A comfortable crowd is filling the place tonight. No rancor, rabble rousing, or rats. The door is easy. Folks pay and join in. Then I had a group of two couples present themselves at the door, and ask what kind of music we have. “Live jazz,” I say to their blank faces. The band is deep into trading solos about mid way in their version of Thelonious Monk’s Blue Monk and it’s clear they don’t get it. They decide the $5 cover is too steep and quickly turn to flit away, fearing I guess that I’ll try to pick their pockets or snatch their purses. If they had shown any remote interest in jazz or live music or the club, I would have invited them in, complimentary. But they have a suburban attitude, expecting to be entertained by reefer-smoking musicians and black turtleneck wearing patrons with black berets as they observe from their safely-ensconced monorail car. “BOO!” I shout and cackle loudly as they scurry off to their silver Toyota Camry.
Sunday, October 28, 2012
Sunday, October 21, 2012
There’s a 14-word Imagist poem by Ezra Pound that’s apropos of this night.
In a Station of the Metro
The apparition of these faces in the crowd;
Petals on a wet, black bough.
Huh? you say. The story goes that ol’ Ezra is describing a moment in the underground metro station in Paris in 1912 as he descended and saw the massive crowd of people. The faces became indistinguishable and reminded him of glistening wet petals. The same is occurring to The Doorman tonight. We are experiencing the largest crowd ever in my history of doormanship. The faces, people, and personalities are a pleasant blur. The jazz quintet is playing hard-driving jazz to keep the crowd glued to their seats… even the folding chairs we set outside in warmer weather with patio tables have been pulled into action by an enterprising renegade customer. We’re violating fire codes left and right but the crowd is feeding off the energy of the band. Who would dare to argue with a crowd fired up on Grover Washington’s Mr. Magic… the tenor blowing his horn inside out. An old jazz crooner who typically gets invited up to the bandstand to sing Sinatra and other standards has hobbled his way into view of the bandleader with hopes of an invite up. He wants a piece of the action. I think, “Not tonight Jack, it ain’t the right groove.” I’m having no issues at the door collecting covers that will pay the band and keep a good half-dozen lightbulbs burning, until I get a quartet of attractive women who I guess expect to breeze past me. They clearly feel entitled and are startled that I’m asking for the cover. I could see one of them weighing whether to hit me with the wounded fawn or Betty Boop ploy. I turned to her and gave her my best “Not tonight Jackie, it ain’t the right groove” Doorman look and they all swiveled on their high heels and left.
Saturday, October 20, 2012
Have my starter wedge and am going to touch base at the door before collecting cover charges from the early arrivals. Sitting on the stylish wood bench near the door was a mass of humanity with a mop of long hair that covered his eyes. As I approach him he takes a Sasquatch-size hand and brushes his hair aside. I ask for the five bucks and he says, “I play bass in the band.” We talk and I learn that he recently got back from playing in a trio for the past 11 months on a cruise trip—five hours every evening including Saturdays and Sundays. “So, you’re warmed up for tonight’s gig,” I say. He enjoys the cruise ship lifestyle and is signed up for a three-month commitment on another ship, which departs in a few weeks. As The Doorman of the jazz club I have astute insights. My psychoanalytic assessment from talking with and observing him is that he is a shy, insecure young man. On the ship, he is a recognized celebrity because of his role and size. At sea, he receives praise and admiration. He gets the cake and the girl (the girl may even serve him cake). As I suspected, he is dang good. He played his double bass like his first girlfriend—genuine affection mixed with urgency. The quartet played standards and originals. I enjoyed their version of Miles’ “So What,” which sounded close to the original. I like musicians who respect a piece of musical perfection enough to play it as it is rather than adding their own interpretation. The Miles Davis imprimatur was not violated.
Thursday, October 18, 2012
It’s incredibly rewarding to know that something I wrote moved someone. My artist buddy, Matty Cipov, was taken by a throw away haiku that never made it into the art-haiku broadside we collaborated on back in 2007-2008 (That Smirking Face). It stuck with him and here is a brand spanking new, absolutely incredible drawing Matt created to accompany my haiku:
her dark hair
The haiga is available through Matt’s online shop.
Saturday, October 13, 2012
A jolly couple were the first in the jazz club. Don't misunderstand... they weren't overweight jolly, they were happy jolly. The man had a yippee, boisterous laugh, which would be great if I became a stand-up comic. I'd plant him in the crowd and everyone would double over with laughter with his prompt. I could be a success with his helpful laugh. This couple has two children. One away at college; the other with a disability works at Pic 'n Save grocery store, which got me thinking of a favorite escape plan. When the stresses of life become too much, I think of how nice it could be to be the Cart Boy for a busy supermarket. (I'm not diminishing or making fun of the couple's son. I don't know what his challenges are or what he does for the store.) My escape fantasy is to be the Cart Boy, with no responsibility beyond retrieving carts from the lot. People would smile at me--some patronizing, some with pity, and some with genuine warmth. I've just had an epiphany! In a sense, as The Doorman at the jazz club, I've achieved that level of simplicity. There are no daunting expectations beyond collecting the cover charge (collecting the cart, so to speak). I can vary my approach from having a stern street face to a simpleton grin, which I've actually done in the same night. No one questions how I behave. I can be pleasant, moody, quirky, or anything in the bipolar range. When it gets down to it, I am after all just The Doorman. No expectations beyond the simple task. No Human Resource defecations. No rules beyond the norm of civility (and even these can be stretched). I have achieved my Cart Boy dream in my role as The Doorman. People smile at me--some patronizing, some with pity, and some with genuine warmth, because I'm nothing more than The Doorman .