Goodbye Buttlips & Blood On The Asphalt!
One of my favorite jazz trumpet players of all time died last week. His name was Maynard Ferguson and he lived to be 78. He owned the trumpet, known for his big band arrangements and his mastery of the instrument, especially his superhuman capacity for pushing the upper range of the horn. "Screaming," they call it. You know, at the end of a big band song, as the band holds a note, you'll suddenly hear, above everything, a trumpet belting out a note an octive above his counterparts? And then maybe switching higher still, to a fifth above that? That was him. What fascinated me so much about Maynard Ferguson back when I used to play jazz trumpet myself (poorly) was, first of all, his arrangements. My band played his charts and they were sparkling compositions. Really great. The second was a story I'm not even sure is true. But the story was that he blew out his lips, and in order to reconstruct them, he had to have skin and muscle from his buttocks grafted onto his mouth. Disgusting and kind of cool!
Maynard Ferguson played until he died, suddenly becoming sick after a recent gig in late July. He died with all four of his daughters by his side. Working until the end and being surrounded by family sounds pretty okay to me.
You know what doesn't sound like a good way to die? Running out of gas on the 710 freeway and being hit by a 18-wheeler. That's what almost happened to me last night. I ran out of gas like a dodo because I'm stupid and have a new car and am stupid. Having never run out of gas before, I didn't know that the car really just dies. It doesn't care if you're in the middle of lanes with traffic going 70mph around you. It stalls and the steering and brakes lock up and you die. Or almost. I was lucky enough to have the momentum to get over to the shoulder. And I called AAA and waited for over half an hour, visions of those cop-car-made "Scariest Police Videos" of cars getting sidewiped while stopped on the freeway. I was in the middle of nowhere with nothing to walk to and no way to get there anyway, so I switched between sitting in the passenger seat with the seatbelt on, and being scared of the car getting run into, and getting out. But then being scared of flying debris kicked up from the trucks going by a foot away from my face, and getting back in. And to top it off, my cell phone was almost out of juice. Eventually the guy came, but he didn't bring gas as promised, so he had to flatbed the car and then we drove around Commerce looking for a gas station, as he'd never been to that (gross) neighborhood before. We eventually found gas and once I tipped him for saving my life, he was very friendly and waited while I pumped gas. And then he laughed at me for running out of gas in the first place, but that was okay because we were friends by that point and that's what friends do.
I was on my way to the Bicycle Casino for the first time to watch the WPT-organized benefit tournament for Paul Hannum, my friend who died a month ago. It was a 1000 dollar buy-in event and I got to see some of my friends make it to the final two tables, playing with the likes of Chris "Jesus" Ferguson (no relation, I don't think...), John Juanda, Phil Laak, a very drunk Gavin Smith, (who organized the event along with WPT CEO Steve Lipscomb), and The Bride of Chucky herself, Jennifer Tilly, who went on to win the whole thing. The event raised lots of money for Paul's soon-to-be-born child, as well as gifts and toys.
Aside from my almost dying, it was a very nice night.