Friday, August 29, 2014

Another Black (and White) Eye

Lately, over the past ten years or so, in what are supposed to be "dog days" -- the world on vacation and sweating out (sitting out) the last weeks of summer (or August, in any case) -- full of unwatched news cycles ... traditionally, nobody paying attention ...

Since 2005 or so, our lazy hazy crazy last dayz of summer have unleashed Hurricane Katrina ... the NSA depths ... a tortured Robin Williams' soul (today, just weeks later, we pray for Joan Rivers) ...

And a fear-mongered, race-baited, hate-fueled carnival, belched from the bowels of flyover country ... setting things back again, erasing gains made.  Although happily, with the possible exception of Jon Stewart, most people in the U.S. have come to understand that RACE did not necessarily need to be played this time in Ferguson, Missouri.

Michael Brown was black and the cop is white.  So?

November 2014 grand jury decision:  We live in Turkey Times.

How twistedly "comforting"!  Convenient to too many.  A superb excuse!  For increasingly mobile, handily organized and bit-champing losers to get up and do something ... to whiff opportunity and  attack like wolves, a small town and pack of public protectors, scarcely equipped to handle such limelight ...

In fact, as the inciteful, typically ridiculous media coverage wore on (and on) this month, racial flames quickly wound up on the back burner, as video of Michael Brown robbing a convenience store surfaced ... the gunned down Michael Brown iconically wearing the exact same clothing -- right down to his flip-flops or whatever they were -- as he lay motionless, lifeless, in the street.

Was it "hunting season" to white cops in Ferguson?  Was (Is) Darren Wilson a vicious, predatory racist?  Or a police officer confronted by a large and menacing individual who was, by accounts, "walking down the middle of the street blocking traffic" ... and therefore, the police officer -- doing the job of any police officer, of any color, anywhere -- reached out to the large and menacing individual and said, "Stop doing that.  Stop walking down the middle of the street blocking traffic.  You're going to get hurt, or cause an accident and hurt others.  WHAT ARE YOU DOING?  Get out of the street!"

Now in such a situation, if the large and menacing individual pipes up either literally or figuratively and says, "NO", the situation becomes inherently escalated; tensions, automatically mounted.

If the large and menacing individual then advances toward the police officer, especially if instructed to stand still (or walk the other way and stop being a nuisance) ... Escalated.  If the large and menacing individual is sneering or snarling, or maybe swearing ... defiant in any way ... likewise, escalated.

At a certain point, whether or not the large and menacing individual is literally "armed and dangerous", he effectively becomes so.  If he's throwing punches, BOOM!

Guess what?  Escalated, to Danger from Nuisance:  intrinsically a threat to public safety ... as well as to himself, if there seems to be complete disregard for consequences, including his own welfare.

Michael Brown was caught on video roughing up a store owner; and then he decided to wander in traffic.  WHY?

If I did either of those things, I would expect a visit from police.  Because Michael Brown was not brandishing a weapon, it's somehow OKAY that he strong-armed a store owner, stole a few things and then wandered around, menacing drivers and police officers?  Because it was "his" neighborhood??  Because he wasn't "armed", he therefore couldn't be dangerous, to himself and others ... and such black and white thinking is really okay?

Michael Brown should have just been left alone, in other words, to enjoy his Saturday, and ignored by cops when he ignored and advanced toward them?


Should Michael Brown have been shot six times in the face of perceived threat (danger), given the fact that he himself was not armed?  A single bullet, a warning shot in the air, might have sufficed.

Should Michael Brown have been killed?  And then left to die in the street, uncovered for hours, like so much carrion?  Certainly not.

Were mistakes made by cops in the handling of this?  And those mistakes amplified, magnified, emotionalized, dramatized by a race-baiting media and incendiary public?

Yes and yes.  Yes.

And did Michael Brown happen to be black, and his killer, a small town police officer, white?

Sadly YES.
Photo by Jglo: "Armed, Dangerous"
Armed & Dangerous
So sadly, here we go again ...

Saturday, August 23, 2014

Head, Refrain

On my musical LinkedIn recently, there was a question about jazz.  Specifically, whether or not the recent attention and flurry of words about the genre were helping to keep jazz "marginalized".

I don't think Jazz is marginalized so much, as simply ignored by most. Much of this, unfortunately, has to do with overriding truths in the Justin Moyer Washington Post piece: a lot of jazz music today is perceived as "elevator music" (in the same way Classical is cast off as "stuffy" or "fusty") ... There continues to be an overreliance on the tried and true, but increasingly tired, "American songbook" comprising "standards" ... and along these lines, too much jazz is performed lazily, going through motions without any e-motion: smiling blankly, pausing significantly, "This next song...". Or the predicable 'insert bass solo here' live jazz moment.

Beyond this, there is the ridiculously furious circling of wagons whenever attention IS brought to Jazz. "Kenny G" mutterings, for example, if anyone inside gets too popular ... or admonishments, in no uncertain terms, to 'leave jazz alone!!' if anyone outside comes to play. Witness the Django Gold / "Sonny Rollins" New Yorker debacle (on which, incidentally, I also blew).

Frankly, I think I could've pulled that one off better than Django ... but I get what he was trying to do. Too many refuse to.

As long as Jazz remains disinterested in making an effort or expanding its appeal, it's going to keep being d(ism)issed ... Not "marginalized", because nobody's marginalizing Jazz except insiders - the jazz community itself.

"L'Esprit de Jazz", ©Jeff Glovsky

Monday, August 18, 2014

Robin Williams: Froze in Time

We tend to remember the where and when ...

When John Lennon died, I myself was in the death throes of childhood ... Lying awake, trying to sleep at my appointed bed time of 10:30pm (just upped from 10, to kick off my new teenage maturity!), I overheard Howard Cosell on Monday Night Football saying, "Remember this is just a ... game, no matter who wins or loses" ... which I thought, at the time, was odd for Howard.

And then:  "John Lennon ... in New York City ... shot twice in the back".

... I was having a bed-in when John Lennon died.

A couple of months later, when Ronald Reagan was shot, I remember being asked by an 8th grade classmate, this albino Finnish kid who used to say I "walked with a stick up my ass", if I'd heard the news.  We'd just come out of a dust-up several days prior, complete with punches thrown and headlocks, so I was surprised when he asked me -- passing each other in front of our school en route to classes in different buildings -- if I'd heard, and my opinion.

As he and his clique sauntered past, not really waiting for a response from me, but pleased with the knowledge that they'd told me the news and not vice versa ... I felt strangely appreciative.  First of all, not to be in a headlock that day.  Mainly, though, because he did ask my opinion ... a thing, at the time, I was unused to giving.  I felt proud, in a way, sort of smug ... vaguely validated.  I walked into class with that stick up my ass ... A national tragedy making me smile.

No inappropriate warm, fuzzy feelings, though, greeted the news about Robin Williams.

When my brother sent me an SMS, I was thinking about Robin.  His name had been "trending" all day online, but I hadn't bothered to click and see why ... Still, it made me conscious of the guy again, and I was thinking about bits from Reality... What a Concept when my brother texted.

"Robin williams dead of suicide. :-/ "

Those terse five words (plus the emoji), transmitted electronically, stopped me cold.  Literally froze me in place, staring down at my phone ... waiting for the timed follow-up:  the ;-) or the :-) or the "JK, bitch!"

None of which followed.  My bro wasn't joking.  Robin Williams killed himself.

Being "hip to", as I was, the comedian Robin -- and far less into Mrs. Doubtfire, or any of the treacly, scripted and comparatively muted screen incarnations (even Mork and the Genie paled, I thought, in comparison to Robin Williams live on stage, when he wasn't trying to pander to ratings or box office) -- "knowing" and preferring that younger version, there was no way suicide would've crossed that mind!

Literally frozen ... still disbelieving ...

Keeping things hidden, at bay, so well then ...

Robin Williams photo on Jeff Glovsky (Words By)
Robin Williams 1951 - 1979 (2014)

Losing me, and himself, as our lives / work wore on.

May Robin Williams Rest in Peace. 

* * *

Genie is not "free"
* * *

"If you're that depressed, reach out to someone." - Robin Williams
(as Lance Clayton, World's Greatest Dad)

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

And Jeff Jumps In

A Prose Bopsody
on "Sonny Rollins" in The New Yorker

Jeff Glovsky (Photos By): "L'Esprit de Jazz"

What do those four letters, that word, mean to you?

Say it ... like a smoke-filled horn player.  Like a bassist with a blues and mean streak ... a chord progressionist, stiff-fingered note dancer, porkpie eponymous soaring lover, man!

Spinning Afro-Cuban top ... An ah's flat, e flat, beepin' bop, a ballad ... songs that never stop ...


That word ... means what, to you?

To some -- to most -- "jazz" just means tired.  It's become like classical music, or broccoli:  it's supposed to be good ... but I don't taste anything!

To others, Jazz plays b-ball (sort of).

To forty or so more -- this small but rabid core of devoted jazz music diggers -- it absolutely is the Word ...

Jazz -- the music, The Word -- is sacrosanct.

Django Gold found this out the hard way.  While touring his Onion-esque act in the big city, Django got into a cutting session with still-living legend, Saxxy Colossus ... you know who I mean, or would, if you knew ...

But if you're not so imbued, allow me to hip you to that purty one ... the magnificent one ... the one and ONLY one ...

Mr. ... Sonny Rollins.


Then Django proceeded to light up the page with this solo he said was played by Sonny ... except it wasn't Sonny, it was Django, dig?  And he ("Sonny"/Django) said he hated The Word ... felt he'd wasted his long life working to spread it ... and never knew what suit to wear!

Man, you shoulda heard the audience howl!  Those forty people, right?  "JUDAS!" one yelled - this cat, Howie Doodat ... hands all clenched in fists of rage, demanding support from the 39 others ... He got some.

"As a lifelong fan of jazz, and having worked as a sound engineer on the road and at most of the New York clubs, including the Blue Note (and regularly for the Mingus Big Band) … but also as a writer myself, and all around (I like to think) PHUNNY guy …

I have to say, I get it: the piece IS funny. Non-sequiturs ('I hate music. I wasted my life.') placed in an absurdist context (Sonny Rollins uttering them) … is funny. Absurdity is a foundation of satire, which of course is an element of humor … and humor is comedy.

Lighten up, people!

... (U)ntil ‘Sonny gets blue’ about it, why should we?"

Then I traded with Payton, who got all riled up and made terrible noise.  His bars had "race cards littering the table.

"Not at all what the original 'offending' piece was about."

I was disappointed to hear Payton blowing that way!  Not surprised though - it's out there, and always will be.

Anyway, the set ended for me when this cat, Howie Doodat, kept putting people down, man.  Thanking people for agreeing with him ... Otherwise, "Learn about life," he'd smirk.  "No wonder you're confused," he teased.  "'Django'" (in quotes), he kept chiding Django ... suggesting that can't be the cat's real name!

"I don't believe you," I finally said.  "You're a LIAR!"

... Took my axe, and went home.

Monday, August 4, 2014

Companion Piece (Characters)

Walking around the streets of my old town .. the Upper West Side, where I lived and breathed.

Where Amy's boyfriend broke the bar sign ... Joe G. (and Jeff G. - Jg²!!) shared a "bromance" before there ever was such a thing ... Skinny Jen and her Nicolas Cage-looking fella consoled each other through various episodes ...

Where Rick and Judith became "JewRick" ... where the multi-talented Angry Black Man targeted his future wife (proving there's trueness to "love at first sight") ... Where "Humphrey Bumphrey", "Gus", "Sergeant (Pepper)" and "Ass Feast" (don't ask!) trod the boards ... "Zoo Loser" and her sister, "Scab" (...seriously);

where Wolf and Ernest prowled the streets, the latter with his harelip up, a picture frame around his neck ('cause he was "FRAMED!", see?); or imploring passersby who'd listen, "What's the greatest nation on earth?"

Why, that would be the "Dough-nation!

"Donate to the United Negro Pizza Fund?" Ernest would ask, and I always would.  For one thing, Ernest was pleasant ... He was personable.  Not full of these fake Munchausen-esque self-pity syndromes, sitting planted on the sidewalk in people's way.

Photo(s) by Jglo, "Get on Up", ©Jeff Glovsky

No, Ernest didn't have a new scrawled sign with a different sob story, in a different neighborhood, each night or week.  He didn't dress up for Halloween and make angry demands ... nor did he own a cell phone or iPad and sit there entitledly, chatting or tapping away on the sidewalks while fully expecting someone, at least, to rain into his paper cup ...

Ernest spoke for his place and time, in a way, and his generation:  he was engaged, first off ... He would make eye contact ... made an effort ... He was annoying, a little, but not unpleasant or nasty.

My pal Wolf, on the other hand ...

Though Wolf was also engaged:  in keeping alive, afloat, on the move (always prowling) ... He was never just sitting there, obnoxiously waiting.  Wolf, and I'm pretty sure, friendly Ernest, would have accepted employment had it been offered.  Neither seemed entitled or above it all (despite appearing on, and of, the streets) ... and neither one of them was overtly faking.

Photo(s) by Jglo, “The Poser”, ©Jeff Glovsky

I think of old friends on the Upper West Side, and acquaintances and names I knew ... More clearly envisioning 20+ years ago, than my life here this century, which ended last decade ...

I've moved on.  Though I still think of Amy, Joe G., Skinny Jen ... auld FU in general ... Wolf, Ass Feast (!), the Angry Black Man and Ernest ... and I think still of Zorro, who loved to dream ...

Each night, caught her traipsing her mangy hound here ... the two of them dressed to the nines, fit to kill!

Then, "Zorro" was sixty, if she was a day ... apparently living to find a friend.  I followed her down for ten blocks the first time, the wide and noisy street between us:  me, on the east of Columbus, that is, and she and her mutt traipsing down on the west side ...

And Zorro flicked hair from a flattish sombrero, this dyed blonde, unruly and posthumous mane.  Her little pooch cried out as well ... the two of them begging, imploring attention ...

It was me, though, who tanked on that need as they vibed there!  That mutt, but outrageous, and yapping like mad.

"Sssshh," Zorro pampered and squatted down then ... to cuddle and fondle and soothe her dog friend ... and down there like that, her short skirt rode up high, and her narrow and varicose thighs kissed the midnight.

... As much as it hurts me to realize, admit it, I've outgrown New York.  Or it's left me behind ... or I've simply and finally, indeed, moved on.

Photo(s) by Jglo, "Beyond Rooftops", ©Jeff Glovsky

* * *
The "Zorro" bit, adapted from Central Park (a work in progress) ... Thanks for reading!