If you let Youtube just run its own way it seems to find itself in some likely eddies. I had some Ron Carter on and it led to an album of his with the guitarist Jim Hall. They’re walking down some street in what I assume is the West Village, as the title is “Live at the Village West.” They look purposeful. The city looks young. Born in Buffalo in 1930, it’s all a matter of how you look at it, as Jim Hall would have been the same age as I am now, when he recorded the album in 1982.
We’ve moved on though. I haven’t looked but I can tell we’ve left Ron behind and moved on to another date with Jim Hall and a pianist who turns out upon inspection to be Bill Evans. I enjoyed Jim Hall, before I knew him, listening to him for years on albums like “The Bridge” by Sonny Rollins. Looking over his discography as a leader and a sideman, he must have been in the studio every other month of his adult life. He played with Hampton Hawes? I love Hampton Hawes and his punchy key slaps. How’s that gonna work with Jim Hall’s gentle plucking? I needn’t wait long to find out. Click. Click.
Began a new book yesterday. I always think of this as a treat. I’ve twenty or more that are waiting there to be commenced with. I’ve a few threads I’m pursuing in parallel and as regulars know I’ve been ravenously consuming things on a Russian theme for the past few months. And though the Issac Babel collection, is looking very attractive, sitting up there by the window, especially after Trotsky overtly commented on him, in the Robert Service’ Trotsky biography I just finished, I feel like ought to do some China pushups.
I’ve a course I’m to teach in a few weeks. I know what I want to teach. But I bought several supplementary books. Sixty pages in to “Will the Boat Sink the Water?” It reads more like a glorified magazine article, tracing small town injustice in rural China, setting up and walking me through at the scene of this and then that crime. I think of the small-town people and the small town CCP officials I know myself. No doubt things are often just like the authors Chen Guidi and Wu Chuntao suggest it is. No doubt administering justice or demanding justice in the countryside is a very dangerous thing to do in this enormous country with so much change afoot.
I bring my book to dinner at our local Italian place. I ask my daughter not to use her phone at dinner. But then my wife starts thumb tapping. “It’ll only be a minute.” I give up and begin to read my book. I notice now that the book boldly claims to be “Banned in China” on the cover. That’s nice. I wonder if it’s true? It’s many years since I’ve worried about any such thing, wrongly perhaps. This work was obviously translated (only so well) from Chinese originally. It must be the Chinse text they’re referring to with this claim on the cover. Certainly, written in English, the book jacket phrase is unlikely to catch the eye of anyone who’d care. I show it to my daughter though. Reading, my love, is a privilege, not a chore.