You Tell Me

Dave Liebman Quartet performing at the 2008 Rochester International Jazz Festival
Dave Liebman Quartet performing at the 2008 Rochester International Jazz Festival

The Dave Liebman Quartet was last here for the 2003 version of the Rochester International Jazz Festival. He tore it up then so we prepared ourselves for takeoff last night. We grabbed a table down front at Montage and sat with Rick and Monica. We ordered a Brooklyn Lager (one of the sponsors of the show) and the waitress asked for the cash up front. She explained that she had to buy the beer from the bartender. This club is on its last legs and I suspect they are already out of business. They still had the “STEEL” sign up on the wall from the days when they went metal and the barricade to keep the meatheads from diving on the stage.

The set was exhilarating. Dave is in complete command and he gets there every time. The group has been together for years and they play like a real band. They listen to and work with each other like pros. They did a tune from their new cd that was the slinkiest, low down, film noir track I have ever heard. Dave started it with a little wooden flute and he switched to soprano sax while the bass player strolled through some dark, swinging neighborhoods.

At the end of his set he told he crowd, “OK. You go see the rest of the bands. And you tell me.” Martin Edic had just chided us for darting around. He said, “You can’t just pop in for one or two songs and decide whether you like someone or not”. So we looked at each other and decided to just stay right here for the second set. It was equally good if that is possible. Dave did a song dedicated to an African pop singer who he heard everywhere while traveling to the Sahara for his sixtieth birthday. He played percussion in the intro and then some wildly exotic tenor. You rule Dave!

I’ve some more photos from the Jazz Fest here.

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Transportation Please

Crowd on Gibbs Street at the Rochester Internation Jazz Fest

The tabla player, Badal Roy, who was featured in the program as the key player in Dharma Jazz was a no show last night at Max’s. Dan Johnson sat in and did a pretty good job but he was filling some big shoes. The keyboardist, who did most of the talking, said this band is a collective but he acted like it was all his. He did have a better sense of rhythm than the two percussionists.

We hung around Gibbs Street, renamed “Jazz Street” for the week, until Kamakazie Jazz started. We skipped John Scofield at Kilbourn but kept our ears open for reviews from people who had seen the first show. Kathy Palokoff said she had “never seen a band that old playing rock and roll” and in this morning’s paper Jeff Spevak said “With John Scofield the Jazz Festival really felt like jazz”.

We stopped into RoCo where pieces continue to sell in the 6×6 show. There are over a thousand red dots on the wall now. And then we went next store to Christ Church for Yggdrasil who transported us to a Nordic seashore with a beautiful forty five minute piece.

I posted a bunch of photos from the jazz fest on the Refrigerator. You can get to this years batch by clicking on the 2008 Club Pass.

I kept thinking about the feature on Marlene Dumas in the Sunday Magazine Section of the NYTs. There is a major retrospective of her work opening at the LA County Museum next month and that show moves to MOMA in December. I know where I’ll be.

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Rock Stars of Jazz

Stephanie McKay performing at the 2008 Rochester International Jazz Festival
Stephanie McKay performing at the 2008 Rochester International Jazz Festival

We started the night in line with Peter and Nancy for the Bad Plus at Kilbourn Hall. The Bad Plus are the rock stars of jazz, adored by their fans and the individual players seem to each have their own fan base, especially the drummer, David King. The bass player in the middle holds the wildly divergent classically tinged piano player on the left and the raucous angular drummer on the right at bay while tying it all together. But the three of them became a competent back up band for Wendy Lewis when she took the stage to sing beautiful versions of new standards by Nirvana, Pink Floyd, the Bee Gees, Bobby Vinton, U2 and Heart. This was their first gig with her, a preview of their upcoming cd.

We finished the night standing near Peter and Nancy, this time at the newly remodeled High Fidelity (they took the Labatts beer signs down). We thoroughly enjoyed Stephanie McKay, “Soul Sister Number One”. Her sincere, heartfelt songs deserved a real band, not the hot dogs (five string bass, one handed rolls with a goofy smile) she appeared with. She has one cd out in England and another on the way here. She took the stage like Sly Stone and came out in the crowd to dance and invited people back up on stage with her. She is a great entertainer.

On a tech note: A few days ago I was looking for a script that allow me to add rss feeds to a site and have them scroll. Dynamic Drive offered one and they had a live example that was pulling in current tech related feeds. One of the heads caught my eye. It was something about WordPress sites getting hacked. I followed the link and it had a few tips about settings that I was already using so I moved on. But when I checked in on my blog this morning I was alarmed by the fact that my recent posting were missing. I thought maybe it had been hacked so looked for articles but couldn’t find any. I suspected the server so I called the guy who rents the space from the guy who rents the space from the guy who owns the server in Las Vegas. Sure enough it was down yesterday and they installed a new drive and restored the sites with backups that were two days old. I back up my blog but in that space between backups it is worth noting that the only copy of this stuff is online. Unless you are in the habit of coping the entries to a text document before posting. I sometimes do this and so I found one the deleted entries there. I found the other entry in a Google cached version of that page. This was just two days ago and Google had a cached version of an entry that had gone down with an old server hard drive. Welcome to the modern world.

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Never Rehearse

Timo Lassy Band performing at the 2008 Rochester International Jazz Festival
Timo Lassy Band performing at the 2008 Rochester International Jazz Festival

Helsinki must be a swinging city. I know I liked the section of Jim Jarmusch’s “Night On Earth” featuring that city the best. And Helsinki’s Timo Lassy Band at the Lutheran Church for the opening night of Rochester’s Jazz Fest was hot. They play jazz like it was played in America in the fifties and sixties and they manage to make it sound exciting and new. This is the third time we have seen Timo Lassy at the Jazz Fest and each time it was in a slightly different setting. Last night he switched from tenor to baritone for an afro centric, Pharoah Sanders like thing where the drummer played mallets and the percussion player dug a deep groove.

We started the night with the Al Foster Quartet. Al played drums on two of my favorite Miles albums, “Get Up With It” and “On The Corner”. We saw him a few years back at Art Park in Buffalo with Joe Henderson and we stopped in to see Sonny Rollins at the Eastman during the 2005 Jazz Fest to hear him play behind Sonny. He is loose with a master’s touch. Al started one song playing with his hands and liked to play the rim of his floor tom with the side of a stick. The band stayed in check and were the perfect foil for Al who took off at a moments notice but always returned with a soft landing.

We stopped in the Harro to see Ben Riley’s Monk Legacy. Riley played on some of Monk’s best work and still had the goods but the four horn players in the front line were too chart oriented for our tastes. There was a great quote in Frank DeBlase’s interview with Ben Riley where he talked about rehearsals with Monk. “We never rehearsed. If you rehearse you start playing things you know, and you don’t put anything creative in it.” The sound in this room though is problematic at best.

We finished the night in the Big Tent with the Spam All Stars while it poured outside. It was a new tent this year. No leaks and no poles to obstruct our view. A guy with a really short haircut stood behind two turntables and a sound generator of some sort kicking out contemporary bass and drum loops while three horn players and timbale player played along. The horns lines were kind of exotic and worldly. But having just seen two of the best drummers in the world the rhythmn section seemed pretty lame.

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I Mow The Lawn

Pete LaBonne, along with Bruce Eaton, released a 45 with their Buffalo group, “The Party Nuggets”. It was called “I Mow The Lawn” and it was pretty close to the Staple Singers’ tune “I’ll Take You There”. I start singing it every time I fire up the lawn mower. Yesterday was one of those days.

We were supposed to be at Peter Pappas’s for a pre Jazz Fest party at 7 and I got a late start and so I mowed while walking really fast which reminded me of the job I had in Bloomington mowing the lawns of University owned houses. There were about a hundred of these houses all over town. Caroline Peyton from the Screaming Gypsy Bandits who went on to do the voice for many of Disney’s animated cartoons (Beauty and the Beast, Aladdin, Pocahontas, and The Hunchback of Notre Dame) lived in one of the houses that I mowed. And I think her roommate at the time was Andrea from Angel Corpus Christi. I would stop and chat with Caroline but my main objective was mowing my lawns as fast as I could, hiding the mower in someone’s bushes and then riding my bike back to the trailer I lived in to hang out for the rest of the day. Then around four I would have to ride back into town to punch out.

My boss had mouth cancer but he continued to smoke Lucky Strikes. He had open sores on the side of his face. It was my first glimpse of cancer. I remember a woman opening a window and giving me six pairs of grey socks. She said her husband had recently died and I looked like I could use them. It was a little creepy the first time I put them on but I got over that. Near the end of the summer one of the other mowers told me that the boss was spending some time driving around looking for me. So I made a point to hang around and let him see me. I remember smiling and waving when he drove by.


Give The Bass Player Some

Ken Frank on bass
Ken Frank on bass

We had our second Margaret Explosion rehearsal last night in preparation for this upcoming WXXI Sound Stage thing. I am beginning to see way we never rehearse. It gets complicated. Trying to play a song better than it was the first time is next to impossible but if you’re gonna try you need to discuss a few things. We started with a few nice jams and then played our set. Since we generally arrange songs as we play them we found ourselves offering opinions as to what would make these prearranged songs better. It would help if I could play better, I know that. The band works like magic and if you know the trick, its not magic. It’s a delicate thing. I was really happy when rehearsal was over.

Today I kept thinking how lucky I am to play with such amazing musicians. Peggi tosses off creative, original melodies as naturally as she smiles. Bob has a world of sounds and at his fingertips and the musical ability to express any emotion. Ken is the best bass player in the world. Rock solid when he wants to be yet as wild, inventive and musically adventurous as anyone I’ve met.

The Poet ((Chuck Cuminale) from the "Community Icons" series by Paul Dodd. Acrylic house paint on billboard paper, 54" wide by "60" high, 1989
The Poet ((Chuck Cuminale) from the “Community Icons” series by Paul Dodd. Acrylic house paint on billboard paper, 54″ wide by “60” high, 1989. Ken Frank is shown in silhouette.

I guess the first time we met Ken was when our bands played together at Scorgies. He was in 5 Star Buffalo and I was in Personal Effects. They blew us away. Ken wound up in Colorblind James after Bernie Heveron (former Personal Effects bass player) left and I painted Ken behind Chuck when I did my “Local Icons” series in the eighties.

I checked in on a few of my favorite blogs today and found a great interview with Angel Corpus Christi by the Next Big Thing. Lloyd Mintern used a live Margaret Explosion track as a backing track to a video of his photos. Frank Paolo described his cancer diagnosis and Kevin Patrick started a column on Alan Vega that found its way to local dinosaur rock station, WCMF, Roger McCall’s murder and even mentioned a band we were in a long time ago. The links in the right column should take you there.

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Stopping The Crimestoppers

Crimestoppers from Democrat & Chronicle in Rochester, NY
Crimestoppers from Democrat & Chronicle in Rochester, NY

I had my last painting class at the Creative Workshop last night, that is my last until we go around again in the Fall. “Going around” is not really it at though. Fred Lipp conducts a class with no end. Every class, like every painting, is another beginning. I can only hope to not repeat my bad habits and move forward incrementally. No matter how many of his classes I take or how far I come, there is always a new host of problems to contend with. It will always be a daunting challenge and Fred is always there to help. I’m trying to recommend his class to anyone who is serious about improving their work. He is an incredible resource.

I was thinking I might take a break from the crime faces but then in this morning’s paper there is a whole new batch.

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Cliente Número Uno

It’s 4 PM and I still have my pajamas on. Some days go like this when you work at home. We weren’t even finished with our slim local paper this morning when when the phone started ringing. First it was the physical therapist who was supposed to be attending to Peggi’s mom. Peggi’s mom told her that she didn’t want pt so Peggi had to call her mom and do some tough love. Next call was on the business line and it was cliente número uno with immediate demands. I duked it out with the graph making function Illustrator while Peggi battled tables in Quark. And we still haven’t come up for air.

I will have to get dressed to go to my last painting class tonight. Peggi is stuck here doing rush changes to a 48 page book that needs to be sent off as a pdf for review. Nice, boring blog entry. What could anyone possibly comment on?


Getting Our Digital House In Order

Bird In A Nest
Bird In A Nest

I spent some time adding gadgets to our iGoggle home page this morning. We took a break at noon and went down to the street pool. The air temp is in the nineties and the water was 78. Peggi checked the chlorine levels and the ph. We swam for a bit and came back to work.

I finished converting a stack of Sun Ra cds over the weekend and that completes the big rip. I tidied up the duplicates folder and made a backup. Big time Party Shuffle tonight!

Still don’t have a cell phone but we could use one now. A client is desperately trying to reach Peggi and she is with her Mom at a pain clinic. I see Apple’s new phone is twice as powerful and half the price of their last one.

I’ve been following Kevin Patrick’s, “So Many Records, So Little Time” for the last few weeks and I’ve put a link in the right hand column. It is a pop aficionado’s paradise and timely too. According to the Recording Industry Association of America, shipments of LPs jumped more than 36 percent last year while shipments of cds dropped more than 17 percent during the same period.

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Red Dots

Lorraine Bohonos paintings at 6x6 Show at RoCo
Lorraine Bohonos paintings at 6×6 Show at RoCo

We got to the opening of RoCo’s 6 by 6 Show too late to buy a Lorraine Bohonos painting. They all had red dots on the them by the time we got there. All the work in this show is six inches by six inches and it is all for sale at twenty bucks a piece. There were over three thousand pieces in the show, some by big name artists and it was all displayed annonymously. RoCo keeps the money and they made some, judging by the number of red dots. We wandered around for hours and kept finding things to buy. I’m happy the show was such a success for them. We finished the night over at Abiene where I managed to beat Bill Jones in 8 Ball.


I’m Not There

I fought to find some time to paint today. There are so many things that need to be attended to around the house. It was ninety something out there but it was cool in the basement. I have a few paintings that I did in the last year that I am just not happy with. I identified what it is that I don’t like about them and I’m tackling those issues. I have this guy that I’ve been calling “the PR guy” whose nose was in the wrong place. And once I moved it I realized the mouth was in the wrong place too. So it was today’s project. I looked for the original source for about twenty minutes (the small photo from the Crimestoppers page of the paper) but couldn’t find it. So I tried correcting the painting by looking at only it. I fixed it alright but he doesn’t look Puerto Rican anymore.

Painting without the source made me realize that Fred (my painting teacher) hardly ever asks me to see the source when he determines what is wrong a painting of mine or when he assesses whether or not it is done. So if he doesn’t need the source, why should I?

Before heading down to the basement I asked iTunes to “Show Duplicates” and it had over two thousand. Of course if they were all duplicates that would mean something closer to one thousand. But what they are mostly is different artists doing the same song. All I had to do was look at the title of Dylan’s “I’m Not There” and it was stuck in my head. I found a Sun Ra version of “I Could Have Danced All Night” and I gave it five stars.

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Iconic Lyell Ave.

This over the top letter was in this morning’s mail.
Dear Frige,
I used to live in Rochester and was trying to find out if Tent City was still in business. (I bought a tent there once and it was great, dirt cheap and lasted for ages.) I found your Lyell Ave feature and just wanted to tell whoever took the photos that your images are very good.
You have a real knack for composition, colour, form and irony. I couldn’t find any credits for these images on the site but I wouldn’t mind having a chat with whoever this photographer is. Really, your photos are artworks and you should be having gallery shows of them. They should be published in great big expensive glossy books about Rochester. They probably already are and you ought to credit your work and protect it. Then you should buy the best camera invented to humanity and travel the world making images for National Geographic and Magnum and live like royalty on your commissions. Just thought I’d tell you, your work is wonderful. In a single feature you’ve raised Lyell Ave (!!) to the level of Iconic.
Thanks. Best Regards, Meg, London, UK

It reminded me that I promised to photograph another one of Rochester’s streets this summer for the “Streets of Rochester” section on the The Refrigerator. I haven’t decided which street to do yet. If anyone has any suggestions, send them along. I’ve been spending a lot of time on East Ridge Road and it has potential but it is a pretty hostle place for bicycles.

It’s funny how many people think refrigerator is spelled with a “d” and funnier that its abbreviation, “fridge” has a “d’. And this Meg person misspelled that.

I bought a Remmington hair trimmer so I could cut my hair without bugging Peggi to get the back. I chose the fitting that looked like it would cut my hair about a half inch long. I thought I could do the whole thing in minutes but it took me about a half hour. The damn thing just wouldn’t cut. If I can find the receipt, I’m going to take it back.

Peggi’s mom called while I was cutting my hair. She wondered if she gave us the the tickets for La Bohéme tonight. We looked around and couldn’t find them so Peggi called Mercury Opera to make arrangements for getting in without tickets. Then Peggi’s mom called back to sat she found them.


You Can Not Reheat A Souffle

We had a Margaret Explosion rehearsal last night, our first in ten years as a band. WXXI called to say they needed a set list with the times of the songs that we plan on doing on our upcoming segment of their “Sound Stage” series. This series of one hour shows featuring local bands is being paid for with money from Elliot Spitzer’s successful payola lawsuit.

I told Todd, the program manager who called, that we don’t have have set times. We improvise. I didn’t have the guts to tell him we really didn’t even have songs. He pushed on. They need a set list next week and a cd of the songs we plan to do.

We decided to open with a jam so the first song will be called “Improvisation” and then we picked six or seven things we do quite often. They’re things that were originally a jam and we stuck a name on them and try to revisit the theme. But we really have never done a version of a song that was as good as it was the first time.

And that reminds me of that old Paul McCartney quote about getting the Beatles back together. “You can not reheat a souffle”.

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Summer Project

Enjoying the summer will be a project. And then there are all those summer projects. First on my list list is looking at Cubism. Fred Lipp’s orders. More like a question really. “Ever look at much Cubism?”

I started last night with the Cezanne piece and continued my investigation tonight by looking at my recent paintings with my first impressions of Cubism in mind. I was struck by how obvious it is that I am still learning to draw. That’s what I saw first. And my paintings are really drawings. And then I saw a lot of room for expression. I’m still not sure what Cubism is. I’m guessing a more imaginative way of seeing and translating is probably an important part of learning to draw. So I am still on course.

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Cezanne still life
Cezanne still life

The pool temperature hit 70 degrees today and the air is supposed to be near 90 this weekend so summer has begun. One of the past presidents of the pool club told Peggi to add chlorine tablets even though the chlorine reading was above normal. He said, “I know it’s counterintuitive”. We are trying to figure this out.

I have been painting a lot in the basement, putting a push on before the last class next week. I’m ready to start spending more time outdoors. We have tomato plants, jalapeño, basil and cilantro plants in the garden. We don’t really have a garden. The deer would get it if we planted anything here. Our neighbor, Leo has an extra lot that he has put an electric fence around and he lets us use space in there.

I brought a painting into class tonight that had some wacky eyes. One was too low but expressive. The pedestrian way I painted the nose and mouth killed the expression in the eyes so the thing needs work. My teacher suggested that I look at Cubism. He said it started with Cezanne and was driven home by Picasso and Matisse. He found a reproduction of Picasso’s “Gertrude Stein” painting that perfectlyly illustrated what he was talking about. I did a little google research and found out Picasso and Stein were both influenced by Cezanne.

I’m getting the picture that I need to be more expressive. The elements of my faces have to carry more form. Thinking about this will be my summer project.

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Close Only Counts In Horseshoes

Leo, Mary Alice, Andrew, Peggi and Rick
Leo, Mary Alice, Andrew, Peggi and Rick

Rick lives across the street and he played a lot of horseshoes while growing up in Troy. They had their own “project rules” like what happens when one ringer tops another and something about a leaner that came into play last night. He’s competitive in a good natured way. He really likes to win and gets kinda bummed when he loses. I can’t even remember what the score is so I just look to to him to say who’s winning. It is usually him but I won last night.

I was making some stir fry tonight (onions, red, yellow and jalapeño peppers in olive oil with tofu and pineapple) and Rick knocked on the front window. He had a red drink in his hand and he was ready to reclaim his crown. I put the dish on low and went out front where our pits are. I was a little uncertain when we moved here whether horse pits in the front were cool but know I know that it is the perfect place for them. Sometimes we get a crowd. I beat Rick in the first game and he asked to play another. I won again.

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Marlene Dumas Is A Saint

If Padre Pio can be a saint then Marlene Dumas can be.

Martin Edic forwarded an email from Boo Poulin this morning with a link to a video with Marlene Dumas paintings in it. Boo assumed I had seen it but asked Martin to forward it just in case. I watch about as much YouTube as I do TV and that’s hardly any. I had not seen the video and I still haven’t. I keep pausing the damn thing so I can look at the paintings. I will take me weeks to get to the end. And the music – I turn the sound off and it works much better.

Is it legal to open a book, scan a bunch of paintings and have that be your whole video? Rich Stim would know. He writes and Intellectual Property blog for Nolo. Marlene Dumas painting or drawing, now there would be a video. Marlene Dumas talking about painting or drawing would be a good one too. I’d take a video of Marlene Dumas crossing the street so I do love this video.



Water temperature in our neighborhood pool reached 68 degrees today. If it was warmer out I’d be in there. I read Thursday’s and Friday’s New York Time this morning, brewed a cup Yogi Rejuvenation tea and headed down to the basement to paint. I got one that I like a lot. Again, I had plans for it but I didn’t get there.

I have to look around for an alternative to Yogi Tea. They changed the graphics on the boxes. It’s now glued shut like a small fortress and the tea bags are sealed in a type of paper that is almost impossible to tear open. I started to do the yoga stretch that is pictured on the box and I read, “Before doing this exercise or participating in any exercise program, consult your physician”. My doctor would live that.

We rode downtown with our neighbors last night to hear a band of Eastman students outdoors at the Village Gate. We sat down in front of Bodhis Cafe and Monica and I both ordered hummus and cucumber sandwiches. Peggi ordered chicken and I think Rick had something called “Big Bertha”. After dinner we rode over to Abilene where a Cajun band was playing on the deck. Danny has a pretty comfortable spot here. And the juke box is a sight to behold with Colorblind James Experience and Personal Effects first two record. We were checking it out with Mrs. Colorblind. There is a pretty cool podcast of the CBJ’s Dylan night from 1992 at that Colorblind link. Brian Horton does a version of “Dark Eyes” shortly before his heroin od.


Feeding The Beast

Crucial Roots Labels by Duane Sherwood
Crucial Roots Labels baby Duane Sherwood

I’m still “feeding the beast”, that is, ripping all the cds we have in the house in iTunes and building a library on an external drive. This has been a casual, ongoing, background activity for about a month now. I’ve got boxes of cds on the way out the door. Still not sure where to go with those.

I am really surprised that I haven’t burned out the cd drive in our old laptop yet. That thing has been a work horse. I did bring it to its knees a few times with homemade cds with paper stick-on labels. I put the first of Duane‘s Crucial Roots cds in there and it sounded like a helicopter taking off. I had to use a paper clip to bring it down. I asked Duane if he had a digital version of his essential, twenty cd set of Reggae/Ska/RockSteady/Dub and he set aside some time on Memorial Day weekend to make one. It fit nicely on a dvd and it’s now in our library competing with Pete LaBonne’s twenty six cd set, “Gigunda” in the “Party Shuffle” mode.

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Nephew Management

Andrew with nice looking car on Alexander St
Andrew with nice looking car on Alexander St

I’ve been too busy managing our nephews to make coherent entries here. Andrew, Peggi’s sister’s oldest, is staying with us for a few days and one of my brother’s sons, Matthew, is doing a virtual internship with 4D Advertising for six weeks. I keep calling Andrew “Matthew” and Matthew “Andrew”.

Matthew is in his senior year at in Montclair High school in New Jersey and he is getting credit for working with us. We have him reworking web pages with new templates loaded with php includes.

We did manual labor with Andrew yesterday and upgraded his computer to Leopard today while we toured the Larry Towell show at the Eastman House and had dinner at One. In the middle of all this we’re really busy with 4D work. We ran into a few problems with Andrew’s install and may have bail the laptop out and mail it off to him at his next stop. He leaves tonight on the train for Chicago.

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