,” she said. Sure enough Norm stayed in my dorm room for a week or so and then returned home.
I met Pam in Indiana and she came to visit me in Rochester over the summer. We went swimming and I remember introducing Pam to Norm. They became an item that day. A long run. Norm joined the army during the Viet Nam war but never saw combat. He worked in a shop and made hash pipes out of plumbing parts. I remember them being hot as hell, almost too hot to hang on to. Pam’s father owned the Colonial Motel in Indianapolis. I remember him backing a trailer into number 10 Monon Drive in Bloomington. I lived there with Pam and Dave and a few other friends while Norm was away.
Norm and Pam were married at at Norm’s parents’ house in Webster. The Bloomington crew was all there. Pam got pregnant and they moved to a big house. I stayed there rent free as a babysitter and learned how to change diapers. Chinaboise rehearsed in Norm’s basement.
Norm’s sudden death provided the opportunity to talk to Kim. She took the photo up top. We will reach out to Pam. It’s a Circle Game.
The town projected their Sea Breeze improvement project would be done by December. The new playground is open but some earth moving equipment was still running around. A slab has been poured for the picnic pavilion but that is still left to your imagination. A permeable concrete ramp near the new parking lot runs right down into the water and would be ideal for launching a canoe or kayak.
There is a vending machine that takes money for the boat launch and there are some brand new floating docks stretched out on the bay side. The entire area is a few more feet above sea level so it shouldn’t flood for. a few more years. The walkway is open again and we followed it right up to the seasonal swing bridge, which won’t be operational again until November. A mama duck paddled by with her seven tiny babies. And we were happy to see they have not tried to improve the sandy beach near the pier on the lake side.
Back in the early eighties our band played a lot of dates with Paper Faces from Buffalo. They managed to put the art in art rock better than anyone we knew. They would sometimes hang pieces of billboards on the wall behind them, old cigarette and car ads. Dave Mahoney‘s father worked for the billboard company in Rochester so I stopped by to see him. I used the back of the billboard paper to do large acrylic paintings. The paper was thick and big, sheets 54 by 60” inches. You can still see the folds in the paintings.
I’ve had a short stack of the billboard paper out in the garage for years and recently took a look at them. I made a series of collages with pieces cut from the large block lettering and fields of color. I called the series “Litho in USA.”
I’m itching to get back my Adam & Eve paintings. They’re based on a couple from Fairhaven that I had the opportunity to observe a few years back. The drawings need massaging before I begin painting. That gallon of gesso in lower right hand corner will take care of the adjustments. Before I dive though in I want photograph the twenty collages shown drying on the walls. I popped this photo in a second but properly photographing the twenty, individually with the white in each looking white and the colors when used on multiple pieces looking looking the same, is not so easy. I spent the whole weekend on this, longer than it took to do the collages.
I’m using two Lowel Toto lights pointed at my painting easel. Getting them to light a flat surface evenly is a project. I have my Sony RX100 on a tripod with the timer set and I’ve photographed the twenty pieces three times now. I called Duane in NYC after the first two rounds failed and took me into Manual Mode, set to 1/80 of a second with the F-stop at 8.0 and the ISO set to 800. We did a custom white balance and I stored that. The photos are much better but somehow the blues, like in the third and fifth one above, are different. The dark blues, like in the first and and sixth above, are different. Could it be that camera is influenced but it’s surrounds just as our eyes are?
It’s a good thing Rochester Art Supply opens so early. I dropped Peggi off at the courthouse for grand jury duty and did a little masked shopping. I parked in front of this beautiful black brick home in Corn Hill and walked over to West Main.
When I say “over to West Main,” I mean over the damn highway they dropped into the old Erie Canal bed when the urban renewal architects butchered the city by severing the neighborhoods from one another. It is kind of nice walking bridge. Perfect for skateboarding, it swoops up from Troup Street and plops you right in front of the restored Bevier Hall, home Mechanics Institute, my grandfather’s alma mater.
I worry now that there are so many apartment buildings downtown, newly built and renovated factory space, that this phase of urban renewal while only make the city sleepier.
These guys in day-glow suits had Parcel 5 perfectly graded this morning. The grass seed will probably be next. I was one of the contrarians who wanted something other than empty space in the middle of downtown but I’m good with the park idea as long it is more interesting than lawn. I was holding out for the return of city center and all that used to go with it. Stores, offices, newsstands, coffee shops, bars, restaurants and a place to hang out while skipping school. Stuff that is never coming back.
I mention this every year but it is a good excuse to link to this photo of Peggi with a Mint Julep at the Kentucky Derby in 1973, our first date, the year Secretariat won. We’re going with Brooklyn Strong in today’s derby despite the 40/1 odds.
Our neighbors left us in charge of feeding their fish while they’re out of town. These guys all survived the winter but the water temperature was only 50 degrees this morning so they were a little sluggish.
Peggi’s is doing grand jury duty for a few weeks and it has been an education for the both of us. The process seems lopsided to first timers. The prosecutors present their case and walk the jurors to their indictment 99.9% of the time.
So what went wrong for Letitia James’ in Rochester’s Daniel Prude case? Nearly a mirror image of the George Floyd murder and it comes back “no billed.” I don’t know much about the Rochester Beacon other than they just hired Frank De Blase as their music critic but I thought this editorial was pretty thought provoking.
I remember when my uncle got a mirror window for the office that overlooked his grocery store. Looking up at it from the store aisles you would only see a reflection but if you were in the office you could survey the whole store. I’m sure it helped prevent shoplifting but it was an intrusion for us stock boys, never knowing if he was up there looking down at us.
When we lived in the city we had the same mailman for twenty years. He was a Neil Young fan and he’d let us check the new releases he bought. Since we worked out of the house he would use our bathroom. The ladies at Elite Bakery on Humboldt would give him free cookies and Leo’s, next door to them at the time, gave him their gooey brownies with chocolate frosting. Sometimes he would share those with us.
We always had him pegged as a Viet Nam vet but he kept his personal life private. He was stuffing something. He would run when he got off work which seemed insane considering he already walked twenty miles a day. He drove a sports car and we would occasionally see him about town.
At some point the Post Office, in an attempt to keep up with UPS, began streamlining. The mail carriers were each given a scanner and they had to continually check in by scanning the drop boxes when they picked up a load. They couldn’t just do their route in a hurry and go home. Their delivery truck had its own bar code and whenever they scanned a location they would have to scan their truck so some bean counter could put the data altogether. If the higher-ups felt he could handle more customers his route would get bigger. We heard about every one of these intrusions and hoped he wouldn’t go postal on us.
No worker likes being watched every minute but the police have abused that privilege. There is an unmarked cop hang-out/clubhouse over by the bay with a “No Body Camera” sign on the door. I get it but I’m not gonna be flying any blue striped American flag.
“Do golf carts have horns?” I wondered aloud as we got to the end of the trail near Horseshoe Road. It turned out to be a bagpiper player filling his air sack. The golf course just opened a few days ago and already I’ve found 13 balls near the trails that skirt the course.
A group of plein air artists were setting up along the lake and it was warm enough for a few people to stroll the beach in bathing suits. We stayed up on the sidewalk. A motorized bike came up behind us with with the Grateful Dead’s “Friend of the Devil” playing. We stepped aside and watched a smiling, rather round man with a grey beard drift by. His tires were fat and only about a foot tall.
The Snowy Magnolias on Zoo Road were especially fragrant and already dropping their flower petals, living up to their name.
Since we walk everyday we like to vary the route as much as possible. We have our favorite paths in the woods and our favorite streets, of course, and lately we try to include a good stretch of beach walking. Lake Ontario is a foot below normal for this time of year so there is plenty of sand. We go out for somewhere near five miles and avoid taking the same way back to our house. It is like a meditation. And it is exciting to have a destination. Home Depot, Starbucks, the library, Rubino’s, Amen’s or the post office.
Things catch your eye. Birds, trees, boats, houses, funky lawn ornaments and lately a lot of discarded masks. I found these squashed beer cans and I’m submitting them to this year’s Rochester Contemporary 6×6 show.
There are still a few pockets of snow but the dog shit has thawed in the park. I’m guessing people drop these bags along the main arteries thinking they will pick them up on the way back. At least they pick the stuff up. The clear plastic sandwich baggies with poop in it are a little disturbing though. It seems most people bring their dogs to the park so they don’t have to pick it up.
We played horseshoes today, my neighbor and I. It’s the earliest start to the year that I can remember. They are usually in Florida at this time but this year is different.
We sunk and hour’s worth of quarters in a parking meter downtown and stopped in to see Rochester Contemporary’s “Last Year on Earth” show. It is not intended to be entirely enjoyable but much of it was. Ong Siraphisut’s impressive “Tumeric and Charcoal” drawings fill the first wall, all portraits of virus victims. It sets the tone for the show.
Martha O’Conner created a big red book over the year and embroidered relevant haikus on its pages. We watched someone read every page and we did the same. Some of the work literally addressed the pandemic and some could only be construed as referencing the pandemic. I wanted to look at artwork so the premiss was bothersome. The pandemic has stolen enough time and energy. I checked the time.
Just enough left on the meter tossup into the video room in the back of the gallery where the mood changed entirely. “The Road We’re On,” a short film by Rochester Homeless Union and the NYS Poor Peoples Campaign, was an unlikely rocket ship of positive energy. Patrick Braswell eloquently expressed what he saw, how his perception changed and then, as the camera followed him addressing the needs of the homeless, exactly what can be done about it. Only later did I learn that Braswell had died suddenly in February. He lived an artful life. His artwork, a day in the life of the Rochester Homeless Union, stole the show at RoCo. Patrick Braswell is a saint in my book.
Celebrate the life and work of Patrick Braswell Sunday, March 21st at 6pm via livestream on the Rochester Homeless Union Facebook or YouTube page
I started this project a few years ago and it took a pandemic to finish it. From a box of aspiring model headshots (photos that were sent to us when we doing commercial art) I chose pairs and then swapped the top of one for the top of the other. If you like this sort of thing there are 47 pieces in the series and they can all be view as a slideshow here.
I quit my carpentry job the week before we got married in 1976. My boss, a hard working Italian immigrant named Salvatore Caramana, couldn’t believe I would quit before getting married. “What are you gonna do?” he kept asking me. I didn’t know but I knew I didn’t want to work that hard for the rest of my life.
After our honeymoon I got my first graphic arts job. I was hired by the City of Rochester Police Department under a one year grant and worked on the fourth floor of the Public Safety building with the detectives in what was called the Crime Analysis Unit.
The grant covered any classes that were related to my work so I signed up for a couple of photo classes at the UofR. Bill Jenkins, who was curator of modern photography at the Eastman, taught the classes. I loved it. I had been an art major before dropping out and these classes got me back on the academic train. I eventually cobbled together a Fine Arts degree from SUNY Empire State.
I kept an envelope of prints from those days and determined I could improve them by editing, in this case by trimming the 8×10 prints into these square pieces. Click here to view the images in a slideshow format.
Peggi made a cherry pie over the weekend with a can of cherries that was stamped “Best by March 2015.” That gave us pause but they smelled ok so we went with it. She also made another batch of applesauce with the bushel of 20 ounce apples we carried home from Aman’s. Because it is the end of the season they were only $2.99.
We walked up to the lake along Log Cabin Road. It seemed awfully quiet but we did see a few familiar faces, the really big guy who wears the Bills gear and the guy with the strange lawn. Strange in that it goes brown in the fall and only comes back when you think it never will, like the early days of Summer. It is always the same conversation with this guy. We say “hi, how ya doin'” and he says, “Can’t complain for a (insert day of the week.)” We always laugh at that after he has passed. What day can he complain on?
We’re looking forward to Derby Day on Sunday, not the Kentucky Derby but the day the two Madrid La Liga teams meet. Atlético, the number one team meets Real Madrid, the number two team. They are two of our three favorite teams and we can’t decide who to root for.
Barcelona was tied 1-1 with Real Betis at the half when the phone rang. It was our friend, Danita, and her clinic had extra doses of the Moderna vaccine. She signed us up for Monday afternoon, a perfect birthday gift for Peggi’s birthday. We started calling friends, the ones in our age bracket anyway, to tell them about the extra doses. We interrupted the Super Bowl for most but found quite a few takers. And then we got back to our game. Like magic, Messi came off the bench and in dramatic fashion he put one in.
Since we had to get in the car to get our vaccine and because it was Peggi’s birthday we made a few other stops. Aman’s Farm Market first where we bought more apples, both eating and baking. 8 quart baskets of 20 ouncers are $3.99 and they are perfect for applesauce. The woman behind the counter asked if we kept our skins on or took them off. Second stop was the new bodega on Park Avenue where we picked up a few sandwiches and cappachino, Peggi got a mushroom, gouda and and egg sandwich. I had smoked salmon and cream cheese on a bagel. I picked my monitor and prize money at RoCo where my slideshow won an award in the Members Show. And finally out to Trillium Heath for the needle. The waiting room was filled with our friends. A super spreader event.
Bob Martin gave us a key to his master vault of Personal Effects videos. This one was labeled RIT 10.06.84, a gig we did not remember. The song is a cover of Taana Gardners’s, “Heartbeat” and the video must have been done by Russ Lunn, a student there at the time. I’m posting it today because it is Peggi’s birthday.
The video shows we did two encores there and this was the second song of the second one. Two covers, “What Goes On” and “Heartbeat.” Heartbeat reminds me of all the parties and clubs where we danced back in the day. And I love the way Peggi does it.
Two weeks ago we were walking along the beach in the sand. We’ve skied up to the lake most days for the last couple of weeks but we hadn’t crossed Lakeshore Boulevard until today. All of this happened while we were gone.
With charcoal, ink and watercolor on the pages of a 1914 edition of Cassell’s Cyclopædia of Mechanics (mixed with the Oxford Dictionary) William Kentridge brings his book alive in this animated film. We watched the seven minute piece four times and if this pandemic wasn’t ongoing we would have stuck around for a few more viewings.
Alone in the dark viewing room with the big screen and Neo Muyanga’s South African funeral hymn Kentridge’s Second Hand Reading swept us away in some sort of unexplainable dream state. It is only on view til the end of the month so I would hurry over to the Eastman. And only if that is impossible would I recommend this bootlegged version.
We are so fortunate to have the Eastman here. Kentridge has already decided to donate the complete set of his films to the Museum and continues to astound.