Sunday, September 15, 2019 - So sorry... I must admit I am disappointed with myself. I returned home last night and completed the above video featuring some of the things I saw at the festival Saturday afternoon. Unfortunately when I got home, I discovered the lens on my main camera was dirty and most of my recorded video is unusable. Too bad because there were many interesting performances that I videotaped that will never be enjoyed. I must remember to ALWAYS clean my lenses before videotaping! Remind me if you see me.
The festival continues today, but I will be attending a family celebration in Buffalo so I will not be in attendance. Have fun!
Friday, September 20, 2019 - Mt. Arab / Lake Durant in the Adirondacks
Only a few days of summer are left to enjoy a hike. I drove to the Adirondacks to take advantage of the nice weather and clear skies to climb Mout Arab near Tupper Lake. It was a perfect hike; only a mile up and a spended view from the fire tower at the summit. Later I camped out at Lake Durant near Blue Mountain. While there, I videotaped myself playing Cohen's "Hallelujah" with the lake and part of Blue Mountain in the background. That was a nice change from my couch. I enjoy playing outdoors but rarely do so. Here are my videos...
Blue Mountain / Lake Durant
Saturday, September 21, 2019 - Capo Tree
Okay, I am a garbage picker - I admit it. (I even have a stick with a nail sticking out of the end to pick up trash out front. I hate litter! But that is another story...)
A few months ago, I noticed that a neighbor had tossed a cool tree sculpture out in the trash. It was just sitting there - seducing me...
I smiled back and decided I could use it to add a touch of class to my humble yet beautifully decorated apartment... so I took it home. I love minimalism and I had the perfect place for this wonderful piece of art foolishly discarded by someone who obviously does not appreciate fine art. But who am I to judge?
After lovingly placing my new sculpture on the shelf where I store some of my electronics, I got to thinking.... Ya know, I could put that tree to work. Art can be functional too! I decided to hang my guitar capos* from that tree so that I would not have to search for them when I needed them! Brilliant!!!
* Musicians commonly use a capo to raise the pitch of a fretted instrument so they can play in a different key using the same fingerings as playing open (i.e., without a capo). In effect, a capo uses a fret of an instrument to create a new nut at a higher note than the instrument's actual nut.
Months later it suddenly dawned on me what that tree was really for. I vaguely remembered having seen jewelry organized on a tree like that somewhere. Hmm... so I looked online and sure enough... there is a whole world of jewelry trees out there! And I've got one! What a great idea! Certainly hanging jewelry from such a tree is much better than tossing it into a box where things can get all tangled up. Works great for capos too!
Okay, so I don't know everything...
Tree sculpture --->
Capo tree --->
Jewelry tree --->
I think that I shall never see a finer looking capo tree.
Friday, September 27, 2019 - Niagara Falls
I attended my granddaughter's swim meet in North Tonawanda today and since I was in the neighborhood, I decided to revisit the Cave of the Winds at the Falls.
All the decking you see in this video is removed before winter each year and rebuilt in the spring by a crew of eight. They start in March and have to carry all their supplies and tools to the site. No electric tools are used. Great job!
My grandsons have hockey and football games this weekend. Hockey pretty much all the time. And me, I just take pictures...
American and Bridal Veil Falls
The Cave of the Winds was a natural cave behind Bridal Veil Falls at the Niagara Falls. The cave was some 130 feet (40 m) high, 100 feet (30 m) wide and 30 feet (9 m) in depth. It was discovered in 1834, and originally dubbed Aeolus's Cave, after the Greek god of winds.
Guided tours began officially in 1841, through Goat Island and descending down a staircase closer to the falls, into the cave. A rock fall closed the tour in 1920. It officially reopened in 1924, bringing visitors to the front of the Bridal Veil instead of behind it, on a series of decks and walkways. Tropical storm-like conditions can be experienced, as winds can reach up to 68 mph underneath the falls. The cave was obliterated in a massive 1954 rockfall and subsequent dynamiting of a dangerous overhang. -Wiki
Sunday, October 6, 2019 - Utica, New York
The Kopernik Memorial Association hosted an Open House with new exhibits titled “Polish Folk Clothing: Pure Joy”. A parade of regional and national costumes with live models was featured. The presentation of costumes included a talk on Zofia Stryjeńska, a prominent Polish artist of the early 1920’s, whose work shows the colors, motion, and detail of the costumes.
The Polish Cultural Center is located on the second floor of the Polish Community Home at 810 Columbia St. Utica, NY. It offers a variety of programs and activities throughout the year. CLICK HERE to view my photos and videos.
Tuesday, November 5, 2019 - Silent Move "Bestia"
George Eastman Museum Dryden Theater: Silent Move "Bestia" - Tuesday, November 5, 2019 7 p.m.
"Bestia" is a 1917 Polish silent film starring Pola Negri. It was directed by Alexander Hertz and released by Warsaw-based film studio Sphinx Company. It was released in the U.S. under the title The Polish Dancer in 1921. This Tuesday evening, the film will be presented with both pre-recorded music and accompaniment by renowned composer Włodek Pawlik*. The Grammy-Award-winning musician will participate ina Q&A and discuss the process of composing for silent films.
*Hailed as “Horowitz of jazz”, Pawlik is the first Polish jazz musician to receive a Grammy Award, having won in the Best Large Jazz Ensemble Album category with his album Night in Calisia, recorded with Randy Brecker and the Kalisz Philharmonic Orchestra. His composition “Freedom,” a musical work for choir, orchestra and jazz trio, was performed on June 4, 2014 at the Royal Square in Warsaw as part of the celebration of Polish Freedom and was attended by many heads of states, including the President of the USA, Barack Obama. In 2018, Włodek Pawlik and his trio, with special guest Randy Brecker, performed at the Blue Note Jazz Festival in New York, being the first Polish performers in the history of this famous festival.
Włodek Pawlik is a graduate of the F. Chopin University of Music in the piano class of Barbara Hesse-Bukowska. He also studied jazz at the Hochschule für Musik in Hamburg and attained a doctorate at F. Chopin University of Music, where he has conducted lectures on improvisation since 2007. Pawlik has appeared and won awards at many renowned jazz contests and festivals. He has performed and offered clinics and masterclasses in the United States and Australia and has recorded numerous CD albums. Apart from jazz, his artistic output includes film soundtracks, orchestral works, 2 piano concertos, ballet music, opera, cantata and theatre music. In 2014 Włodek Pawlik was awarded the Order of Polonia Restituta.
Pawlik will play his score to Bestia during the screening and will remain after the screening to talk about the process of composing for films.
George Eastman Museum, 900 East Avenue., Rochester, New York
82 Main Street
Geneseo, New York 14454
Sunday, November 3, 2019:
WHY DID SOME POLES LEAVE POLAND?
When I visited Poland in 2012, I experienced the joy of meeting, for the first time, members of my maternal grandfather’s side of the family (Adamski) in Podolsze, Małopolskie located west of Kraków near Zator. Later I traveled to Bydgoszcz to meet Stasiu, my driver, whom I hired to drive me to Sępólno Krajeńskie, a small city within walking distance of my paternal ancestral village of Piaseczno. My command of the Polish language is very rudimentary, but I somehow managed to communicate with Stasiu and we even had a few laughs along the way. As I watched the bucolic Polish landscape reveal itself to me around every turn in the road, I asked Staś his opinion why people from that area of Poland in the mid 1800’s would ever leave such a beautiful land. Without speaking, he brought his fingers to his lips to indicate they were surely poor, starving and desperate. I guess I knew that; that is the immigrant story, yet I was struck by the sad look that accompanied his non-verbal response.
I wish I knew from family history why exactly Ambroży Jasiek, my great grandfather, decided to leave his native land and move to America. Over the years I learned that times must have been very hard throughout Poland during the 123-year partition period. For one thing, the Jasieks were living in the Prussian partition where strict Germanization policies* were in effect, however I have no direct knowledge how these policies affected my ancestors. I do know though, that some of my paternal ancestors could speak German, which I doubt was their language of choice. Oh well, it doesn’t hurt to know a second language, does it?
I also discovered that before Ambroży left for America, that region of Poland was hit by several years of drought and, to make matters worse, a large part of Sępólno Krajeńskie had burned to the ground. Also, I wonder how much land the Jasieks had available to them to grow crops. Farming was their way of life and I don’t believe they were wealthy land owners by any stretch of the imagination. I have also learned that their German neighbors were leaving for America en masse back then, so the temptation to join them must have been great. Yet many Poles did not leave and I respect them for that.
Ambroży Jasiek and his wife Marianna had young two children, Jakub (my grandfather) and Ewa. Sadly, Marianna died giving birth to a third child, and yes, so did the baby. Left with two small children, Ambroży remarried, and before long, his second wife--also named Marianna-- gave birth to Teofil in 1856. One year later they left for America. They arrived in New York in the summer of 1857… however, baby Teofil did not survive the voyage. Records show their destination was Watertown, New York, but instead they ended up settling in Dunkirk, New York, maybe because the railroad industry was taking shape and there were employment opportunities. Unfortunately, my great grandfather did not speak English and no one would hire him. Being among the first Poles settling in Dunkirk, they had almost no support from the Polish immigrant community because there was no Polish immigrant community. He did however receive some assistance from the county, but very little.
THE GUERNSEY FAMILY
Duane L. Guernsey, a wealthy landowner originally from Rochester, New York but living in Fredonia at the time, took my grandfather Jacob under his wing. I do not know how old my grandfather was when he moved in with the Guernseys, but my dad said he was just a little boy. Jacob must have been very young—young enough to quickly acquire native-speaker proficiency in the English language. My grandfather was like an older brother one of Mr. Guernsey’s sons and was treated as a member of the family. I don’t know if the Guernseys helped out our family with any further assistance, but it is possible. My grandfather attended school in Fredonia, where his classmates preferred to call him “Johnson” rather than “Jasiek”, and later attended Cornell University majoring in agriculture. His sister Ewa worked as a maid and Ambroży Jasiek eventually got a job with the railroad. He and his second wife had many more children and helped other immigrants establish themselves in the area. Ambroży Jasiek died in Dunkirk at the age of ninety-nine.
A few years ago, I visited Cornell to search through their archives for Jacob Johnson’s records. They did have them, and I was surprised to see that his home address was not Fredonia. They had moved to Pittsford, New York, not too far from my current residence in Rochester. So, I discovered that the Guernseys returned to the Rochester area and my grandfather was still connected with his generous benefactor, but not for long. Fr. Pitass of the newly founded St. Stanislaus Church in Buffalo talked my grandfather into leaving his studies to become the parish’s first English and math teacher, but that’s another story.
I am very grateful to Guernsey family—extremely grateful. Not only did my family benefit from their generosity, but so did Buffalo’s Polish community. Jacob Johnson, as a teacher, businessman, civic leader, and advocate of our earliest Polish immigrants, helped many people until his death in 1914. None of it would have been possible without the Guernseys. We got lucky!
Last Sunday I visited the Guernsey graves during an event sponsored by the Pittsford Historical Society. James Guernsey, father of Duane Guernsey, is buried at the Pittsford Burying Ground; and Duane Guernsey and his family are buried at the Pittsford Cemetery in the village. They were among the wealthiest settlers of Rochester and Pittsford, New York.
* After partitioning Poland in the end of 18th century, the Kingdom of Prussia and later German Empire imposed a number of Germanization policies and measures in the newly gained territories, aimed at limiting the Polish ethnic presence in these areas. This process continued through its various stages until the end of World War I, when most of the territories were transferred to the Second Republic of Poland, which largely limited the capacity of further Germanization efforts of the Weimar Republic until the later Nazi occupation. The genocidal policies of Nazi-Germany against ethnic Poles between 1939 and 1945 can be understood as a continuation of previous Germanization processes. - Wiki
Sunday, November 10th, 4:00 PM - 10 PM - POLISH NIGHT at EUROCAFE in Geneseo, New York
Polish traditional food, music, dancing and more Tickets - $45 per person are sold at EuroCafe until Nov 4th.
Duane L. Guernsey Family Gravesite in Pittsford, New York
December 5, 2019 - December Gigs
I will be playing Polish Christmas carols (Polskie Kolędy i Pastorałki) on guitar and concertina every Friday and Saturday before Christmas at the following locations:
- Dec. 6,13,& 20 (5PM-?) @ Polska Chata in Irondequoit, N.Y.
- Dec. 14 (5PM-?) @ Wigilia Dinner at St. John Fisher College [Polish Heritage Society of Rochester] Please note: Reservations were due December 2
- Dec. 7 & 21 (5PM-?) @ Euro Café in Geneseo, N.Y.