Survival Among Friends

Three members of the survivor’s club met for lunch yesterday. Terry Teachout, Bill Kirchner and I have surmounted serious medical challenges (“can’t kill us”), but after a brief homage to the benefits and boredom of daily workouts, our conversation focused on staying afloat professionally, navigating the barrage of information that floods our world daily, balancing demands on our time, and assessing/predicting current/future cultural trends. (TT is very savvy about such things – if you are not a regular reader of his blog, you should be).

Kirchner, a consummate musician, radio host and jazz historian, is also a teacher at The New School (lucky are the jazz students in his classes). I was invited to stop by his class before our lunch to watch a video of the Thad Jones-Mel Lewis Jazz Orchestra taped for Ralph Gleason’s “Jazz Casual” program. It was a late 1960s broadcast featuring, in addition to Thad and Mel, Bob Brookmeyer, Snooky Young, Jerome Richardson, and Roland Hanna. I’m going to have to buy the DVD (also includes the Modern Jazz Quartet and Dave Brubeck Quartet and Paul Desmond). Anyway, Bill sent an email later in the day —

Re our conversation today, I’m reminded of something a friend of mine, composer-arranger-producer Bob Belden, said to me a few years ago: “Most people have to reinvent themselves a few times in a lifetime. Jazz people have to do it every few years.”

I guess that’s the price we pay for not being downsized, outsourced, or otherwise devalued. Or as another colleague put it: “It’s lonely down here at the top.”

Speaking of friends and survival, another email yesterday informed me that two of my good friends/neighbors, were in a horrific car accident yesterday and, happily, got away without any apparent major injuries. Here’s the description another friend/neighbor sent. (Not knowing what legal machinations might be involved, I thought it best to not mention any names)

[They] were taking their bass boat to the boat shop for its annual check-up when a testosterone-poisoned male in his early/mid twenties tried to dart his souped-up off-road SUV across their lane, behind their truck. Being of insufficient mental facility to “look both ways”, the young man failed to note the 20 foot long bass boat and trailer behind the truck, and slammed into the trailer at approximately 50-60 mph.. The impact of the SUV spun the trailer, and the truck pulling it, several 360-degree revolutions in the direction the truck was traveling. The boat broke loose from the trailer and flew *over* [their] truck, skidding approximately 300 feet down the freeway before coming to rest across two traffic lanes.

The SUV jumped the trailer and rolled several times before coming to rest across two other lanes, as the truck pulling the boat, and carrying [them], skidded to a stop in the middle of the freeway. It appears [his] expertise in handling the skidding vehicle, and his ability to regain control of the vehicle, prevented the truck from rolling over or careening at high speed into the concrete center divider.

[They] were… treated for numerous aches and pains, sore backs, and necks and released [from the hospital] with no apparent major injuries. The male driver of the SUV accompanied the tow truck and his crumpled vehicle away from the scene without requiring medical treatment. The trailer and bass boat were destroyed, and [their] truck sustained significant rear-end damage.

Talk about survival! I am very happy to hear that they’re okay. We live on a wonderful block where our immediate neighbors are truly good friends who can be counted upon in good times and bad. I may not be very religious in a formal sense, but I am blessed to have great friends, near and far.