Jim Barbero with His Camera

I woke up to Arlo barking at 2 am. Once again, the neighbors on the block behind us, a man and a woman, were screaming at each other. Not unusual. But it goes on a while, and Arlo accompanies. I came downstairs to try to settle him, started thinking of Jim, and didn’t sleep a whole lot after that. My dogs both loved Jim, especially Violet.

I finally got a couple of hours of sleep around 7 or so and dreamed of one of our parties at Scott and Lenore’s house. There were lots of people, too many. I was…


This is the house
This is the house
This is the house that Jack built.

My brother-in-law, Dan Harris, is in town mourning the death of his father, Ken Harris (I wrote about Ken in another of these essays). I’ve always felt close to Dan; he, of all the seven Harris siblings, has the most of his father’s gentle nature about him. But he married an English woman and lives there, so we don’t see enough of him. As the two of us sat at my large, distressed pine dining-room table, he remarked how much he loves our home.


My Wife, Anne Harris Wilcox, Dancing

A great dance concert is pretty much my favorite thing. I love all kinds of arts, and of course I’m a musician and a great consumer of music live and recorded. But a while back, Randy James’s company, 10 Hairy Legs, took me places I seldom go. It’s an all-male company (five dudes, 10 hairy legs, get it?). The most amazing thing, though, was within that seeming limitation, the five pieces performed at the University of Rochester were staggeringly diverse.

James is a choreographer, and a good one. But the company’s repertoire comprises commissioned works entirely by other choreographers. James…

Daniel and Kerwin’s Ironic Eden

I was recently asked to be a guest on Bob Lonsberry’s show on WHAM radio. Bob — whom I’d never met — had written to say he’d enjoyed both an article I’d written about Somali African Cuisine and the restaurant itself, and I’d thanked him and suggested he have me on to talk cheap/ethnic/local. A few days later, it happened.

All I knew of Bob was second hand, mostly in the form of (rather liberal) Facebook friends complaining about him. I’d neither listened to his show, nor read his column, so the day before being a guest, I went to…


I’ve been thinking about the lines, or zones, or nebulous fogs, between things. Between us and them (thanks, Roger Waters), between, well, yes, right and wrong.

The Kavanaugh hearings. I listened to some of them, a bit of what he said, a bit of what she said. I read a lot of what mostly my friends had to say. It came up in almost every in-person conversation. I probably had an opinion before hearing anything (against him, believing her), and listening to them confirmed my biases. I think I have my reasons to Believe Her and not him.

The most…

Preparing for The Big Finish

Once I had a grand vision: The Musicians and The Madmen. It would be an ultra-competent bass-guitar-keys-drums quartet, then a bunch of crazy people doing… stuff. Multiple writers. Saxophones. Didgeridoos. And a local Punk Rock Legend on vocals. So I got The Band together.

Our first gig was on a bill with the late, great Colorblind James (Chuck Cuminale) at the old Milestones. We did tunes by our singer, by our sax player, by me, and some by Morphine, The Pretenders, Bobby Fuller, and Laura Love. Jaffe, Chuck’s keyboard player, said he’d never heard anything like us. (Yes, I know…

About a year ago, I drove to visit my brother, Ben, at the group home he’d recently moved into. It was about an hour to the Finger Lakes town, a significant improvement on the two-and-a-half hours I’d needed to drive to see him at the State Hospital in Binghamton. It was a beautiful day. I was mostly excited, just slightly anxious. As is my wont, I blasted music the whole way. I love driving alone with loud tunes.

My device navigated me to the house without any trouble, and I pulled into the small lot at the back of the…

Who’s Your Daddy?

Everybody has a favorite Arnold Schwarzenegger quote. In “Kindergarten Cop,” the Governator is a cop masquerading as a teacher in order to find a drug dealer. He plays a little game with the kids, saying, in trademark cadence, “You tell me: who is your daddy and what does he do?” I just watched the clip again and it absolutely slays me every time.

My daddy is a retired philosophy professor, but this had little meaning to me as a small child. There’s a great episode of “The Wonder Years” in which Fred Savage’s Kevin wants to know…

Let go of the little distractions
Hold close to the ones that you love
’Cause we won’t all be here this time next year
So while you can, take a picture of us
— Frank Turner, “Polaroid Picture”

My friend, Karen, just passed away. Cancer. I had not managed to see her in her last months. I said to myself what you say to yourself: I’ll get to it. But I didn’t. …

Maybe a decade ago, I was curious about Camp Arbak, the day camp I’d gone to as a kid. The web search turned up a list of Jewish day camps, and it was the first time it had occurred to me that Arbak was, in fact, a Jewish day camp. The only clue in my memory was that on cookout days, the hot dogs were all beef. But that wouldn’t have meant anything to me at the time. I couldn’t remember many kids’ last names, but two — Klieger and Monder — were likely Jewish. And as I pictured Mr…

Adam A. Wilcox

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