1. Perhaps this week’s highlight was the Tuesday Mardi Gras noon time concert at Epiphany Church – a four man Dixieland combo that goes by the name of Mike Flaherty and the Dixieland Direct. A piano, a bass, drums and one clarinetist/soprano saxophonist. If I had any complaints, it was in the composition of the group – to me Dixieland needs a number of wind instruments, certainly a trombone and a coronet to join the clarinet and sax. But that’s a small point considering the musicality of the four gentlemen in this group. A particular shout out to Bob Boguslaw, master pianist, a classical and jazz as well as Dixieland performer. What’s more, I just learned that this group is playing every Sunday night at the Zoo Bar, a rather nondescript looking place on Connecticut Avenue, across from the National Zoo. Never thought about going there – now I am thinking about it. (As an aside, why isn’t there more Dixieland music played today? Growing up in St. Louis, it was everywhere, not only at a number of establishments on the riverfront and, while it was operating, in Gaslight Square, and a group called (I believe) Sammy Gardner and the Mound City Six had their own Sunday evening TV show on channel 5.)
2. Three books read. First, there seems to be a lot being published now on the history of the Cold War. For no particular reason, I chose Col. John Hughes-Wilson’s “A Brief History of the Cold War”, part of an
English history series. It provided an excellent reminder of what went on, although the author’s complete right wing bias did get in the way a bit. Then, I read a novel, Dennis McFarland’s “School for the Blind”, again for no particular reason. Not much in the book that was of particular interest to me, although it moves along nicely – again photographer returns to his Florida Panhandle home town, where his unmarried sister still lives; they find human bones on a local golf course; and they get entrapped in some mysterious goings on. If this is your cup of tea, go for it. Finally, I read NPR host Noah Adam’s “Piano Lessons”, his diary of his year learning to play the piano – you see how he bought an $11,000 Steinway thinking it might be nice to learn to play, how he went about practicing and learning, how the rest of his life went along and, perhaps most important, what he learned about the piano, about music, and about musicians. Written in a relaxing style, similar to his interviewing technique, the book was a very pleasant diversion.
3. Saw the acclaimed film, “The Artist” – silent and colorless. Heard so many things about it. Expected to enjoy it more than I did. Thought it was well done, the evocation of the 1920s and early 1930s extremely accomplished, the non-verbal acting good, but the plot pretty trite and not very interesting.