We were getting a thin layer of fluffy snow, which seemed to keep the crowd down, although at any given time there were four to a dozen people in the club. This was a night for couples—date night, I guess. It felt like there was an invisible sign on the door—couples only. No stray wolves, no groups, or girls-night-out bunches of women. Exclusively couples. The most interesting event of the night was a mixed-race couple—a black woman and a white man. They were there at the club with another black couple. When they first walked in I wasn’t certain what was going on. The white man was overly demonstrative. He had his arms draped over the shoulders of the two women and was giving them both kisses. Later I saw him kiss the man too. My night had ended and I was in the Men’s Room straightening my tie and admiring my you-talkin’-to-me look when the white man entered. We chatted and he said that his wife is from West Africa and so are the other couple. He said he’s helping the other couple start up a fish farm. “Intriguing,” I said before departing, mostly hoping he wouldn’t get overly friendly with me. He returned to the bar and the four of them got talking to another couple who had asked if they’re from French West Africa. There was an explosion of excitement and the woman from the one couple was throwing out names of townships to the foursome who were getting more and more excited—“You know that town?!! She’s from ____ which is about 30 kilometers away.” Weird coincidence. The woman in the non-foursome couple had been to West Africa and several countries nearby while she was in the Peace Corp. Apparently, the world gets smaller in the jazz club.
Saturday, February 26, 2011
He’s got the look. Quintessential. Black beret, a chin perfectly shaped for his silver-white goatee, and wearing a soft, black collar shirt with two, broad panels of brown-gold that run from the top of the shoulder to the un-tucked shirt tail. A jazz musician if I ever saw one. Straight from central casting. He wrapped himself around the upright, double bass as though he was caressing a long-time lover. He defined the quartet and his velvet paisley harmony outlined the smoky sound that the guitar, tenor, and percussion filled in. He may have been the manifestation of the bebop bassist Paul Chambers teletransported from the 30th Street Studio while working with Miles on the Kind of Blue album. Who knows, stranger things have happened. Sadly our crowd was sparse. So few to enjoy a most pleasant jazz night. It was a mix of devotees and yakety-yakers who were clearly oblivious to the magic happening in their midst.
Sunday, February 13, 2011
The jazz club is a safe haven for the damaged, eccentric, and the staunch loner. That’s why I wasn’t surprised at all or judgmental when a small, young, blonde-haired woman tapped me on the shoulder to get my attention. I was blocking the entrance, enjoying the music, and lost in a world created by Freddie Hubbard. I didn’t notice the door had opened and she had walked in. I collected the cover charge and she entered the protective cloak of the club. We diligently defend the holy rights of all to enjoy live jazz without appraisal or reproach. This cute, little woman would be safe. I was mentally outlining the storyline that would novelize her courage and strength. I was proud to be in her presence. There sat an attractive young woman with her wrinkle-free innocence venturing out into the city alone on Valentine’s Day weekend. Was she recently dumped? Or had she booted some poor schmuck out of her life? Too easy. She’s more complex than that. I studied her as I mentally began sketching out the character based on the vulnerable, but tough, cutie sitting alone at the bar. A young guy with an uncertain, scruffy beard entered the club and the star of my novel lit up as her friend joined her at the bar. I crumpled up my novel outline and tossed it in the mental waste bin along with all of the other unfinished stories and poems.
Saturday, February 12, 2011
At first I though it was an anomaly. Just a typical oddity with no apparent pattern to substantiate it. Then last weekend, I saw two powerful examples. “Had there been other examples in the past?” As the doorman, I look for patterns. I verified my observance with the bartender and tonight it happened again. There is a pair of stools at the bar that, when occupied by a man and a woman who are on a date, results in PDA (public display of affection). The stools are in the middle of the backside of the bar facing the band. The location in the universe combining with the male-female ying-yang creates a Vortex of Love. Last weekend, two couples in succession sat in the Vortex and in short time were in full lip lock. Mind you, when they entered the jazz club there was no indication that they’d revert to panting and pawing high schoolers. So, tonight my radar was up. A couple sat down at the bar, the woman on the guy’s right—just like last week. They sat a couple of stools off from the Vortex of Love so I waited to see if PDA would occur. They got close, but nope. I signaled the bartender over and said, “Move their drinks down to the Vortex of Love and tell them you’re giving them the best seats in the house before someone grabs them.” He was mulling over my behavioral-engineering plan when a new couple entered the club and meandered over and sat in the Vortex of Love. “Excellent,” I thought. The dark-haired beauty sat on his right—proper positions. While they ordered drinks and settled in, I enjoyed the jazz trio. I glanced over periodically to see if there was progress. The group was into their version of “Moanin’,” an Art Blakey & the Jazz Messengers song written by their pianist, Bobby Timmons, when I saw the magic of the Vortex in action. The black hair woman had removed her jacket exposing her shoulders and arms and was standing in full body contact with her willing mate while stroking his nape. Bingo!
Tuesday, February 8, 2011
A dream of mine is to have a hideaway writing-studio that’s discreetly tucked in the corner of the city. It could be in the back pocket of an industrial lot, sandwiched between buildings, or on a weedy, trash-strewn vacant tract. Architecturally simple, box-like, and nondescript on the outside with sturdy comfort on the interior. Hardwood floor, desk, lounge chair with reading lamp, sink/toilet, and heat/AC. I think I found my source. M Finity, based in Jonesboro, Ill., constructs modular 8ft by 12ft living units. Their microSYSTEM approach is to provide low-cost, eco-friendly structures with the option to customize to fit the owner’s needs. As they say, “The efficient layout of the buildings provides maximum usability and flexibility with minimal material and energy consumption as well as site disturbance.” Beautiful! That’s what I want.
Monday, February 7, 2011
Albeit a bit tagged from the previous night’s momentous event, the doorman persevered and became the solid sentry at the jazz club door. In addition to voluminous coffee consumption, I needed untethered jazz played loudly to counter my severe lack of sleep. I told the tenor and trumpet guys when they arrived to not hold back… fed them a tale about a group of nearly deaf jazz lovers who will be arriving any minute. “Screw piano-lounge music, play like you mean it!” Fortunately, the playlist was dominated by Sonny Rollins songs, which kept the adrenalin pumping. The crowd at the club was a gentle cohesion that filled the tables in front of the stage. As I watched the group’s tenor wail on a Sonny tune, I had an epiphanous moment. It was making sense. As the long day, which began with Nadia’s birth, transitioned to the next, it made total sense to be hearing a Sonny tune. It’s been said that the courteous Sonny Rollins, in 1959, to spare a neighboring expectant mother the sound of his practice routine, ventured to the Brooklyn-to-Manhattan Williamsburg Bridge to practice. Of course…. yes, of course… a circle has been completed, a bridge crossed.
Sunday, February 6, 2011
For many, the thought that the doorman has a life beyond the 10-square-feet of the door is beyond comprehension. The belief is that the door is the Alpha and Omega, the first and the last in the doorman’s life. The door with its cracked-pane window and thumb-latch handle is important. Welcoming guests to the hallowed sanctum of jazz is an imperial responsibility that is never to be taken lightly. It requires devotion and dedication. However, on this night, the doorman had a higher calling that took him from his post at the jazz club. He needed to help welcome Nadia to life on earth. Formed from sacred cosmic dust and the efforts of the doorman’s son and daughter-in-law, Nadia finished her amniotic journey to join us all at 2:13am. Welcome to planet Earth. Your new journey has just begun. To you, I am more than the doorman… I am the grand-doorman, who will open doors and waive cover charges as best as I can.
Wednesday, February 2, 2011
Another odd night for the doorman. The club was the location for a company holiday party—a thriving IT company with its well over 100 employees sardined into our club. My role: Look the part of the doorman as company people left and non-company customers entered. I had time to observe the dynamics of this company populated by computer savants. I resisted the urge to yell, “I have an algorithmically unsolvable problem, can anyone help?!” Instead I watched the dynamics of a young woman totally enamoured with her guy friend. She was attempting to tractor-beam him into her love stare. He nervously tried to comply. She looked quite sweet, doe-eyed, and alluring. Another woman with ooh-lah-lah cleavage flaunted from guy to guy who, each in turn, were politely reserved. It took a bit before it became apparent that she was the girlfriend of one of the company owners. She clearly had a license to flirt, while the guys knew where the line was. The rest of the company crowd enjoyed themselves. It was clear they felt comfortable with each other. When the band started up a couple of hours into the party, I was afraid the company workers would disperse, but was happy to see them settle in. As each left, I thanked them and urged them to come back. Most, being socially shy, either looked down or at the door as they scuttled out. A brave one or two might actually return.