Dinant, Belgium, November 6, 1814: Adolphe Sax is born, and will eventually invent the saxophone. The saxophone never became popular during his lifetime, as it was considered an illegitimate instrument, and not fitten to be played. Then along came that no-account jazz music, and musicians who thought differently. Without Mr. Sax, what would have become of Paul Desmond, Stan Getz, and Jim Grantham?
St. Petersburg, November 6, 1893: Composer Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky died after drinking unboiled water during a cholera epidemic. His last work was Symphony No. 6, the Pathetique. (For the exclusive benefit of Sir Ola, I’d like to add that Tchikovsky was also famous for the beautiful Le Sacre du Printeps.)
MB Corral, Wichita Falls, 1959 — Well, the way it was, was that Fats Domino was real popular when he was still touring around after his big 1956 hit (“Blueberry Hill”) which had done so well, and so he was coming to the MB Corral in Wichita Falls on Friday night..
Me and several high-school friends had cars and money enough, so we decided to go hear him. And a fair amount of beer was involved. There was me and Billy Ray Johnson, and some others, and Tony Haberman. The music was good, we were listening to a famous singer, and for some foolish reason they were serving us beer there at the MB Corral.
So naturally I got a teensy bit tipsy, or maybe a tipsy teen topsy, or maybe I was actually just drunk, but I was able to navigate to the men’s room, once it dawned [Read more…]
San Francisco, July 14, 1993: Today being ‘Bastille Day’, the French National Holiday, I was hired to play a gig at a French Restaurant on Polk Street. Wearing my tuxedo, with my tapping instrument and amplifier, I was wedged into a small niche near the door, and the wine was flowing freely as the evening progressed.
I’m playing my usual blend of Beatles, Bossa Nova, and Standards, when a fellow came up, introduced himself as Tom Bullock, and said he’d been a keyboard player. Over his wineglass, he started telling me about himself and his buddy Larry, a horn player.
The Gig from Hell
As a nominee for ‘The Gig from Hell,’ I think it merits attention. Here then is the sad, sad story of Larry’s last gig …
They were trying to get this regular gig at the Officer’s Club, and so they took this free gig at the Country Club, where the Colonel in charge of booking was supposed to come and hear them. They were to receive a free meal, and if they were a hit, then they would [Read more…]
Henrietta, Texas, Spring 1956 — It was the sixth grade for me, and our English teacher Mrs. Lyles gave us a huge blue textbook, which was filled with short stories, and poems, mostly Lord Boron and Percy Bitch Shelley and some other people, who seemed just a bit hysterical, but it fit my proclivities just fine.
And [Read more…]
Marin County, July 16, 2017 — For her birthday, Adrienne came down from her Oregon home to visit with her daughters and grandchildren. Her whole family was there: Layla, Celina, Jessica, Dameon, and even Rhiannon and her puppy “Penny,” who flew in from Germany. All of them remembered …
Marin County, December 24, 2007 –– In our house on Scenic Avenue in San Anselmo, I made up a Christmas Eve Tradition. Because the previous month at Thanksgiving, due to Layla’s insistence, we had enjoyed a wonderful dinner of Tofurky. Ha! Enjoyed? Who am I kidding?
The Tofurky Experience
We agreed unilaterally that we would NEVER have Tofurky again. Maybe it’s ok for some things, but as a substitute for a proper Thanksgiving dinner … thank you, but no. So here we are coming up on Christmass Eve, and dinner was a problem. Because Adrienne doesn’t cook; it’s against her religion. And franky I don’t know how to do a turkey, and it’s a lot of work, and so invention being the mother of necessity … I made up [Read more…]
8 Miles North of Henrietta Texas, July 28, 2017 — My mother would be one hunded years old today, born in 1917.
In this photo near the end of her life, she leans on the front fence before the farmhouse on the farm where she grew up. She (and my two brothers David and Paul) had moved back to the farm after the death of my stepfather. She’d been born Margaret Ellen Hurn, became Margaret French as my mother, and later remarried to Dr. Strickland in Henrietta.
Around the base of that tree on the left, you can just make out a dark metal band. Once upon a time, long before I was born, the tree was planted inside what must have been a wheel part. A metal band about a foot tall, and maybe four feet diameter. The tree grew and grew and grew, until the band was quite snug, about 20 years before Margaret Strickland was photographed here at the front fence.
In a recent photo from google earth, the tree is gone. I wonder what became [Read more…]
Daly City, 1989: If you read a Dashiel Hammett book about Sam Spade, or even a modern Sue Grafton book about Kinsey Milhone, you will discover that their investigations are exciting, dangerous, and apparently pay the bills. (Though Sam Spade seemingly just throws his bills into the trash.)
When I was Dr. Detecto, the private investigator, my own investigations were neither exciting, nor dangerous, nor did they pay the bills.
As proof, I respectfully submit my most exciting, dangerous, and profitable case — the Case of the Rescued Rope …
I was musing in my Geary street office one afternoon in the early fall in San Francisco. The air had just turned crisp, and I was thinking about the gubbamint and dozing off, when a tall woman walked past the window. I knew she was tall because my office was on the second floor. [Read more…]