Tuesday, June 27, 2017


- my Jazz Loft, pt. 15, 1967 -
Another time, at 300 Central Park West, I
got mixed up  -  nothing really to do with
the jazz stuff, nor delivering anything  -
with what passed for the combined ethos
of 1967 breakaway family politics; which
was really weird to me. Kids and parents
were all having trouble, I suppose. Central
Park West has a stone wall the entire length,
original stuff, from Olmstead and Vaux's
original plans and all, and with that wall
come benches. It's all still there  -  people
walk along, or promenade, it's a really
expensive street, more massive and gleaming
pre-war apartments and condos. Expensive
people, rock stars, theater and entertainment
people, the whole gamut now. I was sitting there
once, just idling away an afternoon, and
some girl comes over to me. She was maybe
15 or 16, to my 18, I'd guess, and she was all
starry eyed about me, filed with  wonderment
of certain shades I couldn't quite fathom.
It was an odd moment  -  quite human and 
all above board. To be frank, it's the sort
of stuff that still occasionally happens to 
me, though, of course, no longer in the
guise of youth. To put it succinctly  -  she
sat down, enamored, and said she'd been
watching me, lived across the street (in
that very expensive building), a few floors
up etc. From the little front windows there
she could see the street below. Her father,
still upstairs, didn't know she'd slipped out,
she had had a huge family argument, they
thought she was in her room, she hated them 
now and all they represented, wanted 
freedom and just to get out, run off, 
breakaway. When she saw me, it 
represented, in the seeing, all of this 
to her, escape, I guess. She just had to 
come down and tell me that, talk with me, 
etc. She stayed a few minutes, talked a 
little, and she said she had to get back 
before her father realized anything and 
she'd just wanted to be sure I knew 
what she meant. Then walking a few 
steps off, she stopped, and said 'don't 
go yet, I'll be right back.' Then she left.
I waited, deciding it was part of our bargain
and that I didn't wish to be just another
crumb in her life who broke deals and
dishonored pacts. I was a bit stunned, and
still wondering what had just happened. 
Maybe 15 minutes went by, and she showed 
up again, with a shoe-box sized parcel which
she handed to me : gave me the biggest smile 
in the world, said 'Here! for you, while 
you're out,' and she went away.
Knowing she'd maybe still be watching me, 
and too self conscious about everything, I 
got up and walked down the hill into the 
park, to another section entirely (it's a
huge park). Sitting down again, I looked in
and realized she must have raided the kitchen
and refrigerator or whatever  -  there was assorted 
food in the box to keep me steady for five days,
with or without refrigeration. Cold cuts, bread
(to eat first, while cold and fresh), crackers,
a cup of peanut butter, two apples, cherries,
triangles of cheese. It was like a food goldmine
to me. I type this now, and it's probably near 
to 50 years to the day and I could still almost
cry over that moment. I wish I had gotten 
information, learned more. I hope she's still
alive somewhere, in peace and happiness, and
in fact I hope she's living the promised life
that all her parents' money and position had
in store for her. I wish I knew her now. I
really do. It was an exceptional moment all
around  -  without however me having a
chance to tell her, at the same time, what a 
useless particle I was  -  certainly not the 
caliber for mentoring her or acting as an
example of the free and the unfettered she'd
transferred upon me in her vitality and vision.
Man, sometime life is just all about Love.
That's the ''romantic' aspect of living  -  the
starry eyed and the faraway. We weave the
fantasy we wish to live, and maybe, if we're
lucky, for a moment, a day, a year, whatever,
we get to live it. The jazz guys, there was no
romance there at all. They had hard-knocks
and rubble. Maybe the incoming flux of
hippie-culture was the romance and the new
fantasy-level of things to be, but these guys 
would never recognize that. Their times and
their music and ways were just dark, purple and
blue tones, brown moods of music, drifting and
toiling over and back upon itself. Sometimes 
there's nothing sadder than the sound of a 
horn, walking blindly, dipping in and out of 
its own solo. Looking,  maybe, for something, 
and not always finding it. Or, if they do find
it, it's the wrong damn thing.
I was easy, and I wound up liking a lot of
things. If I didn't, and if I was the fussy and the
particular type, I'd not have been doing all this.
I'd have been trudging instead to one of those
big-ass universities, learning all the nothings 
needed to claim it added up to 'something.'
This was better than all that could have ever 
been, and I was leagues ahead. I did a lot of
thinking being around these guys, and one thing
I always hated, I mean to death, was the music
of Charlie Parker. The stories about him were
told over and over; he was a God of sorts already
to these guys, maybe ten years after his death. I
never knew why, and just couldn't stand hearing 
his stuff. He was like a speed-freak sentimentalist, 
to me. All that music, 'Cherokee,' and the others,
it all amounted to old, schlocky sentimental-tune
stuff, I figured, done up in his crazy man, 
choppy-speed style that really just made no sense.
He seemed to mess up every tune he touched.
That was 'Jazz' at one of its final dead-ends. Yet,
lots of guys followed that, and it all led just 
to further dead-ends. Showy. Flourishy. Dark.
Charley Parker was an addict, and that wound 
up ruining everything. Heart attack, liver,
chirrosis, everything. By the end of his life, he was
wrecked. Charlie Parker died on Fifth Avenue, in the
east 70's, in the apartment of someone name 
Pannonica de Koenigswarter, a Baroness of some
sort, who'd taken him in and had acted as his patron.
995 Fifth Avenue, they call it now; back then it
was the Stanhope Hotel, where she kept a suite.
He died, in front of the TV, mid-laughter, at some
shtick on the Dorsey Brothers TV show he'd been
watching. Boom. Just like that, keeled over. 
March 12, 1955. A real driving shame. This 
was the kind of stuff that stayed in my brain.

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