Jimmy Jazz ~~ Captain’s Blog 84

This is for my friend Jim Ricker. 1954-2015



Elegy for Jim 

by Jimmy Jazz

An elegist like an astronomer should know more of a moon or a man than its gibbous phase. -anonymous




A screaming came across the sky

on Broadway two hours after sunrise

as a black crow darted before the cityscape,

a small hawk in pursuit of his tail feathers…

reminding me, strangely, of conversations

in a teacher’s lounge

at a language school

in San Diego

with our friend Jim Ricker


Jim, Hippie Jim,

parsing the spoken words of his interlocutors

asking each to think & re-think

before speaking

the talons of his sharp logic clipping some who dared

use anecdotal evidence to support a claim


Hippie Jim, there was a fry cook in your heart

and a prescriptive grammar Snoot

A fry cook flipping hotcakes in a Sunday rush

at the big kitchen


Hippie Jim with your Master’s degree

where is your long hair now?

a fry cook who never minced words

& a usage cop with an etymologist’s nightstick

upside the head of the Green Grocer— Who

does he think he is with his ’10 Items or Less’ sign?


Hippie Jim, you old polemicist, you coot

never angry

but always ready and able to argue



Hippie Jim, with your long hair

were you a Marxist?

Can you explain for me one more time

Marx’s Labor Theory of Value?

You old union man, you Wobblie

you Uber-hater

We’ll kick hell out of any scab that crosses your picket line


Hippie Jim

Why were you shaking your fist

at the lack of common sense in the Ottoman Empire

over coffee with the muse?


Yer cantankerous-misanthropic-curmudgeon mask

didn’t fool the people you loved

A circus tent couldn’t mask a heart like that


Hippie Jim, will they bury you

in bolo tie & seersucker coat?


Will your hair be long in heaven?

Will you give Jesus a piece of your mind?

Will God pour you a beer & with a slap on the back say, Good Job Buddy?


Hippie Jim, you could be sober

a thousand years, or a thousand lonely nights

and all your courage & conviction

wouldn’t stop us finger-waggers from waving your final vices

like a red flag— Did

you really eat a 7-11 chili dog & chocolate milk

every fucking day?


Any man who can find joy in the grit in the bottom of a styrofoam cup of Folger’s,

can be happy in this world.


O, secret joy teacher!

ask your students to seize the day

tap your enthusiasm

in class & field trips

to places they have never been


Jim, Hippie Jim,

You Teacher

You Reader


Who will speak at length about the great writers of our time?

Who will follow Pynchon & Bill Vollmann,

who will read Edward Abbey’s FBI file,

and care about David Foster Wallace?


Who will throw his body on the gears of the capitalist machine?

And wonder in what desert Edward Abbey lies?



You teacher

You Reader

You Study-hard

You Knower (of so many things)

History dies with a man like you

History falls into the memory hole



You Knower

You Carer

You Talker


Your hawk soars above the tower,

the crow count his days.

Jimmy Jazz ~~ Captain’s Blog 71

The Knockout Artist • Harry Crews – Lydia Lunch started a band called Harry Crews with Kim Gordon from Sonic Youth that recorded songs based on Crew’s novels. They recorded a live album in London and Austria. After a song called The Gospel Singer Lunch banters with crowd: Harry Crews a man by the same name as the band. I know it’s confusing cause you never heard of him. Continue reading “Jimmy Jazz ~~ Captain’s Blog 71”

Jimmy Jazz ~~ Captain’s Blog 65

Life cannot adequately be imagined as a puzzle; even though, sometimes when people die they leave a hole in the world, and you can see how only they can fill it. But that’s not enough to explain why some people or puzzle-pieces are essential for subsequent pieces even to exist. I may not believe in hereos, but there must be such a thing as heroic acts. I don’t want to imply any imperative kowtowing to the ancestors. In fact it might be beneficial for us to procede without knowledge of our forebearers. Sometimes they get in the way of the new. I’m not going to be talking about influence here, or even provocation so much as trailblazing. I don’t even mean to suggest that those walking on the trail must recognize who blazed it, though for me it remains a fascination. I walked up to my local pub last night to check out my friend Belinda Rachman who was reading-out a short story with the group called So Say We All (A monthly reading series with a theme: this month ‘talk dirty.’)

I was surprised that I didn’t hear a shout out at the show for Grove Press founder Barney Rosset, who died a few days before the show. Continue reading “Jimmy Jazz ~~ Captain’s Blog 65”

Jimmy Jazz ~~ Captain’s Blog 61

Here’s an excerpt from my Book of Books about the late Chrisopher Hitchens.

Thomas Jefferson: author of america • Christopher Hitchens

Angela and I drove to La Jolla to see Hitchens speak at DG Wills Books. I counted roughly 60 people inside the bookstore and out on the sidewalk (where we were.) Dennis Wills bought Hitchens a bottle of Johnny Walker Black and Rothmans Blue King Canadian cigarettes. (I heard Wills on the phone another time wooing Maureen Dowd to speak with red roses.) Wills seemed nervous, passing the scotch around to friends and sipping his usual Pabst’s Blue Ribbon. I was going to ask for a hit off the bottle but couldn’t get close enough. Hitchens spoke eloquently about Jefferson, and breezed through an easy appostion with the audience, mostly concerning people he’d known or written about from Mother Teresa to Hunter Thompson. I wanted to ask if he’d written the Jefferson book as a response to Gore Vidal’s Inventing America, but didn’t get the chance. Hitchens pushed the automatic applause button in a comment about a recent terrorist bombing We love London, more than they love hatred. Sure, terrorism personifies horror, but wasn’t England bombing and shooting people every day in Iraq and Afghanistan? This kind of patriotic sentiment seemed to deny inevitable blowback. He wrote that Jefferson (like Bush IIs Doctrine formerly the Project for a New American Century) intended democracy as an American export. He pointed to Jefferson’s agitation in The French Revolution, highlighting the fact that Jefferson used executive power (like Bush II) undemocratically. Hitchens was building a case for the necessary abuse of power, like We can have justice, follow the constitution and uphold the rights of man, later. Cecil called to say that Hitchens was on the Jon Stewart Show, and that Stewart, a comedian, summed the book Bush is Jefferson.

Jimmy Jazz ~~ Captain’s Blog 20

Wangari Maathai died.

She recognized the importance of planting trees in turning around the health of society, a real life hero in the mold of Jean Giono’s great story The Man Who Planted Trees.

Here’s an excerpt from The Book of Books:

The Challenge for Africa • Wangari Maathai — The challenges include poverty, civil war, famine, AIDS, and malaria. Maathai recognized many problems with corrupt leadership too. Indeed not every person in a leadership position is truly a leader. [111] I find this belief in a “true leader” limiting. Does it take a charismatic leader, like Maathai herself, to accomplish something as important as the planting of 40 million trees?

Jimmy Jazz ~~ Captain’s Blog 17

Jerry Schad died.

Angela and I had been using his book Backcountry Roads and Trails: San Diego County to guide our hikes since at least 1993. And my dad bought me his 101 Hikes in Southern California for Xmas one year. My friend David Klowden would actually say ‘Let’s go Schad-ing’ and we did. Trudging through snow at Palomar and apprehensively past some very large cattle near Julian. My friend Pat Haley and I searched in vain for Cedar Creek Falls (HIke 79). ‘Do you think its this way?’ ‘I don’t know what did Schad say?’ That was the thing about Schad. Sometimes the directions were just vague enough to get you pointed in the right direction without relieving you of the sense of adventure. I lost Angela’s cellphone on the trail to Cottonwood Creek Falls (HIke 86) and Angela and I had such a good time doing it we brought friends back on the trail the next day. The verb ‘to schad’ should enter thre language meaning To trundle through nature with friends.