Saturday, February 2, 2019

Where or When

Listening to Clifford Brown's "Where or When", part of the "A Jazz Romance - A Night in With Verve" collection. Perfect for a lazy Saturday afternoon, a time when historically I might have been slumped in my green leather chair staring at a blazing Vermont Casting, frozen vodka martini at my side, a volume of Jane Austen in hand, howling winter winds outside. Things change. Can't say I regret the alteration but the happy memories linger. A Saturday evening is still a time for relaxation and melancholy reflection.

"Reaching deep into its cavernous vaults, Verve has extracted a rich bountiful of moody and sentimental jazz, perfect for those long, expectant evenings or those equally long, rain-filled days. Nicely packaged with nostalgic, sepia-toned photographs on both the box and each individual CD, contains nearly 60 songs guaranteed to set a distinctly low- keyed mood, equal parts sultry and sad. The vast majority of the material is from bygone days of the '40s and '50s, with the more recent entries retaining that flavor. The four discs are entitled In Dreams,  Ever,  Believing,  Always. They're rather interchangeable, sharing many of the same artists and each having as many vocals as instrumentals, yet each does have some distinction from the others. In Dreams features the great saxophones of Johnny Hodges on "The Last Time I Saw Paris" and Ben Webster on "In the Wee Small Hours of the Morning." Ever has marvelous versions of "My Man" by Sarah Vaughn and "The Shadow of Your Smile" by Dexter Gordon. Believing contains a contemporaneous version of "Some Other Time" by guitarist Mark Whitfield and Diana Krall, along with an outstanding example of Rahsaan Roland Kirk's versatility on "Alfie." Always, perhaps the dreamiest of the lot, has Chet Baker on "Alone Together," Illinois Jacquet on "Star Dust," and Stan Getz doing "Thanks for the Memories." Concentrating exclusively on the romantic side of jazz, this compilation contains an abundance of subtle, emotional music offering great listening in addition to setting the all-important mood."

Wally Shoup

At the nail salon this morning one of the more vocal English-speaking Vietnamese servers (a young man - one of several among the mostly female staff) told us that on Longboat Key Saturdays are not the busiest days, instead Mondays, Tuesdays and Wednesdays are.  We had arrived at nine o'clock sharp for our customary two-week visit for manicures and pedicures.  We were seated immediately and the ceremony of soaking, spritzing, cutting, filing and massaging began with the usual attention. We submitted to the soporific effect of the massage chairs. There wasn't a lot of idle conversation - other than to enquire purposively about my manicurist's grandchild Hay Lee who is indisputably the apple of her eye.

The breakfast restaurant afterwards was packed as we had anticipated. The increased activity of "the season" is now evident. Initially we took a small two-person table against the wall but a woman seated at a larger four-person table was preparing to leave with her husband and she kindly alerted us so we took that table instead.  We needed the larger table because our orders are so extensive that the servers needed the room to deliver the plates - porridge, fruit bowls, bacon, sausage, eggs, cheese, toast and coffee. The staff is a mixture of Mexican and Caucasians all of whom are excellent at their work, diligent, buoyant and cooperative. There are no African Americans on the staff, at least among the servers. Like so many places we've visited in the United States, the absence of blacks  here is obvious - both locals and visitors.

I have not seen one African American in or nearby our condominium. It makes one wonder what all the fuss is about.  Surely the fiction that skin-colour has any bearing whatsoever upon capacity has long ago disappeared. Similarly the survival of the imbalance between the whites and the blacks leads one to conclude that the differences are far more entrenched than outsiders can imagine.  It is as deep and as preposterous as collegiate rivalry, strictly in-bred animosity. The coincidental allure of the music I listened to this afternoon only heightens the silliness and augments the embarrassment.

Meanwhile I slipped into the "comfortable pew" that is the strength and weakness of Longboat Key.  Talking later by the pool with George we agreed that as charming as Siesta Key may be, the reserve of Longboat Key is our preference (likely just because we're both old fogeys). It is easy to lose oneself in the sterility of Longboat Key, its manicured loveliness and pristine views - and to forget or ignore the unwritten messages simmering beneath the surface. Even the landscape staff appear to have been trained to respond obsequiously whenever crossing paths with a resident, a dangerous disguise when recollecting the fate of the House of Romanov.

My jaunt to Bayfront Park ended there as usual with a brief repose. I attempted to subdue my internal clamour for peace and reconciliation but nothing offered itself to me. The achievement of such philosophic pinnacles is forever tainted by the natural and recurring turbulence of life, those haunting uncertainties, the threats to health, the clawing tiny annoyances and recollections which come and go like invading pests.

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