What the Heck Happened?

JazzBoston Jazz Hero 2013 - Arni Cheatham

While rumors of my demise are greatly exaggerated, they may be fueled by a dearth of activity on this blog. My long absence is a story that is multifaceted, however the Readers Digest version could be simply stated, “Stuff Happens” (You may substitute the colloquial expletive if you so desire.)

Actually the saga began in late January with a situation that all of us encounter if we use these computers for any length of time. My trusty desktop computer began to show signs of its age and unwillingness to suffer much more abuse. It began to wheeze like a severe asthmatic, pausing for five minutes after each keystroke and lighting up the red light that says “I don’t have enough memory so I’m gonna bang on my hard drive to simulate the four gigs I need and you don’t have.” Now, hard drives are actually rated by MTBF (Mean Time Between Failures) and all this thrashing was telling me that an “F” could be coming in my near future unless I took action. So I bought a new PC. With that purchase came a new operating system to learn and the task of making sure I lost no data in the transition; no mean feat when you consider that the old PC contained about 30,000 images that I wanted to safely reference once all was done.

New PC, fresh hard drive, clean Windows 7 as opposed to thoroughly trashed Win XP, perfect time to have an attack of anal retentive neatness, right? Weeks went by as I carefully structured a neatly compartmentalized folder system where there was a place for everything and everything was in its place. I kept the old PC set up side by side in my cluttered office space, cross referencing everything as I sought the nirvana of neatness. But that would be too easy and half way through everything, my old faithful monitor died. Went blank. Time to get a tiny spare out of the basement storage and order a new monitor on Amazon.com.

OK, we’re makeshift but functional. Let’s get back to work. I press the power switch and my ears are treated to a sound very similar to a WWII propeller powered bomber. No, this is not what a new computer is supposed to sound like and MTBF of four weeks is unacceptable. It calms down in about three minutes and I pray this is just an anomaly but my confidence is shaken. The following day it does this again. That’s it! Back to the store we go and of course just like when you take your car to the mechanic, it won’t make the sound but three days later, starting from cold they finally get the serenade and diagnose a bad case fan. Another day or so while a fan was being located and the new kid was back on the block getting replugged into 42 (OK maybe only 12) USB devices and peripherals.

As the saga continues, two old Epson beater printers we had for utilitarian work start displaying error dialogs each time they are urged to print. Almost to the letter they both read, “A component of your printer has reached the end its useful service life.” And you didn’t believe in planned obsolescence, eh. Back to the basement for an old but unused printer that I found at the end of the hall with a note, “New and unused!” (It was probably a freebee that came with someone’s new PC and whose owner needed something with a little more oomph or features. Storage space rent aside, being a pack rat has its perks.) Installed as a network printer, Dotty, me and my portable can now print again. As Curtis Mayfield said “Keep on Pushin”.

While all this computer hardware stuff was going on, I like hoards of other Americans, needed to address the annual torture known as Income Taxes. Suffice it to say that while a 1040 is not ever EZ even if they cleverly try to market it as such, a schedule C can try the patience of the biblical Job. And all the 2012 data needed to make the trip from the old PC to the new one in order for this task to be attempted. Spreadsheets for inventory and sales, Quicken data, Outlook Calendars and Contact information and many incidentals had to cross the river on external hard drives, CD’s, thumb drives, emails and whatever method could ferry them over to their new home safely. In the very end, I discovered that I didn’t have an inexhaustible warehouse of patience. When this whole saga started running late into the third month, I made myself “bite the bullet” by disassembling the old computer and putting it into my storage space in the basement. Fortunately, I do have a portable drive with a complete backup of the old machine so if I discover an “OMG” moment, I can go fish on the messy but complete backup drive.

If all this seems like a plateful, it was. Much like Rapini (aka Broccoli Rabe) a large serving can be a little bitter, but it’s very good for you in the end. However there was also much sweetness to be savored also. An avalanche of musical deserts arrived over the same period. Thirty five or more assorted gigs, rehearsals and such occurred between February and today. Some of this activity was related to the celebration of the 40th season for the Aardvark Jazz Orchestra of which I have been a long term member. We’ve had a full season with several special events including a packed house gathering at Scullers, the release of a new CD titled Evocations, our 40th annual Christmas concert, a special celebration and honoring of our fearless leader, Mark Harvey at Ryles, a show at the Amazing Things Arts Center, a special affair concert at the MFA and culminating in our traditional final annual Spring concert at MIT. (See http://www.aardvarkjazz.com/ for info on all the events.)

Then came a completely unexpected surprise. The Jazz Journalists Association prompted a nomination by our local ambassadors; JazzBoston presented me with an award as 2013-Boston Jazz Hero. Here is their definition of a jazz hero (click number 9 for me). With all the marvelous saxophonists in the Boston area, I’m so glad it actually says nothing about playing the horn in the definition. Still, I’m a quiet man by nature and this was all a bit overwhelming for me. I told my friends I was gonna buy a blond wig and join the witness protection program but they said it wouldn’t work. (My huge thanks to the board of JazzBoston for thinking that I am worthy of such an honor. I will try my best to deserve this accolade.)

As you well know however, an award is always good cause for a gala of some sorts, and in this case it was a fine party at Wally’s Jazz Café attended by many good friends and well-wishers and joyous music from Frank Wilkins, Bill Lowe, Tim Engels and Alvin Terry. The group adopted the moniker “Cheatham’s Champs” for the day and of course I had to grab my horn and join the fun. Compatriots from Aardvark stopped by to contemplate the blues in F, including Chris Rakowsky, Phil Scarff, Peter Bloom and “Chief Aard” Mark Harvey. My good friend Eric Jackson of “Eric in the Evening” presented me with the award and warm wishes. Altogether it was an evening of a lifetime. I’m still blushing.

The following day, I was honored to present a mini concert for the South End Historical Society at Darryl’s Corner Bar and Kitchen.  And last but certainly not least, The Makanda Project has been very active as well, with several special concerts including an appearance at Dudley Library with three drummers (Warren Smith, Billy Hart and Youron Israel) Art Sparc artists painting to the music, Hibernia Hall with dancers from NY and followed by a concert the next night in Philly with guest artist Odean Pope.

As you can see, there has been an avalanche of activity that could bury the staunchest of souls and I hope you’ll accept my apology for such a prolonged absence. I’ll be better. You’ll see. Honest!

P.S. Not to slow down too much, this month’s schedule includes Friday’s and Saturday’s at “Top Of The Hub” with the Brian McCree Group. Click on my updated upcoming gigs link for details on this and more. It’s a fun gig and we’d love to see you there.

3 Responses to “What the Heck Happened?”

  1. June 12, 2013 at 7:33 am

    Greetings, Hero on a Horn. Are you now convinced that neatness is not next to godliness?
    See you at the Top of the Hub.

  2. 2 Cheatham Arni
    June 16, 2013 at 4:35 pm

    Pauline, I must disabuse myself of the notion that the universes tendency toward chaos can be denied.

    • June 18, 2014 at 10:55 am

      Hey Arni,

      Nice meeting you and playing at Slades last night. I can relate to everything you’ve described in the technical realm (empathetically in some cases — at least so far ). I also see we have another contact in common…I know Alvin well.

      Without getting too deep I will just say that I’ve lately recommitted myself to all aspects of the music.
      Aside from the spiritual fortification and focus on principles of Kwanzaa to contribute to positive energy; it is one thing for which I am judged solely by my ability and that I can control.

      I hope to attend some of the events where you are planning to be a participant.

      BG…Be Free

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June 2013

Copyright Notice

All Photographic Images ©Arni Cheatham, Segami Images and Eyes and Ears, 2009. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of photographs without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited.

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