Community Icons

The Role Model (Armand Schaubroeck) from the "Community Icons" series by Paul Dodd. Acrylic house paint on billboard paper, 54" wide by "60" high, 1989
The Role Model (Armand Schaubroeck) from the “Community Icons” series by Paul Dodd. Acrylic house paint on billboard paper, 54″ wide by “60” high, 1989

I never understood how garage bands got away with it. I remember hearing bands practice in a garage in the sixties and they were as loud as hell. They were usually playing in the afternoon, when the grown ups in the house weren’t home. The walls of garages aren’t even insulated. The neighbors wouldn’t stand for it. Basements make much better practice spaces.

Now garage art is something I understand. I was a garage painter in the eighties when I painted this series of “Community Icons.” It was easy for me to pick these archetypes, the foundation of any city, in 1989. It got me thinking about who I would choose today.

“The Role Model,” above is one of 16 from that series. They were big paintings, 54″ wide by “60” high, on the back of billboard paper. You can see the whole series here: “Community Icons.

Community Icons Price List for Paul Dodd paintings
Community Icons Price List for Paul Dodd paintings
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Spring Forward

Red ball in front window at Kneads & Wants Bakery in Rochester, New York
Red ball in front window at Kneads & Wants Bakery in Rochester, New York

It’s time for the snowbirds to come back north. The daffodils are up, the purple myrtle flowers are out, the lenten roses are in full bloom. The crocuses and winter aconite are already folding up, Another few weeks and the wildflowers in Edmunds Woods will be out. We bought spinach, lettuce and “Detroit Red Beets” seeds today at Aman’s and planted them in potting soil. This is all true but I’ve been around here long enough to know we could still see some more snow. So our skis and poles are standing in the corner just outside the door.

We always sit in the front window at Kneads & Wants. With coffee and pastry we watch the Lake Avenue world go by. This morning we watched a group of revelers in green clothing get on the bus, probably headed to the Saint Patty’s Day parade downtown. I took this photo from our seats. The blurry building wth the green spires is now the Charlotte Post Office but in the early sixties it was Doug Duke’s Music Room. Born Ovidio Fernandez in Buenos Aires, Argentina, Doug changed his name and drew guests like Coleman Hawkins, Teddy Wilson, Lionel Hampton, Marian McPartland, Charlie Byrd, Roy Eldridge, Ray Nance and Toots Thielemans to the club. Doug held court behind the organ but doubled on accordion, bassoon and trumpet. I told the women who run the bakery about this place but they were hardly impressed.

I’m going to try and beat this time change thing by going to sleep an hour early tonight.

Doug Duke/Coleman Hawkins - Body & Soul
Here is Coleman Hawkins performing Body and Soul with Doug Duke in the club on Lake Avenue near Latta.
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The Price We Pay

Robert Indiana Love sculpture in midtown Manhattan
Robert Indiana Love sculpture in midtown Manhattan

“I’m reading this book. Oh, I can’t remember who it’s by and I can’t remember the name of it but if I tell you what it’s about maybe you’ll recognize it.” We were seated next to a table of four-two well dressed couples, who were maybe in their seventies, in Rooney’s where we often go to celebrate Peggi’s birthday and their conversation was almost impossible to block out.

Rooney’s is an expensive place so this sort of thing goes with the territory. Think Luis Buñuel’s “Discreet Charm of the Bourgeoisie.” When we first sat down they were talking about how much money this mutual friend had. They were saying that she would need three and half million for some sort of move and the woman told them, “Well, I don’t have anywhere near that amount.” They acted surprised and then one of them said, “OK, let’s talk about something else.”

We heard how one of the couples was stuck in an elevator in NYC and the hotel gave them a free dinner and how they enjoyed running the tab up over a thousand dollars with cavier and rare wine. And then the two women started their own conversation about going on EBay to find out how much their artwork was worth so that when they died their kids wouldn’t just throw it in a dumpster.

They started running down local restaurants, the good and bad. One of the guys was in the restaurant business at some point and he said back then 40% of the business was in cash and now it all is credit cards and harder to hide. “I still use cash at restaurants, like when the bill comes to twenty dollars, I’ll leave a three dollar tip in cash.” Peggi quickly calculated that that would be mere 15% and we laughed.

On their way out we heard them lamenting the fact that the restaurant doesn’t offer valet parking any more.

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Cheetah Whores opening for Margaret Explosion at the Bug Jar in Rochester, New York
Cheetah Whores opening for Margaret Explosion at the Bug Jar in Rochester, New York

One of the biggest advantages of the digital world is the shrinkage of the physical volume of things. Books, newspapers, movies, art, music, photos. They are all in plentiful supply but now take up a tiny fraction of their old school selves. Another big plus is how much easier it is to find things. I have things squirreled away in all corners and cubby holes of my computer but I’m able to put my eyes on them with a simple search.

And another advantage is the surprises you stumble on as you peruse your search results. The photo above was labeled OpeningBandBugJar.jpg. The Cheetah Whores mix 70’s punk, 60’s R&B, psychedelia into their rock and roll. They look like they may also have a political bent. Margaret Explosion shared a bill with them back in the early oughts. The band’s original bass player, Shalonda Simpson, shown here, was shot and killed in a robbery in 2007.

Margaret Explosion plays the Little Theater Café tonight at 7:30. Tonight’s performance is dedicated to Pussy Riot, Ai Weiwei and the efforts of artists/activists everywhere.

Listen to Solidarity by Margaret Explosion
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Bean Counters Only

Beans In The Jar Contest at the LDR in Rochester, NY
Beans In The Jar Contest at the LDR in Rochester, NY

Ten days left to get down to LDR and put your guess in for the number of beans in this jar.

It is not every day in this viral world that you get two drum videos being called to your attention. John Gilmore sent us the top ten drummers of all time according to Rolling Stone and then Brian Peterson sent us this one of a young kid kickin’ it to a Joan Jett anthem.

I’ve been going to the same dentist for many and I think he’s great. His son thinks he’s pretty cool too because he named his restaurant after his father. We had dinner there last night and I’m reporting in that Rocco’s has the best grilled octopus salad in the world or at least in Rochester where it is almost impossible to count the number of Italian restaurants.

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Bomb Shelter Supplies

Chipmunk With Nut in Fall, Rochester, NY
Chipmunk With Nut in Fall, Rochester, NY

Just the like the chipmunks we gathered the Fall’s bounty for the upcoming winter. We pulled carrots and we promised our neighbor, Leo, that we would make him some carrot juice. He recently had his palette removed and he’s on a liquid diet. We dug up potatoes. We picked the last of the acorn squash. We rounded up the green tomatoes and put them in a paper bag. Our tomatoes had the blight so we pulled the plants out by the roots and put them in the trash. We picked a few heads of purple cabbage and the last of our jalapeño peppers. Peggi already canned seven quarts of jalapeños so we might try freezing these like Tom Kohn does.

And we have our eye on one the pumpkins that Monica grew in the garden. It’s a good size but still dark green. We wore ourselves out putting the garden to bed. I might need an expresso in order to get through tonight’s Margaret Explosion gig.

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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


We’re Goin’ To The Liquor Store

Chinchillas performing at Abilene in Rochester, NY last night
Chinchillas performing at Abilene in Rochester, NY last night

We played two sets at RoCo last night and spent most of the first set trying figure out what worked best in that lively gallery space. I Sparse worked best and provided at least some definition so we went with that. Director, Bleu Cease, invited us back to play the Members Show Opening so we must have found the sweet spot.

We packed the equipment and headed over to Abilene to catch the last of The Chinchillas set. They sounded great and the place was packed. Club owner, Danny, told us Toots from the Maytals was in there playing pool a few nights ago. The Chinchillas gig was a cd release party but they ran out of cds. You can see the empty plastic bag at their feet in the blowup of this photo. You’ll also notice the lighting rig in the foreground that gave the band that special glow. One of the two outdoor spots was working. Pete, on the left, churns out some great songs and they make this whole thing look effortless. They played some songs from the early eighties (some of these guys were in the Presstones) and finished with a song I’m still singing. “We’re Goin’ To The Liquor Store”.

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Hinkley, Margaret Explosin, Nod at the Bug Jar, Saturday May 30, 2009

Triple header at the Bug Jar on Saturday night with Hinkley, Margaret Explosion and Nod in that order. 10 PM start with a screening of “The History of the Electric Guitar” movie short, featuring NOD.

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For Alice

Philip Guston painting entitled "Reverse" at the Memorial Art Gallery in Rochester, NY
Philip Guston painting entitled “Reverse” at the Memorial Art Gallery in Rochester, NY

I’m reading a book by Musa Meyer, Philip Guston’s daughter, called “Night Studio”. Wow. There’s a good chunk of therapy in there. It is impossible to be a great artist and a good father. Philip Guston is no saint unless you redefine “saint”. And I do. Saints, to me, are heroes. They are not all good and that makes them more godlike. Philip Guston is the patron saint of existentialists.

His late paintings are his best. They blow me away. What more could you ask for in a painting? They are meaty as hell, ugly and beautiful at the same time. And heroic. The MAG in Rochester has one of the late paintings called “Reverse”. It’s a painting of the back of a stretched canvas leaning against a wall. There is an incredible sense of form like R. Crumb. Probably a white wall but not in Guston’s hands. This is a whole environment. There’s a bare bulb from his closet childhood and a chain swinging like the light has just been turned on. The confrontation has begun.

This is my favorite painting in the Memorial Art Gallery’s collection and it manages to get better each time I see it. The MAG has put it in the best spot in the whole place. Its almost has its own room. And there is even a bench across from it, not some dumb piece of art but a bench you can sit on. Look for this painting.

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Who Says You Can’t Go Back?

Personal Effects on stage at Scorgie's reunion at the German House in Rochester, NY
Personal Effects on stage at Scorgie’s reunion at the German House in Rochester, NY

Look how old the Scorgie’s crowd got! (click photo for full shot) Funny thing, the band hasn’t changed a bit. I posted a few more on the Scorgie’s site.

There are so many familiar faces in this photo like Earl with the video camera and Arpad and Brian Williams from the Goners and Monica from the HOG (along time ago) and Nick Gerber down front and my sister Ann (it’s hard to get her out) and Rick & Monica and Mary Caine and Bob Mahoney and Martin Edic and the guy in Peggi’s yoga class and Passion B’s drummer, Tim Dodd, and Stan the Man & Lynn, Amy & Howie and Doug Rice and Jeff & Mary Kaye, Mark Schwartz and Maureen Outlaw and Trish from the LDR and Ashley Black.

I can’t find Chris Schepp, Cheryl & Mark, Billy & Nancy, Dick Storms, Danny, Russ Lunn and Beth Brown, Olga, Jon who used to take a lot of photos, Fran, Del, Pete Presstone and Scotty and Jeff Labin, Andrea Kohler and Jason and Mike Mohawk and Rock n’ Roll Joel, Richard Casa, Chas Lockwood, Ralph Meranto, Gary Brandt and Chuck Perry but I saw or talked to them all at some point. And there’s Duane Sherwood way in the back doing the lights.

Man, it was really good to everybody.


La Sirène du Mississippi

We went skiing with our friends and neighbors, Rick and Monica. We skied up the west side of Eastman Lake and back the east side of Durand Lake in the park. On the way back, Rick got a hankerin’ for Mexican so we got online and looked for alternatives to nearby Monte Albán. We toyed with driving out to El Rincón in Sodus or the one in Canandaigua but decided to try San José on Buffalo Road. I was a little suspicious because the pdf of their online menu said “printed in South Carolina” but we jumped in the car and headed out to Gates. Rick had a “Best of Incredible String Band” cd on. We found the place and a sign on the door. “Closed Until March 3rd For Remodeling”.

So we continued on to Chilango’s in Spencerport. It was about eight o’clock and there was a half hour wait so we drove back in the city to Monte Albán. We ordered Margaritas and Peggi and I asked for no salt. Rick wanted salt. Monica ordered horchata and the waitress told her they were all out so she settled for a root beer.

The waitress was beautiful. It was hard to do something as mundane as place an order with her. She was a marvel. She had dark hair, a shiny, wide, white belt, a really cute accent and amazing eyes. She brought the margaritas back and two had salt and only one was saltless. Fine. She asked if we were ready to order and we obviously weren’t so she said she would come back, but she didn’t. Some time went by. I thought we had ordered already and we were waiting for our food. Rick started getting agitated. We had worked up an appetite skiing. He asked a nearby waitress to go get our waitress.

She returned smiling. We placed our order. She came back and asked Rick if he had ordered number 18 or 19. Rick ordered a Negra Modelo and she said they were out. The food was ok. Peggi asked for more napkins and the waitress smiled and nodded but never came back with them. None of this mattered. She actually yawned while we were placing our order and we still tipped her.

Back home, Rick asked if we wanted to watch “La Sirène du Mississippi” (“Mississippi Mermaid”), the 1969 Francois Truffaut movie with them and we took him up on the offer. Catherine Deneuve, the star, waltzed through the movie like she was barely in it. She was a blond version of our waitress.