Tuesday, August 23, 2016

I'm Alright, Jacques

Me at last year's Andernos-les-Bains Jazz Festival

    Well, here we are again. Once more, some shit-heads trying to make themselves right with the god of Abraham (one killing randomly and prolifically and a couple more singling out some poor old priest) because some other thugs applying the logic of the criminally religious helped them to believe it was just the thing that would please said deity. Ironically, the first poor soul, plus 30 others, run down by the not theretofore particularly observant killer in Nice turned out to be not infidels but other Muslims.

    After all of these incidents going back to Charlie Hebdo, Cynthia and I have gotten messages from friends in the States worried about us and, while I appreciate the concern, I usually respond the same way. I thank them for their concern then tell them that no matter what happens over here, we’re still probably a whole lot safer than they are considering we probably don’t have to worry about anyone nearby stockpiling weapons and ammo for future use in dealing with whatever petty grudge he’s been harboring. In any grievance related occurrence here, the worst cast scenario I anticipate is something like an old 1930s comedy - Henri the chef of the restaurant we’re patronizing, having endured his insults long enough, chases Jean-Luc the maitre d’ around the dining room with a meat cleaver until getting brained with an empty wine bottle by Geneviève the serveuse as the gendarmes arrive in time to carry his unconscious carcass into the night.  In short, I don’t plan on changing a thing about the way I go about life. This, by the way, is not false bravado but reflects the realization that, on both sides of the Atlantic, we’ve all got a better chance of being struck by lightning than becoming a victim of terrorism.

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Three Years On

Window of women's spa in Kingwood, TX
         As I mentioned in the last post, we just got back from a 3 week stay in the States and right before we left Marianne gave us the okay for another year in France. It’s over three years now so I thought a bit of reflection was in order, especially since my first trip home in two years gave me the perfect opportunity to compare and contrast.

After gaining an astonishing amount of weight during my last trip home I was determined to limit the damage this time, but it wasn’t easy. In fact I swear I could feel my belt tightening as soon as we entered American airspace. Compounding the problem is the undeniable reality that an aging body doesn’t shed the excess like it once did. However my adoption of an increasingly sedentary home life at least mitigated things somewhat as I came in at a higher weight anyway. So all in all it had to be considered a minor triumph that I only picked up 5 extras pounds stateside.

Tuesday, March 1, 2016

Carol Jarvis

       Once again I’ve found myself overtaken by sloth. I started this post a few weeks ago while in the States, laying around my mother-in-law’s, waiting for the UPS truck while she and Cynthia shopped.  I thought it’d be a good time for a Trombone Hero so it’s about time I finished it. 
Back in July, 2015, I was lucky enough to be able to go to the International Trombone Festival in Valencia, Spain. Even luckier, I got to sit next to Abbie Conant during a performance by British trombonists Mark Nightingale and Carol Jarvis, this post’s Hero. The ITF is one of the few opportunities trombone hacks like me get to rub elbow more or less on a even footing with the masters.

Sunday, November 29, 2015

Some Thoughts On Paris

It’s been over a week now since the Paris attacks and, while I have nothing profound or especially insightful to say, I wanted to get a few thoughts and observations down. 

First of all, for all the folks back home who might be worried about us, Paris is about as far from Bordeaux as New York is from Pittsburgh so I’m not particularly concerned. For some reason, jihadis seem to believe the only Western cities worth their time are New York, Paris, London and, for some strange reason, Madrid. So unless Da’esh decides to disrupt the flow of Pessac-Leognan or starts launching Scuds from Andorra, I don’t intend to get any more worked up about this than necessary to stay sane. 

This seems also to be the attitude of most people being interviewed on TV and in the press here. The average mec dans la rue (guy in the street) just wants life to get back to normal. The malls and large department stores have started checking purses and backpacks but, like in the US,  I suspect this is just what’s come to be called “security theatre.”  “We gotta do something but we don’t really know what so this’ll at least keep down the complaints about us not giving a shit.” 

Monday, August 31, 2015

My Tribe

This blog’s been neglected for months now, mainly because there wasn’t much I felt like writing about and coincided with an acute case of who-gives-a-shit-what-I-think-anyway. Last month, I hauled my wife and trombone to Valencia, Spain, to hang with my sister and brother trombone players at the International Trombone Festival, put on every year by, not coincidentally, the International Trombone Association, of which I’m a member and a part of the staff of it’s quarterly Journal. (That could be the longest sentence I’ve ever written.) This festival has been held every summer since 1971 and I’ve been to three of them. The first was in New Orleans in 2005, which was particularly special, coming right before Katrina and I made it to Austin in 2010. For four days it’s all trombones, all the time and now I’ve got something to write about (though the jury’s still out on the gives-a-shit part)

For me, one of the perks, come to think of it the only perk, of being able to write for the Journal it’s that I get to freely associate, even if only by email or telephone, with some of the finest, most well-known trombone players in the world. At the festival this year I got to do that in person and (allow me to name-drop) my hang-mates included Abbie Conant, Branimir Slokar, Andrea Conti and Bart van Lier. If these names are unfamiliar, all I can say is that these folks are on bass clef Mt. Olympus.