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Saturday, August 27, 2005

Jazz Man

I was just out in my neighborhood running some errands when I encountered Jazz Man, and my mood instantly improved.

Jazz Man is a fixture in this part of Historically Black Neighborhood (and, for all I know, in other parts as well). He's a small man with a dapper little moustache, probably about 60 years old, always dressed in a loose-fitting suit, shirt, bolo tie, and a hat that's not quite a fedora; today he was all in white, including his hat.

Those things alone wouldn't necessarily make him stand out, since many of the older men in my neighborhood are natty dressers, but what identifies Jazz Man is the music that preceeds him everywhere he goes: he's placed an ancient portable stereo inside one of those two-wheeled shopping carts that old ladies use for groceries, and he pushes it around with him, blasting out bebop. For a long time he also had a painted plaster figure of a jazz saxophonist, which I believe was meant to be Charlie Parker, tied or taped to the front of the cart.

And as far as I can tell, this is what he does all day: saunters up and down the streets, pushing this thing in front of him, and nodding genially at everyone he sees. It took a long time for it even to occur to me that he must be soft in the head, he comports himself with such grace and he's so warmly received--as he walks by you hear a constant stream of, "Hey Jazz Man, what's happening?" "Jazz Man! Lookin' good!" And he just smiles graciously, as if he were the mayor, and continues on up the block.

And I don't know why, but seeing him always makes me happy. Happy, I guess, that he seems to get such joy out of his music and his perambulations, and happy that he lives in a place where he's able to do his thing and where people look out for him.

link | posted by La Lecturess at 4:31 PM |


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