Whoa Whoa, Yeah Yeah

We had dinner with Rick and Monica last night. Rick made tostadas and Peggi made roasted corn and with jalapeños. After dinner we watched “I’m Not There”. The various Dylans was a good idea but Cate Blanchet was so much better than the others and of course Bob Dylan’s music is so much better than the covers that the movie sort of fell apart.

I checked the mail on my way downtown to drop off my contributions to RoCo’s 6×6 show. I opened the mail while I was driving (it ain’t illegal yet) and there was a cd from the Squires of the Subterrain entitled “Whoa Whoa, Yeah Yeah”. I stuck it in the cd player but it kicked back out. I tried it back home and it wouldn’t play there either so I put it in my computer and a movie popped up. It was sensational, like the last one, only better.

Read a review of local boy Philip Seymour Hoffman in “Synedoche, New York” directed by the screenwriter of “Being John Malkovich”. Among other things it is about the anxiety of artistic creation and the desperate sense that your life is rushing by faster than you can make sense of it.

We almost went to NYC this weekend. We were going to visit Duane and gallery hop and then bring our nephew back from Brooklyn so he can visit his grandmother, Peggi’s mom, in Rochester and hang out with us. There were too many loose ends to leave town so here we are.

Peggi’s making Bob Mahoney’s “Cowboy Salsa” recipe. I cut up the cilantro and an onion. Beautiful day out. I’m headed down to the basement to paint.

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Dumber Than a Box of Rocks

Pile of Medina stone in backyard
Pile of Medina stone in backyard

I quit school after a year of college and went to work for Mitchell Construction Company in Bloomington Indiana. I worked on a crew that poured concrete and my boss was called “Frenchie” for some reason. He was a good old boy who smoked Winstons, hunted quail and woke every night with a “piss hard on”. There were only three of us on this crew. The other guy, Wayne Anderson, was hired because the company, which had thirty or so employees, learned they could not win any Indiana University contracts unless they hired a black guy. Wayne had just gotten out of prison for involuntary manslaughter. He was parking in front of a bar in Indianapolis and he hit the car in front of him. That car crushed a guy who was standing in front of it. We became friends and spent most of our time wrestling.

One of Frenchies favorite sayings was, so and so is “dumber that a box of rocks””. That’s kind of unfair to rocks but I like the image. We have some old stone walls out back that have been swallowed up by the earth and we’re rebuilding them. This is some backbreaking work, trying about ten stones to fit one in each place. We started by pulling out all the old rocks and we made this big pile to pick through. Our neighbors say we should hire the Bosnians. They have some sort of reputation around here.

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Endless Rejects

Marlene Dumas Chlorosis (Love sick) 1994
Marlene Dumas Chlorosis (Love sick) 1994 at MoMA

In 2002 I painted twenty two “Artists’ Heads,” and mounted them together in two long frames. At the time they were my favorite painters. The piece was in the 2003 Finger Lakes Show at the Memorial Art Gallery. I’m still pretty happy with the list but if I was doing it today I certainly would include Philip Guston and Marlene Dumas.

Geri McCormick saw some Marlene Dumas work at MOMA and told me that she thought I would really like it. Wow, do I. I checked out a “Marlene Dumas: One Hundred Models and Endless Rejects” from the UofR library and ate it up. I brought it into painting class to to show to Lorraine but she wasn’t in class. My painting teacher, Fred, borrowed it and he seems to have devoured it (that’s a few steps above eating it up). He brought it back into class with yellow post it notes hanging out of the bottom of the pages. I’m happy that Fred liked it as much as I did and now it’s Lorraine’s turn. The book, from a show of her work in Boston is out of print. There is a copy on Amazon for $221.26 if you’re interested.

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Modeling in New York City

Duane Sherwood “Modeling in New York City” detail.
Duane Sherwood “Modeling in New York City” detail.

“I Am Legend” wasn’t much of a movie after the John Cassavetes stuff. The buff Will Smith was about the last person left in Manhattan and so he naturally had a relationship with a mannequin. Duane Sherwood’s “Modeling in New York City” could have been shot the week they closed the city make to that film. Duane Is Legend!

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6×6 at RoCo

Paul Dodd prints of paintings for RoCo 6x6
Paul Dodd prints of paintings for RoCo 6×6

I hate deadlines but Rochester Contemporary has a big one this Friday. They are hoping to collect 2008 six by six inch pieces of artwork from their members for a show entitled 6×6. You may have seen the billboards around town. It looks like they are about half way to their goal.

I have about twenty new paintings that I haven’t photographed yet. I was thinking I would shoot them with my new camera, crop the shots to six inch squares, print them on canvas paper and give them to RoCo. That’s the whole idea here. Artists are being asked to donate their pieces and RoCo will sell them for $20 each and keep the proceeds. RoCo is all about supporting local artists so this is a worthwhile cause. The art business is about as lucrative as the music business, so give to RoCo and ye shall receive.

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A Glimpse Of The Other Side

I look for a space to paint everyday. I don’t always find one but most days I do. I’ve been chugging along and I believe I’ve had a glimpse of the other side, the great expanse. The key seems to be in letting go. I start with a preconception but once I’m off and reacting to what I have, the plan goes out the window

I’m seeing missteps earlier, recognizing them as such, and making repairs. And I’m enjoying the road work. I even like the look of the patch job now because I have let go of the original idea. It is hardly a smooth ride but it is exhilarating.

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You Got Something Better To Do?

Ben Gazzara, Seymour Cassel and Al Ruban at the Dyden Theatre in Rochester, NY
Ben Gazzara, Seymour Cassel and Al Ruban at the Dyden Theatre in Rochester, NY

We saw “The Killing of a Chinese Bookie” last night at the Dryden Theatre. The Dryden’s director said the print we were watching belonged to Martin Scorcese. They are in the middle of their John Cassavetes festival and after the movie they had a question and answer session with the the film’s lead, Ben Gazzara, and his co-star, Seymour Cassel. They played Cosmo, a strip club owner and Mort Weil, a gangster, respectively. In person they were not all that different than their on screen parts. But they were much funnier. Producer/cinematographer, Al Ruban was there too. He described a small crew where everyone wore a few hats. They were good friends with Cassavetes and they had an evening’s worth of fascinating stories.

They worked hard and had a blast. Ben said “John was the least arogant, self serving guy he had ever met. He was an artist. He made films for himself, not for anyone else and he would never be here trying to explain his films”. And according to Ruban he was as good a businessman as he was an artist. Cassavettes once had Ruban build a huge set with a long bar and a trapeze set up above. All to shoot a scene while studio execs were being wooed to finance the film. They bought the film and the scene was cut.

Ben Gazzara, Seymour Cassel and Al Ruban at the Dyden Theatre in Rochester, NY
Ben Gazzara, Seymour Cassel and Al Ruban at the Dyden Theatre in Rochester, NY

Cassavetes shot a lot of film, changing the script as the actors developed their roles. After sitting through the first screening of “Chinese Bookie”, Ben told John, “The movie is too long”. John said, “What. You got something better to do?”

Tonight we are headed back there to see “Husbands”.

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What Are Your Plans?

If I was in NYC this weekend I would be headed to the “Philip Guston: Works on Paper” show at the Morgan. After that I would head down to the West Village to Gavin Brown’s Enterprise for the Elizabeth Peyton show. She is one of my favorite painters. If I was Andrea Stim and in NYC I would be up on the roof of the Metropolitan for the Jeff Koon’s sculpture show. We have been looking for an opening to get down there.

Lucky Duane, he lives there and last night he saw Suicide. He sent this report up.

Last nite in my old neighborhood, literally around the corner from my old apt, in a Polish disco, Suicide played. It was sort of intense in a different way than their shows can usually be. Marty was wearing the biggest pair of goggles I’ve ever seen, like something from a space-age motorcycle helmet with pitch black lenses. The rest of his outfit was almost too much to explain. Red satin Hip hop basketball jogging suit w/ a shredded blk t-shirt. Vega wore what Vega always wears, black. + a Knit hat on his head.

Marty started by playing a whole heap of white noise sounds – high pitched – with no rhythm machine. Then Alan announced that they were dedicating the show to Marty’s wife Marie who had just recently died. That was a shock, & even more so to me because just 1 min earlier I’d asked Howard why, when Alans wife Liz was always at the shows, did we never see Marty’s wife. No idea why that Q had popped into my head. And so Howard had just told me she died in Feb. Married since 1971.

The clubs PA was too small & I think Martys unusually raw & emotional playing was too much (maybe purposely) because for most of the show the sound was really distorted & the sound system auto-shut down a couple of times for like 2 sec. That was intense too, the sudden silence. Lots & lots of white noise, my ears are really ringing today.

Song titles that I remember – Dream Baby, Wrong Decisions, Cheree, Che, Stayin Alive, Ghost Rider, Death Machine.

At one point While Rev was playing all this noise, Vega was putting his mic into the speaker of Revs amp & rubbing it all around the rim, etc. Extra noise & distortion. They played about an hour, & got a long applause encore. At the end of the encore, after Alan had left the stage, Marty finished up with an overloaded white noise wall of sound & then took off his goggles & said something solemn into the mic about his wife, but it was so distorted & blown out I couldnt understand it. Kind of a loose, sloppy, & unfocused, one off type show. Good, not great. But a good Suicide show usually still has more than some other peoples great shows. We chatted with Liz before the show & went bk & said hello to the guys after.

That friggin neighborhood was just waiting for me to leave to become incredibly hip. This place was totally east euro cool/trashy, and the hottest underground club in NYC now is at the next corner down on Calyer street towards the river.

Didnt take my camera but Howard took some shots. There was a great point & shoot in someones hands there, nice big LCD & it looked like it shot some form of nitevision, but it was deep blue instead of green. The guy was too far from me & he left before the show was over or else I was gonna go see what it was. Howard noticed it too, we were both green with envy, so something that fits my needs could be out their waiting for me to find it.

Next weekend is Memorial Day wkd – what are your plans?

Hmmm. We are thinking about driving down to New York.

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Fantom Sensations

Bill Jones called me this morning at arond 8:45. I was having a cup of coffee and reading the Democrat & Chronicle. I had already run into Rick and Monica out at the mailbox. They were headed off to work in their seperate Subarus. Bill needed help getting a box with a band saw in it into his garage where his wood shop is. The trucking company that was delivering the saw had called to say they would be at Bills house at 10AM. I stopped at Wegmans and did a little shopping. I do most of my shopping in the produce department and then I scoot across the store to the canned goods section. We needed black beans for beans and rice and garbanzo beans for the humus that I have been making every week lately.

The truck driver was not running on schedule. Bill showed me some software he bought that generates site maps for web sites. He had run it on www.therefrigerator.net and www.popwars.com and he gave me the .xml files to put on those sites. His son Sam was on the lookout for the truck and he shouted to us at around eleven. A huge semi was parked out in front of his house on Valley Road. The driver told us the box was about two hundred pounds and he wasn’t about to help us with it but he did say we could use his cart. Bill and I lifted the box out of the truck and onto the cart and I wheeled into the garage. Bill recently cut the tip of the index finger on his left hand off. A piece of wood kicked back on him when he was ripping a small piece of wood. The wood flew back so fast it sliced his finger off. It’s very sensetive now but Bill has managed to play golf so it’s not the end of the world. I asked if he had any fantom sensations and and said no.

We had dinner out “The Bistro”, the small dining room at Peggi’s mom’s apartment building. All three of us ordered divers’s scalops and asparagus. After dinner I adjusted Peggi’s mom’s walker. Her brakes weren’t working any more. They operate like the brakes on a ten speed bike with a cable hat needed tightening. We pictured her rolling downhill at next week’s Philharmonic performance and winding up in the orchestra pit.

I wish I had brought my camera with me to get a picture of the troll like creature with a long white beard that is the hallway outside of Peggi’s mom’s door. The little guy has a tiny golf club in his tiny hands.

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Perfect World

I am nearing the end of of the big rip, that is taking every cd in the house and shoving it into our old laptop. I still have a stack of Sun Ra cds to rip and I’m sort of surprised the cd drive still hanging in there for this operation. A few cds with heavy ink coverage have sounded like a helicopter while giving up the goods. I have iTunes set to automatically retrieve track tags from CDDB and then eject with a chime when it finishes converting the tracks to mp3s or Apple Lossless files. Buy.com had a one day deal where you could buy a 500 gig harddrive for $100 and then there was a $20 rebate. So the library is sitting there and the cds are all in boxes ready to . . . I don’t know what I’m going to with them.

No more looking all over the house for a particular cd or just trying to find a cd in a pile. When I do that I usually forget what I’m looking for and go right by it. Now we’re diggin’ the Party Shuffle. You shuffle the deck with a click, call up 50 tunes at random, and restack those 50 if we don’t like the order. Or we live dangerously and just the let the thing go. All sorts of stuff comes up that I would never think of putting on. I keep thinking, “This guy is the best dj in the world”. And iwhen something nasty comes up, I hit the delete button and iTunes moves the file to the trash. This is a perfect world.

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Screwing Things Up

Bill Jones bought a plug-in for Cart Weaver (a shopping cart add on for Dreamweaver) that allows you to sell digital files and collect through PayPal. We are collaborating to set up a functioning store for Pete LaBonne’s entire oeuvre to date, entitled Gigunda. Today I scanned the covers of twenty six Pete cds. When we get the bugs worked out we hope to off this service to our website customers. Here is a sample from “Gigunda”. This track is from Pete’s “Ask Mr. Breakfast” cd.

I brought the Marlene Dumas book that Monica checked out of the UofR library to painting class last night. I had hoped to show it to Lorraine but she wasn’t in class. She has been really tearing it up lately. She brings in two or three paintings a week that just knock me out. My painting teacher really her work too and he has borrowed the book for a while.

I saw that Lucian Freud’s fat lady painting sold yesterday for more money than any other painting by a living artist. Beautiful tribute/obit to/for Robert Rauschenberg in yesterday’s NYT’s. I particularly like this passage.

The process — an improvisatory, counterintuitive way of doing things — was always what mattered most to him. “Screwing things up is a virtue,” he said when he was 74. “Being correct is never the point. I have an almost fanatically correct assistant, and by the time she re-spells my words and corrects my punctuation, I can’t read what I wrote. Being right can stop all the momentum of a very interesting idea.”

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From The President’s Desk

Chemicals on the pool diving board.
Chemicals on the pool diving board.

As presidents of the pool association on our street, we are responsible for the chemistry. Today the alkalinity was 120 and the the pH was 7.4 and of course there is no chlorine in there yet because we just took the cover off. The water temperature is a cool 59 degrees but on the way up.

Someone tracked me down on the internet and I joined a small group of people who are trying to organize a reunion for our high school class. There is one woman who works at the school who is very organized and we have been meeting at her house. I had been riding out to the meetings with Jeff Munson but he was out of town for the last meeting. There were only three of us at Diane’s house when I got there so we sat around talking about the people we had or had not contacted. Doug Klick, who teaches at our old school showed up with a box of chocolate cookies. I used to play Bop Baseball with Doug when we were kids. He told a funny story about someone who had just seen this guy from our class while he was in town visiting his mother. Apparently his mom caught him smoking pot in her house and she kicked him out so he stayed at a hotel for the rest of his visit.

About a half hour later Colin showed up. He had been at Burke’s since about noon drinking with his son. I had already tracked Laurice Densmore down online because she was on my page but Colin had called to her for about an hour. He seems to just pick names from the whole list, not just his page, and calls them from Burke’s. And somehow he found my page on Dave Mahoney and liked it quite a bit. Maybe they have internet access at Burke’s.

Mike Rifenstein, a lawyer now, called to say he was working late with a client. He showed up about an hour into the meeting. We picked a menu from the options that were provided by Proietti’s and then we discussed the advantages of hiring a dj over just using the XM radio feed from the VFW and we settled on a dj. I thought it would be more fun to be able to request songs. And then we started talking about classmates again until I had to go pick up Peggi at her Dreamweaver class. Colin was parked behind me but he couldn’t find his keys so Diane said it was ok to drive out across her lawn.

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Just Another Unjust War

Nicholson Baker attended Rochester’s School Without Walls and then the Eastman School of music. His first novel, “The Mezzanine” took place entirely on the up escalator at Midtown Plaza. He used to advertise in The Refrigerator when it was in print. His new book uses writing from the period leading up the US decision to drop the big one in WWII. I read a sensational review of “Human Smoke: The Beginnings of World War II, the End of Civilization” in the New York Times Book Review and then Ron Netsky’s interview with Baker in this weeks “City” paper. Compelling reading. I am now compelled to pick up the book. Have to finish Visual Quickpro Guide to PHP 6 and MySQL5 first.

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Atheism vs. Judaism

We opened the neighborhood pool yesterday. It’s not ready for swimming but the cover is off, the filter is running and there are thirty five pounds of chemicals ready to dump in. The adults, who had we had hardly talked to each other all winter, got caught up while the three kids ran around. There are two ten year old girls in our group. We heard that one wants to quit her religious classes because she doesn’t believe in god. Her mom wanted her to learn about her heritage but her father is an atheistic and there is a conflict there. The rabbi wants her back and gave the parents a book they could read with her. The girl’s father said he would read the book if the rabbi would read Christopher Hitchen’s book, “God Is Not Great”. They agreed to this proposal. The other ten year old girl, her best friend, goes to a catholic school and there doesn’t appear to be any conflict there. I was raised Catholic and I was never sure whether they even believed in god.

We are celebrating Mother’s Day by having Peggi’s mom and my parents over for dinner. I am marinating chicken in lime juice, balsamic and seasoned rice vinegar and crushed garlic. Peggi plans to make and angel food cake (no cholesterol) with fresh strawberries. We started a fire for the older folks. This will probably be the last one of the year. I have about two hours to paint before dinner.

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Dreamland Faces

Dreamland Faces Poster for Dryden Theater at Geaorge Eastman House in Rochester, NY
Dreamland Faces Poster for Dryden Theater at Geaorge Eastman House in Rochester, NY

Andy McCormick and Karen Majewicz (Dreamland Faces) performed in the dark last night in front of twelve short silent films that had been recently restored by the George Eastman House. Their music was so perfect for these old films that I kept forgetting it was being performed live and that it was not part of the soundtrack. And we were sitting right next to them in the front row. It was a magical night.

Andy plays musical saw, accordion, piano and keyboards and Karen sings like Edith Piaf while playing accordion or piano. They movies included “Mushroom Growing”1915, “How The Cowboy Makes His Lariat” 1917, two sensational “Felix The Cat” movies circa 1925 and “Love, Snow and Ice” 1915, featuring festivities at the famous Ice Palace built in 1898 in Saranac Lake. The complete lineup and a very cool picture of the band is here.

Also in the very cool category would be the John Cassavetes film festival this month at the Dryden.

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Look Out!

Peggi’s mom was checking her mail in her new motorized scooter (I call it her electric chair) and she lost control of the thing. She crashed into a few empty chairs and then hit a wall with her leg. She was taken to emergency where a very nice Asian doctor glued her wound together. The skin was too thin to suture. Peggi was teaching her Dreamweaver class and I was at a meeting so we missed her call, her neighbor’s call and the nurse’s call. This is probably why people have cell phones and I guess it is why we don’t.

We met her at emergency and took her home. Peggi spent the night with her. I woke up to a loud thud from a huge limb that fell across the street. Our neighbors took a tree down and offered me the wood. I dragged it home and spent most of the day with the chainsaw. My ears are ringing. We’re off to see Dreamland Faces.

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Life Expectancy

You know someone is playing the numbers on how long you are likely to live. Our neighbor is ninety and I know someone who is eying his house. We are considering a Met Life annuity and we can’t decide whether it is a better idea for us or the insurance company. My life life expectancy is 78 years but I am determined to prove someone wrong. There so many deer around here and as soon as we get to know some of them, like “dog deer” and the “one eared deer”, they disappear. So I assumed they only lived for three years or so but, wrong.

Rich Stim has created a video called “Animal Life Spans” that provides some surprising statistics. Deer live 10 to 15 years. Elephants do better in the wild than in captivity, just the opposite for guinea pigs. And Daddy Long Legs make it through the winter and live three years. And those carpenter ants in your ceiling live for seven years.

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Takin’ Care of Blog Biz

Margaret Explosion set up at New York Wine & Culinary Center in Canandaigua NY
Margaret Explosion set up at New York Wine & Culinary Center in Canandaigua NY

Margaret Explosion pulled off an unusual gig last night at the New York Wine & Culinary Center in Canandaigua. It was a client appreciation night for a wealth management group. Like Peggi said, “It must be tough trying to mange your wealth”. Bob and Ken set their little amps on the bench behind the drums and Peggi sat in a chair to the left. The place was beautiful and the acoustics were great. (If you click on the photo above you can get a little more detail) Before we started our host asked that we play standards. I said, “We’ll play our standards”. We made up most of the night and the crowd seemed to like it. We sold a cd and got quite a few compliments. Tonight we are back on more familiar ground at the Little Theater Cafe.

The only link I’ve had on this blog since I started this thing has been My Non-Tour Diary (my inspiration) but I’ve had a few requests to add others so I’m going about my business in the right hand column.

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Pete Townsend With the RPO

Yo Yo Ma at the Eastman Theater in Rochester NY
Yo Yo Ma at the Eastman Theater in Rochester NY

Peggi’s mom bought us tickets to last night’s Yo Yo Ma concert at the Eastman Theatre. We sat in the last row on the mezzanine level. The orchestra sort of overpowered the superstar cellist with sound but Yo Yo overpowered them with his visuals. His performance prompted a few questions. Why was he the only one not reading music? Why was he the only one allowed to look around while the others sat rigidly? Why was he the only one gesturing like Pete Townsend as he played? There is an interesting conflict in classical music between studied discipline and heartfelt performances.

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The Walls Are Closing In On Us

Truck and steam behind RGE
Truck and steam behind RGE

I love math, not so much adding and subtracting or balancing the check book but mathematical problems and puzzles. I love Spain. And I like suspense. “Habitación de Fermat” or “Fermat’s Room” had all three of these ingredients and it moved along like a roller coaster ride in a room that kept getting smaller. We missed the locally made “Smoking Laws” but heard there were scenes shot in Mex with the mural that I painted. We parked behind the RGE steam plant off Chestnut and took this low light picture.

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