I live down the street from the Phoenix Piano Bar, a legend of a place in this city. But I haven't been there in ages, not since long before we moved in down the street. Tuesdays are open mic night and a friend was on the schedule to sing and Sergio was going to listen. I wanted to go, too, but I'm behind in my reading for class and maybe I should just stay home ... unless I could read there ... with a beer. It is Mardi Gras after all. So I went, with my articles in tow. And, in the glow of a deceptive, fake candle adorned with beads, I read Jane Tompkins' "A Short Course in Post-Structuralism" to the tune of a lot of live jazz.
Tompkins: "...the notion of the arbitrariness of the sign, of the unmotivated relationship between concept and sound image..."
The Phoenix is a quintessential place, flawless in its informality, refreshingly straightforward. The neon sign in the window glows "Jazz" - not the brand name of a beer. The musicians are lodged like permanent fixtures into the stage up front, held in place behind a bar, as if in a cartoon with impossible proportions. Is that a drum set back there? And a baby grand behind the bar?
Remarkably, the Phoenix shut down for a while last year. I hated to see it dark when I drove past on my way home. (Even though I never went, I just liked knowing it was there.) I'm so glad it's open again. Tonight it was not dark at all. And I am going to go more often.
The musicians who are there play all the parts for the ones who aren't so the sound is totally full and if you were reading instead of watching you'd think the band was much, much bigger than it really is and you might be distracted long enough to watch a little of one of your favorite songs.
vocalist: ...There'll be no one unless that someone is you ... I intend to be independently blue...
Derrida: "In every exposition it would be exposed to disappearing as disappearance. It would risk appearing: disappearing."
In my next life, perhaps I'll come back as a philosopher. Or maybe a jazz singer. In the meantime, I'm just somebody who is glad she lives on 8th street.
Good times on Fat Tuesday.