MINOR SWING

Minor_swing

The heart of Saturday night; the entire town in attendance in the days before the future happened. As the varsity football team trotted off the field at halftime they were passed by the marching band, the high stepping big redhead pumping his baton, leading the group at double time, the sax players hacking with that unmistakable honk, backed up by the sweet sugary notes of cornets and trumpets, soaring over it all like syrup. Big Jim Maggini holding the bottom steady with his baritone Saxophone, Doyle Douglas matching him beat for beat on the bass drum. Twittering and fluttering over the top like a flock of giddy birds, the flutes. Oh Madeline, Madeline, Bruce Heir and Masaki working those ‘bones, wonderful, wonderful, pounding out James Brown’s “Night Train.” The entire crowd on it’s feet whistling and applauding in time to the insistent tempo of the drum section. The booming heavy base drum and the pick-up sticks of the snare drums rattling their dry bones in the cool night air.  Coda

Richie packed his Blacktop Fender Strat, slid the case into the baggage compartment and flew off to immortality. The eighth grade girls at Branch Elementary stood quietly in their poodle skirts; devastated, they cried for the boys they didn’t know. The music died.  Coda

Hillary wore a yellow dress. She put her wild auburn hair up; I wore my one dollar Silky shirt. I picked her up in my old blue Dodge Dart surf car and we drove to the valley where the Hawaiian Kings once lived. We sat on the grassy slope of the Honolulu bowl an waited for the show to start. The band who opened the show looked like nothing we had ever seen before, long, thick hanks of hair flying off in all the directions of the compass just like Medusa, they wore bright vibrant clothes on a stage hung with Jamaican flags. Potted palms littered the floor. They shuffled around on stage picking up their instruments, adjusting mics, plugging in. Finally they gathered, stood with their backs to the audience and turning, the lead suddenly counted out, one, two, three…and “Dread, Natty Dread now. (Natty Dread)” Instantly the entire audience was on their feet dancing and swaying. Bob Marley and the Wailers. What a night. It was perfect, Hillary was perfect. I’ve long forgotten who the headliners were but the Wailers I will never forget. Today, I was grocery shopping and I heard the same song, put to a thirty piece orchestra and played as Muzak over the PA system at Von’s Market. “Pick up on aisle 6.” Oh man, too sad.  Coda

Ernie slid onto the little bentwood cafe chair, sitting under the dark green awning of the Deux Magots, he turned to the hovering waiter and asked for espresso, it being too early for a man who took great pride in the ability to put away drink. Maybe a little later a gin and tonic with Angostura Bitters. As the day warmed, other dwellers of the Paris Demimond began to stroll the Boulevard Saint-Germain, Studiously ignoring the big man at the wrought iron table in the way that the French so perfectly do, a little lift of the chin, a turn of the shoulder an inward look. A brilliantly dressed man, still in a tailored tuxedo, boiled shirt with an Arrow color, a perfectly tied bow tie, the white carnation still fresh after a long night gave the slightest of nods to the man at the table and slid sinuously onto a chair and resting his chin on his manicured right hand, with a sly look and a twinkle in his large, liquid brown eyes, said, “Hemingway,

Birds do it, bees do it
Even educated fleas do it
Let’s do it, let’s fall in love”

Ernie smiled his wicked smile under the caterpillar mustache.  “Cole, he said.”  Coda

“And in the end, the love you take is equal to the love you make.”  Coda

 

Thank you: Stephan Grapelli, Jean “Django” Reinhardt, The 1962 Arroyo Grande Marching Band with drum major Robert Morefield, Ricardo Valenzuela, Robert Nesta Marley and the Wailers, Hillary Weireter, Ernest Miller Hemingway, Cole Albert Porter, and James Paul McCartney.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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