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Sunday, April 19, 2015

Jazz guitar gentleman

People who know jazz know guitar legend Pat Martino. I didn't hear of him till last week, when I was asked to share info about his weekend gig at Nighttown. Something struck me just in reading about him, however: I wanted to hear him play.

We lucked into front-and-center seats at his Saturday show, and I really did have the sense of being in the presence of someone extraordinary. It wasn't just the stylin' outfit (crisp jeans, necktie, hip shoes). It was watching the dazzling combination of intense concentration and muscle memory at work as he played. People who are passionately driven in the arts -- not to fame, but to mastering their medium -- exude special charisma.

Plus, he was with an ace drummer and B3 player, and they were doing very tuneful, sophisticated stuff.

All of this would be interesting enough on its own, but then you learn about Pat's 1980 brain surgery, from which he awoke with his memory shot through with holes. You can read about it here.

Monday, April 06, 2015

Bird in Captivity

The bathroom scale I grew up with was covered in gold carpet. Your tootsies stayed warm while your blood ran cold. The numerals were marked off every five pounds with little slash marks in between. If you stepped on the scale three times, you could get three different readings. And there were many times, in my fat-obsessed teenage years, that I stepped on the scale three times in succession. 

Had you asked me at 18 whether I’d still be a daily scale-checker at fiftysomething, I would’ve said, “God, I hope not.” But here I am – stepping on dutifully each morning, virtually every day.  This modern scale isn’t so modern as to report on my body mass index, thank heaven, though such models are available. No, it just reports on my character in half-pound increments. 
 But hey – if you step on it three times in succession, you’re likely to get the same three results. That’s progress, right?

I mentioned this daily scale-check to one of my daughters today, and she was stunned. I’ve been known to pack the scale in my suitcase when we go on vacation, but I suspect she thought I was just trying to keep myself honest during one of my flirtations with Weight Watchers.  If only.

Deep into this this lifelong dance with food and fat, I still pay homage to the numbers as a hedge against morbid obesity – or so goes the theory. I’m afraid to look away for too long; I might lose touch with the reality and float out to sea on a raft of bagels and peanut butter.
But it doesn’t really work anymore. Instead, I check in daily and readjust my idea of “normal” as the numbers climb.
This is something they don’t tell you about aging – that the coping mechanisms of youth can weaken along with muscle tone. The dumb workarounds, the crazy habits you depended on for years to keep you passing for sane (or thin), can go the way of the sagging jawline. I am forced to admit, though not for the first time, that “healthy” is less about keeping dates with the scale and more about keeping reasonable promises to myself.

Carry on.