3/19

Up 6. Left 7. Read Nate Chinen’s Playing Changes on the train up (will probably see him in TN.) Caught/corrected an error in my midterm before I printed/copied it, also d/l’ed and printed “Kentucky Volunteer.” Wrote to Dave Schramm offering to back him on piano for the 4/15 set. Gave exam. 12:30 train home, mostly zoned out but listened to some Hines. Lunch in GTC, bought a sweater finally. Home at 3, read a bit of W&P but was interrupted by call from an associate of my dad’s. Spend 2 hrs on phone w/ Blue Cross, trying to figure out the application to add Bree to my policy. Inconclusive. Meditated 15 minutes. Packing for tomorrow. Dug out LP of Dave Holland, Conference of the Birds, b/c it came up in Chinen. Left at 8:15, read an underwhelming JAAC article about artistic integrity. Heard Carla Bley trio, w/ Steve Swallow and Andy Sheppard at the Jazz Standard. Two new, long suite-like places called “Life Goes On” and “Beautiful Telephone,” + 3 older ones, closing with the lovely “Lawns.” Her music isn’t easy to describe. Was seated by a woman, maybe early 30s, who turned out to be a composer/pianist named Mara Rosenbloom - says she gives lessons. Started looking at a book-length poem called Xamissa, by South African poet, Henk Rossouw, but didn’t get far in. Lights out midnight.

3/18

Up 7. Meditated 15 min. Took something Bree is returning to UPS Store. Sent files to band. Worked on a “complete” project/to-do list for a while. Left at 11. Therapy. Lunch, finished Deveaux. Looked in an Urban Outfitters for sweaters (unlikely). Bought Bree an Ethernet cable. Sat over coffee for an hr., wrote a couple of pages of “free” notes.

Listened to the rest of Mark Turner s/t on train home. Subtle to a fault (it’s an early record as a leader). Read a tiny UPD chapbook by Sareeta Morgan. Sort of a semi-abstract second-personal-plural young-and-confused-in-the-city poem. Looked for sweaters in outlet stores on 82nd, also to no avail. Bought a new stock file folders. Took care of a tax detail, put in laundry, read 30 p. Brecht (see below), put laundry in drier. Left at 7:15. Met Pete Galub at Le Poisson Rouge, watched opening band, a heavily processed guitar/loops/drum duo called Yvette. Not bad, and a couple of decent tunes in the vein of “difficult” Wire, but they looked exactly the way they were supposed to for how they sounded, esp. in the club’s hi-contrast lighting, and what is the point of being “noisy” if everything’s going to come down to 4-bar periods anyway? Followed by This is Not This Heat: 6-person lineup, with I guess one orig. member in addition to Charles Hayward, ‘cos the other 4 were younger. I liked that one played out clarinet as much as guitar — gave it that non-idiomatic Brit texture. Some pieces “rocked” more than others, would liked to have been more familiar w/ the words; one was a kind of Arabic-dub groove over which bits of the Preamble to the Constitution was sung, presumably to say it would have been nice if they’d meant it. Got tired of standing at the front of the crowd about 1/2 way in, sat in back, ran into Chris Nelson, talked about doing some kind of duo situation, possible for Che Chen’s series at Outpost on 4/18. Read quota of W&P on the way home, listened to the Thermals first album and a little bit of an Earl Hines compilation. Lights out midnight. Seem to be out later than I’d like the nights before I have to teach.

Brecht, from “Letters on recent reading,” 1944 (901)

With pleasure I read
How Horace traces the evolution
Of Saturnian verse from rustic farces
Which did not spare the great families, that is until
The police banned mischievous songs, and
The taunting writers were forced to develop
A more subtle art and to taunt
With more elegant verse forms. That at least
Is how I construe the passage.


[This conceivably bears on the transition from blues to popular-song forms as a basis for jazz - very rough analogy, but a striking passage.]


1st stanza of “On the critical attitude,” c. 1945 (1927)

The critical attitude
Seems to many unfruitful.
That is because in the body politic
They can achieve nothing with their critique.
But what seems in this case an unfruitful attitude
Is simply a weak attitude. A critique with weapons
Can smash the state.

[To which I add: Can weapons without a critique?]

3/17

Up at 6. Went to Caffe Bene at 8, worked on taxes (complete except for a few details) and revised midterm. Wish my printer worked. Came back and read 20+ p. of W&P and 30 or so of Brecht. Finished McMorris — I didn’t love everything, but there are some very strong poems toward the end (inc. the last, fittingly title “The Last City”) which are sufficient payoff for the graphic conceits of the first half. It’s pretty evident that the “Letters to Michael” are in conversation w/ Palmer, and there’s a similar high-modernist cosmopolitanism to some of MM’s writing, refracted through a post-colonial lens that may be relevant to MP as well, though it’s not how I think of him. Spent the afternoon in Flushing eating dumplings w/ Jenny + Brian and Jean + David + Leonard, and Tomeka Reid, whom I’ll also be seeing in Knoxville next week. Nice, but the walking took a lot out of Bree. Read DeVeaux on the train back, bought a replacement belt at the Banana Republic outlet, spent an hr. or two not doing much, went out to E77, encountered a shockingly good arty jazz quartet led by one Aaron Novik, a bass clarinetist/composer who lives nearby and has a few records, inc. one on Tzadik. Apparently he plays about once a month, but I hadn’t encountered him before. The bassist was Lisa Mezzacappa, whose name I’d heard from Dan Clucas, so I said hi. Also chatted w/ Macgregor. Read to p. 400 or so of DeVeaux, did the Sunday Times puzzle - which I hadn’t in years and was surprised I could complete (I don’t think it was an unusually hard one). Home, wrote to Jenny about 4/15 show, put together dropbox folder of mp3s/charts for the show, mainly so Tom Shad can learn the set.

3/16

Up 8, left around 10 — realized that I hadn’t put any of my current reading in my bag! Went to the Think Coffee on 14th in case I’d left my black notebook there, but no luck. Maybe I should take it as a sign (of?) Worked about 3 hrs on form/harmony section. Too much second-guessing, very little progress. Listened to some solo Craig Taborn on the train, home around 4. Spent 2 hrs. on the phone with Verizon and Lenovo trying to fix Bree’s wi-fi, to no avail; we’ll have to mail it in or take it to a Best Buy. So that was a thrilling way to spend the late afternoon/early evening. Called my uncle Joseph and my dad, worked on my taxes, other domestic tasks/organization. Thoroughly mundane day - even fell of the wagon w/ my reading quotas.

I think I’ve come to a decision to take 2-3 weeks off from the book: I’m spinning my wheels/running on fumes/unfocused, and I’m going to be out of town from 3/20-25 and 3/30-4/7 anyway. It’s possible I could find some time in the 2nd trip to CA, but overall, it is probably better to get everything else done (giving + grading a midterm, my taxes and helping my dad with him, States of Country on the 27th, rehearsing the HH show on 4/15, plus home projects and tasks with/for Bree. 

3/15

Up 6, left before 7. Reviewed some proofs for class, read to 350 or so in DeVeaux. Listened (yesterday & today) to the Still/Dawson/Ellington disc, played by the Detroit Symphony Orchestra. Is there an Ellington Orchestra recording of “Harlem”? Usual prep in office, taught, bite, office hrs — a couple students, and a firedrill. Read McMorris while waiting to go back inside. A sequence of prose poems based on Miro’s etchings of Barcelona after a bombing; and what he left out of them. Headed home at 3:30, just listened to a meh podcast, and napped. Home 5:30, read a bit of the card magic books that arrived yesterday. Went to Laura’s w/ Bree and L.’s friend Rachel and daughter Bella (Jeremy is at SXSW) at about 7:30, ordered in and watched “Co-Op,” the Sondheim/Pennebaker/Company parody from the new season of Documentary Now! A labour of love, and I’m more forgiving of the technical imperfections in the lyrics than Bree. The music by my slight acquaintance Eli Bolin is spot-on. Explained my schedule leading up to States of Country to L. Hung out until 11:30, went to bed shortly after.