Super Lawyers
William C. Altreuter

Friday, September 30, 2005

I spent the last couple of days at a seminar put on by a client. They are very sensitive about the use of their mark, to the point where we were actually cautioned about naming them on client lists, so I'll have to hint around. Their corporate headquarters is located in a suburb of a major Midwestern city. I associate this suburb with Frank Lloyd Wright and Ernest Hemingway. At one time the founder of the business owned a baseball team that Steve Garvey played for. Got it? Good.

Anyway, the whole experience was quite interesting. The quality of the presentation was as good or better than similar programs that I've seen put on by bar associations or the like, but the focus was entirely on commitment to central control-- "defending the brand". This is entirely understandable, and I don't have a problem with it at all, but it left my head swimming after a while. After last week's rant about client decision making it may seem odd to hear me say it, but I like it when the client takes responsibility for the ultimate decisions in a case. These folks live and die by the choices that they make, and they make intelligent, informed decisions. I weigh in with my best advice, and they accept or reject it based on a number of factors that may or may not have anything to do with the facts in the matter at hand.

Of course, another factor is that when clients like that decide to do something that runs against our best advice, we still get paid. I am mostly comfortable with the contingent fee system for what it is, and I seldom encounter situations when I feel like my independent judgment is clouded by it, but it is a struggle sometimes.

You sometimes hear lawyers say that they like everything about the practice "except the clients," but I don't feel that way-- I like it that my peculiar skills and my specialized knowledge is helpful to people and businesses with problems, and I enjoy getting client's out of jams. I like being an advocate. Even so, there are times when I understand what my colleagues in our glamour profession our talking about.

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

Listening to Joan Baez warble "Love Minus Zero/No Limits" on my iPod this morning, I was reminded of Robert Christgau's quip that Joe Cocker's version of "Catfish" is funnier than Dylan's, "and he doesn't even know what the words mean." Needless to say I really dug last night's episode of Martin Scorsese's "A Mighty Wind". Stand out stuff included Liam Clancy pounding pints in the White Horse until he finally starts singing; the 1966 footage from "Eat the Document"; and the Newport stuff. I'd have liked more Muddy Waters and Howlin' Wolf, and less Pete Seeger or JFK, but one of the things that was wrong with the 60's was that there was more JFK than Howlin' Wolf, so there you go. Joan Baez still looks good, and is still so full of herself that it's a wonder they can fit a camera in the room with her. I've always thought that the recording of Baez and Dylan singing "With God On Our Side" at Newport is hilarious, and seeing them do it for the first time confirms this: they are both going to by g-d sing it their way, and if the other doesn't care to, well too bad.

What really makes the documentary work, though, is the narration that Bob himself provides. He seems remarkably candid and unguarded, until you realize that he's not actually saying anything that could be fact checked. "I felt like". "It seemed to me." Ever the unreliable narrator, the film moves forward on other people's accounts of what happened. Bob steals some guy's record collection, or Dave Van Ronk's version of "House of the Rising Sun" (which the Animals then steal from him). Bob finds himself with a deal from Mitch Miller's Columbia while everybody else in the Village is recording for Folkways or Vanguard. Albert Grossman. We don't get much of a look at Dylan the ladies man, except that two prominent flames are still crushing pretty hard. You could tell this story about an ambitious man who kept reinventing himself, but that's not quite how Bobby wants it: maybe not the voice of his generation, he still wants to appear as if he is a genius who sprang full-blown from his own forehead.

And you know what? For all that lots of people in this thing want to take credit for a piece of it, in the end Bob's version is probably still the closest one to the truth. I still think that the more interesting movie would start after the motorcycle accident, but at the present pace it'll be about twenty years before we see that one. For now, I can't wait for tonight's installment, and I'm ordering the dvd.

Monday, September 26, 2005

Brandy Karl used to have a pretty good law student site; now she has a promising site about practicing. Her post about "Small Firm Tech Goodies" is excellent, and timely for us; the lease on our copier is about to run out, and we've been dreading going through that mill again. Overhead is what eats us all alive, and keeping it down is what keeps small fish like us in the same game as the big guys. Tech is what makes that possible-- we have to be what Robert Fripp calls, "small, mobile, independent, and intelligent units". When we started, 12 years ago, having laptops and a website put us on the cutting edge. Things have changed, and the pace of change has quickened. For all that a great deal of what we do remains in the 19th Century, the way we do those things can't stay there.

Sunday, September 25, 2005

Yesterday a long post about life in our glamour profession, today some Dylanania; I'm getting back on track, I think. David Greenberg has a look at why critical consideration of the career of an artist that may well be a worthy candidate for Nobel Prize honors is usually constricted to its first six years. I've bitched about this myself-- there's a lot more there, and although I can't wait to see the Scorsese documentary, I'm pretty sick of "Blowin' In The Wind", and Woody, and the Village, and Suzy Rotolo, and all the rest of it.

"[T]he problem isn't just that boomers are influential. Even historians of the post-boomer generation (i.e., mine) don't usually assume deeply critical attitudes toward the 1960s. Although a few historians have recently done admirable spadework in such new research areas as how conservatism in these years gained strength (as the news media were looking the other way) and the international dimension of the youth revolt, such efforts are not the norm. Revisionist scholarship about the student left, for example, tends to be minor and esoteric—contesting, say, precisely which social groups or political organizations formed the center of the era's social activism.

Our generation has envied our elders' experiences more often than we've questioned them. Growing up in the shadow of the '60s, we couldn't help viewing the political involvement of the age as nobler, the culture and the music as more vital, the shattering of social norms more exciting, than the zeitgeist of our own formative years. Besides, bashing the '60s seemed the province of conservative cranks like William Bennett (and even he always seemed to be making it known that he once dated Janis Joplin). Younger Dylan fans today, similarly, are often more eager to revel in the chapters of his fabled story that they missed out on than they are to engage with the songs and albums of his that we ourselves grew up with."

Dylan contributes to it as well, of course. Maybe he's just cashing in, but he is the one who is releasing "Live At The Gaslight" and the rest of it. The sound he has now, on tour, is not something that can be heard in many places, and that's a shame. I mean, I like "Love and Theft" and "Time Out of Mind", but if you really want to hear something get the soundtrack to "Masked and Anonymous" and play "Down in the Flood"-- or "Cold Irons Bound". This is what people who have been going to see him lately have been hearing, and it is pretty amazing stuff. And there it is, buried on a CD with a version of "My Back Pages" in Japanese, and the Greatful Dead doing what they do to "It's All Over Now, Baby Blue", and a bunch of other stuff that would be sort of fun to throw onto a mix tape if anyone made mix tapes any more.

I'm serious about a trip to Stockholm for Bob, but if that is going to happen, it won't be because the Committee just heard "A Hard Rain's A-Gonna Fall" for the jillionth time.

Saturday, September 24, 2005

I suppose I am something of an expert on bad results: there are all kinds, and I've experienced a lot of them. Don't get me wrong, I win my share, but I've seen plenty of flaming wreaks, too. I think the bad result that I hate the most is the plaintiff's case that gets no-caused when there was enough money on the table. Sometimes there is money up, but it is a a paltry amount, and even in hindsight you are grimly aware that it made more sense for you and your client to let a jury have a whack at it, but that's not what I'm talking about. I am refering here to the situation where the defense has worked its way up to its top dollar, and that top dollar represents legitimate value on the case. When I go to the client and say, "Here is their top dollar. I think we should take it."

This was a woman who had required a lot of hand-holding over the life of the case. I was probably on the phone with her twice a week, for an hour or so, listening to her troubles. I don't care for that aspect of plaintiff's work much, and I don't think I'm even all that good at it, but she found that my ear was adiquately sympathetic, and it is important to invest that kind of time with some clients because they absolutely need to trust you. Over the two years that we represented J., I felt like she'd come to trust me, and I was therefore quite surprised by the answer she gave me when I told her about the offer.

Guided by the same thing that leads people to fly airplanes into buildings she told me that the offer was not enough. "Trust the Lord," she told me, and when I told her that my experience was that the diety seldom involves himself in the outcomes of jury trials, she said that she was sadded to hear that my life was so devoid of faith. "If you are going to pray over this," I recommended, "Pray for guidence, and then listen to what I'm telling you."

You already know the rest of this. You measure sucess in trials like this in subtle ways. After my adversary's summation I turned to my associate, who'd come to court to see the trainwreck. "I got nothin." The jury came back from its break to hear my closing argument looking like a clentched fist, but I gradually worked them around to unfolding their arms, and I finished with three of them nodding their heads. I kept them out for over three hours, but I knew how I'd have voted, and they didn't surprise me. I would have been pleased to have been wrong, but that's really never how it goes. Lawyers are, perhaps first and foremost, sort of soothsayers, hired by clients to predict outcomes. I'd thought that I'd done my job when the offer was made-- I'd worked the case to the place where a legitimate and fair settlement, favorable to my client, was on the table. The second part of my job was to persuade her to take it. In the end I persuaded nobody. I couldn't persuade her, and I couldn't keep the jury from looking at the proof the way they did.

My reward for this was, of course, a fee of zero. Our client, who lives on Social Security Disabilty as a result of something that has nothing to do with our case had had the nerve to tell me that the money that was on the table wasn't enough. This is a danger with people who don't have money: it's never enough for them, because they really have no idea of how money works. She had a very specific mental budget for her castle in the air, and the real dollars that were waiting for her to pick up amounted to about a tenth of the fairy money she wanted. I tried to do her some good, and in the end she wouldn't have it. Like the joke about g-d sending the rowboats, except that I felt like I was the punchline.

Friday, September 23, 2005

Don't just spellcheck; proofread. (Via Boing Boing.)

Friday, September 16, 2005

I was lucky enough to see Clarence "Gatemouth" Brown before he left this earthly coil, and he was somethin' else. We were at the Clemens Center for the Performing Arts, a venue that is special for followers of New York Labor Law Sec. 240, and Robert Lockwood Jr. and his big band opened. That's right: a big band opened for a guy who came out on stage with a guitar on his shoulder and a fiddle and a banjo on the stand beside him-- and that's how it should have been. Robert, Jr. turned in a fine set, and then Gatemouth came out and was Just That Good.

He's an interesting cat in the theology of the American trinity, Clarence "Gatemouth" Brown. As I listened to the stuff of his that I have on my iPod, traveling this week, I thought that Blues is the easiest place to put him, but in truth he was probably closet to jazz, and it was his Country side that kept people from seeing that. Rock'n'Roll? Yeah, if that was what he'd wanted to claim, he'd be in that room, with Ike Turner, and Chuck Berry-- but he resisted that sort of easy categorization. "Interviewed in a recent issue of Guitar Player magazine about his early blues-based records, Mr. Brown gave a practical answer. "I had to sound like that because I was just starting out," he explained. "Seeing as how I was a newcomer, I obliged. But after a while, I thought, 'Why do I have to be one of these old cryin' and moanin' guitar players always talking bad about women?' So I just stopped. That's when I started having horns and piano in my band, and started playing arrangements more like Count Basie and Duke Ellington, rather than some old hardcore Mississippi Delta stuff."'

It's funny-- I woke up yesterday to a station that was playing a bunch of old Basie, and the fact is that what Brown was doing, all by himself, sounded so much like what what Basie did that I don't think my kids-- who are pretty sophisticated on these things-- could pass a blindfold test. Glad I saw him. I hope it was a good life.

Thursday, September 15, 2005

EGA writes: "This is my second year as Washburn House Librarian, and I really enjoy it. Only I could turn such a thing into an opportunity for violence and rage. First there was my very embarrassing campaign speech last spring, in which I shouted and punched my hand for emphasis and scared everybody else out of running, and things have not gotten any better.

Every year the house is allowed to order about a dozen books through the Tyler book fund. We don't pay for them, they just show up, like magic, and it's wonderful and we are so lucky to have it. Last year I ordered a whole bunch of lovely new books, and was pleased to see them vanish from the shelves. "Oh good," I thought. "People are using the wonderful house library."

Unfortunately, many of the books were never returned. On Sunday, at our house meeting, I delivered an empassioned address to the house, waving around an empty box from our Harry Potter box set for emphasis. "There's a signup list on my board for new house library books, and please add your suggestions, and they'll come and they'll be great and they'll have bookplates in them, which is what will distinguish them from books that belong to you!" I cried, my voice growing higher and higher and faster and faster.

So far there are only three suggestions, which worries me a little. I could certainly fill it up myself if need be, but if all we end up with is, say, Wittgenstein and P.G. Wodehouse, it's going to be a boo-hoo Christmas for a lot of people."

Wednesday, September 14, 2005

Judge Roberts says he thinks of what he does as being like an umpire. Jack Shafer susses out the metaphor. And Justice John Paul Stevens is going to throw out the first ball at the Cubs-Reds game tomorrow. I'm always impressed when I recall that the patron saint of Outside Counsel, Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes, was wounded at Antietam, and hung around long enough to be one of the "Nine Old Men" that vexed FDR into attempting his court packing scheme, but how about Stevens being in the stands for Babe Ruth's "Called Shot"? History is short in America, I guess. I think of the Civil War and FDR's time as being as separated as the reign of Charles the Bald and, I don't know, the Industrial Revolution or something.

Tuesday, September 13, 2005

A and I were 12 and 13 at the polling place this morning at 7:30. If there is a tidal wave of reform cresting it is voting somewhere else-- our district is a pretty good bellweather for discontent.

Monday, September 12, 2005

From Bruce Reed, Slate reader's suggestions for off-beat questions the Judiciary Committee should ask Judge Roberts:

Who do you like better, Lynyrd Skynyrd or the Allman Brothers?
If you and five other friends were going to dress up as the Village People for Halloween, which Village Person would you want to be?
Why shouldn't the ground be able to cause a fumble in football?

...and so on.

Sunday, September 11, 2005

Since I've been fortunate enough to be paid for writing for a stylish glossy for the last year, I guess I can say that I'm part of the media-- perhaps even a journalist, sort of. I was disappointed that I have not been issued a snap brim hat with a card that says "Press" stuck in the band, but life is full of little letdowns like that. It's the big disapointments that'll make you weep, and one of the biggest over the course of the past ten years or so has been how American media has failed us. Over the last couple of weeks I have been listening to some of my brother jackals give it to Bush Administration officials with both barrels, and as much as I have enjoyed the spectacle, I have been troubled by a nagging thought: Where the hell have you been for the last six years? When Bush stole the election, where were you? When he went to ground like a scared rabbit four years ago today, why did you play it as if he was demonstrating heroic leadership? When the war machine started ramping up, when the lies were raining down so thick that they couldn't be counted, when the war started, when the war went horribly, horribly off the rails-- where were you?

I'm way too far on the fringe of the media to claim any special insight. I'm a very parttime lifestyle columnist, not Robert Semple, but here's what I think. The American journalistic tradition of "objectivity" has led us to a degenerate place where probing questioning by reporters is perceived as partisan, and that has compromised the media-- that's part of the problem. A bigger part of the problem, though, is that the ubiquitous nature of the media in our twenty first century lives has created a situation where the media needs the cooperation of the people it covers more than the people who should be accountable need the media. The news hole needs to be filled, and if people in government shut the media out, they have nothing to file. Our government does not feel as though it is obliged to be accountable-- and the media has given up even trying to hold it accountable. I used to think that reporters simply didn't know how to ask a proper question-- something that is one of the chief things I do in my day job. What we have seen, though, is that the media has powerful jaws, when it cares to use them.

I'm afraid the real reason that the media has finally gotten up on its hind legs is not that the New Orleans catastrophe has been so visible-- Iraq is pretty visible, too. It is, instead, that the Bush popularity numbers are now low enough for the media to feel emboldened. Let's face it, nobody is grilling Donald Rumsfeld-- he is still too scary. Nobody is really taking Bush on yet. I said jackals, and I used the word advisedly; this is the way jackals hunt. Michael Chertoff is weak and vunerable, as is Michael Brown, so it's okay to bring them down. (In defense of the media I will say that my brother jackals are still ahead of House and Senate Democrats. The Dems are pure carrion feeders, and wouldn't think of attacking something that is still alive.)

The press is already full of self-congratulation about the swell job they have done in exposing the incompetence of the Adminstration's handling of the Katrina response, but the truth is that the media has really uncovered nothing. What we are seeing now is merely the same arrogance that the thugs who run our government have always ruled with, the same blythe belief that we will belive what we are told, and like it. The fact is that Bush and his handlers don't feel that they are accountable, and they reckon that if they accuse anyone who calls them on it of hating freedom, or hating America that'll cover it. The fact that this tactic has worked is a sad commentary. The fact that the veil has slipped for a moment is no cause for the members of the media to think that they have suddenly started doing their jobs again.

I'd stop short of saying that the media got us into this mess by fawning over the Presidnet and his henchmen-- or by failing to show Bush for what he is when he first ran-- or by treating Al Gore like a punching bag. We The People were complicit in all of that. We were just stupid enough to belive that there really wasn't much of a difference between the two men, and that Bush's just folks affability would work as well or better than intelligence and competence. It's not all the media's fault, but wouldn't it have been better for all of us if the media had done its job? What concerns me is the question of whether it ever will again.

Saturday, September 10, 2005

My birthday book from my parents this year was Jonathan Mahler's "Ladies and Gentlemen, The Bronx Is Burning: 1977, Baseball, Politics, and the Battle for the Soul of a City", a perfect call. New York was my oyster that year: I worked summers in the city, and followed all of the events chronicled in the book in the Times, the News and the Post every day. Emotions ran high about both the election (which boiled down to Kotch v. Cuomo, but Bella Abzug and Percy Sutton, and of course, the hapless Abe Beame were in it too) and the Yankees' fortunes, and the guys I rode the bench with in the Service Department of Sullivan & Cromwell had opinions about everything. Most of what's in the book I knew, the way you know the sound cars made when they drove by the house you grew up in-- but I didn't have a lot of context for a lot of it. That's how it was, that's how it'd always been. Mahler gave me context, and the benefit of perspective. A good read-- I wish there were more photographs.

Thursday, September 08, 2005

Sonny Rollins is 75 today. (Thanks to Follow Me Here for reminding me.)

What the other Supremes Got Sandra Day O'Connor For A Retirement Gift. "Kennedy: Regifted six-slice toaster she gave him for his birthday." (Via Designs On You.)

Wednesday, September 07, 2005

The Pocket Mod. (Via Bifurcated Rivets.)

The Aristocrats. (Via Making Light.) It'll be tough to top this version.

Sunday, September 04, 2005

Of all the things to respect about William Rehnquist, I think what I respect most is that he achieved what I hope for: he left our glamor profession feet first.

Saturday, September 03, 2005

Jessamyn West captures one of the things I love about my job-- turns out it's one of the things she loves about hers, too: "[T]he world changes and what is right for today’s librarian might not be right for tomorrow’s. So, I’d add to this list and to these lists generally, the ability to learn as you go and teach yourself new things. If someone tells me that the job I want requires intimate knowledge of the gazingus protocol, then I guess I’d better learn it, and fast. Since I have a good working knowledge of computers generally, learning something specific about them is usually not too difficult. This is helpful at my job and I bet it would be helpful at yours."

I have always maintained that one of the great things about our glamor profession is that the learning curve never plateaus. There is always something new-- some skill set to aquire, or improve at, some substantive area that we should become familiar with-- and, of course, even in the areas where we are capable, there are always new decisions, and new statutes. The great thing about law is that it never gets stale, and that, in turn, keeps us from getting stale, too.

Friday, September 02, 2005

I am embarrassed by this, but it is still funny, so I suppose I should share it. I've been getting a fair amount of email lately from, "A. Vincent Buzard, President". Figuring it to be spam, I've been deleting it-- I mean, "Dudley Biggs", "Caitlin Dillard", "Rocky Frost" were all correspondents who want to sell me ink jet cartridges or Viagra-- it didn't seem unreasonable to think that President Buzard was writing to me for some similar purpose.

My bad. Mr. Buzard is, in fact, the President of the New York State Bar Association.

Bruce Eaton's Microsoft Art of Jazz Series at the Albright-Knox is the essential entertainment/cultural event in our life. Every year I tell people, every year there is great stuff-- and usually something extraordinary. This last year was exceptional: I'd have to say that Guinga-- a guy nobody I know had ever heard of-- was the highlight, but Matt Wilson was terrific-- so good that I went to his workshop the following afternoon; Luciana Souza was transporting; and Barry Harris was marvelous. Any of them would have been worth the series to have seen, and I missed Jim Hall. This year's line up combines, as usual, people I have heard of and always wanted to see, and people I have never heard of, and can't wait to see: Toshiko Akiyoshi Trio Sunday, October 16, 2005, 3 P.M.; Steve Turre, Sunday, November 13, 2005, 3 P.M.; Maria Schneider Orchestra, Sunday, January 29, 2006, 3 P.M. and 7 P.M.;The Dewey Redman Quartet, Sunday, March 12, 2006, 3 P.M.; and Judy Carmichael with Randy Sandke, Sunday, May 7, 2006, 3 P.M..

Trust me, you should sign on for this. We've been going since it started, and have never been disappointed.

I have been trying to think about what to say about New Orleans. Been there once, fell in love with it, knew I was going to. One of the great American Cities-- one of the Great Places In the World. Not a city where I could ever live-- I'd have lasted maybe five years, and you'd have buried me in a piano box, so it was never one of those places-- like Tokyo, or San Francisco, or Rotterdam, or Helsinki where I could have ever imagined myself living-- New Orleans has always been a place I wanted to be able to go to.

One thing that we can say about what has happened is that it sure as hell has flushed out the poverty that we take for granted in America. Man, you can't tell me that NOLA had more poor folk than anybody else, and now we see them all, more than anybody nearby has any reasonable expectation of absorbing. How's this for a metric? For a long time my office had season tickets to the Bills. The stadium the Bills play in holds 73,800 more or less. I have been there, fair weather and Buffalo weather and I am here to tell you that when the game is over, I want out of there so bad, words fail me. The poor bastards in the Superdome-- I cannot imagine. And those are the ones that had it good. My friends, every soul in New Orleans when the storm hit was someone who had no other place to go-- no other option-- nothing. There are people who have been displaced- a lot of people who are people like me-- but the people that nobody noticed until now-- and maybe still are noticing, except to the extent that they are cadavers, or filling the Astrodome-- are remarkable to me because they have been there all along. "With us always," is what the guy in the Big Black Book said-- now we throw them the change from our quick purchase of pretzels and Ben'n'Jerry's, but they've been there all along, the poor folk, and our spare change wouldn't have been enough then, and it isn't going to get it done now.

With us always. I hate most of what the Big Black Book has to say, but that part has always meant something to me. Mr. Christ was, I think, saying that the problem of poverty, and the obligation of charity, are ongoing conditions, and that there are no solutions to the one, or end to the other. I shake my head and wonder, sometimes, how I can get that out of the book that is full of so many things that I reject, while the people who profess to belief the same cartoon as an article of profound principle can somehow believe that saying "We are praying for you," counts as anything other than insulting. Pray for the poor bastards before the hurricane washes out their Chevy Novas, bastards! Better yet, do something so that the best option they have in life is better than joining the military to go fight in a pointless war.

I look over at the list of sites that I have blogrolled as places I regularly visit, and I am almost surprised at how many are New Orleans-connected, but then I am not. Why wouldn't that be a defining quality of the people I regularly want to hear from? People who are sensualists, people who value what a morsel of food means, or a dram, or a sincere word? In a way that I don't think a lot of Southerners understood, New Orleans was the capital of the South-- the way that Paris will always be the capital of France, or, maybe, New York the capital of the US. My America, anyway, and, I think the America that the rest of the world believes in. Not George Bush's America-- he hates my America.

Maybe it is just my US-- the United States that George Bush hates. New York, New Orleans-- we might make Boston the capitol. Welcome Philly! Well, hey! C'mon in Vermont! Connecticut, hiya!-- you didn't bring that putz, Lieberman, did you?

As I made my purchases last night at the convenience store around the corner from my house a guy was cashing in some bottles. Maybe it was just a look he likes, but he looked to me like the kind of guy we've been seeing in pictures pulling a float of everything he owns behind him-- and for sure he looked like the kind of guy that they are going to be finding washed up under stuff down in NOLA. I live in a nice neighborhood, but guys like this are not an uncommon sight, if you can see them. For just a moment we are seeing the guys like this-- the invisible people-- who occupied New Orleans. What do you think we are going to make of that?

Yeah, me too.

Something that I think may distiguish the US from a lot of other places is that our poor people occassionaly get it into their heads that they have the same rights as everyone else. Of course, as is well known, neither rich nor poor may sleep under the bridges of Paris, but from time to time a citizen has wandered into the citidal of our office nad talked us into tilting at City Hall. You'd think that we'd learn, but stare decisis is a poor argument when you are confronted with the genuine logic of poverty. I wish the argument worked as well with judges as it does with us, but at least it has given us the advantage of seeing the world as it exists. I doubt that most of the people who are watching the aftermath of this disaster are seeing what I'm seeing, and I envy them.

Thursday, September 01, 2005

It's not like I haven't had the opportunity, more like the opportunity hasn't been dropped in my lap. Sonny Rollins comes through Rochester pretty regularly-- he was there this summer, as a matter of fact, but I haven't ever seen him, and that's a shame. There aren't too many guys with his stature left, and what they say is that unless you have heard him live, you just don't know how amazingly great he is. So I'm intregued by the release of this new side, which sounds like it may give me a window into what the guy is like when he gets going. Francis Davis says it isn't "the Sonny Rollins album we've been dreaming of for decades," but I get the feeling that this may be because that album can't exist. For now, "Without A Song" looks like a side I need to pick up. And the next time Rollins is playing within an hour and a half's drive, I think I need to be there.

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