Upon The My Oh My

Tuggy boat in Rochester, New York
Tuggy boat in Rochester, New York

This little plastic boat was out near the curb on a dead end street in that neighborhood of funky homes along the west side of the bay. Some of the houses remind me of the ones in Bloomington where Peggi and I went to school and more importantly, met. It was hard to tell if the owners of the boat were discarding it or just loose with the “pick up your toys” routine. If we weren’t on our bikes I would have been thinking about taking it home. And then down to Irondequoit Bay.

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There Is No Conspiracy

Frozen wetlands off Hoffman Road in Rochester, New York
Frozen wetlands off Hoffman Road in Rochester, New York

The Eastman House put up a mint copy of the 1974 political thriller “The Parallax View” with Warren Beatty last night. And it was free for members. Peggi and I both thought we had seen it back in the day but we hadn’t. We would have remembered the spectacular shots. Same cinematographer as the Godfather movies and it really looked good on the big screen, so good I was laughing at inappropriate times. The plot was delicious too. Just like the Warren Commission got to the bottom of the JFK assassination and George W.’s plan to hire Henry Kissinger to get to the bottom of the World Trade Center bombings we never really know who’s calling the shots but there is probably a multinational corporation behind it.

Graham Nash curated the Rock n’ Roll photography exhibit at the Eastman House and we’ve been trying to get there for a month or so. I’m hoping Anton Corbijn’s Beefheart portrait is in the show.

Don Van Vilet was a rock n’ roller and real painter. He told The Associated Press in 1991. “I don’t like getting out when I could be painting. And when I’m painting, I don’t want anybody else around.”

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My Smile Is Stuck

Captain Beefheart and His Magic Band performing live at Ludlow’s Garage in Cincinnati in 1969. Photo by Kim Torgerson.

We haven’t seen the man-child mayor of Durand all winter. We have seen his buddies a few times on the long twisted path that they sled down and the next time we see them I plan ask about the mayor. The banks of that hill are all packed down with fresh snow making it look like a bobsled run. We skied down it today but snow plowed most of the way down to break our speed.

Our neighbor spotted a coyote yesterday and the neighbors down the street heard them howling last night. They said the coyotes had killed a deer out back so Peggi and I skied around the creek bed to see if we could spot the carcass but no luck. We got back to the house around dusk and there was a message from our friend, Duane, giving us the news that Don van Vliet (Captain Beefheart) had passed away. Duane owns one of Van Vliet’s prints and Peggi, Duane and I had seen a few of Van Vliet’s painting shows together in New York. I love his paintings but I absolutely love his music and poetry.

One of my favorite psychedelic experiences was having the sensation that the little house that Dave Mahoney and I lived in in Bloomington was flying like that scene in the Wizard of Oz. The soundtrack was 1969’s “Trout Mask Replica” which had just been released. We rode to Cincinnati with Jeff Amour from MX-80 Sound to see the Captain at Ludlow’s Garage on that tour. We sat in giant chairs. Screaming Gypsy Bandits and The Hampton Grease Band opened. Kim Torgerson took the photo above at that show. Steve Hoy drove us to Columbus the following year to hear the Magic Band on the “Lick My Decals Off Baby” tour. And back in Rochester I heard him at the Red Creek Inn where I recorded the live track below. That’s Brad Fox you hear sitting next to me. Greg Prevost from the Chesterfield Kings interviewed the Captain between sets.

Captain Beefheart Live at Red Creek in Rochester, NY


Bar Band In Heaven

Captain Beefheart drawing at Red Creek in Rochester, New York in 1977
Captain Beefheart drawing at Red Creek in Rochester, New York in 1977. Photo by Greg Prevost.

I digitized some vinyl the other day. I go tape out of our stereo amp into Quicktime on our laptop and then edit it in Audacity. One of the things I digitized was an old Personal Effects 45. Peggi’s voice and sax sounded too high. Peggi got her sax out to play along and we confirmed that our turntable runs fast. We changed the pitch by -110 cents and it came out fine.

Brad Fox sent me a 33 1/3 book on “Trout Mask Replica” and I’ve been reading that and thinking about the cassette recording I made of Captain Beefheart at the Red Creek in Rochester in 1977. I remembered Beefheart saying something nasty about Drumbo (aka John French) between songs. And of course there are a lot of quotes from Drumbo in the book, some of them lambasting Beefheart. So I got an old cassette deck out of the basement and put the tape in but the deck wouldn’t go into play. It was just sort of froze in the eighties. Luckily we had another old deck down there and I transferred the tape. I posted one of the songs below with the quote from The Captain. You can hear Brad Fox scream as the band begins this song.

I remember there was some dreadful magic act (someone saw Magic Band and thought why not?) that went on first and there were two shows. We went to the second. I still have the ticket. When we got there Greg Prevost (Chesterfield Kings) and Carl Mack’s (Zenith Effluveum get compared to MX-80 in this review) were interviewing The Captain in the parking lot. I think Kevin Patrick’s wife, Corrine, took this photo of him and gave me a print. The stage was still in the front of the room there. The Captain mentioned the the chocolate pie that owner, Jeff Springut, gave him before the show. The band was amazing and included Jeff Moris Tepper, Eric Drew Feldman, Denny Walley and Robert Williams. They faithfully recreated the older material and went on to record “Doc at the Radar Station”.

When David Greenberger was here he was telling us that he was in a Boston band in the eighties called Men & Volts and they did Beefheart covers and Beefheart-like material. I told him about seeing the Trout Mask Replica tour in Columbus at Ludlow’s Garage with Hampton’s Grease Band and the Screaming Gypsy Bandits opening. And he said he was talking to the Bandit’s Mark Bingham in New Orleans about doing a project. And then along comes this little book from Brad.

Captain Beefheart Band at Red Creek in Rochester, NY
Captain Beefheart performing at Red Creek in Rochester, New York in 1977. Photo by Greg Prevost.

Bruce Fowler was also on the Bat Chain Puller lp and by another coincidence we just saw him playing in the band that appeared throughout Robert Altman’s “Short Cuts”. We’ve been watching the entire Altman catalog in order but have been breaking it up with other stuff. It took us three nights to watch that one because I kept falling asleep. So each time we came back to it we re-watched large portions. There is such a large cast in this one and all these interweaving stories that it worked well in small doses. Tom Waits’ character hangs out in this bar where Annie Ross from Lambert, Hendricks and Ross sings with Terry Adams from NRBQ on piano and Bobby Previte on drums and Bruce Fowler on trombone.

Here is my recording of Captain Beefheart Live at Red Creek in Rochester, NY


For One Oh Nine

We put together a few cdrs of old Personal Effects records for Steve Lipincott and he sent us a short stack of things to listen to. It was a really tough call as to what to pop in first. We went with Miles Davis Nonet Boston ’72. Amazing three dimensional sound with Mtume Forman playing percussion in one channel, Badal Roy in the other and Pete Cosey’s wah wah guitar out there.

I’m looking at Miles Davis Quintet, Stockholm, playing “Bitches Brew” material or Captain Beefheart “Spotlight Kid Sessions” next.

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Best Batch Yet

Eric Ryan, Jann, Mary Alice in her Cocktail Hour pjs, Peggi and Ann in the HLC halls
Eric Ryan, Jann, Mary Alice in her Cocktail Hour pjs, Peggi and Ann in the HLC halls

I picked some near perfect tomatoes from the garden along with a handful of jalapeño peppers and made salsa to bring to the family gathering at my brother’s house. My sister-in-law told me it was ‘the best batch yet” and that got me singing that Captain Beefheart song. “We don’t have to suffer. We’re the best batch yet.”

There are five ingredients in my salsa – tomatoes, onion, jalapeños, fresh cilantro and lime juice. Each has a very important role and when the tomatoes are local, it really sings. I studied the salsa they served in the Yukatan to discern the proportions. It takes more cilantro than you would imagine.

It seems like half my family was born in August (my parents used the rythym method) so we celebrate all the August birthdays at once. Our niece’s boyfriend, Eric Ryan, brought the crossword puzzle from Newsday and it took the whole family to lick it. My youngest sister knew that Marie Osmond had a hit with “Paper Roses” and my father knew that “Sandy’s owner” was Little Orphan Annie. We could have used Peggi’s mom’s help as she is somewhat of a crossword puzzle ace but she wasn’t feeling well enough to come.

After the picnic, my other sister, her daughter and her boyfriend, and Peggi and I all stopped in to see Peggi’s mom. Peggi’s mom had her pink, “Cocktail Hour” pjs on. We took a short walk around the halls. My niece had broken her leg while walking her dog so she was on crutches and Peggi’s mom uses a walker. Our pace was so slow that Eric Ryan could read aloud from his magazine.