At first, I figured Valley Fever was just a catchall name for the crazy behavior one sometimes sees exhibited by residents of Central Arizona, probably caused by the searing heat and overexposure to strip malls, strip clubs, road construction and big box retail. Turns out that Valley Fever is an actual fungal infection.
Strange: landmarks here are constituted by a bewildering array of drug stores, supermarkets, chain restaurants such as Outback Steakhouse and Chili's, gas stations and department stores. Problem: It would seem simple enough to remember that Trader Joe's, for example, is located in a plaza at an intersection with a huge Walgreen's. However, it's an identical plaza with a huge Walgreen's, maybe 5 blocks south of the one closer to the house.
Beautiful: the saguaros and other cacti in people's yards.
Ugly: Just about everything else.
I started work as a part time High School algebra 1 teacher last week, rumbling through endless orientation and set up activities. Classes start Monday. I'll be teaching about 50 (mostly) 9th graders at a charter school that focuses on the arts. The pay is unbelievably low and the hours are actually relatively long, as well as the professional requirements being fairly detailed. Call me crazy, but I'm stoked.
Also stoked about the High Mayhem Festival next month. The schedule isn't completely finalized, but I know through the grapevine that Chris Jonas's Rrake project (I'll be on drums) is Friday, 9/21 and my own Traps performance (with 6 drummers on 6 drumsets) is Sunday, 9/23. I don't think I'll be able to get to Santa Fe this month so it's especially exciting to have this in the offing.
Also stoked about an "audition" for The Phoenix New Times, writing one of their arts and culture event previews for the section called Night&Day. The paper devotes an entire page to every day of the week, with short pieces of about 150 words for three or four events each day.
Do people still say "I'm stoked"? If not, let's just say "I'm old" and leave it at that. Maybe it's all of the Hawaiian shirts I bought at Gracie's Thrift Store last week. Dude.
I notice checking out the blog rounds that there's been a recent flurry of commentary on Kieth Jarrett's recent outburst in Perugia. I don't have any strong opinions on any of it yet. The only thing that comes to mind is my recent hour-long telephone conversation with Sonny Rollins and attending a wonderful Meet the Artist event where Rollins was interviewed by AB Spellman, as well as the stunning Rollins performance the following Sunday night. Without saying a word, Rollins exudes dignity, humility of a strong and centered spirit, a sense of humor, a sense of perspective and gratitude. There isn't one molecule of kow-tow nor any shred of the submissive in Rollins. Yet, at the same time, there is no sense of brittleness nor of self-seriousness. In describing to a friend of mine how solid Mr. Rollins seems, he said "Man, if I had accomplished even one tenth of what Rollins has, I'd be the biggest prick in the world." Interesting perspective.