Jazz, Books, Macs, Food, and Life Outside the Academy
Blogging from Cleveland Park, DC
iJunkman at hotmail dot com
December 23, 2003
posted by Todd at 9:43 PM |
Despite the millions Cameron spent to sink his boat, the most impressive scene was a cabinet full of neatly stacked china plates spilling slowly across the floor as the ship dove into the water. It's impossible, though, to watch the computer generated passengers leaping from the Titanic and not think of the people falling from the Twin Towers on 9/11.
posted by Todd at 9:34 PM |
After dinner, Mohamed, one of my coworker, took me to Cafe Prince in Georgetown to smoke flavored tobacco from a shisha pipe and play chess. The café, on a Georgetown side street, plays arabic music videos on a large screen, although "Oops, I did it again" made the playlist during the evening. Britney is a universal pop star, after all. Sometime after we added a second coal to the shisha, I had one piece left on the chess board and Mohamed defeated me quickly.
posted by Todd at 9:00 PM |
December 20, 2003
posted by Todd at 7:39 PM |
posted by Todd at 10:22 AM |
December 17, 2003
Corporate Christmas cards have been piling up in my apartment from the fund managers hired by the endowment I help manage. Our timber fund sent a card with snow covered trees, which I'm happy to say was not printed on recycled paper. Another fund sent the following warm sentiments: "Our entire organization joins in wishing you a Happy Holiday Season." I'm still waiting for our hedge fund to send a package with a lump of coal and note saying "Bah humbug."
posted by Todd at 8:56 PM |
Alexander, a young tenor who first gained fame when he placed second after Joshua Redman in the 1991 Thelonious Monk Institute's annual competition, opened his first set with a tune that sounded too much like his warm up exercises. Lots of fire and dexterity, but a little too cold. I began to understand why some of my friends can't stand bebop. When Alexander moved on to a tune with a stronger melody, though, he dug in deep and displayed a stronger feel for beautiful melodies than I had anticipated from him. Alexander is a tough player who could probably generate sparks from damp matches, but I often wished he would take a step back and work half as hard. He has a habit of ending songs with a softly blown fade out, and in this moments he showed a delicate grace that he should allow himself to explore for more than just a few final bars.
I would also like to note that Twins Jazz pours a good, stiff drink.
posted by Todd at 8:34 PM |
December 16, 2003
Good: Going to hear Jonathan Safran Foer speak at the Brooklyn Public Library on Saturday.Sarah B. on her blog Que Sera Sera.
posted by Todd at 9:53 PM |
posted by Todd at 9:43 PM |
December 15, 2003
Like everyone around me, I'm suffering horribly. It may be the early stages of the flu, or an illness that is uniquely my own. Either way, blogging will be light so that I can devote all my spare time to sleeping.
posted by Todd at 2:18 PM |
December 13, 2003
When I was younger, I refused to identify with any institution. Whether a school, a church, or a team of football players, I kept them all at a weary distance. Recently, though, I soften my stance and acquired some workout clothes officially licensed by both my alma maters. When I'm feeling cynical, I might say that it's just a way to capitalize on my schools to land a job. I've also realized, though, that one person's efforts normally produces a limited effect in the world. Institutions can amplify and carry that effort forward.
posted by Todd at 7:25 PM |
December 11, 2003
On one of his first visits, he presented his movie Stalin's Funeral. My friend Chris, a projectionist at the local art house, collected the film canisters from the poet's hotel room and was told simply, "Don't fuck up the reels."
Last year, my mother needed a Russian interpreter at her school. She was given the number of a local woman, but was warned the woman's husband was absolutely crazy. The translator, of course, was married to Yevtushenko.
posted by Todd at 10:40 PM |
December 10, 2003
Housekeeping note: New posts have been disappearing, so I won't be posting until Blogger gets the problem fixed. Hopefully everything will be back to normal tomorrow.
Washingtonians repeat like a mantra that there is no metro in Georgetown, but the area's restaurants and bars are only a ten minute walk from the Foggy Bottom station. Friday night, I made that short walk through the thickly falling snow to hear the jazz pianist McCoy Tyner at Blues Alley. The weather kept most people away and M Street, the center of Georgetown, felt like a European village rather than a frat party at an Ivy League school.
I had reserved a seat for ten o'clock, and when I first arrived at Blues Alley I could hear Tyner winding down the earlier set. A woman stood outside the door smoking and a man sat on a pile of newspapers listening to the music in the cold. Instead of staying to listen, I walked up the street to down an oversized beer at Soulon before the show.
McCoy Tyner, who first gained fame as a member of John Coltrane's 1960s seminal quartets, can produce twice as much music as a man half his age. He can thunder away on the piano one moment, and thread together a nimble, delicate run the next. After almost forty years at the center of mainstream jazz, Tyner seems to overflow with the music he has lived. Not content with letting his two hands pursue only one musical idea, he made the trio sound more like a quartet during his Friday night set.
In a solo number, Tyner built up a boogie-woogie tune and continually interspersed the traditional phrases with bebop innovations, making the radically different styles meld seamlessly. An original composition with a slow, driving motion recalled Ellington's "Caravan" but with a more intimate knowledge of African music. Throughout the evening, the Czech-born bassist George Mraz, who with his tweed suite and tie looked more like a diplomat than a jazz musician, handled the low end of the trio with an inventiveness equal to Tyner and displayed an almost classical grace when his solos led him towards the upper range of his instrument.
Morgan Quitno has compiled their annual list of America's safest cities. Most of the safe places are small towns where you probably never have reason to leave your home. On the list of most dangerous locations, where you're afraid to leave your home, big cities dominate.
December 09, 2003
posted by Todd at 10:19 PM |
posted by Todd at 10:15 PM |
December 07, 2003
Maybe towards the end of rehearsals Sharpton began to worry that appearing on Saturday Night Live might hurt his chances of becoming President of the United States.
posted by Todd at 8:47 PM |
December 04, 2003
Where lumps and infelicities occur in fiction, the senstive reader shrinks away a little, as we do when an interesting conversationalist picks his nose.John Gardner in the The Art of Fiction.
posted by Todd at 9:33 PM |
Once the president's motorcade had safely carried Bush around the corner to the White House, the rest of us were allowed to move closer to the display of Christmas cheer. Around the main tree, each state and territory had decorated a smaller tree with ornaments sealed in clear plastic spheres. From what I could tell, Oklahoma had filled it's Christmas globes with wadded up tinfoil.
Last night, I tried to get an early glimpse of the tree. As I walked along the White House fence, a German shepherd with a green glow stick attached to its collar bounded up to me from inside the grounds. A dark suited commando arrived soon after the guard dog. It seemed like a good time to leave the area.
posted by Todd at 9:16 PM |
December 03, 2003
When I first saw Bayless in the television ad, I just assumed that a New York advertising firm had terribly misunderstood their client. Bayless has been taking considerable heat from the culinary community, reports the Washington Post, but I wondered if I had misjudged Bayless's motives. Maybe it wasn't greed that drove him to shill for the fast food chain, but instead a sincere desire to let food snobs everywhere know about a great new sandwich.
The closest Burger King to my house featured a down market Hard Rock Café/Planet Hollywood decor. In the dinning room, posters of Elvis and Pink Floyd lined the sides and two glass displays cases stood among the table. One case featured an empty guitar stand and the other was just empty. The area around the kitchen celebrated Hollywood, with a flier for Jaws next to a plastic shark exploding from the wall. I noticed that I was the only person ordering a baguette sandwich, but I didn't take this as a bad sign. After being chased across the room by an employee wielding a mop, my number was called and I collected my Santa Fe Fire-Grilled Chicken Baguette to dissect in the quiet of my own apartment.
Opening the bag, I was surprised by the diminutive size of the sandwich. Although a respectable six inches long sub, it's about half the size of anything you expect to find in a Burger King bag. First impressions were not good. The bread was gummy and hard to choke down. The chicken, although clearly processed, was no blander than any other boneless, skinless breast. The salsa of bell peppers and onions was the high point. I'm sure the vegetables had been frozen and chemically enhanced before they reached me, but they had the texture and taste of something that had once been growing in the ground. The sauce even had a slight kick of spice. If only Burger King had been more generous with the salsa, then the rest of the baguette would have been easier to swallow.
In the end, I had to ask the ultimate question for any fast food dish--if I had to eat this at an airport, would I feel sick on the plane. I'd probably feel fine flying after a Santa Fe Fire-Grilled Chicken Baguette, but with a sandwich this bland I'd rather order the Whopper and suffer the consequences.
posted by Todd at 11:43 PM |
December 02, 2003
posted by Todd at 11:09 PM |
posted by Todd at 11:01 PM |
Even with the delay, I was just happy not to be taking the bus. On the train, you can drink a beer and read a book. It was a good way to end a long weekend of doing nothing.
posted by Todd at 12:04 AM |
December 01, 2003
posted by Todd at 10:40 PM |
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