Perry Street, Greenwich Village, 1958.
My friend set up this picture, just for a laugh. I tell my kids, whatever you do as an artist won’t work unless it’s fun.
Ray gets it but Ruby goes back and forth. When she starts a poem she’s high and happy, letting the air out of a balloon and watching it blow all around. Then she starts polishing, sitting down with that notebook and wiggling the words around. Little frown line puckers up between her eyebrows and you can’t talk to her. She’s like her mom that way, they get obsessed and then they’re gone.
You’re one to talk, she says. You sit down with Les and Bo to play and you play for hours. But I love it, I tell her. I can close my eyes and not worry about the sound because I know it’s going to come out. When Ray sits in with us it’s even better—and because he’s my son, maybe? I feel like I almost know what’s coming out of that saxophone before he plays.
When you live here in the Village you get only one kind of story. I wish I could take Ruby on the road so she could see what Kerouac saw, only she’d see her own road, maybe better. We play in a lot of dives—me and the other guys, Les hooked me up with them a few years ago. We get a few supper clubs, now and again a place where people dig the jazz. Sometimes we get a party, which is good for the money even though all they want is the same old songs.
|Couple of the guys|
We’ve been lucky the last few times, having a car instead of busing it. My favorite bar is in Boston—it’s an Irish bar close to the river. They give you eggs on Sunday morning, made fresh by the owner’s wife, Marie. Blond curly ringlets and blood-red nails, I keep thinking she must have looked like Nell when she was younger.
Nell isn’t as blond but the ringlets are there. She likes wrapping them around my fingers after a hair-wash. Those curls, AAAAGH. Get me every time.
Ruby says your hands have to be big when you’re a bass player. I don’t know if I’d say that but yeah, I have big hands. Big fingers can help, but you can do anything if you practice. Then again, you won’t practice if you’re not having fun. The music is in you already, right? You just have to relax and let it out. Let yourself fly with it. Like juggling.
Ruby wants me to tell you about that too. But it won’t be fun if I just sit and explain it to you. You want to learn about juggling, come and find me in the subway sometime or over at the park. I’d start by at least throwing a ball between two hands. Try and throw it high enough so it’s at the same level as your eyes. Try and stop tracking the ball with your eyes – you want to catch it without doing that.
Once you start doing that you’ll probably notice one hand is better than the other at catching it. That’s what they call your dominant hand. Your other hand is the “second”—at least that’s what I call it. But you can call it anything you want, even name it.
--Gary Tabeata, aka Gary Daddy-o
Three men in bar by Scanned photo from a collection of loose pictures of Dorothea Grace Boehner.
Posted by Paul W