Jazz panel

I was at a symposium or something once that had jazz panels. I was never into jazz panels. They tend to be bookish and dull. I usually find anything jazz that doesn’t involve people actually playing jazz to be bookish and dull. But I checked out one of these panels, though, because it had an old alto playing be bop buddy of mine on it. Old be boppers are never dull. If they’d been dull they wouldn’t have done something looney like playing be bop. But this panel was dull anyway. Dull dull dull. Even the panelists looked bored. So I told a pal sitting next to me that I could completely wreck it. He said I couldn’t. I said just watch this, and raised my hand and asked about Johnny Hodges. My old be bop alto buddy hated Johnny Hodges and out came a long winded, offensive and hysterically funny diatribe against the way Johnny Hodges played saxophone and against pre-bop alto saxophonery in general. People in the audience were offended and yelled back. After a few raucous minutes things finally settled down. So I raised my hand again and asked about Art Pepper. My old be bop alto buddy hated Art Pepper and went into another long, offensive and hysterically funny harangue against Art Pepper. All hell broke loose again. The famous trumpeter on the panel, to calm things down, told an extremely rude joke about Puerto Rican women. The famous trombone player talked about how high he used to get. My bop buddy talked about reefers. The trumpeter told another rude joke. The trombonist had a million drug stories. My buddy went after Johnny Hodges again. The trumpeter told another joke. All three panelists were in stitches. People walked out. The moderator just gave up entirely.

And while that was probably the best jazz panel ever, I promised myself that I would never do that again.

So consider this an apology.

(2009. Originally posted on BricksPicks.com)

AOC’s extraordinary speech

That was a simply incredible speech AOC gave on the House floor today. Did she write that herself? I’m assuming so. Hard to see how it could have been otherwise considering she was responding to comments made on the House floor 24 hours before. It was so perfectly composed. It’s the kind of thing teams of professionals get paid big bucks to come up with. I wonder how much of it was even written down and how much was extemporized. And her delivery was flawless. She’s apparently a very quick study, she’s been there two years and is already a master of the peculiar art of addressing the House of Representatives. It was a master class in oratory. A historic speech, I’d say, and it’ll probably just get more famous with time.

Lock down

Just realized l‘ve spent the last ninety mins looking for just the right wooden box kinda thing for my desk. Retired guy trapped in the house syndrome. If I’d been a stoned retired guy trapped in the house I would have already bought several and be eating cold pizza by now. If I’d been a drunk retired guy trapped in the house I’d have forgotten all about the box and been looking at porn. But I’m the buzzed on coffee retired guy trapped in the house looking at hundreds of boxes seeking just the right one.

Birds singing

Just posted this on BricksBrain.com:

For a writer I certainly don’t do a lot of writing anymore, then again I’ve never felt less epileptic in my life. Writing sets off epilepsy which creates more writing. The more the epilepsy, the more creative the writing. The more creative the writing, the more the epilepsy. The more the epileptic writing, the more the brain damage. Oops. Thus, sidelined, I just kick back and watch all the shit go down. These are marvelous times for watching the shit go down. Glorious times, even. Watching history happen from our little urban forested haven. Lots of time to read and watch old movies. The less the epilepsy, it turns out, the more the reading. I’m wending my way though stacks of turgid volumes. Don’t even ask. The constant writing in my head got in the way when I was trying to read. It’s good to have the fountain of words turned off. I can listen to people now and not rewrite what they are saying. I can listen to music now and not hear it as writing. I can look at the landscape and not see it as stories. I can listen to birds sing and not hear language. I just hear birds singing.

The crazy beauty of another Fourth of July in Los Angeles

I just love all the cacophony. It’s crazy beautiful. I’ve always loved the sight and sound of fireworks and this is one of best nights ever. We’re stuck at home this year, away from our annual Eastside hilltop vista, and I wasn’t sure what to expect. We can’t actually see much if the action here, with our view is blocked by a couple ridges and a zillion trees, but the sound echos amazingly up here, just extraordinary acoustics. The bursts close by are startling, while the most distant pile up in rumbling waves that have cone across miles of city. It’s an acoustic Jackson Pollock, random sweeps of explosions, low rolling waves of sound, the high treble of some rotten kid with strings of fire crackers across the street, the deep bass of enormous explosions big enough to blow off arms and legs. I really like the occasional concussion, a sound so big you can feel it, the aural gone tactile. All this madness really is a kind of anarchy, you know. It’s one of the things I most love about our city, all the backyard anarchy that comes every Fourth of July, the city so lawless with pyrotechnic misdemeanors that they’ve given up trying to enforce them. Freedom. A silly and fleeting sort of freedom, yeah, but a freedom from authority nonetheless.

Wow. That one was loud.

Whoosh

Fixed the toilet. It was flushing slow. I can fix that, I said. She looked skeptical but said nothing. A couple squirts of dish soap, two pots of boiling water and a couple buckets of warm water later and it flushed with a glorious whoosh. I flushed it a couple times so she could hear it. She found the number of the landlord’s plumber. You can call him, she said. But it’s flushing fine, I said. She pressed the handle. Whoosh. I couldn’t help gloating, and repaired to the sofa to wallow in husbandly self satisfaction. She interrupted my gloat. You could always call our buddy Eddie, she said, he’s a plumber. But we don’t need a plumber, I said, I fixed it. Listen, I said, and went back into the bathroom and flushed the toilet. Whoosh. Now you flush it, I said. Another whoosh. Doesn’t that sound fixed? If you say so, she said.

Undergarments

So Fyl mentioned that she needed socks. Even the socks the Sioux keep sending her we’re getting holes in them. We looked at the Kohl’s site and she found some zany socks. She likes zany socks. Then she said she needed underwear. Underpants? Nobody says underpants she said. They say panties. She didn’t see anything she liked in the price range she wanted, not on the Kohl’s page. I said I’d look around a bit later. Panties, she said. Not underpants. About an hour later I went into Google shopping and typed panties. Instantly an infinity of tushes filled my screen, no matter how far down I scrolled, adorably pert little models’ tushes with no body or limbs attached, every one of them in a thong. I never seen so much uncomfortable looking underwear in one place. They didn’t even have thongs when I was young enough to see young women in their underwear. Actually they didn’t always have underwear. Suddenly I was feeling very uncomfortable, like the husbands and boyfriends trying not to look at anything in Victoria’s Secret. Way too many tushes for an old man to be looking at. It was just wrong. I closed the google window and wrote this.

Rick’s Burgers

I couldn’t believe that we were ordering Rick’s Burgers online last night. Even as the DoorDash guy came to the door with my SuperBuy and Fyl’s cheeseburger and onion rings I didn’t believe it. It’s like the last two ungentrified things in Silver Lake were me and Rick’s burgers, and suddenly Rick’s is online with all the foodies and I’m using an app on an iPhone to order from them. Progress. It seems wrong, though. The first time I went to Rick’s seems impossibly far back in the eighties. I wrote on a typewriter then, and cut and pasted flyers, and sent and received postcards from weirdos. I made mix tapes for the blaster in the car after the radio died, while our parties ended with LPs and singles scattered on the floor. I had never used a computer at any job. How could something as impossibly analog as a Rick’s SuperBuy emerge from the ether in 2020 as tasty and sloppy as if a not yet thirty year old me had just ordered it from the little hottie at the window? And while she’s a grandmother now, the burger never changed. It’s the last ungentrified thing in Silver Lake.

Words on a tee shirt

This came in the mail from Australia in a compostable bag, words I don’t remember writing printed on a tee shirt. The pic with the collar and sleeves didn’t look as good so you’ll have to take my word on it being a tee shirt. No, I’m not gonna wear it. No idea why they whited out Venom P Stinger. Al was their bassist Alan Secher-Jensen, one of my favorite ever people now resting in peace, the song was Walking About, and the party scene is from a YouTube video of the song where I wrote this as a comment. Now aging Australian record collectors are getting high wearing my words. I guess that’s a good thing. It’s certainly a strange thing.

Next stop, Willoughby

Was out on the moondeck around midnight and the silence was something. A solitary siren set off the coyotes and for a minute there I could have been in the middle of the Mojave, but the siren keened away and the coyotes shushed. A bat fluttered by. An owl flapped from one tree to another without making a sound. There wasn’t a voice to be heard, or a laugh, or the sounds of love, no loud music or blaring TVs or anything else that lets you know there are people living around you, no dog barked or mockingbird sang, nothing.

Indeed, if it weren’t for the incessant 24/7 news on TV or the hysteria on social media or headlines in the paper we’d have no idea whatsoever that all hell is breaking loose. We’ve heard no extra sirens or helicopters, smelled no smoke, heard no gunfire, seen no angry people in the street, no police, nothing, and yet just a couple miles away in every directions the masses are marching and protesting and chanting. Shops were looted. Cars burned. People beaten with clubs. But you couldn’t tell up here. The one hint something was amiss was no mail for a couple days. That was it.

Otherwise we pleasantly isolate–there’s still a pandemic on, even in all this silence–and we get everything delivered. Just yesterday I got up late and ordered some marijuana (alas, for arthritis and not just getting stoned), some groceries and deposited a check while I sat on the couch drinking my first coffee of the day, and all online. The dope appeared in under an hour, the groceries in a little over an hour, and the check was in our account instantaneously. It seemed more like magic than technology.

The future is here and it is extremely pleasant, and our little neighborhood tucked away on the edge of Silverlake—behind us on the other side of our ridge is the Golden State Freeway and the river, and scores of ducks and geese fly from lake to river and back again at sun up and sundown—feels completely separate from the real world, like we’re in an episode of Twilight Zone, and this is Willoughby.