Monthly Archives: April 2022

herbie hancock on tour

Sometimes we just accidently fall into things , you know . Oh , I don’t mean falling into a cement mixer , for example , or into a black hole , for another , or through the looking glass , or anything so dramatic . I mean just accidently being there , in some certain place when circumstances unexpectedly twist around just enough to put you ( one ) in an unusual situation .

So I went to have a leisurely beer at the small kiosk in the corner of the castle courtyard . The castle I mean is the Pomeranian Duke’s castle in Szczecin, Poland , first built in the 1100s by , obviously , Pomeranians . No , not the dog Pomeranians . I don’t think the Pomeranian dogs would have had the imagination or , frankly , the need for such a fortification . If you saw the castle , you’d realize right away that the castle is very much at the wrong scale to have been built by such small dogs in any case.

Anyhow , nowadays the castle houses a couple of museums , two restaurants , a few offices, a recently constructed rooftop observation platform , and an outdoor stage where various performances happen . Actually there are two stages . A smaller one is set up periodically in the outer ( a smaller ) courtyard where movies are shown during the summer and musicians sometimes perform . It’s all free at the smaller stage and usually free at the stage in the inner courtyard . Often folk performances take place , and at least once a year there is a Viking festival with participants wearing medieval costumes and selling medival -themed snacks , carvings , and knick-knacks , with dance performances and things like that . Well , I should hurriedly say that they’re not actually supposed to be Vikings — that’s a Scandinavian thing , of course , and these were Slavs , not at all Vikings . ( I don’t want any Poles , or other Slavs for that matter , coming after me for misrepresenting their history ! )

At any rate , the castle courtyard on the average day is a quiet place . A few German tourists wander around in small groups , often with a guide who is apparently explaining the history of the place ( a city owned by Germany before the War ). Ada says the tour guides are saying , ” This should all still be ours ,” but I doubt it . I think she’s joking . Maybe .

Being German at the time , the place was severely damaged during continual bombings during the war by British and Americans , not so much because it was a castle but because it is near the river . The city is a large Baltic port ( it’s not really on the Baltic , however ) and there was extensive shipbuilding happening there , a submarine pen , a small automobile factory and the city , not too far from Berlin , was a Nazi stronghold and so it was a favorite target for allied bombers .

By chance , in the corner of the castle compound , there are a few tables and chairs set up beside a small beer kiosk . The beer is good and it’s cheap ( well , a friend of mine says to say it’s not cheap but it’s inexpensive ). When I’m walking to the city center or to the new “old town” [ That’s another story . The old old town is a few hundred yards away , but a new old town has been built ( based mostly on old photos , I guess ) to accommodate the tourists ].

And now we git to my story . One day I’m sitting calmly having a beer at that corner in the castle courtyard . (This was several year ago , so this story is another random memory that suddenly popped into my brain today .) There are a few tourists wandering around , a few people emerging or entering through doorways . Then I notice the courtyard is being quietly cleared . It was all very serenely and effectively done with no muss and no fuss at all , almost to the point where I wondered if it was all in my imagination . In no time at all I was the only one in the courtyard . Even the beer-seller had quietly vanished .

When all of this unruffled action began to hit me , I thought I would , obviously , be next . I had my beer , though , and I decided to wait until I was asked to go . No problem . Maybe it was some kind of castle maintenance about to begin . Who knows .

Then a man or two wandered into the picture . Not too far from me a guy set up a control board and another guy was plugging in cords and checking wires . Someone walked onto the stage and he and the guy at the control board began a sort-of call -and -response . They were setting up for a musical performance . I scanned the entire couryard for someone who would tell me to leave but no one really noticed me or cared . I continued to sip my beer and watch .

The guy on the stage was Herbie Hancock . He was about to begin rehearsing and they were testing equiptment . I watched. I listened . I knew that Herbie Hancock had a concert scheduled for that evening . Ada and I had tickets for the concert . Over the next few hours Herbie must have run through his entire repertoire for the concert . I was that oft-imagined fly on the wall . I assumed that the powers-that-be assumed that I was with the band .

When I realized that the time was getting toward seven , I called Ada to say that I’d meet her at the concert and that I was already inside ( they had locked all of the gates hours before ). I wished only that the beer kiosk hadn’t closed .

I gave Herbie , up on stage , a two-thumbs-up signal as I walked past . There was nobody else there except his sound man at the controls . Herbie nodded . I should disavow you of any notion that I am a great Herbie Hancock fan ( that’s , ah , disavow ; not disembowel —- that’d be a whole other event ) . It just sort of happened that we got tickets since this well-known American jazz man was in such an obscure venue all of a sudden .

What I didn’t know was that as I got to the gate , the inside of the gate , there were about 200 fans outside who were desperate to be let in . Ada was somewhere back in the crowd . I signalled for her to come up front . The crowds must have thought that I was with the band , after all , since I was already inside . And , after all , I had got a personal nod from the star of the evening , so I guess that counts for something . Anyway , Ada and I scooted back inside without being torn apart by the waiting throngs . The local officials guarding the gates gave us puzzled looks ; they didn’t quite know how we got in there either . I figured Herbie wouldn’t mind , nevertheless , and Ada and I chose our seats . By this time Herbie had disappeared backstage and the multitudes began to rush in and s=to spread out in their anxious hunt for suitable seats .

So if I ever meet Herbie Hancock I’ll thank him for the personal concert all afternoon and , of course, the evening concert too , although that one seemed a bit too crowded .

Ada gave me puzzled looks too , by the way . I told her Herbie let me in for the rehearsal because he was surprised to find an American there in such a far-off place calmly enjoying a beer and ready for some good jazz music .

Some things just happen . Some days just go like that .

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missed my flight

A friend of mine called today about 6am my time . ” Are you there yet ?” he asked . ” I’m on my way .”

” It’s tomorrow , ” I said .

” Oh , shit ; I got the wrong day “, he said . ” This is the 26th ?”

I told him I’d check the calendar . I was half-asleep . ” No , it’s the 27th”, I said .

” Well , I have today off “, he said . ” Wasn’t I supposed to pick you up today?” he said . ” Wait a minute ; is it the 26th today or the 27th ?”

A fine couple of beasts ! It quickly dawned on me that he was right and I was wrong . ” Check your ticket “, he said ; and I did .

Yeah , I should have been on the flight last night. I should be stepping off the plane about now . Now we have a problem . I was meeting him for his 70th birthday party soon to happen.

. ” I’ll call you back ,” I told him .

Ada hastily rebooked a ticket for me for late today . The one way ticket cost what the round trip had cost . I assumed that I’d also have to rent a car and meet him at the party location . I called him to inform him of the changes and he asked me how it had affected me financially . I told him. ” Shit happens ,” he said . Yeah , it sometimes does .

Luckily for me he had a couple of gigs cancelled for the next day . He’s a musician . ” I just got off the phone ,” he said . “We rescheduled for Friday so I can pick you up at the airport tomorrow”. Well, at least that’s something ; saves me renting a car .

How could I have screwed up the days ? The itinerary is clearly written : Departure April 26 . Well , shit happens . I had a friend who would say : This mistake will be a lesson that will save you money and grief in the long because you will be more careful from now on . Maybe it will .

Oh , well ! We have to take the good with the bad . Everyone screws up once in awhile . If I don’t make tonight’s flight , though , I may have to hang up my spurs .

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photos WWII /Europe

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HAPPY EASTER !

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April 16, 2022 · 9:16 am

mr. lucky

Sometimes I just focus for awhile on how lucky I am . Right now I’m sitting out in the backyard looking out at Ada’s roses . It’s a good year for roses . Other flowers are in bloom , too , and the tomato plants are doing well as are the zucchini and the basil . No zucchini yet . Small tomatoes are forming.

The lemon tree that Ada’s mom suggested I plant several years ago has resumed a thriving life. For years it produced three crops per year but for the last few years it has produced next to nothing . The few lemons that did form during those unproductive years dried up before they could be picked . I think that one of the summers we spent in Poland the person watching our place didn’t water the tree and it decided to protest the ill treatment ; but now it’s branches are full of juicy lemons. I suppose for no good reason it just decided that it is time to come back to it’s senses . I’ve given some to neighbors and we use them , but there are just too many to use . Ada says that we can leave them on the tree for a long long time ; she read the information somewhere ; but there comes a point in every lemon’s life when it’s time to move away from home . Anyway , the tree is lush with lemons and it adds to the Garden of Eden quality of the yard .

There are calla lilies in bloom , too ; not so many as we’ve had in the past perhaps , but they’re nice too . My mother never liked calla lillies. She said they reminded her of death . Oh , well ! To each his own . Once in awhile I snip one and put it in a vase for Ada to enjoy inside the house .

We had a couple of lilac bushes in bloom , too . Some people in other parts might not think this is such a big deal , but there is only one type of lilac that grows in this climate , as far as I’ve heard , and I began with one and propagated our bushes one from another . It takes time and is always a touch-and-go process , not always successful . Lilacs remind Ada of her younger life in Poland .

I’m listening to the news from Ukraine . I’m listening to the news from Sacramento. I’m thinking about the health problems of some of my friends . My problems ? Nothing in comparison . Check in from time to time and we’ll see , but so far so good .

Oh , of course , I have to mention my dear Ada , who now wants to be called Ray ( as in ray of sunshine ) . She’s at this moment in the kitchen preparing chicken thighs a special way for dinner . We call them squirrels and they are delicious . Anything that Ada cooks is delicious , and I am spoiled .

I just had a birthday . I still haven’t decided what I want to be when I grow up . Sometimes I’m a little amazed that I made it this far .

A friend of one of my sisters has a brother who , when he got married years ago , was called Mr. Lucky — mostly by his wife-to-be . We have a friend who recently moved to New York City and officially changed her name to Lucky . I live in a city founded by a rich guy named Elias Baldwin . He was known as Lucky Baldwin and somewhere I read that he never liked the nickname Lucky because he said that what he had was due to hard work and luck had little or nothing to do with it . Ben Franklin said diligence is the mother of good luck . ” I am a strong believer in luck , and I find that the harder I work the more luck I have ,” he said ( or something like that ).

I don’t know about all of that . All I know is that I’m a lucky guy . I’m not in the same boat as Lucky Baldwin or Mr. Franklin and I sure won’t change my name to Lucky . No one calls me Lucky either , but every once in awhile I remember that I am . The roses and the sunshine help . And the lemons .

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what we mean ?

itkindofgotawayfromyou

I have a friend in Poland who posts pictures on Facebook . Most of the comments , his and his responders’ , are in Polish . He comments on my once-in-awhile Facebook posts , too , mostly in Polish , although he does speak English well . My Polish is at the embryo stage ; ie . hasn’t developed yet . He likes to cook and so puts up a lot of food pictures .

So I noticed that the computer offers translation . Great ! Easy . Convenient . What will they think of next ?

Here is the latest translation of one of his comments :

Mild radius of sunset przenikal gently Ishieniem kreton curtains . The milk has soured on and took for darning . Yes , it was a successful day pomyslater. First came the meat in a beautiful piece of biodronki , then the holiday…

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x

A friend of mine published a poem recently about his mother intent on Spring cleaning and everyone helping , except Dad , who was at work . I know Dad was at work because mentioned in the poem is the phrase ” Wait until your father gets home “. Most of us from those days know exactly the weight of that warning from Mom .

When that line showed up in the poem I was struck with the realization that we all shared a common experience at least to some extent . We all share , I should say . Or maybe it’s just me and the poet having something of a common experience .

I met his dad a few times , I would like to say . He was a southerner from Kentucky , living then in southern California in a small city near the beach , near LAX , with his wife and his ten kids . He was a very friendly man with a hearing problem . No wonder , I guess , with all those children to hear from . He had a good sense of humor ; was active in his church ; retired at some point after the kids were grown , moved out of town and started a pizza parlor although also continuing the plumbing gig .

Poet is the eldest and , perhaps , no wonder he turned to poetry given the responsibilities of being the eldest brother with so many younger sibling cats to help herd . And he was a surfer , too , living close enough to the waves and maybe feeling a need for a little me time , sitting out on the rolling ocean waiting for something significant to break . Beach Boys music played in our southern California heads at that time in those places , just a little before the Beatles took over . Poet listened to more sophisticated music , I know , as we would expect poets to do , and he played guitar with a couple of his brothers . In more recent years he played sets in a small wine bar in Portland , Oregon.

I think he met Ferlinghetti on a bus , or was it on a surfboard ? They might have discussed long boards vs. short boards as they both bobbed up and down in the surf . Or was it at the North Beach bookstore City Lights as the poet searched for certain publications ; or for meaning ? Maybe it was on one of those bus rides to or from base while serving in the Army , making small talk and smoking .

No , now that I think of it , all of that’s only in my imagination . I do remember perusing the shelves at Powell’s Bookstore with the poet and his wife and Ada , though , almost getting lost in there among the acres of books , with a plan in the back of our heads to find a good spot later for a cold glass of a good local beer , or perhaps teas for the girls , and maybe a pastry , or lunch if we can’t get out of Powell’s for awhile .

I must say I wouldn’t know poetry if it came up behind me and hit me in the head for no reason , or if it walked up to me and suddenly out of the blue wanted to shake my hand , or if it was sitting quietly at the bar on a well-worn barstool and wanted to buy me a beer , or wanted to fight just for the fun of fighting . I wouldn’t know good poetry from bad poetry and therein lies my poetry problem . It’s like the old saying about good art or bad art : I know what I like .

It was that one phrase in this one poem that struck me somehow deeply , strangely enough , wait until your father gets home . That was my mother’s last resort after an afternoon of my horrible behavior and after she’d tried everything else to calm me down and bring me back to my senses . It usually worked .

Oh , don’t get me wrong. I have nothing against poetry . Live and let live , I say . E.E. Cummings said that , or maybe it was W. H. Auden .

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