splendorous american: harvey pekar, 1939-2010
Harvey Pekar was pissed at me. He told me so himself but I'd seen it coming because, as a parting gift, the outgoing editor of the jazz magazine I'd just taken the reins of had repeated to Harvey my criticisms--all legitimate--of his article about Jazz at Lincoln Center, knowing it would raise his substantial ire. I was "one of those Wynton sycophants," he raged, another "spineless suckup" looking for power and missing the real music. Harvey was wrong. I mean, he was right about the real music--Harvey was more often than not right about music; he had great taste and the knowledge to place it in context. But he was wrong about me: I agreed with his point of view, I just had some issues with the way he'd expressed it in print, with his research or lack thereof.
There was no such thing as a short conversation with Harvey. And boy do I miss that today. Not just because there will be no more conversations with Harvey -- in truth, there haven't been for me in a decade, since I left that gig (yet now there's not even the possibility of another one with him)--but also because the world I've now entered, one filled with emails and texts but little in the way of actual human discourse, is a place Harvey predicted, along with a dozen other dour but spot-on prophecies. Harvey's shit could bring you down if you let it, sure, but it was usually accurate.
Harvey was again incorrect a few calls after that first one, when he called me a "garden variety Jew" in a combative tone when I queried his commentary about Sephardic musical themes. (I think he was reviewing something by Joe Maneri, but it could have been John Zorn. Or maybe neither.) When I explained that my grandfather on my mother's side came from Greece, that I'd been Bar Mitzvahed in a Sephardic temple, landing on t's, not s's at the ends of words, he seemed convinced of my legitimacy as a Jew (if not an editor) of some distinction.
Things went more smoothly after that.
Alex Ross: The Rest is Noise
Dave Douglas: Greenleaf Music
point of departure
Jazz Journalists Association
Steve Smith: nightafternight
Willard Jenkins: Open Sky Jazz
music/food/justice in NOLA
Howard Mandel's JazzBeyondJazz