Entries tagged with “Píerre Archain”.


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Thanksgiving dinner. Lynn (right) and I (left) with Inverness architect Jon Fernandez, his wife Patsy Krebs, and his son Michael enjoying dessert following a bountiful Thanksgiving dinner last Thursday at Vladimir’s Czech Restaurant in Inverness. Beforehand, a couple of friends at different times expressed surprise that we’d choose Czech food on turkey day, but it turned out to be a good decision. In fact, it was the start of a series of social adventures.

The Michael Aragon Quartet

The next day, Jon and Patsy, Lynn and I headed to Sausalito’s No Name Bar where the Michael Aragon Quartet played its last performance after 36 years of Friday night gigs there. Drummer Michael Aragon, the bandleader, is retiring at 75 for health reasons. Sax player Rob Roth has been there with him 25 years, and keyboardist KC Filson has been there for 10 of them. The regular bass player, Pierre Archain, unfortunately was ill and guitarist Rob Fordyce filled in for him.

Michael is known throughout the Bay Area jazz scene, and the bar was packed with admirers who wanted to catch his last show.

Billy Hobbs

Saturday was wet and cold, which made Lynn and me worry about Billy Hobbs, the homeless man often seen sketching outside the Point Reyes Station postoffice. He sleeps outdoors nearby under an overhang, and periodic gusts of wind can blow the rain in a bit.

So we invited Billy to spend the day with us, and Lynn fixed a second Thanksgiving dinner, this time with turkey. With the storm not abating, we urged Billy to bed down here for the night, and he did.

On Sunday, the storm only got worse. When I drove to the bottom of our fairly long driveway in heavy rain to get our morning Chronicle, I found that the wind had dropped a large, dead limb across our driveway. Thankfully, no car was hit. Several pieces had to be moved, and I got a full baptism doing so.

Lynn, who was fighting a cold, put all of our clothes through the wash while much of my energy was spent carrying armloads of firewood up 50 steps to our house. Now that will get you warm. Billy meanwhile spent most of the day sitting by the fire arranging his sketches, which he hopes to make into greeting cards. 

Another get-together: While we stayed warm indoors, two blacktail bucks with no show of rivalry showed up to dine outside. The deer at left has a deformed right rear leg (probably hit by a motor vehicle) but manages to get around fairly well. And so in the end, it appeared that everyone had a reason to be thankful.

Caveat lectorem: When readers submit comments, they are asked if they want to receive an email alert with a link to new postings on this blog. A number of people have said they do. Thank you. The link is created the moment a posting goes online. Readers who find their way here through that link can see an updated version by simply clicking on the headline above the posting.

I turned 76 today, and my portrait is now hanging in a place of honor — just outside the restroom door in Sausalito’s No Name Bar. The drawing was done without my knowledge, apparently while I was sitting on the back patio where folks go to smoke, but what a kick.

The Michael Aragon Quartet performing at the No Name.

Drummer Michael Aragon, the bandleader, has had the Friday Night gig at the bar for 36 years. Sax player Rob Roth has played with him for 25 of them. Keyboardist KC Filson and bass player Pierre Archain have been with him for the past 10. Alas, Michael, 75, will retire after this coming Friday’s performance.

At the No Name. (From left): my wife Lynn, poet Paul LeClerc of Sausalito, and Inverness architect Jon Fernandez wait for the music to start.

Jon Fernandez and I, sometimes accompanied by Lynn, drive from Point Reyes Station to Sausalito and back every Friday for the music, as regular readers of this blog know. Last night, Aragon ushered in my birthday an hour early by having the band perform Happy Birthday to You.

That was almost as much of an honor as having my picture hanging opposite the restroom door. Lynn says that’s actually a good location. There’s only one restroom for customers, so lines can be long, and people will have plenty of time to look over the portrait, she says. I fear, however, that anyone recognizing me from the picture will immediately be reminded of having a full bladder.

By the way, writer Paul Liberatore had an excellent piece about Aragon in Friday’s Marin Independent Journal (click here). Among jazz aficionados, his drumming is legendary.

I’ve noticed that when friends my age get together, the conversation often becomes an organ recital: “I’m seeing the doctor Monday about problems with my eye….” Or, “My foot’s been bothering me, so I’ll probably have to have it examined….” Or, “I hear aging also affects our memories, but I can’t remember how.”

It was time for the Christmas tree to come down. At Mitchell cabin, however, it not only comes down but is thrown down.

Our Christmas tree was only four feet tall this year, so once Lynn had removed the ornaments and I had taken down the lights, I could easily pick it up and toss it off our deck. That way, I didn’t have to awkwardly carry it through narrow walkways and down a couple of dozen steps, scattering needles the whole way.

Back when I lived in cities such as New York, Council Bluffs, and San Francisco, I could never have gotten away with throwing trees from my deck. The neighbors would have had conniptions. Nowadays, no one complains when I toss Christmas trees off my deck. This year, the only neighbors around were three horses, and they didn’t even whinny when old tannenbaum dropped out of the sky few yards away.

(Blog trivia: In the November 24 posting, I mentioned having developed a muscle spasm in my back as a result of trimming daisies with a chainsaw — as unlikely as that sounded. For the record, the bushes above with yellow flowers are those very daisies.)

Like many other West Marin residents, I dispose of my worn out Christmas trees at the bin behind the sheriff’s substation (Fourth and C streets in Point Reyes Station). Again this year, the number of Christmas trees dropped off at the bin far exceeds its capacity, and many have been discarded on the edge of C Street. It’s always an unceremonious farewell to Christmas.

Replacing weltschmerz with  jazz at the No Name bar in Sausalito last Friday. From left: Rob Roth on sax, KC Filson (barely visible) on keyboard, Pierre Archain on bass, and Alex Aspinall on drums. In a green jacket at the far right is Sausalito artist Steve Sara.

Finding peace of mind can be difficult these days, what with massacres of thousands of innocent people around the globe: from Paris, to Nigeria, to Yemen, to Iraq, to Syria, to Afghanistan, to New York City, to Boston and so on. It’s not only horrific, it’s frustrating because there’s very little each of us alone can do to stop any of it.

People use many remedies to relieve the frustration. For me, the best are the traditional “wine, women, and song.” As a result, Lynn and I drive to Sausalito about once a week to listen to jazz at the No Name, have a few drinks, and talk with strangers.

The music is great, the bar well tended, and as for the women — there is a covered garden in the back of the bar where one can coo, drink, smoke, play chess, or get into fascinating conversations with other customers. On Friday, I heard about Sartre from a man who knew him in Paris. A transplant from Montreal, who had lived near the Mohawk community of Kahnawake, told me about the Canadian government’s relations with its First Nation peoples. ______________________________________________________________

The artist Steve Sara (seen above) can often be found evenings in the No Name, inconspicuously sketching the scene.

Usually his subjects are unaware they’re being sketched. I certainly have had no idea when Steve was sketching me.

He surprised me last Friday with this oil painting of my listening intently to the blues on a previous Friday.

Steve says his art is “influenced by Social Realism, the Ashcan School, and California School Artists such as Emil Kosa and Phil Dike.”

He paints both en plein-air and from photos in his Sausalito Studio. ________________________________________________________________

A pair of crows were keeping watch over the lower field at Mitchell cabin on Saturday until I played the role of human scarecrow. The moment I focused my camera on them, the bird on the left took flight.

Since Lynn’s birthday is tomorrow, we decided to take an outing today and ended up along the Petaluma River near downtown.

One of the attractions of the Petaluma River is that a number of good restaurants have clear views of the water. Lynn and I found a table with an excellent view at Dempsey’s Restaurant and Brewery, where we ate outdoors beside the river.

Dempsey’s bills itself “Sonoma County’s oldest brewery,” having been founded 22 years ago. The attractive, dark-wood restaurant is at the right end of this pedestrian bridge over the river. Downtown Petaluma is on the left end.

So what if the Golden Gate Bridge was shut down Sunday? This was the only bridge we needed in order to keep wandering.

Marin County, and especially West Marin, have come to seem like a coastal refuge after last week’s Congressional elections, the conundrum of ISIS, California’s drought, and Stanford’s losing to Michigan State in the Rose Bowl.

In order to provide a respite from this world of troubles, I’m presenting this week a collection of happier scenes from around Marin.

St. Mary’s Catholic Church on Nicasio Square. Using locally milled redwood, townspeople in 1867 built the church for $3,000 (about $48,000 in today’s money).

I spent some time in Nicasio late last month, attending the opening of the new Nicasio Historical Society Museum and MALT Day at Nicasio Valley Farm’s Pumpkin Patch. While walking around the square, I was again struck by how unexpectedly well the New England architecture of several buildings fits with the old-west architecture of others, such as the Druid’s Hall and Rancho Nicasio.

Rob Roth on sax, KC Filson on piano, Píerre Archain on bass, and Michael Aragon on drums at the No Name bar in Sausalito. At far right, prominent Sausalito artist Steve Sara sketches the scene.

Last Friday evening, Lynn and I again ended up at the No Name bar  where we often go on Fridays. That’s the night the Michael Aragon Quartet performs modern jazz, much of it in the vein of John Coltrane and Cannonball Adderley.

When the quartet performed Adderley’s Mercy, Mercy, Mercy a month ago, they inspired me to see what I could find out about the late sax player (1928-75). Perhaps the most-intriguing trivia I turned up was the origin of his name.

Here’s the story. Julian Edwin “Cannonball” Adderley, a hefty man, already had a voracious appetite by the time he reached high school, and this led his classmates to call him “Cannibal.” The distinction between cannibals and cannonballs is, of course, so minor that most of the public didn’t notice when Adderley evolved from one into the other. __________________________________________________________________

The view out our bedroom window Sunday of a horse from Point Reyes Arabians grazing in the neighboring pasture.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Doe, a deer, a blacktail deer. Ray, a drop of golden sun…. A young deer in a spot of sunlight outside our kitchen window last week pricked up her ears as if the hills were alive with the sound of…. ?

Wild turkeys and deer coexist surprisingly well at Mitchell cabin. Obviously neither looks threatening to the other. The biggest dangers to them come from cars and hunters.

In the pine tree, the mighty pine tree, the raccoon sleeps tonight. In the pine tree, the quiet pine tree, the raccoon sleeps tonight. Wimoweh, wimoweh, wimoweh, wimoweh…. ________________________________________________________________

A mother raccoon and her kit at our kitchen door.

Young raccoons are recognizable by the time we get to see them notwithstanding their having been delivered in kit form.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Lynn and I hear coyotes around the cabin every few days, but we seldom get to see them. Here a coyote takes cover behind our woodshed.

The sloe-eyed coyote emerges from behind a clump of — appropriately enough — coyote brush. Coyotes are close relatives of gray foxes.

Keeping an eye out (and ears up) for coyotes and other predators, a jackrabbit sits in the field outside our kitchen window.

Among the other predators around here are bobcats. They don’t try to stay out of sight, but they trot off when they see humans.

And then there are the gray foxes. They live and breed on this hill, and until recently would show up at the kitchen door most evenings hoping to be fed just about anything — bread, nuts, dog food, whatever.

The foxes still show up occasionally in the afternoon to sun themselves atop the picnic table on our deck. Their nighttime visits, however, have come to an end for now, and I miss their vulpine partying.