Another Day In Paradise

Rubino's on East Ridge Road Road in Rochester
Rubino’s on East Ridge Road Road in Rochester

Rubino’s is about eight miles round trip, a nice walk on a good day. Thursday was not not a good day in the traditional sense. It was a beautiful day with snowfall heavy enough to narrow traffic on East Ridge Road to one lane in each direction. We stomped our feet and brushed off before crossing the threshold at Starbucks where the baristas were giddy. There was hardly anyone in the place and our server congratulated us on braving the elements.

Rubino’s was packed with holiday shoppers. We bought two tubs of olives for our holiday party and gallon of olive oil for general purposes. Near the secret sidewalk that runs off Kings Highway we saw someone collecting his mail. Before we could say hi he looked up and said, “Another day in paradise.” It wasn’t even snowing when we left The house and by the time we got to the cemetery on our return trip the sky was turning blue.

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Rainbow Drive

Delivery truck stuck in the snow on Rainbow Drive
Delivery truck stuck in the snow on Rainbow Drive

Were were headed out for a walk but I had to finish something on my computer. Peggi was shoveling the driveway while she waited for me. We only had an inch or so. I heard dance music cranking out there and then Peggi talking to someone so I took my time. When I got out there Peggi told me she was chatting with a delivery guy. He told her they gave him 300 packages to deliver each day. And he had a cold. But he got a little too friendly when he asked her how long she has lived here.

We walked down Hoffman Road Road and at the very end, where Rainbow Drive darts up the hill, we saw the delivery guy. His radio was silent and he was standing outside the van which had slid off the road and came to a halt against this tree. He told us the red light at the top of the back door was smashed but he seemed completely unconcerned. We chatted some more and took off.

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Imperial Sounds

Ucal Bernard drawing of his brother-in-law's store on Chili Avenue in Rochester, New York
Ucal Bernard drawing of his brother-in-law’s store on Chili Avenue in Rochester, New York

Ucal Bernard lived in Jamaica where he made money by doing drawings for the tourists. Most of his family lives in Rochester so when Ucal passed away recently they held a celebration of his life at the Baobab Cultural Center on University Avenue. Ucal’s artwork, mostly pencil drawings on big sheets of paper, was hanging on the gallery walls.

Ucal was our neighbor’s youngest brother so the group moved to his house for food and drink after the celebration. Our neighbor showed us a big volume of Ucal’s drawings, dramatic fantasy-like drawings, many with voluptuous women. I found them inspiring.

One of the drawings in the show (above) was done when Ucal was in Rochester. It depicts his brother-in-law’s record store on Chili Avenue in 1996. I had heard about this shop from my neighbor and we had met Courtney, the owner, at his house. I asked Courtney what the address was and found out it was right next door to where the Dodd/Miller Tavern (formerly the Munich Restaurant) was, at the corner of Thurston.

I sent Duane the drawing. Duane went to West High and grew up in the neighborhood. In the late seventies we used to buy imported Jamaican 45s from Andy’s shop on Genesee Street and I remember checking out some other places with Duane but all he remembered the reggae shop by Bullshead or further down West Main near Jefferson. I see a date of 1996 in the bottom corner of this drawing so that is after our time and long after my grandfather’s.

Business card for Munich Restaurant in Rochester, New York circa 1940
Business card for Munich Restaurant in Rochester, New York

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Not Kidding

Anti Vaccine people on Monroe Avenue in Pittsford
Anti Vaccine people on Monroe Avenue in Pittsford

Funny how all these signs look alike, like Barbara Kruger made them all. And kind of creepy how some parents enlist their kids to stand out in the rain in front of Pittsford Plaza with signs they couldn’t possible understand. The little guy in the green mittens and a red Santa hat is holding one that reads “Vaccine Mandates Violate Bodily Anatomy.”

There were about twenty of these signs out there with variations of the same message. “Stop Government Research.” “HPV Vaccine Known To Cause Death.” I rolled the car window down to photograph them and one women with a sign smiled at my like I was a supporter. I shouted, “You’ve got to be kidding” and she shouted back, “No, we’re not!”

My brother’s lady friend celebrated her 60th birthday last night out at Trio on Winton Road. The sign above the door reads “Drink, Dine Dance,” a trio of “D” words. The agenda makes life easy.

The bar had 80’s videos playing on the big screen without the sound and they looked especially fun that way. At some point a dj or vj, someone who appeared older than we are, got in the booth and stood in front of two big shelves of 12 inch records. The sound system kicked in and the videos were all current hits. I went up to check out his set up and saw a turntable off to the side with some stuff piled on top it. There were two digital turntables front and center, those little ones that look big enough for a cd. He wasn’t using those either. Instead he stood in front of a touch screen monitor with a playlist of videos. The wind kind of goes out of the room when everyone is focused on the video images.

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Holiday Red

Inflatable Penguin Family  on Culver Road
Inflatable Penguin Family on Culver Road

If we had taken Peggi’s sister’s suggestion we would be on our way to Miami for Christmas. Our nephew and his girlfriend have a restaurant down there, Boia De, and we’ll have to check it out but not over Christmas. We walked up to Wegman’s today and stopped on front of this house grab a picture of the inflatable penguin family. By the time we returned it was dark enough to turn on the blue lights which line our roofline.

Our neighbor across the street works from home and they do most of their shopping online so there are delivery trucks there throughout the day. I watched as he accepted a delivery and then saw the driver walk up to our door. He had the MX-80 album we ordered, “Crowd Control.” I helped Rich prepare the mechanical art for the re-release and Rich offered to send me a copy but I said no. We already have the album. But from time to time I would wonder how the thing came out. I simplified the 4 color formulas thinking the reissue would be a more electric combination of the red and yellow and when I thought of MX80 for some reason I found myself working about the result. So I ordered one from Ship to Shore. It’s being offered for $6! Red vinyl and a bonus track, the Theme from Halloween. And who doesn’t want a clean copy of “Obsessive Devotion” or “More Than Good?”” As a holiday gift it is guaranteed to please the most discerning taste.

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A World Away

Gnarly Willow along Lake Ontario
Gnarly Willow along Lake Ontario

“Here Denonville’s French Army landed to invade the Seneca Country; July 12, 1687. ” So reads the historical marker on the lake side of Lake Road in Webster. We walked over there this afternoon, across the seasonal bridge, and we stopped across the street from this sign for a salad and sandwich at a place called the Bayside. It is out of time and a world away.

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It’s A Family Affair

View from inside the big tent in Roc Village downtown Rochester
View from inside the big tent in Roc Village downtown Rochester

This post has been uppdated:
In my original post here I stated the Roc Holiday Village was constructed by the City. Martin contacted me to say a private company is responsible for the winter paradise. This makes a lot more sense. It is too well done,

Our friend, Kathy, recommended we check out Roc Village. The area between between the skating rink and jungle gym in Martin Luther King Jr Park is elevated on a giant wooden plank patio. Fire pits are scattered about. Vendors and transparent hospitality tents are lined up. We bought some olive oil and handmade soap and after watching the kids skate we had a beet salad and a Space Kitty in the big tent. It was great to see so many people outside in the winter.

We were in Ottawa a few years back for their Winterlude, skating through downtown on the canal with hundreds of other people and wondering why Rochester doesn’t do something it. They have.

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A Collection Of Wonders

Jeremy Irons in The Prado Museum: A Collection of Wonders
Jeremy Irons in The Prado Museum: A Collection of Wonders

Why did they pick Jeremy Irons to narrate The Prado Museum: A Collection of Wonders? Because he is so damn dramatic! And he rises to the challenge of talking about some of the most dramatic paintings in the world as the Prado celebrates its two hundredth anniversary. The documentary played for just two showings this weekend at the Little and we were lucky enough to catch it.

Marina Saura also narrates and talks of first visiting the Prado with her father, the painter, Antonio Saura. When we were in Madrid in October we saw a show of Saura’s work at Antonio Macon where the gallery owner, Margarita, encouraged us to visit The Museo de Arte Abstracto Español in Cuenca . We saw more Saura there along with Tapies and the champions of Spanish abstract art in Spain. We were blown away and when we returned to Madrid we found even more of his work in a show at the Reina Sofia. The worlds are colliding.

We visit the Prado each time we visit Spain but my favorite was the first time. After flying overnight we rented a car at the Madrid airport and drove directly to the Prado. We sat in the car until the Museo opened and we had coffee in the basement café. I remember people smoking in there, in the museum. We went upstairs and were blown away.

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Hearty Greens

Fresh Kale from the garden in Refrigerator Hat
Fresh Kale from the garden in Refrigerator Hat

We skied from our front door through the woods into the park and around the golf course almost to the lake before turning around. Of course we stopped often, just to marvel at a tree that was hanging on to its color or a sign of life. Unless you have lived in this climate for say your whole life you don’t appreciate how dramatic the winter palette can be.

On our way back we stopped in the garden to find our kale still kicking. We didn’t have a bag so I filled my hat.

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Loaves And Fishes

Lawn Street RGE building with flag in window
Lawn Street RGE building with flag in window

I got a little ahead of Peggi while skiing in the woods and ran into a guy on a curve that was too narrow for the both of us. We stopped and he said something about how nice a day it was for skiing. I replied that it was headed up into the forties tomorrow and immediately felt bad for being such a wet blanket. He said, “You’ll just have to get out early tomorrow if we want to ski.” So we plan on heading out after coffee.

A Spectrum Cable truck was parked at the end of Hoffman near where we usually park. We got out with our skies and saw someone climbing out of a snow bank. The cable guy and he had slipped on the ice while walking up a steep driveway. The first thing he said was, “I got a good hill for you.” We skirted the periphery of the golf course by following three different paths that eventually took us right up to the lake. We followed horseshoe Road for a bit. It is just as pretty in the winter as it is in the summer. When we got back to our car we saw an Enterprise delivery truck, probably something Amazon had rented, stuck in the same snowbank where the cable guy was.

We stopped a few places on First Friday before seeing the Members Show at RoCo so we missed the award announcements but learned that my entry won an award. I put a relatively low price, $200 on the large print and if it sold I planned on donating the the whole thing to RoCo and now I see this about the award. “Lumiere Photo Award Chosen by William Edwards, photographer and owner of Lumiere Photo. $200 gift certificate.”

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Virgin Mary To Appear in Rochester

One square inch Refrigerator ads from Issue 14
One square inch Refrigerator ads from Issue 14

The first Refrigerator was an 8 1/2 by 14″ broadsheet, offset printed and available in restaurants and bars in Rochester for free. The circulation grew from 500 to 3,000 and the number of pages climbed to twelve. I did most of the graphics and wrote some, Peggi Fournier was the production manager. Ted Williams, Martin Edic, Chuck Cuminale, Carol Bradley, Chris Schepp, Rob Tyler and Frank Petronio all contributed content. The late Norm Davis hysterically surveyed the shops on Monroe Avenue. This was back in the nineties, before the internet, and all of this work was done anonymously until the D&C did a story about the Refrigerator..

With front page tag lines like “Does Caffeine Make You Smarter?,” “Love World’s Mental Heath Tipsheet,” “Recycle The Earth Issue,” paid for by the advertisers With a tag “George Eastman Is Dead,” “My Funeral,” “Bad Acid Trip,” “Because You Don’t Need an Entertainment Guide,” (a dig at Freetime Magazine), “Rochester’s Only Demolition Derby Fanzine” and “Virgin Mary To Appear in Rochester” we attracted a faithful readership. The “Why Are You Here? issue was especially popular as was Pete LaBonne’s “Dream Breakfasts.”

Lead-ins to pieces like “Rewriting Rochester’s Cultural Heritage,” “Readers Are People Too,” “Dealing With Denial,” “The Difference Between Right and Wrong,” “The End of the World,” “Thel Sound of Doom,” “Virtual Rochester,” “Finally, The Future,” “The Tediousness of Facts,” “I Live Next Door to a Genius” and “How to Stop Worrying and Start Living” were often the whole story.

The back page of “The Refrigerator” carried ten dollar, one square inch ads like those shown above. Pyramid Arts Center, The Village Green, The Bug Jar, The Cadillac Hotel, Squires Of The Subterrain, the Rochester Club and City Newspaper were all regulars. Nicholson Baker, the author, was an advertiser. 

Peggi skiing with Refrigerator Hat
Peggi skiing with Refrigerator Hat

All 28 editions are available in pdf format here. There is also a PayPal button for $10 Refrigerator hats.

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Abstracting The Form

Rolls Bar in small town on coast of Portugal
Rolls Bar in small town on coast of Portugal

There is not enough snow for us to safely ski down the big hill in the woods across the street so we put our skis in the car and drove down Hoffman to the golf course. The conditions there were somewhat shy of excellent but the sun was out and it was perfect for us.

I love how the ski tracks, going every which way, abstract the game that is intended to be played here in the warmer months. Something so orderly and controlled is entirely free. We followed someone’s tracks that skirted the periphery of the course staying just a few feet from the woods that surrounds the fairways. We skied most of the nine holes on this side of Kings Highway but we did it in an almost random order.

Last night’s Ossia program included this spellbinding piece, Tria ex uno by Georg Friedrich Hass. It was based on Agus Dei from a mass by Josquin in 1502, a piece described as “astounding in its control of harmony under fearsome conditions of polyphonic complexity.” I like that sentence and took it from the program but I really liked what I heard.

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Beyond Hi Fi

Virgin Wood Type headquarters in Rochester, New York
Virgin Wood Type headquarters in Rochester, New York

Ossia, the Eastman School’s program of new music, starts at 7:30 tonight and that presents a conflict. Our yoga class doesn’t get out until 8. They usually do five six pieces so we should be able to catch the last half. I heard they were doing an Anthony Braxton number.

I’m secretly looking forward to tomorrow night when we have nothing on our calendar. I need some time to create mp3s from last Wednesday when Pete LaBonne joined Margaret Explosion on piano. Pete and Shelley stayed for the holiday feast and Kevin and Jeanne joined us from Nashville. Kevin Vicalvi was Bat McGrath’s long time bass player (and harmony voice) and he was in town for the tribute on Saturday.

I did my Record Store Day dj set on Friday and we had dinner at Jeff and Marry Kaye’s, tuna from Alaska and some intense homemade ginger bread. We brought home a few pieces of that for breakfast. We had a couple of couples over for dinner on Saturday. Tom and Jann own a shop and Janet and Jonathan wrote a book about Hi Fi living and before the Uber driver returned we finished the evening watching YouTube videos by the fire.

Sunday was reserved for a long walk along the lake and then a visit to Virgin Wood Type. We had hoped to to spend some time with Sam but he was asleep on the couch. Partners, Geri and Paul, showed us their newest line of type. Bill would be so proud.

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Hey DJ

Record store in Madrid
Record store in Madrid

Tom Kohn at the Bop Shop asked me to dj a set on Record Store Day. I have the first slot, noon to one, and I discovered how fast an hour will go when I put this set together last night.

Last Poets This Is Madness
Ornette Friends and Neighbors
Silver Apples Oscillations
Suicide Ghost Rider
James Brown Funky President
Bo Diddley Ooh Baby
James Blood Ulmer Are You Glad Tao Be In America
Margaret Explosion Juggler
Miles Davis Miles Runs The Vodoo Down
Peggy Lee Fever
David Essex Rock On
Beach Boys Do It Again
Marvin Gaye Got To Give It Up
Donna Summer I Feel Love

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Across Time

Statues of fishermen's wives along beach in Porto
Statues of fishermen’s wives along beach in Porto

I’m still digesting the photos I brought back from our Portugal to Spain walk. There is art in public spaces throughout the Iberian peninsula. A lot of it is really good art, good being “I must take a photo of this so I can enjoy it again.” I’m always reminding myself not to let that act interfere with my appreciation of the piece in real time. These fishermen’s wives are really expressive, very physical. And the bathers in the distance, in mid October, accentuate the story.

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Bittersweet

Bittersweet against early snow on Hoffman Road in Rochester, New York
Bittersweet against early snow on Hoffman Road in Rochester, New York

With the temperature near fifty today I got up on the roof and blew the leaves off. And then we raked those same leaves out of the pachysandra and out on to our so called lawn. I only mowed once this year. We don’t get all that much sunlight through the trees. When all the leaves are out in the lawn I use the mower to mulch them and we just let those chopped leaves turn into dirt. It takes about a year for that to happen and then we start all over again. This cycle is bittersweet.

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Addendum

Amy Rigby reading from her book "Girl to City"at the Bop Shop in Rochester, New York
Amy Rigby reading from her book “Girl to City”at the Bop Shop in Rochester, New York

Peggi is about halfway through Amy Rigby‘s memoir, “Girl to City,” and she’s loving it. I will get my hands on it next. Amy was in town last night and she alternated between reading and playing songs. The songs, many of them older, were related to the passages she read and the combination compounded the experience.

She started reading a chapter called “Elton Girl,” (her nickname in middle school because she was such a fan) and she got to the part where she wins two tickets to an Elton John concert from her hometown Pittsburgh radio station. She stopped to tell something that wasn’t in the book. Something that had just occurred and that surely will be in the next edition.

While traveling across the country on this book tour she has been listening to the Elton John’s autobiography, “Me,” and Elton has a chapter in there where he talks about calling Stiff Records and offering to play keyboards for a tour they were putting together, the ulterior motive being he had a crush on Wreckless Eric. Amy’s husband! Amy stopped the car and called Eric.

Eric wrote a blog post about Elton John and Elton John saw the post and contacted Eric. All too much.

Amy finished with a bang in a string of songs that began with the anthem, “Do You Remember that?” (video below), her Tom Petty karaoke song, “The President Can’t Read,” and the perfect closer. “Hey, I love you. You’re perfect. Don’t ever change.”

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We Need A Movida

Antonio Saura, Carlos Saura, their father and sisters
Antonio Saura, Carlos Saura, their father and sisters

Spain’s transition from the darkness of the Franco era to democracy started well before the death of ‘El Caudillo’ in 1975. This we learned on our last visit to Madrid. We saw the “Poéticas de la Democracia” show at the Reina Sofia and then talked at length to Margarita at Antonio Machón Gallery where she was having a show of Saura’s work, an artist from that time that she represents and who was also featured in the Reina Sofia show. She emphasized how the underground was coming out before the dictator collapsed. And there is no doubt that the suppression under Franco fueled the movement.

Spain’s Transition led to La Movida in the early eighties, specifically La Movida Madrileña where people coined the now famous war-cries of the city: “Madrid nunca duerme” (“Madrid never sleeps”), “Esta noche todo el mundo a la calle” (“Tonight everybody to the street”) or “Madrid me mata” (“Madrid kills me”).

The US is overdue for a correction, a transition or a movida.

Here’s a song recorded at the Little Café a few weeks back..

"La Movida" by Margaret Explosion. Recorded live at the Little Theatre Café on 09.04.19. Peggi Fournier - sax, Ken Frank - bass, Phil Marshall - guitar, Paul Dodd - drums.
“La Movida” by Margaret Explosion. Recorded live at the Little Theatre Café on 09.04.19. Peggi Fournier – sax, Ken Frank – bass, Phil Marshall – guitar, Paul Dodd – drums.
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Showtime

Music Man, Professor Jim Porter, in Penn Station
Music Man, Professor Jim Porter, in Penn Station

We were kinda late for our train or I would have stopped to talk to this guy in Penn Station. He looks like a one man band with his stage gear on and his equipment case advertising a Funky Percussion Machine, Country, Irish, Polka, Zydeco and something called Bachata. I wanted to go where he was going but our train was boarding in the other direction.

Maybe it was the cup of coffee we had up at Starbucks but I had a hard time getting with the program in our yoga class tonight. Jeffery usually starts by going around the room asking people what they want to work on. I always say “anything.” Someone suggested shoulders so we got on our backs and stayed there the whole class, opening our spines, breathing deeply in three stages, stretching our shoulders and putting tennis balls under our piriformis (butts).

That was another problem. We walked up to Target this afternoon and ate rather hurriedly before class . Jeffery talked about being in the moment, how the class was just for this group at this time but my food was still settling. I must have stared at the ceiling lights o long because when we closed our eyes I kept seeing a small dancing bear, like one of those little Grateful Dead figures, moving from right to left.

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Good Packin’

Snow person in wind tunnel at RIT
Snow person in wind tunnel at RIT

I have my own system for labeling our firewood. My neighbor uses spray paint. I fold up a piece of white cardboard to 2″x2″ square, label it with the year, wrap it in clear packing tape and nail it into the end of one of the logs in the pile. This year we are burning wood we put up in 2015. While our neighbors were watching the Bills beat Miami we moved two face cords into our porch .

We will fill the space where those logs were with newly split wood. At the moment the log length sections of the big oak that came down on Hoffman are in a heap near our wood pile. They are so big Peggi and I were unable to roll them up on the splitter. So when the weather breaks I will have to swing my ax into them and follow that up with the sledge hammer to split the sections into something manageable for our Heathkit splitter. When those are split we’ll stack them where the the 2015 wood was and I’ll label it 2019. As they say, the wood warms you many times over.

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