The last time we heard from Frank, just a few weeks ago, he left a message on our phone that told us he had gone on “a retreat, of sorts, a bad idea,” and he wanted to know if we could pick him up and take him home. He was in Highland Hospital. Now Frank is gone.
Frank Palazolo was the new kid in our junior year of high school but he immediately launched a campaign for school president. He was the only student in my class with a mustache. He put his face on the posters and won. We were in the high school play, “Teahouse of the August Moon.” Frank played Colonel Wainwright to my Captain Fisby. He had a mischievous sense of humor. During dinner at my parents’ house Frank would say things to embarrass me.
Frank worked for an ad agency and wrote a book called “Presentations Unplugged.” He became a sought after speechwriter, writing for top executives at Kodak and Xerox. We helped Frank with his website and videoed him giving a presentation to Christa Construction executives on how to be an effective salesperson. He wowed them and us.
When I was asked to give a talk on my art at the Memorial Art Gallery, Frank insisted I come see him for advice. One thing he told me that I think of all the time was to not thank the organization for inviting you at the beginning of your talk. I remember him saying, “You will never have more of their attention than you will at the opening of your talk. And as soon as you start thanking people they start daydreaming.”
His website, originally set up to market his book, morphed into his blog, “Everyone Is Entitled To My Opinion,” where he gave us his opinion on everything. Peggi and I drove Frank to the last high school reunion. Frank came to most Margaret Explosion shows. He was one of kind and we will miss him.
There must have been a microburst that tore through the woods off Pine Valley Road. We hadn’t taken that trail in a few weeks and we found five full sized trees laying across our path. Out on Culver Road we turned toward the lake and walked what remains of the road. The swing bridge at the mouth of the bay had just swung open minutes before we arrived. The town mechanics were just finishing up. We watched the procedure one year and found it was pretty much one guy with something like an electric drill turning the gears while the others watched. So we’re stuck on this side of the bay until November.
We’re watching the first season of the original Hawaii 5-O and last night’s show, “Cocoon,” featured a different Danny. The governor was played by a different actor and Steve McGarrett put the moves on a college girl! It was unsettling to say the least. We looked up the episode and found this show was initially the pilot and the test audience showed good taste by suggesting they dump the imposter and get Steve to cool his jets.
All those little specs in the photo above are hawks. It was unseasonably warm, in the 60s, and the dark clouds were moving swiftly overhead. Turns out the shores of the Great Lakes are one of the best places in the country to catch the migrating hawks. Just after taking this shot it started raining but we could see blue sky on the horizon so we soldiered on. By the time we got down to the beach the sun was coming out.
There was a note attached to our morning papers informing us that the carrier has decided to retire ” after thirty plus years of getting up at 4AM.” He threw in “the rising gas prices and the dwindling subscriptions” as factors that convinced him “it doesn’t make any sense for me to continue.”
Spring has come again but a sense of mortality hangs in the air. Friends and neighbors, all close to my age, are dealing with serious health issues. The last of my parents’ siblings is gone and one of my cousins. We have sat in on a few Zoom memorials. And there’s the book I’m reading. Here are two passages from Etel Adnan’s “Shifting the Silence.”
“Almost all of my beliefs have deserted me. I take it as a kind of liberation, and anyway, they were never too many. Our houses are cluttered, our minds too, so a fire as devastating as it can be, can well clear the air, enlarge the space, make room for some silence. Year after year all we do is gather dust.”
“I need to simplify my thinking: to come to the roots of the olive trees I have planted on my island, sit close to them, look at every leaf. Start early in the morning. Then close my eyes and let the morning sun touch my face. Go to the Mediterranean at the street corner, go into its water, its salt, its acid colors, its heat. Oh Lord, let’s stop thinking. Let’s just be, and for many hours in a row, merge with this vegetal and metallic kind of consciousness which is so overpowering.”
Pity the rich comedian, the court jester. Their richest material is off limits. Wits verses brawn. Everybody loses. Yes, we watched the Oscars and it was hard to sleep after the Will Smith/Chris Rock smack down.
“Music starting at 9:15” sure sounds like an early show but then there were three bands and Nod was probably third in line at Abilene. We watched Mexico play the US Men’s team to a 0-0 draw and then had a hard time leaving the house. We watched a Nod video this morning instead.
We walked up to Wegman’s with our back packs and then over to Aman’s for apples and Cuba cheese. The produce lady was packing bags of mixed greens in the back corner of the store and we asked if she could bag us a peck of 20 Ouncers for applesauce. Last season’s apples are near the end of their life span but she hand picked a peck for us and still charged us half price. We shop early and she is usually there when we are so we always chat about something. She keeps a small radio on the shelf tuned to the country station. While she was in the back room I heard a song that was irresistible. I moved closer to the speaker and quickly Shazamed it. We played the video when got home.
The Jetty at the top of Skaneateles Lake in the town of Skaneateles had a low slung chain hanging across the entryway. It was apparently closed for the season. We stepped over it and walked to the end where a fisherman was happily casting about.
The Clintons had a summer place here. Listings in the window of a Real Estate office showed restored mansions, lake front properties and empty lots in the millions. There is a Talbots on Main Street and at least a dozen gift shops. The stuff they chose to put in their windows scared us so we walked north down the side streets where the townspeople live. We were trying to understand why people live here. The blocks of idyilic homes felt dreamy but unreal.
We usually come through here on our way down to NYC. We stop at the small bakery for coffee and then drive down the east side of the lake to Binghamton. This time we walked down the west side where we are guessing the Clintons stayed. We walked through a cemetery with a huge monument to the town’s Civil War dead. That felt real. I am sure the town was vital then. Today it is a resort town and that is why we were here.
We were meeting our friends, Matthew and Louise, for lunch and celebrating her birthday. Peggi and I came a whole day early and stayed at Mirbeau, a French style inn and spa. We had dinner in the dining and were expecting a health centered menu but it was meat laden. The room had a gas fireplace, a bath tub and a shower with enough water pressure for both Peggi and me to bath at once. But before that we put the white Mirbeau robes and slippers on and walked across the bridge in the courtyard to the sauna and steam room. We read by the fireplace and slept soundly in the king-sized bed.
Matthew bought us a loaf of French bread from the Patisserie, the best bread we’ve had in ages. I would go back just for another of those loaves.
It wasn’t until I brought this photo home that I realized the legs on Mike Patric’s stool are white. Margaret Explosion has played the Café for twenty years and I have never seen a white stool there. I’m guessing Mike brings his own, one with a padded seat. That gets at why we like this band so much. They feel so comfortable.
Mike has been a key part of Joe Beard and John Cole’s bands for as long as I can remember. He is a seasoned player. You’ll notice the lead singer, Debbie, is comfortably seated. All the more energy she can devote to heartfelt renditions of classic R&B songs. She can make Kansas City, a song whose form is so fixed it threatens to and most cases does swallow up the song, sound fresh. She is actually able to do it when she sings “I’ll Take You There.” Pete Monacelli, is nestled in the corner on his uncle’s drum kit, a kit that is older than his eighty years. Like pros the band plays a few intro numbers without Debbie and in those sublime minutes you hear every swish of the cymbals, the chick of the hi-hit and the dance of Pete’s brushes.
It not just because this band is so seasoned (old) that they are able to pull this off so easily. Sean Pfeifer, in his mid thirties, plays soulful acoustic guitar with his fingers and effortlessly transports the room.
Rain was predicted this morning so we got out early for our walk. The bay was especially beautiful in the fog. Parts of the bay were still frozen over and we couldn’t even see across to Webster. There are so many ways to walk down to the bay. Culver Road ends down there of course but each cross road off Culver (Point Pleasant, Seneca, Titus, and Norton) also winds down a hill to the bay. Each one is world unto itself.
Seneca Road ends at the Newport Yacht Club. You can just see the tip of one of their docks in the photo above. And there is a new house going up just to the left. They cut way into the hillside to carve out a lot and are putting up a huge three story home. There was King’s Audio Technology van parked outside and while I was taking this picture the owners pulled up. We congratulated them on their new home and told them we used to go to the bathroom in the woods on their lot. They laughed and told us we could use their bathroom when their house is complete.
Peggi was up at the crack of dawn and caught the Worm moon over Culver Ridge Plaza. It is aptly titled as I just watched a robin pull a worm out of the formerly frozen ground.
We dove into Warhol’s Diaries last night on Netflix. Did Warhol want these made public? If it was just the AI voice reading the diaries that would be one thing but I find it a bit uncomfortable watching Rupert Murdoch’s wife and former Factory hangers-on analyzing Warhol’s insecurities. I guess it’s all part of the full picture and he did open the door.
We worked out of the house when we lived in the city and Carrol’s was at our corner. On St. Patty’s we’d walk up there for lunch. It was more crowded than usual but we could usually find a table to sit at. The woman shown on the left (above) made a mean corn beef sandwich. Bagpipe players would usually make an appearance and then move along to another Irish bar. I took this photo when the lunch hour was winding down, the staff was relaxing and the old timers were playin’ the classics.
When we moved further up Culver Road we would walk over to Shamrock Jack’s for lunch. It got more crowded each year so we would get there before noon. They put a tent up in the parking lot and hired bands to play. It was loud as hell. Busloads of people stumbled into the tent. They started charging 5 dollars to get in. We stopped going there.
The bridge across the outlet is still in operation in March so for a few years we walked a little further, into Webster to the Bayside Pub. Their corn beef sandwiches were better than Shamrock Jack’s. Way better. Peggi and I would bring a couple of beers, order sandwiches to go across the street and sit at one of those picnic tables overlooking the lake. This year Webster closed the restaurant to develop a park. We stayed home. We can hear the bands playing in the tent just by stepping out our door. I will have a Guinness later while we watch Barcelona play a team from Istanbul.
History is ongoing. Our myths will need to be explained to future generations. Someone has to record them now. And just as historians continually reinterpret the history of our ancestors they will surely struggle to understand our timeframe. I am lightening their load by compiling a visual record of our days in a series of artists books entitled “A Brief History of the World.”
Download Volume XX of “Brief History of the World”
7 of the 21 volumes in this series have been converted to eBooks and they are available here as free downloads. I just uploaded Vol. XX today and I invite you to take a look. The file will open in the book app on your desktop, tablet or mobile device.
Rich’s video for “Tilt-A-Wheel” plays like an extended version of the last scene in Alfred Hitchcock’s “Strangers On A Train.” It fits the song, from MX-80’s recent, as yet unreleased album, perfectly. Mixed by Steve Albini, it is the last album recorded with the legendary guitarist, Bruce Anderson.
Bruce was a god-like figure in Bloomington, Indiana in the late 60’s when I showed up. He played with Mrs. Seamon’s Sound Band (with Michael Brecker) ( the first band I saw there), the Screaming Gypsy Bandits with Mark Bingham and Caroline Peyton (who also recently passed) and went on to form the seminal band, MX-80 Sound. The bands’ line-ups and sounds kept changing but Bruce stayed the same. I’m sure I saw every local Screaming Gypsy Bandits’ performance. Peggi and I saw the first few MX-80 shows at the local library and then left town in late ’74 before our friends, Rich Stim and Dave Mahoney, joined the band.
Somewhere in the early 70’s, Steve Hoy (that’s him on the cover of MX-80 Hard Attack) and I walked over to Bruce’s apartment to get our hair cut. It was a Zen-like experience and Bruce did a great job but Steve felt he could do just as well for less so he became our barber.
Bruce was a close friend of our close friends and those that remain gathered yesterday over Zoom for a memorial. The pain from the loss was evident. Rich Stim, Angel Corpus Christi, Dale Sophiea, Steve Hoy, Kim Torgerson, Michael Gribbroek, Marc Weinstein and Howard Thompson were all there along with members of Bruce’s family. Peggi and I learned just how special Bruce was as a person and the tributes were beautiful.
I was also struck by connections between people now scattered across the country. Steve Hoy was my roommate in the dorm (Shea 2, Foster Quad) my freshman year. Dave Mahoney was my best friend in high school and came out to Bloomington after dropping out of MCC. Rich was a former Shea resident and a friend of Steve’s. He had a crush on Andrea, then Bruce’s wife, and had me take some Super 8 footage of her behind the counter at Discount Records. Peggi was friends with Rich and Dale before we hooked up. Kim Torgerson was married to Dave. I guess I introduced them. She lived in the dorm across the street from me. She took the classic MX-80 Sound photos.
Michael Gribbroek grew up in Rochester near where Peggi and I live now. He was the first person Bruce Anderson met when he moved into the nearby Wilke Quadrangle on the IU campus. Mrs. Seamon, from the Mrs. Seamon Sound Band was the head dietician at Wilkie Quad. Michael found my blog through Andrea and follows our walks through his old stomping grounds. He told a story yesterday of the moment he knew Bruce was going to drop out of art school. They were in an art history class together, writing an essay in one of those little light blue books about how the art critics treated Mondrian. Michael looked over at Bruce and he was making cartoon-like drawings of critics physically torturing Mondrian in graphic detail.
Marc Weinstein is the co-founder of the world’s largest independent record store, Amoeba. He played drums with MX after Dave passed and grew up in Buffalo. He knows all the bands we played with there in the Personal Effects days. Howard Thompson put out the first MX-80 album while working for Island in London. Howard is good friends with Kevin Patrick, the lead singer in New Math, and he came to Rochester to produce the first single, Die Trying. I played drums on that track. Peggi and I went back to Bloomington to hear MX-80 audition for Howard and his new boss at Bronze in Dale’s basement.
Head-spinning but then again, I could have this all wrong.
Do kids play Pick Up Sticks anymore? They might be considered dangerous. And the game is probably too delicate for these times. I remember loving it. The colors of the sticks, the finesse required to slide one out but then there were all those arguments over whether you disturbed the pile or not.
Instead of walking the last couple of days we picked up sticks on our property. The windstorm left small branches of dead wood everywhere. Our yard is clear and ready for tonight’s snowstorm. When we last walked (March 9th) we spotted these two swimmers looking pretty comfortable in Lake Ontario.
The little flower that could, Winter Aconite, first identified by my father, has popped up through last night’s snow. Nearly all is right with the world.
I’m nearly finished with Volume XX! of “Brief History of the World.” It is a very slow process of gathering, weeding and juxtaposing. At the same time I’ve been digitizing another volume in preparation for its release as an eBook. The aproprieated images are arranged as spreads so the detail above is out of the admitedly abstract context. I’m also selecting a collection of the spreads from the 21 volumes to use in an upcoming digital presentation.
I know it is not over but it feels like it is for now. So many bare faces and smiles. Our Margaret Explosion show was packed on Wednesday, a double bonus night for the band, and there were a lot people out last night for First Friday. We spent most of the evening in the Anderson Building where Pete Monacelli, George Wegman and Kathy Farrell were showing new work at Richard Margolis’s fourth floor studio. Pete is showing 15 of his “Searching for Home” pieces, this batch in dialog with Renaissance artists.
I fell in love with the luscious George Wegman painting (above) as soon as I set my eyes on it and looked for George to have him put a red dot next to it. He was holding court so I drew up my own “sold” note and attached it to the wall tag. I love the palette, the paint handling and the subject matter. It reminded Peggi of my “Subterranean Surrogates” series and I was thinking of the last Margaret Explosion CD cover. I can’t wait to get the painting home.
I really enjoyed the figure drawing show at Nancy Valle’s studio. A group meets there for three hours every Monday and it is hard to find an excuse not to join them. Still on the fourth floor we revisited Joan Lyon’s show and spent some time in Colleen Buzzard’s studio which had been re-invigorated by a tidy-up for a photo shoot. Peggi and I were trying to remember Colleen’s exact words and couldn’t but the gist of her comment to someone (we can’t remember that either) was out of the darkness and isolation comes new energy. We finished the night on the first floor where Heather Gray was preparing to wrap up a gorgeous new painting she had just sold.
Everybody knows House of Guitars is on Titus Avenue but how many people have been to the very east end of Titus, the part they call the Extension? It drops steeply as it winds its way down to the bay and then it dead-ends at this place. The houses along the way look tiny from the street but some are three and four stories in the back as they as they hang over the hillside.
As I walked out to get the paper this morning I heard a flock of geese overhead, the first I’ve heard returning from down south. They make a racket as they fly but their sounds are so beautiful. I stood out in the road in my slippers as they came into sight and then disappeared.
We were skiing just a few days ago on March 1st but its going to be 60 by the weekend and Saint Patty’s is just two weeks away, the unofficial first day of Spring. We spotted a few Red Wing Blackbirds in the marsh, standing on top of the tall grasses and calling to one another. I had a feeling that our Winter Aconite might be up so took a look out back and then realized I’m being overly optimistic.
It would have to be sunny today. We were schedualed to have our eyes checked at 10:30 and after the diilation we had to wear dark glasses for the rest of the day. I had forgotten that it was Ash Wednesday until I spotted a couple in the waiting room with smudges on their foreheads. Dr. Goodfriend asked me if I had noticed any changes in my vision and I told him I find myself taking my glasses off to read the really tiny print on labels. I’m not used to that. I haven’t taken them off since I got them in 5th grade.
He got his microscopic light out and said, “I’m gonna ask you to look to the left, one eye at a time.” He shined the light in my eye and there was a long pause before he said. “Look to the left,” as if I hadn’t heard him. I told him you said you were “gonna ask me to look to the left.” He didn’t find that funny. I tried to get back on his good side by describing how wild it was when I walked out of Waldert’s on Mount Hope Avenue with my first pair of glasses. As dramatic as the first time I took LSD. He chuckled.
Once back in the waiting room I picked out some new glasses for my new prescription. Rather the optician picked them out for me. He basically told me my current glasses, the ones I’ve been wearing for 7 or 8 years, were too wide for my face. I have a prism in both lenses and he got out a piece of paper to illustrate how the prism works. His drawing reminded me of Steve Hoy‘s sci fi influenced work and I made a point of taking it with me.
I shared an album with Bennie , Kerry and Claire, our Flash buddies of photos I took at WNY Flash matches. Every Women’s National Soccer League star played in Rochester before the franchise was sold to North Carolina, the very same year they won the league championship. Heather O’Reilly, Sam Kerr, Carly Lloyd, Sam Mewis, Abby Wambach, Hope Solo, Lynn Williams, Abby Dahlkemper, Alana Kennedy, Jess McDonald along with international stars like Marta, Christine Sinclair and Sam Kerr. The US Olympic team was made up of primarily of former Flash players. It was a good ride.
Bennie, who plays drums in jazz bands as well as a Brazilian percussion ensemble added some of her photos to the album. I used the one of hers (above), taken in the Flash Mob percussion section in the end zone of the soccer stadium, for our gig tomorrow, Wednesday at the Little Theatre Café 6:30- 8:30.
I pulled a few of my “For Fritz” paintings out to show some friends over the weekend and by chance these four wound up clustered together below my “Los Inmigrantes.” They played so nicely together I made a note of the four.
I have sixteen of these in total and of course some work better with others. We have six on a wall in our house. None of these are in that cluster. Interesting that hiding some makes others stronger and certain combinations make the individual pieces sing. They are interactive.
While working on the sixteen I wound up with an extra painting of three of the colors. I put one of the those in the Roco Members Show and it sold. The couple who bought it contacted me through this blog and asked if I had any more for sale. I told them I had hoped to show the 16 someday and I would rather not sell them. I mentioned the two other extras and they bought both of those. While they were here they asked if I could do a fourth before retiring the series. And now they have their own cluster out there.