Before you speak, ask yourself, is it kind, is it necessary, is it true, does it improve on the silence? -Sathya Sai Baba

Monday, October 22, 2012

Decorative Gourd Season is for Children

The pumpkin carving is finished, and I'm sitting on the pavement outside the flower-shop-slash-tea-ceremony-spot where we came to turn gourds into grotesques as is traditional this season. It's sunny and cool. The proprietor's dog, a soft and well-mannered pekingese named Mickey, has decided that he would like a rest from his ambassadorship and has clambered into my lap yet again, where he sits, surveying the world with a look of pug-nosed satisfaction.

A little girl, with the encouragement of her parents, is having at a pumpkin with every color she can muster. The father rides herd on another child, a tow headed toddler who tries to touch everything he sees. Each handsy exploration is followed by a short pause, an inward gaze while he considers how each thing he touched made him feel. Seeing Mickey, the little boy's eyes light up, and he lurches over to us like a miniature drunk, ecstatic at his discovery. The dog endures the boy's uncoordinated but clearly loving open-handed pats for a moment, and then unhurriedly jumps down and makes his way back inside the shop.

But the little boy has already found a new game. In his fat little fist (all toddler hands are fat, eminently chewable) he holds a pebble, which he places in my hand. He then picks it up again, and puts it down, again, back in my hand. This time, however, I close my hand (my huge hand, bigger than his head, ridiculously large in context) around the pebble, and drop it back onto his palm. This variation on the game delights him, and he laughs open mouthed and loud.

He toddles around now, the slow, wobbling three-point turn of the new driver, and I expect him to walk back to daddy, but on the contrary, he tumbles backward, purposely half-sitting, half-falling into my lap. I look up at his dad, who is smiling benevolently down on the scene, and I laugh, too. 

"I guess I just have one of those laps," I say.


My recent forays back into playing the saxophone were encouraged when I met the great Mr. Donny McCaslin this weekend. His stuff is on Spotify, and I can highly recommend what I have listened to so far, without necessarily being able to speak all that intelligently about it. His earlier stuff reminded me of a less yearning Coltrane, if that makes sense. As a side note, me comparing every tenor player to Coltrane is a little like a guy who only occasionally listens to rock comparing every guitarist he's ever heard to Hendrix. I mean, yes, but.... 

Regardless, if that sounds like something you'd be interested in (and it should), go to, and visit his website at His new album, he informed me, has a much more electronic feel to it, and was influenced by Aphex Twin. I can't wait to hear it. Check him out.

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