To the Point

There comes a time in every epoch when pragmatism simply evolves into extreme acquiescence and surrender to the forces of apathy and do-nothingness, a guarantor of the status quo in all of its easy, democratic criminality--its fortress of greed. You could line up all the pols in the U.S. in a straight row and examine them head to toe and not find a single man or woman capable of admitting, never mind ending, the corruption of their vocation--Buddy Dooley

Friday, January 31, 2014

RP Thomas

Bus Cockpit, Williams, CA, 2014


Thursday, January 30, 2014

More Malle


Another Day

Feeling crazy, half-sick, reading a proof, unsure at times about language.

Another day at the sweatshop.

May it persist until I die.


Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Black Moon (1975)


Proof Arrival

My proof copy of Santa's A Journey into Jazz arrived this morning. I've already found a couple of small items that need to be corrected, and I'll likely find a few more, which is why we call it a proof.

It won't be long now.


Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Generation Gap


His Land, Our Land

Pete Seeger lived a long time, scored points as an activist, challenged the high mucky-mucks whenever he had the opportunity--and the opportunities never diminish--and generally lived what could be described as an exemplary life.

I'm happy that after considerable early success and his inevitable fall-off, after rock became the dominant musical idiom in mass culture, that he was able to rebound, and the influence he earned as a songster was at last recognized by the multitudes, not to mention the rockers who paid homage to his works over the years.

The most famous, of course, being "Turn, Turn, Turn," as interpreted by Roger McQuinn and the Byrds.

I tried to see him live at Southern Oregon College (now Southern Oregon State) my freshman year, 1970, but alas the show sold out at the door and I was left among the stragglers offered an opportunity to watch the concert via closed-circuit television from a nearby building on campus.

The broadcast was in black and white and grainy in the manner of the era, and I recall that I did not care much for the show, which sort of sealed the deal for me. I didn't like Pete's voice.

It lacked a certain expressiveness that I favor in singers--call it a performance dynamism or something. But that was of course missing the entire point.  Pete didn't need to knock you out with his voice, and in all honesty he probably recognized his own limitations as much as anyone.

Here in fact is a not unimportant realization about Seeger.  He inspired millions to pick up guitars and banjos and attempt to sing a version of the truth.

Rest in peace, Pete.  You did good.


Monday, January 27, 2014

Deemer's Latest

I recommend this from Charles Deemer.  Deemer is an RBP guy, but not with this book, unfortunately. As with the many others that he published well before this press existed, it enhances his thick archive at the U of O.

The book gathers its name from this essay.  Read it, then buy the book today.

Of all the writers I know personally (I don't know but a handful, thank the gods), he's by far the most prolific.


Sunday, January 26, 2014

Saturday, January 25, 2014


I've always enjoyed the heck out of this.  Carl Anderson was brilliant.  Later, he revived the role of Judas many times around the world, right up to the time of his unfortunate early demise from leukemia, age 59.

Not sure if the revivals were a good thing to do, but they happened. A Judas pushing 60 is a stretch, I think.

It's interesting that Anderson only got the original role after Ben Vereen fell ill and had to quit.  Vereen was the big star at the time, but I never cared for him.  Anderson could sing circles around him and was the understudy until fate prevailed.

I don't know a lot about musicals, but I know enough to tell you there are many of them that I do not care for.  Such is my opinion of pop culture in general, but this has to be one of the best of the breed.

Quite controversial at the time of its stage premiere, I think it has settled nicely into a niche reserved for classic Americana, a great work of art--though its director, Norman Jewison, now 87, is in fact Canadian.

Steeped in the style and myths of the sixties, it has a timeless feel, like the story itself.  I think a contemporary retelling would be best located in a corporate boardroom and the environs of Wall Street.

Maybe you've watched it recently. If not, have another go with it. Just superb.


Friday, January 24, 2014

First Strike at Marco, Inc.

In a clear case of corporate malfeasance, Marco Inc. of St. Cloud, MN  has fucked over my daughter and her family, all the while espousing "family values" and the importance of teamwork.

Like many a cold-blooded corporate entity, the organization is a two-faced bitch.

RBP calls for a worldwide boycott of their products.  I will not rest until I've turned their damage back on their sorry asses.


Polemic in the Morning

Nightscape in Empire

Sometimes it
feels as if we are
making a last stand,
spread around the
globe like soulless
parasites attached
to the defenseless,
suicidal and unborn
in descending darkness.

We have made
too many enemies
to fall back now,
adorned with lies;
our goodwill blackened
out by a painter
adding a night sky
to a canvass depicting
the relentless fall 
of good sense and
the rise of enmity. 

The hysteria has
boiled up in our blood,
a green stream
trickling through the
the body politic;
our chemotherapy is
comprised of bullets
and drone strikes.

Our heart is weak,
run through with toxic
deployments on
every continent,
in every land; we have
become killers seeking
something, anything
to murder for money.

Our old-fashioned
utopian dreamers who left
the mainstream years ago
grow sicker and begin to
heave, lose their hair,
groan and imagine an
end that shouldn't have
carried this weight,
this maddening pain.

We made too many
enemies and now we
must suffer like a
drinker who didn't
quit until it was too late,
like a driver who didn't
slow down at the end
of the road and crashed
through somebody's
gate and flower beds,
through a modest house,
before turning upside
down in a ditch,
tires spinning,
gas fumes spilling;
three or more dead, another
night in another country.


Thursday, January 23, 2014


I shortened the mission statement at Round Bend Press Books.

Realizing the brilliance of my own rhetoric might dissuade honest bibliophiles, I took the blade to the thing, cut it until it bled.

Here's the sorry fact.  All salesmanship is seeded from bullshit. Commercial writing--whether it be a novel filled with stale crap or an advertisement produced by a great ad man--is useless.

It hurts having to destroy your own masterpieces--ask any dead writer.


Wednesday, January 22, 2014

New Site: Round Bend Press Books

You may notice, I've created a new look here.  Don't panic.  Not much is changing, except I'm trying to drive the book-buying ideologues to our new site, Round Bend Press Books, which is where it is happening right now.

In an effort to not further embarrass the wonderful artists associated with Round Bend Press, I've moved all of their stuff to the new site, which will stand alone for serious types to browse and make earnest decisions about what they want to read for the rest of their lives.

I know you book lovers are gonna eat it up, too.

Yet to add author bios, but this is real close to the finish line.  Check it out.

The good guys have won.  Please take them seriously.

On the other hand, I'm just a blogger from hell and not worth your time.  So get out of here.  Go to the new hot spot!


Photo of the Day

My daughter in Minnesota is quite an artist, has been from the time she could hold a crayon, full of magical ideas, a dead-eye, which every good painter and photographer is.

She snagged this one the other day, explaining the moment like this: 

Jon told me to turn around real quick and this is what I saw. For some reason they remind me of the twin girls that appear in the hallway in the movie The Shining.

That's funny, but I'm just as taken with the impressive array of kitchen accouterments, which enhance the composition.

A chef could make a feast there, which I'm sure she does when the mood strikes her.


Sunday, January 19, 2014

The Future

A friend of RBP says this thing might have grant potential. That's two of us who like it...


Looking into this, will report any subsequent earthquakes.


Saturday, January 18, 2014

Santa Cover w/Sun Ra

Scheduled for an early February, 2014 release, Lee Santa's book shares a selection of photographs of an array of famous jazz musicians shot between 1967-2013, in Europe, NYC, California and in the Pacific Northwest.  It documents Mr. Santa's early interest in jazz and photography and their convergence in 1967 Germany, where the photographer was stationed while in the U.S. Army. Lee purchased his first SLR 35 mm camera prior to photographing Dexter Gordon in Copenhagen, Denmark. From there, he followed his interest in photography through schooling in California and into the clubs of NYC, including the Village Gate, the Red Garter (later the Bottom Line) Slug's Saloon, Studio We, and elsewhere.  A first-rate history as well as a collection of photos and jazz anecdotes, this book is a must read and see for jazz aficionados everywhere.  (Book cover:  Sun Ra, the Bottom Line, NYC, 1976).


Friday, January 17, 2014

Blazers Win in San Antonio

Sixty-win season for the Trail Blazers this year?

They're halfway there at 30-9.

The NBA playoffs are fun around these parts when the Blazers are in it. I could use a little excitement.

Nothing quite like watching freakishly tall millionaires running up and down the hardwood with something to play for other than the money.

Could happen.

The next three games on the road will be telling.




Interview w/Jim Morrison

At the request of Charles Lucas, this 1970 CBC interview with a slow-speaking, yet thoughtful Jim Morrison.

Lucas helped me celebrate number 63 yesterday, which was damn good fun.

Like him or hate him, Morrison had an impact.

Morrison would be 70 had he survived this--whatever it is.


Thursday, January 16, 2014

Spiritual Unity

As I've plugged away on Lee Santa's book these past weeks I've listened to a lot of jazz by the musicians Lee photographed in Europe, New York and California in the '60s and '70s.  Some of his earliest jazz photos, which he took while on leave when stationed with the US Army at Baumholder, Germany in 1966, were of Dexter Gordon in Copenhagen, Denmark.

I've been a big fan of Dexter Gordon's recordings for many years, and while Lee's photos from that Denmark date are not the most accomplished the reader will find in his soon-to-be published book, A Journey into Jazz:  Anecdotes, Notes and Photos of a Jazz Fan, they are historically significant.

They, like all the photos in the book, are an important addition to the history of jazz in the US, but they are of course even more important to Lee personally, as they signal the embarkation of an artistic life centered on his two great passions--photography and jazz.

They are important to me as well, because Lee was one of my earliest friends in Portland when we both arrived here from different places in 1977.  Our minds met on the subject of jazz that year, along with basketball and magic mushrooms.

I have to say I think this book will be special.  I've enjoyed editing and designing it and I think it's something I'll always be proud to be associated with--another addition to the list of books here at RBP that causes me to realize why I do the thing I do.

Lee tells the story of meeting Albert and Don Ayler in the lobby of Carnegie Hall on a summer evening in 1968 before the the curtain rose on a show featuring Alice Coltrane and Pharoah Sanders, which Lee was attending, and it is one of the book's many highlights.

The Aylers were in Carnegie Hall that night passing out flyers advertising their upcoming shows--which says a lot about the status of jazz as an art form in the US even in one of its best bygone eras, when one of the world's best saxophonists--equal to Sanders at least, who was playing at Carnegie that night--and his trumpeter brother were having to do their own advance work.

I can tell you that I wasn't real familiar with Ayler's music until I began to work on this project, though I knew he had some influence on Ornette Coleman and Sanders and even gave Coleman private lessons for a time.

I hadn't listened to Spiritual Unity for some reason, which is somewhat embarrassing for an avowed fan of saxophonists to say--especially one who takes a little pride in knowing Gordon, Coleman and Sanders, not to mention Trane.

It's even more remarkable given the heightened status of this 1964 recording among knowledgeable jazz fans internationally.

Albert Ayler died, an apparent suicide, in 1970 at age 34.  Like Spalding Gray many years later, he drowned in the East River.


Best Gag

22 million views and counting.  Check out the way the dog reacts near the end of the video.  It's 6:12 in the morning and this has already made my day.


Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Nader Nails Another

Houston, we have a problem.

This is one reason why Obamacare is suffering, and will likely continue to suffer even if its overly complex enrollment details get worked out.

Nothing was accomplished to tamp down the ridiculous cost of healthcare.

The insurance industry walked out of the White House with its special relationship to care providers intact.

Obama tried, but his hands were tied behind his back by the insurance lobby, the practitioners, and a hospital culture geared toward obscene profits.

Low-income folk were helped by the advancement of Obamacare; everybody else can grouse about government all they want, but the real problems lie with the mainstream's unwillingness to confront the why and how of healthcare inflation.

And, believe me, that ain't the fault of po folk.

Nader scores another hit, bless his pea-pickin' heart.


Good Stuff

Funny, funny parody.


Tuesday, January 14, 2014

The Grind

Ah, making changes in a book w/photos is a real grind, a formatting nightmare.

If you've designed, formatted and published your own book or the book of a friend, you know this.

That's one of the reasons I'm always happy to publish the work of a writer who has all the details worked out in advance and brings me a polished pdf as well as a well-written book.

Speaking of well-written books, old CD is ailing with what sounds like a particularly vicious case of the flu. Somebody send that guy a bouquet of flowers or something.

Anyway, I think I may have this latest project just about sewn up.

We shall see.


Monday, January 13, 2014

The Fight for Crumbs

Whose teat?

For the life of me I don't understand why people put up with this, except that there isn't much we can do given the deep corruption of  the political class and its affiliation with corporate malfeasance.

At a fundamental level, these breaks serve to enhance opulence for the few at the expense of the many--a nostalgic reminder of history.

The argument that corporate welfare is necessary to stave off the collapse of capitalism is a canard, as is the notion that money "invested" in corporate tax breaks magically reappears in the form of an expanded workforce capable of bearing the brunt of the costs of creating and maintaining a fully operable infrastructure.

The opposite is true.  The fat cats take the money and run.  Crumbs are left for the rest of us to quibble over.

Where are the good jobs promised in return for these gifts?

Whose math is this that has made everyone but the actual offenders culpable for massive debt?  Their own, of course.

Here's what should happen: the greedy should be forced to live with less.  Their entitlements need to stop now.

We need a new plan.


Sunday, January 12, 2014

The Oregon Way

(Oregon's bum of the week)

Oregon's basketball team has lost three in a row.  The Ducks are now 1-3 in the Pac-12 and 13-3 overall.

Clearly it is time to fire the coach, who only last week was a genius.

He's lost it.  The team has lost it.

I demand change!  I demand it now!


Typical Fan

I'll bet you the farm this guy is an Oregon fan, too.


Pharoah in London

Persisting with Santa-inspired motifs here, in celebration of his upcoming jazz memoir w/photos, this is from 2011 in London.  It unfortunately cuts off at an inconvenient time, but you can enjoy it until then.


NFL Blues

(Luck throws three picks and decides to pick his nose)

I'm not exactly "into" the NFL playoffs right now.

Maybe it's because of my grueling work schedule (ha!) and preoccupation with the Santa project, or maybe I just don't like professional football players.

Maybe that will all change today, if Charles "Chuckie" Lucas makes an appearance.  It is fun watching football with Lucas, one, because he has the great football handle Chuckie, and two, because no one else I know is as adept as Lucas at ridiculing, taunting, and chastising the players for their flaws, imagined or real, on and off the old gridiron.


Dont' Wait

Charles Deemer calls The Pardon the play that set the tone for his mature work, i.e, when he found his truest theatrical voice.

Get it now for Kindle, or wait for the paperback to appear soon.

I think this play ought to be revived because its themes are as relevant today as they were when Deemer wrote it. The wars have changed, that is all.

Would somebody out there please do it?


Publisher's Note

Rashied Ali, The Village Gate, 1970, by Lee Santa

Here's a draft of the short Publisher's Note that will appear in Lee Santa's Journey into Jazz:  Anecdotes, Notes and Photos of a Jazz Fan.

I met Lee Santa in 1977 at the Breadline CafĂ© in Northwest Portland, a hangout for a "gang" of artists and writers who met there most afternoons to drink coffee or wine or beer and shoot the shit about whatever crossed our minds at the time.  Lee always had his camera hanging around his neck and often put it to good use, capturing the scene for posterity, and I soon learned he had another passion as well—avant-garde jazz.  In fact, I think the first two words I heard come out of his mouth were “Sun Ra.”  Or they might have been “John Coltrane.”  Or perhaps they were “Pharoah Sanders.”

You get the idea.  Lee was a jazz nut of the highest degree, which was fine with me because like the photographer I had passed through my rock ‘n’ roll stage.  Lee was an advanced student of jazz by the time I finally began to listen hard to avant-garde music in the early ‘70s.  He had joined the U.S. Army in 1965, the same year I started high school, so I guess that makes him about four or five years older than me, which in the fast-moving American culture of the ‘60s could have been a lifetime.  By 1967, Lee was in Paris taking in the sights and sounds, seeing the ex-pats playing in the clubs, and beginning his informal study of photography.  Once out of the service he returned to his home town of Sacramento and studied photography full-bloom.  The rest, as they say, is a photo history—this one.

Hearing him talk long ago, I knew I’d met a simpatico character who might teach me something about jazz. And, as it happened, I went to The Earth Tavern the night Sun Ra played there in 1979.  I don’t think Lee remembers that I was there, probably because he was too busy shooting great photos. Thanks, Lee, for turning me on to Sun Ra, and for your 2011 cover shot for RBP’s Cold Eye anthology as well.

I also want to offer special thanks to K.C. Bacon, who helped finance part of this project’s development.

Terry Simons


Saturday, January 11, 2014

Stupid Rich Fan

A couple of weeks ago when I was feeling low about the state of the typical Oregon football fan and college football in general I argued that many of Oregon's fans are complete morons.

Nothing new there, I guess, but I was having a bad day.

Today, this comment appeared at one of the Oregon fan sites regarding the rumor that long-time Oregon assistant Don Pellum, who played football at Oregon and is responsible for recruiting some of the best linebackers Oregon has ever had, will be promoted to Nick Aliotti's old job as Defensive Coordinator:

"I'm sorry but when we are told 'Oregon will spare no expense in making the right hire' and then we don't even promote the best coach on our own staff I can bitch all I a want, especially when I contribute money to the athletic department."

Rich, stupid Oregon "fan" found.  Case closed.

A rare fan with the balls to tell the above idiot off:

" sound like that ridiculous Texas booster. Get over yourself."

Here's the board with the rest of the rabble going nuts about this.



Hat on a Chair

Those things that
did not occur
to me have  come
to rest nearby,
like a hat placed
precariously on a chair
by an unwanted visitor,
a former friend or lover
whose recently trimmed hair
fills the room with silent
and impending despair.

Those things that
did not occur
to me crowd the
room like a thought
carelessly spoken with an
air of unwarranted rigor,
or questions in an old
letter read aloud,
or a stranger's
perfidious lie.

Those things that
did not occur
to me settle in, expecting care,
to be atoned for and
believed and canceled out
with a dull swipe,
yet linger there like
recurrent dreams,
or something senseless
and overripe.

Those things that
did not occur
to me are chained  like
old words made to last;
things I am unable to
relive or greet anew,
a past I can no longer
recognize nor cast out
but must live with,
like an old friend or
lover filled with doubt.




Friday, January 10, 2014

Burton Greene in Amsterdam



I watched the first episode of the third season of Treme last night.  I picked the series up from the library yesterday after a month-long wait.

It left me a little cold, disappointed, and wondering. Have I grown out of this series? David Simon and Anthony Bourdain wrote this particular segment, and perhaps they are a weak link.

Simon created the series, and may not be the best of the writers involved with the program.  Bourdain is obviously there for the foodie scenes, which left a somewhat bad taste in my mouth.  A little too precious, those, just like real-life, pompous foodies.

Not sure if Bourdain is using scathing satire here, either. What if the point is that it is satire, and I'm missing the point?

Wouldn't be the first time.

I'll give the whole thing a chance, of course, but the cast and writers may have spent their load in seasons 1 and 2.

Maybe I've spent my load...

Something is amiss, I'm just not sure what yet.

Why am I even mentioning this?  Anyone interested who has HBO has likely moved on.  I guess I'm just here to tell you I don't have HBO.

Now isn't that interesting?

This places me about 18 months behind reality.

Story of my life.  Anyway, I have something to complain about.  I was worried there for a second.



The IMF has been here. Read all about it.


Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Progress is Good

Went intense on Lee Santa's manuscript the past two days, and I think I have it locked in.

Sent him a PDF to mark up.

I like this book.

I think "A Journey Into Jazz:  Anecdotes, Notes and Photos of a Jazz Fan" has a nice ring to it.  Some of the anecdotes are pretty darn funny, too.

Another nice thing is the book shows Santa's progression as a photographer.  He started shooting his first jazz concerts shortly after taking up photography while in the U.S. Army, 1965-1968.

He was in Copenhagen taking his first photos of Dexter Gordon before he really knew what he was doing. The early work is kind of rough, but necessary to demonstrate his passion.  This book has a nice narrative.

This 2011 photo of his friend, pianist Burton Greene, shows us where Santa is today.


Question of the Day

If the War on Poverty is 50 years old today, how old is the War on Poor People?

Be careful here. It's a trick question, but RBP welcomes your responses.


Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Tower Records

The Original Tower Theater Building and Record Store, Sacramento, by Lee Santa.

This picture will appear in Lee's "A Journey into Jazz" one day soon, likely by Feb. if things go as planned.  If not then, shortly thereafter.

I'm heavily into editing the book and making good progress of late. Actually the book reads fine now; it's a matter of placing the photos. Toyed with several ideas on this before finding a solution, I think. Photos with side bar quotes from the text referencing the various artists therein.

Intense work, and thus I'm riddled with anxiety.  So we shall see...

Lee more or less grew up in Tower Records, listening to some of his favorite jazz artists in the listening booths, where he made sure he was good and stoned on pot so that he might understand the music.


Monday, January 6, 2014

Good Read/Nick Turse

A dark, depressing, yet essential read.

With a thorough scrutiny of archival documents and other primary sources, including many interviews with the U.S. soldiers and Vietnamese citizens who were there, Nick Turse makes a condemning case against the U.S. in the Vietnam War--or as it is referred to in Vietnam, the American War.

We knew it was a mistake, some of us sooner than others, but rarely is the scope of the mistake stated this clearly and with such abundant evidence.

This is a legacy many Americans continue to ignore, one that should continue to be exposed for its treacherous mythologies and our tendency to smooth over its horrific reality.


Sunday, January 5, 2014

One Song

Don't matter where you are, where you've been, or where you're going.

The truth is always in front of you.


I'm Number One

Hallahoo, hallahay, I'm number one on the list today.

That is number one on the hold list at the library for the third season of Treme, the dynamic Dick Simon and Eric Overmyer-produced, fictionalized account of post-Katrina New Orleans from HBO.

Any day now, any day now, I shall be released...from my electronic media funk.

The five-episode fourth season, which wrapped up the serial late last month, awaits.  But the library won't have that for months.

I guess it is always a matter of personal taste, but I consider Treme, and Simon's The Wire before it, to be some of the greatest television ever produced.  Not that I've seen it all, because I haven't.


Right up there with anything Paddy Chayefsky ever put out back in the day, and that is saying something for a hard-to-please joker and huge Chayefsky disciple like me.


Saturday, January 4, 2014


With the help of Charles "Chuckie" Lucas, during football Saturday.


Snowy Fields

Ah, over two feet of snow in New England.

I'm reminded of the days forty years ago when I lived in Maine.  I loved it, despite living in shacks that let the cold wind in like sieves, when ten or more blankets at night weren't enough at times.

The pronounced seasons were wonderful, and a big snowfall always excited me as much as autumn's colors or a summer on the beach.  I liked walking through my neighborhoods in Augusta, Waterville and Portland after a big storm.

I loved the sound of walking on snow.

I recall riding daily to Augusta from Portland with a legislator who drove faster in the stuff than I would have liked, but he was expert, talking and driving without concern, controlling the elements rather than being intimidated by them as happens in places unaccustomed to snow.

Later, I would take my own clunker to the back roads and test my new awareness of how to drive in the stuff.

At night, I enjoyed a nip of a warm drink, something with coffee in it, from the vantage of a large window in a warm pub.

Even the sight of warm exhaust spewing from a tailpipe, mingling with the cold air, gave me pleasure, a ghastly thing to admit in the age of global warming.

Then, as now, I wasn't as much concerned with commerce as I was with the hopefulness of a clean, white snow-pack that did not turn ugly until day three, or not at all if the storms came through in succession and you might drive into the country to have a closeup view of the snowy landscape.

For the most part, life was routine after a storm anyway.

I enjoyed lolling in bed with Lyn or Mary, the two women whose company I most enjoyed in those days, older women who knew how to take care of a shivering younger man from Oregon.

I liked the sound of snowplows gearing up at dawn.

I'd still be there, but I got homesick for this place, this Portland that almost called itself Boston when the founding fathers couldn't make up their minds.

I wonder how life would have unfolded had I stayed there?

I've said it before, I might go back there (but probably not) to live out my days.  Dying in a snowdrift might be better than a lot of the alternatives a man faces.

Coffee, Irish Whiskey, and a walk home becoming the perfect delirium...the solution.


Friday, January 3, 2014


RRK in Italy, 1973.



Lee Santa Photo, 1969

Rahsaan Roland Kirk
Gilded Cage, Sacramento, CA, October 3, 1969 (during the Gold Rush Rock Festival in Amador County, CA)

Rahsaan Roland Kirk, or RRK as he was known to his fans, was blind and one of the most vital and innovative musicians this planet has ever produced.  Over the course of his career, 1955 to his death in 1977, he was known for playing three saxophones simultaneously and often played a flute and a recorder (which he called a nose flute) simultaneously as well.  His ability to do circular breathing, where he could play continuously without pausing to take a breath, at times for several minutes, became legendary. 

In this lightly attended show at the Gilded Cage, Rahsaan was accompanied by pianist Ron Burton, bassist Vernon Martin,  drummer Steve Ellington, and percussionist Joe “Habao” Texador.

Unfortunately RRK had been booked during the conflicting Gold Rush Rock Festival in Amador County, resulting in a  poor turnout.  At the conclusion of the evening's session I went over to talk to the bass player, Vernon Martin.  Almost immediately he asked me if I could get him some herb.  I optimistically said I could and he told me where they were staying (the Sacramento Inn just off Arden Way in North Sacramento) and their room number.

It turned out I was unable to find the weed for Vernon that evening, but my time mingling with the band wasn't over.

The next morning after waking and reflecting on the previous evening and the poor turnout, I got the idea to take Rahsaan to KZAP radio station for an interview.  A free form station, KZAP was located on the top floor of the Elks building in downtown Sacramento.  It was not uncommon for one to hear the station mix a classical piece followed by a psychedelic rock track followed by a jazz or blues tune.

I called the station and presented the idea to the programmer. I then called RRK's room and when someone answered the phone, I asked if I was speaking to “Roland Kirk?"  He corrected me, saying "it is Rahsaan Roland Kirk".  I then presented the KZAP interview idea to him.  He was hesitant at first, saying that it was Saturday and his day off.   After some prodding and cajoling by me, a stranger, he agreed to the interview. I called the station again and set up a time for the interview for that afternoon.

I drove to the Sacramento Inn to pick up Rahsaan and was invited into his room.  Joe Texador and Vernon Martin were there and Rahsaan was listening to the Raiders/Dolphins football game on TV. After our introductions and some small talk, I recall Rahsaan commenting that when he came back in a second life he wanted to come back as a football player, and we all had a good laugh.

We (RRK, Joe Texador and I) arrived at the station sometime in the early afternoon and it wasn’t long before the DJ put Rahsaan on the air.  Rahsaan presented his yet-to-be released album Volunteered Slavery during the interview and the DJ played three or four selections, asking questions of Rahsaan between cuts.  The entire segment must have lasted about 30 minutes.

When we returned to the Sacramento Inn, Rahsaan invited me into his room once more because he wanted to give me a copy of his album, Here Comes the Whistleman.  I ask him to autograph it for me.  Joe Texador did the writing while Rahsaan held the pencil’s eraser and whispered what he wanted to say into Joe's ear:  "To Lee, may we see fit to vibrate on every level, Rahsaan Roland Kirk."

Rahsaan Roland Kirk
Both/And Club, on Divisadero Street near Oak Street, San Francisco, Oct., 1969

The group’s personnel were the same as at the Gilded Gage on October 3rd.

During this concert, RRK played three saxophones simultaneously, popped a clarinet in the corner of his mouth and played that as well.  It was a mind-boggling display of virtuosity and technique, made all the more remarkable by the clarity and separation of his sound—a wonderful collage of four instruments that had I not seen it I would have believed produced by a quartet.

A few days prior to this session, I had gone before the Student Council at Sacramento City College, where I was a student, and suggested bringing RRK to the school.  The Student Council agreed to invite Kirk to campus and drew up a contract that I brought with me to the Both/And Club.

Rahsaan Roland Kirk
Sacramento City College, November 4, 1969

Once again the personnel were the same as the Oct. 3 Gilded Gage concert.

Despite his blindness, Rahsaan had an uncanny ability to look within a person.  Every time I would meet up with him and we shook hands, Rahsaan would hold on to my hand for a few seconds and rub my palm with his thumb.  It was somewhat unsettling as I felt totally exposed when he did that.  It was as though Rahsaan was looking right into my inner self.

A couple of hours prior to the concert I drove Vernon Martin to a friend's house to get some smoke.  My friend's name was Lucky and the neighborhood he lived in was in a rough area, where break-ins were not uncommon.   When we got there one of Lucky's roommates said he was taking a bath.  Showing his audacious sense of humor, Vernon charged into the bathroom. "Where’s Lucky? Where’s Lucky?" he demanded to know.  Now, Vernon was a big dude, and when he charged into the bathroom the expression on Lucky's face was priceless.  Vernon had scared the shit out of Lucky, who must have thought he was being robbed at that very moment.  Then he saw me and he realized he was being had.  Still, he did not know Vernon from Adam and could not have been more surprised and flustered when Vernon subsequently snatched him from the tub and gave him a big old hug.  I’ve never forgotten that image, the sight of a big black man the size of an NFL lineman hugging poor, naked, soaking-wet Lucky.  And there wasn’t a damn thing Lucky could do to get out of it.

Well, we got what Vernon wanted and headed back to SCC.

Back at the Performing Arts Center it was getting close to start time for the concert and Rahsaan was nowhere to be found.  That made me nervous, and I asked Steve Ellington where he was.  Steve informed me Rahsaan had gone to the Audio/Visual department.  I asked why and he said Rahsaan was trying to learn where his name came from.

Sometime before that night I had told Rahsaan about Sun Ra speaking in one of my classes.  I’d explained that at one point during his lecture Sun Ra had talked about the origins of his name.  I’d mentioned that a tape of the lecture was held in the school’s Audio/Visual department.  I had not made the connection until then that Rah-saan and Sun Ra had the same syllables, only in reverse order.  After the concert Rahsaan asked me to see if I could get a copy of the tape and send it to his home in New Jersey, which I did.

The concert turned out fantastic and the audience really got into it.  At one point near the end of the concert, Rahsaan started talking about giving flowers to the living and giving credit to people before they die.  I could tell by the way his talk was unfolding that he was talking about me.  I was standing at stage left, where I’d been photographing the show, and next to me stood my friend, Lynette.  I had the sense that Rahsaan was about to call me up to the stage to thank me for organizing the gig.  When he indeed called me up I handed my camera to Lynette and jumped onto the stage.  Vernon gave me a big bear hug like the one I’d seen him give Lucky earlier in the day, and Rahsaan asked the crowd to give me a round of applause.  It was of course an unforgettable experience.  

After the concert the band and I went to Sam's Hofbrau on L Street in downtown Sacramento.  Sam’s was a cafeteria style restaurant where you had to stand in a line to get your food.  After finishing our food Rahsaan asked me to show him to the bathroom.  Once inside he had me stand him in front of the urinal. Thus I learned how a blind person orients himself to a urinal, using the back of the hand to feel out the terrain.

After leaving Sam's Hofbrau we walked up L Street to my car.  Rahsaan pulled an object from his coat pocket.  It turned out to be a little electronic laugh box.  He pushed the button on its side and we all laughed along with the box.  The night had been a rousing success.  It had filled Rahsaan and his sidemen with tremendous joy.

A joy I felt as well.

Lee Santa, from A Journey into Jazz.



Good stuff.


Thursday, January 2, 2014

A Weird Situation

The UK's Guardian and the New York Times rarely see eye-to-eye about anything, but what do you know?

These are indeed special times, or a miracle has happened.

Maybe we're recovering from whatever it is that ails us...


Wednesday, January 1, 2014

What Do We Really Know?

A good suggestion comes from a reader of today's Ralph Nader list of books to read this year.

This business definitely has my curiosity.


Ralph's List for the New Year

I'll try to get to some of these this year.

How about you?