Critique of Pure Reason

There was a time when all jazz musicians did was party and chase women and blow amazing saxophone (or whatever.) Now they are smart and do this:

So I got to ask this..
Let’s say you are sitting under an oak tree, and there is a guy next to you, let’s say he’s reading a book…Suddenly, the tree sheds a branch, hitting him, but you are (miraculously?) unscathed..
Do you proclaim “God is great” “I am blessed” or variations on this theme (which I see a lot of here on good ol FB…)
And, equally importantly–what about the dude who is injured by the branch?
Did God decide he was a bad man?
You were better?
More blessed?
More worthy of not being pounded by a falling tree branch?
I am genuinely interested in hearing rational non reactive responses from at least relatively sane individuals.

Holy shit. That was Rufus Philpot, the real thing. A bassists’ bassist. People don’t talk through his bass solos. So his philosophical quandary was not something easily blown off. Not bad poetry from a singer songwriter poet with hair like the Flying Burrito Brothers. Not some kid writing in a journal in a dark corner at the Blue Whale, discussing tonality. Not a philosophy major like the editor who so got on my nerves instantly at the LA Weekly that I walked, Johnny Paycheck style. No, this is Rufus Philpot, a heavy. Not to mention with the rare ability among jazz musicians of writing well (he should be blogging those jazz album reviews of his, they’re beautiful.) But last night I gave several smart ass responses to this and forgot about it. But you can’t just forget about it on Facebook. The next day they stare at you again. Your comments, I mean. Sitting there. Glaring. No wonder everyone is so mewly nice on Facebook. No wonder that everyone writes as if their grandmother is reading everything they post. No wonder it’s so Mr. Rogersesque. Because you can’t escape. You write the wrong thing–OK, the way wrong thing, like bragging about Hitler or something–and all virtual humanity will loathe you, make you miserable, cost you your job, and weird if beautiful women with a thing about losers will want you. Of course if you write something no one noticed nothing of the sort will happen. But it’s my blog, so I will exaggerate–well,lie–and say everyone noticed and you will probably keep reading anyway, waiting for the punchline.

But back to Mr. Philpot’s quandary:

I’d say it was just a tree branch that was ready to fall off–eucalyptus, probably, they do that, I saw one smash a Volkswagen once–and Mr. Philpot was in the right place and the guy reading Critique of Pure Reason was also in the just right place, but at the wrong time. So what’s to do but dial 911 and see if he’s breathing.

I say that now. But last night I came home from three hours of Bruce Forman and gave acerbic, misanthropic responses for which I am truly ashamed. I said that God hated that arrogant book reading motherfucker…He does that, for no reason. And then later I said that it was the guy’s fault for pissing off God in the first place. I told another lady that if she stood on her head and coughed it would get her high. There were more, too, on Facebook, on Twitter, in email. In my blog. I was making vicious fun of everything. I felt possessed by Ambrose Bierce. Had I lived near the beach I would have slipped an insulting note into a bottle and tossed it into the sea. My wife finally bopped me on the head and told me to cool it. This is what happens when you hang around jazz musicians. My mama done told me.

Of course, this mea culpa itself might be yet a further extension of cynical misanthropism. A nightmarish gyre of irony. I’m a writer, and embittered old jazz critic and we get like that. It’s all those solos. They screw up the head. I was a nice guy when I did my thesis on Peter, Paul and Mary. Oh well. But that anyone who does read Critique of Pure Reason is asking for it, you Kant deny.

I’ve never read Critique of Pure Reason. For one thing I was not smart enough. One paragraph in and I knew that. For another thing, I had a life. You can spend years on a tome like that, and by the time you finish you’d have none of your old friends left, though some very irritating new ones. And I was gonna say you can’t get laid reading Critique of Pure Reason but actually that is not true. I discussed this in a previous essay. Had I known the truth, I would have changed majors. But what, then, is Truth? The truth is I dropped out of college, joined a punk rock band and got laid instantly. I was the drummer, and came out on stage that first gig and warmed up using logs for sticks. That’s all it took. That’s the Truth. Epistemology didn’t even come into it. And while I know the jazz musicians among you won’t understand the logs thing, this was the late seventies. Two words: “Disco Monk”. And that was Sonny Rollins. Logs for drumsticks, Disco Monk, thrift stores full of abandoned pet rocks. It was an ugly time.

OK. Daylight Savings Time is over and I’m thoroughly confused. To make it worse I saved up the last twenty years of Daylights Savings Time and used it all at once so now it’s sometime next Tuesday. You don’t fuck with the calendar. I wish someone had told me.

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