Tag Archive | Miles Davis

R.I.P. Dave Brubeck

Brubeck Time magazine_cover,_Dave_Brubeck,_November_1954The first two jazz LPs I ever bought were by Stan Getz and Dave Brubeck. That day was in 1953, nearly sixty years ago, and I was barely twelve years old. Brubeck died this morning, one day shy of his ninety-second birthday, and his death brings back a flood of memories. I heard him in concert on several occasions, and bought several of his early albums, including that first one, the ten-inch Jazz at Oberlin.

Brubeck enjoyed a long and illustrious career. I last heard him at the Troy Savings Bank Music Hall several years back, and although he hobbled on and off stage with difficulty, his playing was still as spry and powerful as ever. But his death reminds me most of all of how and why I became a jazz fan. This poem I wrote in 2007 explains:

My First Downbeat

Dimly in black and white, through a scratchy glassine sleeve

in a dingy bin at Colony Music in Times Square,                                                                       

Eddie Fisher’s face smiles up at me from the cover

of a bedraggled Downbeat magazine.

My very first major crush! I catch my breath, transported back

to seventh grade, the day I bought this very magazine,

the one that seduced me down the road of jazz.

Long lost for decades, now it’s reborn as memorabilia,

with a $25 price tag. My knees creak as I hunker down,

retrieve the magazine, and slip it from its plastic sleeve.

 

Yes, this is it – November, 1953. I turn the fragile pages,              

searching for the story. Stan Getz, busted in Seattle

for trying to rob a drugstore to finance his heroin fix.

My mind’s eye scans the photo – Stan in white tee shirt,

leather jacket, boyishly handsome, cuffed and flanked by cops.

So tragically romantic – oh, alas, poor Stan.

So it came into my life, a heavy ten-inch Verve,

Stan Getz Quartet, my very first LP. I didn’t understand at first,

me, a 12-year-old Milwaukee girl, who played “Oh My Papa”

on a red mother-of-pearl accordion. But still I persevered,

and soon my tastes evolved. At a Washington convention,

my father had his photo snapped with Eddie Fisher

as a special gift to me, but when he brought it home,

to his dismay, I blew it off as square.

 

But no, Stan’s story isn’t in this Downbeat! Paging through,

I find fascinating photos – Mingus and Bird at Birdland,

a young Miles Davis with a broad, ingenuous grin,

before he donned the mask of Prince of Darkness.

Then it comes flooding back –

Stan Getz was in my second Downbeat, not my first.

The Hilltoppers were on the cover. All these years,

my personal mythology has been a fraud.

 

Carefully, sadly, I slip the Downbeat back in its dusty bin.

Later, on Amtrak, heading north once more,

I curse my stinginess. Damn, I want those early pictures

of Miles and Mingus, even though I didn’t fall in love with them

till freshman year. Nothing for it but to head back to New York

and splurge on tattered memories in a magazine

that no one cares about but me.

Stan Getz

Stan Getz

I never did get that magazine, but down in the basement I still have cartons of old jazz LPs from the 1950’s. Browsing on eBay, I’ve learned that some of them may be worth hundreds of dollars, including perhaps Brubeck’s 10” Jazz at Oberlin. Maybe I’ll auction them off one of these days, but somehow I haven’t gotten around to it, in part because they’re so well and thoroughly played.

 

 

 

                                                                                                                                         

Julie & Julie & Julia Part III

Ten days ago my blog scored a record number of hits – 451 in one day. Trying to figure out why, I discovered that 319 of these visits were racked up by a single post –  “Julie & Julie & Julia Part II” from September 2nd. My family and friends would find this ironic in the extreme. I’m a good cook when I set my mind to it, but I avoid the kitchen whenever possible. This post and the one that preceded it were about writing and blogging, and cooking got barely a mention.

So why is the J&J&J post so popular? Note to self: duh – it’s the search engines, dummy. Over the past few months, I’ve been watching my stats climb steadily, and as of today, I’ve logged 24,022 hits on a blog I just started in May. All along I’ve been under the delusion that I’m building a devoted readership, and the comments and stats tell me I’m not entirely wrong, but the majority of visitors are lured in by certain key words and especially by well known names.

Here are my most visited blog posts for the past week, according to WordPress:

  • Julie & Julie & Julia Part II (September 2)
  • Julie & Julie & Julia (August 31)
  • Michael Jackson and the archetype of the tortured artist (July 8th)
  • My blogging story arc – a field of dreams (June 22)
  • Woodstock 1969 Part III: Requiem for the spirit of 1969 (August 12)
  • Woodstock 1969 Part II: Stuck in the muck for 16 straight hours of music (August 9)
  • Woodstock 1969 Part I: I was there with my paintings – now if only I could prove it! (August 6)
  • Did Poe get fan letters too? (October 30)
  • Affordable funerals Part II: Down by the riverside (September 12)
  • TGIF Blog Party – You’re all invited (August 21)

Julie Powell

It’s interesting that these are all older posts – the most recent is from October 30th. Does this mean no one is reading my more recent ramblings? No, those get visits too – just not as many. WordPress tells me where most or all of my readers come from, and a fair number come from other authors’ blogs as well as from online discussion groups like CrimeSpace and Murder Must Advertise. WP also tells me all the posts that have attracted visitors on any given day, so I know many folks visit my static pages with my bio information and sample chapters. Here’s hoping some of those folks are actually buying my books!

Most common searches that drew people to my blog recently: Julia Child, Julia Childs (I purposely inserted the misspelled name as a tag, a trick I picked up somewhere in the past few months), Edgar Allan Poe, Jimi Hendrix, Woodstock, Michael Jackson, Miles Davis, baseball diamond (I can’t figure out that last one!)

I tend to shy away from statistics. In fact, sheer panic drove me to drop out of a statistics class at Dutchess Community College – me with my hotshot degrees from Barnard, Columbia and NYU. (I eventually enrolled for statistics again and got an A – a necessary evil, since it was a prerequisite for the PhD psychology program I briefly enrolled in. But that’s another story.)

I’m hereby making a New Year’s Resolution to put more time into understanding the wealth of blogging statistics available to me on WordPress, thereby maximizing the  effectiveness of the many hours I spend online. Meanwhile, for my Christmas blog post, I’ll create a short story incorporating all the popular names, subjects and tags that show up in my stats. Be sure to check back then! For anyone who’s read this far: sorry I never got around to the subject of cooking. But I’m sticking in some photos of Julia Child and Julie Powell as a consolation prize.

Fellow bloggers, do you have any wisdom to share about statistics and blog hits? I know many of you are far more sophisticated than I am on this subject, and I’d love to hear from you. 

©2009 Julie Lomoe

Round Midnight: a poem for my mother

Thanks to everyone who shared their feelings in regard to my posting about my earliest memories of my mother, Vi Lomoe. Our parents remain such a vital part of our lives, even if they’re no longer with us in this worldly realm. There’s so much more to write about my mother and my father, Wallace “Chink” Lomoe, who was Managing Editor of the Milwaukee Journal and went toe-to-toe with Joe McCarthy in the 1950’s.

I hope you enjoy this poem about my teenage years in Milwaukee and my personal encounters with jazz legends like Miles Davis and Dizzy Gillespie. I wrote it for Albany’s Word Fest this past April, where I was scheduled to read at midnight – hence the title, which pays homage to the beautiful ballad by Thelonious Monk. Come to think of it, my blog’s named for a Monk tune too – Mysterioso. (My mother and I went with Max Roach to hear Monk at the Five Spot on the Lower East Side. His quartet at the time included John Coltrane.)

I’m thinking of making Saturdays poetry day on my blog, featuring my own poems as well as some by my Albany friends. Let me know if you like the idea. Below I’m printing the first stanza; you can jump to the next page if you’d like to read more. 

Round Midnight: Blues for My Mother, Vi Lomoe

I hung out in jazz clubs with my mother

in the nineteen-fifties. Milwaukee was a teenage wasteland

till Eddie Fisher’s grin on Downbeat’s cover

lured me to strange uncharted realms

full of exotic black men. I started with heavy vinyl albums,

talked my parents into treating me to one for every A

at my snotty all-girls prep school. Desperate to see me happy,

they complied. I tortured my Mom with endless blindfold tests,

making her guess the artists, learn to tell the difference

between an alto and a tenor sax.

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