Entries tagged with “Michael Aragon”.


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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 by a prolific artist, Georgina Stout, 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.”

#ShutdownCanada, Friday’s nationwide protest in Canada calling on the government to investigate the murders and disappearances of indigenous women, was a bit of a disappointment, failing to garner as much public participation as expected.

The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, a branch of the Organization of American States, last year reported that First Nation women in Canada are being murdered and disappeared at four times the rate of white women.

Although more than 7,000 people had said they would take part in demonstrations planned in Calgary, Espanola, Edmonton, Fredericton, Halifax, Hamilton, Kamloops, Lethbridge, London, Moncton, Montreal, Niagara, Oshawa, Ottawa, Regina, Toronto, Vancouver and Winnipeg, according to Ontario’s Two Row Times, fewer than 700 showed up, Warrior Publications reported.

Unist’ot’en camp (Warrior publications photo)

Also joining the demonstrations were several groups trying to stop environmental damage. One of them, Unist’ot’en Camp, describes itself as a “resistance community in Northern British Columbia, whose purpose is to protect sovereign Wet’siwet’en territory from several proposed pipelines.”

The Unist’ot’en clan says, “Wet’suwet’en territory, which extends from Burns Lake to the Coastal Mountains, is sovereign territory which has never been ceded to the colonial Canadian state; the Wet’suwet’en are not under treaty with the Canadian government.”

Since July of 2010, the Wet’suwet’en have established a camp in the pathway of the Pacific Trails Pipeline.

On Friday, protesters also blocked a main entrance to the Port of Vancouver. In Winnipeg, a number of protesters blocked a road. In Regina, a small group blocked a railway line. And in Montreal, protesters temporarily blocked a major intersection and then briefly occupied a branch of the Bank of Canada.

Despite police limiting the protesters’ movements, #ShutdownCanada did cause some disruption in Regina, noted Daniel Johnson, who took part in demonstrations there. “But it was not the success it could have been.” ________________________________________________________________

No St. Valentine’s event, of course, is likely to ever get as much public attention as the 1929 Valentine’s Day Massacre in Chicago.

This was during Prohibition, and in a fight over territory, Al Capone’s South Side Italian Gang  captured five members of Bugs Maron’s North Side Irish Gang, as well as two of its accomplices.

The seven were lined up against a wall inside a garage and executed with Tommy guns. (See photo at left.) One member of the North Side Gang, Frank Gusenberg, lived for three hours after the shootings. Although he received 17 gunshot wounds, he refused to tell police who the gunmen were. ____________________________________________________________

Canada on Valentine Eve Friday was lucky to escape its own massacre, which had been planned for Halifax, Nova Scotia.

Before the carnage could occur, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police took a 23-year-old woman from Illinois, Lindsay Kantha Souvannarath, and a 20-year-old man from Halifax, Randall Steven Shepherd, into custody on charges of conspiracy to commit murder.

The woman subsequently told authorities about plans to attack a mall. Two other men, 17 and 20, have also been taken into custody, and a fifth person, a 19-year-old man, committed suicide when police surrounded his home.

Police said the plotters were not involved with Islamic terrorism and merely wanted to kill as many people as possible before taking their own lives. Luckily the Mounties received a tip and found that on social media, the group had revealed an obsession with mass killings. ________________________________________________________

Tony’s Seafood Restaurant.

Also on Valentine Eve, the band Rusty String Express packed Tony’s Seafood Restaurant in Marshall. “The musicians play a mix of jazz, Celtic, and other styles — some traditional and covers,” said West Marin musician Ingrid Noyes.

“But they also write a lot of their own material. They give it all their own unique spin, and they have a unique sound with that mix of instruments.”

The restaurant offered plenty of meal specials, and barbecued oysters were served for only $2 apiece, which is the best restaurant price I’ve seen in West Marin in a very long time.

A Buckeye butterfly on Saturday paused for a rest on bamboo that grows in a half wine barrel on Mitchell cabin’s lower deck. Other parts of West Marin matters were less tranquil on Saturday. In Point Reyes Station, so many tourists crowded into town that a couple of restaurants ran out of food. (Photo by Lynn Axelrod)

No Name bar

The Michael Aragon Quartet on Valentine Eve played what I call “modern jazz” (think John Coltrane and Cannonball Adderley) in Sausalito’s No Name bar, as it does every Friday evening. From left: Rob Roth on sax, KC Filson on keyboard, Pierre Archain on bass, and Michael Aragon on drums.

There’s no cover charge; the music is inevitably great; and at times virtually every seat in the bar is taken. When that happens, some customers inevitably retire to a covered garden in the rear to talk, smoke, meet people, or play chess.

She’s appreciated.

One of the attractions of the No Name on Friday nights is its unceasingly cheerful waitress, Sarah Burke. Just placing drink orders with her is part of the fun. I’m hardly the only person to notice this, and as a way of saying thanks, her regular customers signed a Valentine’s card, which she received Friday, along with a potted red rose.

Hunters-gatherers: Two migrating robins forage outside Mitchell cabin last Wednesday.

There are more robins in West Marin than usual this winter. Wildcare, the wildlife-rescue group in San Rafael, reported last week, “It’s songbird migration time…. In the past few weeks, we have admitted 11 thrushes and six robins with head trauma from hitting windows.”

In order to feed these patients, the Birdroom at Wildcare “needs earthworms (good from your compost) and frozen berries (wild blueberries, the small ones, are best).” The group can be reached at 415 453-1000.

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.