Monday, September 22, 2008

jazz standards and signs

In the last three days, I estimate that I attended approximately fifteen hours of jazz. My father, a jazz fellow from Jersey, flew out for the Monterey Jazz Festival (MJF) and I was lucky enough to be his guest. We're one year past the fiftieth anniversary of the MJF and the tickets are not so easy to come by. Priority goes to the prior year's attendees and on any given year, well over eighty percent of the base returns.

While the almost biospherically diverse roster rocked it by and large--Maceo Parker's Brownian funk, the charismatic Jamie Cullum jumping around on (and I do mean literally jumping around on) his poor piano like a (cute) drug-fueled monkey, the somehow mezozoic charge of Herbie Hancock's odd electronics, hot-stuff local Ledisi--I admit I had my share of tunes I'd just as soon have skipped. Per esempio, I know I exhibit a lack of sophistication for even saying it, but the Wayne Shorter posse came out and performed what I can only call a hyperextended rendition of what a band might sound like if it were stepped on by Godzilla for an uninterrupted twenty minutes, this sadistic honk-and-screech riffing set during the coldest snap of the foggiest night of my sleepiest spell. Wayne and I lack a future together.

Several of the other performers, however--Ledisi, the Maria Schneider Orchestra in particular--are already imported into my iTunes. And I'm thankful for that. But all that said, as much of an ingrate as it may make me in your eyes, I think my favorite part of all that jazz (you cannot begrudge me that phrase; the sentence longed for it!) was the walk to and from the festival with my father. We hardly talked at all. He's quiet and I'm something of a space cadet when presented with so much auditory stimulus. So we'd walk the long avenue under the street lights, veteran concert-goers hustling past us with their absurd brand-emblazoned stadium cushions tucked under their arms and backpacks full of god-knows-what jammed full for the day's every possibility, and hands-free and cells-off, we just breathed in the night air and moved.

Some treasures from that stroll:

Sap is the new soap. Well done, bathroom vandals!

If only everyone had this sense of humor about being so evidently sideswiped.

Taken out of context, this sign fills me with glee. The apparently beautiful directors who sponsored this segment of the fence have many, many friends looking out for them in heaven.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

an untimely death

David Foster Wallace has died, suicide apparently. I wince a bit to join the rememberance cavalcade, to lament intimately, throwing my contribution into the inevitable "literary innovator" chatter. Though intermittently uncharitable considering she's writing a eulogy of sorts, Michiko Kakutani got DFW's writing right enough in the NYT: "fat, prolix narratives filled with Mobius strip-like digressions, copious footnotes and looping philosophical asides." So I'll just say it was actually his nonfiction work that was always more the model for me. I liked the unapologetic and raw courage in his observations. And god, his words made me laugh.

I remember reading a statement he made once that very few of his close friends were actually in the writing circuit. And having touched that wire of literary industry--through haughty New York scenesters and grad school luminaries--I adored him for this from a distance. His life was like mine. He was not surrounded by dull, cutthroat name-droppers, but salt-of-the-earth comrades who'd earned his allegiance over time. Or so I assumed. I just unearthed this from a speech he gave:
The really important kind of freedom involves attention and awareness and discipline, and being able truly to care about other people and to sacrifice for them over and over in myriad petty, unsexy ways every day.
The disappointment that this care is not enough to keep someone as infinitely talented as Wallace alive is a cracking blow. Humans are, at the core of things, solitary beings. And each private universe harbors deep and lethal darkness. And that is a stunning, if unsurprising and familiar, revelation.

Friday, September 12, 2008

woot! woot! woof!

We did it. The Folsom Int'l Triathlon has been vanquished. And we raised more than ten times the funds we set out to bring in. Let's hear it for underpromise, overdeliver.

Well woohoo and yeehaw, compadres! Thanks to everyone. You guys made this SO SO fun. I really had a blast (I can say that now that it's done). Onward to post-race kick-back. Fall never looked so good, my friends. Where's my cider?!

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

the veepee: a total gimmee

I know I'm not the first to say it, but I could not even pay attention to what Sarah Palin was saying because I just kept thinking how lucky Tina Fey would be if by some miracle this farcical McCain-Palin ticket took the Oval Office. She would have guaranteed SNL work (and material galore, no doubt) for at least four more years. I mean, really! The resemblance is a comedian's dream come true.

Tuesday, September 02, 2008

obama 2.0

Here's my latest story, a reflection on the Obama team's use of technology and what it means for East Bay supporters who've long done things the old-fashioned way. Enjoy.