There are two high tides here each day, of eight or nine feet. And as spectacular as the beach is, it is almost too dangerous for swimming. Big rock formations line the small bays. The waves are huge and loud enough to drown out the air conditioners at night. Wading is possible but I didn’t feel safe beyond my waist. The water is the same temperature as the air so it is tempting to push that. There is a plunge pool behind our bungalow with a view of the ocean and our place is completely surrounded by exotic vegetation so we spent most of the first day without any clothes on.
It seemed like a good idea at the time. Other than NYC and Buffalo, we hadn’t been anywhere since Covid hit. A travel article we read in the depths of winter made this small hotel on the rather remote Pacific coast of Costa Rica sound like paradise. So we booked for late October never imagining the equator would only be a bit warmer than upstate New York. And can it possibly be any prettier?
We were originally scheduled to fly to Newark and then Dallas but United routed us through Chicago first. I hate the idea of traveling in the wrong direction. The sun was setting by the time we reached San Jose so instead of moving toward our destination we took a shuttle to a chain hotel near the airport. We asked the desk clerk where we could change money and get sim cards for our devices and she suggested Walmart next door. We stumbled through both transactions but the young Walmart workers could not have been more helpful or sweet.
We slept so soundly we missed the early bus to Puntarenas so we arranged an Uber. Instead of going through the small town,s he drove on a toll road with all his windows down. He told us he also worked from home for Amazon España and he want to practice his English so I came up with random topics. The temperature got hotter and hotter as we approached the coast.
At Puntarenas we bought tickets for the ferry, an hour’s ride to the peninsula where our place is. We were sitting on the top deck and I began to feel a bit seasick when we hit rougher water so we moved to the lower level. There was a bus down there (with all the cars) and the destination on the front read “Santa Teresa” so Peggi asked the driver if there was room for us. He told her there wasn’t.
On land we found a bus that would take us part way, to Cobano. We felt like we were in that Buñuel Mexican bus movie where someone gets on with a live chicken. There was no air conditioning, of course, and standing room only. We were crammed in the back, standing over a women with a board in her lap, displaying jewelry she had been trying to sell somewhere. Out the windows lots of almost outdoor living going on. Rusty metal roofs and tarps, shacks in the lush tropical jungle. One lane bridges and serious switchbacks, at one point the bus slowed to crawl as we rode in first gear up the side of a mountain, then views of the Pacific Ocean from Bahia Tambor. The bus stopped anytime someone was standing along the road. With a lower vantage point Peggi saw a monkey hanging from its tail in the tropical jungle.
En Cobano nosotros tomamos otro autobus. This one was like a Sea Breeze ride but without the seat belts. The driver had the doors wide open. One lane of the road was washed out in several spots and the brakes squealed so loud we had to plug our ears. Waterfalls and amazing flora along the way. Bob Marley on the driver’s radio. We were following his route on the phone and when he got to the coast he turned the wrong way. Peggi asked him if we should get off and told us he was going to come back to that spot and then continue to our place. We hung in there.
Why did I have to go all the way to Madrid to discover Leon Golub, the tough as nails New York painter, husband of the tougher than nails painter, Nancy Spero? So American, Golub’s critical eye is on the page and his work was almost rude in Spain. It occurred to me that Golub is too distinctly American to be appreciated in the US.
Our 2011 tickets to the Reina Sofia, the contemporary art museum in Madrid, included admission to two satellite exhibitions in the park. Leon Golub at Palacio de Velázquez in Parque del Retiro was mind blowing. His work remains as fresh as the day he painted it. When we saw the show then I wrote, ” Golub’s scruffy tactile work holds its own with “Guérnica” from the Reina Sofia and Goya’s “The Third of May 1808” at the Prado!
Marlon Brando’s memorable line in “Apocalypse Now,” “the horror,” is shown in this monumental canvas. Golub said his work “was an invitation to a place where nobody wanted to go.”
I brought home the catalog to this show and never put it away. It has been at arm’s reach for eleven years. Included in the show were a series of portraits of Franco and this may be why Spain laid the royal carpet out for Golub. They are hysterical and devastating at the same time. Long live Golub!
Joe from Paperface Magazine brought Wreckless Eric to town last night for a show at Lux. I was surprised to see Steve Grieve there because I remember him getting caught up in a ruckus at Lovin” Cup when Eric and Amy were playing. It was so long ago I can’t remember the details but I think Steve was trying to get a group of people to shut up so he could hear the band when the owner threw him out!
People were loud as hell last night but it didn’t matter because all the crowd by the stage could hear or see was Eric. And the five dollar cover charge that the other ninety per cent of the crowd paid went right in Eric’s pocket. I was standing near the doorman and I could’t believe how many people filed in. It was such a nice night most probably wound up out back on the patio.
We have seen Eric ten times or so now and as much fun as those early shows were he is better than ever now. Not many people can hold the stage at a rock club with only a guitar and his voice. Not many performers let their work mature with them. The sound was perfect last night and Eric’s words are very descriptive, of place, people and emotions. His set was perfectly paced and once he had the crowd he created a ruckus with feedback and noise. He finished with his anthem which deserved the shot in the arm Expedia’s Super Bowl ad gave it.
Eric stayed next door with Rick so Peggi and I stopped by this morning to talk before he left town. We told him how much we liked the set and Peggi asked if he got a recording of the night. He went off on obsessive documentation and virtual experiences verses in person, in the moment, lived ones. It doesn’t take much to get Eric going. He was thrilled with the way the night went. He had a few recent gigs in NYC that went flat and he told us, “Rochester is full of surprises.”
John Gilmore emailed after our Wednesday gig to tell us how much he enjoyed the night. We played with Melissa Davies, a cello player, and John thought she helped take us to “A different Universe!” I had announced that Jack Schaefer might be there with his bass clarinet but that didn’t work out. Last time I saw him was during Rosh Hashanah and he was busier than ever in the bagel shop. Now that Brownstein’s has closed we may never see him again.
Phil Marshall’s effects pedal board is forever in flux. I took photo of it last night before we started. We were there early for a change and started on time. Some nights we come away with ten songs but were were able to get thirteen on Wednesday.
Pete and Gloria are always there, usually sitting at a table up front. Pete listens intently and he takes notes in his sketchbook. I asked for copy of his thoughts last month
“exotic turkish snake charming india soothing etherial
flipping the bird to all the 150 mph jazz tunes, with style, dignity, and grace
like a flower spurting from a crack in the earth and moving up to maturity; like a time laspe photograph“
And then, a copy of last night’s notes with the cello.
“Contemporary and primitive Middle Ages jazz Monastic jazz Meditation jazz Prophetic jazz Wayward jazz
A multitude of cultures A multitude of ethnicities“
I know this yellow. It has to be Rustoleum Sunburst Yellow. I used this paint on the metal chairs that sit outside our house, the ones that were white when my grandmother gave them to us. And I used this paint on my bike. Far from melancholy, the color looks especially good on this red garage and the blue trash containers makes the whole thing sing.
We were scheduled to have dinner at Jeff and Mary Kaye’s house yesterday. We planned to watch El Classico live (4:15 Madrid time) and then had out there but then Matthew and Louise suggested getting together for the big match (twice annual meeting of Barcelona and Real Madrid). So we invited Jeff and Mary Kaye over here. Peggi made mushroom pizza, Jeff baked an apple pie and Matthew and Louise brought grapes and champagne. The two teams were were tied for first place in La Liga before the match and as expected Real Madrid came out on top. We love both the teams but usually find ourselves rooting for the underdog
A melancholy mood permeated the midday gathering. I tried not to focus on it but came awake thing about it. Matthew has taken a managing editor’s position in Honolulu, a report to the office sort of job and this will surely be one of our last get-togethers. They moved in next door to us eight years ago and we have had so much fun over the years. We’re happy for them but will miss them. We had the intro to a Hawaii Five 0 episode cued up for them and we played that after the game.
President Eisenhower officially opened the St. Lawrence Seaway (Highway H2O) in 1959. It allowed oceangoing vessels to carry goods from the Atlantic Ocean to the western end of Lake Superior. A boom for some and bust others. Grain from the Midwest moved right through Buffalo and down to NYC or overseas. Buffalo’s grain silos have sat idle since. Portions have been redeveloped as Riverworks and last weekend the site played host to Playground, art installations in a stunning environment.
We had been to Playground a few years back when the installations filled an old school in Albion and we were looking forward to this one. One artist was busy bricking himself in. When we arrived he was up on a stool behind a five foot wall of newly laid bricks. Visitors could buy a brick for $1.99. We picked one out, handed it to him and he gave us a receipt. There were a few sound installations and movies. Our favorite was Shawn Chiki’s Womp Womp Machine.
I think the location upstaged the installations. I took more photos of the industrial setting than I did of the installations.
The screen saver on our Apple TV is a slideshow of our panorama photos. We have the transition set to the Ken Burns effect so the long photos slide across the screen.
We need more early morning appointments. We dropped the car off at B&B Automotive on Lake Ave. and went for a walk along the river while they changed our oil. It was another beautiful day, crisp and clear, and we had only one cup of coffee under our belts so it made it especially spacey. We listened to Brian Eno’s new record on the way over after reading about it in this morning’s paper so that contributed. Dont really care for his vocals.
John Gilmore lives on a dead end street just one block north of B&B so we walked by his place (all the windows were drawn) across the zoo parking lot and into the Frederick Law Olmsted park on the banks of the Genesee. We’re usually find ourselves over here in the winter so the park was all new. We walked north toward the lake and right out of the park but not before we climbed down at the gorge and got right up close to the river.
Stopped at Atlas Eats on the way home for two reasons. We picked up some blueberry scones. Brenda wasn’t working and her replacement was just drizzling the the frosting on a fresh batch. And we had to ask Diane and Gerry for recommendations on a hotel in Merida. They vacationed there and we have a winter destination wedding there.
Playground 2022 was in Buffalo’s Riverworks this year. Twenty or so artists were selected to do an installation in the old grain silos on the Niagara River. The silos have just sat here since the St. Lawerence Seaway opened. Before that Midwest grain was milled and processed and loaded on trains bound for New York City. Our favorite stop was Number 6 where Shawn Chiki had installed his ” Interactive Womp Womp Machine.” Peggi made this short video of my performance.
Even though it is only an hour away we planned to stay overnight in Buffalo. The Bills were playing the nearby Steelers at home so it was impossible to find a hotel room. We usually come back via Route 18, along the lake, and that would have taken us to Niagara Falls anyway so we booked a room there at the Giacomo.
We had stayed there once before and fell in love with the funkiness. While we were there we learned the hotel was owned by Carl Paladino, an unsavory character to say the least. We saw that the hotel was listed as an Elliott Property and assumed it had been sold but learned while we there that Carl is sill in charge. The view from our room, across the falls to the Canadian side was spectacular. My uncle and cousin live eight minutes away so we stopped in for a visit before getting on the Parkway.
I was so good to see clothing displayed on mannequins again in the window of the former Sibley’s building downtown. The current show at City Space, an RIT gallery, on the ground floor was curated by Unique Fair-Smith and featured a group of emerging artists living and working in the city. Erin Nesmith’s says her work “is inspired by the natural beauty of the human form.” She recreates historical paintings of women wearing E’rouse (above), her own line of lingerie.
RoCo’s “State of the City” show complimented the City Space show with one overlapping artist, Quajay Donnel. I particularly liked this photo of his.
We started out searching for an old horror movie, maybe a Vincent Price movie we hadn’t seen. Some of the best of those were directed by Roger Corman and his name led us to “The Trip,” his 1967 movie written by Jack Nicholson, starring Peter Fonda, Bruce Dern and Dennis Hopper. Not exactly horror but close (39% “Rotten” score) and neither one of us could remember seeing the movie.
I didn’t have any experience with psychedelics until 1969 but this movie from two years earlier already looked like a cliche Hollywood version of a cool thing. Like wealthy people today Peter Fonda took his LSD in the home office of a guide, Bruce Dean. And when he started tripping he was shown running around in billowy sleeves. Peggi said Peter Fonda reminded her of Dave Mahoney. His buddy, Dennis Hopper’s character, looked like he went “hippie” to pick up chicks. The actors looked like people we called “weekend hippies” in 1969, the ones Poly Styrene called “poseurs” in the 70s. But again, this movie is from’67.
Psychedelics, of course, are older than the hills. Peggi read “How to Change Your Mind” and we watched Michael Pollen’s four part Netflix show. Bob and Liz recommended “Fantastic Fungi” and all those lay out out the long history of mind opening drugs.
Maybe a guide is a good idea. A group us us walked halfway across town looking for Thorazine but Andy, who eventually died from overdose of Valium and alcohol, was not home. We were only able to talk to one another for fleeting moments between astonishing hallucinations and what can only be described as wide-awake nightmares. Later that night I found myself in an elevator in the IU Health Center with a nurse who had her hands on my shoulders while she repeated “What is your name?” over and over. I had no idea. I had other things on my mind. I woke up in the morning with a hospital gown on. Apparently I had gotten my Thorazine. I walked to the window and looked out at cars swimming around in the parking lot. I stopped tripping after that but am thankful for the many extraordinarily beautiful experiences.
“For most of the year, challah is formed into long braids made from multiple strands. But on Rosh Hashanah, the loaves are always round.” So much for that tidbit. Peggi made these long loaves for Rosh Hashanah when my brother and his family were up for our sister’s birthday bash. They watched their New Jersey temple service via Zoom while we hung out with other family members upstairs. I had a backlog of photos on my old school digital camera and just got to this one.
Another Jewish holiday has passed and Peggi has made three more pots of sauce (this orange Le Creuset pot, a glass bread pan and a Corning dish) but no challah. She has been making bread with Gloria’s sour dough starter and the sweet challah loaves doesn’t work with that. We plan to check in the garden today but those were the last batches of sauce. Our tomato output has slowed to a crawl and the basil is spent.
You can see we used leftover fresh corn in this batch. We used to drop the tomatoes into boiling water and then remove the skins but now we just cut up the tomatoes and bake them with onions, garlic, jalapeños and big chunks of carrots from the garden. The carrots behave like meatballs and they sweeten the sauce. The frozen portions become our go-to meal throughout the year.
This one goes in the “We Live Like Kings” category.
We walked up to Wegman’s this morning to get another shot, this one to protect against the flu. On the way up there I called Pete to get clarification on his origin verses beginning thesis. In yesterday’s post I mentioned that Pete drew a distinction between the two in similar fashion to the way Mondrian drew a distinction between instinct and intuition. I got a comment from Andrea that asked how you tell the difference. That called my attention to how I fudged the definitions. I am still trying to sort out instinct/intuition and I was not clear on the beginning/origin thing either so I called Pete. He was having lunch with some friends at Rocky’s so he called back once we were home.
When the Jesuits can’t give you a straight answer to a question they say it is all part of the mystery. Pete sees origin as “what caused all this?” He started painting these blobs of Casin paint without knowing what they were. Were they crashing the party, landing on top of or poking out from behind tight line drawings of physical objects? He discovered they were nebulas like the implosions of stars that led to the beginning of the universe.
Pete is forever searching, as any thinking person is, and he is currently illustrating lines from Joni Mitchell’s “Woodstock.” I was at Woodstock, Joni wasn’t, but she captures the optimistic spirit of the festival better than anyone. I knew this. But I had no idea how deep the lyrics to her song are. “We are stardust.” Not glitter in some hippy’s hair but “billion year old carbon.” “We are caught in the devil’s bargain. And we’ve got to get ourselves back to the garden.”
Peter Schjeldahl, writing (still!) in the new New Yorker about Piet Mondrian says, “Intuition was everything for him—versus “instinct,” which he deplored as an ego-inflating snare and came to associate with, among other derangements, the brutally repressive mystique of Nazism. ” Going forward I will pause long enough to make that distinction.
It is alumni weekend at MCC and two graduates are featured in the art show, “Thirty Eight and Eighty,” at Mercer Gallery. Peter Monacelli was a chemist, a life insurance salesman, a factory worker at General Electric before Art Essentials at MCC. He went on too teach art classes at the college for many years. In his half of the artist talk this afternoon, drew a distinction between “origin” as a process and “beginning” as a time stamp. Speaking for Bradley Butler, the other half of a great new show at MCC’s Mercer Galley, Pete said both he and Bradley were getting at the same thing in their work, the origin of everything.
Chemist, life insurance salesman, worked at General Electric at night an$ took Art Essentials at MCC.
Their work, Pete’s drawings and Casin paintings on white paper and Bradley’s rich, dark and moody palette on canvas, worked beautifully together. An eBook version of Peter Monacelli’s “Origins” is available as a take-home piece. Visit the “Artist Books” page for free downloads.
We picked the perfect day to do our monthly co-op shop. Before going in the store we took a walk around the city, Down Averill to the river and then across the Ford Street bridge, along the newly refurbished West Side Riverwalk to the Broad Street Bridge. We expected the lid to have been removed by now but I guess that project is a ways off. The river was raging after all the rain. Water was pouring out of the races under the library. Peggi took a movie and I took a pano. There were a few out-of-towers reading the placards on the bridge. We felt like tourists ourselves.
My sister, Ann, is a big Bill’s fan. She watches each game at at her daughter’s home. That’s my sister’s son-in-law, John, at the left in this photo and that’s Ann at the lower right. The ones with the gear are people she works with. Ann’s other daughter lives in Colorado and she planned a surprise birthday party for her mom at the White House Lodge in Webster Park. Peggi and I were tasked with inviting Ann out for lunch, a ruse, and then getting her to the party in the middle of the Bills game! We had heard from John that Ann said, “I love Paul and Peggi but why did they have to invite me out during a Bills game?”
We had the game on the radio when we picked her up so wouldn’t miss a play. The Bills won their opener against last year’s Super Bowl champs, they beat Tennessee in their second game and they were tied 7-7 with Miami when we picked Ann up. We drove out Lake Road and when we passed Webster Park I announced I wanted to stop and take a photo. I pulled right up to the White House door and Peggi said “It looks like someone is having a party.”
It was pouring rain but I got out and pretended to take a photo. I wasn’t sure how we were going to get Ann out of the car. I waved to the people inside to come on out but I couldn’t tell if anyone even saw me. I asked Ann to get out and we walked to the door just as Leonard, Ann’s work buddy, came out. He held the door open and everyone screamed. There were about a hundred people inside. I thought my sister was going to have a heart attack but she was just overjoyed. She watched bits and pieces of the game on this tiny screen. The Bills lost by two points but my sister had a ball.
Our neighbor down the street told us he caught twenty-six raccoons this summer. Early on, they were digging trenches in his lawn so they could get at the grubs below. He found some sort of natural grub treatment and they stopped burrowing but they continued to stop by and shit on his deck so he kept baiting the have-a-heart trap. The raccoons come out at night and he only has one trap so that means 26 calls to animal control and 26 round trips for the town worker. Whether or not it is the same raccoons coming back is still a matter of debate.
Peggi and I just finished a spurt of tech support duty. We ordered a new computer for my brother and set that up. It is easier than ever these days if you’re synced to the cloud. My brother was but his desktop was using one id and his phone was using another. Once we figured out why the two devices had different photos, documents etc. it took some doing to merge the two. An artist friend sent an email to a group asking for help with an unusual issue. His photos were duplicating themselves. He had duplicates alright but I’m not sure the photos were the ones doing the duplicating. We suggested he just select the rows of duplicates and just delete all but the first one. That seemed to work. Our friend, Brad, dropped his laptop and cracked the screen so we helped him write a backup before sending it in for repair. He told us he didn’t want to use the cloud for some reason and we told him there are 850 million iCloud users for a reason. Turns out he was using the cloud with his phone without knowing it so we put the contents of his laptop up there too.
I hope a few readers were able to download and enjoy Anne Havens art books. Six of them are available for downloads now and Anne is rounding up some more for us to turn into eBooks.
We walked over to Kathy’s yesterday but she wasn’t home. We met the brand new baby, Vida, in her mother’s arms on the front stoop of the house next door and then wandered around the neighborhood. This is one of my favorite neighborhoods in the city, so laid back it feels like vacation homes unless someone tries driving an ambulance into the bay.
I was hoping Ken Burns wouldn’t use Peter Coyote again as the narrator for his “The US and the Holocaust” series. As intense and disturbing as the material is, Coyote’s cadence puts me to sleep. We had just watched the 1999 version of The Haunting where Liam Neeson rounds up insomniacs for a sleep study in an old house plagued by paranormal special effects. Bruce Dern was the best thing about that movie but he was only in it for a few minutes. Coyote has a cure for insomnia. The Ken Burns footage of Hitler, Lindbergh and “The Radio Priest” made it clear how little has changed.
We had just read “The Transcendent Power of Walking” before heading out so we were primed for automaticity. We entered the park on the short path at the end of the longest street in our neighborhood of dead ends. A music stand was set about ten feet away from an array of percussion instruments as if it was awaiting a conductor.
The Eastman Wind Ensemble had set up their instruments in a dozen clusters all within earshot of one another. The students, all dressed in black, had gathered on the picnic tables after finishing their sound check. We asked one of them what was going on and he told us they were performing the premier of a Robert Morris piece commissioned by the Eastman School of Music in celebration of their centennial.
There were two performances, one at 1:30 and another at 3:30. We missed them both but we thoroughly enjoyed the setup.
Anne Havens did a series of life-sized plaster heads called “Sleeping Around.” We have one of them on our bookcase. Peggi and I spotted this rock down at the pool this afternoon, I think it may have been used as a door stop for the pump house, and we thought of Anne. She is stuck in Florida for a while so we carry on with our experience of her art as inspiration.
We talked to Anne Havens over the weekend and got her approval on posting some of her books as eBooks. We visit Anne’s website often and are always surprised at how well the technical end of the site is holding up as Anne did it herself with Apple’s long discontinued iWeb app.
Anne did a lot of those Apple Books too, from photos of her work. She did one for each show for awhile and she gave us the pdf files she sent Apple so we could pull the pages out for a slideshow on Colleen Buzzard’s big projector. With all those pages in a folder it was easy create eBooks of her long out of print editions. Five of her eBooks are available here as free downloads.
Peggi took this video of Anne Havens “Recent Prints” show the Little Theater Gallery in 2006. The resolution on her camera has improved since then.