Bands perform in the Little Theatre Café every night but Tuesday. On Tuesday they took down last month’s art show and put up the new one, “Portals and Planes – Photos by Paul Dodd.” I check the Little’s calendar to see who would be playing there while the photos are up. Ensemble Aztlan was there last night so we stopped out. It was some sort of cosmic alignment that had my photo of a musician in a white shirt strumming a guitar as he crossed the street in Merida hanging directly behind a Mexican guitar player in a traditional white shirt.
The six musicians in Ensemble Aztlan play guitar, bihuela, guitarron, jarana, trumpet, violin, cajon, bass, saxophone and a donkey jaw. They were muy tipico and a pure delight. My opening for the photo show is scheduled for Sunday afternoon on September 10th, 2-4 pm. Peggi and I plan to play a very short set at some point. Margaret Explosion plays while the show is up on Wednesday, September 13.
Yesterday’s match was nerve wracking. Japan, a typically possession heavy side, frustrated the hell out of Spain, a way heavy possession side, by hunkering down in their own half, 5 4 1 style, and picking moments to breakaway. They scored four goals in what seemed like only ten forays into the Spanish end. Spain had three quarters of the possession and no goals.
We have been limiting ourselves to one match a day for the opening rounds. It is tough staying away from the news. Even watch alerts can spoil our recorded matches. This morning Kerry and Claire met us here at 7:30 AM so we could watch the US/Portugal match that was aired live at 3AM EST. They brought croissants from Pittsford Bakery and we made eggs. The match, as Sparks would say was, “Sad.” They failed to score and settled for a tie to squeeze into the round of 16.
Our favorite team in the tournament is Colombia. Our favorite player is Linda Caicedo. They thrilled us with their goal in the seventh minute of stoppage time, defeating number two ranked Germany. A clash of civilizations.
That’s Australia’s Alanna Kennedy next to the US’s Lynn Williams, New Zealand’s Abby Erceg and Sam Mewis from USWNT when they were all playing for the Flash, our local soccer franchise. I glommed onto a professional photo of the team at a dinner for season ticket holders. Samantha Kerr, Marta, Alex Morgan and Christine Sinclair all played for the Flash. Kerry Regan reminded us how lucky we were. And we got see all the other international stars when they traveled to Rochester with their home teams.
We’re watching older versions of all these players now as the World Cup unfolds. The US is not a cinch for their third title. Spain looks amazing. And mighty Haiti almost undid the European champions, England. This tournament is just getting started.
In the middle of the World Cup it is tempting to pick up an Apple TV+ subscription to MLS just to watch Messi. His first match in a pink uniform and he scores in the 94th minute to break a 1-1 tie with Cruz Azul vs Miami. And it is not just Messi. Two of our favorite Barcelona players, Sergio Busquets and Jordi Alba have joined him in the unofficial capital of Latin America.
Our friends, Matthew and Louise are settled in their swanky new place in Waikiki. And their car is no longer in our driveway. A driver from Hot Car Go arranged to meet us near the cemetery where he loaded their car onto this mile long truck. He is bound for Oakland where the car will be put on a freighter and shipped to Honolulu.
I have a lot of nieces and nephews. The photo above, from the late fifties, is just one side of my family. Not all of my siblings or first cousins were even born yet. Peggi, on the other hand, has one sister and her two sons are the only nephews (or nieces) we have on that side. They are pictured below.
Alex, the one on the right, is a chef. He and his wife own two successful restaurants in Miami. One, Boia De, has a Michelin star! We are enormously proud of him but we have not dined there yet. We ate at Animal in LA when he worked there and at 11 Madison Park when he was a sous chef there. Boia De just celebrated their fourth anniversary so we are overdue.
The Bear is an enormously successful show. We watched two episodes one night and then four the next. Is it as good as Better Call Saul? No, but Bob Odenkirk makes an appearance. Is it as good as Hawaii Five 0 (the original)? I didn’t fall asleep during The Bear and we are quite enjoying it. The characters are all familiar types. I like that. The powers that be aligned to produce a tie-in ad with Boia De, American Express and the booking app Resy, for the show. You may have seen it. Alex and his wife, Luci, are featured in the ad (below).
Whenever I went anywhere in the city with my father he would point out places that used to be something else. In an attempt to draw me in he would personalize the location. “That’s where your great grandfather used to live.” I could hardly imagine a time when the city wasn’t what is but then I got old and I can’t go anywhere without thinking about people and places that had some connection to where we are now. I’m in the moment as we walk around and then out of it as I remember how it used to be.
I have always been of the mind that things are getting better and I thought my father was too. But near the end of his life I asked him if he thought things were better now than in the past and without answering directly he started talking about how the neighborhood priest knew what everybody was up to and how he wouldn’t let you get away with anything. I got the sense that he missed the order of yesteryear.
Walking down South Avenue toward downtown Peggi and I paused at this underpass. Linnea Fischer took photos of the Hi-Techs here forty three years ago. We used one on the cover our first single. But back home, looking at the 45 cover, we found the pattern in the blocks goes in the opposite direction. You can’t go back.
The air smelled not so much like smoke but smoke flavoring, like the stuff they put on smoked almonds. So we walked with masks on. The air quality was at 155 when we left and that number kept dropping as we walked. Still unhealthy.
Our friend Pete has spent enough time in the hospital. He is coming home on Wednesday. Last week I gave him my copy of a recent Brooklyn Rail with a collection of essays on Robert Motherwell. I had the page with the first of Motherwell’s “Opens” open on our coffee table for the last week. Transfixed by the simplest of drawings I just couldn’t turn the page. Motherwell studied philosophy at Stanford and Harvard before making art and I knew these articles would fire Pete up so I gave him the issue. By the time we got home from the hospital Pete had texted us to say, “I would love to talk to you about these articles.” So we’re headed back up there tomorrow.
“Do I contradict myself? Very well then I contradict myself, (I am large, I contain multitudes.)” –Walt Whitman
A sure way to for me to get sucked down a rabbit hole is to dig into my photo library for something. Today, searching for something else, I came across photos of the drawings Rick Hock did, from a show at Rochester Contemporary in 2015, just after Rick passed. They drew me in all over again. Louise Bourgeois whomping Cindy Sherman. Claus Oldenberg with a Damien Hirsch doll. Hysterical and biting, caricatures so good they hardly need labels. William Kendrick scolding Ed Ruscha. But who is beating up Julian Schnabel? Walton Ford? Rick liked Walton Ford?
I wished I had photographed every piece in the show so I went to Google to see more. I found a picture of Rick, from PopWars (I hate it when that happens) and my post from 2015. I discovered I had already written what I was about to enter here today (I’ve copy-pasted that post below.) But I was delighted to find a listing for a $10 VSW book of Rick’s drawings (published after he passed) and this fantastic little movie by Matt Ehlers, “Driving Around Rochester With Rick.”
SEPTEMBER 6, 2015 We got to know Rick Hock a little at a time. Steve the mailman would talk about him as “another music nut,” someone we should know. Rick lived the next block over, on Barry Street. My cousin lived on that street too and we never saw her. Steve used our bathroom because we worked out of the house. He’d bring us cookies that the ladies at Elite Bakery would give him when he delivered their mail and he always had the new Neil Young record on the day it came out because he was friends with Kim at the House of Guitars. And then he would let Rick borrow it. Steve kept telling us “we had to meet this guy.”
We met Rick’s wife first and she offered us a kitten, one born to a scraggily white cat that lived under their house. Stella, who is solid white like her mother, is seventeen now and a real sweetheart. Every time we saw Rick we’d tell him, “we still have that cat.” We’d see Rick when we went out running Peggi remembers Rick looking at us and asking “Why?”
Rick was someone you wanted to get to know. He was intriguing and opened himself slowly so that each encounter was an adventure. He played guitar and jammed with Peggi and me in our neighbors’ (Willie and Ethylene’s) driveway while they were having a garage sale. Rick was an artist, he converted the attic in his house into his studio. He worked at the Eastman House and curated some of our favorite shows there.
Rick was dark and sweet at the same time. He was very bitter about the Vietnam Nam war and it didn’t take much to get him going on politics. He was frustrated about a lot of things but always looking for an opening or a way to express the madness. The last few times we saw him were heartbreaking as we learned he had cancer. He died when he was on a roll.
His drawings, on display now in the small gallery at RoCo, are explosive. I hear these are some of the last things he did so the show was put together without Rick’s guidance. The large drawings portray pairs of artists locked in battles. Joseph Bueys beating up on Warhol etc. RoCo has made these pairs out to be winners and losers, favorite artists putting posers in their place, but I like to think they just portray the struggle, to make art, to create, to be successful in the market or true to the creative gods. Artists vs. art.
There are ten of them here, even one that Rick didn’t title which RoCo has turned into a contest to identify. I cast my vote and am pretty sure I have the answer.
Bruce Nauman, Kara Walker, Anselm Kiefer, Francis Bacon, Joseph Beuys, Walton Ford, Claes Oldenburg, William Kentridge, Louise Bourgeois, Andres Serrano Tracey Emin, Jeff Koons, Elizabeth Peyton, Andy Warhol, Jackson Pollock, Julian Schnabel, Damien Hirst, Ed Ruscha and Cindy Sherman are all there. Don’t miss this show.
Here’s the Meredith Davenport’ statement that accompanies the show: “Drawing was a fluid way for Rick McKee Hock to metabolize ideas and to connect with people, whether he was sketching his frustrations out in a meeting or sharing complex feelings through the loving marks on a birthday card, it was the process of drawing that was a primary connection to the world around him. His fascination with the mark and to visual language combined with his intellectual complexity would move him towards the photographic images he is so well respected for.
But the drawings are essential. They are artifacts of the conversations he was having with the world- sometimes profound, occasionally banal and most times they were very funny. A few times they were also terrifyingly prescient. He struggled with the limitations of his drawings. Were these “cartoons”, truncated one-liners that could not transcend into the deeper things he felt and observed and tried to express? How could he imbue these marks with more? It was a constant struggle for him because he loved the mark and the paper and the pen even more than the silver image.
Like many artists before him, Rick located himself in the creative cosmos through the artists he admired and he made reference to them in his work. Maybe it was a way for him to commune with their ideas or to pay homage to the impact they had on him? He made an early set of small engravings of photographers he respected and his polaroid works reference writers like Ezra Pound and William S. Burroughs. In these drawings, he was into deeper questions about contemporary art through narratives he created via the artists he admired and hated. The marks and humor were a way for him to think about and distill their work and their careers. They are a beautiful expression of his own labor to resolve the tension between his big brain and his skilled and intuitive hand.
For me these drawings are also a love letter. When he made them, I was in New York City taking two‐week drawing course at the Studio School. Each night, after eight hours of classical figure drawing, I would receive a photograph on my cell phone of one of these drawings that he made during the day. It was his way to be with me. He knew that I also battle with similar questions in the contemporary art dialog. He worked with artists I admired like Louise Bourgeois and Bruce Nauman. In his drawings their authenticity always defeated the charlatans. We were somehow all in this fight together!” – Meredith Davenport
When you photograph someone you go for a picture of how you like seeing them. Parents tell kids where to stand, what to wear and when to smile. And then they capture their idyllic image.
One of the old newspapers we read after returning from Mexico had a familiar Larry Sultan image in it along with an article about his series, “Pictures from Home (1983–92).” Some of the images are currently on view in Chelsea and a play based on the dialog in his book of the same name is running on Broadway. The back story was so interesting to us we bought tickets and plan to travel to NYC soon. Sultan turned the tables on his parents and returned home to photograph them. He collaborated with his parents on this project capturing candid shots and staging others as a way to break down the barriers between reality and fiction. Sultan talked about “”Pictures from Home” when the photos were shown at SFMoMA.
Our neighbor, Dan, took in our mail while we were in Mexico. That and the newspapers filled an Amazon box. In the pile were two small boxes, 45 mailers. I was expecting the one. Our copy of “Is That All There Is?” skipped and I don’t want to live without that record. The MX-80 single was surprise. Guitarist, Bruce Anderson, left the planet but not before the band recorded this gem. Produced by Steve Albini, “When Tully Flew the Coop” is a vintage MX pile driver. We fell in love with the slower, moodier b-side, “Snowing in Amsterdam.” The brilliant Rich Stim lyrics put it on the same shelf as the Peggy Lee classic.
“When she starts to daydream Her mind turns to the dead Go back to bed instead She wants something But doesn’t know what it is
There’s a place in the ocean Where my father’s shoes lay Malevolent tides No warning sign His judgement day And while his life was slowing It was snowing in Amsterdam”
Margaret Explosion plays the Little Theatre Café tonight.
Culture is art and in Merida you don’t have to go far to find it. Museos, galerías, mercados and even the government buildings all feature it. Fernando García Ponce was born in Merida. The Yucatan people are so proud of their heritage they have turned the city into somewhat of a gastronomical paradise. In fact, we had dinner in a restaurant called Museo de la Gastronomía Yucateca, an open air courtyard with full grown trees in an ancient building. It lived up to its moniker. Bands performing traditional Mexican music played every night of the week in a rotating parque schedule. The churches are still active. The Spanish made an impression.
I’ve not checked in with PopWars since we returned. It wasn’t jet lag or anything, it was getting back in the swing. We had a backlog of La Liga matches and we couldn’t wait to get to El Clásico so we watched a match a night. And last night’s El Clásico was fantastic! We have a Margaret Explosion gig coming up so Peggi and I have carved out a slot to play each day. There were no hills in Mexico so we had work a little harder on our walks. And with the leftover time I have been plowing through my photos. The street is where I found most of the art.
Our daily Merida pattern has shifted gears and now centers on the main attraction, our nephew’s wedding. He and his wife to be are chefs in Miami where one of their two restaurants has earned a Michelin star. They love Merida and the food here is an inspiration to them for good reason. Approximently 150 people are gathering here from all parts of the world for their destination wedding.
We checked out of our hotel yesterday and are now staying in an Airbnb with Peggi’s sister, another nephew, his partner and their daughter. We met the groom to be for dinner last night and a much bigger group of early arrivers met for lunch today. Tonight after dinner we’re joining an even bigger group at a rooftop bar. Each of these establishments have been carefully selected by the chefs. All easy going and top notch.
We still found time for yoga this morning and and then a walk around town. We stopped at a sweet little church where a mass was going on and I grabbed this photo of N. Señora del Segrado Corazón.
The Mayans developed the concept of zero. Bow down.
I don’t think we were even living together yet when we decided to go to Mexico for the first time. It must have been in the summer because Peggi was still going to school. I remember saving money for the trip in a little box and the total wasn’t more than a few hundred dollars. We were living in southern Indiana and we drove Peggi’s orange Vega to Oaxaca and Salina Cruz at the southern tip of Mexico and back to Indiana.
Our first stop, in Paducah Kentucky, was almost as memorable as Mexico. We spent the night in a campground and someone there told us about a carnival down the road. It was one of those really creepy affairs where you pay to get into small attractions where all sorts of strange curiosities were on display. I will never forget the animals with extra legs.
In Mexico we continued to sleep in the back of the Vega until we learned that hotels were just a dollar or two a night. We are still astounded at how cheaply you can eat and entertain yourselves in Mexico. We took a bus to Progreso, on the coast about 30 miles north of Merida and the round trip for two was 4 dollars. We walked on the beach and swam in the warm turquoise waves before stopping for a Negra Modelo.
Three flights sounded like a nightmare but they all went smoothly and we were poolside at a lovely little hotel in Mérida, Mexico by 2 pm. We found a restaurant with great reviews just 800 ft away but found they weren’t serving until seven. We chose another two blocks away but on the way to that one we found the intriguing Museo de La Gastronomía Yucateca, an open courtyard in the center of an old building with huge doors, the kind you would see in a Vincent Price movie.
They started us with two ice cream sized scoops of whipped beans con salsa verde. We each ordered a Cerveza Patito IPA and we split a bowl of Sopa de Lima. We shared a serving of Pollo Pibil, baked in banana leaves and didn’t have room to pick the bones. We ate like kings and the bill was not even thirty US dollars. Quizás, Quizás, Quizás by Celia Cruz on the sound system topped it off.
We would rather eat at home than in a restaurant but we’ve been following the story of Noma’s chef closing shop to be reborn as a “giant lab.” What comes after tiny dishes prepared from locally foraged ingredients? Our nephew and his partner own a restaurant in Miami. They earned themselves a Michelin star during the pandemic when the fine dining business was forced to reinvent themselves. We hope to have reservations there someday soon.
Based on the evidence we find along the small lakes in Durand Eastman beavers are not all that fussy. They take down poplar, aspen, birch, willow and maple trees to eat the bark. Contrary to popular belief they don’t eat fish. They are strictly herbivores.
We are in an early winter cruciferous stage. We finished our walk today at the garden where our kale, collard greens and Brussels sprouts are still producing. We brought back an armful for dinner.
I could never remember whether it was fission or fusion that my father was working on. His engineering division at Kodak was lent out to the UR Laboratory for Laser Energetics in the mid seventies and one of his first projects was designing the mural pictured in the photo above. He was responsible for painting it too and he enlisted help from my brother’s and sisters and their friends. The room was empty at the time. Peggi and I pitched in and I remember Duane Sherwood up on a ladder with a bucket of blue paint. My father hired Refrigerator artist, Chris Schepp to create a large, air-brushed illustration of the UR laser process.
My father met Moshe Lubin there, the founding director, and would continue to work freelance for him into the nineties. Lubin started his own company, Hampshire Instruments, in the old Stromberg Carlson building (where Radio Social is now.) Every year my father and I worked on a slideshow for Hampshire, a crazy high pressure, last minute affair as Hampshire did battle to win the X-Ray lithography race to etch semiconductors. The business eventually failed and Lubin was said to have committed suicide. Before my father passed he sent me links to online speculation that Lubin was murdered so someone could make off with the technology.
My father loved his work at UR and took another off campus job at Los Alamos Laboratory in the early eighties, still officially working for Kodak. He had to wear a badge there, one that would light up if he exceeded his maximum dose of radiation exposure. Peggi, Steve Hoy and I drove out to visit my parents in New Mexico while my father was working at the famous lab, the one where the world’s first nuclear explosion occurred in 1945.
These projects that my father was involved with were fusion related, the cleaner (no nuclear waste) of the two f words. Leo would have been so happy with the recent news. Although clean energy from fusion is a long way off they finally were able to generate a greater amount of energy than they put in.
Referring to Messi, Ronaldo, Lewandowski and soccer’s golden generation, Rory Smith, writing in the Times, says, “This generation shone too brightly for anything to grow; it was only when their shadows had lengthened, just a little, that conditions proved amenable.” For Gavi and Pedri of Spain, Argentina’s Enzo Fernández and Kylian Mbappé of France of course. All under 23, it is as though soccer skipped a generation.
“It is perfectly fitting that it should have worked out this way: that their final stand should come in a tournament of unparalleled gloss and superimposed glamour, played out in lavish, gilded arenas, monuments to a world where money is no object, paid for with the sweat and the blood and the lives of people too poor to be part of the spectacle, rising above the desert sands in a country drawn to the game because of their irresistible appeal, their star power, their sheer fame.”
We were happy to see Morocco beat our number one, Spain, and then Portugal. The US did ok. Two of our favorites are still in, Argentina and France, so Sunday’s final will be fun. We’ll start out rooting for Argentina (Messi, DiMaria, Alvarez, Corea and DePaul) and we’ll switch allegiances when France goes ahead. Half of their team plays professionally in Spain. It has all been good from our vantage point, the northwest corner of our house in upstate New York. We tacked a large piece of leftover material up behind the tv to block the sun. We don’t usually have that thing on in the daylight.
Peggi and I both noticed how beautiful the back end of the Puntarenas Ferry looked. I went down to the lowest level when we were furthest out in the bay, when the ship was really starting to sway. I got really sick on a ferry years ago and I didn’t want to take any chances. I’m still thinking about how idyllic Costa Rica was and I was sorry to see them get knocked out of the World Cup last night.
We’ve been watching two matches a day for weeks. Hardly enough time left over for wood splitting. The round of 16 starts tomorrow with the US and the matches will have a little bit of breathing room as the field narrows. We go right to the Sports section in the morning papers now. There are so many great reporters to follow, Rory Smith in the Times and Sid Lowe in the Guardian, They are as much fun to read as the match was to watch.
OK, Spain is advancing but they have taken the beautiful game to extremes, playing it out of the back and maintaining possession while wearing down their opponents, that is until someone makes an errant pass and the opposition scores on a fast break. Japan is good at that, so good you wonder if it might all be a calculation. They swarm on a loose ball like a pack of industrious bees. And everyone of the worker bees is giving it their all. They upset Germany and then Spain. As upsetting as that was, we’re looking forward to their match with Croatia.
An article in the paper just before we left got us to New York’s New Museum for the first time. Theaster Gates “Young Lords and their Traces” fills three floors with found, rescued and reworked objects of cultural significance. He calls it “generative care”— tending to the past by carrying its lessons into the future. In video he is shown working in clay, singing spirituals in another.
The title of the show nods to the 1969 Chicago based Puerto Rican organization, an important force in community organizing. Gates rose to fame by reviving a neighborhood in Chicago’s South Side, purchasing vacant and distressed properties and transforming them into artist studios, affordable housing, and performance and exhibition spaces.
Had this been a Saturday we would have had the opportunity to hear the Hammond B3 Organ that was wired to six wall-mounted speakers. I particularly loved the workaday materials and earthy palette of his work. So warm and deeply human in response to forces in our culture.
President Eisenhower officially opened the St. Lawrence Seaway (Highway H2O) in 1959. It allowed oceangoing vessels to carry goods from the Atlantic Ocean to the western end of Lake Superior. A boom for some and bust others. Grain from the Midwest moved right through Buffalo and down to NYC or overseas. Buffalo’s grain silos have sat idle since. Portions have been redeveloped as Riverworks and last weekend the site played host to Playground, art installations in a stunning environment.
We had been to Playground a few years back when the installations filled an old school in Albion and we were looking forward to this one. One artist was busy bricking himself in. When we arrived he was up on a stool behind a five foot wall of newly laid bricks. Visitors could buy a brick for $1.99. We picked one out, handed it to him and he gave us a receipt. There were a few sound installations and movies. Our favorite was Shawn Chiki’s Womp Womp Machine.
I think the location upstaged the installations. I took more photos of the industrial setting than I did of the installations.