When we lived in the city we bought a live Christmas tree. It was about two feet tall and more like a shrub. We decorated it, watered it and when the holidays were over we dug a hole in the back yard and planted it. It grew like a weed and in a few years we lopped the top off and brought in the house for Christmas. The tree developed four or five tops and each year we would bring one of them in at Christmas. These were sort of wild looking and good conversation pieces.
This year we headed out to Wilbert’s Tree Farm right next to Wilbert’s Buick & GM Parts and junk yard to bring home a tree. We ran into my parents out there. My father was trying to fit a small tree in the trunk of his Honda. The trees were $25 if you cut your own and $30 if you took one of the ones they had already cut. We picked this one out and ended its life.
Our nephew is a geek. When he was five or six he was picking up the empty computer boxes from the curb when neighbors upgraded their systems. He drew keyboards on cardboard and sat in front of the boxes like they were real computers. He had his first Mac at seven or eight and set up a server in his bedroom when he was sixteen. He is still in high school but recently won tickets to MacWorld in San Francisco this January. And today we heard that Information Week has used some of his photos and his reporting in a piece they did on the new Apple Store in Manhattan. He waited on line for four hours to get in the doors for their grand opening. He was paid $250 for the photos.
We started the day in front of the fireplace in our pjs reading the New York Times. Our nintey year old neighbor brings the paper up to the door while we’re still sleeping. Peggi read Maureen Dowd and Frank Rich out loud while I cut up some fruit.I read the “Year In Ideas” in the Magazine section and wish I hadn’t. The “Cat Lady Syndrome” piece about the parasite you can get from your cat gave me the creeps.
I put a Charlie Mingus DVD that I bought from Amazon on around noon. We watched the 1964 rehearsals of “So Long Eric” and “Meditations on Integration” which were recorded in Sweden. Mingus’s “Town Hall Concert” with those two songs (only those two songs) on it was one of the first jazz albums I bought and every bit of it is so memorable. It came right after Eric Dolphy died and Mingus changed the name of “Meditations” to “Praying With Eric” for that release. Charlie Mingus is quoted as saying “Eric Dolphy is a saint”. He should know. The “Cornell 1964” cd that was just released by Mingus’s widow has the same tunes on it as well. And now comes this amazing DVD with recordings from three European stops that same year. The music remains so memorable because it is an absolutely beautiful composition performed by incredible players. Watching them (Mingus, Dolphy, Dannie Richmond, Clifford Jordan, Jaki Byard & Johnny Coles) rehearse and perform this music is an incredible treat. Thank god for the Europeans. I might a couple copies of this for Xmas gifts.
We went out to walk but got sidetracked in the backyard. We started a fire out there in our Home Depot chiminea and stood around like a couple of bums eatting peanuts.
We went to the RoCo Members Show last night. Each member gets to submit one piece and it always manages to be a good show and a fun event. Anne Havens submitted a beautiful artist’s book and read it. We found a quote there attributed to E.D. (Emily Dickinson) that read, “Life is a spell so exquisite that everything conspires to break it”. Wow.
On the way over to RoCo we stopped at Book Smart Studio where two RIT students were showing their thesis work. I really loved Jessica Marquez’s “A Naturual History”. She took profile shots of her extended family and fine tuned them in Photoshop so the detail of the features remained in the silouetted images. She coated the balnk pages of old books with something that allowed her to print her photos on these pages. They look like something she found in an attic. They require close examination and are exquisite!
After the galleries we stopped by Bill and Geri’s to see their renovation project. We bought Molson Ice 40 ouncer for $3 at the Twelve Corners Quickstop and watched a Heart reunion in high def on VH1.
I did a logo for a women’s networking group today. They wanted sans serif type and no feminine colors. I put six versions online and sent off a link. Peggi did a print ad for an Indonesian supplement. This took most of the day. We went for a walk in the woods near dusk which happens around five now.
We saw nine deer in a pack. I got eight of them in this shot.
Last time I was in Wegman’s I looked for a refill for my shaving mug. Mine is not really a mug, it’s plastic cup that came with a thermos and I use one of those old-fashioned brushes. I only shave every two or three days and the shaving soap lasts forever. I couldn’t find the little boxes so I asked a woman who was stocking the shelves if she knew where they were. Turns out this woman didn’t even work for Wegman’s. She works for one of the many companies who have swung a deal with Wegmans to stock a certain number of cubic feet of shelf space with their product.
Wegmans makes a profit on sales of that company’s products and they also make money from the company to stock their wares in the first place. At least, I think this is how big stores work now.
This woman was nice enough to track down a store employee. I say “nice” but she was probably being paid by the hour and desperate for a diversion. You start noticing these things when you work for yourself. The real employee told me that they “stopped carrying that product because no one was buying it.” Ouch. I know why they stopped carrying it. It was a cheap ass, slow mover and it could not possibly earn its keep on their high rent shelves.
So today I stopped by Walgreen’s where I know I have bought this before and they had no space on their shelves for it. I went down the street to Top’s and they didn’t have any either. My last stop was Rite Aid and I bought the last box of William’s Shaving Soap on their shelves. It could be the last one in Rochester for all I know. I might have to buy my toiletries on eBay.
Someday I will get off this dime and paint something other that local crime faces. We had our last painting class until after the damn holidays. I finished the one below and I took another one over to the annual members show at Rochester Contemporary. That opening is Friday. The paint was still wet and I didn’t have a chance to photograph that one.
Margaret Explosion plays tonight at the Little Theatre Cafe. I haven’t touched my drums since our last gig.
Thou shalt not covet thy neighbor’s fireplace insert. But we did and today we put a down payment on one. In fact, it is the same one as Rick and Monica’s. We shopped around a bit. We looked at “Fireplace Fashions” and drove by “House of Fire.” That name sort of bothers me. It’s not what I want to picture when starting a fire in my living room. Rick and Monica recommended Williamson Hardware so that’s where we did our business. But then Monica told us she didn’t like Christmas and the next day we look out there and see white lights on some trees in front of their house. We dealt with the owner of Williamson Hardware. He does the installs as well. He is up at four, runs three to five miles a day and also does abstract photographs. He showed us one on his Blackberry. He is having a show at Image Gallery in April.
Our house was built in the forties and the fireplace is big. We have chopped and burnt a lot of wood. But it doesn’t exactly heat up the house or even the room. You have to sit right on top of it to feel the warmth. It drains heat from the house while we are having a fire and and the opening continues to drain heat while we aren’t. Didn’t they know this in the forties? Maybe energy was so much cheaper that it was a smaller issue. Wood burning fireplace inserts are expensive.
We went out to see Rochester’s Chesterfield Kings last night at the German House. They have been together about thirty years or so now. Their original drummer, Doug, just died. We caught a few minutes of the opening band and it was way too loud so we left and had a beer down at Tap & Mallet. We sat in the Road Mask room.
The Kings were great. Greg is a star. I’m not sure what he was singing about but it all sounded good like Iggy or the Dolls or the Cramps. Greg plays harp a lot these days and he must have brought his yellow Newspaper Recycling box to the gig because he kept tossing out handfuls of paper. He crawled around on top of the PA system and worked his way through the crowd to the back of the room and then got up on the bar there and started banging his mic on a Heineken bucket. I took a photo of the floor when the show was over.
We had my mother in law over for dinner tonight. I rode along while Peggi took her back to her place. I laid on the floor in the back of the Element and looked up at the treetops through the sunroof. Peggi was playing a Charlie Mingus cd.
In fact, Neil Young is much better than his band. He reaches for the sky. His band is the gauge by which you judge whether or not he made it. Shea’s in Buffalo is a beautiful concert hall. Relatively small, ornate, great sound and not a bad seat in the house. Neil’s wife Pegi opened the show with Ben Keith on pedal steel and Neil’s bass player, Rick Rosas. She was better than Social Distortion, who opened for Neil in the eighties.
Neil’s acoustic set opened with a beautiful version of “Hank to Hendrix” and a brave version of “A Man Needs A Maid.” Almost as good as the 1971 show. The crowd cheered every time he played harmonica like it was a miracle. And a bunch of idiots started clapping not in time to one song. There was guy sitting in front of us who told us he was thirty and he loved Neil. He said he was going to get his first tattoo when Neil dies even though his mother would hate it. He said he was wearing a four dollar brown leather jacket and Hunter Thompson shades for the event. This guy had the loudest whistle in the world.
We were happy to see Neil Young’s road manager dressed like the devil he played in Greendale. He was doing big paintings on canvas while the band played and he would bring one of them to the front of the stage and put it up on an easel before each song. They usually had the name of the song on them. I saw MX80 do something like this a long time ago.
Not rest and relaxation, rock and roll. We are driving down to John Gilmore’s house in Geneseo and then taking his car to see Neil Young in Buffalo. Neil is playing acoustically and then with Crazy Horse and his wife Pegi is opening the show. I really like the recently released cd with a DVD of his acoustic tour from 1971 at Toronto’s Massey Hall. I saw that tour a few days before that show in Chicago. I hitchhiked up there with my late friend Dave Mahoney. I have seen Neil many times since and he always pushes it. We saw the country tour at the War Memorial and we saw the Rust Never Sleeps tour. And then we saw him at the ice rink in Buffalo just before we started the war with Iraq. I remember a bunch of people down front unfurling a big banner that read, “Fuck Iraq”. The crowd roared. Neil had a peace sign on stage and I don’t remember anyone cheering for that. I especially love his movie, Greendale.
I rode my bike to Target this afternoon and bought a pair of shoes to wear while painting. I try to paint a little bit everyday and yet it never gets easier. I might as well have some comfortable shoes. “It’s not supposed to be easy,” is one of my painting teacher’s favorite lines. It probably isn’t really one of his favorites. It’s just that he has occasion to use it often. I started another face from the Crimestoppers page tonight and thought I was off to a great start but every move I made after that compounded the problems. I have to remind myself to stop and look at the painting. And when I stop to look, I have to step back quite a ways. I have to be open to the possibility that the painting could go in a different direction or maybe be done before I planned. I have to listen to the painting. I need to continually address the problems as I see them. Fix them before doing anything else.
We watched a terrible murder mystery the other night called “Tenebre.” Tony Franciosa is a pulp fiction writer and one of his lines is, “If you cut out the boring bits and keep the rest, you’ve got a best seller.” “If you get rid of the bad in a painting, all you will have left is good.” That’s another one of Fritz Lipp’s sayings. I’ve taken his painting class for about ten years now and I still haven’t learned these simple rules.At a certain point, you have to serve the painting.
I checked in on ndsforfree.com to make sure the cash register was still ringing and did a little more Stumbling in Firefox this morning and then went out to blow the the leaves off the roof. Then I raked the leaves that I blew off out of the pachysandra. Tomorrow we might pick those leaves up with our neighbor’s leaf picker upper if he’s up for it. I helped my parents take down their awnings for the winter and then dashed back to 4D to meet with someone who wanted a brochure. He buys mortgages from people who are holding unpaid ones and he told us he invented a product and had received a letter from Arnold Schwarzenegger about it.
We had our neighbors and friends, Rick and Monica over for dinner to try to thank them for taking us to and picking us up from the airport. Peggi made chili with tofu Italian sausage (Tofurkey) and French bread. I roasted chestnuts for an appetizer and made a salad. We had my mother’s homemade peanut butter cookies for dessert. After dinner we started a fire and watched a documentary that Rick and Monica had rented from Netflix called, “Manufactured Landscapes.” The film features the photos of Edward Burtynsky and the settings for his beautiful shots. Most of the movie takes place in China where worker bees in color coordinated uniforms perform the the most mundane, repetitive tasks in the name of globalization.
I picture someone having too much draft beer from the “tap” and a cartoon image of a “mallet” pounding on his head. That’s the name of Casey’s new place on Gregory Street where the original McGregor’s was. They needed some artwork for the place so Casey and his partner, Joe, stopped by to see what I had. They picked out some the “Crime Faces” from a few years back and the “Road Masks” that I had hanging in the basement. Casey used to own the Bug Jar and I took some mugshots there. He owns Mex Restaurant and I painted a mural over there. Casey is a patron. I recommend their house brew, “McBanes Bitter.” It’s made by Rohrbachs. The Beer Advocate reviewed the place and said, ” the faces on the walls are very creepy!”
The Horse Lovers were performing across the street at House of Hamas in Rochester. They did a beautiful version of “Moonglow.” That’s Ken Frank from Margaret Explosion on bass. Phil Marshall plays guitar and directs the band. Jim McAvaney plays drums and all three played with Colorblind James Experience.
I started looking at my photos from LA. I like the SCN mode on my Sony Cybershot camera. It keeps the lens open as long as it takes to grab a shot in low light. You need something solid to put the camera on and a relatively still subject.
LAX had free wireless access but we didn’t have any time to kill. We were ten minutes into our trip to the airport when Peggi realized that she had forgotten her jacket with her house keys and drivers license in the pocket. So we waited by the side of the road for our brother-in-law to speed the jacket to us.
Now in Chicago I have the option of joining the Boingo Wireless network here for $6.95. Forget about that. I’m not that wired. We are traveling with my mother-in-law and she did some sort of frequent flier upgrade with the tickets so we sat up with the fat cats in first class. Plenty of legroom, free drinks and and a hot meal. There is a thriving class distinction in this country. We read the NYT and I dove back into “On Photography.” I am really enjoying Sontag. “Fewer and fewer Americans possess objects that have a patina, old furniture, grandparents’ pots and pans — the used things, warm with generations of human touch. Instead, we have our paper phantoms, transistorized landscapes. A feather weight portable museum.” That from 1977 and “photography itself increasingly reflects the prestige of the rough, the self-disparaging, the offhand, the undisciplined — the “anti-photograph.”
This will be a nice addition to the Funky Signs section on the Refrigerator. This car looks like it is built to handle the curves in the Hollywood Hills.
We checked the LA weather online before leaving Rochester and it said, “Haze.” We woke this morning to news that the Santa Ana winds were responsible for new fires in Malibu last night. We took a long walk in the hills across Beverly Glen canyon from where we were staying. Walked by Rod Stewart’s house, Frank’s former pad and Barbra’s palace and then climbed the hills to 10050 Cielo Drive where the Tate LaBianca murders happened in 1969.
Smoke from the fires in Malibu drifted through the canyons in LA this morning. This is how it looked out our bedroom window.
We are having dinner at the Getty with my in-laws. There is a traveling Weston photography show there, two outstanding Rembrandts and a beautiful Goya bullfight painting. We’ve been here before. We’ll be up there for the hazy sunset too.
We watched Orange County last night with Jack Black, Catherine O’Hara and Colin Hanks as family and Schuyler Fisk as the girlfriend. The tagline for the 2002 movie is, “It’s not just a place. It’s a state of mind” and sure enough this film could have taken place anywhere. It is a very entertaining slice of life. Five stars. Perfect fair for a family gathering. My wife’s mom was the only one not laughing. We took a 4 mile walk in the Will Rogers State Historic Park. It was a beautiful day for a walk but I think it’s always a beautiful day in California so that’s not saying much.
Will Rogers Park looks like all scrub brush but there are some beautiful trails that hug the hillsides and keep you out of the blazing sun.
Our nephew, Andrew, asked if we wanted to go the the Hammer Museum on the UCLA campus. We saw a show of Francis Alys’ work—mostly video installations of his performance art called, “The Politics of Rehearsal.” An old red VW bug tries to drive to the top of a steep, dusty hill in Tijuana only to roll back and try again while a band stops and restarts a song. A stripper continually removes her clothes and puts them back on while Alys is heard off camera discussing Mexican politics. And in a collaboration with Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu, Alys uses rehearsal footage from a scene in Inarritu’s film, Amores Perros, along with outtakes, alternate camera shots and the final take to again illustrate his zen-like idea of enjoying the ride and the opportunities for renewal instead of focusing on closure.
I fell asleep at nine or midnight NY time and then woke up at six (LA time) and read my nephew’s ” Zen Mind, Beginner’s Mind” book for a few hours before heading downstairs for coffee. I love it. “For Zen students, a weed is a treasure.”
We walked up Bel Air Drive today until the road ended. And then we walked downhill to Beverly Glen and then back up again. It is a beautiful day. I just checked in Rochester and watched a camera animation of the sun going down over Bishop Kearney High School. We had our first snowfall there. Peggi made Challa bread with the kids when they were young and it has become some sort of tradition on Thanksgiving in the Meyer household. So she had them braid the dough again and it’s in the oven. “Zen is not some kind of excitement, but concentration on our usual everyday routine.”