Someone asked me last week why I wore a Louis Armstrong button, and without thinking, I said, “He taught me how to live my life,” which I was proud of saying. I know that CABARET was written by Kander and Ebb, but I encourage you to take three minutes or so and listen — I mean listen — to Louis’s 1966 version (the one with strings).
That song, and Louis’ performance of it, has a special relevance for me at this moment. Friends and family are devoting their energies to being afraid of the Coronavirus. I hear of their buying masks and hand sterilizer, stocking up on food and water for when “the lockdown” comes, restricting their travel. I can hear their voices over the phone, trying to mask their frightened disapproval, when I say I am getting on a plane in perhaps ninety hours to fly to Monterey for the Jazz Bash by the Bay, which begins March 5. “You’re getting on a plane, Michael? Well, be careful not to to touch your face. You could wear a pair of gloves . . . ”
Their caution might be well-founded. I could contract the virus, it could turn into pneumonia, I could die. Or, I could get hit by a Range Rover as I cross the street, even when I have the light in my favor. I’m not being facetious. And I hear the voices of my loving over-cautious parents, “Be careful. Be careful!”
But the opposite of Fear is Courage, and Courage has as its reward Joy. If I stay home, I won’t hear these fellows play and sing:
So I’m on my way to Monterey on Thursday morning, and here‘s the schedule, a wondrous hot-jazz version of Ceres’ cornucopia. You pick: stay at home with those books you’ve been promising yourself to read, and perhaps some takeout as a treat, or venture forth with plans to live joyously. (I know some of you can’t fly to Monterey, but adapt my encouragements to your own neighborhood.)
Now I have to finish packing.
May your happiness increase!