Columns » Penny Post by Andrei Codrescu


Charming life. La Vie Boheme. Viva to all that. The day starts around noon: you roll in bed, unwilling to give up the dream where you go up the stairs to a tower looking over an azure sea. Then you must decide between the atmospheric but mediocre coffee half a block away or the divine cappuccino a full block distant. You settle for divine, and it sets the tone. The cappuccino foams lyrically and the ibuprofen has already started working. The day is mild, skin temperature, and the parade of beauties on foot and bikes has begun. There is only enough breeze to ruffle the little they've put on. A scent of strawberries, verbena and warm chicken feathers lingers throughout the port. In the early afternoon, under your very own balcony hugged by the generous magnolia, Tony Green's Gypsy Jazz trio sets up to play. Tony gives the world just what you've been too lazy to provide: rhythm, shape, energy, melancholy and longing. The courtyard fills with printmakers, guests of your next-door neighbors, all of them from Wisconsin. You can only imagine the shock of pleasure they are registering: skin tingles, musical assaults, magnolia shamelessada, Gypsy abandonada. For a moment, you fear that the cold might have numbed them. But no, they are buying CDs. Cool. You last saw Tony Green in Venice, playing in Campo Santa Margarita. It was magical then, too. The afternoon rolls away, and they bring on the evening. Velvet, early stars, jasmine, eyes aglow. Everybody knows you. The Eritrean cabdriver, a tall, handsome woman, shakes your hand. Strangers pounce from cafe tables and say they are yours, do with them as you will. You induct them into the growing entourage and sweep through the eroticized eve. At the Spotted Cat, the crowd is just right, not so thick you can't stand, and not so thin you feel alone. The Jazz Vipers are making music. There are eight of them, Jack Fine is on the trumpet, Linnzi is singing. You can't ask for more. The sound of the Vipers on a spring night on Frenchmen Street is all that a soul in desperate need to stay blissful needs. Jack Fine has played with everybody, even Mez Mezzrow, which means a lot to a keeper of lore. Linnzi's languorous blues are particularly felt tonight. Earlier, a police car destroyed her car and plowed into her house in a chase gone wrong. Anyone with less music in them would be crying, not singing. Linnzi sings and cries. It moves the stars, like Dante said. Two Polish men at the bar are amazed to discover you. Not because you are you, one of them explains, but because we looked for you for a week, and now you are here. Nothing to do with you, reassures the other, pleased that magic works. It does, and it works. Some days. For some of you.

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