Margaret Explosion played for the Highland Park Conservancy in Highland Park Friday evening. Bob Martin, pictured on the right above, was back in town for the gig. Pete LaBonne, shown above on piano, Jack Schaefer on bass clarinet weren’t there but Melissa joined us on cello. Phil Marshall, our primary guitarist, played on the opposite end so I enjoyed stereo guitars from my perch. The temperature was in the mid-eighties when we started playing but cooled down as the evening went on.
Our walk on Saturday took us down a dead-end where every house on the street was having a garage sale. The house at the very end had a big box of pencil sharpeners, the steel covered kind they used to have in grade schools. I said, “Wow, that’s a lot of pencil sharpeners” loud enough for the proprietor to hear me but I didn’t get any reaction. On the same table were two brand new, black 14″ Evans 360 drum heads like the one I have on the front of my kick drum. The proprietor told me his son bought them and then changed his mind on the color. I bought them and plan to put them on my snare and floor tom. All three of my drum heads will now have black heads.
Yesterday’s match was nerve wracking. Japan, a typically possession heavy side, frustrated the hell out of Spain, a way heavy possession side, by hunkering down in their own half, 5 4 1 style, and picking moments to breakaway. They scored four goals in what seemed like only ten forays into the Spanish end. Spain had three quarters of the possession and no goals.
We have been limiting ourselves to one match a day for the opening rounds. It is tough staying away from the news. Even watch alerts can spoil our recorded matches. This morning Kerry and Claire met us here at 7:30 AM so we could watch the US/Portugal match that was aired live at 3AM EST. They brought croissants from Pittsford Bakery and we made eggs. The match, as Sparks would say was, “Sad.” They failed to score and settled for a tie to squeeze into the round of 16.
Our favorite team in the tournament is Colombia. Our favorite player is Linda Caicedo. They thrilled us with their goal in the seventh minute of stoppage time, defeating number two ranked Germany. A clash of civilizations.
We were both sitting at our computers when one half of a rain soaked double oak came down about thirty feet from our window. This one didn’t take out any power lines or stop any traffic so it will sit there for a few years before we have room for any more firewood.
Its good to see Sinéad’s “Nothing Compares” racking up seven million more views in the days since she passed and headed to half a billion. And it was good to watch something other than Sparks” smash on YouTube.
We make a point of playing music for an hour or so every day when we have a gig coming up. It is my favorite configuration, Peggi on sax (without her pickup or amp) and me on drums. Not that it would work as entertainment but I find it extremely satisfying. We usually just start playing and let a melody develop and take hold. Peggi has an endless supply. Lately we’ve been drifting toward circus-like themes with stops and starts for punctuation and today we found ourselves playing ABBA’s “Fernando.” Near the tail end of our sessions we sometimes revisit a few Margaret Explosion themes and then call it a day.
Liberace photobombed my shot of our garlic drying in the garage. He performed two nights at Canandaigua’s Performing Arts Center in 1985. We didn’t see the show but I snagged the poster from Record Archie once the dates had passed.
We upped our garlic game this year. We planted one hundred cloves last October. We picked the scapes in July, roasted a few batches and made pesto with the rest. Today we picked the heads, one hundred of them. I built a rack in the garage, just two long skinny boards tacked to the rafters and the plants are drying upside down over my table saw.
Propeller Recordings releases a collection of early New Math songs today and the band will play at 3 Heads tonight. We won’t be able to make the record release party but we caught the band on Wednesday night at the Record Archive’s back room. The place was packed with familiar faces. We were standing next to Rick Cona from the Chesterfield Kings and Brian Goodman from Projectiles. I was New Math’s first drummer and lasted almost two years, long enough to record this classic with Howard Thompson.
Despite reuniting without the original lead singer, Kevin Patrick, the band sounded great, one song after the next. Gary, the bass player in this lineup was saying something into the mic when Roy, the third and best drummer, cut him off and said, “my friend Gary wrote every one of these fucking songs.” Some great songs for sure but just after that they played “Can’t Get Off the Ground,” the best song of the night. Dale Mincey wrote that gem.
On the way home we caught our brother-in-laws’ radio show, “Magic Records” on WAYO and cruised home to some early Curtis Mayfield..
That’s Australia’s Alanna Kennedy next to the US’s Lynn Williams, New Zealand’s Abby Erceg and Sam Mewis from USWNT when they were all playing for the Flash, our local soccer franchise. I glommed onto a professional photo of the team at a dinner for season ticket holders. Samantha Kerr, Marta, Alex Morgan and Christine Sinclair all played for the Flash. Kerry Regan reminded us how lucky we were. And we got see all the other international stars when they traveled to Rochester with their home teams.
We’re watching older versions of all these players now as the World Cup unfolds. The US is not a cinch for their third title. Spain looks amazing. And mighty Haiti almost undid the European champions, England. This tournament is just getting started.
In the middle of the World Cup it is tempting to pick up an Apple TV+ subscription to MLS just to watch Messi. His first match in a pink uniform and he scores in the 94th minute to break a 1-1 tie with Cruz Azul vs Miami. And it is not just Messi. Two of our favorite Barcelona players, Sergio Busquets and Jordi Alba have joined him in the unofficial capital of Latin America.
Our friends, Matthew and Louise are settled in their swanky new place in Waikiki. And their car is no longer in our driveway. A driver from Hot Car Go arranged to meet us near the cemetery where he loaded their car onto this mile long truck. He is bound for Oakland where the car will be put on a freighter and shipped to Honolulu.
After recommending it for years we rewatched “August, Osage County” and it was just as good as we remembered it being. Fantastic script, amazing cast, it feels real and maybe that’s why no one has thanked us for the recommendation.
Our friend, Pete, asked us to pick up some paper at Rochester Art Supply – Italian Bristol 100 lb., 14 x17″ sheet by Fabiano. While downtown we stopped at Fuego for a Cortado. Over at Pete’s we found him sitting at his drawing table and acting like he had turned the corner after seventy-three days on the sixth floor of Highland Hospital. Our next stop was Brad Fox’s on Royal View Drive. We had taken his stereo amp to Hi-Fi Lounge last year to have a short addressed. It worked for a while but the short came back, one of those intermittent problems that convince you the problem has been addressed when it starts working again. I would not want to be the technician trying to track that down.
The first boathouses lined The Canandaigua City Pier that was built in 1848. By 1888, over eighty small wooden structures lined the pier. In 1903, the pier was enlarged to accommodate train and trolley tracks to service the steamboats transporting farm produce and passengers along the lake. As cozy as they look today the Boathouse Owners’ Association enforces the strict rules prohibiting people from living in them or using them as cottages. We were in Canandaigua to celebrate our anniversary. We walked up and down Main Street before having dinner in the Lake House and after dinner we explored the pier before driving home.
You can see the smoke filled air in the photo above. The Air Quality Index has improved considerably since yesterday but the Canadian fires are still burning so it will probably be back. Our niece and her boyfriend came up from the NYC area and spent the weekend with us. We were sort of afraid our lifestyle would be too low key for them but it turned out that was just what they were looking for. We took walks around Durand Lake and the beach to the north and then the following day, east down Seneca Road to the bay. If they were here for a third day we could have walked west to the river. We swam in the pool, family stopped by, beer cans piled up and they left for the week’s work.
Pete and Emily were out walking before Peggi and I this morning and they sent us this picture of tires that someone had dumped in the park. The two piles had been cleaned up by the time we got there and we spent some time trying to figure out how they got into the park because the yellow gates are locked at dark. We talked to a dog walker and he speculated that they came in early in the morning just after the park workers opened the gate and before all the park goers arrived. That would make them pretty bold on top of really rude.
The Erie Canal made Rochester a boom town so of course we all sang this song in grade school. At dinner last night I asked Kevin if he sang this song growing up in Massachusetts. He said, “Of course. It’s a classic American folk song.” The canal stopped at Buffalo but the lakes allowed a continuation of water freight to and from Detroit but Peggi does not remember singing it in school. The song is so descriptive I expected to experience the sensation of ducking under a bridge when I got older.
I remember canoeing along the shoreline of a lake in the Adirondacks and somehow disturbing a beaver. I don’t know if it was a nest or a damn but the beaver followed us like it was chasing us away from its project. We’ve never seen a beaver in the park but every year we see the damage they cause to trees along the two lakes, Durand and Eastman. They are determined, industrious and persistent. And creative! Look at this sculpture.
A few hours later I looked out at the spot where the nest was to see if there were any wasps and I found them rebuilding in the same spot. I hosed it again. The next morning the nest was again as big as it was originally. These creatures are big but have no memory. Peggi read that peppermint oil deters then so I but some on a rag and wiped it on the spot where they built their first three nests. They came back undeterred and had another hut built so I blasted that and rubbed peppermint oil all over the area. They have not returned.
We’ve had wasp nests on our house other years. I suit up and blast them with our garden hose while Peggi keeps an eye out for the wasps. The other hives were lantern like structures but these are long and tube-like. I looked them up and found they are called “organ pipes” because they are often in side by side groupings. The worker wasps come one after the other with packages of mud and this tube gets longer and longer. I timed my approach and blasted their construction with all the water pressure we had.
I couldn’t help but notice the form similarities in the beaver’s sculpture, the Mud Daubers’ nest and my “Shard,” the hunk of pine readymade that sprung from the shattered pine when it fell over in a heavy rain this spring.
In January of 1975 Peggi and I left Bloomington and moved to Rochester, where I grew up. We lived in an apartment in Tim Schapp‘s house on Dartmouth Street. Peggi worked in my uncle‘s supermarket when not working as a substitute teacher. She monitored a study hall in my brother Francis’s class. He had lived with us for a summer in Bloomington because my parent’s were having a hard time with him. I got a carpentry job and mowed lawns for a bunch of the neighbors on Dartmouth. I mowed Mr. Cohen’s lawn next door. You can see his house in the picture above.
I took a photo class at UR and wound up with a lot of black and white shots of mundane stuff around the house, like our laundry in the picture above. Interesting to see the entities we were willing to advertise for. These days I wear plain white Fruit of the Loom t-shirts all summer. I get them in six packs from Amazon.
I have a lot of nieces and nephews. The photo above, from the late fifties, is just one side of my family. Not all of my siblings or first cousins were even born yet. Peggi, on the other hand, has one sister and her two sons are the only nephews (or nieces) we have on that side. They are pictured below.
Alex, the one on the right, is a chef. He and his wife own two successful restaurants in Miami. One, Boia De, has a Michelin star! We are enormously proud of him but we have not dined there yet. We ate at Animal in LA when he worked there and at 11 Madison Park when he was a sous chef there. Boia De just celebrated their fourth anniversary so we are overdue.
The Bear is an enormously successful show. We watched two episodes one night and then four the next. Is it as good as Better Call Saul? No, but Bob Odenkirk makes an appearance. Is it as good as Hawaii Five 0 (the original)? I didn’t fall asleep during The Bear and we are quite enjoying it. The characters are all familiar types. I like that. The powers that be aligned to produce a tie-in ad with Boia De, American Express and the booking app Resy, for the show. You may have seen it. Alex and his wife, Luci, are featured in the ad (below).
This is how I pictured summer, the way it was in Costa Rica last winter. Instead, we’ve had a couple of weeks of smoke filled air surrounded by rain. We don’t have air conditioning so we count on opening the windows and turning on a fan but the air outside smells like an ashtray. Our neighbor, Jared, has a rain gauge and he told us we had two and a half inches yesterday.
They didn’t have NA beers in Costa Rica so we drank what everyone else was having, “Imperial.” It’s a lot like Genesee, which also tastes especially good cold, right out of a long neck bottle. I picked up a case of Genesee at Aman’s the last time we were there. I pictured having one while playing horseshoes and having it around to serve when friends stop by. I haven’t opened the case yet.
Peggi and I took a walk over the bridge near High Falls and stopped in the brewery. They have a huge map of the city in there with an array of buttons you can push to illuminate the locations of all the breweries in the city at periods. In the 1850s there were more breweries in town than there are now. By the early 1970s just Genesee and Standard remained. My uncle worked for Standard until they closed in 1972 leaving Genesee as the only brewery in the city. And then the micro brewery craze took off.m
“Summertime” will come and when it does all will be right with the world.
I’ve decided to show photos instead of paintings at the Little Theatre Café in September. Everybody takes photos and there are probably more photos in the world than at any other time you can think of. So how do you tell a good photo, one you might print large, put in a frame and then hang in a show, from just another? It is not easy.
I’m thinking I’ll choose twenty from the twenty thousand I have in the cloud. I considered the one above because I like it. I like the dramatic lighting, the symmetry in the composition, the factory behind the street front, the two grey boxes on the that gate, the service gate lettering and why is that guy holding a back pack and clean shirt up like that?
I have a sense of what photos other people might like but does that mean I should put those photos in the show?And I have some no brainers. Should I put them in? And then how will my group of twenty hold up thematically? It’s a lot to think about.
Whenever I went anywhere in the city with my father he would point out places that used to be something else. In an attempt to draw me in he would personalize the location. “That’s where your great grandfather used to live.” I could hardly imagine a time when the city wasn’t what is but then I got old and I can’t go anywhere without thinking about people and places that had some connection to where we are now. I’m in the moment as we walk around and then out of it as I remember how it used to be.
I have always been of the mind that things are getting better and I thought my father was too. But near the end of his life I asked him if he thought things were better now than in the past and without answering directly he started talking about how the neighborhood priest knew what everybody was up to and how he wouldn’t let you get away with anything. I got the sense that he missed the order of yesteryear.
Walking down South Avenue toward downtown Peggi and I paused at this underpass. Linnea Fischer took photos of the Hi-Techs here forty three years ago. We used one on the cover our first single. But back home, looking at the 45 cover, we found the pattern in the blocks goes in the opposite direction. You can’t go back.
The air smelled not so much like smoke but smoke flavoring, like the stuff they put on smoked almonds. So we walked with masks on. The air quality was at 155 when we left and that number kept dropping as we walked. Still unhealthy.
Our friend Pete has spent enough time in the hospital. He is coming home on Wednesday. Last week I gave him my copy of a recent Brooklyn Rail with a collection of essays on Robert Motherwell. I had the page with the first of Motherwell’s “Opens” open on our coffee table for the last week. Transfixed by the simplest of drawings I just couldn’t turn the page. Motherwell studied philosophy at Stanford and Harvard before making art and I knew these articles would fire Pete up so I gave him the issue. By the time we got home from the hospital Pete had texted us to say, “I would love to talk to you about these articles.” So we’re headed back up there tomorrow.
“Do I contradict myself? Very well then I contradict myself, (I am large, I contain multitudes.)” –Walt Whitman
Peggi and I got to the Bop Shop a half hour early to insure we could get a seat down front. The show was sold out but that doesn’t mean much when you can stand in the aisles of records. We found seats behind the counter just off to the left of the stage, close enough to the PA that I went back out to the car to get our earplugs. David Murray was out front smoking a cigarette and after he stubbed it out I asked if I could take his picture. He looked so good in this blue suit.
Kahil had a problem in sound check. His thumb piano kept feeding back. We have seen him so many times I could tell he was a little rattled. Despite that they opened at full tilt with a rousing number, Murray reaching for the stars on tenor sax and Kahil pounding his drums. Kahil started the second song with a beautiful melody on thumb piano. It didn’t feedback but it was no match to Murray’s sax. They settled into their trance-like groove on the third song, “In My House.” Both Kahil and Murray sang, Murray played bass clarinet and Kahil the Cajon. In Kahil El’Zabar’s house you can pray, reach to the soul, sing and dance… day or night!