POST #8 Sequoia Speaks
This week, a poem from Jack which speaks to his own younger self.
Also, an actual Mp3 song file you can play from an earlier album of Jack's.
Then, another excerpt from Cantab Tango, And finally, my favorite substack
writer, the great Rune: at https://trashtv.substack.com
POEM OF THE WEEK:
His feet teach
me tiny steps.
Three years old,
miles of words yet
to run and run,
teach me why
why the most
SONG OF THE WEEK:
Cantab Tango Excerpt of the Week ————————————
I shrug but I seem to have misplaced my dark mood. Perhaps The Tony and Jack Musical Express can now feel like a success.
It's the first time Satchmo sees me hide a tear—damn that song!
Some passengers seem to hold their smiles well past Hartford—almost as far as the Tobin bridge, I'd say.
Not corny enough.
There's no limousine ride for us, but after a short ride on a Red Line subway car to Harvard Square, Tony leads the way to his studio with a promise to show off our one hit record framed on its wall. His studio sits at the better end of Putnam Street, mine sits on the bitter end of one. Tony loves to show the record off for new clients: the studio is our best face forward because he spent the money to make it look great when we had the money to make it look great—after that one hit record—and maybe it's because it's a whiter neighborhood nearer the square. He bought a new soundboard, racks full of effects, a new baby grand piano, a newly-designed layout, lots of digital processors, and a wall of guitars. Its used overstuffed leather couch feels great under our road-weary butts. Even The Beatles earned their road-weary butts.
Our butts also sit on musical parole after a life of minor musical crimes.
Satch eats up Tony's hyped studio tour until he looks as stuffed as a Thanksgiving turkey—it takes about five minutes.
“This all seems great compared to that other indie label who tried to sign me back in the city. It's one reason I'm glad to be out of there. A woman owned a label after she won it in a divorce settlement thing. And then her ex-husband owned a club on the lower east side and they both tried to win me over—as if I was the spoils of war or . . . spoils of a divorce, actually. A disaster for me. After all that I might still be blackballed from a few clubs there. I felt pulled apart.”
“Like salt water taffy?”
“Never mind. I knew a girl I called Saltwater Taffy once, that's all.”
“OK, that's weird. Anyway, I went to his open mic once, but he was such an asshole. He thought he was going to be the new Barry Gordy but he didn't like me at all after that. I sang “How Sweet It Is” by Marvin Gaye, á Capella, in a bass voice that was not so sweet, but fun to do. So then for his next open mic I play a long sample from my phone—I hold it up to the mic. No vocals, nothing but bass and drums—real simple, real loud. When it ends I announce “Live music.” The dude banned me for that, but I did appear there a last time, totally in drag—as Marilyn Monroe in whiteface. I sang “Happy Fuck Day, Mr. Resident.” Three of my friends were there to clap for me, but he didn't appreciate any of us after I took my blonde wig off and held up a middle finger.”
“Banned again?” I say.
“Banned again,” he says.
What? Satchmo performs in drag? Ouch. Shouldn't I have read that on his résumé? OK, then.
“Void the contract, Tony. This guy's a monster!” I say.
Tony ignores my sarcasm.
“Marilyn in drag?” says Tony.
“Don't worry—I'm not gay,” says Satchmo.
Well, that worries me now. He's not gay. Does that worry Tony? Maybe we should have researched his vast history of banned drag shows? His vast history of sexual prejudice? No? No. Let's let worry worry about itself for awhile—we can wait. We have to wait now. We have no choice—we just bought a business with our last thirty pieces of silver, with or without the inspiration of a girl I once called Saltwater Taffy.
“I need to sleep now,” says Satchmo.
“Me too. I'm too cranky to crank.”
Tony drives us to my apartment—home for Satch and me for the next two months—or three—or bust. Hope we don't need a marriage counselor for it, or full body armor, or Saltwater Taffy, or Saltwater Taffy's brother . . . .
I quickly space-out into twilight dreams.
I remember the sounds of beach waves and reggae rhythms. From when I met them, Jamaica John and Saltwater Taffy. He could really play—my ears can still hear the snap, his syncopation, his swing, his hesitation pop-pop.
Now that I think of that time, I realize Saltwater's brother, Jamaica John, could really help us on the percussion for songs like Daddy Do and Coyote—he's so fine on funk or on reggae tunes. Why couldn't he help us? Really. He's also a trap-set player, he said. He could drum our new band into the right groove, yes? Would he move here from Montreal? Is this why I keep thinking about Atisha? Because they live together in a Montreal loft? And because I need to tell her how so so so sorry I am. And that I miss her. Miss her. The song in my head drips with tears to think of that. Buckets of tears. Atisha is Saltwater Taffy's real name. Atisha.
I lead Satchmo's luggage into my studio bedroom space. He looks around, nods, and falls over. He sinks into the new bed, sighs, and falls asleep. I tug off his orange kicks—New York Knicks orange. I'll have to buy him green ones—he's in Celtics country now, to stay.
In my bedroom I reach for the phone to order out from Friendly Pizza—but there's a message from ex-what's-her-name on there. I erase it and have a Greek salad sent—no large round carbos for me. Not tonight. Something is different about tonight. And no saltwater taffy. Atisha. She's the one. Atisha.
I tap up one of Satch's demo tunes again as I wait. I nod along and muse on our amazing New York trip—we didn't get rich, but we found Satch—and we found a small peach basket full of hope.
And a new way to sleep. That's something.
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