Monday, 17 November 2008

14 November 2008

audience. Neal stands in the back saying “God! Yes!” and clasping his hands in prayer and sweating. “Jack, Slim knows time, he knows time.” Slim sits down at the piano and hits two notes, two c’s, then two more, then one, then two and suddenly the big burly bassplayer wakes up from a tea-reverie and realizes Slim is playing C-Jam Blues” and he slugs in his big forefinger on the string and the big booming beat begins and everybody starts rocking and Slim looks just as sad as ever, and they blow jazz for half an hour, and then Slim goes mad and grabs the bongos and plays tremendous rapid Cuban beats and yells crazy things in Spanish, in Arabic, in Peruvian dialect, in Mayan, in every language he knows and he knows innumerable languages. Finally the set is over; each set takes two hours. Slim Gaillard goes and stands against a post looking sadly over everybody’s head as people come and talk to him. A bourbon is slipped into his hand. “Bourbon-orooni---thank you orooni…” Nobody knows where Slim Gaillard is. Neal once had a dream that he was having a baby and his belly was all bloated up blue as he lay on the grass of a California hospital. Under a tree, with a group of colored men, sat Slim Gaillard. Neal turned despairing eyes to him. Slim said “There you go-orooni.” Now Neal approached him, he approached his God, he thought Slim was God, he shuffled and bowed in front of him and asked him to join us. “Right-orooni” says Slim; he’ll join anybody but he won’t guarantee to be there with you in spirit. Neal got a table, bought drinks, and sat stiffly in front of Slim. Slim dreamed over his head. Not a word was spoken. Every time Slim said “orooni” Neal said “Yes!” I sat there with these two madmen. Nothing happened. To Slim Gaillard the whole world was just one big Orooni. That same night I dug Lampshade on Fillmore and Geary. Lampshade is a big colored guy who comes staggering into musical Frisco saloons with coat hat and scarf and jumps on the bandstand and starts singing: the veins pop in his forehead: he heaves back and blows a big foghorn blues out of every muscle in his soul. He yells at people while he’s singing. He drinks like a fish. His voice booms over everything. He grimaces, he writhes, he does everything. He came over to our table and leaned

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