The World According to Keitho

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Posts Tagged ‘New York City’

Burned by daylight savings time

Posted by keithosaunders on March 12, 2017

It’s not fair to be a musician with a Sunday brunch gig on the first day of daylight savings time.  After a late Saturday gig you are robbed of a precious hour of sleep before waking up at what is really 7:30 to play for Sunday brunch.  The humanity!

One of my first steady gigs back when I first moved to New York, 30 + years ago, was at a boxcar diner with an upright piano crammed into one side called, The Empire Diner.  It was a four hour gig – from 11pm-3am – and it paid thirty dollars plus a meal.  (Eventually it went up to thirty-five)

A couple of times I played the late set on New Years eve which was from 2am-6am.  It paid double scale!  After those nights I felt so prosperous  that I would spring for a cab ride home – from 10th Ave & 22nd st all the way to the Upper West Side on Broadway and 109th st.

Us late show pianists actually caught a break during the change from standard time to DST.  At 2:00am , when the clocks  jumped ahead to 3:00, we would say, “Welp, time to clock out!”

Conversely, in the fall, when the clocks moved back an hour, the place expected us to play for an extra hour.  I would try to sub that night out, or conveniently forget about the time change.

Enjoy the extra light, everyone, we have made it through the dark days of winter.  Now if we can only make it through the dark days of the Trump administration.

 

Image result for empire diner

 

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Naked Trump

Posted by keithosaunders on August 20, 2016

Naked Trump statues are happening, and apparently in more than one city.  There’s one in the Castro district of San Francisco, as well as four other cities.  That’s what you get when you brag about the size of your penis in the age of the smarmy internet.

That said, I am more amused than offended by the statue. In fact I’m not offended at all.  What has offended me is an incurious, docile media that has treated this man as if he was a serious, qualified candidate.  Too many articles take Trump’s proposed policies seriously rather than question the hubris and sanity of the man.

You’ve got a media that is in the pockets of corporate America, and in Trump, a ratings bonanza.  This is not a good recipe.  It is not in the media’s interest to question the man or to report on an America that is decidedly more racist than was previously imagined.

If all that is left for us plebes is to engage in locker room humor then I say bring it on!

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In his cups

Posted by keithosaunders on August 11, 2016

Yesterday somebody climbed Trump Tower using suction cups.  Who could have been so attention starved to have attempted such a stunt?

cruz

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My first night in New York

Posted by keithosaunders on July 11, 2016

I arrived at JFK airports in New York City on April 10th, 1984.  I took the subway from the airport – read express A train to Manhattan –  but when it came time to change trains I discovered that the uptown IRT was out of service.  I emerged from the subway and immediately discovered the reason why:  a rain storm of biblical proportions. This was my introduction to the charm of New York weather.

I tried to hail a cab but this proved to be no easy task in midtown Manhattan during rush hour in the middle of a subway outage.  Finally I was able to share a cab with a couple of strangers and I was able to travel the mile and a half to 74th st and West End Ave in a mere 45 minutes.

My cousin, who I would be staying with until I found a place of my own, lived in the old Hotel Esplinade. I arrived, dropped my bags off and went in search of dinner. I walked a few blocks up Broadway until I came to The Pizza Joint.  There I ordered the best meatball hero I had ever tasted.  Of course this could have been me, fresh off the boat,  over-romanticizing New York.  Over the years, however, I would return to the Pizza Joint, as well as its cousin, The Burger Joint, and I’ll be damned if they didn’t make some of the best meatball heroes and burgers ever.

I returned to the Esplinade and my cousin still wasn’t home from work.  With nothing to do I sequestered myself in his bedroom and turned on his clock radio hoping to find a baseball game.  The Yankees had just finished and the Mets were off that night (Monday) so I was out of luck there.  Turning the dial I stumbled upon a Rangers/Islanders playoff game that was in overtime.  What luck!  Ten minutes later the game came to an end on an Islander goal.  All of a sudden, out of one of the adjoining bedrooms I heard this blood-curdling scream.  If I hadn’t have been listening to the game I’m sure I would have thought somebody was committing murder.  Later I would discover it was my cousin’s sullen roommate, Rothstein.

And that was my first of 9,490 nights in New York City.

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The night before I moved to New York

Posted by keithosaunders on July 9, 2016

The night before I moved to New York City I walked into the living room to discover my brother sitting by himself on the couch.  I asked him what he was doing there.  A minute went by when he said in a choked voice that he was going to miss me.  After 23 years of sharing a room, fighting for stereo supremacy, arguing over what to watch on TV, and competing in cut-throat, sibling rivalry-infused games of basketball, or whatever sport was in season, we were saying goodbye.  He broke down in tears, as did I, and we stood together in the darkened living room embracing for the first time ever.

The next day I moved to New York City where I remained for the next 26 years of my life before moving back west to Bay Area some six years ago. During that time I met my wife and we had three children.  My brother moved all over the country before settling in Chicago.  There he met his wife and had two children.

Now both of our parents are gone and those days when we were a family with all of the security and angst that went along with it are but a distant memory.  My oldest son, just as I did in my early 20s, has moved to New York City.

Time is moving too fast.

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Ray Steven

Posted by keithosaunders on May 16, 2016

Back in the old days when I was a young buck starving jazz pianist living in New York City I fell in with this character named Ray Steven who led a society band.  Later I would learn that one must always be wary of people with two first names, but I was young, naive, and needed some gigs that paid a more than jazz clubs did.  In regards to payment,  ‘little’ was the operative word here.  Ray paid the bare minimum.  In fact often times my check, when it finally arrived, was five or ten dollars light, as if by accident.

Ray had the type of band that would play at society dances in exclusive clubs around Manhattan – the Harvard Club, the University Club, the Hotel Pierre.  The east coast refers to these gigs as ‘club dates.’  The west coast calls them ‘casuals, ‘ which is even more of a misnomer.  In the summer we would often trek out to East Hampton, 110 miles to the east, and play at some swell’s estate.  We, the sidemen, would make under scale, while Ray pocketed enough dough to put his kids through college.

Ray had several corny sayings he would draw from after a particular song was over.  He said them so often that the band ended up memorizing them.  After a lively rock song he would say, “That’s better than a Jane Fonda workout!”  If we played a Latin song such as a merengue or a mambo,  he would bellow out a sentence in Spanish followed by, “That means ‘Schaefer is the one beer to have when you’re having more than one!'”

He many more but I think you get the idea.  Here’s another one of his homilies which would take place after playing something particularly demeaning, such as The Electric Slide, or after a conga line had spontaneously broken out. (It was demeaning to us musicians, not the party-goers — they had no shame)  Ray would slobber up to the mic (by that time he was as drunk as any of the guests) and call out, “That’s the most fun you can have with your clothes on!”

It’s funny, though, but this last bit of Stevenism has me thinking.  He was right —  sex really is fun.  But we don’t think of it as such, at least in the conventional sense.  I suppose that’s because it gets weighted down by the emotions that come with it.  How inconvenient!  I mean…we go bowling, have poker night, golfing, tennis, book club.  Why can’t there be sex night?  It would definitely be better than a Jane Fonda workout.

 

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The dawn of the baseball season

Posted by keithosaunders on April 1, 2016

And so, after a long cold winter, or in the case of the Bay Area, a wet winter, the baseball season begins again this Sunday.  This year, instead of the traditional opening night game, there will be three Sunday games:  The Cardinals vs the Pirates, the Blue Jays vs the Rays, and my Mets will visit the reigning World Series champion Royals.

First of all:  Nice touch by baseball tweaking the opening day schedule.  It will be great to have the triple header to kick things off instead of the usual anti-climactic lone Sunday night game.  Plus, baseball feels better in the day, especially to open the season.  I don’t say this very often but…kudos to MLB!

Not only that, but we have three sexy match-ups.  I don’t know about you, but I loves me some NL Central division teams and the Pirates have long been one of my favorites.  So you have a classic match-up between two of the oldest teams followed by a game between two expansion teams.  The Blue Jays figure to be a lot of fun this year and they have earned their slot in the opening day spotlight.  Perhaps we’ll get a Joey Bautista bat flip which will insight another juicy Goose Gossage rant.

Finally we’ll have the Mets vs the Royals.  This is the first time in 30 years in which I’ve gone into the season expecting the Mets to win their division.  Usually the best I can hope for is for them not to embarrass themselves.  This year, with the signing of Cespedes, and the return of their young, stellar pitching staff, the immediate future looks bright.  By the way, when is the last time the two World Series teams from the previous season opened the season against each other?  Answer:  Never.  Yet another nice move by the schedule-maker: finding a clever new spin on a hackneyed inter-league format.

Play ball!metsbeagle

 

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Troubling Times

Posted by keithosaunders on March 2, 2016

The Trump stuff is starting to get a little scary. He’s like a cartoon character — a buffoon – and it’s hard to take his platform seriously.  After all, other than promising to build a wall, or make Mexico build a wall, he really hasn’t said anything. If you go by his history he’s even a little more liberal than his hapless opponents.

No, what’s worrying me are his followers.  Trump’s jingoistic, xenophobic banter has brought to the surface a virulent racism in this country, so much so that I’m beginning to wonder if we’ve progressed at all since the 1950s.

Coded racism has long been a staple of Republican (and even Democratic) candidates.  One need look no further than patron saint, Ronald Reagan launching his 1980 campaign at the Neshoba County fair, a few miles away from Philadelphia, Mississippi, a town associated with the 1964 murder of civil rights workers.  There, he used the term, states rights, a kind of code for tacitly approved racism.

But with the ascendance of Trump there is no longer a need for code words.  He can vilify Muslims and Mexicans, thus empowering rednecks across the land to speak their minds.  And I’m not just referring to the South.  There were plenty of racists in the New York metropolitan area six years ago when I lived there.  Drive ten miles in any direction from Manhattan and you’ll see what i mean.  Long Island and New Jersey are cesspools.

Even here in the Bay Area, one of the most liberal places on the planet, you can find racism.  A singer with whom I worked with just last night friended me on Facebook.  No sooner did I accept her request than I saw that her page was littered with racist posts.  One showed a pair of four or five year old African American boys teasing and hitting a white girl, with the implication that violence starts at a young age.  She also compared these children to Palestinians.

By itself the post is merely ignorance.  In light of the violence and bile we have seen at Trump rallies, however, it’s unsettling.  What level of racism would be unleashed should this man somehow gain the White House?

 

 

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Table-stand night

Posted by keithosaunders on February 19, 2016

table standBack when lived in New York my buddy, Taro Okamoto (a drummer) and I used to often ride together to gigs. Once while we were loading up the car after the gig he asked me, “What’s your number?” He meant how many pieces of equipment do I have to load. He had 6 pieces of gear to remember, I had/have 4.

I always load in the same order: keyboard, amp, cart, & stand – from heaviest to lightest. Yesterday, for some reason, I decided to load the stand first, but instead of putting it directly into the car I laid it against the passenger side and went back to my apartment to get the rest of my equipment. (you see where this is going)

When I arrived at the 7 Mile House Sports Bar & Grill for my gig with Peppe Merolla I opened my hatch and I found that the stand was not there. In a moment I realized where it was — lying on the sidewalk on Buchanan st in Albany. I sprang into action calling the other band members asking if they had a stand and could they bring it. Ollie Dudek brought one but it was a little rickety and wasn’t going to support that much weight.

So it was table-stand night for me. It was embarrassing but funny thing, it was the best damn sound I ever had. I’m wondering where I can buy a restaurant-grade table.

I left the gig with a good feeling until I realized…I had forgotten my jacket. D’oh! And so it begins…old age.

 

(All’s well that ends well!)
street stand

 

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Dr Seinfeld

Posted by keithosaunders on February 12, 2016

NY

This morning I read a post over at Verdon’s blog which reminded me of a story that my Dad used to tell my brother and I  — this was one of his classics and we always loved when he would retell it.

When my father was a teenager and young man living in Forest Hills, Queens, his family had this dentist named Matty Seinfeld whose office was on the ground floor of the building they lived.  Dr Seinfeld, no relation to Jerry,  was a yuge (in the spirit of Trump) NY Giants fan, while my Dad was a died in the wool Brooklyn Dodgers fan.

Dr Seinfeld would have my Dad’s mouth full of instruments while maintaining a running commentary on the greatness of the Giants.  My Dad would have us in hysterics as he imitated Seinfled using this nasally, high-pitched, whiny voice:  “Goahdon, Tauhmson, Mize, wow what powah!”   All this while my Dad was splayed nervously in the chair praying that Dr Seinfeld wouldn’t remember that he was a Dodgers fan and ‘accidentally’ slip.

 

 

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