The projector I plan to use during my show at Colleen Buzzard’s will only read a flash drive formatted on a pc and I only have a Mac. I had Dan, across the street, format mine. But then when I copied my files to the flash drive I found these tiny _files right next to each of my .jpg files and the projector trips over them before moving on. So I put my files in a Dropbox folder and had Dan put them on the flash drive for me.
The slideshow consists of about 500 screen captures from my ”Brief History of the World” series. Ideally I would like the duration of each side to be around 15 seconds so you can both see the images and read the captions but short of writing the slides to a movie file I’m stuck using the closest default setting which 10 seconds. As you might imagine, it is a long history. I’ve been working on this series for 21 years and I currently have 8 of the 21 volumes available as eBooks. At 10 seconds apiece the slideshow won’t start repeating again for an hour and a half.
The spread above is the very first one I did. I like the juxtaposition of the wooden sculpture by a German Expressionist with a musician from Nigeria. And below the Dali Lama and El Greco’s Saint James have the same gesture.
Years ago Duane Sherwood won 1st prize in an LA video festival sponsored by the American Film Institute and Sony with his entry of a song by our band, Personal Effects. Laurie Anderson was one of the judges. His prize included a trip to Hollywood for the awards ceremony and a brand new Sony 8mm video camera. A later video, for a Personal Effects song called “Heroes,” was played in rotation on MTV’s “120 Minutes.”
Duane’s video for an early Margaret Explosion song, “4AM,” was featured in the Brooklyn Film Festival and exactly ten years ago today Duane posted Margaret Explosion’s “Juggler” to YouTube. His Coney Island footage is a perfect fit with the music from our only 45.
“Clouds to Part” was recorded in April at the Little Theatre. It is particularly dark but just part of the Margaret Explosion palette. Duane picks up on that and you would have to be deaf and blind not to feel it in the air today. But clouds do part.
Peggi Fournier plays soprano sax, Phil Marshall plays guitar, Ken Frank plays the double bass and Paul Dodd plays drums.
It has been a while since I prepared for a show – something like five years ago, when I showed a batch of my crime faces along with my father’s watercolors at Rochester Contemporary. It takes almost ad much work to prepare than it does to do the art.
My upcoming show at Colleen Buzzard’s Studio includes a slideshow, screen captures of the spreads in my eBooks, Volumes I, II, V, X, XVI, XIX, XX and XXI from the “Brief History of the World” series. I just put Volume XXI online as an eBook. It and seven other volumes are available as free ePub downloads here.
We were having dinner with Jeff and Mary Kaye last night while some of our photos from Spain played on the tv. We have an album from each trip and then one called “España” that has all of our Spain photos in one album. I was shuffling that one while we ate. Twenty seconds before a dissolve seems to work and the order was set to random.
One of these long shots came up, it wasn’t this one but similar, and I was struck with longing. The sensation of coming up over a hill and finding the path stretched out in front of you, a path that you have never taken before, leading to a town you have never been to before, with all of your belongings ( the things that really matter like a change of clothes, rain gear and a mobile device) on your back – you can’t beat that sensation.
Clifton Springs is one of those towns that time forgot. Except this one is well preserved, suspiciously so. Where does the money come from? Main Street has a covered sidewalk and a hardware store, a book store, restaurants and a pastry shop. We came out here to see a show entitled “Tangible Objects” at Main Street Arts, the sweetest little gallery in upstate New York.
About halfway between here and Syracuse, Clifton Springs made its mark a century and half ago with the sulphur springs sanitarium. We drove out here with our morning cup of coffee and took long walk around town and right out to its limits. The big homes are well kept and the streets are quiet and dreamy. There’s sidewalks and hitching posts with big concrete steps for dismounting your horse.
Seven artists are featured in the current show. I particularly like Becca Barolli’s wire pieces and Christina Brinkman’s silver utensils but my favorite piece was the concrete title type, The letters T A N G I B L E O B J E C T S, all cast in subtle shades of concrete by John Dodd and Lorrie Freer. We couldn’t resist handling them when the staff wasn’t looking.
Brian lived in a big house on Alexander Street just a few doors down from where I lived when I was born. My parents place was just an apartment on the second floor and as my father used to tell it, my crib was in the hallway. Brian filled his house with books and art and eventually he rented a studio in the Hungerford Building to work on and display his assemblages.
We first met him at an early Macintosh users group meeting at East High. He was giving a presentation of how he used the photo software to display his digital photos, all commonplace now but this was Macintosh II days. Peggi and I were knocked out by his photos. We talked to him after the show and became lifelong friends. Sadly, his life ended but he was a Buddhist so he is not really dead.
A memorial was held for him in Record Archive’s back room last night and we met his daughter, Rae, who we found capable of carrying Brian’s spirit forward. Dick Storms was there and told us he first met Brian in 1965 at Kodak. Brian had all sorts of jobs. He was a garbage collector for the city and then a city inspector so of course he knew everybody. Some called him Charlie, others called him Brian.
His job included photographing code violations and he said that influenced how he saw the world. Before social media he sent a photo a day to anyone who asked to be on his mailing list.
Brian grew up in the Bay Area and met Dennis Hopper and Dean Stockwell. He gave us a Ferlinghetti book of poetry. He took still photos on an 8mm movie camera and his son put a few of them online.
We bought a big paella pan a few years ago and we’ve used it five or six times now. Our pan serves 8 and we’ve made the dish for 4, 6 and 8. We prepare the ingredients ahead of time and its a pretty casual way to hang out as the dish cooks slowly over an open fire. We’ve made seafood versions for pescatarians, chicken versions and vegetarian versions. We invited my siblings and they significant others over on Sunday and all but my brother and his wife in New Jersey accepted. That meant 11.
We needed two pans to hold it all and then a third for the vegetarian version. Keeping a slow burning, small fire under three pans at the same time was challenge. One was always too hot or not hot enough but we pulled it off and had a good time.
This is one of the coolest things I’ve seen at the Jazz Festival. It is between flights in the stairwell leading to the auditorium in Innovation Square, formerly Xerox Corporate Headquarters. As good as Dan Flavin.
Does it seem that every building in Rochester has a stronger identity connected to its former life than its present incarnation? Or is that observation just a reflection of my age? We skipped the Jazz Fest again last night. Kind of a luxury skipping three of the nine nights. We check the sound samples and follow our ears and there was nothing to follow on those nights. I’m keeping track of what we have seen over here.
I loved the way flat acrylic paint looked on the plastic panels I found. the material was perfect for my Stations of the Cross. But now that I plan to show them at Colleen Buzzard’s Studio this summer I’m having a hell of a time getting something to adhere to the back of panels so I can hang them.
I loved the plastic panels so much I did another set of pieces with them, shaping the sheets with a jig saw. Pete Monacelli helped me mount a wood frame to the back of those and I caulked around the frame just to ensure they stuck. The frame pushess the shaped panels, called “Arcadian Forms,” off the wall. It took Pete all of of a morning to miter the corners and I spent another gluing and caulking the frames to the panels.
Pete told me a few times, “Don’t use the plastic.” I didn’t want to tell him that I already have twenty small panels in the basement that are in the works.
We parked downtown and walked over to High Falls to hear the Debby Kendrick band play WXXI’s noontime concert. The walk was longer than we realized so we missed about half of their set. Pete was playing a different set of drums. Bill Coppard bought this Ludwig Champagne Sparkle set in 1962 and he gave them to Pete to sell. Lavon tried them out after the set and decided to buy them.
Reading about the demise of Microsoft’s Internet Explorer brought back a flood of memories. In the early web days IE was browser of choice on both the pc and Mac side but web pages behaved differently on a pc than it did on a Mac. This was long before the html5 protocol was established so we were always writing if IE clauses in the code to get pages to look like we wanted them to. If fact we kept a clunky pc around just to see how pages responded in what we called “a worst case scenario.”
Ravi Coltrane travels in good company. His trio included Jonathan Blake who we saw at Hochstein with Tom Harrell and Esperanza Spalding. He sets his drums up low, everything waist high and level. He plays two snares, one crisp and the other sloppy. We had a hard time finding something interesting enough to leave home for on Tuesday so we skipped our second of the nine days. I wish the promoters leaned toward inventive and away from studied. This year we have to work a harder to find things we like.
The neighborhood is humming again. Another large oak, maybe 80 years old, fell over behind our neighbor’s house. It damaged the gutter on the house next door them but left but their house intact. It tore down the lines running up the hill and the neighbors’ generators kicked on. The trees, especially the oaks were severely stressed by the Gypsy Moth infestation the last two years. They’ve moved on and changed their name.
Mi Hacienda Jalisciense in Alton (just past Sodus) is open again. Serving mostly migrant workers from the nearby fruit orchards, they have the best Mexican food in town. Mui tipico. When I was in grade school my mom and my brother and I went out to Wayne County as volunteers from Holy Trinity. I played basketball with the migrant workers’ kids. They were all black back then.
This photo, it’s about three feet wide, has hung our bathroom for thirty years. It’s out in the garage now as we did a refresh with our objets d’art. We bought it at a High Falls show back when Sally Wood Winslow ran the art gallery there. Roy Sowers took the photo and he titled it “Debra.” Apparently Debra went to RIT with him back when he was a photo student. Wherever she is today I hope she is happy. She brought a lot of joy to us.
We had our jazz passes by the door so we wouldn’t forget them. This was the first night of the first Jazz Fest, the first Festival in three years. We were preparing dinner when we heard a loud crash, a familiar sound to anyone who lives in our neighborhood. This one sounded close and it was.
A large limb, large as in about two feet in diameter, broke off an oak on the hill behind our house. It fell downhill of course but that limb was heavy enough to snap the tree standing next to it in half. Both fell right on the power lines putting so much pressure on them that they pulled two utility poles down. The wires were lying in the middle of the road. We called 911.
The street down below is a dead end so anyone who lived down there was trapped on a Friday night. And they were all without power. Our internet went out. We went out front to talk to the neighbors and saw Michael Burritt and his wife coming up the hill with a picnic basket. They had made dinner for some friends and couldn’t get by our tree so they called an Uber and planned to pick it up out on Culver.
A small army of Birchcrest men and women with chainsaws cleaned up before the sun went down and RG&E showed up with huge spotlights just as we were going to bed.
The euphemism, “urban renewal,” was used by city planners as a catch-all for grand plans, like tearing down whole neighborhoods to put a highway in to whisk white suburban workers in and out of downtown. Interstate 490 tore right through Rochester’s 3rd Ward, a thriving Black community.
The “Clarissa Uprooted” exhibit at City Art Space in the former Sibley building downtown is too much to take in in one visit. It is too much to take in period. Black people were only allowed to live in two of Rochester’s 24 Wards, the 3rd and the 7th, so where else would they put a highway? And while they were at it they tore down far more homes than they had to. The empty lots are still there.
The exhibition organizers have recreated the stage from the Pythodd Room (named after the two social clubs, the Knights of Pythias and Odd Fellows that shared the space.) Located at the corner of Clarissa and Troup Street, it was a regular stop on the Chitlin’ Circuit in the late fifties and early sixties. Alice McCloud (Coltrane), Jimmy Smith, Art Blakey all played there along with Rochester musicians, Gap and Chuck Mangione, Pee Wee Ellis and Ron Carter. and surrounded it with photos (Susan Plunkett is pictured down front) and videos the club in the day. There was band playing on the stage on opening night.
The oral histories, video interviews Teen Empowerment made with current and former residents, (Shep from Shep’s Paradise), Rochesterer’s first black policeman, lawyers and community elders are the heart and soul of this exhibit. They clearly had a good hing going here in the day but there is plenty of personal stories of police abuse, one about guy who worked two jobs, the second being as a gas station attendant at night. He was closing up the station on South Plymouth Street when the cops pulled in and accused him of breaking in. He told them he worked there but they beat the shit out of him
Duane asked if Lakeside Hots was still open. We said yes reflexively. The alternative is unthinkable. The Sea Breeze restaurant is the closest we’re going to get in the 2000s to the legendary Vic & Irv’s. We walked through the park this morning and then down Culver to the lake just to verify. Because Duane is on FB and we’re not he sometimes finds out about things in our hometown before we do.
I have been so busy the last few weeks I was unable to find time to read the pdf of “Fiery World,” Louise Wareham Leonard’s upcoming book. Peggi has read it twice. Today was the day. We sat under one of the umbrellas down at the pool and read. My iPad as portal did not take us far. The setting for her book is the nearby park, the fruticetum, the pinetum, the flowering trees and the small lakes.
The main character, grieving the loss of her sister, meets an amorphous mystic in the park. He tells her, “You think you’re mourning because your true life is behind you. But it’s before you.” His wisdom comes from literature and they trade favorite passages. She almost becomes dependent but then he sets her straight. “I do not exist to give you meaning.” ” . . . you cannot live for me.” A healthy, happy ending to a poetic whirlwind.
We had the good fortune to be following this girl in stripes for two blocks while we were in Boston.
In other news, our nephew, Alex Meyer and his partner, Luciana Giangrandi, have earned a Michelin star for their Miami restaurant, Bioa De.
Peggi bought a few Wemo devices and I can now turn the lights over our couch on and off with my watch.
Other than that, I been taking screen captures of my “Brief History of the World” eBooks. I plan to project them as a slideshow on the large wall outside Colleen Buzzard’s Studio during the month of August when I will be showing some recent work in her gallery space.
The Bagel shop at 12 Corners was closed today for a funeral. Jack and Robyn’s son, Ian, died due to complications from a rare form of cancer at 27. He was near death years ago and then recovered but that doesn’t make it any easier for his loved ones. His illness strengthened his faith and his faith sustained him. The service was beautiful, just as Ian and his parents had planned it.
The priest who said the mass told the standing room only crowd that he visited Ian in the hospital just a few weeks ago. Ian told him he had come to the realization that his suffering was bringing his friends and loved ones closer to god. He told the priest “If I die it will have all been worth it.”
The funeral was held in Saint John’s the Evangelist church on Humboldt Street, my family’s parish when I was growing up. It all felt so familiar. I took note of saints in the stained glass windows. Joan of Arc was directly across from us. Mary Magdalene, Martin de Porres, Agnes, Charles Borromeo, Francis of Assisi, Elizabeth of Hungary, Michael the Archangel, Martha and Thomas Aquinas. Maybe they can find a spot for Saint Ian. The four evangelists were above the choir along with these Old Testament dudes, Gideon, King Solomon, King David, Moses, Isaiah and Ezekiel. The priest was cool up until the point where he explained that Communion was for Catholics only.
Ian played guitar as well as his dad and even sat in with Margaret Explosion. Here’s Ian’s father, Jack, playing bass clarinet on “Disappear.”
A true metaverse is at least a decade away. GeoPose AR functions as a blueprint for the metaverse. A pioneer, Bubiko Foodtour, has been exploring the pre-metaverse (AR, VR, NFTs, POAP) for a few years now and was in town for the Flour City Tour.
We caught up with Bubiko Foodtour at the Brainery on Anderson Avenue this afternoon where Steve Black filled the Green Room with all sorts of virtual items. Some, like the bagels fly through the space. Others allow you walk up to and then around them. The closer you get, the bigger the three dimensional object becomes. My wooden sculpture, “Self Portrait,” is shown floating near the right arm of the woman on the right above. I was able to study the contours at close range in 3D.
The art installation potential of this technology, even as it exists today, is mind-blowing.
In their final years, Peggi and I helped my mom and dad with their paperwork and taxes. We wound up with a six or seven inch pile of paperwork, many of the pages in my father’s mechanical drawing style – all caps, block printing. We wanted to get rid of them but some of the sheets had their social security numbers on them so we asked our neighbors if we could borrow their paper shredder. We hadn’t finished more that fifty sheets when the thing froze.
I took it apart and spent a couple of hours cleaning it but when we put back together it still wouldn’t shred. So we researched shredder and bought one on Amazon. It arrived today. We tackle the stack and then give the shredder to the neighbors.
Downtown was hopping on Friday night. We started First Friday at the RIT City Art Space where the “Clarissa Street Uprooted” show was. Something was happening at Parcel 5, there was graduation at Harro East and we had a hard time finding a parking space. This green car pulled up in front of the clothing shop across from the Liberty Pole and the music coming from it was so loud it drew everyone’s attention. I Shazamed the song and learned it was “Booming” by Big Boogie.
My mom was sort of ambidextrous, writing with her right hand and batting left. There is a nun over her shoulder in the picture above and I’m guessing they forced her to write with her right hand. They did stuff like that but they made you tough. Gave you something to rebel against.
In her day there would be no question as what school a Catholic girl from the east side would go to. In my day, still an all girls school, the school had a bit of a reputation. Mercy girls were bad, as in desirable. I went to a few dances there. Today I think parents send their daughters there for discipline. And of course they still rebel.