Mating Call

Sea Breeze pier in Rochester, New York April 2019
Sea Breeze pier in Rochester, New York April 2019

Time goes so fast these days it is starting to scare me. And that’s one reason why I am enjoying this prolonged, cool, wet, dark, rainy Spring. As Jeffery said in yoga class last night, “My Forsythia has been in bloom for a month!”

Peggi and I took a walk down Hoffman and we stopped at the marsh for the longest time. We were watching a doe with her brand new fawn and then a bright yellow bird caught our eye, a Warbler no doubt, and then a whole group of them dive-bombing bugs near the crumbling willow. The Warblers are bright yellow. They make the yellow in the Baltimore Orioles look orange and there were quite a few of them darting about. Our favorites, though, are the descriptively named Red Winged Blackbirds, although that only describes the male. They have a chirp and a distinctive call, something that sounds like one of Peggi’s sax lines. We watched them land on cattails, those still standing from last year. The cattail bends under the weight of the bird but it springs back to an upright position and male performs his mating call.

Pete LaBonne joins Margaret Explosion on the grand piano on Wednesday night. I hope you can stop out. We tend to get into a blues groove when he sits in. Here’s a song from last year when both he and Bob Martin were sitting in with the band.

"Margo Blues" by Margaret Explosion. Recorded live at the Little Theatre Café on 05.23.18. Peggi Fournier - sax, Ken Frank - bass, Pete LaBonne - piano, Phil Marshall - guitar, Bob Martin - guitar, Paul Dodd - drums.
“Margo Blues” by Margaret Explosion. Recorded live at the Little Theatre Café on 05.23.18. Peggi Fournier – sax, Ken Frank – bass, Pete LaBonne – piano, Phil Marshall – guitar, Bob Martin – guitar, Paul Dodd – drums.
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How Can This Be?

Three small boat houses on Genesee River
Three small boat houses on Genesee River

Jared told us the lake was 21 inches above normal so we had to walk down there and see for ourselves. We chatted with a wind surfer, who was suiting up, and saw that the waves were pretty big. There is a five mile an hour speed limit in effect for boats so there were hardly any on the water. We walked out the pier, timing our pace so as to miss the crashing of the big waves. I got soaked anyway.

Our friends, Kerry, Claire and Benny, are all going to France for the Women’s World Cup this summer. We saw the US in the semi finals four years ago in Montreal. Paris is too far, especially in the summer when things get so busy here. The team plays South Africa on Sunday in a friendly and they play Mexico at a stadium that is only nine minutes from my brother’s house in New Jersey so we might go down there for that one.

As hard as it is to believe, we saw the two best soccer games in my life in the last week. Barcelona (our favorite team) who beat Liverpool in the first half of their two match semifinal in the European Champions League, met Liverpool again, this time in Liverpool. Barcelona was heavily favored to win and to go on to take the trophy. But Liverpool, playing without their key striker, Salah, came out aggressively, playing so fast, stealing the ball at every opportunity and preventing Barcelona from controlling the flow, as is their wont. It was shocking at first and then thrilling. They played so well we switched allegiances.

The following day, in the second semifinal match between Ajax and Tottenham, Ajax, after winning decisively in the first, dominated the first half and scored twice. We assumed it was all over. We recorded the second half and left to play the Little. We queued up the second half after the gig and the tables were turned completely. Tottenham, the underdogs in anyone’s book, playing away, dominated possession and scored three goals, the last in the final seconds!

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Aqua Dam

Aqua Dam along the shore of Sodus Point
Aqua Dam along the shore of Sodus Point

We’re getting together with Jedi to watch Barcelona meet Liverpool in the second of their Champions League semi-finals. Although Barcelona won the first in their home stadium Liverpool performed a lot better that the final score indicated. But then the great Salah got injured in a Premier League match so Liverpool will have a tough time this afternoon.

We celebrated Matthew’s birthday at Captain Jack’s in Sodus Point where the bar was just barely above water. Matthew suggested a Mexican place in Alton, Mi Hacienda Jalisciense. It’s on Old Ridge Road just a mile or so from El Rincón. That’s a serious matchup right there. If it was a horse race. I would put my money on Mi Hacienda Jalisciense. We had some mind blowing ceviche.

We drove out with Jeff and the three of us stopped in Ontario on the way home to take in the Kentucky Derby. We always make a point to watch it, the anniversary of our first date, and this year’s was something else. We stood at the bar in front a tv with the sound off so the excitement level was missing. And the silent elation of victory, the countless video reviews where we saw something different each time and then the long shot reversal all played dramatically.

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Ovenbird

Fox News on without the sound in Park Side Diner, Rochester, New York
Fox News on without the sound in Park Side Diner, Rochester, New York

Chipmunks are driven. I recognize the trait. Whether it’s chasing one another or darting into holes. they run the same pattern over and over all day long. We found a chipmunk in our screened-in porch. I opened the door and let him out. Next thing you know he was back in there again franticly looking for a way out. I showed him the door and we went back to reading the paper. I couldn’t see any hole for him to get in. About ten minutes later the Woodstock chimes that hang on the porch started ringing. There was no wind. He must be getting in through the rafters and dropping down the chimes, an impossible route to do in reverse. I sealed up three possible openings and we haven’t seen the guy.

Chipmunks are cute but they are really a garden pest. They ate all our tiny beet plants before they had a chance. Our neighbor on one side shoots at them with a BB gun and Jared, on the other side of us, wired his garden with electric fencing. The lowest line is only a half inch above the ground, chipmunk height.

We spotted some beautiful birds near the ground on the other side of our bedroom window. They have Mohawk striped heads and a Zebra-like chest. They are a dull yellow overall. We found them in a bird book and were able to identify them as “Ovenbirds,” in the Warbler family. I am not in a hurry for summer, this has been a perfect Spring.

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Goodbye Earl

Roller Coaster Fireworks poster designed by Christopher Schepp at funeral home in Brighton for Earl Casorla's services 2019
Roller Coaster Fireworks poster designed by Christopher Schepp at funeral home in Brighton for Earl Casorla’s services 2019

Earl, the Cassorla brother on the right in the poster above fell asleep at the wheel while driving back from Reno. Randi Winterman, who was sitting behind us at Earl’s services yesterday, ask us how long we’ve know Earl. Without thinking much I said forever. Earl was legendary and we knew of him and his brother way before we met them. Friends of ours who went to Irondequoit High with them had incredible stories of their high school pranks. The Rabbi yesterday talked about Earl wearing a key ring, like the janitors, in high school. He told the knowing crowd that Earl could get into any room in the building.

Earl was an all around great guy and everyone who knew him has stories to give witness to that. The Rabbi told us that Earl’s spirit, there is a Hebrew term, would now move to his brother. And I saw Steve’s head nod in agreement. The Cassorlas opened a fireworks store in Nevada where everything is legal. I wrote a bit about about the Cassorlas last year in a post that includes a short movie about their venture. They will remain legendary.

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Beautiful Coal

Green growth in brown lawn on Wisner
Green growth in brown lawn on Wisner

A few weeks back a branch broke off a tree above our house and went right through the roofing and tongue and groove boards below it. It landed between the rafters and luckily it didn’t break through the plaster and copper plumbing in the ceiling of our living room. It got me wondering about Newton’s gravity thing. The branch was hanging horizontally above the house and when I found it it was standing up in our roof. The thickest part of the branch apparently fell the quickest.

We walked up to Wegmans to pick up some fish. Our branch gets fresh seafood in on Thursdays and we always find something – scallops, perch, red snapper or tuna. Last week we bought one swordfish steak to split. They call it steak for a reason. It is oily and meaty and tastes great on the grill. I knew there was something funny about swordfishes. I looked it up and found most healthcare organizations recommend that you don’t eat any because it’s full of mercury. And how does mercury get in the ocean? The number one source is airborne particles from coal burning power plants. So glad the Trumpster is bringing back coal, “beautiful coal..” That will be our last piece of swordfish.

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May The Blue Win

Horseshoes repainted for the 2019 season
Horseshoes repainted for the 2019 season

Blue is my favorite color so Rick gets the green. By the end of the season we will hardly be able to tell these apart. They should be dry by tomorrow and it may be opening day.

The blue paint was suspiciously thin and we plan on painting our metal chairs so we walked over to Home Depot and bought a pint. I brought the stick that I used to stir up the old blue and they matched the color. It is about a seven mile round trip but we made it fun by stopping for a Flat White at Starbucks and calling Duane in Brooklyn.

The recap of my carpentry career in my last post didn’t mention why I got out. Swinging a 20 ounce hammer all day, lifting walls that were built on the deck, getting the scaffolding up on the metal brackets, carrying full sheets of three quarter inch plywood in the wind and hoisting tresses up to the second floor completely drained me. As satisfying as the job was, there was nothing left at night. So I got a commercial art job. A “pud” job as they would say in Indiana.

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Stubborn

Joe Tunis artwork in Carbon Records: 25 Years of Cover Art at Rochester Contemporary in Rochester, New York
Joe Tunis artwork in Carbon Records: 25 Years of Cover Art at Rochester Contemporary in Rochester, New York

I know the quality so the word “stubborn” caught my eye in Chad Oliveiri’s accompaning wall text for Joe Tunis’s “Carbon Records: 25 Years of Cover Art” show at Rochester Contemporary, It reads “Carbon has been stubbornly releasing music from artists on the fringe of the Rochester scene and far beyond for the past 25 years. It’s a record label Joe Tunis started because he was obsessed primarily with packaging.”

Joe’s label, Carbon Records, started releasing records in the summer of 1994. They were mostly bands Joe was involved with but the improv/noise/drone/experimental label has gone international. They are giving Earring Records a run for its money.

We spent about an hour in the Lab Space at RoCo on opening night, studying the artful packages for (mostly) bands we have never heard of. The wall above features the 12 inch format. That’s Nod, “So Much Tonight,” third one in on the bottom row. Each package is as striking as it is unique. I hope you’l have a chance to see this show in the next month.

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Sun Ra Meets John Cage dvd playing on our tv on Record Store Day 2019
Sun Ra Meets John Cage dvd playing on our tv on Record Store Day 2019

I did my homework this year by reviewing the list before we left the house. It took some of the fun out Record Store Day but it also gave us more freedom to just hang out, drink coffee and eat cookies. There were only a couple of things that caught my eye and I snagged both the Art Ensemble 45 with the African poet, Alfred Panou, and the John Cage Meets Sun Ra 45 (plus dvd of the complete Coney Island performance). I put that on as soon as we got home.

We left our car in the old Tops parking lot on Winton and walked to Monroe where stopped at Bop Shop and Hi Fi Lounge. We stood in front the sound system in the back room. I asked the guy how much the pair of speakers cost and he said “around $300 but don’t quote me. They sounded fantastic and I was considering so I asked the owner when he came in. He said “about two thousand.”.

I brought my Hauser Wirth bag with me and filled it with vinyl, a few more 45s from the sixties and Silver Apple’s debut 1968 lp on milky blue vinyl. They sound like Nod, Can and Suicide, all bands that came after them.

We took a different route over to Record Archive where a big inflated dinosaur was bouncing around in the parking lot. A local brewery called Single Cut was giving away samples of beer that tasted exactly like grapefruit juice. A young mod-like band was performing in the back room you had to get in a long line in order to look at the Record Store Day product.

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The Wall

Broad Street Bridge in downtown Rochester, New York
Broad Street Bridge in downtown Rochester, New York

I will sleep good tonight. I spent a good bit of the afternoon rebuilding the short concrete wall that sort of marks the property line between us and our neighbors. I do this every years as the pachysandra bed on the other side continues to expand the wall tilts toward us. It is not even a foot high and from our perspective, an eyesore. I proposed removing it but that didn’t fly so I rebuilt it again. 

Our local newspaper has been promoting the Pulitzer Prize winning, USA Today documentary, “The Wall.” The movie was free so we signed up.

Once the Trumpster announced and made the big fence a pledge a group of journalists decided to fly the the border from from the mouth of the Rio Grand to the Pacific Ocean. The winding river makes a natural border for large sections and and the terrain is so rugged and inhospitable I kept trying to picture the engineering feat required to run fence up and down the sides of mountains and over huge ravines  Currently there is only 600 miles with an actual fence. The one feasibility study of effectiveness of the wall, which was done in 2006, showed the astronomical costs would bring negligible benefits. So full stream ahead.

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Stuck With Our Inheritance

Claude Akins as Christian Fundamentalist preacher in Inherit The Wind
Claude Akins as Christian Fundamentalist preacher in Inherit The Wind

God creates Eve from Adam’s rib and they have two sons, Cain and Able. Then Cain takes a wife. Did you ever stop to think about where that woman came from? Was there someone around the corner that was also doing creation?

This is just one of the arguments Spencer Tracy’s famous defense lawyer character uses against his famous prosecuting attorney in the 1960 recreation of the famous Scopes trail. This damn movie, which was screened at the Dryden Theater yesterday, is sixty years old and the story it retells is 100 years old. Yet the movie is still relevant. One third of Americans don’t believe in evolution. The clutches of the fundamentalists, those that believe in a literal, word of god, biblical creation story still go as deep as the Tennessee townspeople singing “Give me that old time religion,” in Stanley Kramer’s “In Inherit The Wind.” And I find that depressing. But the movie is not.

The movie is vivid. It is witty. Quips fly by. Gene Kelly playing a reporter from the Baltimore Herald, lets the most fly. The smallest characters are as large life. Claude Akins is fantastic. Fredric March goes over the top. Spencer Tracy is brilliant. Distrust of science and distrust of journalism is nothing new.

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Contrabajjissimo

Eastman Saxophone Project performing at Hochstein School of Music
Eastman Saxophone Project performing at Hochstein School of Music

Four of every member of the sax family plus one bass saxophone. A saxophone orchestra. The Eastman Saxophone Project rearranges work for the saxophone and plays from memory without a conductor. We heard at noon today in the Hochstein performance space and you can catch the rebroadcast on WXXI at ten tonight.

With a little bit of help from a small percussion section they performed Emanuel Chabrier’s “Espana,” Astor Piazzolla’s “Contrabajjissimo” and Peer Gynt Suite No. 1, something that would be immediately familiar because it has been used in many movies. It is amazing to me that the sax can do it all. The group will perform again at Kilbourn Hall on Thursday, April 11, 2019 at 7:30PM.

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Trio Of Witch Hazel

Three varieties of witch hazel on Wisner near the entrance to Durand Eastman Park
Three varieties of witch hazel on Wisner near the entrance to Durand Eastman Park

At a distance the witch hazel can look like Forsythia but it is too early for that. At the end of Wisner there are bunch of witch hazel trees growing near the road and in this spot you can see three different varieties. Into the park and up the hill on Zoo Road is another variety, one that blossoms earlier, like February. It is still in bloom and very fragrant.

Carl used to run a saxophone repair shop on East Avenue. The place was called Shuffle Music and his cliental was mostly Eastman students. He’s retired now but he does some work out of his house. Peggi put her soprano in her backpack and we walked over there today along the lake. We made a loop out of the trip by coming back through the far side of the park where the sewage treatment plant is.

We missed yoga last week because we were at Big Ears. I’m looking forward to to tonight.

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Art Soon

Roadmasters building near Dundee New York
Roadmasters building near Dundee New York

Dan Eaton had a sweet gig with RNews for many years. In a few minutes he talked you through a gourmet recipe and convinced you that a regular guy could do this. He delivered the goods at Rooney’s and Good Luck and Rochester’s finest. He holds court in Hammondsport now, at the bottom of Kueka Lake and will soon be offering a “Chef’s Menu.”

We had dinner there on Saturday and ordered from the menu. We were just digging in to our roasted Brussels sprouts appetizer when the waitress told us Chef Dan would like to cook for you if you agree. We agreed and were blown away. We were were celebrating Jeff’s birthday so booked a room upstairs and shared a bottle of Mescal that he had brought back from Mexico.

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World Wide News

World Wide News from Frank's apartment
World Wide News from Frank’s apartment

I know girlie magazines is the first thing anyone thinks of when you say World Wide News but they used to be the only place in town where you could buy the English weeklies, Melody Maker, Sounds and NME, the Spanish daily newspapers and any obscure art magazine you could think of. Last time I was in there it was more like a corner store.

It was a beautiful day for a walk around the city. We had lunch at Fifth Frame and a late afternoon beer at Swiftwater. I’m thinking about painting the horseshoes for the new season.

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Post Fest

Hand painted Pepsi sign in Knoxville rib joint
Hand painted Pepsi sign in Knoxville rib joint

Spring Break is over. The UT college kids are coming back. We spotted Tim Berne waiting for a ride out of town and then a little further down Gay Street was Ken Burns in a bus wrapped with an ad for his upcoming PBS Country Music documentary. Knoxville is returning to normal.

I’m going to miss the Big Ears app. This festival unfolded so well and our schedule was continually in flux we that depended on the app for everything. To listen to sound samples from the artist’s sites, to get from one venue to the next, and most of all to get continuous stream of updates about surprise appearances and clubs reaching capacity. But most of all I’m going to miss Big Ears, the festival, an astounding collection of great music.

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Harold Budd Is At The Bar

Art Ensemble of Chicago at Big Ears Festival in Knoxville Tennessee
Art Ensemble of Chicago at Big Ears Festival in Knoxville Tennessee 2019

People were walking toward us this morning with pillows under their arms. We were headed to The Standard where a twelve hour drone was just finishing up. It took a while for our eyes to adjust to the darkness. Bodies were scattered about, some cross legged with their eyes closed, others completely sprawled out or asleep. A different musician or set of musicians took over the drone every half hour. We listened with our full body for fifteen minutes or so and headed over to the Knoxville Art Museum to check out Tim Story’s Roedelius Cells, fragments from old Cluster recordings played through sixteen speakers, eight times stereo. We stopped in a panel discussion with Nate Wooley. He talked about listening, the importance of silence and playing with but not mimicking external sounds. 

A century after the WW1 armistice, Richard Thompson performed KIA with a string ensemble. His songs are based on letters, diaries and verbatim extracts from people directly involved. Peggi counted 10 violins, 4 violas, 4 cellos and two basses.

Ever the optimist, Roscoe Mitchell, in the center of a panel surrounded by three current members of the Art Ensemble, said, “It seems like the sixties all over again.” He talked about composing in the moment and how he was trying to do the past members, those who have passed on, proud. “You either have a ticket to ride or you don’t go.” We we’re thrilled to see that Tomeka Reid, the cellist we liked so much in Artifacts, is now a member of the Art Ensemble.

Bill Frisell’s Harmony with Petra Haden singing as he plays guitar along with cellist, Hank Roberts and Luke Bergman on baritone guitar sounded right at home in Tennessee. The old timeyness in a lot of Frisell’s playing in hi many settings is fully fleshed out here.

At the Spanish/Moorish Tennessee Theater the amazing Art Ensemble of Chicago, celebrating fifty years of great black music, closed out the festival like a rocket ship leaving earth with the very best elements of our culture. With only two of the formible five left they had added twelve members and a conductor. Their set and encore were so musically rich our ears indeed got bigger.


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Big Ears

Absînt with David Torn, Tim Berne, Aurora Nealand and Bill Frisell performing at Big Ears in Knoxville, Tennessee 2019
Absînt with David Torn, Tim Berne, Aurora Nealand and Bill Frisell performing at Big Ears in Knoxville, Tennessee 2019

We started our day with a few minutes worth of Dead Souls, the eight hour movie by Wang Bing, at the UT Gallery and then headed down to the Bijou Theater for Joan La Barbara again, this time with Alvin Lucier and the Ever Present Orchestra. It was transcendent. 

Larry Grenadier’s recent ECM release is a solo bass recording called “The Gleaners.” He performed songs from it and mixed Coltrane, Gershwin and Hindemith in with his own songs. He makes the bass sound extraordinarily rich.

Harold Budd opened with a gong piece a Methodist church. The church bells chimed in the middle of his loosely conducted set. Shai Meistro’s trio was amazing. They finished with a cinematic song worthy of an Oscar winning movie.

Absînt with accordionist, Aurora Nealand, Tim Berne, Bill Frisell, and David Torn, performed for the first time together at the Standard, a standing room only venue. It was kind of messy so we ducked out to see Spiritualized. And we finished the night with a brilliant performance by Meredith Monk of her “Cellular Songs,” something she premiered last year at BAM.

We slept like babies after this.

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For Saint Pat

We drove past Saint Patrick’s Cemetery on the way in into town and parked right in front of the Aurora Inn. We were here for a special Portuguese dinner pairing of Portuguese food with wine from that country but first we took a walk around town. The wind was blowing hard, off the lake, so at Saint Patrick’s Church we headed up Dublin Hill Road. There is a historical marker at the corner marking the 1793 Patrick Tavern, the towns original courthouse. We checked out an art show on Wells College’s campus and headed back for dinner.

We were seated with three other couples at a round table overlooking Cayuga Lake, a mother and her grown son who drove over from Syracuse, a couple from Philly, who come up here regularly, and a couple from Brighton who were celebrating a birthday. The Brighton guy, a bond trader, and the Merck salesman from Philly monopolized the conversation. Not that we wanted to jump in on their conversations about money, taxes, vacations, cooking steak and money, just that we could hardly have our own with all that. A wine salesman and Chef Patrick, dressed in black and wearing a pair of black Crocs, saved the day by talking to the crowd between each serving.

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Dog Days Begin

Green door being Rochester Contemporary Art Center in winter.
Green door being Rochester Contemporary Art Center in winter.

All this sun, the blue skies and temperatures poking above 0 (Centigrade) signal the end of our cross country skiing season. There were a few grassy patches out there this morning and a lot of people with dogs. I stopped at a juncture between paths and a big brown dog ran toward me. I turned away from it and it jumped up on my back. Its front legs were on my shoulders as I pleaded with the owner to either call your dog or put it on a leash like the park sign says.

I know I sound like a cranky old man and I don’t particularly like this part of me. But I was up for an hour or so before Peggi, working on my computer, as the dog across the street, trapped in the front yard while surrounded by pink flags marking his electrified perimeter, the so-called invisible fence, barked at least once for every breath I took.

The dog is almost a year old now and the owners never walk it. I would be miserable too. They are inside with a big tv on in every room. Oblivious. The guy has a gun and most people on the street are afraid to talk to them. There must be a creative solution to this.

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