When they started playin’

…and the horns started playin’
on a breezy ‘Orleans afternoon.
Air thick with bourbon and perfume.
Air thick with bourbon and perfume.

Sometime soon, I wanna play me
some ragtime on that old piano.
Next time, bring the whole band tho’.

The solo went rata tat tat.
They could hear that saxophone blast
all the way down on 4th street.

‘Course he was moved by the sound
of those early evening blues.
Air thick with bourbon and perfume.
Air thick with bourbon and perfume.

Baseline went bump de bump bump.
He not dancing’ he sitting’ like a chump
while the rest jivin’ like some loons.

Sometime soon, I wanna play
while old Benny does croon
and I know she’ll be in full bloom.

When the horns started playin’
on that breezy ‘Orleans afternoon,
It was that summer time june.
It was that summer time june.

When the horns started playin’
On that breezy ‘Orleans afternoon,
I knew I gotta change my tune.
So I can see her again soon.

A Hand Extended

Miles

So I’ve been listening to Miles. You might know him as Mr. Davis or the coolest cat in the room. Any room. Smooth as can be while his man tickles piano keys. He is jazz music personified. Now, if an artist is simply a mirror of the style and mood of his time, then take to that smoky bar circa 1959. I’ll pull up a chair stop and stare at a man in his prime. Improvised. And it was televised while he let that trumpet slide. Right on down the street to where star crossed lovers meet to the sound of the beating heart and say they’ll never part. Long as that music pours from the Victrola in the store window and that solo crescendos and junkies smoke that endo around the back of the club. Hoping to get some love from lady day waiting in the wings for her swan song to sing.

I’ll bet if u step on certain floor boards in those boarded up New York City speakeasies a little jazz will come whispering out. Of this I have no doubt.

But how can something be so soothing and yet, so miserable.
So upstanding and yet, so contemptible.
So fleeting and yet, so memorable.

See Miles always kept a little something up his sleeve. A little something for you and me so we might believe in magic you see.

And I’ve fallen in. Choked on blue notes for breakfast. Tubas at tea time. Clarinets at siestas. And now creole señoritas speak to me with half open eyelids. Batting and beckoning me to dance. When life extends you a hand, you take it. And dammit you dance and dammit you sing and dammit you shake and dammit you’re King. If only for a night. The Sultan of the speakeasy. Jack of all trades. A royal flush that is dressed in spades.

Miles understood till the end of his days. Understood it when that baseline came in. When the piano took second. Understood the contradiction. And when life did beckon. He grabbed it quick by the hand and never relented.

Not even for a second. Not even for a moment. What do you reckon?

Now I went to one of these prohibition saloons. I scrapped the boards with my fingernails. I pressed my ear against the wall and you know what I heard?

Nothing.

I guess it wasn’t worth saving.

Are you bound by your stuff?

First off, I’m listening to jazz as I write this. Maybe it will mean that my cadence will slow way down. Maybe it will mean that I will pick up smoking cigarettes, although I hope it doesn’t. Maybe it will mean that my desk will be soaked in circular red wine stains – I’d be alright with that actually. Coffee table Jazz is what spotify calls it. I think music playing in the background can have a large impact on your writing and Joshua Redman is calming me, so that you Joshua.

I am typing atop my writer’s desk I got for $12 at the restore, along with an office chair. Check out the habitat for humanity restore in your area if you need furniture, there is a lot of second hand stuff you have to sift through, but you may just find a gem.  Although, the gems I found are not polished or shiny.

I am sitting in my new room, in a new city and I am loving it. My room is the coolest it has ever been; aesthetically. I have a rack with electric guitars, an acoustic guitar and a banjo hanging on the wall. I have a mix of cheap art that looks expensive, moderately expensive art that cost what I believe to be a fortune to frame, and a friend’s graphic design piece that reminds me of him (it is a desert scene with many wells in lines and a quote from the bible that read’s “You’ll never thirst again”).

There is a signed picture of Mario Lemieux (my childhood hero), a small Native American sculpture that was my grandfather’s (a man that I try to emulate in every way) and a silhouette of a stag that my sister made out of aluminum. There are two small pictures on a shelf above my bed. One is a photo just before prom of my best friends from high school suited up and the other is of my college brus on the steps of a new building at BGSU. I’ve been told the later looks like an urban outfitters advertisement.

Your belongings will wither away eventually, if given enough time, so I have learned not to hold too tightly to my “stuff.”  But I think it’s ok to look at something and remember your grandfather’s laugh when you see it, or at a photo and remember a time when a friend visited you in the hospital.  I gave my sister a little ceramic sculpture after she had brain surgery.  It is a big frog with his arms around a little frog. I know it’s pretty stupid, but that damn 3 inch painted sculpture makes me weepy every time I see it, or if I even think about it. Like right now for instance.

I do like that almost all of my stuff fit into two cars when moving. I know that probably won’t be the case as I move forward in life and get married and have kids, but it is a nice feeling to live minimally. I also know there are people who would look at my life and say it is the opposite of minimal; people who live in tents and huts, some by choice and others not.

So what’s the point?

 I have seen both ends of the spectrum. I have seen hoarders who cannot let go of even the smallest knick knacks and trinkets. Whose houses get filled and cluttered to the point they can no longer get to their bathroom or kitchen. And I have seen people who “purge” their houses every few months, only to buy the same things a year later.

The point is this: you cannot let your stuff have power over you. If you lose or break something that reminded you of your dad who passed away, it does not mean you lost a piece of your father.

It means you must be creative in crafting something else that reminds you of him; like a collage or a painting. Or maybe something that takes up no room; like a poem.

The design of a room is very important to me. My parents, for a long time, designed the most beautiful kitchens and bathrooms and living rooms that I have ever seen. That is why I wanted my space to inspire me when I walked in. It is alright to have nice, quality things.

And while I want to take care of my things, I am not bound by them. I want you to think about what you would do if someone stole your stuff. Think about what would be the hardest to lose. And then think about what that says about you. Think about who you could help if you bought a guitar that was $500 cheaper (I am pointing that last one directly at myself). 

Also, listen to Jazz. It’s good for you.