Getting In That One Final Trip

For teachers the summer can be understood as a long weekend.  June is like Friday; the weekend seems endless and everything is possible.  July (Saturday) also has that feel although once you get to the final week the end is in sight.  The first week of August (Sunday morning) can also be relaxing, but most teachers understand that the new year is right around the corner.  It’s time to begin thinking about classes, etc.  With that in mind Michaela and I decided to make one final trip and, of course, it involved a jazz festival.  We decided to travel to New York for the Caramoor Jazz Festival on August 4. 

Patch_016On the way we stopped off to see family in New Jersey. My parents no longer live near the beach, but Michaela and I, along with my brother, decided to take a drive for a nice walk on the edge of the ocean.  There is nothing like the smell of the salt air and the cool water hitting your legs on a hot afternoon.  I also picked up Boardwalk of Dreams: Atlantic City and the Fate of Urban America by Bryant Simon (Oxford University Press, 2004).  My first job was on the boardwalk in A.C. and I continued to work in the summers through my college years.  I watched the city transform as it tore down the old hotels to make way for the more modern forms that can be seen in the pictures.  As the author notes you could walk from the bright lights of Trump’s Taj Mahal and within two blocks stare awkwardly at what appeared to be a warPatch_019_3  zone.  Those changes always held more questions than answers as I gazed at the old piers and other buildings trying to get a glimpse of the city’s glory days that I had heard so much about from my parents and other locals.  I was hoping that this book would help answer some of those questions and it is doing just that.  Most interesting is the racial undercurrent that defined the city’s public spaces and helped maintain the boardwalk and other sites as a place where middle-class whites could imagine themselves as an exclusive or privileged social group.

On Saturday we headed up to Katonah, New York for the jazz festival.  It was a one-day show that featured a number of performers that we’ve wanted to see for some time.  We heard Fred Hersch (solo piano) in the afternoon and he was superb.    Following Hersch we made our way down to Katonah for dinner and ended up in the Blue Dolphin Diner, which serves excellent Italian food.  Walking around this small-quaint town it was apparent that even the best price for our home would get us no more than a dog house in Katonah.  The evening session featured the Brad Mehldau Trio followed by Joe Lovano/Paquito D’Rivera Festival Ensemble.  It was a long drive for a one-day show, but all of the performers were excellent and the concert was held in a beautiful setting. 

Now its time to tie up loose ends and begin to get ready for the new school year. 

Searching for Black Confederates: The Civil War’s Most Persistent Myth

“Levin’s study is the first of its kind to blueprint and then debunk the mythology of enslaved African Americans who allegedly served voluntarily in behalf of the Confederacy.”–Journal of Southern History

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