Tuesday, April 16, 2019

The Roundup

Writing is the act of corralling the wild horses of thought and experience. Fencing them in with paper or screens so you can count who’s there, feed them, groom them, name them. 
That’s pretty much the point of these daily blog posts or journal writing and it’s somehow necessary to the way I move through this world. 

So waking up to New Orleans morning crows in a beautiful old house so generously offered by one of the students in my last year’s Jazz Course who is helping, enormously, to bring the airy dream of teaching the course in New Orleans this summer down to the ground of reality. Today I will look at the teaching spaces and talk to housing people and try to anticipate what’s needed to make the party fun for the almost 50 people signed-up to attend. It’s one thing to be accountable for their experience of six hours of class for some 10 days. Of that, I have no doubts. But to line up the details of the teaching spaces, housing, lunch options, field trip possibilities, guest artist invitations, transportation ideas and more is, to continue the metaphor, a horse of quite a different color! I have some 12 waking hours ahead to get that a bit more worked out.

But meanwhile, how to round up the wild-horse freedom and delight romping through the countryside of the imagination these last three weeks in four beautiful cities—Salzburg, Verona, Izmir, Istanbul—with some 200 adults and kids from some 14 different countries and cultures? Such pleasure, such privilege and the proper response is the title of an airplane movie I saw once and think of often: “Happy. Thank you. More please.”

As for Turkey, the last of the three, what did I notice? Little quirky things like a coffee frappuccino with applesauce in it, getting my fortune told from the grounds of my Turkish coffee, smoking in restaurants, double security at airports—one just to enter the airport, the next going to the gate, guards at school entrances opening trunks of cars. Istanbul such a blend of ancient history (its original name as Constantinople) and mixed cultures—Muslims, Christians, Jews who escaped from Spain, —and perhaps the only major city where you can cross from the European to the Asian side and back again. 

It’s a place suffering greatly from 25 years of Trump-like dictatorship without the hope of the 4-year term limit, free speech (no Turkish Stephen Colbert is publicly criticizing the government on TV) and a dependable judicial system. A place where I couldn’t write this in a public blog without fear of consequences. And yet, the people I meet are far from beaten down. They’re smart, caring, compassionate, politically astute and still hopeful despite the odds. As are the Iranians who joined the Turks in my last course. I find that consistently impressive. And think with shame of all my fellow Americans who could change things with the simple act of voting and don’t.

So with these horses safely tucked in and resting, off I go into the New Orleans day. 

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