All That Jazz

tribu-cafe-oakland-ca-window-shot

TRIBU CAFE

In tin and metal planters an assortment of fern and other green plants move erratically in the wind. The metal gate signifies a demarcation perhaps on sunnier days when one could imagine tables and chairs with white tablecloths aflutter in late spring and October. 

The structure that houses the cafe (Tribu) is modern with its thick cement walls and square pillars. The melody of bass and piano lightly fills my heart with a mellow magic of love. Two people (bassist and pianist) not even looking at each other meld spiritually. 

It makes me think of my life and where I can go next. It colors the bland LOW COST APPLIANCES – SALES – SERVICE sign across the street. 

Izumi stands at a distance listening and then comes over: “Writing a book?” she says.

“No, this experience,” I say. 

When you listen to music, words, phrases, sentences, paragraphs, and stories get shortened. Every human being takes on a glow. The women become more beautiful and the men become friends.

I can’t help but notice a woman who looks like Kristen Stewart, her thin and supple presence. Her controlling activities, her man sitting around the corner out-of-sight.

I’m going through a period of my life where I recognize that who I am attracted to is no longer attracted to me and vice-versa. I sense also that the next phase of my life will be about substance and conversation and less about sex. I will be learning about women. 

Nao looks up in the air as she plays the piano. The bassist Mark Williams plays beautifully. What does that mean, I imagine? It is as a little voice whispering eloquent phrases like T.S. Eliot‘s poetical works, pulsations of the heart. “While he took from them their ability to infuse poetry with high intellectualism while maintaining a sensuousness of language.”

“Rainy Day jazz lunch,” Izumi says.

Across the street at the light a young man kisses his girl. She seems delighted. He looks down at his cell phone and she carries a pizza box. Her delight fades to purposefulness. His, however, is like that of a happy journalist, who upon hearing about juicy news shares it with the world. She must have seen or felt me. It is all seriousness after that. I’m like an assessing presence, a killjoy, a troll.

Meanwhile, Izumi sings: “Our love is here to stay?”

isumi-at-tribu-singing-jan-2017

(Izumi Hayakawa,  Nao Suzuki and Mark Williams at TRIBU CAFE.)

“What are you thinking? What are you going through?” She continues. Cars pass. People have destinations, responsibilities, places where they want to be. We are so consumed by the president-elect that we don’t see ourselves against the backdrop. How fragmented is our purpose? Our roles? How do we fit? The melody softens our self-criticism and loves us as we are. 

Izumi sings. Nao will eventually go back to Japan. I am alone on the side of the room with sunshine, but where everyone has left. The other side is enshadowed, but every seat is taken. Izumi is courteous and looks over at me singing to the room as a whole: “My heart serenading you… My prelude to a kiss.”

Caitlin Moran in How to be a Woman says that with puberty, her sexual interests arose. Chemical and physical property at work make this music internal-reaching. 

A dog jumps into a car with a mere suggestion of its female owner, a man at the wheel. She gets in, very little conversation, and they drive away. 

Often this is the essence of life. Familiarity and past experience. The rain has stopped. 

Another couple, he on the phone in purple running shoes, and she adjusts her shoe and looks back. 

This other woman, the one who looks like Kristen Stewart, also looks like Lauren Bacall. I’ve become suspicious to her. 

I think the instrumental leaves an open space for my voice to fit but then Izumi’s singing also conjures the desire to sing along.

I can give you anything but love.”

Lauren Bacall and her man are outside laughing. I feel like the laughter is meant for me, but I am sure I am oblivious to them.

Such as I do not have, relationships are built on time spent, maneuverings among and between personalities. I close my eyes expecting to see someone I know. Turning away to see if they’ll sit next to me. But, I am delusional, such as I do not know myself in relation to the long line of suitors, other than me. We men pay no attention to other men, who are busy with the women we have crushes on.

Rain enshadows the mountains in the background. The girl with her dog passes. 

A woman with her boyfriend, late to the event, sits at my table, and sings to her boyfriend: “Why Not Take All of Me?” Her voice is nice. I am tempted to ask Izumi to have the band back her, but they played the last song. I say this because in the back of my mind is this poem Emily Rosen wrote that basically explains the unification of women and men’s desire which is to be acknowledged for the greatness and talent they feel they have. At the moment, the couple sitting next to me have reduced to conversation. The food arrives. They eat and she coughs toward me. She takes a sip, and then begins singing even louder: “Why not take all of me?” She reaches toward me and takes the salt shaker with a vengeance. She wants to be recognized, to be allowed to be a part of the focus of the room, which is now the bassist and the friends of Izumi (all women) in various states of departure. 

This late arrival keeps singing while the Raiders game is on. There’s a quiet to the room so she can be heard. Her wanting to be part of the melody of life, to be found in our individuality, to have something to give, and to be of value, becomes apparent to me. 

The couple talk about having freely given time without compensation. Someone got the man’s music lessons for free. So much of the soul is given away for free. I have argued for an economy based on what purposes men and women have, but I guess we would all just sit around humming to each other, and live in places like the Ghost Ship drinking coffee.

 

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2 comments

  1. Lovely, thoughtful and powerful. I would have liked to attend that musical event. Love this kind of jazz as well as Lauren Bacall and her films with Humphrey Bogart. Watched many when I was a child and a teenager. I don’t know Kristen Stewart as an actress. Caitlin Moran’s book looks interesting. I don’t know if T.S.Eliot has been the best poet of all times, but I really love his poems, at least the ones I know: obviously “The Waste Land” and also “The Hollow Men”, “Burnt Norton”, “Ash Wednesday” and the Ariel Poems. I love “Marina”. I don’t know Emily Rosen. I am not sure but perhaps you need to correct just two things in this text? “A woman and her boyfriend, late to the event, sits at my table, and sings to her boyfriend: “Why Not Take All of Me?””. Wouldn’t it be better to write: “A woman with her boyfriend, late to the event, sits at my table, and…” or: “A woman and her boyfriend, late to the event, sit at my table, and she sings to her boyfriend…”? And on the last two lines shouldn’t the comma come after and not before the word “have”? Finally (hope you’re not gonna hate me for this, ha ha) I suggest you create new tabs for the links to avoid the reader losing your blog site and, instead, having go back for it.


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