Friday, January 26, 2018

Sonny the Samurai

Once saw a great photo of Sonny Rollins accompanying an interview that was shot (I think) in his old Tribeca apartment. Remember seeing a really cool poster behind him that depicted the musician in a traditional Japanese wood block style. Never could find a print of that poster, but always loved the idea of Mr. Rollins as a jazz samurai, wreaking havoc with his trusty sax. So did this for fun from memory (sure the original was much better).

Thursday, January 25, 2018


The Leopard just had one of those long nights where you suddenly feel a little hopeless. You know - those evenings that morph into the darkest hours, where you’re lying in bed staring at the ceiling and you think about all those bad decisions you’ve made in life, loves that you lost and those heart crushing regrets, regrets, regrets.

I think this was all spurred on by listening to MeShell N’degeocello’s album, Bitter. It’s one of those records where one lover is pleading to the another in that starkly naked, almost unbearably vulnerable way. On songs like “Fool Of Me” and the title song, It’s almost like we’re listening in on a very intimate, private conversation between two lovers - literally sung in whispers. What makes Bitter especially penetrating is that N'degeocello takes on both sides, and looks at relationships without judgment from all angles.

In the way, it’s what keeps the music from feeling completely tragic. It’s saying that things are rarely what they seem. You begin to realize that yes, you made mistakes and sometimes you royally screwed up, but hopefully, your basic intentions were honest, if not thoughtful.

But still you still have wake up and go to work.

Sunday, January 21, 2018

Talk To Me

On a cold winter’s day a couple of weeks ago, The Leopard and his two cubs were strolling on the streets of Harlem when, stopping at traffic light, I spotted an elderly homeless woman, dressed in mounds of rags shouting directly into one of those 9 1/2 foot futuristic kiosks you see on many street corners in NYC these days. They were made to replace payphones and provide wi fi service, and are charging stations for cell phones. 

These metal totems bring to mind the obelisks seen in Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey,  - only equipped with large, brightly lit touch screens featuring colorful graphics – maps and neighborhood info. Also there’s a red panic button installed with an intercom so that pedestrians can call in emergencies via 911 from the street.

As we waited for the long stoplight, I couldn’t help but listen to this lady loudly exclaiming into the kiosk all manner of grievances: first, New York and how filthy it is; how she hated all manner of people who live here and such; and how much in particular she hates her son-in law, her ex-husband, and how much her family in general never appreciated her; also, how she was in the FBI and the CIA and she will soon be revealing to the world secret missions she was sent on by George Bush in the early 2000’s.

As far as I could tell, the person on the other end of the conversation (if there was one) did not respond to her complaints.

I glanced back at a traffic cop who was about to wave us across the street. She smiled. “She does that every day.  Just shouts into that thing for hours about all kinds of stuff.”
“I kind of look forward to it a little, now. Helps break up the monotony.”

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

"D'ere he is!" 

Inspired this week to re-watch the seminal PBS documentary 14-episode series from 1987, Eyes On The Prize about the civil rights movement from 1954 to 1965. An early episode focuses in part on the story of Emmet Till. This time, I was particularly moved by a prominent figure in this story, Mr. Mose Wright, an elderly former sharecropper and great uncle of Till, who stood up in front of an angry racist crowd and pointed out Till’s killers. There was something about his courage and decency I found deeply beautiful.