Rarely when I publish pictures do I explain the thought process, the technical information or the inspiration. If somebody is confused by a picture or intrigued by a picture I want them to come to their own conclusions.
I feel by telling people too much about a picture, it cheapens the experience for them. That being written, I am going to part with my traditional way of doing things and give a rare glimpse into what happened before I created a trio of images.
The story of these pictures actually starts with the story of the picture above.
As you can tell, I am very pleased with the shirt I am wearing. It is an awesome shirt and if it isn’t the greatest shirt I currently own, it is certainly a top 5 shirt.
If you can read and have an adequate brain, you probably have deduced that this shirt was purchased at the Beaverdale Fall Festival. Good for you Big Brain! This shirt was indeed purchased at the Beaverdale Fall Festival.
Sara invited a bunch of us down to her house for the Beaverdale Fall Festival. Jen, Jill and I accepted the invitation.
This is the first thing that happened to put these events into motion:
Jill picked me up in her sweet car.
Picture actually taken on the day that the idea for Alligator Shirt Day was Born.
More on that at a later date.
We swung out to Ledges to briefly interact with Jay, Monica and Jeff.
Then we met Jen in Ames and went to Beaverdale to meet up with Sara.
At Sara’s house we were treated to steamed asparagus and the company of Cousin Amy. Jen gave Jill and I beaver tats with a sharpie to symbolize the importance of the event.
I know a lot of people that are really good at a lot of things, but I don’t think I know anybody who is as good at a given skill as Jen is at drawing beavers. I think she should go into business.
After a small amount of time digesting the asparagus we made the short 3 block walk from Sara and Jupiter’s home to the Beaverdale Fall Festival. Jupiter was left behind in the basement. That is the life of a dog, no matter how pretty.
Our first stop was a table where an elderly gentleman was selling Beaverdale Fall Festival swag. He regaled us with tales of past Beaverdale Fall Festival shirts. My heart was particularly broken because a couple of these shirts sounded at least as sweet as the Beaverdale Night Fever shirt he was hawking this year. One was a parody of album cover of “Let it Be”. The other was a parody of the album cover of “Abbey Road”.
But if I live by one rule it is this: Don’t waste your time lamenting the beaver shirts that got away. Be thankful for the beaver shirts that you have.
Feel free to use my rule as the center of your life as well. I guarantee you it will serve you well.
Jen, Jill, Sara and I each purchased a Beaverdale Night Fever shirt. Admittedly, we should have picked one up for Derrick, but having to stand at Sara’s birthday party and take the picture of the 4 of us in our beaver shirts was his punishment for choosing 35 South over us on that night.
Jen and I declared that we would wear our beaver shirts at work on Monday. Sara gave us no indication when she would wear her beaver shirt, but Jill announced that she would wear her shirt to work on the following Friday.
Jill works at one of those companies that has “expectations” and “standards” about the clothes that their employees wear. But on Fridays, they let there employees get all casual.
Monday came and I arrived at work sporting my sweet new beaver shirt. I had Jesse take a picture of me with my phone so I could picture message Jen and find out if she was also sporting her sweet beaver shirt.
Jen was sitting in her office explaining the beaver shirt story to Jessica (who is the person that is organizing the Knocker Walkers team) when my picture message came through. This apparently amused them both.
On Friday, my work soundtrack consisted entirely of John Coltrane music. I decided to follow-up on Jill to see if she was wearing her beaver shirt. As I was typing out the text message I had a strange flashback. I remembered sitting around Jen and Derrick’s living room this summer before their wedding.
They asked the guests of their wedding to pick a song for the reception. We were going through the list of songs that people had picked and I had stopped on Jill’s song. She had chosen Naima by John Coltrane.
It was the only jazz song anybody had suggested. I remembered that.
Jill texted me back that she was wearing the beaver shirt and enjoying the many jealous looks she was getting from her co-workers.
I turned on the only copy of Naima that I possess and gave it a listen. The only version that I own is from the album Live at the Village Vanguard Again! It is 15 minutes and 10 seconds long. It is 110% chaos.
Now I know that the original is not chaos. The only other song on this album is a 20 minute 21 second version of My Favorite Things. It is also chaos. I have 3 other copies of My Favorite Things that are not chaos. This album is chaos. It is also genius.
I texted Jill and asked her why she chose the song Naima.
She answered back that it was her favorite Coltrane ballad.
I wrote back that I was going to need to find a studio version of the song because the only version I had was live and was chaos.
She wrote back that the studio version was “incredibly soothing and hopelessly romantic”.
I wrote her, “That is the single greatest description I have ever heard for a song.”
I told her I would find a copy of the studio version and give it a listen and then we could compare notes.
I did some research on the song to find out what album the original song was on. Turns out that it was Giant Steps. This was an album that I have literally held in my hands at least 10 times, but have never purchased because it seemed to me that I could wait for a remastered version of the album.
Ames is virtually devoid of music stores. I know that is partially because Ames didn’t support its music stores and partially because the internet and iTunes have so radically changed the market that music stores with inventory of not Top 40 (read crap) are not going to make it.
I remember when I was in high school – Bill, Lowell, Andy and I would load into Bill’s Ford Fairmont station wagon and drive to Campustown to visit the (not 1, not 2) 3 music stores located with a 3 block radius. There was Archives, Peeples and BHS Records. BHS Records wasn’t really called BHS Records. It went by another name, but we always called it BHS Records because it is where we discovered the Butthole Surfers.
Now they are all gone and if a person is looking for new, experimental, alternative music – good luck! I don’t know where this generation of kids is going to discover bands like Jerry’s Kids, Intense Mutilation, The Abortions, Dead Kennedys, Dead Milkmen, The Ramones or the Revolting Cocks.
The options in Ames for buying music are the big box department stores. That means virtually no choice at all.
But I wasn’t without hope. Best Buy has a small jazz section. Borders has a slightly bigger jazz section. Hastings has a slightly larger jazz section than Borders. But if you were to combine all of their jazz sections the term that would best describe the conglomeration is anemic.
That Friday after I left work, I did not have time to stop at Best Buy or Borders for reasons that currently escape me. After all, this was nearly a month ago.
Now I know what you are thinking… You are thinking that somebody that literally mines computers for a living must easily have the aptitude to download this song from iTunes, Amazon, Zune or illegally find it in one of the murky backwaters of the worldwide web.
It is true that I have that capacity. But I am also the guy who still wants CDs. I want liner notes and album art. I want to rip the CD to my hard drive. I want to be able to have a real CD (not a burned copy) to sit inside the 300 disc changer that resides at the bottom of my stack of audio equipment in my home.
On Saturday morning I had a fairly busy day scheduled. I woke up early and met Frank at the gym. This was one of his first times back to the gym since his NDE so it was a fairly light workout.
I left the gym with enough time to stop at Best Buy and Borders before I had to meet Sara in Beaverdale for our jaunt over to Prospect Park to watch Jen rip it up in the Des Moines Regatta.
Derrick and Jen at the Des Moines Regatta
I can write what I am about to write with a clear conscience. The dude that runs the Best Buy in Ames is one of my best friends and although he is not a reader (his term) he still is a loyal subscriber to this blog.
Scott and Jesse and my living room ceiling fan
Best Buy broke, no, shattered my heart into a million pieces. Not only did they not have Giant Steps, they didn’t have a single Coltrane album. I could understand that they didn’t have Giant Steps. Even though it is a fairly seminal jazz album. I mean I don’t own it, so I shouldn’t judge Best Buy too harshly. But they didn’t have a single John Coltrane album in stock. I know, pretty unforgivable. I mean to have a serious talk with Scott about this tragic oversight the next time that we are knocking down a tenderloin. (Yes, I realize that music and movies are loss leader items for stores like Best Buy and in a tough economy it is smart business practice to keep as little on hand stock as possible, especially items that aren’t exactly flying off the shelf like 50 year old jazz albums. But we’re talking about Coltrane, man!)
Borders used to have a fairly decent jazz selection. Unfortunately a few months back they decided to lower their inventory levels and concentrate on selling Top 40 (read crap) music. Now their jazz section is a disgrace on multiple levels.
Their first disgrace is the size. It is only about 1/3 of its previous size. Their 2nd disgrace is that their discs are randomly “organized”. I literally went through every single jazz album they had in stock to determine that they did not carry Giant Steps.
Disappointed I made my way down to Beaverdale to meet Sara for the Des Moines Regatta.
I was hoping to have time to hit a music store in Des Moines while I was down there, but it wasn’t to be. The Regatta ran a touch longer than expected and then after the portion that interested us had concluded, we ate at Zimm’s.
Sara contends they have the best nachos in Des Moines. I argue for Skip’s.
I left Des Moines at 3 and had to be at the wedding of Mindy Vickers in Boone at 4. I got stuck behind the Army football team on Highway 17, so I was not able to make record time, but I did get to the wedding only a handful of minutes late.
I grabbed a seat in the back of the church next to my old boss, the Son-in-Law. After the wedding concluded, the Son-in-Law set up shop on the Senile Old Man. It was awesome! I could have listened for hours, but instead I congratulated the happy couple and headed to the ISU-Army football game.
After the game, I went to Dustin Jackson’s wedding reception.
Dustin and I – The World’s Most Dominant Egg Toss Team
I just want to note that I miss those sideburns.
I had an awesome time at the reception, before returning home to sleep.
In the morning I attended church and around noon the family took my mom to La Carreta for her birthday.
At this feast, Teresa asked me if I would take Logan over to the art festival in Ames. He needed to go for extra credit.
I agreed to take him because I was going to Ames to check out Hastings to see if I could find Giant Steps. I could use the company.
Johnathan decided he wanted to go, so we met at my house and prepared to load up the car. But before we got in the car Logan insisted that he get to choose the music.
I told him he could choose the music on the way there, but on the way back he was in my world.
He asked if I had The Beatles One CD.
I asked him if he meant, “Like the Greatest Hits Album”.
I was disappointed. My sister had failed in teaching him one of life’s most valuable truths.
“Greatest hits albums are for sailors and housewives.” I think we all know what terrible taste in music sailors and housewives possess.
I gave Logan a long lecture on the evils of the “Greatest Hits Album”.
Logan having the good fortune of me being his uncle his entire life, listened and took to heart the wisdom that I imparted to him.
The first stop in Ames was Hastings. As we approached the door I noticed that it was plastered with signs proclaiming that Hastings was closing on Wednesday.
Interesting, I thought. Then I entered the store.
“Bennett.” I heard called out to my left.
Ungs was working the Customer Service Desk.
“What is this all about?” I asked pointing to the sign.
“Our lease is up. We are closing down forever. They held a meeting and told us a couple of days ago.”
“Did they at least give you burnt cheese and pretzels?”
I was disappointed. When we had been told that Campus was closing down, the Senile Old Man had at least provided us with burnt cheese and pretzels.
I worked my way back to the jazz section and surveyed the Coltrane albums. Giant Steps wasn’t there. But as I examined the albums I noticed that Naima was on The Very Best of John Coltrane.
Fate was laughing in my face. I wanted to hear the song, but I didn’t want the indignity of buying a Greatest Hits Album. But sometimes a man has to swallow his pride.
I looked around to make sure Logan and Johnathan weren’t paying attention. Luckily for me, they were quite enthralled with a pimp goblet.
Might be what the Holy Grail looks like…
I picked up the CD and made my way to the checkout. They never noticed.
We headed up to the art festival.
They seemed to enjoy the art festival and after ambling around for an hour or so we headed back to Boone so Johnathan could go to work.
We dropped off Johnathan, then Logan and I made a brief stop by the Boone & Scenic Valley Railroad so that we could see Thomas the Tank.
Then I dropped off Logan and went home to prepare my house for Rabbit Feast. By prepare my house, I mean that I was home.
Becky came over and began her preparations. Jay came over and prepared his appetite.
Becky served so much food that I can’t possibly remember it all. I do remember that it turns out that I don’t particularly care for rabbit, stud rabbits aren’t treated with nearly enough respect and Becky made some kind of peanut butter glaze that was incredible.
After the meal, I amazed Jay and Becky with my ability to play YouTube on my Blu-Ray player. All things considered, I am more impressed by the fact that it plays Pandora. But to show them the YouTube functionality, we watched several clips from Robot Chicken. Becky was not amused by Robot Chicken. I feel bad that she doesn’t appreciate the greatness of that show.
Jay and Becky left around 11 and I immediately crashed.
The next day I brought my CD to work to listen to Naima. This is not how I like to listen to music. I like to not have any distractions and be in complete darkness. I don’t know, light distracts my ears. Nothing I can do about it. I have to live with this brain.
While I was perusing the liner notes, I learned that the version of Naima on this greatest hits collection was live.
Fate was laughing at me again. This time, I had to laugh with the stupid jerk as well. Then I went to Amazon and downloaded the Giant Steps version of Naima.
I made a CD of the studio version of the song and the two different live versions of the song. That night as I went to bed, I put the CD on “Repeat Disc” and listened to the disc until I fell asleep.
I’m not going to go into details about my exchange with Jill about the song. It was mostly me making references to other forms of art and a discussion on what it means to be “hopelessly romantic” and whether or not that is a bad thing.
But I will share the one paragraph that Jill sent that inspired me to make these pictures:
I believe that you do not need to be an accomplished musician in order to be an accomplished music lover. Actually, I think knowing too much about the technicalities can ruin just purely loving to listen to music. I luckily never cared too much about music theory so I don’t think I’m part of that group, but I would much rather go hear music live rather than listen to recorded music. That is probably why my favorite genre is jazz because it’s so spontaneous and so great live. Unfortunately I no longer have any of my jazz cds, but I will slowly rebuild my collection. I’m not going to pretend to know a lot about jazz because I don’t. I played in jazz band only because it was just so much fun. I was never great at it by any stretch of the imagination but I simply didn’t care. I’ve heard a lot of it, but honestly can’t name every standard or tell you who performed them all. I do know what I like when I hear it though, and I can usually explain why I like it. I think that is all that really matters.
I should state for those that don’t know, Jill is an accomplished musician and played the most rocking piccolo solo I ever heard in my life this Summer with the Boone City Band.
I think you know that I am not an accomplished musician. In fact, I could hardly be described as a musician at all. But I do still have my old slide trombone sitting in my basement from my days at dear old BHS.
But after being inspired and somewhat liberated by reading those words, I decided to take a self portrait with my trombone in homage to a couple of my favorite musicians (Miles Davis and John Coltrane) and two of their seminal albums, Kind of Blue and Blue Train.
So that is the story that lead me to sit in my basement one Thursday night and make these images with a beat up trombone that has seen better days, but will never see better days again.
Kind of Blue Train Series – 001
Kind of Blue Train Series – 002
Kind of Blue Train Series – ‘Round About Midnight Riff
I know it is a lot to get through just to see 3 pictures.