The World According to Keitho

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Archive for August, 2010

Is he Moslem, or is he Memorex?

Posted by keithosaunders on August 31, 2010

Every once in a while I tune into the cable news networks, and almost every time I come away feeling unclean. Tonight was no exception. I realize that the filter of the media is strong, yet it is difficult to watch these shows for any amount of tine and not come away astounded at the ignorance of the American people.

Tonight, courtesy of the Larry King show, I learned that 25% of Americans believe that Barack Obama is a Moslem. One in four people, despite incontrovertible evidence to the contrary, believe that our president is lying about his religion. One in four!

Why should I be surprised? This is the same populace who supported a frivolous impeachment of president Bill Clinton over a romantic dalliance, yet vigorously supported an illegal invasion against Iraq.

But I am surprised. This, even more than Iraq, is willful ignorance. The pundits who slime Obama with innuendo — “I’m not saying he’s Moslem, yet there are inaccuracies.” – are the very same dolts who screamed bloody murder over his having belonged to a radical church. Well which is he, a radical Christian, or radical Moslem?

As usual it is blatant racism which fuels the argument — as if being a Moslem equates with dissidence or inherent evil. There is a significant portion of the population who could not process the tragedy of September 11th without demonizing an entire religion. If you ask me, this is the height of cowardice.

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The hell with you drivers, I’m going!

Posted by keithosaunders on August 28, 2010

I love to drive. I grew up in a driving city, Los Angeles, and as a musician I’ve logged thousands of hours in my car.  Here’s the thing:  When I get in my car I want to move.  I’m not saying I want to speed, although my wife would disagree. I do, however want the feeling of forward momentum working towards the goal of an efficient arrival. 

New York drivers are all business behind the wheel.  If the light changes and you fail to step on the accelerator, well you’re going to get honked, and deservedly so.  If someone wants to pass you, they pass you.  They’re in more of a hurry than you are and that’s fine – I respect that.  I was all for it as long as I was not put me in any danger.  What did I care?  I would never see them again so there was no point in carrying a grudge. 

If I was driving down Park Avenue and there was a cab on my left, I half expected him to cut me off to pick up his fare.  I was looking out for him, and do you know what?   He was looking out for me too.  In another situation I might have to cut him off.   So we would honk, scream a few choice curse words, and be on our way.  That’s life.

Here in the Bay Area, when it comes to driving, their pinkies are up.  Last week I had to get over to my left quickly and I changed lanes just a tad closer to the vehicle behind me than I would have liked.   As I was changing lanes I could see the driver’s face.  It was contorted with rage and indignity.  You would have thought I had run over his grandmother, rather than cause him to decelerate a mere 2 miles per hour.  I can imagine him recounting this grave injustice to his friends over latte.

Yesterday I really acted out.  I was like the James fucking Dean of the Bay.  I was at a four-way stop sign waiting for the car in the perpendicular street to go.  As is often the case when several cars are stopped at opposing stop signs there was some hesitation.  Boom!  I went for it.  That’s the way I roll…I’m from New York.  The kicker was that the perpendicular driver didn’t seem to mind – at least he didn’t honk.  The driver at his opposite stop sign, however, to my left, took up his cause.   As I was passing her she not only honked, but wagged a finger at me.

A finger wag?!   Who does she think she is, Bill Clinton?  There’s no finger-wagging in driving!

This is going to take a little getting used to.

Posted in San Francisco | Tagged: , , , | 2 Comments »

Paul O’Neill’s Phil Rizzuto Moment

Posted by keithosaunders on August 25, 2010

Those of my generation – I turned 50 today – are too young to remember the great New York Yankee, Phil Rizzuto, as a player. We are, however, fortunate to have experienced him as an announcer.

Rizzuto was knowledgable, inciteful, and charming and he had an eccentric side to him that was both funny and unpredictably zany. His long time booth-mate, Bill White, was adroit at drawing out Rizutto’s quirky side and he expertly play the instigator.

One day White was peering at Rizzuto’s scorecard when he asked, “What is DSP?”. Rizzoto, without missing a beat replied, “Didn’t see play.”

My best friend, Jeff, supplied this anecdote:

As the season went on, Bill White made Rizzuto promise to never use DSP again. Rizzuto promised, and that seemed to end it. Several games down the road, he was on with Bobby Murcer who brought up the promise, and Rizzuto said he didn’t break his promise.

So Bobby Murcer says, “Let me ask you something. If a batter walks, do you put down a “W”?”

Rizzuto: “Yes”

Murcer: “If a batter is walked intentionally, do you put down “IW”?”

Rizzuto: “Yes”

Murcer: “Then what is “WW”?

Rizzuto: “Wasn’t Watching”

Murcer: “So WW is just camouflage for DSP—a loophole”.

Rizzuto: “Don’t tell White.”

But from that point forward, WW became part of the Yankee vernacular, and White didn’t try to hold Rizzuto to any more promises. What a character Rizzuto was.

Paul O’Neill is following Rizutto’s route from hard-nosed ballplayer, to engaging, yet befuddled announcer. Thanks again to Jeff we have the forthcoming anecdote. Here is Paul O’Neill’s story as he is relating it to Michael Kay:

Paul O: “So I get home late last night after the game, pour myself a glass of wine and get ready to watch a movie I taped on HBO only to discover that I somehow pressed the SAP button, and the whole thing was in Spanish.”

Michael K: “Do you speak any Spanish?”

Paul O: “All I know in Spanish is how to say, ‘Please give me a beer’ ”

Michael K: “Why didn’t you go to HBO on demand?”

Paul O: (after a brief pause) “Feel free to stick your finger deep into the open wound” (background laughter from John Flaherty)

Well, it felt like a Rizzuto moment to me. And Phil always used to say that long stories lead to Yankee rallies, and the next inning, they came from behind with a 9 run inning. So to the memory of Phil Rizzuto, this cerveza is for all good huckleberries.

Posted in baseball | Tagged: , , , , , | 4 Comments »

First movie

Posted by keithosaunders on August 23, 2010

Everyone went to sleep at 8:30 and since we do not yet have our furniture I decided to take in a movie. I was happy to find that the local movie theatre is only a couple of miles up the road. On the way I passed three bars, two greasy spoons, and a bowling alley, all of which I intend to visit. (maybe not the bowling alley, but I did notice a sports bar attached to it so…)

I think it’s key for me to find a good bar to hang out in, the ultimate goal being that the bartender know my drink and have it waiting for me by the time I reach the stool. Heh…stool.

The sports bar that i mentioned brought up a perplexing quandary.  Now that I’m on the west coast most of the games, particularly the teams I care about, begin way too early for me in the day to start drinking. You can’t begin drinking at four in the afternoon unless you are Ray Milland in The Lost Weekend, or Nick Cage in Leaving Las Vegas. Then you start as soon as you awake.

In New York I had my sports bar in the Village. It became my Wednesday routine to arrive at 8:30-9:00pm, just as the early games were getting into the middle innings.  That way I could see the end of the early games and the beginning of the west coast games.

Here on the west coast I can only see the late games, since showing up at 4:30 would put me in town-sot territory. Unless there’s an opening for town-sot. I could use the gig.

Posted in baseball, San Francisco | Tagged: , , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

The first and last word on jazz piano: Bud

Posted by keithosaunders on August 21, 2010

There have so many pianists that have shaped the legacy of jazz music but there is one who towers above them all. Without Bud Powell there would be no Wynton Kelley, no Horace Silver, no McCoy Tyner, and no Chick Corea. Certainly Barry Harris, Tommy Flanagan, and Sonny Clark would have sounded much different. Even the pianists you might think are not influenced by Bud, such as Bill Evans and Keith Jarrett, owe a great deal to the master. Early Bill Evans recordings reveal a close stylistic affinity with Powell, and Jarrett has recorded many of Powell’s compositions on his trio dates- enough to let you know that he has more than a passing fancy.

The first Bud record that I owned was s Verve “twofer” called The Genius of Bud Powell, which comprised his trio and solo work from 1949-1951. I was just fifteen, new to jazz, but from the opening off-to-the-races intro of Tempus Fugit, Bud had won yet another disciple.

It would be impossible for me to overstate his importance to jazz pianists. The connection I felt to him was instantaneous and thrilling. These sessions, recorded in such a brief span of time, are the lexicon from which future pianists would study.

His technique is prodigious, but not as frightening and daunting as that of Art Tatum. He’s just mortal enough to allow you to have a smidgen of belief that it is attainable.

The technique, however, is the tip of the iceberg. Check out his clarity of ideas. He rarely repeats himself, even on the extended choruses of All Gods Children Got Rhythm, Tea For Two, and Parisian Thoroughfare. His attack is hard, yet he never forces the beat. He is secure in the center of the beat, rarely clams a note, and is so confident in the up tempo numbers that they hardly sound fast at all – just musical. His ideas, in fact, are so well-formed that he becomes a be-bop impressionist – painting in colors we could not dream of.

These sides, and I’ve heard them hundreds of times, never get old to me. I am as dumbfounded listening to them today as I wax 35 years ago. His ballad playing is like no other pianist I’ve ever heard. Phrases come in clusters, seemingly unrelated to the beat, but that is only an illusion; his time is never less than perfect. He appears to have found a way to use the maximum amount of pedal without ever slurring notes. He is romantic but never scmaltzy.

His personality looms over everything. From the startling originals, Hallucinations and The Fruit, to the clever re-working of the standards Tea For Two and Cherokee, he is in command and the music has such forward momentum that you almost get the feeling that his sidemen – Max Roach and Ray Brown – giants in their own rite, are merely along for the ride. This is bourne out on his solo sides of 1951, in which the tunes are so alluring, and his time so strong that on first listen one can be forgiven for not noticing the absence of a rhythm section!

Bud, you left us far too soon, but thank you for all that you have given us. We can never repay you, and we will never forget you.

Posted in jazz | Tagged: , , , , , , , | 3 Comments »

The joys of an empty stadium

Posted by keithosaunders on August 20, 2010

My second day living in the Bay Area found my son Lee and I making our debut appearance at the Oakland Alameda Coliseum. We saw the As play the Tampa Rays on a chilly, but delightful Thursday night.

I’m already in the California mindset of driving everywhere, but when my when my wife, Debra, suggested that we take the Bart, I was more than happy to avoid the rush hour traffic.

The Bart train has plush seats, is squeaky clean, very quiet, and surprisingly slow. They don’t run as often as the New York trains and they take an interminable time at the stations. That said, the train drops you off two minutes from the Coliseum and there is a ramp that takes you directly to the ticket booth. We bought field level seats in shallow right field for $26. In New York these same seats would have gone for $75 at Citi. God only knows what they get for them at Yankee Stadium – at least three figures.

Oakland’s stadium is not great. Look, it’s one of the older parks in the AL and it was built during the era of duel-use stadiums. That’s my diplomatic way of saying it’s a dump. Well…it’s not really a dump. They’ve done their best to spruce it up since the last time I was there, some 30 years ago. It’s clean and has good access from both the subway and parking lot. Best of all, it’s not crowded.

There is an embarrassing tarp over most of the upper deck seats – seats they can never expect to fill. At least they have green seats for a reason – the team’s colors are green and yellow. For some unexplainable reason most of the new parks around the league that have opened in the last ten years have chosen forest green for their seats, regardless of the team’s colors.

After several years of waiting on long lines to enter the stadium, being frisked, wanded, and unable to bring a backpack inside, it was refreshing to walk up to the ticket booth a half hour before game time, buy a good seat, walk right inside, and buy concessions that were surprisingly inexpensive. In New York I was exhausted before I arrived at my seat.

Don’t get me wrong. There is nothing like the electricity of being at a close, tense game in New York. The fans are raucous but they are smart and they have a great sense of humor. It’s just that in the aftermath of September 11th a lot of the joy went out of the experience. The New York fans are the best in the game, but the stadium experience, even with the new parks, is not that good. In Yankee Stadium they don’t even play Take Me Out To the Ballgame at the 7th inning stretch. Instead they remind you of the worst day in New York history by playing God Bless America.

The Oakland fans are small in number and are not nearly as vocal as the New York faithful. They are generally good-natured and seem to be very much into the game and their team. The feeling in the stadium was congenial and light-hearted.

The game was short and delightful. The As took an early lead but lost it on a pair of home runs by Carlos Pena and Evan Longoria. They came from behind, however, and mounted a 3 run 7th inning rally and went on to win 4-3.

I would be remiss if I failed to mention that this is the first August baseball game I have attended wearing layers of long-sleeved shirts and sweaters. The temperature at the start of the game was a fall-like 57 degrees.

I now have my eyes on a midweek September day game versus the Chicago Whitesox. There’s liable to be less than 2,000 fans in attendance!

Posted in baseball | Tagged: , , , , , , | 6 Comments »

The eagle has landed

Posted by keithosaunders on August 19, 2010

After 3,653 miles, 10 states, 2 countries, and countless fillerups, we have at last alit on Key Route blvd in Albany, California. We are very happy to be reunited with our son Jake, who is sporting a new hair style and now has a pierced ear – a new look for a new town.

Our new house is charming and spacious, and unfortunately lacking any furniture at all, save for two queen-sized air mattresses which were purchased today at Target. The movers say that they will call us the day before they deliver our furniture. Using this formula I have deduced that the soonest they will arrive will be Friday. We are faced with the very real possibility of not having furniture until Monday. That’s a lot of meals out. Where’s an automat when you need one?

Posted in road trip, San Francisco | Tagged: , , , , , | 2 Comments »

The big push

Posted by keithosaunders on August 18, 2010

We started the day in Jackson,Wyoming. Sixteen hours and 800 miles later, we find ourselves in Rosedale, less than two hours away from our new home in Albany, Ca. Let me tell you folks something: When it comes to driving, I am an animal.

I was one more cup of coffee away from being able to make the entire trip, but what for? There is no furniture in our new home. This, of course, begs the question, where are we going to sleep tomorrow night?! We know that the movers are somewhere in California, but even assuming they have made it all the way to the Bay Area, what are the chances they will be amenable to scheduling an impromptu delivery? I’d say there are two chances: Slim and none.

We’ll cross that bridge when we come to it. (not the Bay Bridge,silly, the movers bridge!)

In the meantime, here is your August 16th road trip marathon happy recap:

We drove west from Wyoming into Idaho, then down into northern Nevada. We had dinner in a pretty good Mexican restaurant in Elko, after which I drove practically 400 miles to our current destination.

There was a 3/4 moon staring directly into my windshield and it was fun watching it gradually set into the western sky. After it set I pulled off the road, just past Lake Tahoe and spent five minutes star-gazing.

Tomorrow our trip ends, and so begins our new life as Californians. You can have your airplanes – there is nothing like the road!

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Wyoming Day 3. Search for wildlife: This time it’s serious.

Posted by keithosaunders on August 17, 2010

“I won the rock, paper, scissors.”

“No you didn’t.”

“I won the laughing contest.”

“No you didn’t, it was a do-over.”

“I won the straight-face.”

“No you didn’t!”

Would you believe that this exchange, which took place in the back seat of our car between Lee, our 13 year old, and Lucy, our 9 year old, went on for close to a half hour? The kicker was that the stakes were for the right to say that Layla, our dog was either cute, or not cute. It didn’t matter, since neither would admit defeat, so Layla, at least in my mind, remains a cute dog. Fortunately we reached our destination, thus rendering the discussion moot. Part of me admires their grit and tenacity. Neither will say die, and both are committed to the cause, whatever that may be.

We had an action packed day of horseback riding and white water rafting. I enjoyed both, particularly the rafting, but now I can live out my days without having to do either again. Cross ’em off the bucket list. Next up: running with scissors.

As I alluded to in yesterdays post, everyone here talks about the wild life. This one saw a moose, that one played pinochole with a grizzly. On and on it goes. We had been here 48 hours and the wildest thing we had seen was a chipmunk.

Tonight we were determined to see something. I just wanted to see a moose. Yesterday we were told that our hike was a sure fire spot to see wildlife. What did we get? Chipmunks. Horseback riding? Nothing. Rafting? Well, OK, we did see a bald eagle, but still…moose!

So on the way home we took a recommended road: MOOSE CREEK ROAD. The fucking road wasn’t even paved. Nothing. Not even a chipmunk.

We were beginning to give up hope when we noticed several cars pulled over and people with cameras looking at a field of sagebrush. Moose!

Nope. It was a large deer-like creature which we couldn’t even identify. It could have been an elk, but don’t they have antlers? I asked a gentlemen what he thought they were and he responded that they could be muledeer. Muledeer? Get out of here. He made that up.

Tomorrow we’re going to attempt a 12 hour drive to put us in California. Wish us luck.

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Wyoming day 2: The goring of Keitho

Posted by keithosaunders on August 16, 2010

The first thing we were told upon entering Grand Tetons is that there is a lot of wildlife to be seen. Moose, elk,bears, and bald eagles, to name a few — each one more treacherous than the last. I’m not exactly sure how treacherous the bald eagle is, but I understand he/she can be pretty crafty when he sets his mind to it. Even the chipmunks, so I’m told, are mean!

The point being, watch yourself. Trouble is that I’m a New Yorker, soon to be second-time Californian. My mug-dar is fine tuned. Looking out for wild animals…not so much. To top it off I just saw a YouTube video in which some putz tried to get a close up shot of a bison and ended up getting a one way ticket to goresville. Not cool!

All of this was top of mind when we took a hike up to some beautiful waterfalls, and a great scenic vista called Inspiration Point. (Wasn’t that where the gang from Happy Days went to make out? Heyyyyy.)

So I’m walking up the mountain Fred Sanford style, the slightest sound causing me to pivot sharply and brace myself for an Olympic record 50 yard dash. All of a sudden I’m face to face with a bison the size of Maspeth. I began to tremble like Don Knotts as the bison arched his back and growled. In desperation I whipped out my iPod and hit play. As the sounds of Bud Powell playing Ornithology wafted out into woods the Bison turned up his nose and walked away. He said he just couldn’t gore to that kind of music. Once again the unpopularity of be-bop saves the day!

Of course this didn’t really happen. Had this been a real goring you would have been instructed as to which hospital or funeral home to send flowers.

We still have one more day in the Titons, I mean, uh Tetons, and let me tell you, it will be action packed. Stay tuned for possible maimings.

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