Front Row Pew

Harold Budd, with Paul and Peggi in the front row, at Big Ears Festival in Knoxville Tennessee 2019
Harold Budd, with Paul and Peggi in the front row, at Big Ears Festival in Knoxville Tennessee 2019

It is kind of a kick to be in the A Section of the New York Times. We found ourselves in the print edition this morning, in the front row (or pew) of this Harold Budd concert at Big Ears in Knoxville, Tennessee 2019. The photo is black and white in today’s paper and cropped as it is above. The online version of the story, Harold Budd’s obituary, has a bigger version of the photo in color.

We hardly knew anything about Mr. Budd but loved his set. We were there to see/hear Joan LaBarbara, Larry Grenadier, Bill Frisell, Meredith Monk, Carla Bley, Jack DeJohnette with Ravi Coltrane, Mary Halvorson and the amazing Art Ensemble of Chicago.

Hope you found a chance to see the Philip Guston movie. We watched it last night and loved it.

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Must See TV

View of Veterans Bridge from Seneca Park Bridge
View of Veterans Bridge from Seneca Park Bridge

The Veteran’s Bridge, finished in 1931, looks majestic in any season. I remember driving across it, from left to right, with my father in the passenger seat. I had asked to use the car after school so I drove him to work at Kodak. At that time there was a big traffic circle at Saint Paul just before the bridge. The circle had two lanes of traffic spinning around it and you had to work your way out to get off. I remember going around a few times before escaping while my father watched in horror.

This weekend only! Hauser Wirth is offering a free screening of “Philip Guston: A Life Lived” (1981) directed by Michael Blackwood. This is Guston himself, talking, thinking, painting, knocking you out. This is must see tv.

If you’re stuck for a unique gift, you may still be able to get an original painting by Eric Goulden delivered in time for the holidays. We bought an F chord.

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If Sun Ra Can Die Anyone Can

Sometime after Sun Ra died in 1993 we saw Marshal Allen’s Arkestra at Milestones, that place on the corner of East and Chestnut that keeps changing hands. It was sad without the maestro and that is the last word I ever would have used to describe a Sun Ra performance. Maybe I was still in mourning.

Marshall Allen, at 96!, has kept the band together with three former members and I read an intriguing review of their newest recording. I ordered the vinyl and the first side is amazing. “Swirling,” the lp title, is apt. The new arrangements of three familiar Sun Ra songs don’t tear the roof off like Sun Ra would have but they do get the room swirling.

Peggi and I saw Sun Ra on five occasions. There is so much info online now that I was able to track down the exact dates.

November 11, 1979 Soundscape NYC
I had a few Sun Ra albums at the time but other than the Art Ensemble at the Eastman I had never seen anything as theatrically immersive. In costume the band paraded around the fifth floor loft space in Manhattan’s West 50s while chanting, dancing and playing their instruments. The show didn’t start until after midnight and the sun was coming up when we left. My brother, Mark, who was living on West 43rd with Charlie Coco, came along with us. The show was released on cd, “Live from Soundscape.”

August 11, 1986 Red Creek Rochester, NY
Sun Ra was traveling with three drummers and they couldn’t possibly fit on the stage so one set up on the floor. The violinist, Billy Bang, was in the band and two of the horn players staged a theatrical, circus-like, wrestling match with their horns as they circled each other on the dance floor. I hung on to the ticket. Someone recently posted a recording of this show on YouTube.

Sun Ra autographed record
Sun Ra autographed record

I bought two lps, “Outer Reach Intensity-Energy (Stars That Shine Darkly, Vol. 2)” and “Hiroshima” from the band after the show. Both were in a white liner sleeves without covers. The label was blank on one side of each lp. They were five bucks a piece and I got Sun Ra to sign the the white label side of each.

The albums I bought did not sound like the Arkestra and only later did I learn they both featured live tracks from the Sun Ra All Stars European tour, a sensational line-up with Don Cherry, Clifford Jarvis, Lester Bowie, Don Moye, Philly Joe Jones, Richard Davis and Archie Shepp along with Marshall Allen, John Gilmore and Sun Ra!

September 5, 1987 Village Gate NYC
The Village Gate was no bigger than Red Creek in Rochester so this was an intimate show. It was Labor Day weekend and my brother Mark was having his wedding rehearsal dinner at the Chinese place near their apartment on 96th. I spotted a listing in the Village Voice for this show and we headed downtown after dinner. The band played two long sets and sounded better than ever.

July 25, 1991 Jazzberry’s Rochester, NY
Sun Ra had had a stroke and had to be helped onto the stage but once seated he and the band launched into an extended drum/percussion improvisation. We were sitting maybe six feet from the band. Sun Ra could only use one hand and I remember him soloing during that first song with set kit sound on a Yamaha keyboard. The band sounded great “The Theme of the Stargazers,” “Second Stop is Jupiter” and “We Travel the Spaceways.”

October 18, 1991 Jazzberry’s Rochester, NY

Sun Ra had regained the use of both hands and the band, Marshall Allen, John Gilmore, and June Tyson with Buster Smith on drums, sounded as good as ever.

Marshall Allen is also a huge Sun Ra fan. If you only had one Sun Ra lp you could not beat his hand picked collection of Sun Ra tunes, Marshall Allen Presents “In The Orbit Of Ra.”

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Two Pecks

Yellow  house with two swans
Yellow house with two swans

We each came home from Aman’s with a peck of apples in our backpack. Peggi had 20 Ouncers for apple sauce and I had Snap Dragons, our new favorite eating apple. I also had a six pack of Buffalo’s Big Ditch in mine and a quart of raw honey. It was a big shop and our packs were heavier than they have ever been.

We found a couple movies to stream on the Film Forum website and both were fantastic. “Gunda,” filmed entirely in Spain, featured no actors, only farm animals, mostly a pig family, and it was riveting. There was was no voice over either, just the animals’ voices.

Crock of Gold” features the great Shane MacGowan and Ireland and Irish culture, it’s history, the Catholic Church and the IRA. Johnny Depp put up some money so we have to put up with him but he is hardly there until the end. Sensational songs, mostly Shane’s, with a handful of traditional ones and at the end a short tribute to Shane with Bono and Nick Cave who only serve to point out how great MacGowan is. (He is still alive.)

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Satanic Feminist

Sand art left by gentle waves on Lake Ontario
Sand art left by gentle waves on Lake Ontario

I was up before dawn for some reason and the temperature was hovering around freezing but the wind had died down. There was hardly anyone out in the neighborhood, park and along the beach. We did see a woman we’ve seen before picking up pieces of worn beach glass. She was wearing a “Satanic Feminist‘ shirt if I read it right. I was trying not to stare and the lettering was one of those German gothic fonts. The lake was too beautiful to photograph, a barely discernible horizon and a subtle rainbow of colors in the sky and water. The water was as calm as it gets.

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Biden Was Born In Africa

Stand-up paddleboard on Lake Ontario in December
Stand-up paddleboard on Lake Ontario in December

It was warm enough for horseshoes yesterday and paddle boarding today. We watched this guy bounce around in the waves while we walked the beach. We ran into our neighbors on the way back and asked if they were going to Florida this year. “We’re waiting to see if the restaurants are open” was the politically tinged response. And then, “Hope they don’t make you wear a mask on the beach.”

Our friends were telling us their daughter won’t get the vacine because she believes it will make her sterile. Our friends joked that that might not be such a bad outcome. I heard this same story from my dentist. I was sitting in the chair, mouth wide open, the hygienist on one side of me and the dentist on the other. “It’s a messenger RNA,” he said, “not a live virus. I wouldn’t take it!” This really rattled me. And then he tells the hygienist he heard Cuomo might try to make the vaccine mandatory (I wish he would). I interrupted that conversation by asking the dentist if he could explain what he was about to do before the Novocaine made it hard for me to talk.

Really, a microchip in each dose of the vaccine? The amount of mistrust and misinformation floating around is making me much more anxious than the virus. It is exhausting me.

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Schadenfreude

Bittersweet climbing up tall trees in Spring Valley
Bittersweet climbing up tall trees in Spring Valley

We were waiting for a day like Tuesday, theoretically too cold for ticks (although our friend, Jim Mott, told us he found two on him after a walk in the woods on a 20 degree day), sunny with no snow, to take one of our favorite hikes. This section of the undeveloped part of the park is completely overgrown with evidence of old horse trails that we follow in a big loop from our house. There really is no park management overseeing these trails so huge trees fall over on the paths and stay there for years.

Back in 2009, when we used to take this trail all the time, we discovered someone had brought a crew in to cut up the fallen trees and widen the path. We assumed it was the park management but the job was so destructive we called to complain. Larry Staub, the Parks Commissioner, came to to see it for himself and the police arrested a guy we nicknamed “Bulldozer Man.” Not to get too close to schadenfreude here but Bulldozer guy, who owned a construction company, was run over by a bulldozer being driven by one of his employees just last year.

The fallen trees in hills here look like art installations and there is never anyone up here. You do have to forde a creek that runs along Spring Valley and the first hill is a serious climb, something that is impossible with snow on the ground. The paths are completely overground with invasive plants in the summer. You would need a machete to get through the black swallow wort and mustard green. Those tick harboring plants have all died back now so our visit was sensational.

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Pandemic Garden

Found table frame with new top
Found table frame with new top

I carried the metal frame of this table home from one of our walks. Not that it was heavier than a load of groceries but it was a little awkward to walk with. The metal was rusty and had previously been painted an army green color. I brought some Ornette Coleman cds out to the garage, where our only CD player is, sanded the frame and painted it Rustoleum black.

Back in 2005 we helped our friends, Pete and Shelley, build their new house in the Adirondacks. It was an opportunity to use the few skills I developed at my first job after school. I fell in love with the rough-cut Hemlock wood Pete and Shelley were using and I asked them if they could get us some from the sawmill. They brought us a car load and I have found all sorts of uses for it over the years. I picked out three boards from my stack that were all approximately the same width and cut them to length for the table table top. I tied the boards together with three cross pieces on the bottom side.

Our arugula finally took a hit with last night’s temperatures. It was limp but still green and may bounce back with the upcoming 40 degree days. We picked a big bunch for dinner. Our pandemic garden has been amazing. We are still eating the tomatoes and peppers that we picked before the frost and let ripen in the window. We brought home the last of the romaine and spinach and the the Swiss chard, cilantro and kale and are still standing tall but we’ll finished them off in the next week. In four more months we’ll have seeds coming up for next year.

Aman’s, where we have been doing most of our pandemic shopping, gets their apples from nearby Williamson. We’ve been stuck on Honeycrisp for years. I’m announcing a shift of allegiance. We have switched to Snap Dragons. Meatier, crisper. They make you feel alive.

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Love Letter

Rochester Contemporary’s 30th Annual Members Exhibition opens tonight in the middle of a pandemic. We will stop by by later in the week. I submitted an old iMac with a slideshow on it. My piece is called “Abstracting Spain” and is a collection of photos taken in Spain between 2006 and 2019. It is my love letter to the country.

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Unattainable Attraction

Lake Ontario 12.03.20
Lake Ontario 12.03.20

You could visit Lake Ontario everyday. We come pretty close to doing so, and it will always look different. Sometimes brutally rough but alway beautiful. For us it is a pagan pilgrimage site. Our meditative walks reach a culmination there. We can’t go any further north on foot. We can only stop and admire the display. The lake level, wind, waves and ice all rearrange the shoreline. Shells, stone and pieces of worn glass get washed in and gather like a carefully arranged art installation. The open sky is nothing but dramatic and the lake plays with the colors in the sky. The horizon is always a dreamy but unattainable attraction.

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Transformation

Flattened maple leaves on road out front
Flattened maple leaves on road out front

There was a temporary open air tent set up for Sunday service in front of the Church of the Transformation all summer. And someone in the congregation found creative (i.e. cornball/clever) ways to freshen up the sign each week. This morning the plastic letters read “WORSHIP ON FACEBOOK ONLY.” I have to get back to my Funky Signs project.

We got some junk mail from AAA today that read “DO NOT ACCIDENTALLY DISCARD.” Still trying to figure that out.

We pulled the last of our beets out of the garden yesterday, just before the snow. The arugula, Swiss chard, kale and late spinach still seem happy down there.

“Isn’t art something that occurs to man facing himself, his work an unsparing witness?”
– Eduardo Chillida

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Donuts 1 To Golf 1

View of Beaver moon rise from Kathy's place on Irondequoit Bay. Photo by Peggi Fournier.
View of Beaver moon rise from Kathy’s place on Irondequoit Bay. Photo by Peggi Fournier.

We met Jan Marshall in Kathy’s backyard last night to watch the Beaver moon come up over the bay. Kathy had a fire going in the commercial dryer bin that she had repurposed and Peggi took this photo with her new iPhone.

It was raining when we got up but we got out there anyway. We stayed on the road and walked down to the end of Hoffman where we watched someone with “Donuts 1” license plates turn around in front of the house where the guy with “Golf 1” plates lives. They happen overlook the golf course.

With three favorite teams there is a lot of soccer to watch. We’ve been recording La Liga matches for Real, Atletico and Barca and watching one a day but we can’t seem to get caught up to the present so we can look at the standings.

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Art Or

John McCracken sculpture in Davis Zwirner Gallery, Chelsea NY. Photo by Peggi Fournier.

We’ve been following the mystery of the art piece officials from the Utah Department of Public Safety found in the desert. David Zwirner says it was done by one of their artists, John McCracken. McCracken died in 2011 but his son said he talked about leaving pieces behind for people to discover when he was gone. McCracken’s friend, Ed Ruscha, is not buying it.

We always stop at Zwirner’s gallery when we’re running around Chelsea. Ran into John Baldesarri there when he was showing Georgio Morundi. In 2018 Peggi took this photo in the entrance, can’t remember what show we saw here but the reflective piece is one of John McCracken’s monoliths.

One day later: I’m revisiting this post to report the mysterious monolith has been stolen.

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All Consuming

Friendly cedar in park near the trail up to the old zoo
Friendly cedar in park near the trail up to the old zoo, Durand Eastman, Rochester NY

We tucked the final row of firewood away this afternoon and stapled the black tarp down. I plan to make five 2020 markers for the ends of the new rows. Our rows are stacked taller and longer than a face cord and we have twelve of them. I’m starting a fire as I write this.

The defensive moves we took here to avoid Covid revealed an offense that had been waiting in the wings. Turns out we are pretty good at hunkering down and I think we have lived more fully, in the moment, close to home, as we fill our days with a mundane but surprisingly rewarding domestic agenda. Walking, reading, gardening, cooking and working in the yard. It is all consuming.

Somehow I finished my 20th volume of “Brief History of the World” yesterday. I will eventually scan it and create an eBook to add to the five I have available for download now.

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Performance Art For The Neighbors

Bowl of fruit neat the fireplace
Bowl of fruit neat the fireplace

2020 has been a bountiful year for collecting wood. So much so that when offered oak from a tree our neighbors had trimmed we politely refused. Upper 30s, lower 40s is perfect weather for splitting wood. The temperature is headed up near 50 tomorrow so we’ll take a break and go for a long walk.

Even with an hydraulic wood splitter it is back breaking work. As they say, the wood warms you three times. When you move it, when you split it and when you burn it. My favorite part is stacking, building corners and balancing one piece on top of another so the whole stack stays standing. It’s like a giant art project, a bit like performance art.

Maybe a month ago Frank De Blase told us he was doing  a piece for City newspaper on bands of yesterday and he sent sent us a few questions. ” “When was the Hi-Techs/Personal effects formed?” “What do you remember about your first gig” etc. Of course there is no City newspaper anymore. Not since Covid and all the restaurants and bars where people picked up the weekly have closed. But there is a website. And then last week Spevak sent some similar questions. I guess he’s doing a piece for WXXI. (Didn’t XXI buy City?) “How do you explain going from the New Wave of Personal Effects to the ambient jazz of Margaret Explosion? When you close your eyes while listening to Margaret Explosion, what do you see? What’s the most unusual gig Margaret Explosion has played? We’ll see if this one materializes.

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Multiflora

Wild Multiflora Rose on Hoffman Road
Wild Multiflora Rose on Hoffman Road

Lake Ontario’s level is right at its November long term average but the sandy beach looks bigger than ever. We’re not the only ones who have taken to walking the length of Durand during the pandemic. And there is plenty of room to distance when passing other parties.

We came back through the woods along the golf course and saw only one foursome. My brother, Tim, an avid golfer, told us the course was closing for the year after today. He had stopped by to pick up the golf balls I’ve found, the last of three batches I gave him this year, a couple hundred balls. The only ones I keep are the Supersoft matte balls in the hot colors.

Real Madrid played Villarreal to a 1-1 tie yesterday. Modric (our MVP ), the 6″ 4″ goalie and Toni Gross all started. Vinicius and Isco came in as subs but for some reason most of their starting lineup was on the bench. We watched the match in Spanish and they probably told us why but we didn’t catch it.

We finished our walk down at the garden and picked a big batch of arugula, cilantro and romaine. Peggi’s making more pasta for a lasagna dish with the last batch of fresh tomatoes sauce. We recorded Atletico vs. FC Barcelona and we’ll watch that one over dinner tonight.

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Guardrail

Rusty guardrail on way to Amans Farm Market
Rusty guardrail on way to Amans Farm Market

I am not tired of winning. My next door neighbor, Rick, probably won more games than I did this year but I won today and the last time out. He keeps track of these thing on a calendar but doesn’t tally the results until the holidays. The paint has about worn off the shoes and they are starting to rust.

The cold snap we had a few days ago finally did our tomatoes in. Peggi made a fresh sauce with the remaining tomatoes and we had that over her homemade pasta. The arugula and spinach love this weather and the romaine is thriving but the peppers are done. It was so nice tonight we decided to cook out, roasted potatoes and Brussels sprouts.

I am happy to hear the Rochester Red Wings are now a Washington Nationals farm team. I’ve always preferred the National League and grew up when they were affiliated with the Cardinals. I hate the AL’s designated hitter rule.

My mom was a baseball fan and got Stan Musial’s autograph when he was playing for the Wings. We had Knot Hole cards when we were young and used to keep track of the games on the scorecards they sold at the stadium. Rochester’s International League included Montreal, Toronto, Buffalo and Havana. I remember seeing a game with Havana just before the shooting that got them kicked out. Fidel Castro threw out the first pitch when the Wings played their season opener in Cuba in 1960.

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Brutalism

104 exit at Goodman Street
104 exit at Goodman Street

We got as far at the corner this morning before finding more wood by the curb. Someone had split some large red oak logs into hefty wedges. They were asking to be taken home. We took a few pieces with us and went back for the car. It was only 30 degrees today but perfect for working outdoors.

We fired up the spitter and went to work. Peggi and I make a good team, splitting and stacking. We have way too much wood but this stuff was irresistible. Dense and heavy, you could cut perfect 4 by 4’s out it and build rock solid corners. Full of BTUs, the splitter barely took a bite before the just logs popped off.

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Apple Country

Ida Red's at Lagoner Farms in Williamson
Ida Red’s at Lagoner Farms in Williamson

Our garage smells like Schutt’s Cider Mill. We bought a big bag of 20 Ouncers at Orbaker’s in Williamson on Sunday, just before they closed their stand for the year. We didn’t have room in the refrigerator so we have them in cold storage. We plan to make apple sauce with those.

The apples in the photo above are Ida Red’s from Lagoner Farms in Williamson. They used to be our favorite apple. We’ve been stuck on Honey Crisps for the last couple of years and Orbakers was sold out so we came home with Snap Dragons. They are just just as crisp and refreshing but a little less juicy with bit of tartness.

European settlers who brought apple seeds to New York in the 1600s. Dried apples were a staple for colonists and hard apple cider was a popular drink. The micro climate along the lake provides an extended growing season. Lucky for us.

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Vaccine Hungry

Sweet Gum seed pods from Horseshoe to Ridge Trail
Sweet Gum seed pods from Horseshoe to Ridge Trail

We bought an inflatable mattress back in March from REI. It is intended to be our guest bed but we have not had any guests. We inflated it last night for the first time because we were considering sleeping in the basement during the high winds. The winds died down before bed but there were plenty of limbs down this morning when we took our walk. We cleared branches from the the street and our paths in the wood. We finished at the garden where we found two huge pine tree branches stretched out across fence.

Peggi plans to make a Caesar’s Salad tonight with the Romaine we brought back from the garden. We did an early and late planting. We’ve still not had a frost so while she was picking that I picked a fresh batch of cilantro, some beets and an orange tomato. I roasted three of our red peppers and we had them on toast with Manchego cheese.

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