Amidst an extraordinary confluence of natural phenomena Margaret Explosion will perform two sets of original music at the Little Theater Café this evening. The atmosphere will be conducive to creativity. Join Steve Piper and Scott Regan (and the band) who are regularly seen sketching while we play. Oscar was there, on a school night, and drew this picture of Ken as an octopus playing bass.
My father first identified this flower for us. We were stunned to see it bursting through the snow. I started keeping track of the date each year when we first see it and last year it was February 22nd. I posted a picture of the Winter Aconite then and in that post I see I mentioned “the amount of plastic that scientists found in tiny fish at the bottom of the ocean.” This morning I read about a big fish, a whale in the Philippines, with eighty-eight pounds of plastic in its stomach.
We could all have a much lighter footprint.
I have neglected the website, theRefrigerator.net, long enough and am in the process of taking it down, reducing my digital footprint. I’m keeping a few things and this morning I finished moving my favorite piece, Shelley Valachovic’s artist journal entitled “A Year In The Woods,” to a safe location.
This is a blueprint for a lighter footprint and so much more. Shelley’s watercolor illustrations of the local plants, fruit, leaves and mushrooms that surround them in their Adirondack home are gorgeous. We bought the original of the image below at a show of Shelley’s work in Troy. Shelley’s text, the beautiful journal entries, charts the Adirondack seasonal offerings. Here is a passage from mid March.
“The chipmunks came out today all bright-eyed and bushy-tailed, two of them running like madmen between the shed, the lodge, the fireplace, and back to the shed again. They must have calendars in their underground winter hideouts, for they are right on schedule. Or perhaps they can sense the thaw, feel the softening of the ground, or maybe their ceilings have started to leak.”
I’m guessing that Shelley and her partner, Pete, are syruping down today. In her March entry, she notes that water freezes at a higher temperature than sugar, separating the goods before you boil it down. See “A Year In The Woods.“
In another two weeks the outlet bridge will swing open and you won’t be able to walk into Webster again until November. We walked over the bridge and on to the spit of land separating Lake Ontario and Irondequoit Bay. Summer homes used to line both sides of this peninsula but most of the ones on the north side have washed away. There is a nice foot path that parallels the road where the former Hojack tracks were. It comes to an end by a historical marker on the spot where Denonville’s French army landed in 1687 when they invaded Seneca country.
One year ago we circumnavigated the Bay on foot. We were preparing for the big walk across Spain. Excitement was in the air. Anything was possible. And nothing has changed.
We drove past Saint Patrick’s Cemetery on the way in into town and parked right in front of the Aurora Inn. We were here for a special Portuguese dinner pairing of Portuguese food with wine from that country but first we took a walk around town. The wind was blowing hard, off the lake, so at Saint Patrick’s Church we headed up Dublin Hill Road. There is a historical marker at the corner marking the 1793 Patrick Tavern, the towns original courthouse. We checked out an art show on Wells College’s campus and headed back for dinner.
We were seated with three other couples at a round table overlooking Cayuga Lake, a mother and her grown son who drove over from Syracuse, a couple from Philly, who come up here regularly, and a couple from Brighton who were celebrating a birthday. The Brighton guy, a bond trader, and the Merck salesman from Philly monopolized the conversation. Not that we wanted to jump in on their conversations about money, taxes, vacations, cooking steak and money, just that we could hardly have our own with all that. A wine salesman and Chef Patrick, dressed in black and wearing a pair of black Crocs, saved the day by talking to the crowd between each serving.
We buy Canaltown’s Rochester Choice blend and were getting low so I called Pete and had him put together a couple of big bags. We parked in the empty parking lot of the old Tops, our store of choice when we lived in the now hot North Winton neighborhood. We decided to take a walk before picking up the bags so we headed downtown on the north side of East Avenue. I had something to drop off at RoCo and we took a last look at the local landscape show while we were there. I was struck by how good looking this show is. Nine widely different artists and yet it hangs together.
We found a flyer there for a used book show at the library so we kept walking. Peggi found a small Rouault book from 1959, just one year after Rouault’s death, from a time when art books customarily had color plates glued to the pulp pages and these are knockouts. Clowns, prostitutes and religious paintings. The book was a dollar. Two of the four Rouault prints my father had on our living room wall can be seen in this family photo. I am a fan.
We walked out of downtown on the south side of Eastman, picked up our coffee and took it across the street to Wegman’s Italian restaurant where we split calamari, roasted beet salad with pistachio vinaigrette and octopus. With all the great Italian restaurants in this town Wegmans gave it a good shot.
I used to stop in at the Fairport pizzeria where my nephew worked, just to say hi and see how he was doing, and I was always struck by his tats, the gothic letter “D” and especially the Roc logo on his index finger. The logo, appropriated all over town these days in proud gesture, is a really healthy sign. I’ve always hated it when people bad mouth the city or the weather and I always think, “If you don’t like , why don’t you just leave,” The older I get, the more I just vocalize that thought.
Not too long ago, maybe 2000, I had a page on the Refrigerator website called “Rochester Beat” and I used a tiny version of the City logo between the words Rochester and Beat. To my surprise, the city had employees reading the Refrigerator on company time and I got an email asking to give them a call.
Subject: Use of City Logo on your website
Hi, that’s our city logo on your website. Please give me a call so we can talk about it. Thanks.
Ted Capuano, Assistant to the Director, Bureau of Communications, City of Rochester, New York
I blew it off and then got another email.
Subject: Re: Registered Rochester City mark on website.
Hi, This is the second time I’ve emailed you about the use of the City’s mark on refrigerator.net. Please take down the City mark from your website. If you’d like to discuss this, please feel free to contact me. Thanks.
I did not want to discuss it. I took it down and put up a close-up photo of the City logo on our green trash container.
Carlie Fishgold from Rochester’s “Post” magazine had an interesting piece about the two competing designers who both claim to have come up with the logo. She finished with this line, “That the people commandeer the symbol speaks to the authenticity of Rochester’s persona . . . as the nation’s first boom town, reinvention is the spirit of our people.”
I asked our smart speaker to play some Peggy Lee and the first one out was “Is That All There Is?” probably her most popular song. Personal Effects used to do a version of that. But this setlist went deep and reminded me how much I love her. I was especially struck by how good “Where or When” sounded so I went to my library to mark it as a favorite. I only have so much time left to listen to music, as we all do. It already had five stars on it.
We tried to track down Peggi Lee when we were out visiting Peggi’s sister in Belair. We even bought one of those star maps that had her house marked on it. We were on foot, a dangerous way to get around the Hollywood Hills and her house was just too much of hike.
I thought the song below was the most interesting from last week. Nothing like Where or When. That’s my nephew’s drone on the cover.
In August of 2000 Steve Orr of the Democrat & Chronicle wrote a review that started with, “My favorite part of theRefrigerator might be the step-by-step pictorial on how to burn a pistachio. ‘These nuts, my favorite food in the world, flame like little flares when set afire.’ Or maybe it’s the painting entitled ‘Sparky Shows Me His Colostomy Gag.'”
Last year Maureen told us she spotted some Sparky paintings hanging in a bar on Empire Boulevard. I had wondered what happened to the series of paintings I did back in the early nineties. Cheryl Laurro displayed them in the widow of Godiva’s on Monroe Avenue and the owner of Oxford Pub, across the street, bought them. I hadn’t seen them since.
We were meeting friends at Proietti’s in Webster last night so we left a little early and stopped by Murphy’s Law at the bottom (or is it the top) of Irondequoit Bay. We found three paintings on the walls in the main room, “Sparky Shoots A Sewer Rat,” Sparky Cooks The Kielbasa In His Own Special Sauce,” and “Sparky Goes To A Gig” above. I was surprised how big they were.
Sparky had been on my mind lately. He passed away in November and I recently moved the mini website devoted to Sparky, to a new responsive html location.
It took me quite a while to warm up to Sparky, our next door neighbor for twenty seven years, but once we became friendly I amassed quite few photos and paintings of him along with a collection of “Sparky capsules,” a short sentence foundation for a painting. Sparky knew he was a character and he cultivated his persona with fantastic stories. See “Sparky Dot Com.”
I particularily like this acrylic painting by Paul Brandwein at the Geisel Gallery downtown. Entitled “All My Plans,” I read his riotously colorful structure as big enough to claim the plans but too porous to contain them. And a reminder to pick your battles, let some things go and keep a few to kick around some more.
All this sun, the blue skies and temperatures poking above 0 (Centigrade) signal the end of our cross country skiing season. There were a few grassy patches out there this morning and a lot of people with dogs. I stopped at a juncture between paths and a big brown dog ran toward me. I turned away from it and it jumped up on my back. Its front legs were on my shoulders as I pleaded with the owner to either call your dog or put it on a leash like the park sign says.
I know I sound like a cranky old man and I don’t particularly like this part of me. But I was up for an hour or so before Peggi, working on my computer, as the dog across the street, trapped in the front yard while surrounded by pink flags marking his electrified perimeter, the so-called invisible fence, barked at least once for every breath I took.
The dog is almost a year old now and the owners never walk it. I would be miserable too. They are inside with a big tv on in every room. Oblivious. The guy has a gun and most people on the street are afraid to talk to them. There must be a creative solution to this.
Looks like this will be our twenty-first year as a band. It still seems brand new but here’s the proof, this Bug Jar ad for the “Loosest Happy Hour on Earth.” That’s probably Bug Jar Bob’s copywriting. I can still see Steve Brown behind the bar in his white shirt, wanting to talk about investing during our break while Casey did all the work.
Twenty one years and we still haven’t had a practice. That would spoil the whole thing. That’s why I got such a kick out of Frank De Blase’s article in City, “Too Much Practice Is Bad For You.” “If you see a band on stage smiling all of a sudden, then you probably just witnessed a mistake that was handled quickly, with the intuition left intact and unsoiled by too much rehearsal.” I would add, If you see a band with their eyes closed they are probably all listening to one another wondering where the song is gonna go because they have never played it before.
Margaret Explosion plays the Little Theatre Café Wednesday 7-9. Here’s a song from twenty years ago.
There were rumors about Brother Heathwood when I was going to school at Bishop Kearney. I had a friend who was in plays there and I remember him laughing about how Heathwood , the drama teacher, chased after the girls. There is nothing funny about sexual abuse so severe that it robbed a former student of the ability to conceive. I lasted two years at Kearney and find it telling that my favorite memory of the place was when Dave Vercolen stood up in class and punched the abusive Brother Levy right in the face. Heathwood’s order, the Irish Christian Brothers whose local members lived on the top floor of the high school, went bankrupt paying off victims who successfully sued. Yet the Catholic Church is still above water.
We were having dinner with my sister at Vic & Irv’s (aka Lakeside Hots) and I heard the the guy sitting next to us tell the waitress, “The only reason I come in here is to read the paper and listen to the music.” There is always a newspaper on the counter there, just like a Spanish place, and that day’s had a picture of a smiling John Laurence Heathwood along with an article about the abusive Sister Janice Nadeau (“Hawk”) from St. Margaret Mary where my cousin went.
Michael Jackson’s “Beat It” came on the sound system. We had just read the reviews of “Leaving Neverland,” which was being aired on HBO that night, and as much as I love that song I didn’t want to hear it.
“I have revisited the ages of my life. These are my rivers.” – Giuseppe Ungaretti
Giuseppe Ungaretti, 1888-1970, was an Italian modernist poet, journalist, essayist, critic and academic. Peter Monacelli is an Italian modernist poet, artist, musician, critic and academic. He had a second opening on Friday for his mini retrospective, “These Are My Rivers,” at Colleen Buzzard’s Studio. It takes at least two visits to take this show in. This time I was blown away by this cluster of nine exquisite pieces. Pete’s wall tag was the recipe and icing on the cake.
“These are my Rivers. A symphony in three movements.
1st Movement: Searching For Home
For that place we knew before we were affected by the world, before we gave up our innocence too cheaply.
2nd Movement: Escaping Extinction
Religions promise of an afterlife: Informed by 1950s sci-fi movies.
3rd Movement: The River
The river is a symbol for Gloria. After the rain.”
That’s a lot to work with.
Our neighbors have someone staying at their house while they are down south and I saw him out brushing his car off this morning. He said “I’m sick of this stuff.” We were headed out skiing and loving this stuff.
We had about six inches overnight and it was about fourteen degrees so the snow was light and fluffy, fluffy enough for us to risk skiing down the steep hill behind our neighbor’s house and into the woods. Out on the golf course we got on one of the groomed trails. We saw another neighbor out there skiing with his wife. He said this was the best day all winter. The sun was out and it was so beautiful we did a lot of just stopping and standing around.
Tomorrow we start the official countdown to Saint Patty’s, the unofficial first day of Spring.
Many years ago we found a book of matches from Lucia’s Supper Club, a restaurant in Olean, New York. I don’t remember where we found them but they made an impression. We wrote a song about Lucia’s as we imagined it. If it was a supper club, there surely was more to it than the food, so we came up with a fictional band that took the stage after dinner. We recorded a song, “Lucia’s Supper Club,” for the album “It’s Different Out There” I did a drawing for the cover of the lp picturing what we imagined Lucia’s Supper Club looked like .
In 2002, on my birthday, we decided to track the place down. We weren’t even sure where Olean was but thought it was closer to Rochester than it turned out to be. The restaurant was still in business but but it was not as glamorous as we had pictured it. We had dinner there and when the waitress pronounced the name of the place she said “Loo-chia’s” instead of “Loo-cha’s”. Oh well, too late for that detail. I posted a piece about our visit in the Refrigerator and Lucia’s granddaughter spotted it and sent us this note.
“Hi, I was browsing the Internet this week and came across your info on the web. What prompted me to write to you is that I am Lucia Bardenett’s great-granddaughter. She was the “Lucia” of Lucia’s Supper Club in Olean. Oddly, this weekend we are celebrating my grandfather’s (Lucia’a son) 87th birthday. Nonna (as we called her) died in 1986, so my grandfather is really the last of the restaurant’s founding immediate family. My grandfather was her only child. He had 6 children who gave him 15 grandchildren and 2 of those have given him 3 great-grandchildren. I am the oldest of the 15.
So there’s a little info for you. I didn’t want to go on and on, but anyone who would be so intrigued by a pack of matches to write a song, design an album cover, and make a trip to Olean would probably be interested.
I am forwarding the link to your website to all of my family members (as you can tell from the above is quite a few). Could you tell me how to get a copy of that song? The mp3 version on your site won’t work for me. If you have a chance, could you even send me a copy of the lyrics. We’d be interested to see what you imagined about our family’s old restaurant.
By the way, I can guarantee Nonna would have gotten a kick out of your album cover; she was such a character!”
-Marie Rakus, Olean, NY
Here’s a ratty live version of Personal Effects “Lucia’s Supper Club” from Idol’s in Rochester, New York. Bob Martin plays guitar, Paul Dodd plays percussion, Peggi Fournier sings and plays keyboard, Robin Goldblatt Mills plays bass.
Funny how my eye doesn’t pick up the color shift but the camera does. I feel as though I’m flooding the work area with incandescent light but the daylight from the southern exposure window to the left brings shifts the temperature.
I watched these two in person. She was pacing with her phone and he was talking to someone else on his device, using the free library wifi. She was strung out. He looked like he could give a shit. Next thing you know their mugshots were in the news. Today I surrounded them with garden foliage. I’m doing them as Adam and Eve and hope to begin painting tomorrow.
There is no way this tree, in front of the Church of the Transfiguration on Culver Road, is coming down in the windstorm that is currently howling outside. It has been here since before the Declaration of Independence was signed. The sidewalk which was already moved is being shoved aside again. We’ve walked by this tree three days in a row now, on trips up to Wegman’s, the bank and then the library.
We had the 1959 movie, “Jazz on a Summer’s Day,” in our Netflix queue for months and there is still a “Very Long Wait.” They must only have a few copies. I found it listed in the collection at our library so we headed over there. We’re always looking for a walking destination. I remember really liking the opening number by Jimmy Giuffre, Bob Brookmeyer and Jim Hall. And the Monk performance in the movie we just watched was so good I need more. Once we got home with the dvd I found the full movie on YouTube.
The temperature was up in the fifties earlier but it is dropping fast. An inversion that may cause gusts over 70 miles an hour. We’re planning on going out to hear Kahil with the Ethnic Heritage Ensemble at the Bop Shop tonight but if a tree drops on the power line we’ll be babysitting our neighbor’s generator. PopWars will go dark.
These lakes in Durand Eastman are so small. I can’t imagine what kind of fish people pull out of them in the dead of winter. There must be something else to this ice fishing sport. I picture some incredible homemade soup and black coffee from a Stanley steel thermos. Maybe the guy in this red tent is reading the morning paper.
When Peggi’s parents came up here for six weeks one summer we bought them a temporary subscription to the Democrat & Chronicle. At the time we were subscribing to the afternoon paper, the Times Union, but we picked the D&C for them because it leaned to the right. Well, they found it too left wing so that did’t work out. And the golf course in Bristol, near where they were staying, was closed most of the summer because it was the rainiest on record. The Times Union disappeared and I don’t want to see the same fate for the D&C.
Did anybody see David Andreatta’s column on the former Monroe County Supervisor? I know print is dead for most people but we can’t just tune out. I worry that many of my neighbors already have. Why else would we have paid Maggie Brooks for 23 years at the public trough? How about Steve Orr’s reporting on the abuse and coverup at McQuaid? While newsprint slips away the local team here is working harder than ever in hopes that enough people care enough to pay a few pennies a day for online access to keep them informed. Don’t be a dumb ass. Give it up.
Another perfect day for cross country or “Alpine Skiing” as Ann our yoga buddy from Jeffery’s summer classes at the yacht club. We ran into Ann on the course and she tried to give me a hug. I leaned over on my skis and almost fell over. She is the high school ski instructor and she was happy to be skiing on her own while the kids are off for President’s Week. We skied out the ridge to the lake and back along the western edge of Durand Lake. I spotted this cross on a tree on our way up out of the woods.
I was talking to my cousin over the weekend and he asked about our Camino trip. While explaining the centuries old significance of the destination, we found ourselves deep in a religious conversation. In no time at all he was talking about he recent Democrat & Chronicle exposé on the priests at McQuaid, the same priests that kicked him out of McQuaid for disturbing the other students. As if that wasn’t a worthwhile pursuit for a high schooler. Yet these guys sexually abused their own students, covered for one another and acted all pious.
My cousin recommended “The Keepers” to us, the Netflix series on the murder of Sister Catherine Cesnik, a popular nun at Baltimore’s Archbishop Keough High School. He said he thought it was more powerful than “Spotlight.” Even though we had just started “The Ted Bundy Tapes” (I fell asleep in Episode 1) we watched the first two installments of “The Keepers” last night. It is devastating and hard to watch. In this case the evil starts in the school and is covered up by the whole city.
This week Pope Francis meets with the church hierarchy in a last ditch effort to turn his ship around. Unless they seriously clean house, assist in the prosecution of rapists in their midst, open their doors to people of all sexual persuasions, allow women to be priests and roll back the bone headed, 12th Century edict on celibacy they might as well start selling their statues.
Historic Brighton celebrated their 20th year by serving cake and punch at the conclusion of their annual meeting. My siblings and I were invited because they were presenting an award in my father’s name. He was one of the founding members and he would have been thrilled with the turnout on Sunday. This year’s Leo Dodd Award went to Betsy Breyer, who had a fatal heart attack on the way to last year’s meeting. She was a longtime editor of the newsletter and was nominated for a Pulitzer Prize for her book on George Eastman.
Michael Lasser, host of WXXI’s Fascinating Rhythm, was scheduled to give a talk entitled, “The Songs of the Suburbs,” but he had to cancel. Grant Holcomb, the former director of the Memorial Art Gallery filled his slot with a presentation on “The Image of Lincoln in American Art.” It started with traditional, historical paintings of Lincoln in action, signing the Emancipation Proclamation, and then wandered into fanciful portrayals of the young Lincoln and Lincoln pennies. Grant could have stopped at Leonard Volk’s life mask of Lincoln. What a face!
I was thrilled to see a couple of Horace Pippin paintings with Lincoln in them but when we approached modern times, Grant sort of went off the rails. David Salle’s painting from the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, with a miniature Lincoln medallion floating above a woman’s breast, got lot of screen time and we did’t get to see Dali’s tour de force.