Citysketch: A saxophone in the park

I bought a sketchbook on my way to work yesterday and needed to break it in with a quick sketch. At lunch I went to Central Park and came across this man playing saxophone. It finally feels like winter has retreated and left behind hopes for better days ahead. The melody is All The Way, written by Jimmy Van Heusen and made famous by Frank Sinatra’s 1957 recording.

Fun fact: In 1953, Sinatra slit his wrist in a suicide attempt, distraught over his divorce from Ava Gardner, and it was Van Heusen who rushed him to the hospital.

The lyrics to All The Way were written by Sammy Cahn:

When somebody loves you
It’s no good unless he loves you all the way
Happy to be near you
When you need someone to cheer you all the way
Taller than the tallest tree is
That’s how it’s got to feel
Deeper than the deep blue see is
That’s how deep it goes, if it’s real
When somebody needs you
It’s no good unless he needs you all the way
Through the good or lean years
And for all the in-between years come what may
Who knows where the road will lead us?
Only a fool would say
But if you’ll let me love you
It’s for sure I’m gonna love you all the way

Thrones and other games

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By pure chance, I was flicking around TV last Sunday and landed on the 17th hole of the Masters Tournament. I have never considered golf a spectator sport, and the way I play it, it’s not much of a participatory sport either.

I share my home and my heart with someone who is currently obsessed with binge-watching Game of Thrones to get caught up on the current final season. Watching Tiger Woods marching through a crowd chanting his name, the only difference I could see between these two programs were the costumes.

One of the most hopeful things about the human race is the amount of time, energy, money, and enthusiasm we devote to sports. We are fascinated to see people do what nobody has done before and find out who can run the fastest, jump the highest, get a ball into a target or hit it with a stick. There are people who go to violent extremes in support of their team, but their problem is violence, and they would find any excuse to unleash it. I can’t blame sports for that.

Sports, like music and science, has its own vocabulary and sensibility that appeals to some people and has the opposite effect on others. Like those other fields, those who are most successful at it usually recognize how lucky they are and want to help younger people to follow their path.

I realize now that my hesitation to go down the Game of Thrones rabbit hole is not just resistance to pop culture phenomenon. I resent the idea that the pursuit of power is a worthy subject for entertainment. But if power is used in a constructive way – whether to fight injustice, or to hit a ball into a cup better than anyone else can – let the the games begin.

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I fell in love with you again

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Through the sunlight on another woman’s hair, I fell in love with you again. I heard a soft sound like a flute – sharp breath passing over a tiny hole – and remembered the feeling of holding you in my arms when we were both young, that feeling of holding on to everything I would ever need.

In the swaying of another woman’s wrist, I fell in love with you again. So slight. So light. It swung so freely, as if a stiff breeze could start it flapping uncontrollably, but I understood, in some strange way, the hidden strength inside the long slender fingers trailing beneath it.

Words, to a writer
Colors, to a painter
Melody, to a musician
All are mirrors of a lover’s smile
Echoes of the sounds you made when I was still in you

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Believing

If you believe in the theory of time
You will understand reversal of fortune
If you believe in love at first sight
It has happened to you
If you believe in honor
Every wind will blow right through you
If you believe it mercy
You will turn fire to ice
If you believe there is more to life than what you can know with your senses
Then there is more
Even if you never find out what it is
If you believe in love
Everything will make sense
If you believe in believing
You will have as much as anyone has ever had
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The Event

Going into the event, of course Joseph would have preferred success to failure but the final verdict on something like that can change over time. The important thing was for the event to take place. There was no way things could continue the way they were. There would be violence and possibly, even likely, war. If war came the judges would no longer be able to enforce the law.

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Joseph was as prepared for the event as he would ever be, to the point that he was growing impatient, as if the longer he waited now, the longer the odds of success.

The judges had been set for a while. The weather looked clear for the foreseeable future. Nobody was getting any younger.

“Now is the time,” somebody whispered and that was all it took to start the event.

Joseph looked around in a sick panic until he saw Sara. He made a slow, determined path to her. Whatever the event was going to be, he wanted to go through it with her. “Now is the time,” he said.

“I heard,” she said.

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The judges had heard too, so had mobilized to observe, record, analyze, and pass history’s first judgment on the event.

“I’ve been living in a dream,” he said.

“We all have,” she said.

The event spread from its epicenter at rate halfway between a crow and the speed of light. It enveloped Joseph and Sara in mid-breath.

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I Have to Assume I’m a Racist

Reality changes all the time and it is never going to change back. We are never going back to the pre-Trump era or the one before the sexual revolution. We are never going back to racial purity.

I have to assume I’m a racist. I don’t think I am, but there are a lot of other people who don’t think they are who seem like they are to me. Racism, and the thing we call ‘race’ when we mean culture, are difficult to talk about because we live in a primitive society. We’ve built warehouses to incarcerate generations of young black men rather than talk about it. We say ‘the n-word’ because we have to be treated like children who aren’t allowed to say dirty words, too ignorant to understand their meaning.

Women and people of color who see me as a stranger must sometimes also see me as a danger. It would be reckless to treat me as a friend without getting to know me a little. To some people that feeling of instilling fear in strangers is a comfort, but it makes me nauseous.

Kurt Vonnegut said we’re still in the dark ages, and he’s right, but that doesn’t mean the dark ages won’t end any minute. Reality changes all the time and it is never going to change back.

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