Sunday, July 19, 2009

A Beautiful Afternoon in Portland: Umbrellas in the Sun at the Cathedral Park Jazz Festival

Sun poured down on me. It couldn't get better. A cuppa, a comfortable chair in the garden, and a Friday Rex Parker that was giving up to me--grudgingly, but still, giving up.

I heard her inside, talking to the cats and working at something on the Tappan. She was humming along with some big band that I could hear was playing on the Zenith in the parlor. I had an idea.

"Dolly-girl, let's me and you mosey over to St. John's and take a gander under the bridge. I read in the broadsheet that there's music over there and it could be worth a hear-see." "Jack, do you have any recollection of me telling you about the Cathedral Park Jazz Festival?" "Hmm, I thought it was my idea..." "Sure, Jack, who's the social director around where we set our brake, anyway?" OK, so I do get distracted from time to time.

We packed up some of this and some of that, loaded the roadster, and headed over to east of North Stumptown, north of where people pay through the noses they look down to see the bridge that leads to where we were going and they don't want to be, follow? We didn't have to take the bridge because it's on our side of the river. Good thing 'cause I've got a thing about bridges.

Sure enough, the skinny Dolly-girl had given me and that I'd remembered after I read it was straight. There was a torch singer playing a stand-up bass (go figure) and some others backing her up. I had to hand it to these folks; they didn't seem to be worried about anything except singin' and swingin'. In my line of work I'm generally looking for what trouble's left behind when I'm looking up at the bottom side of a bridge.

We ran into a hipster that Dolly-girl does some work with from time-to-time when there's some writing that needs re-writing. He and his chiquita--she was Jane, I mean her name was Jane--were all Christmas morning over a guy that was going to be beating this and whacking that--what you call a percussionist--when the next act, a salsa slinger, and I'm not talking burritoville here, took the stage. We said our how-do-you-dos and our nice-to-see-yous and then found a place in the shade where we could listen to the salsa being slung.

It was a great day to just sit and take it easy. Dolly-girl and me settled in and she pulled out a copy of the latest Movie Mirror and a beat-up Hollywood she borrowed from a dentist over in Hollywood, to catch up on the latest in scandal from the silver screen. Her toes were tapping to the music and I could tell this was hitting a spot. I shifted around in my chair and finally pulled out my heater and tossed it in her bag. "Honestly, Jack, you'd think we lived in the old west or something. This is Stumptown.Today. Relax!" "Yeah, yeah, one of these times you're gonna be glad I've got her with me Dolly-girl. Stumptown isn't called Stumptown for no reason, you know." "Jack, that's gibberish--listen to the music." She was right. It was. I did.

I tried to forget about being under a bridge, even if it was daytime. I mean, how many bad stories do you know that took place under a bridge? A lot if you're with me. Of course, not many of those things happened with a couple thousand people laying on the lawn, tapping their toes, with a big band playing in the background. I'd have to give you that one. Dolly-girl hummed and tapped along.

To take my mind off what might happen if those couple thousand people weren't around tapping their toes, I pulled out the Kodak and snapped a few for the album me and Dolly-girl keep to remember the good times we have. It was a good day to have an umbrella to keep Old Mister Sun from giving your nose that I've-been-hitting-the-sauce look.

After the music was over, me and Dolly-girl packed up and headed back to where we'd left the roadster. This scene reminded me why I pack that heater. I patted it and pulled Dolly-girl close so she wouldn't get jumpy over what might be in the trunk of that auto. She purred, "Oh Jack, you take such good care of me...there are so many Swedish gangsters who recycle!" I made like a beet while she laughed and laughed and I guess I sorta had to chuckle myself. But then, who would want to sleep with the lutefisk?

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