End of Summer Markdowns Trigger Preppy Doofus Stampede

NANTUCKET, Mass.  A blue-ribbon panel appointed to investigate a late August stampede on this tony vacation island has concluded that drastic end-of-summer markdowns on madras shorts, whale-motif ties and other “preppy” clothing triggered a crush of cheap WASP shoppers that left several people injured, one seriously.


Don’t go shopping without a tasteful shopping bag!

 

“It was a sales clerk’s worst nightmare,” said Endicott Wollaston, a retired Selectmen who chaired the committee.  “Hordes of trust fund beneficiaries rushing towards the sale table, with nothing to stop them but a maxxed-out credit card.”

 


“Funny, I bought a similar outfit.”

 

WASPs, or white, Anglo-Saxon Protestants, are an American ethnographic group that prefers expensive-looking clothing, but refuses to pay full price.  “I’d say they throw nickels around like they’re manhole covers,” says Willard Normandin, a long-time employee at Brooks Brothers in Boston, “but that applies more properly to pennies.”

prep
Preppin’ out for steppin’ out!

 

The market disruption was the result of a chilly summer, the coldest on record in the U.S., which kept vacationers off the island, according to retail industry experts.  “You had a build-up of unsold inventory, and a bunch of cheapskate buyers waiting until the last minute to save the most money,” noted Women’s Wear Daily New England regional editor Cynthia Smithson.  “We’re just fortunate that there were no endangered species standing in front of the madras Bermuda shorts.”

Sartre’s “No Exit,” Fantasy Football Edition

At first, I had no idea I was in hell.  I was lying in the same street I walk every day at noontime on my way to lunch.

“What happened?” I asked the man who helped me up.

“You stepped off the curb without looking over your shoulder.”

It’s a tricky intersection, especially for Boston, the Jaywalking Capital of America.  Pedestrians flow to the left to get where they’re going, but traffic enters from the right.  I’ve often told myself that it was the place where I was going to die, and I was finally right.  I guess when you’re dead “finally” is the only option.

“Who are you?” I asked the man.

“Beelzebub.”

satan

The fallen angel who ranks below Satan in Paradise Lost. “So–I’m not evil enough for the Big Enchilada himself to grace me with his presence?”

“Not even close.  You’re going to hell for some pretty minor stuff.”

“Like what?”

“That weekend where you had . . . uh . . . ‘dates’ with three women.”

“I was in my thirties.”

“And that AIDS joke you seem so fond of.”

“The one where the health worker sees a bunch of junkies sharing a needle, and says ‘Stop that, you’ll get AIDS.’”

“. . . and one of them answers, ‘It’s okay, we’re wearing condoms.’  Yes–that one.”

A bit harsh, if you ask me, but on the other hand, I wasn’t sure I really cared.   Some people want to go to heaven, but I’d rather be with my friends.

“Okay–so take me away.”

“Actually, you’re slotted for a place right near here . . . “–-he looked down at his clipboard–-”Tony’s Deli.”

“You’re kidding!” I said.  “That’s where I was going.”

“Funny how that works out.”

“What’s so hellish about going to my favorite diner?”

“Nothing much.  You’ll sit there, day after day, nothing will ever change.”

“What day is today?” I asked, my head still not clear.

“Tuesday.”

“Yes!” I exclaimed.  I’d be feasting on the special–-cranberry-walnut chicken salad sandwiches–-until the end of time.  “Lead the way.”

chicken salad
Cranberry-walnut chicken salad–yum!

 

Tony’s is something of a hole in the wall since most people get their sandwiches to go and take them back to their desks.  There’s just a skinny counter, which was last wiped down during the second Clinton administration, and three tiny tables crammed into a corner.

I felt magnanimous, so I offered to buy my devilish friend lunch.  “Anything you want,” I said expansively.  He got the special on my recommendation, and we sat down at one of the tables.

“So hell is just like Sartre said it would be in No Exit, huh?” I asked him.

“Yep–one of the few things he was right about.  You’re confined to one space, but it’s not like there’s a lake of fire or anything.  Just your normal, everyday environment.”

sartre
Sartre:  “I’ll have tuna in a pita pocket, lettuce and tomato.”

 

“Huh,” I said.  In retrospect, I was glad I’d set my high school Current Events teacher’s woodpile on fire at the urging of my buddy Ronnie McClary, who ended up going to reform school.  I wouldn’t have missed out on that for all the cherubim in heaven.

We talked about this and that, and three young men sat down next to us.  They were joined in turn by two more at the other table.

“Who you pickin’ at quarterback,” a beefy fellow with his necktie loosened at the collar yelled at one of his friends.

“Philip Rivers,” the other said.

rivers

A third made a gagging sound, then said “Choke, choke, choke!”

“Fantasy football,” I muttered to Beelzebub in explanation.  “This is the time of the year when people pick their teams.”

“Um-hmm,” my satanic lunch mate replied, not wanting to talk with his mouth full.  Apparently there are table manners even in hell.

“Ndamukong Suh’s a beast, man,” said a fellow whose armpits were stained with sweat.  “Everybody thinks ’cause he’s on the Lions and gets penalized a lot he’s no good, but he’s still a Pro Bowl-quality lineman.”

Lively discussion ensued among the group about shut-down cornerbacks, run-stopping linebackers and third-down backs.  If I weren’t already dead, I’d rather have been dead in a ditch than to have to listen to this self-important drivel.

“If there’s anything in the world that I hate,” I whispered to Beelzebub as he dabbed at the corners of his mouth with a napkin, “it’s listening to people yammer on about their stupid fantasy football teams.”

“I’m with you,” he said.  “Isn’t the game itself–-with its speed and athleticism . . .”

“Don’t forget violence . . .”

“. . . I was just about to say that–-isn’t that enough?  Is your life so pathetic that you need vicarious gratification running some stupid fictional football franchise.  Go out and get laid every now and then, fer Christ sake.”

Unlike me, Beelzebub had been less than circumspect about keeping his views to himself.  Whenever one of the thick-necked louts would look at him, however, he would glare back with a mind-melting stare, sort of like Darth Vader on the bridge of the Death Star, and the guy would shrink back into his cotton-poly blend shirt.

“Well, you’re all set,” Beelzebub said as he stood up.  He picked up his plate and soda can and deposited them in the trash.

“Yeah, thanks for everything,” I said as I stood up to shake his hand.  “I guess this place will be clearing out pretty soon after the lunch crowd leaves.”

“Leaves?” Beelzebub asks.  “No, I don’t think anybody’s leaving.”

I looked at him, then at the fantasy football general managers sitting at the table.  They looked back at me with malevolent smiles, then started in again.

“Manning’s over the hill,” one young fellow in a garish purple shirt-and-tie combo said.  “You need help on special teams.”

“Excuse me,” Beelzebub said as he scooted behind their chairs on his way out.  And then to me–-”Have a nice eternity.”

This One’s for Blanton

In an old joke a woman complains to her psychiatrist that her husband is uncommunicative.

“He never talks to me!” she exclaims.

“Take him to a jazz club,” the shrink says.

“What good will that do?” the woman asks.

“Everybody talks during the bass solo.”

And so it goes for the guys who provide the bottom, the foundation from which jazz is built upwards.  They labor in obscurity, less heard then felt unless and until everybody else takes a break, which the audience takes as a sign that nothing important’s going on.

In many cases this is true; there are journeymen of the instrument who are mere timekeepers–literally; they also serve who merely stand and pluck, as Milton might have said if he’d lived into the jazz age.  And until 1939 that was true generally, until Duke Ellington heard a young man named Jimmy Blanton playing with Fate Marable’s band aboard a riverboat in St. Louis.


Marable’s Cotton Pickers.

Ellington’s ear for prospective sidemen was keen; Blanton was unknown, and Ellington already had one, and sometimes two bassists in his ensemble.  Blanton was different, however; he was classically trained, or at least as much as a black man could be classically trained in 1939, and he could solo in a pizzicato fashion that had never been heard before.

Duke asked if he could sit in, and Marable–an old friend–said sure.  Without saying a word to Blanton, Ellington began to improvise and modulate through different keys.  Blanton didn’t miss a note, and when the two were done Marable–who had served as musical father to Louis Armstrong, among other jazz notables–said “How do you like my bass player?”  To which Ellington replied “He’s my bass player now.”

Ellington’s spontaneous offer of employment was accepted, the Duke paying royal family wages thanks to his broader media reach, and there began a burst of inspired creativity on the part of Ellington’s band that Blanton–a bassist, of all thing!–is generally credited with touching off.


Blanton and Johnny Hodges on alto

Blanton, unlike the run-of-the-mill bassist, created solos that people sat silent to listen to and which Ellington, as was his style, wove into the fabric of his compositions instead of leaving them at the fringe.  Blanton’s work on Ko Ko, Jack the Bear and, most memorably to these ears, Pitter Panther Patter, was both useful and ornamental; it laid down the rhythm, but it was never satisfied with that utilitarian function.   He created melodies of his own, in some cases inspiring the Duke to go chasing after him, like two kids at play.

Blanton was a frail, other-worldly creature; thin and scholarly in appearance, he would put down the receiver when women called his hotel room on the road, saying “Just a minute, I’ve got to finish what I’m doing.”  Then he’d return to his practice and forget that there was a woman waiting for him if he’d only pick up the phone.  As it turned out, Blanton’s fey disposition had a physical cause; he suffered from congenital tuberculosis, and was forced to leave the Ellington band only two years after joining it.

Ellington and bassist Ray Brown recorded a fine tribue to Blanton in 1973, This One’s for Blanton, which was reissued by the Musical Heritage Society in 1992.  It’s good, and Ray Brown had few equals among bassists of his generation, but he wasn’t Jimmy Blanton.

Blanton died in 1942, leaving a legacy you can hear in every bass solo played today–if everyone would just be quiet and listen.

From a Student of the 70s to a Student of the Teens

This week many Americans will drop sons and daughters off for their freshman year of college.  The partings will be emotional; tearful mothers and fathers, sons and daughters fighting back outward signs of impatience as they whine inwardly “When are they ever going to LEAVE?”

In the final few moments as moms and dads hug their children for the last time until parents’ weekend a month from now, they will frequently be too choked up to communicate the wisdom they accumulated as college students many years ago.  It is for this reason that I take to the internet waves at this time of year to pass on lessons I learned at great cost, but which I offer to readers without charge.  And they’re worth every penny of it.

Such as, if you take the same course twice taught by a different professor each time, you will probably get a better grade the second time.  Seriously.  It helps your GPA.


“You got into Northwestern?  But this is Boston!”

 

But there is more to life than the spiritual and intellectual aspects of our existence.  There are also the mundane physical remnants of my college days, which I have lovingly preserved since that day in 1969 when I matriculated all over my college campus because the bathrooms weren’t ready yet.  Here are a few of the artifacts that I have available to bequeath to impressionable college freshman.

 


This thing is like wicked fast.

Smith-Corona Manual Typewriter:  A lot of kids aren’t ready for an electric model yet.  I know too many young men and women who have taken a high-powered electric typewriter out for a spin on a Saturday night after a long week of classes only to crash into a carrel at the library, killing paperback copies of The Importance of Being Earnest and Plato’s Republic.  Which are available in Books-on-Tape format, by the way.

 

Frye boots.  Everybody will be wearing these when you get to school.  Seriously.  I mean, everybody who was anybody wore them in the fall of 1969.  I didn’t, but that’s neither here nor there, as your Intro to Philosophy professor will soon say when you hold up your hand and say “Everybody’s entitled to their opinion.”

You’re not listening, are you?


 

8-Track, multi-LP stereo system.  This is a somewhat delicate subject.  Your parents understand that dormitories are now “co-ed,” and when your roommate is out of town for the Interscholastic Parcheesi Sectional Tournament you will have the place all to yourself for several days.  When that happens, you can stack up to four LP’s on the spindle of this baby, and let nature take its course.  When the last one drops and you’ve heard Mitch Ryder and the Detroit Wheels sing “Devil With the Blue Dress On” forty-two times in succession, it’s time to go to class.


Poco, Steve Miller Band, MC5.

My albums.  I can’t tell you how cool my album collection is.  Was.  Back when.  As a matter of fact, I have albums by groups you’ve never even heard of.  Like “Poco,” which was a spin-off from, uh, The Buffalo Springfield.  I think.  What do you mean, are they available in MP3 format?  Do you mean the MC5–like “Kick Out the Jams”?

 


Husserl/Heidegger/Nietzsche: Gesundheit.

I’m giving you my well-thumbed copies of Thus Spake Zarathustra (Nietzsche), Being and Time (Heidegger), and Experience and Judgment (Husserl) with this admonition: If it sounds like a sneeze, don’t take the course.

The Carnival Barker: Recalling a Dying Art

Fairs–that is, open-air public festivals at which entertainment is provided for a price–are both a current phenomenon and a tradition dating to ancient Rome. Fairs tend to be held in rural areas–there is already sufficient amusement in cities–and they serve as occasions for the loosening of inhibitions that bind fairgoers in their everyday lives.


Southwark Fair by William Hogarth (1697-1764)

There to encourage the fairgoer to depart from his workaday virtues of thrift and reserve is the carnival barker. At the lowest level of the profession, he encourages children and adults to part with their money in the hope of winning hopeless games of chance. At the higher reaches of the guild, he entices farmers and tradesmen to inspect deformed beasts–the six-legged pig, the two-peckered billy goat; to contemplate without embarrassment a human oddity; or to purchase a ticket to a show featuring music and dancing girls.

Barkers are, within the world of the traveling carnival, the most learned of professions, glib persuaders. The grizzled carney who takes tickets on the Tilt-a-Whirl is a ditch-digger compared to the lawyerly status achieved by a barker who can coax people into a tent to look at Lizard Boy, the bearded fat lady, Jo-Jo the Dog-Faced Boy, the bored hermaphrodite.

The licentious atmosphere that fairs create has historically resulted in public disturbances, causing governments and the respectable burghers whom they serve to regulate fairs by means of charters; one town is granted the right to hold a fair for a certain number of days, usually at the end of the summer harvest, since fairs often include competitive exhibitions of farm animals, produce and rural crafts and skills.

In fair towns such as the one I grew up in the annual event would attract 100,000 people to a county seat whose normal population was 23,000, transporting the residents from rural slumber to a moderate-sized city without moving an inch.

Left at liberty to wander the carnival midway, an impressionable young mind with an ear for a well-turned phrase becomes a connoisseur of carnival barkers. The man who claims that, within his tent, there is a boy who walks, who talks, who wriggles on his belly like a reptile, is to be avoided. We have a good idea who’s inside; it’s Brad, the kid with the bad eczema, finally turning a profit from his affliction–with the addition of a green rubber mask.

The man who drones into the microphone outside the show that promises “Live models, in the nude, definitely not for Junior!” loses our interest after awhile. Because of our age, we won’t be able to get in to see whoever’s on display inside, and the customers who do part with their money are a forlorn crew; hare lips, club foots, and teenaged boys in blue jeans and white t-shirts with rolled-up sleeves, trying to prove they are men. No wonder they have to pay good money to see a naked woman.

No, the best show, even if you can’t afford it or they won’t let you in because you’re too young, is the Club Ebony. The barker’s patter is the best on the midway, and it is recited over a thumping backbeat, a precursor of sorts to Jamaican dub and rap. Jimmy Rushing, the rotund singer who is featured on some of Count Basie’s most memorable recordings, called the come-on before the black revue the “bally-hoo.” Rushing was a product of the traveling “territory” bands of the midwest, and knew whereof he spoke.


Jimmy Rushing

The revue you will see more of–if you part with the price of admission–is brought out one by one; the ribald comedian, the dancing girls, the R&B house band, a soul shouter, a sultry female blues singer. Each gives a tantalizing taste of the full range of his or her talents, then stops; you don’t give away what you can sell.

When the crowd has been whipped to a froth of anticipation, the barker makes his final pitch; “It’s showtime–if you’re in line you’re in time,” he begins to call. The entertainers leave the stage and disappear behind the curtain, and the rubes follow them into the tent if the barker has done his job.

The air of sadness that hangs over a fairgrounds at night is a reflection of its artificiality; beyond the tents and the rides one can see farmland and the road out of town, and the hard work that is to be done the next day looms over the gaiety. The spectacle of the carnival is a momentary illusion for the fairgoer, and for the hard-bitten men who must strike the tents and hit the road for another town soon, it is just a job. Their manufactured enthusiasm is sustained by electricity, like the calliope one hears from the merry-go-round that the children ride.

The patter of the barkers is heard less frequently these days; traveling carnivals have nothing to bring to a small town in the summer that can’t be found on the internet every day of the year. Traveling side shows are expensive, because they require a number of talented or unique human beings, unlike automatic games of chance or carnival rides, which can be operated by a single person, unskilled and normal. The genus has evolved, and the descendants of the pitchmen of the midway can be found on Rush Street in Chicago, luring convention goers into nightclubs to drink overpriced beer and watch pole dancers.

As a matter of fact, the last time I saw Brad the Lizard Boy was on the northside of Chicago. He was on his way to an underground film festival, and was excited about a particularly grotesque childbirth film that he’d heard about. A taste for bizarre spectacle, once acquired, can apparently be refined but is never lost.

One Retired Lawyer Gives Back By Boring Wayward Boys

BOSTON.  It’s Saturday, but an unused jury room in the Old Courthouse here is filled with young men, behaving as adolescent males have when forced to endure instruction since time immemorial; cutting up, cracking wise, and slinging spit balls at each other as they await the arrival of an elderly man who shuffles in without any noticeable reduction in the hijinx.

The old man turns towards the young and, in a voice that has called to attention countless juries over four decades, produces silence.  “Welcome to the Romance of Negotiable Instruments,” says Bayard DeWitt, a long-time trial lawyer who is using his golden years to give back to his beloved Boston by reforming young miscreants caught shoplifting, passing bad checks or engaging in other crimes against commercial mores.


“You there–recite the Rule in Dumphor’s Case.”

 

“I owe a great debt to this city,” DeWitt had said to this reporter in the hall before entering the den of disobedience.  “I came here virtually penniless, and when I die I will leave an estate that my wives and their boyfriends will fight over for many years.”

It is that sense of gratitude that compelled DeWitt a few years ago to propose his innovative program in juvenile reform; a Saturday session in the law of negotiable instruments–checks and promissory notes–that would inculcate in the minds of wayward boys a respect for Anglo-American jurisprudence.  “I could never make heads or tails of the law of bills and notes,” he says, ruefully recalling the one C grade on his otherwise distinguished law school transcript.  “I thought if I inflicted the same pain and confusion on the younger generation, it might dull their–shall we say–‘acquisitive’ instincts and turn them to a life of Oriental quietism under the influence of drugs.”


“Please sir–I want some less, sir.”

 

“All right, you young hooligans,” DeWitt booms out, and an uneasy quiet settles upon the room.  “I’ll have none of your grab-tail and shenanigans.  Now Peterkin–what did we learn last time?”

A boy rises from his seat, as he’s been directed to do by DeWitt, and says “We learned what the letters I.O.U. stand for.”  The other “students” laugh, and DeWitt joins them in a lightly-amused chuckle.

“That’s right, in a sense we did,” DeWitt says.  “But what did we learn about checks?”

A boy sitting up front, hoping to reduce his sentence from five to four Saturday sessions, shoots his hand up in the air.  “Dabney?” DeWitt says as he recognizes the boy.

“That you can spell it with either a ‘k’ or a ‘que’ at the end,” the boys says hopefully.

“Well, yes, I suppose.  But we learned something much more important.  Anyone remember?”


Fascinating!

 

DeWitt waits a pregnant moment or so, then supplies the answer himself.  “We learned,” he says, pausing for effect, “that a check is actually a draft, but it’s drawn on a bank!”  He smiles at the innocent but powerful truth of this proposition.  “A very important concept, but one that 99.8% of Americans are completely unaware of!”

Several boys stifle yawns, knowing that DeWitt treats a mouth open in fatigue as an invitation to call upon the perpetrator.  “Now that’s something you know, that I’ll bet your moms and dads and sisters don’t.”

The air conditioning in the public building isn’t on because it’s the weekend, and the heat makes the tedium of the subject matter even less endurable than it would be in comfortable conditions.  “Is it getting stuffy in here, or is it just me?” DeWitt asks, and a boy in the back row mutters “You’re always stuffy” sotto voce, setting off laughter from those within earshot of him.

“All right, I’ll open a window,” DeWitt says, and a cool ocean breeze flows into the second floor classroom.


Ellen Peters, Negotiable Instruments Heart-Throb

 

“That’s enough fundamentals for today,” DeWitt says with a gleam in his eye.  “Let’s turn to something more . . . captivating.”

The boys roll their eyes, knowing what’s coming next; a reading from A Negotiable Instruments Primer by former Connecticut Supreme Court Justice Ellen Peters, a favorite text of DeWitt’s.

“So simple, so elegant,” DeWitt says as he passes out a selection from the short work that he first encountered as a second-year law student 43 years ago, and which he keeps by his bedside if he can’t fall asleep after waking for his nightly micturation.  “It is from Peters that we learned what enduring metaphor for commercial paper.  Who can tell me?”

The class is silent, and a look of disapproval steals over DeWitt’s face.  “I thought we had mastered that one,” he says as he clucks his tongue, turns around and writes “A negotiable instrument is a courier without luggage” on a blackboard.  “This,” he says as he finishes, “refers to the stripped-down nature of these helpful handmaidens of commercial . . .”

He is interrupted by a scream, and then a groan.  The class runs to the window where they look down on the brick courtyard below and see Declan Thomas, their classmate, holding his ankle and writhing in pain.

“See what you did!” the boy named Peterkin says angrily to DeWitt, an act of insubordination that the former lawyer is too shocked to object to at first.

“What?  Why is that my fault?” he asks finally.

“You sent him over the edge with your boring talk!”

Don Byas, Master of the Sexophone

Don Byas, the tenor who forms the bridge that links the swing and bebop eras, used to say “I don’t play the saxophone–I play the sexophone.

You can understand his transliteration if you believe that the greater part of that basic human function is gentle seduction, and not just rocking penetration.

Byas, born Carlos Wesley Byas in Muskogee, Oklahoma in 1912, played in two of the leading Midwestern “territory” bands of jazz’s early days, Bennie Moten’s Kansas City Orchestra and Walter Page’s Blue Devils. After a short stay in California, he came to New York in 1937 and played with Don Redman and Lucky Millinder, but other than a brief but noteworthy solo on “You Set Me on Fire” with Andy Kirk’s Twelve Clouds of Joy, he left no mark during this period.


Walter Page’s Blue Devils

 

All that changed when he took over the tenor chair previously occupied by Lester Young in the Count Basie Orchestra in 1941. The Basie band recorded frequently, and Byas’ solo on “Harvard Blues” was recognized immediately for the aesthetic that would mark his playing for the rest of his career; a gorgeous tone, an athletic vigor and a sense of form. His solos had a beginning, middle and end, and were not just repetitious riffing or bombastic blowing.


Andy Kirk and His Twelve Clouds of Joy

 

Byas came of age when jazz was bounded by the 78 rpm records of the day. Songs were limited to three minutes or thereabouts, and the concision imposed by that format made you or broke you as a soloist. You had to have something to say, know how to say it, and be able to bring your thought to a conclusion with something resembling aplomb. Contrast the well-crafted solos produced by Byas under that regime with the meanderings produced by tenors in 60s and 70s and you will agree that it is better to spend a brief moment with a genius than a quarter hour with a bore.

Byas was more than just a miniaturist, however. As an omnivorous participant in the late night “cutting” sessions where New York musicians established their relative rank in the manner of rutting bull mooses, Byas was capable of taking and holding the stage against up-and-comers, one of whom (Allen Eager) simply walked off to get a drink after Byas launched into a lengthy improvisation to Cherokee, a notoriously difficult set of harmonic changes that Byas had chosen as a challenge. You can get a sense of the extended invention he was capable of by listening to his solo on I Got Rhythm that is included in the Smithsonian History of Jazz and the Commodore Sessions, both still in print.


Max Roach, drums, Oscar Pettiford, bass

Byas would form an adjunct part of what is generally recognized as the first bebop group in 1944, jamming regularly with trumpeter Dizzy Gillespie, bassist Oscar Pettiford, pianist George Wallington and drummer Max Roach. When Dizzy got his first date as leader a year later, Byas joined him for the sessions that produced the bop classics Night in Tunisia and 52nd Street Theme.

Byas’s rhythm, phrasing and harmonic ideas remained rooted in the swing era, but he could match the young pioneers, with their high velocity and harmonies that Louis Armstrong famously derided as “Chinese,” note for note.


Don Redman

 

In 1946 Byas made a fateful decision that accounts for his relative obscurity today; he left for Europe on a tour put together by Don Redman and didn’t return for another 24 years. By then both swing and bop were history, and the fashion in tenor solos had moved on to a sound that resembled, in its most extreme form, a man having an argument with his instrument.

Byas stayed in Europe in part to avoid the New York haunts of his younger days, when he had developed a drinking problem. He seemed to find peace in Europe, where he became an exercise fanatic, invariably inviting friends whom he hadn’t seen for awhile to punch him in the gut as hard as they could to prove how fit he was keeping himself.

He also became something of a bon vivant, serving up Louisiana fare to friends and his many female admirers. He found his way to more than a few women’s hearts with both his sax and his cooking.

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