In April, my publisher, Malcolm Harris, and I were in Manhattan throwing a party at Elaineâ€™s restaurant to announce the publication of my biography of Paul Desmond. Dave and Iola Brubeck were co-hosts. There was a gratifying turnout of Paulâ€™s friends and colleagues, and of well-wishers, musicians and assorted literati. I was disappointed that Terry Teachout couldnâ€™t be there. He was in Washington at a meeting of the National Endowment for the Arts.
Later in the week, Terry, Malcolm, I and another friend had lunch, during which I mentioned that I was looking for a new periodical, one that would accomodate more than occasional reviews and articles. That triggered general bemoaning of the state of magazines. Suddenly, Terryâ€™s gaze shifted skyward and his mouth fell open. We all looked up through the glass wall and ceiling of the sidewalk restaurant to see what large object was about to come crashing down on us. Not to worry. It wasnâ€™t a plane falling. It was an idea.
â€œBlog,â€ Teachout said. â€œYou should be doing a blog, the first real jazz blog, and I know just how and where.â€
Back at his apartmentâ€”which for good reason he calls The Teachout Museumâ€”he showed me on his I-Book the technical steps he goes through to post his artsjournal.com blog, About Last Night. I understood them about as well as I understand the progression of equations needed to conceptualize cold fusion. Donâ€™t worry about that, he said, the important thing is to put you in touch with Doug McLennan. He whipped off a message to McLennan, the artsjournal major-domo. In short order, after I returned to the west coast, Doug and I reached an understandingâ€”mainly of my insistence that the blog would not be only about musicâ€”and Rifftides was launched within a few weeks.
I am indebted to old pal Teachout for having that flash of inspiration, for believing that I could come out of my techno-fog, for assuming that there would be an audience, and for sending his readers our way. â€œI owe you plenty, Bix,â€ Iâ€™ve told him on more than one occasion and if you donâ€™t know where that semtiment comes from, listen to Stan Freberg Presents the United States of America, Vol. 1, The Early Years: Yankee Doodle Go Home (Spirit Of ’76). Terry knows it well.
When the news came that TT, after feeling lousy for a couple of weeks, was in the hospital, I was concerned, along with hundreds of his friends and blog devotees. It was congestive heart failure, but as he reported when he returned to the Museum and limited duty,
My heart muscle is weakened but undamaged. If I do as Iâ€™m toldâ€”exactlyâ€”I have a very good chance of being around for a very long time to come. I even get to go home for Christmas tomorrow morning.
That is where he is now, with his family in what he invariably calls Smalltown USA, following his doctorâ€™s orders. Iâ€™m sure that heâ€™ll learn to love Ry-Krisp and yogurt, and I wish him a deliberate, cautious, relaxed and complete recovery.