Watching the news of late and you would be forgiven in thinking that it’s all a bunch of air, hot or otherwise. No, I’m not talking about the GOP convention nor am I presaging the Democrats in the weeks to come, rather in a roundabout way I want to acknowledge the stress that the folks of New Orleans are feeling with Hurricane Isaac coming ashore seven years to the day from Hurricane Katrina II (why II? Katrina I made a mess of the Caribbean in 1981). No wonder these folks claim some ownership of the jazz and blues genres, and from what Ellie has told me the Boogaloo Music festival (http://thebayouboogaloo.com/) is an event to behold.
New Orleans and jazz has to bring to mind the great Louis Armstrong, trumpeter of renown who sadly departed us back in 1971. Nicknamed Satchmo (short for satchel-mouth, and that’s a compliment?) he still holds the record as the oldest artist to reach number one on the Billboard Hot 100; this was done at age 63 with Hello Dolly – and, mind you, he bumped the Beatles off to claim the spot! My personal favorite has to be It’s a Wonderful World which has graced everything from the closing number in Robin William’s Good Morning Vietnam to the highlight dance at the 2011 Vashon Father Daughter Dance. Local favorites include A Kiss to Build a Dream On that features prominently in Tom Hank’s Sleepless in Seattle.
Fortunately or unfortunately Louis hasn’t made the news lately, but the same can’t be said for a certain formerly-yellow-shirted velocipedist. Peter or Eric will have to someday provide the insider’s debrief – on the velocipeding, not the pharmaceutical – on what really happened, but suffice to say there’s a definite sense of dismay with the tainting of an athlete who had translated physical prowess into so much more. Focusing solely on the Tour de France’s finishing books there’s another rumble looming as most of the runners up to Lance Armstrong have also been implicated in their own personal substance scandals – some sort of joke lurks here around hiring Diogenes and his lamp to find “One Honest Cyclist” (oh come on, think back to your days studying Greek philosophers and focus on Diogenes of Swope aka Diogenes the Cynic).
Natives of Wapakoneta, Ohio lost one of their own this past weekend with the passing of Gemini 8’s command pilot. This native son also served as mission commander for Apollo 11 and on July 21, 1969 raised the hopes of our planet by leaving tracks where none had existed before. Ahem, despite what you’ve heard there’s simply no truth to the Mr. Gorsky rumors (http://www.snopes.com/quotes/mrgorsky.asp). Preceded into the next great adventure by Pete (not our Pete!), Alan and James the too-soon departure of Neil Armstrong leaves us with only eight surviving people who can describe first hand what it’s like to walk on a planet other than our own. While the accomplishments of Wall-E like vehicles and oversized dune buggies crashing onto Mars are fantastic, there’s really no substitute for putting feet on the ground somewhere other than one’s home planet to make a statement to the universe that we exist.
I know it’s governed by celestial mechanics, the laws of Kepler and the mythos of humans long past, but I find it fitting that this Friday the Moon will, in a sign of respect and human tradition, be blue in honor of it’s first visitor and childhood hero to so many: Professor, Lieutenant jg and of course Astronaut Neil Armstrong.