Mostly for Fun-Once Again

This post may turn out to be just a tease—largely due to poor planning. I originally intended to cover this year’s Monterey Jazz Festival in some detail, but forgot that, not long after that event, my wife Betty and I were heading out for eight days (and nights) in Kauai, an experience I also hoped to describe in print. However, those eight days and nights proved to be so restful, so blissfully relaxing (I seem to have had no trouble emptying my monkey brain of most of its “precious junk”), that I didn’t write a thing while there—but just let soft trade winds play about my ears while listening to recordings I’d brought along by Keili’i Reichel, ki ho’alu  or slack key guitar (Sonny Lin, Jeff Peterson, Keoki Kahumoku, Ken Emerson, Charles Michael Brotman) and the magic of Israel Kamakawiwo’ole—along with a musical feast of birdsong to wake up to each and every morning.

That concert occasionally commenced as early as 3:00 AM (the dark night of the soul, I know, but not in Kauai), initiated by a rooster whose solo offering reminded me of some of my favorite lines of poet Osip Mandelstam (my own translation: “I revere the city’s final hour and await that ceremony; the cock’s night crowing … What promise the cock, his loud extolling, proclaims”), and what followed, around 5:30 AM, with that rooster as conductor I suppose, was a veritable shower of sweet and sour sound provided by a host of birds: the White-rumped Shama (from Jim Denny’s The Birds of Kauai: “The beautiful notes of this introduced [1931] thrush can now be heard island-wide … although it sings at any time of day, the Shama Thrush, as it is sometimes called, is particularly vocal in the early morning”), the Western Meadowlark (a “gifted songster”), Northern Mockingbird (which favors a “high perch like a telephone pole or phone line from which it can sing its territorial repertoire”), Northern Cardinal (also prefers to sing from high perches), the Hwamei or Melodious Laughing-Thrush (“vocalizations are loud repeated phrases of couplets and triplets”), and the Warbling Silverbill (“metallic ‘tic-tic-tic’ sound like that of two coins being clicked together”).

I’m not a birder–just a guy who loves to lie abed and relish a range of song: every sound from gentle even mincing pleading to pipe-in-hand proclamations, sharp sandpaper-rough single eighth notes, floating liquid legato lines, one bird discharging its entire repertoire of effects and then lapsing into sudden silence, as if exhausted by its efforts; call and response (the response a full octave higher than the call), squeezed grace notes, a sweet caress (like someone running a finger up and down your forearm with love); passages as extended and inclusive as a mountain ridge or row of clouds … And the accumulated rhythms: a single squawk, spondees (a “chip-chip” rather than “chirp-chirp”), five stroke rolls, paradiddles, ratamaques, snipping, snapping, smacking percussive sound—until a final rooster crow seems to suggest that the conductor is calling it all to a halt, which he does, like Porky Pig bursting through a drum head, stuttering “Th-Th-Th-Th-Th-… That’s all, folks” at the close of a Looney Tunes cartoon. But these morning concerts were not cartoons. The music might well have been composed by Hector Berlioz.

The names of Kauai songbirds seem as melodious as what they sing: the Akepa or ‘Akeke’e (“Their ‘kee-wit’ calls are quiet and their songs are a short, warbling trill”), the Elepaio (“The cry of the bird was thought to suggest ‘ono ka i’a, ‘ono ka i’a,’ ‘fish is delicious, fish is delicious’ … Tradition has it that the Elepaio is the first bird to awaken and sing, thus telling the supernatural workers of the night, such as the menehune, that day approaches and work must be abandoned”), the Akikiki (“The call is a very short ‘sweet'”), the Ulili, which, when disturbed, utters its own name, “U-li-li-li”). I longed to fake it and include each of these–along with the Oo (which has been extinct since 1987)–among my cast of songsters, but learned they are forest or shore birds and not likely to have made it inland as far as Kipuka Street, where we stayed—unless our generous hosts, Ellie and Bret Knopf, had somehow arranged to hire them and bring them in for these early morning gigs—which, great folks Ellie and Bret are, they may well have done!

But enough on Kauai music—for now. It’s not all that big a jump to the Monterey Jazz Festival variety (just a few thousand miles)—which was splendid in and of itself. I promised just a “tease,” but here I am again, going on and on and on in my Blog Baroque manner (see last post) … so I’ll lay some restriction on myself and just tell you about the first night, Friday September 20, which, too, was splendid in and of itself.

But first—mostly for fun (once again!)—here’s a photo of yours truly (as they used to say) holding a copy of his book Monterey Jazz Festival: Forty Legendary Years—two racks of which I found for sale in the Festival’s merchandise shop, when I went there to get this year’s T-shirt as a gift for brother-in-law Bob Aldred, a jazz fan back in Royal Oak, Michigan. When I found the book for sale, I ran to find my friend, photographer Stu Brinin, who stays at our house throughout the Festival weekend, and he graciously took the pic. Thanks again, Stu! And just for kicks, because he’s a cool guy, I’ll fit a photo of Stu in here too, holding forth in our kitchen.

Bill and MJF Book6   Stu

The first night of the Monterey Jazz Festival (September 20) proved to be a joyous danceable occasion for me because, kicked off on the Garden Stage by fully engaging Cuban pianist/singer Roberto Fonseca, it ended with an epic set provided by Orquesta Buena Vista Social Club on the Jimmy Lyons Stage—bright bookends for a grand opening night that also featured the Clayton-Hamilton Jazz Orchestra, and, in the intimate Coffee House Gallery, one of my favorite pianists, Uri Caine.

Roberto Fonseca’s music has been compared to that of conparsa, Cuban carnival groups that parade through the streets once a year—and like the participants in that event, he does not just perform with his voice and hands, but full body, drawing on a host of diverse sources (Afro Cuban, Griot, Yoruban) and a host of instruments: Hammond organ, n’goni (a West African string instrument made of wood or calabash with dried animal–often goat–skin head stretched over it), kora (a twenty-one string bridge harp, built from a large calabash cut in half and covered with cow skin with a long hardwood neck that forms a resonator), congas, and talking drums. In a fine background piece (still available on the Monterey Jazz Festival website: http://www.montereyjazzfestival.org/2013/artists/roberto-fonseca), the pianist told writer Yannis Ruel that he hopes “to delve deep into my roots in light of my experiences and show the diversity of my musical universe.”

And a “universe” it is. Raised in the San Miquel del Padron neighborhood of Havana, Fonseca paid homage to his family’s African Yoruban culture and fulfilled a dream by having African musicians of his own generation participate in his recording, Yo (“me” in Spanish), a major work that included a total of fifteen musicians, instrumentalists and singers acquired for the production. One of the African artists was on hand in Monterey Friday night: Sekuo Kouyate (kora), along with Cuban musicians Ramses Rodriquez (drums) and Joel Hierrezuelo (Cuban percussion, coros). These three, joined by guitarist Jorge Chicoy and bassist Yandy Martinez, offered everything from a stimulating synthesis of Afro Cuban and Griot tradition to soul-funk and bluesy ballad—Fonseca telling Ruel: “Musicians too often forget that silence is full of music and that it can mean more than a profusion of notes”—which seems an excellent observation to me.

I find music this inclusive exciting, just as I did when, gathering material for a book, Unzipped Souls: A Jazz Journey Through the Soviet Union, I discovered artists such as Aziza Mustafa-Zadeh, a then twenty-one year old pianist who seamlessly merged her reverence for the music of Thelonious Monk with traditional Azerbaijani folk patterns called mugam. In Aziza’s case, as with Roberto Fonseca, what I love most about jazz (pride of purpose, pulse, improvisation) was successfully wed to indigenous music. I think it’s safe to place last year’s superb commissioned piece, Bill Frisell’s Big Sur, in that “genre” as well.

The Clayton-Hamilton Jazz Orchestra, which features John Clayton as bassist and arranger, and Jeff Hamilton on drums, Clayton’s brother Jeff on alto sax and George Bohanon (a long-term Festival favorite) on trombone, presented a commissioned tribute to the music of Dave Brubeck: Sweet Suite Dave: The Brubeck Files. Having warmed up by way of a thoughtful homage to Charles Mingus (his composition “Goodbye Pork Pie Hat,” a thoughtful homage in itself to Lester “Pres” Young), this solid orchestra offered a medley of nine original “not so well known” pieces by Brubeck, four of which I was familiar with: “Lost Waltz,” “Three’s a Crowd,” “Softly William, Softly,” and “Summer Song” (from Dave and Iola Brubeck’s 1962 jazz musical, The Real Ambassadors—the last an absolutely charming song I found myself singing out loud alongside the voice of Louis Armstrong, dubbed over the fine arrangement), but the others proved to be treasures I did not know: “Something to Sing About,” “ Cantiga Nova Swing,” “Autumn in Your Town,” “Don’t Forget Me,” and “Maori Blues.” What a joy to “find” these tunes!

I came to know Dave Brubeck when I was working on the Monterey Jazz Festival: Forty Legendary Years book. I had a ninety minute phone interview with him (he was living in Connecticut), after which, when I got in bed that night and my wife Betty noticed an idiot grin of delight on my face and asked “Why?”, I said, “I just had a ninety minute conversation with Dave Brubeck!” During which, I told him about an experience I’d had when I was just seventeen and a freshman at the University of Michigan. At the time, I was a Detroit (so many fine pianists: Hank Jones, Tommy Flanagan, Barry Harris, Sir Roland Hanna!) jazz nut, and when a friend of mine, Jim Cattey (also a jazz nut) told me a pianist from California was giving a concert in Ann Arbor and said we had to go, I replied, “Why?” At the time, California for me was as distant as the moon. It was “Lompoc” and “Cucamonga” on the Jack Benny radio show. But Jim dragged me off to the concert and we sat in the very first row (I can still see the tape—wire?—recorder reel going round and round) and the visiting pianist was, of course, Dave Brubeck—with Paul Desmond on alto sax, Bob Bates, bass, and Joe Dodge, drums. The recording in progress was, of course, Jazz Goes to College. When I hear the applause for “Balcony Rock” on that recording, I recognize a set of seventeen-year-old hands clapping—mine! The year was 1954. I told this tale to Dave Brubeck and I think he got a kick out of it  “I almost missed you!” I said.

By Friday night, September 20, 2013, I thought I was acquainted with just about all of Dave Brubeck’s music, including the sacred concerts, but the Clayton-Hamilton Jazz Orchestra proved me wrong, disclosing wondrous compositions I’d not heard before, pieces that ranged from tender ballads to up tempo swing that allowed Jeff Hamilton to show his own stuff, his ride cymbal glistening with golden joy, as if caught in bright sudden light the heavens had chosen to unveil in honor of the fully comprehensive, inclusive genius of Dave Brubeck. The entire orchestra offered a fully moving tribute to the music of this exceptionally gifted—and endlessly giving—man.

After, nested in the Coffee House Gallery, I relished the work of another excellent pianist: Uri Caine. I have six of his “classical” CDs—brilliant re-castings of or reinvention on Robert Schumann, Beethoven, Bach, Wagner and Mahler—and recordings by two of his “straightahead” (or as straightahead as he gets!) trios: Blue Wail (with James Genus, bass, and Ralph Peterson Jr., drums) and Siren ( John Hebert, bass; Ben Perowsky, drums). Hebert appeared with Caine at Monterey, Clarence Penn replacing Perowsky. I’ll just give you a sampling of two tunes I heard: “I’m Meshugah For My Sugar (And My Sugah’s Meshugah For Me)” and “Smelly.” After a very percussive piece more than “laced” with saturation drumming, Uri Caine introduced the first tune by saying, “Now … another love song,” and the second with, “Dedicated to one of my neighbors.”

“Meshugah” was playful, fragmented, ambivalent (like the real thing–love!), prancing, pranking, sharp stride mixed with sweet (yes, sweet!) impressionist chords that also knew how to growl—a delicious good fun musical omelette that spared no ingredient. Whoever “Sugah” is, she’s a handful (as they say), a “high maintenance chick” (as they also say), but more than likely well worth the requisite effort. Caine is a master of providing (another gustatory analogy; forgive me) “classical”-tainted pieces that contain a rich mix of zesty jazz sauce or dressing. And talk about “teasing”! “Smelly” does just that: a languid, bluesy, funky (as in the original meaning of that word: “strong body odor,” or derived from Ki-Kongo lu-fuki, “bad body odor”), an appealing “neighborly” melody, Caine’s deft touch offset by Penn’s handsome brush work, the pianist’s customary mocking ambivalence well represented: a dissonant humor, playfulness, increasing anxiety, stunted rhythm, solid swing, and a teasing fade at the close.

The appearance of Orquesta Buena Vista Social Club was great, right from the start—their set truly epic, featuring the still vivacious vocalist Omara Portuondo, guitarist Eliades Ochoa, and trumpeter Manual ‘Grajiro’ Mirabel from the film Ry Cooder produced in 1997, now mated with “a younger group of Cuban musicians” who more than just carried on the flame but let it shine bright, the total ensemble–with its two large conga drums, pair of bongos, timbales providing continuously infectious rhythms–and fleshed out by three trumpets, a trombone, piano, tres (a fusion of guitar, tiple or bandola, and son, a musical style that originated in the Oriente province in the eastern part of Cuba), laud (which belongs to the cittern family of instruments, twelve strings in pairs), bass and several singers. The effect was overwhelming—and immediately set one’s heart, and the feet of many present, dancing (as were the musicians themselves, with synchronized step-dancing worthy of the Temptations or Four Tops).

The group was garbed with outrageous dignity for the event: one member in a blinding white suit, another in a suit that housed every shade of blue. Eliades Ochoa strolled out dressed all in black, and white cowboy hat;  vocalist Idania Valdes’ braces sparkling (which made her all the more seductive!), pianist Rolando Luna providing athletic clave, Filiberto Sanchez subtle timbales, the overall percussion leaving room for a distinct cowbell and cymbal splashes. No let up now–one number sliding gracefully and joyously into another. And then Omara Portuondo bringing the house down when she made her appearance in a gown that resembled a silken blue mumu, also sporting a baby-blue bandana. She looked ageless, grandmotherly beautiful, and her presence enhanced a performance to which it seemed nothing more enhancing could be added—but made room for a bit of comedy when a singer appeared to have reservations regarding a guitar solo, was handed the guitar, and proceeded to try to play it behind his back!

Orquesta Buena Vista Social Club collected the inevitable encore, the audience’s appreciation having increased geometrically, and a six note vamp led into a Ochoa vocal with a three syllable chant behind him, dancers from the audience making use of a side portion of the stage. The set closed out filled with carnival contagion. And this was just the first night of the 56th Annual Monterey Jazz Festival!

Well … true to my Blog Baroque nature, what started out here as a mere “tease” has turned into a “tome” in and of itself, but I’m not going to apologize, because I’ve had  so much fun attempting to tell you about all this good “stuff.” I’m an appreciator, a celebrator, not a critic. The distinction might make an interesting topic for a blog discussion, no? (If I don’t like or have serious reservations about something, I just don’t bother to write about it).

I will end with a “Preview of Coming Attractions,” which, of course, will include more on the Monterey Jazz Festival (since I’ve only covered one night), and a bit more on Kauai. Here are some photos taken in Kauai. I won’t attempt to identify them (the locations), but, for now, just let you look and, I hope, enjoy (well, I will say that the first is of the papaya tree that graced our backyard, and the rooster was found outside Starbucks and more than likely not the one who woke us up at 3:00 AM).

Papaya Tree  Kauai Rooster  Kauai Wailua Falls

Fern Grotto Kauai         Banyan Tree and Flowers2

Coming up: I would like to pay homage (as a did last post out to Bob Danizger) to another local musical artist: Dottie Dodgion, an amazing drummer/vocalist who’s played with the likes of Charles Mingus, Marian McPartland, Benny Goodman, Wild Bill Davison, Jackie Coon, Al Cohn, Zoot Sims—and more! Dottie now performs each Thursday night at the Lobby Lounge at the Inn at Spanish Bay in Pebble Beach, CA—and in the good company of fine pianist Marty Headman and the bassist I’ve had the good fortune to work with, Heath Proskin.

I’ve talked to blogging folks who’ve said they’ve abstained or slacked off because they felt they had run out of “stuff” to write about, but aside from those eight blissful days of Trappist silence in Kauai, I don’t think I’m in immediate danger of running out of things to say (once I get to putting what I have in mind “out there” again). I have run into an interesting situation I did anticipate, and that is the risk of setting aside or postponing steady work on a major (in my case “Minor,” ho ho) new book project in favor of blogging, but I believe I’ve found a  suitable way to deal with that: I’ll just include some portions of the new work (which is a sequel, “Going Solo,” to the recent book, The Inherited Heart: An American Memoir) as future posts for the blog. Does that sound sensible? I hope so.

See you next post!

Mostly for Fun

In the post to follow this one I’d like to take a serious look at just where I am now when it comes to having entered the Brave New World of multi-faceted digital communication–or blogging. However, the apprenticeship hasn’t all been hard work and effort, for I’ve had some “fun” or amusing encounters along the way, and I’d like to kick back and relax for a moment, and offer some straight out–enjoyable, I hope–storytelling this time out.

When, some time ago, my son Stephen set up a website for me (www.bminor.org), I included my own translations of Russian poems alongside woodcuts and drawings I’d done (I mentioned in an earlier post that I was originally trained as a visual artist at Pratt Institute and U.C.-Berkeley). We also posted a long poem in several parts–“A Fireside Poem: Homage to Osip Mandelstam”–which included my own translations from the work of my favorite 20th century poet. Because of this work and access to Cyrillic texts I had on my computer, I was suddenly inundated (three pages worth might pile up in my Spam “box” in a week) by invitations from Russian ladies–a host of Annas and Olgas and Veras and Katerinas, Larisas and Ludmillas and Marinas and Ninas, Oksanas, Sofias and Tatyanas–who wished to marry me, sight unseen, on the spot. Talk about “high levels of interconnectivity” or networking! Some sent photos and when I asked my wife of fifty-six years Betty if she felt I should risk opening one or two, just out of curiosity, she said she didn’t think that would be wise–so I set all temptation aside.

In case you might be curious, I’ll show you the sort of fare that fostered such offers (work only someone with sheer animal magnetism could produce, I assume, unless those women somehow mistook me for a C-level executive, anesthesiologist (highest paid profession in the USA), broker/analyst or professional athlete). The first two are prints and translations of two poems by Anna Akhmatova, and then two drawings of Mandelstam I did and a poem of his I translated.

Akhmatova 2    Akhamatova Earth

Akhmatova Icon   Akhmatova Icon

Mandelstam 1Mandelstam's InsomniaMandelstam2

Not all that long ago also, I was asked to be a part of film director Mark Baer’s excellent YouTube “100 Story Project” (http://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PL9614CCD8B63B9DE5) in which he documented, by way of interviews, nearly every once-lived or presently existing aspect of life in Monterey, California (“The most thorough video history of the Monterey Bay ever created.”). I was asked to talk about the Monterey Jazz Festival and the La Ida Café in Cannery Row, run by “The Queen of Cannery Row,” Kalisa Moore.

I may know something about these subjects, these institutions, but I’m also one of those odd human creatures who does not drive an automobile nor own a cell phone, so on the day of the filming I filled my pockets full of quarters (It was raining hard and the Big Sur Half Marathon was taking place and would finish just outside The Museum of Monterey, where Mark housed his project), and I took a bus there. I’d asked my wife, should the rain not abate and a mob of “mudders” be assembled just outside the Museum when I finished, if she’d come pick me up if and when I called her on a pay phone–and she said yes. I think all you High Tech folks can see what’s coming. The filming went well, but when I emerged (feeling victorious), I couldn’t find a pay phone anywhere: on the wharf near the museum, in downtown Monterey, at the Coast Guard pier nearby–nowhere. Pay phones no longer exist!

I started walking in the rain, remembering that the Plaza Hotel, located at the edge of Cannery Row, had a line of pay phones not far from the reception desk, but that too had disappeared. There was a line of phones, but they were all white “in house” specimens. Desperate, I picked one up and dialed my wife–but a youthful female voice broke in and asked, “Sir, are you a current resident here at the hotel?” I explained my situation as best I could, but when I said, “and I don’t own a cell phone,” a long pause ensued, and the voice returned with, “You don’t own a cell phone?” Another long pause, and then, “Sir, that is very unusual!” The young voice disappeared again, and I assumed that when it came back on, she would, out of the kindness of her heart, informed by a sense of human decency, connect me to my wife, but she said, “I’m sorry, Sir, but I cannot place that call for you.” And that was that. I continued my trek in the rain, up to my favorite lunch spot (by this time I was more than halfway home), Archie’s American Diner, and there my Hispanic friends lent me a towel with which to dry out (I was soaked to the skin) and took me to a private office, saying, “Si, Senor, please use our phone”–and I called my wife, who turned out not to be at home just then. I completed my journey in the rain, not quite as happy as Owen Wilson in Woody Allen’s Midnight in Paris on one of his late night wet walks.

If you’d like to check out the two YouTube videos that are the one good thing to come out of that day, you can find them at: “100 Story Project–William Minor: The Monterey Jazz Festival” and “100 Story Project–William Minor: Kalisa Moore and La Ida Café.”

My most recent State of the Art amusing adventure came when my wife Betty and I accompanied our son Tim to San Francisco Giants spring training camp in Arizona (I’ll confess to being a fanatic Giants fan). On the day of Tim’s 55th birthday, we saw the Giants play the Milwaukee Brewers at the latter’s stadium. Tim is a former Cross Country All-American (University of Nevada-Reno) and was national cross country champion after he turned forty. He now coaches the sport at Galena High School and has been named Northern Nevada Coach of the Year for the last three years. Although he no longer runs competitively, he doesn’t seem to possess more than an ounce of body fat, and when we arrived at the stadium and discovered we had a row of ten nurses directly behind us who’d been drinking beer all day, the first thing they said when they learned a little about Tim was, “Boy, you sure look like a runner!” And when they learned that he’d just turned 55 and that Betty and I were his parents, one of them bent over to me and said, “Now if he’s 55, what does that make you?” I told her that Betty and I got married when we were seven, so the math worked out OK.

A gentleman to the left of me was text-messaging throughout the entire game, and I discovered that I could make what I called “Twitter Talk” on the spot, saying to him, “SSBCHJCUTB.” When he said, “Wha?”, I translated, “Sir, shortstop Brandon Crawford has just come up to bat.” It was amazing how fast I could come up with complete sentences that way, using only the first letter of each word, no matter how intricate the syntax of the sentence might be. The gentleman, still texting and missing all the great plays, finally grew irritated and said, “Will you stop doing that!” I longed to respond with, “Sure, I’ll stop, if you stop living out of the palm of your hand,” but I recalled an old Irish joke I know that ends with the line, “An’ thas when the fight started,” and thought better of making a retort that might cost me a broken nose.

“And so it was I entered the broken world/To trace the visionary company of love, its voice/An instant in the wind (I know not wither hurled/But not for long to hold each desperate choice,” Hart Crane (maybe my second favorite 20th century poet after Osip Mandelstam) wrote in his poem “The Broken Tower.” And so, in my seventy-seventh year, I’ve entered a world that has re-invented and reshaped itself beyond anything I might have predicted or anticipated just a few years ago: a Brave New World sporting amazingly high levels of interconnectivity with potential Russian brides, the smart phone I don’t own, and baseball fans text-messaging their way (without witnessing a single non-virtual play) throughout an entire game.

I’ve had fun posting this blog, so I think–because it’s going to end up in the “About” category–I’ll close on another highly personal note: one more anecdote about my family. Tim’s daughter (Betty and my granddaughter) Emily works at The Continuum in Reno, Nevada: a “community-based intergenerational health and wellness center serving clients ‘From Pediatrics to Geriatrics,’ providing “outpatient rehabilitation with a full range of Physical, Occupational and Speech Therapy Services.” Emily recently graduated in Health Science from The University of Nevada-Reno, after spending three months working at an orphanage in Ghana, an experience which changed her life. She asked me to play piano and sing at The Continuum, which I did, but an even bigger thrill than a chance to bring some joy to the “clients” there (you can see the older set lip-synching the words to songs like “Bye Bye Blackbird” and “Honeysuckle Rose,” or even attempting to belt them out like Judy Garland), was watching Emily at work, requesting a dance with an elderly gentleman who was reluctant to accept for only five seconds, or getting the group to sing in chorus. Here’s a photo taken after the “gig”: our grandson Blake (who is a junior at the University of Reno-Nevada, an excellent student, golfer, great guy (if I do say so myself!), and soccer star), Emily, my wife Betty, and me.

Reno Piano Gig

Oliver Sacks says that music is the very last thing to leave a human being, and Plato said that music and rhythm find their way into the secret places of the soul. With those fine thoughts I close out what has truly been a “fun” post for me–with, I hope, more to come.

Poet Santa Cruz: Number 4

Poet Santa Cruz
Available from the author; contact bminor@redshift.com

“William Minor is the real thing: someone who lives poetry and just happens to like writing the stuff, too. His work is as first-rate as he is one of a kind. And what is especially wonderful about reading it is that you know you’re in the hands of a congenital enjoyer of life who wants to share the way his world looks and sounds and feels and tastes, yet without ever trying to prove anything … Minor celebrates seemingly simple or casual events: kite-flying with his son, a beach scene near his home in Pacific Grove, a visit to the doctor, listening to Mozart on a crappy phonograph while waiting for his wife to get home from Jazzercise class, seeing a statue of that old goat Pan in a Greek museum. And shining from the center of it all is love; an oblational love, as Minor might term it, but love all the same in all its agelessness.”—AI Young