On Saturday morning I sat down at my desk and started writing my Louis Armstrong biography. By mid-afternoon I’d finished drafting the 850-word preface. I think it’s good, and so did several friends to whom I sent the paragraph I liked best. Then I broke down the main events and transition points of Armstrong’s life story into an eight-chapter outline, using fragments from Armstrong’s own writings for chapter titles (just as I did with The Skeptic).
Feeling that I’d done enough for one day, I shut up my iBook and took a cab to the opening of the Jane Freilicher retrospective currently on view at Tibor de Nagy Gallery. I was joined by a friend who knows his way around the art world, and when we arrived he said to me, “Would you like to meet Jane?” She’s one of my favorite painters–one of her prints is in the Teachout Museum–so naturally I said yes. My friend took me up to Freilicher and made the introduction, and she shook my hand and said, “Oh, yes, I know who you are–I really liked your Balanchine book.” Had there been an open window handy, I would have jumped out of it and floated all the way down to Park Avenue.
Instead, I descended to the street via conventional means, had fondue with friends at La Bonne Soupe, then strolled over to Zankel Hall, the small auditorium beneath Carnegie Hall, where Chris Thile, the stupefyingly virtuosic mandolin player of Nickel Creek, was giving a duet recital in the company of Edgar Meyer, the best bass player of any kind in the known universe. The music
they played together was by turns complex, direct, funky, pensive, and ecstatic, and the two of them were in such touchingly high spirits that I was forcibly reminded of why it is that we speak of playing music.
After the second number, Chris looked at the audience, his mouth a perfect O of bliss, and shouted, “Carnegie…freaking…Hall!” The crowd exploded in laughter and cheers.
I went straight home from there but couldn’t sleep for sheer happiness, so I stayed up and wrote until two in the morning. It was an amazing day, but in a way the most amazing thing about it was that it wasn’t an especially unusual day. I have days like that all the time–maybe not quite that showstoppingly fine, but often pretty damn close.
How lucky am I? You don’t have to tell me. I soooo know.