Greg has been playing since he was a kid, a professional since his teens. He has toured the world, made recordings, teaches , creates instructional aids for aspiring musicians, promotes his music, travels extensively and is among the best at what he does.
His wife, Judy, is on piano tonight and plays professionally in the Chicago area. Tom, on bass, is a touring jazz musician who plays now with Lee Konitz but is sitting in tonight, much to our surprise and joy.
Listening to Greg is analogous to standing next to a pro golfer on the practice tee after a tournament,watching him hit three hundred yard drives followed by wedge shots to within a few feet of the driving range pin.
Fluency, flexibility, precision, attitude, creativity, are required to make this jazz music sound good, all in the right combinations, like a spectacular chef salad served at Chef Ramsey’s finest world restaurant.
I love what I hear even if it is beyond my ability to even copy.
What’s possible to do on the saxophone gets a whole lot bigger after hearing tonight’s performance.
It is uplifting to watch people do what they do better than most everyone else.
Seeing how far you can go with gifts you have been given is always worth doing.
Art, in many localities, is given a budget by city hall. Artists are commissioned to produce public art for public consumption. Public art springs up in parks, in downtown open spaces near city halls, by busy streets and intersections. The art is most often not controversial and makes people think about something other than themselves.
This modest sculpture, of kids climbing a rock feature, is close to shops by the business edge of the Fountain Hills park. Over six foot high, it has been positioned in a flower bed,close enough to be noticed, but not so close that it can be tripped over. It is weathered and has the same coloring as the trees and shrubs around it and doesn’t call attention to itself except it is about kids and people either like, or hate kids.
The little boys in this sculpture are climbing a rock feature..The little girl cradles her baby sister below them and admires a flower, not paying the boys efforts much mind.
Boys and girls, for those who would wish otherwise, were never made the same.
We all love to climb, but we don’t all have to climb the same mountains.
There are plenty of mountains I can scale or not scale but does that make me more or less important than you?
Do women really want their men riding in the back seat of the family car?
Is caring for your little sister less important than climbing a few rocks?
There is some question whether this sculpture, as presented, could get public funding now.
Without looking deeper and making a mountain out of a molehill, this sculpture fits the kid’s I’ve been around pretty close.
At the entry to the Fountain Hills Park are a number of statues, some seated on benches, some standing, all with commemorative plaques and praising comments at their feet.The figures cast shadows, some longer than others. Most of the statues are of men and most have been Presidents of the United States.
Presidents, as we know from watching those we have voted for, have lots of good speechwriters, lots of philosophy and confidence.They enter office with one mindset and leave with another. Leading the United States, on a day to day basis, is like trying to keep water in a glass that keeps springing holes. You enter office believing you can benefit the country knowing that half the voters believe you are aren’t worth the time of day. Presidents leave office hoping they didn’t have to deal with war, a disastrous Depression, or any number of calamities that come upon a nation. You are glad, when your term is up, to let someone else drive the stagecoach.
This morning Lincoln and Reagan look like old friends and it would be revealing to sit on a bench on a moonlit night listening to their stories about unruly cabinet members, hostile Congressmen and women, an unrelenting negative press, and military misadventures.
There are those who would like to cart these two men and their memories away, store them in a warehouse providing props to the movie industry,
We expect far too much from our Presidents, and our Government.
This country will rise and fall on the efforts of us who will never have a statue of ourselves in a park..
Lonesome George is a famous tortoise from the Galapagos Islands in the Pacific, many hundreds of miles off the Ecuador coast. He was the last of his species and died in 2012 at the ripe old age of 100, one of many species of living things to become extinct throughout the history of this planet Earth.
According to a recent television documentary, dedicated to George,there were efforts to find him a mate to continue his species, but it was a losing effort. Either George was too old, liked his own company too much, or just had those problems men get past the age of fifty.
How is it to live to a hundred years and be the last of your kind alive?
If George had had a video camera he would have been able to show his changing world. In his younger days, there would have been men in wood boats rowing to the island to collect his relatives for the soup pot. In later years there would have been processions of scientists with recording instruments taping wires on his back to follow his movements and record his vitals. These last days there were mostly noisy tourists with cameras and sunscreen, sunglasses and notebooks packed with observations..
George passed in 2012, and, in this local park, a local artist has donated a sculpture to his memory.
Lonesome George lived long enough to outlast his entire generation.
Whether he was really lonesome is something he never talked much about.
People want to own a home and homes are assets that, in America, have historically appreciated in value. In retirement communities like this, there are always For Sale signs in yards. People die, move back home to be with the kids, decide they don’t need a second home, look to downsize, decide their second home experiment isn’t going to suit them.
This is typical Arizona suburbia with wide streets,cactus, stuccoed- patio homes with two car garages, covenants,property taxes, newspapers still thrown in driveways, mail delivered daily by mail women driving little white vehicles. looking professional in their white and gray postal uniforms.
There is a rock in a flower bed in this home’s entry way with the word ” Harmony ” engraved on it.
Harmony, as used here, means no crime, living in a gated community, not having noisy neighbors after ten in the evening, good schools for your kids and grand kids.
Marie shouldn’t have trouble selling this home. It is on the internet and her sign gives her phone number in large print.
This house comes with a nesting bird and all the Harmony you bring with you on move in day.
Houses don’t become homes till you move your coffeemaker and tooth brush in.
There are no sharp edges, nothing to scrape or cut, no nails, splinters, burrs or broken glass. The brightly colored posts can be walked around but are not easily climbed, colors are primary, and water falls from the triangular sails like a cool rain. The shapes here are organic and you can hide behind,or touch to your heart’s content.
Children’s voices are amplified and they are involved in their play, walking and running, under, and through the water. Their voices make a soothing melody. Besides the sails that give shade,there is a green sea serpent in the middle of this installation and a maroon lighthouse that gives the park its nautical theme.
The kids are happy this morning, inquisitive, co-operative, playful.
Temperatures will rise into the nineties with no rain forecast for the next several weeks, and, if I’m a kid, I can’t think of a better place to be while my adults are acting like bigger kids somewhere else.
By the Fountain Hills Park lake is an outside music area. In a tight circle are eight different music makers, You can hammer tubes, strike bells, bang on cans, waggle ropes that move noisemakers, make sounds to call the cows home.
All the instruments are unattended this morning, so, having the area, all to myself, I pick up a mallet and take a turn at one of them.
This must have been how these instruments were discovered. Some cave man hit a mastodon skull with a rib bone, and, to his delight, the first melody in the world was composed.
Hitting a small piece of metal with a mallet to get noise is easy.
What is hard is to make a combination of noises, in the right order, with the right rhythm, that sound like music.
Musicians have been wrestling with this conundrum since the dawn of time.
Golf, as invented in the Scottish countryside, started with sticks and a ball.
Those old guys hit the little hand made wood balls for a distant hole dug in the ground and added traps and water later to make the game even harder than it is.They created a rule book and came up with tournaments and prizes to keep competition interesting and playing the game seem more noble than it actually is. Hitting a small ball with a stick with a club head, and getting it to go where you want it to, is a devilishly difficult skill.
Frisbee golf, as invented in our time, has recently become popular with the younger crowd. There is a frisbee golf course around this Fountain Hills Lake and it features eighteen designated holes, some par three, par four, and par five. There are no traps but the goal is the same – get the ball around the course in the fewest amount of strokes, or throws.
These guys are practicing this morning for their Sunday tournament today, and, by empty picnic benches, competitors are stretching, taking their frisbees out of Wal Mart tote bags and wiping them down with a clean rag.These two contestants tell me there are different sized frisbees for the different shots they have to make in a round. They let me try my hand and toss one of their plastic plates at a close by practice hole they are using to warm up before their tournament begins soon.
I give a toss and manage to land the frisbee inside the little upright basket where it is supposed to go.
There is room in this world, I believe, for ” frisbee golf. ”
After a round of ” frisbee golf ” I expect all these ” golfers” will easily be found at their ” nineteenth hole ” just as we go there after our rounds on our local courses.
Drinking predates golf by thousands of years, and explaining why your score was so high is always easier with a cold beer, chips and dip.
Whether it is real golf, or frisbee golf, GOLF is still, since it was made up, a four letter word.
Even if golf tests your temper and ego, it easily beats work, still another four letter word we all LOVE to HATE.
This morning, the Fountain goes off at nine sharp, the same time as all the local businesses open. Ducks cruise past it like little feathered boats as a steady geyser of water is propelled several hundred feet into the air.
I film the eruption from several directions and barely get it all into my camera viewfinder.
I’m not sure I would come to Fountain Hills just to see this fountain, but, being here, it is icing on the Fountain Hills cake.
In the desert, you see lots of things that don’t seem to fit.
Why, in the middle of a desert that sees less than ten inches of rain a year, would there be a lake? Who, in their right mind, would build a fountain that shoots up several hundred feet in the air?
Regardless of the fountain’s history, I’m duly impressed with the ability of the human race to come up with engineering marvels that still can’t out do what Mother Nature routinely does, even without putting her make-up on.