“Rains Down In Africa”

Well now, that’s only the name of the great old song by the group Toto. It’s playing on my system in Phoenix right now. No one’s around to complain about the sound volume. It’s 11PM Mountain Time. I like to point out my body clock is on Pacific time. Even though my body clock says it’s 10PM, I’m not passing up an excuse to say the time change leaves me unrecovered from jet lag. Never mind that I drove down to Phoenix. Never mind that the Pacific storms always follow me down here. We’ll get the snow in Flagstaff tomorrow. We’ll get the rains down in Phoenix. This is a ramble.

I discovered the pool has been losing water – fast. Too cold for swimming, but when the water level is down 6 inches or so, the system takes in air and loses its prime. I think I found the leak, a PVC aerator pipe. My pool man says there’s a shutoff valve we can use to turn just that nonessential part of the system off. That would be nice. Excavate to repair that one section, you might as well rip up the whole east side concrete pool walkway and replace everything. That could run a grand without blinking an eye.

So the pool guy comes tomorrow and then the electrical guy comes Tuesday for the annual “free” electrical inspection, and to fix a back porch light circuit that’s probably infested with spiders. Just contemplating all this surely makes apartment or condo life sound more attractive to the retired leisure set.

The drive to Phoenix was uneventful – 10.5 hours. It’s the first time I’ve been “trapped”: by tomorrow Gorman (Tejon Pass) will probably have plenty of snow. You might be able to get past the LA basin via the Mojave and Bakersfield. But the Tehachapi Pass is still expecting rain and snow right now. I’ve only driven in the snow once or twice as a kid, don’t have chains or know how to put them on, and I’m not interested in learning. I was returning Saturday anyway.

As the current iTunes WAV server plays on, it’s just Another Brick In The Wall.

One of the songs I’ve bookmarked for my “Favorites” playlist is named Long Toi, found in the CD album of the same name by artist Duc Thanh. I have no idea how I found it, but I like it. Actually, I find I enjoy the whole album. Instrumentation is traditional Vietnamese, featuring (I think) a 16-string zither. The songs are traditional folk. You can tell it’s pop music, but with a different cultural zing – many westerners might take it in the spirit of a travelogue movie and say, “how cool!”

Some of my other musical tastes, like Stravinsky’s Rite of Spring, do drive many of my friends nuts. I may no longer care for driving in the snow, but I still like adventure.

I was also thinking about the year I served in Vietnam, way back when. I was proud enough to serve my country.  What a shame how it all turned out.  Dove or Hawk, most of us realized  at some point we had no national idea what in hell we were supposed to be doing over there. Everybody had their own theory.  Some still do. Fact is, history shows we neither defended our own country in Vietnam, or theirs.

Just now the haunting Beggar for the Blues is playing, on the ’60’s album Bashin’ by Jimmy Smith. If you really like blues, Smith’s keyboard jazz mastery on that big theater organ, the incredibly excellent backup orchestra and percussion of Oliver Nelson (or any of those three alone), the CD is still available at Amazon and other purveyors. I digitized this cut from the original vinyl. Personally, I think Smith often goes over the top with the keyboard, but this guy could play jazz, and this cut is a must for any collection.

Another one to look out for, if you even think you like jazz piano, is Summertime, from the CD The Best of the Ray Brown Trio – also currently available from the usual sources. Also don’t miss Brown’s wistful, dreamy, evocative cut That’s All. Even friends who say “normally I don’t care for jazz” write that Brown’s keyboard is not to be believed until heard. Utterly astounding playing – and truly wonderful music too.

All in all, it’s a wonderful night for “cocooning” – staying warm and dry indoors. Go. Put on one last good record or CD. In another half hour or so, it’ll really be time for bed. G’night!

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