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Happy Birthday, Scotty – Take 2

Conde Nast TagID: cncartoons025278.jpg/Photo via Conde Nast

Listening to the Bill Evans Trio, live at the Village Vanguard, 1961.

In a classic New Yorker article from August, 2001, jazz critic and author Adam Gopnik describes that Sunday afternoon nearly 55 years ago:

“. . . (that) summer, on June 25, 1961, three young jazz musicians – the piano player Bill Evans, the bass player Scott LaFaro, and the drummer Paul Motian – went down to a New York basement, smoked, yawned, joked a bit, and got to work.”

2 albums, Life at the Village Vanguard and Waltz for Debbie, form the trio’s output from 5 sets played that Sunday, two and a half hours of music that you can sample here:$%7B0%7D and$%7B0%7D

About the music and the venue of that day, Gopnik says:

“It is art that puts a time in place . . . (t)he emotions it summons belong to the room they were made in, and the city outside the room when they were made. Not a timeless experience of a general emotion but a permanent experience of a particular moment . . .. The gift the record gives us is a reminder that the big sludgy river of time exists first as moments. It gives us back our afternoons.”

Two weeks after the trio made these historic recordings, on July 6, 1961, the bass player Scott LaFaro, driving to his parents home in upstate New York, skidded, hit a tree, and died instantly. He was 25 at the time and already recognized as a legend and innovator on his instrument.

Scott LaFaro would be 80 today – April 3rd his birthday.  Happy birthday, Scotty

Reference Cited
Gopnik, Adam. jazz’s perfect afternoon, forty years later. August 13, 2001. THE NEW YORKER.

This art is paid for and used under Non-Exclusive license agreement with Condé Nast.
Cartoonist: Lee Lorenz, The New Yorker Collection
Issue Publication Date 11/15/1969
The Cartoon Bank TCB-84966, Image ID

© Michael C. Simonelli,, 2016


Excellence at Milepost 171, the Garden State Parkway

It’s late Saturday night, driving home to Connecticut from Aberdeen, New Jersey, 2 hours still to goI stop for gas and wait in a long line.  Finally at the pump, the attendant there on the passenger side, tells me that the nozzle will not reach my gas tank on the driver side, though there is clearly enough hose  to wrap around an 18-wheeler if need be, and despite the fact that many cars before me had their gas tanks similarly situated. With dismissive twirls of his index finger, he motions for me to loop around to the pumps opposite.  I find myself again at the end of a long line.

Finally, fully serviced and $50+ poorer, I sense that 2 hours is a long way to go without going, so I park to make use of the restrooms in the food-court adjacent the pumps.  Once inside, I sense that I have entered a netherworld of sorts, dimly lit buzzing fluorescence, creatures shuffling about on sticky floors, the smell of old gym in the air.  I do what I need to, quickly.

As I’m about to leave the area, I notice a Starbucks nestled in the corner by the exit, bathed in a gold light, its green logo warm and inviting.  This post is for the 2 men, late teens or early 20’s, who were keeping the faith behind the counter that Saturday night.

Kudos to both of you.  Congratulations for excellent service and for upholding the brand .  I raise my Americano, to the way you handled the two little girls in front of me, along with their parents, personalizing their cups, playfully revealing the recipe of their vanilla lattes like it was a secret formula,  up-selling the Dad on a sleeve of cookies, and displaying extra care in securing the drinks in the cardboard tray.  They left feeling special; you made it fun.  Thank you for the small talk, and for asking if I wanted an extra shot of espresso, on the house.  I left the area feeling real good about you guys – yet I knew you less than 5 minutes – for your attention to the seemingly trivial details and for the honest pride you took in your work, even if that work was slinging cups of Joe @ Milepost 171.

From the Barista’s job posting:

A Starbucks barista.

  • Acts with integrity, honesty and knowledge that promote the culture, values and mission of Starbucks.
  • Anticipates customer and store needs by constantly evaluating environment and customers for cues.
  • Delivers customer service to all customers by acting with a customer comes first attitude and connecting with the customer. Discovers and responds to customer needs.

© Michael C. Simonelli,, 2013