“Astronomers announced on Thursday that they had pierced the well of darkness and dust at the center of our Milky Way galaxy to capture the first picture of “the gentle giant” dwelling there: a supermassive black hole, a trapdoor in space-time through which the equivalent of four million suns have been dispatched to eternity leaving behind only their gravity and violently bent space-time.” – NYT
On the same day a package arrived from David Greenberger, the artwork we bought on eBay after receiving an email that alerted us to the listing. We paid $14.99 and David threw in one from his drawing/collage series of drummers, with a postage stamp heads sitting on drummers’ bodies as they sit behind a kit. Ours featured an Indian stamp of Gandhi.
We see Larry and his dog, Ernie, every couple of weeks. Now that Spring is here he has “Cooler by the Lake” back on. We experienced the micro climate phenom last night when we went downtown to see the Garth Fagan Dance performance in Innovation Square. My watch seven degrees warmer.
Last night’s program consisted of “Duos and Duets.” We looked up the distinction and found duo to be the performers and duets to be the pieces. The performance was flat out beautiful. We had seen “Griot New York,” a 1991 piece for which Wynton Marsalis wrote the music, years ago but it. was especially moving now that the performers have aged. “The North Star,” 2018, named after Frederick Douglas’s Rochester based newspaper used a familiar tune from the Melodians based on Psalm 137 (Frederick Douglas’s favorite psalm.) “Carry us away Captivity require from us a song.”
Our good friend, Pete Monacelli, has been creating a book with one spread devoted to all 1550 Psalms, the psalm on the left and a painting on the right. He is on 140 so he just fished the one I mentioned. I have digitized two of Pete’s books and I just put “Quatrains,” the new one, online today.
I read the newspaper, I look at the news so I guess I”m a bit of a political junkie.. But I don’t usually talk politics here. It is so unsavory. I posted a picture of Junior’s girlfriend, one I took off the tv during the Republican Convention, and I posted an earlier idea for a Don Jr. t-shirt. That post got eight comments but most thought it was a bad idea.
The other day I got an email from “Mr. Donald Trump Jr.” with the subject, “Can I tell my father you stepped up?” “There’s nothing the Left won’t destroy, including the future of America and its allies. Only YOU can stop them, Paul. I know my father would appreciate the support of a TOP Patriot like YOU.”
I tweaked my t-shirt design. Thinking about a short run for the summer. Comments are turned on.
History is ongoing. Our myths will need to be explained to future generations. Someone has to record them now. And just as historians continually reinterpret the history of our ancestors they will surely struggle to understand our timeframe. I am lightening their load by compiling a visual record of our days in a series of artists books entitled “A Brief History of the World.”
Download Volume XX of “Brief History of the World”
7 of the 21 volumes in this series have been converted to eBooks and they are available here as free downloads. I just uploaded Vol. XX today and I invite you to take a look. The file will open in the book app on your desktop, tablet or mobile device.
I call it “baclava” just for fun. Boris Johnson would call it a “letter box.” Peggi told me she was going to be cavalier this morning and not wear her balaclava while we skied through the woods. And then she added, “That’s a funny word.” It conjures up muskateers with me for some reason. There was restaurant with that name downtown on Clinton in that block where they built the Chase Lincoln tower, now the “Metropolitan.”
My brother and I would stop there for breakfast on our way to Bishop Kearney. We both had paper. routes and if weren’t done delivering by the time the school bus came (conveniently) we would take the city bus downtown and transfer to the Portland Ave. bus. That transfer time gave us plenty of time to go to restaurants, the record store and even movies when the RKO/Paramount was still open.
It was warm this morning, upper twenties and full sun, so I took my hat off and stuck it in my pocket. My ears were soon got cold and I looked for my hat but it was gone. We like to out out and come back in a big loop rather that backtrack but we did. It was easy enough to find. It’s bright yellow.
We ski through the woods and then out onto the golf course and we were lucky enough to catch the groomer this morning, dragging his apparatus behind a snowmobile. We waved and thanked him. He’s a new guy and especially creative. His tracks have all sorts of interesting curves and slopes.
Overheard at Colleen Buzzard’s Studio: Someone asking a visual artist how they were holding up in the pandemic. “It’s been a little quiet but I have a beautiful house, a nice studio and plenty of time to do work” or something to that effect. I wanted to second that but stayed quiet. And then at RoCo, later that evening, we ran into a writer who told us how they couldn’t get anything done during the pandemic.
Granted this thing is not good for depressive types. Someone in the Truman Capote doc that we just watched said, “All writers are voyeurs.” So maybe it is without people to observre a writer could be lost. But that is all broad brush nonsense. Truman did really blew up though with his “Answered Prayers.”
It was really good to get out, to see new art and laugh through a mask with friends. Joan Lyons show at Colleen Buzzard’s Studio is a real treat. A wall of photos created on Nathan Lyons (who died in 2016) old photo paper, some of it as old as his 40 year old darkroom. Joan doesn’t just click the shutter, she paints with the photo chemicals and exposes the paper to items from Nathan’s darkroom. I particularly liked her Diazo Prints, “Portraits,” made in conjunction with members of their family in the early eighties.
On the first page of Pete Monacelli’s book, Origins,” he defines “origin” as “The point or place where something begins, arises or is derived. Source, inception and root.” With verse, Casin paint and ballpoint pen he shares, over 94 spreads, some his origins. It is an astonishingly beautiful book, too good to sit in a drawer in his studio. I offered to create an eBook version and it is available here as a free download.
Click the cover above for a free download version “Origins.”
I was recently helping my brother, Fran, with a computer issue. He is surely up in the Adirondacks now with his snowmobile while Peggi and I watch snow slide off our new metal roof. And I was reminded of this movie, my first and only concept film. My father bought the Super 8 camera for me from Kodak’s Camera Club. It was eighteen dollars.
The movie, sequenced and edited in camera, is only three minutes long. My brothers helped me flesh out the concept and we wrapped it up before the film ran out. Fran is featured sliding off the roof with his friends and my brothers, Tim and John, play instruments in our driveway. The movie was silent but I added an Invisible Idiot song to the soundtrack.
I’m guessing this was 1970. I had dropped out of school and moved back home for a year. Without my college deferment I was ready to go to Canada and then that ping pong ball drop lottery happened. Fran was always a daredevil. He definitely steals the show here. Peggi has always thought he looked like Iggy Pop.
We walked in rain coats this morning. The streets were quiet. Even The marsh off Hoffman Road looked especially beautiful. Back home I started a fire while Peggi read a few articles from the NYT website. Our local paper paused print production for a few days by putting the Saturday Real Estate section in with the Thursday weekend edition. And because our local carrier delivers it and the NY Times he is letting our copies sit at the warehouse until Sunday. Rochester hung in there but this is the beginning of the end for print journalism.
I played ten 45s while we opened a few gifts and then created a short Xmas Playlist in Apple Music so I could share the audio track of our Christmas.
Love Me Tender - Elvis Blue Velvet - Bobby Vinton Fool #1 - Brenda Lee Make The World Go Away - Ray Price Solitary Man - Neil Diamond Family Affair - Sly & The Family Stone Nature Boy - Bobby Darin The Twelfth of Never - Johnny Mathis Why Can't We Live Together - Timmy Thomas I'm Stone In Love With You - The Stylistics
Manuel Cáceres Artesero, better known as Manolo el del bombo, is Spain’s national football team’s most famous supporter. He was in the stands in Sevilla beating his bass drum when Spain secured a spot in next year’s World Cup by defeating Swedon. We watched the match on ESPN and plan to watch the US tonight when they meet Jamaica in a a qualifying match.
We have walked along the lake most days this year. It is such a cool feeling to get there and realize we can’t go any further north without a boat or a passport. We met three women who had just taken a fall plunge this weekend. They were all wrapped up on the beach and bubbly. Peggi said, “You just went swimming didn’t you?” One of the woman said “Yeah, that will really wake you up.”
Today we followed a few paths through the park and never made it to the lake. We came back through the Commons and inspected our ski route/ We found one new tree down in the path but we found a way to ski around it when the time comes. The weeds are all spindly now as the die back and there is theoretically less chance of bringing a tick home on our clothes.
I wish the US team had a Manolo instead of the obnoxious American Outlaws and their bombastic U S A chants.
“Oh, the wives of the saints have troubles of their own.” Chuck’s lyrics pop into my head all the time. Hearing The Colorblind James Experience perform forty of his songs over the weekend has reopened the floodgates.
The titles alone of Colorblind songs come complete with their musical hook. “Considering A Move to Memphis,” “A Different Bob,” “Euphoria Jones,” “Rocking’ As Fast As I Can,” “I Saved Your Life,” “Don’t Be So Hard On Yourself,” “Show Me” and “She Took The Ring Off A Dead Man’s Finger.” The lyrics unfold like parables. Or poetry.
In high school Chuck and I were both friends with a brother and sister, the girl from his class and her brother from mine. When they moved away Chuck drove down to visit the guy with Peggi and me. I’m not using their names for a reason.
One night between Colorblind sets at Schatzee’s I told Chuck a story that the brother had recently shared with me. I was not supposed to tell anyone about this but I did. We were both friends with the players so I told Chuck and said, “Please, don’t tell anyone.”
The girl was working as a nurse when they brought a body into Emergency. The famous (very famous) person was pronounced dead and the hospital staff told her to sit with the body while they notified the family and authorities. She slipped a ring off his finger as a souvenir. Chuck thought the story was fantastic and a short time later the band was performing “She Took The Ring Off A Dead Man’s Finger.”
I helped Chuck put the artwork together for “Solid Behind the Times,” the album the song was on. Chuck always wanted his lyrics printed out on the lp but the company didn’t have it in the budget so they wound up on an insert. Twenty years later the girl caught wind of the song by her classmate. She back-pedaled a bit and said, “It wasn’t his ring. It was a lighter.” Not as poetic. I don’t believe her.
“Or would he want her to have it Oh, he might very well”
Our neighbor was right. We did almost hit 80 today. And everyone on our street, it seems, had the same idea. “Let’s mow the lawn.” Peggi’s sister is visiting from LA next week and we plan to have friends over tonight so the neighbor should be in tip top shape.
On a good year we can get through the summer with only one mowing. We have a large oak canopy above our house. Most years I mow twice, once in the spring before the trees have filled out, and the weeds and scattered grass in front of house takes off, and then again in the late summer. This year with all gypsy moth damage and the trees struggling to put out a second set of leaves a lot of light has gotten through.
We plan to cook paella in the backyard tonight. Our pan is big enough for eight and we spent the rest of the day preparing a the Spanish themed event. Vegetables needed to be split, the cheese is out, seeking room temperature. I have olives in small dishes, some Rioja on the counter and 8 glasses in a cluster. Our Spain playlist is already on shuffle and all 1000 of our photos from Spain are shuffling on the tv. We will start with a fresh batch of Pimentos de Padron from the garden. Hope they aren’t so hot they damage our guests.
If I was a few years younger I would have been at the Joywave show last night at Parcel 5. And if I was even younger than that I would have loved to hear Roy, son of Margaret Explosion guitar player, Phil Marshall, playing drums with Spencer, one of the four opening bands. It was a perfect night for an outdoor concert. Our windows we’re open but we couldn’t hear the sound system.
I sort of remember when this willow tree split apart. The back half fell across the creek and died but the front half continued to thrive. New branches have sprouted from the top side of the trunk. I’m so glad the laissez-faire owners have left it alone.
We intended to take a walking route that would finish at our garden but got talking and turned the wrong way. Peggi was telling me about her dream. We were at the Jazz Festival and she was holding front row seats at Kilbourn Hall for me. I was late for some reason (which sounds about right) and then the whole first row of seats began falling backward. People were screaming and that might have been when Peggi woke up.
We spotted a photographer up ahead of us on Log Cabin Road. I wondered if it might be Aaron Winters because of the way he was walking, lumbering under the weight of his camera equipment and long lenses. It turned out to be Fred SanFilipo who coincidentally often sits in the front row at Jazz Fest where he is one of the official photographers. He recognized us from Jazz Fest and then introduced himself to us.
I had met him many years ago back when he had an ad agency with someone named Younger. I was in their studio when the two partners were having an unforgettable blow-out. Today he seems much happier. He told us about a beautiful nearby bush he had discovered, one that attracts humming birds. Peggi told him about her Jazz Fest dream and he said it sounds like the beginning of a novel.
The newspaper box under our mailbox still says “Times Union.” We were subscribers of the afternoon paper back in the day, right up til their last issue, and then we switched to the D&C. The picture on the front page of today’s D&C showed five Times Union reporters, the late Jack Garner among them, celebrating their Pulitzer Prize in 1972. They won it for reporting that it was police gunshots that killed the hostages in nearby Attica Prison and not the prisoners’ homemade knives, as we had originally been told.
Check out President Nixon on the phone with Governor Rockefeller patting each other on the back for the debacle.
I came awake around one and lay there listening to our fan, the one that sits on the laundry basket near the screened window in our bedroom. We don’t have air conditioning and would rather not have it. We can handle the few weeks of hot we get up here. And I love waking up to the birds.
I was only half awake so I struggled to determine whether I was hearing music in addition to the fan or hallucinating musical patterns in the fan noise. I convinced myself that it was just the fan and tried to get back to sleep. Then the music got louder, a lot louder.
I got up and walked around the house to figure out where it was coming from. I was certain a car was parked out front between Dan and Diana’s house and ours with its lights out and one of those giant sound systems in their trunk. The music was getting louder but I couldn’t see anyone. Peggi was up by now and we opened the front door and gradually walked toward the street.
Was there a party on the next street over? We could hear people laughing and shouting over the music. Everything was auto-tuned and in Spanish with a dancehall beat. Reggaeton? And it was echoing through the woods. A dub mix. We figured it must have been a big party on the beach and we went back to bed.
The next day we saw Diana heading out to work and we asked if she heard anything. She said no, “But then I take Melatonin.” And they have air conditioning. When we saw Rick, our next door neighbor, we asked if he had heard anything. They keep their windows closed, the air on and he takes his hearing aids out at night. Down at the pool our neighbor, Phil, asked us if we heard the music. He said he called the cops, the party pooper.
I see Park View Bowl has a pre-season special going before their bowling leagues start. This place, six lanes and a bar, run by the brother of a former pro bowler, is Out Of Time. We walked down to the lake this morning and out the Sea Breeze pier. The lake was perfectly calm. We watched a Poseidon Barge dredge the channel for a while. Peggi took a short video. Rob Benton’s tour bus was parked out in front of Marge’s, where the signs read “Don’t Even Think of Parking Here.” This place was a speakeasy during Prohibition and they had the best jukebox in town in the late seventies when Ron was still around. We looked up Mr. Benton when we got home and watched a hideous cover of “Hotel California.” Don’t do it. In the sixties Marge’s would sell beer to anyone. I remember friends pulling up to the place, running up the steps and returning with a six pack. We were sixteen.
The new La Liga season has begun. Some fans, maybe 20% of the capacity are allowed back. The broadcasts have moved from BeIN to ESPN. The extra cable tv package we pay for doesn’t include the games. We had to purchase a subscription through the ESPN app, another app. We watched the first matches for Barca, Atletico and Real Madrid,our three favorite teams. They all won! Our only complaint is the Spanish language commentators are no where’s near as good as they were on BEIN.
I thought Apple’s “1971: The Year That Music Changed Everything” was pretty sensational (spoken like a true fanboy). The overtones were not as preachy as they were in “Summer of Soul.” But I understand the desperate need for that. I went to Woodstock to see Sly and the Family Stone and the series of concerts featured in Summer of Soul from that same year was every bit as good as Woodstock. It is about time. “1971,” with solid research and clear evidence, made the case that the year was transformative on so many levels.
Marvin Gaye’s “What’s Goin’ On” and Sly’s “There’s A Riot Goin’ On” alone make the case for ‘71. I get bothered by all the nostalgic wallowing that goes on with people my age. Trump’s “Make America Great Again” campaign capitalized on that. The techno music playing at the Co-Op this afternoon made it so much fun to shop. But these two documentaries are art history classes. Requirements. Plant food for the culture going forward.
We saw ‘Summer of Soul” at the Little Theatre on opening night, our first post-pandemic theater experience. We expected the theater to be mobbed but were two of maybe twenty. I don’t know whether to worry more about our generation, the movie theater business model or our tastes.
We didn’t get our papers this morning so I called our delivery guy and he told me “no one got a paper, the presses broke down.” It made for an interesting morning. We read a few articles online and then got on with the day. No news is good news.
My sister and her husband hosted a holiday weekend cookout and six of the seven siblings were there. Their backyard was a lovely setting for our first get-together since the pandemic began. We were caught up in couple of hours and moved on to meatier topics after dinner. I was thinking of how my mom relished the after conversations and the opinions from family members that often surprised her. She would even follow-up with her take the next time we saw her.
One of my brothers lamented the fact that his daughter got so rattled by the pandemic that she wouldn’t see him and he blamed the media for scaring everyone to death. Some family members countered with stories of friends who were stricken. The conversation took a political turn and my brother had to go. As many times as we’ve talked to him about all the hot topics we never realized he was a Trump fan.
The last time I saw my friend, Dave, before he died he had just spent time with his family and he was blown away by the discovery that they were Republicans. He said “Our parents didn’t hold these values. “ I probably said something about evolution and people turning against parents as the natural order but I don ‘t recall. I remember my father expressing the same sentiment in painting class when talking about the family he married into. “They’re all Republicans, except Ann and Bob (one set of my aunts and uncles).
Another brother suggested there was no truth anymore and and my sister added that we used to all watch the same news shows. Someone mentioned our cousin’s Facebook feed that reads like a litany of right wing talking points. I mentioned an article I read in the New Yorker written by someone who worked for the Murdochs. He was paid a bonus for each “this’ll get em goin” topic he found in the recesses of social media platforms.
I suggested the profit motive for the platforms had a lot to do with the divisiveness and I tried to connect the dots with the Netflix documentary, “The Great Hack,”that laid out how easy it was for Cambridge Analytica to harness facebook’s data points and then target the “persuadables” in the swing states with ads designed to “get ’em goin” thereby tipping the scales in the 2016 election. They described it as a piece of cake. But by the time I got the gist out there were four separate conversations going on at the table.
We had a spectator tonight, sitting in one of the yellow chairs, and she made a movie of the last couple minutes of our third round. It was twenty to twenty and Rick and I had already won one each. Rick was kind of nervous because he had the Spevaks coming over at 5:30 and that was jus a few minutes away. I took advantage of his nervousness and pushed him to play the rest of the third round instead of postponing it. You never know how long a match will take.
I picked up a point on this toss and Rick said “Damn it.” In previous matches I distinctly remember Rick saying, “You have to win by two” and I expected him to blurt that out but he didn’t. I took the victory.