Pete Fountain’s car

Just remembered I used to tool around Milwaukee on warm summer nights in Pete Fountain’s MG. How I got all 6’5” of me in there I don’t know, but Fyl and I had a ball. Her brother in law had bought it off Pete one weekend in New Orleans after a night of gumbo and that crazy blowing clarinet and driven it the length of the Mississippi Valley back to Milwaukee. Even after being stuck in the garage through long winters and a near fatal collision with a deer it still oozed hot jazz cool, that car. Zero to sixty in double time, oh yeah, a joyous ride. We’d head into the city and hop the clubs on Brady Street or wander through Summerfest all day and then take all the side streets and woody lanes to her sister’s place north of the city. On the way back we’d stop by the lake at a gorgeous little park in Whitefish Bay and sit on the grass and smoke a joint and watch the lightning bugs flash around us. I remember bolts of distant heat lightning playing on the lake, and huge June bugs appearing out of nowhere. What was that, a quarter century ago? I’d forgotten it till someone posted the cover of an old Pete Fountain LP tonight and it all came back, the muggy night air, the breeze off the lake, the music blasting from the radio, the fire flies and that car. It had a powerful engine that surged as you pressed lightly on the accelerator and could turn on a dime and I played the clutch like I’d been driving stick my whole life. Sigh….

In the long run it was utterly insignificant, of course, driving Pete Fountain’s little car, but it was such a strangely cool thing to do. It was a different world then, an analog world, experiences were real and tactile and I’d write memories like this with a pen on paper. I think I wrote this down once, which is probably why I remember it so vividly, why I can feel that Midwestern nighttime summer air and see the fireflies like they’re right here around me right now. It’s like if you live right, or even live wrong, life is full of such moments, meaningless and special, and sometimes you remember them half a lifetime later, and they seem like perfection.