I am sitting listening to the Branford Marsalis Quartet take apart Monk's "Rhythm-a-ning" and put it back together again. Keeping time. A chilly fog slipped in up here last night and decided to stay the day though it's burning off down in the valley. Maybe it's Saturday -- so what? When you don't have a regular job, you don't think about weekends. You think about how you can afford to carry a mortgage on four hundred New York State unemployment bucks a week. You look into the sickly white fog hovering over the lake and think to yourself, I better stay healthy. Otherwise I'm done for.
I saw the quartet down on Twenty-Seventh Street. Man, they knew how to wind the crooked clock. Take it apart before you put it back together. You gotta work out the limits of your spontaneity before you deconstruct the tune and let its mirthful muse seize you. It's so simple, right there in the opening figure: you have to stop...before you can start. But how you gonna do that if you gotta be playing before you can stop? Monk dug the conundrum, dint he, poot? And these cats took it up -- hey big guy, riddle me a riddle.
There were four drunk tourists sitting at the corner table with their equally drunk jeunes filles. They couldn't stop and they couldn't start. They could only sit immobile and stare at Joey Calderazzo's back as he filleted the tune. Mon dieu, that Monk's got bones!
And now, it's the weekend, I think. Quist told me once, "You wanna control someone? Keep 'em awake all the time. You wanna sell 'em something? Keep 'em awake. That's how they do it in a dictatorship -- they keep the population awake. Noise, news, night-lights. You got a 24/7 culture means you got people too tired to think. That's how you gain power over them. Make 'em crave sleep."
I thought to myself, in Garcia Marquez's great novel One Hundred Years of Solitude, insomnia is contagious and people eat dirt. What a world. I guess magical realism is real realism. Sure, you can work all night and play all day. Sure, you can chug-a-lug and wind the clock. But if you wanna keep time, you gotta take it apart before you can put it back together. And do yourself a favor, poot -- get some sleep.