Peace Through Music

















The World of Rusty Taylor, a hemp-inspired quadriplegic jester disguised as a jazz-singing poet and writer

Southern Standard Time - vocal jazz

Peace Through Music

Blog XXVI (June 2012)

by Rusty Taylor on 06/01/12

NOTICE: Southern Standard Time featuring Rusty Taylor plays The Loft (Columbus' weekly home for jazz) on Friday, June 8 from 7 'til 9 pm. Free admission. Groovy bar and menu in a smoke-free environment accompanied by the best live jazz music in town. To view our tentative set list, click here. Hope to see you in the audience.

NOTICE # 2: To keep up with Southern Standard Time on Twitter, click here.

NOTICE # 3: For the second time this year, Matt Kemp (outfielder for the Los Angeles Dodgers professional baseball team) is on the disabled list with a hamstring pull. In 1986 I broke my neck, but I was never placed on the disabled list.


And now, with no further ado, my monthly epistle...


Greetings fellow Jazzonians,

You know what is so totally groovy? (At least in my limited mind...)

It's Life, my friends.

Life is a groovy sort of magic that has baffled philosophers probably since humanity discovered its own individual ontology. Obviously, Life has its ebb and flow, its highs and lows, its elation and depression. However, here recently (and for the vast majority of my sublunary manifestation), the beneficence of unknowable (and thereby magical) celestial influences has expressed a puissance more redoubtable than the intolerantly baneful energies that can, and do, capriciously attack my terrestrial weaknesses, and this set of gifts has allowed me many opportunities to wonder at the dizzying beauty of kaleidoscopic butterflies that flit and light on the highest white-dappled, pink-feathery blooms of the mimosa tree outside my bedroom window. It also allows me ample peace of mind wherein I can challenge the dogma of communal molding, question my very existence, and, more appealing to me, it affords me an opportunity to explore musical avenues that bring consistently energetic levels of bewilderment to my child-like sensibilities.

Many of you know that May has been designated as National Mobility Awareness Month by... well, I don't really know by whom, but it is a cause... really! And to kick off the cause, the National Mobility Equipment Dealers Association (you probably know them as NMEDA) created a contest to give away three wheelchair accessible vehicles for which I wrote a 400-word essay in my quirky style. Unfortunately, I didn't even make the list of semi-finalists, but in reality I'm relieved that I didn't win. I want for nothing, and there are myriad li'l warriors in our country and world-wide who have a much more difficult time in their short lives than I will have had collectively at the end of my terrestrial existence, and these ambassadors of Life have mothers and fathers who deserve the vehicle much more than I. However, I did receive right at 1500 votes, which is much more than I expected. I sincerely appreciate everyone who supported my quest. I am humbled by so many of you who thought enough of me to participate. Thank you... all (or, in a mo' Southern vernacular, Thank all y'all).

Anyway, as I was shamelessly encouraging participation in my overt coveting of a free wheelchair accessible van, I perused facebook to look for possible victims, uh... I mean friends... to look for possible friends that might help me. So, I'm bouncing around facebook like Tigger (for my fans out there who are overly concerned with political correctness (a condition I call morally annoying)... I was bouncing around like Tiggro), checking for email addresses that I could use, and I noticed that quite a few of my friends list my band (and the eponymous title of my CD) Southern Standard Time on their facebook pages as a musical preference. Isn't that wicked cool? Quite honestly, it surprises me that y'all dig my vocals enough to support my musical endeavors, but I sincerely appreciate it.

And now... to further expound on the coolness of the word cool, check this out:

Once again I was surfing the net. For those of you who don't know, I really dig jazz music... probably scarcely more than a bacon-cheeseburger with three-alarm cheese but maybe as much as I dig butterflies... or a pastel-intense sunset. Anyway, I spend probably too much time promoting jazz in the tri-city area (Columbus, Georgia; Fort Benning, Georgia; and Phenix City, Alabama); however, while hanging ten on a groovily stylized virtual surfboard, I came across a blog by Patrick McCurry, who writes about music events in and around Auburn, Alabama. In his post dated March 15, 2012, he wrote a very nice review of Snakebite Six, a Fountain City-based dixieland jazz band with some of Columbus, Georgia's most accomplished musicians. The really groovy thing about this particular blog is that he began his review by quoting my blog, an earlier entry to the one you're currently reading. Is that not cool! Click here if you are inclined to check it out... although, you may have already read it.

Again, Life is truly groovy.


Inspired Writing Alert! (It's fiction, man. Like... make believe.)


Indifferent Omniscience


I was sitting in my gazebo with a small group of friends, listening to jazz (what else?), when I noticed a small disturbance in my periphery, and as I turned toward it, I noticed a small predatory bird about the size of a pigeon, probably a tawny hawk. The surrounding shrubbery forbade my visually verifying that it had prey within its talons, and as quickly as it came into my life, it flew away, slaloming through the pines with the speed and easy grace of the comets that race through the Kuiper Belt (rhymes with the viper smelt). Nobody else noticed, and I couldn't help but think that a powerful, benevolent celestial energy granted me exclusive access to a fulgurous instance of magic.

As the music purred and refreshments flowed (and wove the weft and warp of the pharmaceutically inspired tapestry that recorded the ardent camaraderie of the evening), I also noticed, singularly, that a pine seed had floated down from a neighboring arboreal friend, like a helicopter's slow descent, and it landed rather elegantly in a hemp-ashen ashtray. Instantly, my mind raced toward the Biblical parable of the Sower. (Briefly: a sower drops seeds on a path, on rocky ground, and among thorns, and the seeds die. However, when the seed falls on fertile ground, it flourishes.) I was a bit saddened at the anticipated death of the seed but then a friend of mine abruptly grabbed the ashtray, indifferently tossing the ashes into the Azalea bush between my gazebo and my house. A gust of dervish-rushing wind gathered some of the ashes, as well, I assume, as the pine seed, scattering all to wherever, and I had hope that the seed might have a chance for further development.

It then dawned on me that my friend, the one who casually discarded the contents of the ashtray, didn't even notice the seed... yet she may have inadvertently prolonged its development. This sent my mind reeling, and I dwelt on the possibility that we, the human race, are as noticed by the creative source of the Universe as the seedling was to my friend. Sure, my friend might've seen the seed. If, perchance, the seed had caught fire, she would've had the chance to observe the conflagration in her inspired amazement, or she might've blown out the tiny flame, unconsciously saving it. The possibilities might be infinite. Point is, my friend will have affected the seeds development if she'd have noticed it and had been actually stimulated by whatever to intervene in its existence. She will, however, have had as much concern for the infinitesimal milieu of the seed as Omniscience has for the human race.

My friend has her life to contend with, which, as with everyone, has the ultimate potential to not only experience most the planet, but under certain circumstances to experience orbit around the moon. Her options are currently limited only by these boundaries, seemingly limitless in our minds, especially when compared to the mundane experiences she has to interact directly with the rather insignificant seed. Other options are not only supernumerary but infinitely more interesting like scuba diving along the Barrier Reef or visiting the international space station.

The creator of everything, whatever inconceivable power it is, must have a similarly disinterested relationship with humanity. All I'm suggesting is that humanity is merely a step or half step above the other animals that populate our planet, that Omniscience has more important responsibilities like maintaining the ever-expanding Universe that can only be slightly understood in terms of the amount of years it takes for light to travel across its vastness. The destruction and creation of clusters of galaxies is vastly more necessary that observing the follies of human activity on a very insignificant planet--insignificant even within the realm of our rather unimpressive solar system. Come on! Jupiter is much more interesting and significant than Earth.

That's not to say that there aren't unknowable yet indomitable celestial powers that do offer humanity singular glimpses of magic.


Peace Through Music


Read CD reviews of Southern Standard Time or other band-related articles in the following:
   All About Jazz
   The Morning Coffee Mix
   Georgia Music Magazine written by Candice Dyer



Blog XXV (May 2012)

by Rusty Taylor on 04/30/12

Greetings fellow Jazzonians,

NOTICE: You can still help me win an accessible van. Voting ends May 13, and you can vote once a day. Use promo code 938, and I'll receive 5 additional votes. Click HERE to vote. Thanks.

NOTICE # 2: I've got a gig at The Loft on Friday, June 8th. I'll remind you as the time draws near.

Click HERE to hear a song that is very special to me, a song that reminds me about the Truth of Magic. Another menu will pop up, but if you hit the link near the bottom of the page, you'll come back here to my Blog page. If you keep the previous page extant, the song will continue to play as you read my monthly blog, and it's such a soothing song.


[If you're not hearing music, then I've failed to program this page correctly... or your computer isn't set up to play music. Either way, you're not hearing music may make parts of the following essay confusing. If music is playing, then everything is groovy. If not, just know that it should be.]

Music is an infinite subset of Omniscience.

Although music can be experienced on different levels by different terrestrial listeners, no one is able to state irrevocably what music actually is. It can by described physically as sound waves that penetrate human auricular machinations traveling through anatomical tubes and tissue through nerves across synapses to the brain where, by some seeming miracle, they are interpreted by the brain as melody, harmony, and rhythm... even if the sound is dissonant... but music is so much more.

The Universe is bombarded by infinite particles and waves. (Look at Van Gogh's Starry Night... seems to me that the painter could see waves of color unavailable to rest of us.) Our bodies can only interpret a very small subset of all the waves and particles that exist (some even pass unnoticed through our very bodies), and it is through the machine that is our human body that we interpret comparably very few of the waves that exist; it follows that the music that we experience (without knowing what it is exactly) can only be experienced on Earth or any other celestial milieu that perfectly simulates Earth's properties, like a space colony or even a space ship built to replicate Earth's atmosphere. This means that music itself is a terrestrial gift, and it makes me wonder how we can carry this especial gift to wherever our post-terrestrial destination leads us, whenever we break on through to the other side of our current sublunary manifestation of Universal existence.

Be that as it may, I really dig music, but what you may not know is that I dig a bit of all musical ilks. The music that you are currently listening to (hopefully) is very, very special to me. As you know, I broke my neck in a single car accident from which I blocked out a period of three or four weeks, replacing these forgotten memories with ambiguous anachronistic images. However, one of the first things I do remember happened after a night I did not sleep well at all, and I was tired-er than a one-legged man in a jump-ropin' contest.

At a certain indeterminate time of seeming eternity while laying in a too easily forgotten sterile hospital bed, listening to my recently forgotten body's Darth Vader-like breathing and the accompanying baritone sibilance of an insouciant breathing machine's incessant inhaling and exhaling monotony that matched the physiological ebb and flow of my Life Force, the machine's ventilating apparatus that was busy facilitating my bronchial functions with the sterile indifference of a fatal disease's choice of victim, I could hear a rustling outside my door, and I realized that the nurses were changing shifts. Shortly thereafter, one of the most beautiful angelic beings lighted through the door of my room.

It was a nurse named Jill, and she could tell immediately that I had not experienced a peaceful evening, but she got me ready for my day, fed me breakfast, and took me to the rehabilitation area for my diurnal therapy. Unfortunately, I was too tired to continue, so Jill returned to push me back into my room. She reclined the manual wheelchair (that was loaned to me before I was able to order my own electric wheelchair), put a blanket on me, placed a pillow under my head, and then she played some New Age music while softly rubbing my temples.

The first song on the cassette was Liz Story's Wedding Rain (which, hopefully, you're hearing now); my personal angel was rubbing my head while this music was weaving the tapestry of my soul... and I knew everything was going to be just fine. Jill was the very first angel I had ever encountered.

Inspired Writing Alert!


Denial


We've all heard and mostly believe that any person who survives a traumatic experience can go through five stages of grief: Denial, Anger, Bargaining, Depression, and Acceptance. Life experience has shown us that not everyone goes through all stages, that the stages are not experienced in any specific order, and that some people may get stuck in one stage for an indeterminate time, some of these people even remain stagnant in one stage for the rest of their lives. I would like to suggest that these stages of grief are available to most experiences of life, if not all. Denial is an easily observable emotive reaction to horrific life-altering experiences, but it isn't as easily noticed in people who experience life-changing experiences that initially appear life-affirming, events that, at first, encourage distorted images of pubescent-giddy happiness but that over time insidiously suck away salubrious spirituality, replacing it with a prolonged slowly simmering subconscious fury.

Just a quick warning: I'm fixin' to delve partially into the spiritual, and I must make very clear from the beginning that I am in no way endorsing nor condemning any specific religious ideology; in fact, I am not confabulating about religion at all. When I speak or write about spirituality, I am denoting any conscious or subconscious phenomenon experienced by anyone as a result from which she understands, however briefly, personal spiritual salubrity, a symbolic baptizing of her soul, a cleansing of her non-corporeal self, like, for me, when I hear a certain composition and my ethereal manifestation rises to the forefront of my consciousness, helping me to realize the potential of humanity, or when I read a certain poet or sing a particular series of notes that are universally harmonic. This, to me, is spirituality, which is the antithesis of my current observation of religion.

For the sake of trying to make more clear the theme of this particular exercise in written rhetoric, I have delineated the differences between spirituality and religion as they appear to me. Similarly, again for the sake of understanding my intended meaning, I would like to explain my understanding of probably the most read book in, at least, Western Civilization. The Bible, to me, is a very groovy piece of literature. There are too many inconsistencies for me to accept it as any deified manuscript infallibly authored by Omniscience, but, again, there are many really groovy stories that seem to undertake the gamut of human emotions. One of the biblical stories I truly dig is the story of Peter's repudiating Jesus thrice. Talk about denial! What appeal's to me about this particular story is that Peter didn't realize that he was in denial until he heard the cock crow. Not everyone gets so obvious a sign that we might be incarcerated in the prison of denial.

People seem to cope with life-altering experiences in as many different ways as are imaginable, but it seems that they who feel as if they have come to understand a purpose or meaning to their respective lives cope with stirring events with far less emotional stress. When I broke my neck, my nurse was very concerned because she felt that I hadn't accepted the severity and permanency of my paralysis even when I was released from the rehabilitation institution four months later. Twenty-six years later, I'm still awaiting the Denial stage of my paralysis, but really... I was twenty-two years old when I broke my neck; the hormones in my body were still raging with the testosterone intensity of Barry Bonds. I still, very much, wanted intimate contact with any receptive organism, even considered mounting a granite boulder. I was young, virile, in very good physical condition, and I knew deep within the most distant recesses of my mountainous virility that, given a chance, I could make an attractive movie star leave the glamor of Hollywood just to be nearer me in Columbus, Georgia, one of the reddest states of our country.

Unfortunately, immediately after the accident that left me unable to perform even the most rudimentary acts of daily living, at the very moment my spinal cord was damaged, I lost sensation in my genitalia... and it was noticeable. (I don't know about my women readers, but for the male readers, the previous independent clause was unnecessarily redundant... of course it was noticeable! I was twenty-two years old! Barely out of the womb!) To have ignored that my life had been altered while not feeling scrotal sensations at the age of twenty-two would be as unlikely as a corpulent person with no taste buds. Like previously noted but in other words, not everyone gets so obvious a sign that denial is ultimately superfluously insipid.

Most people, however, creep through their stagnant lives at petty paces from day to day to day until the last syllable of recorded time, living lives that aren't necessarily lies but, instead, indifferent pursuits of superfluity. Our society propagandizes marriage as an ideal state of sublunary existence even when the institution seems to be morphing into a legalized, politically-assaulted temporal union between partners until something seemingly more appealing becomes available to one or both members of the union and a severance becomes preferable to the challenge of reunion through compromise, regardless of the unlikelihood that what will be gained after the divorce will, in fact, be more beneficent, spiritually, than what will have been discarded. This, obviously, has an adverse side-effect that results in women and men remaining entirely too long in unhealthy relationships, pretending that their lives are emulous rather than eliminating the source of discontent, a soul-stagnating partner who insidiously seeps out the victim's soul.

I have a friend who will begin again another separate set of chemical assaults upon her viscera to combat carcinogenic cells that survived her previous campaign. I want to emphasize the fact that my friend is going through chemo for the second time... (and although this particular story involves a good friend, I can't continue without acknowledging the cancer-fighting successes of my immediate family members including my cousin, my aunt, my uncle, and my father for whom I still send positive energy.) However, between the two militant campaigns upon the carcinogenic insurgents of my friend's body, when certain numbers weren't corroborating cancer-free improvement to the approval of my friend's understanding, combined with perceived indifference of her doctor, my friend's health plummeted into a noticeable depression as well as a noticeable draining of her physiological manifestation. This all seems pitiable, but when my friend finally received confirmation that her worries weren't unfounded, her attitude almost beamed; her spirit practically soared in relief. It will be this positive reinforcement that will guide my friend safely through to the harbor of her recovery.

The mind can be a powerful panacea; given enough time, the body could cure itself of any microbial invader; unfortunately, some microbes are too virulent and the body doesn't have the time to overcome their aggressive natures. However, a peaceful mind and optimistic insouciance towards perceived danger assists immeasurably in the recovery of any malevolent situation whether it be fighting cancer or living in denial that your marriage is emulous when all your friends, and even your mother, has tried to tell you otherwise. Boon or bane, the mind can deny unpleasant aspects of daily life, making them seem much less threatening even when they're just barely bearable.



Peace Through Music


Read CD reviews of Southern Standard Time or other band-related articles in the following:
   All About Jazz
   The Morning Coffee Mix
   Improvijazzation Nation Magazine page down to see article
   Georgia Music Magazine written by Candice Dyer

Blog XXIV (April 2012)

by Rusty Taylor on 04/01/12

Southern Standard Time
Click on photo to buy CD


Greetings fellow Jazzonians,

Is it April already? The cruelest month according to T. S. Eliot (from The Wasteland):

April is the cruelest month, breeding
lilacs out of the dead land, mixing
memory and desire, stirring
dull roots with spring rain.


I know it's way early, but I've got a gig at The Loft on June 8. Obviously, there's plenty of time to get the word out; although, I am trying to put together a groovy show with groovy music and groovy musicians. I'll expound in next month's blog. April, however, is going to be a groovy blur for me on a personal level. Briefly: Dr. Poushounin (director of jazz studies at Columbus State University) is allowing me to sit in on a few of his classes. I've decided to learn what I can about jazz theory... and I'm as geeked as the first time I fell in love... way back in the Carter Administration. Also, I'm going to the Atlanta Braves home opener on Friday the 13th with a possible visit to the Georgia Aquarium. And finally, my nephew Aaron is graduating from boot camp on the 19th, and my family and I are planning a road trip to Fort Campbell, SC.

But here's the most exciting news:


Caution: Shameless Promotion Alert!


I've entered a contest to win a wheelchair accessible vehicle, and I need your help. I've written a 400-word essay that will be voted on, so I'm soliciting all the help I can muster to click HERE to fill out the form and vote for my submission. I realize that this is shameless promotion, but check out the prices of accessible vans. It's pretty steep. See, I am unable to fit in any other vehicle other than a bus... besides, a new van would allow me an opportunity to travel to Atlanta to participate in jazz jams and, hopefully, increase my fan base.

And now, without further ado, I present the rest of my blog...

Inspired Writing Alert!


When I write, I generally listen to music. (Currently listening to The Awakening by Pat Metheny.) It's a shame that the wonderfully staff-woven melodic tapestry of music to which I am currently listening is as temporal as we. The tangible, physical sound waves to which we are privy as the carbon-based life forms that are we, the actual range of sound waves that are decipherable to our sublunary auricular manifestation, the extreme highs and lows of what we, as humans, are capable of hearing, are an insignificant subset of an infinitely larger and infinitely smaller whole. I would bet that the actual percentage difference between the subset of sound waves we humans can interpret and the actual number of possibilities that actually exist as infinitely infinite... that that ridiculously disproportional ratio of 1 to the power of infinite infinity... is the same irrational ratio as the insignificant number of environments that are able to sustain human life and the rest of the ever-expanding universe to the infinite universe.

Some of the woven musical notes, the weft and warp of harmonic and percussive influences, the curve-gracious patterns selectively sculpted by celestial musicians... are taking me forward and back to an idyllic past wherein I'm at the peak of my vernal puissance that is ever-expanding, an instantly quickened then just as quickly destroyed moment of TRUTH when, in my mind, at any moment, I am, or could well be, the hero of a country-humble; precociously erudite; huge, bright, brown-eyed; rigor mortis-melting gorgeous brunette who, while smiling, seductively, silently screams her adoration for my youthful mirage to an ever-absorbing embryonic contentment. I am invincible, cartoon-ish, innocently arrogant, knowing within the perfectly central singularity of my essence that perfection is a terrestrial possibility; I am pubescent-eager to fall in love at first sight with my divinely inspired fantasy and eagerly awaiting that chance meeting's graduating to an almost anticipated first kiss... and the eternity between the initial, quick-silver acceptance of the possibility of that kiss and its execution... followed by the perfect marriage and life happily ever after. Every morning is a perfect sunrise, every evening a miraculous sunset; a terrestrial heaven. This is how I currently feel. Pretty good, eh? (Follow You, Follow Me by Genesis is currently playing.)

As you can imagine, my thought-patterns are bursting forth from wherever they are hurled into myriad non-intersecting directions... some get lost... well, most. A very tiny percentage of the thoughts that are hurled from my intellectual center ever return... probably the same crazy ratio as previously mentioned. However, one of the missal-thoughts has returned: As you know, my recording of jazz vocals has been played by internet stations from the Netherlands to Houston (My One And Only Love my band's version, is playing right now; although, it is from the collection on my computer, not the internet.). That means that many series of binary code have been transmitted to and relayed from orbiting satellites. These are waves that are broadcast omni-directionally, some of which are now traveling through space supposedly at the speed of light. It is so cool to think that billions and trillion of light years from the moment I'm typing this (and listening to Led Zeppelin's "The Rain Song"), a very distant non-terrestrial entity might be groovin' on the music made by me and my friends.

I jump from thought to thought with the celerity of a tachyon on speed, yet I, when writing, keep major themes in separate paragraphs on my word processor so that I can visit each disparate theme from time to time, revising as I go. That's why it may be confusing to you, the reader, when in the comparable short time it takes to read the contents of the supposed meaning of this particular writing exercise... this miniscule amount of Time is way too meager to be able to listen to so many of the differing number of musicians I've quoted throughout this epistle.

And yet here am I. My thoughts, the wonderful music that's groovin' into my eager ears (Herbie Hancock's Dolphin Dance from his Maiden Voyage recording) together with sound waves coughing forth from the air-conditioner (and it's only the beginning of April) all merging with the infinite lesser themes, a majority unintentually overlooked, all the experiences of terrestrial existence that crochets each second to every other second throughout infinity... these myriad sensual impressions are waves of existence that slither through each other, weaving a trailing tapestry upon which is recorded the TRUTH . This tapestry is available to Infinity... including me after I have shuffled off this mortal coil... and to you in your individual post-terrestrial existence. Is that groovy or what?



Peace Through Music


Read CD reviews of Southern Standard Time or other band-related articles in the following:
   All About Jazz
   The Morning Coffee Mix
   Improvijazzation Nation Magazine page down to see article
   Georgia Music Magazine written by Candice Dyer

Blog XXIII (March 2012)

by Rusty Taylor on 02/28/12

Southern Standard Time
Click on photo to buy CD


Greetings fellow Jazzonians,

I'd really like to write a descriptive paragraph about Winter's biting loneliness as razor-cutting wind sheers through every layer of fabric protecting corporeal interests, quick-moving airwaves lacerating thin fragile skin layers as easily as Edward Scissorhands' razing tender nasal tissue when picking his nose, but this year's winter weather has been, at its worse, balmy. Hardly worthy of poetic encomium. Gosh gee, I'm preparing this monthly blog on the penultimate day of February (the birthday of my very dear friend Andy Robinson); it's right at noon, and it's just over 60 degrees! (Amazingly, I'm typing without my parka so if some letters are inadvertently repeated, blame it either on the frigid weather that's causing me to shiver so severely I accidentally hit a key thirty times per second, or maybe it's just that I'm a horrible typist... No! It's obviously the weather.)

It's been a very slow month for me gig-wise, but I have been learning songs for my next recording endeavor, choosing tunes that are challenging, such as Pat Metheny's "James" and Chick Corea's "Spain," but I'm also seriously considering taking tunes that are more popular and revising them into more challenging arrangements... with the help of others more musically knowledgeable than I. This is, as you may have surmised, time consuming, so...

I will, for this month's blog, publish yet another chapter from my unpublished manuscript of autobiographical stories that highlight the lighter side of paralysis. Hope you dig it.



Vantastic Journey


How heavy do I journey on the way,
When what I seek, my weary travel's end,
Doth teach that ease and that repose to say
'Thus far the miles are measured from thy friend!'
The beast that bears me, tired with my woe,
Plods dully on, to bear that weight in me,
As if by some instinct the wretch did know
His rider loved not speed, being made from thee:
The bloody spur cannot provoke him on
That sometimes anger thrusts into his hide;
Which heavily he answers with a groan,
More sharp to me than spurring to his side;
  For that same groan doth put this in my mind;
  My grief lies onward and my joy behind.

     Shakespeare
     Sonnet 50



As you may or may not know, I broke my neck on the 18th or 19th of April, 1986, then spent the next four months rehabing at Shepherd Spinal Center in Atlanta. Let's see, I know I spent six weeks wearing that godforsaken neck-brace after I was released from the Halo. (I remember this well enough because Dr. Wright had planned that I stay in my neck-brace for six weeks, but after five weeks I could pop out of the thing by expanding my neck muscles. Although confident that my neck was probably strong enough, Dr. Wright was not comfortable enough to let me go without my neck-brace. However, his genuine concern and anxiety about the possible detrimental consequences made me more readily accept the notion of "erring to the good," so I wore the neck-brace the extra week without much complaint.) Consequently, it was not long after my neck-brace was removed that I was allowed to visit places outside the hospital's walls... under supervision, of course.

Shepherd Spinal Center is a very specialized hospital in the treatment of spinal cord- and head- injuries. The hospital and rehab unit deal with the psychological aspects of paralysis as well as the physical. To that end, patients are encouraged to participate in social events chaperoned by staff of the hospital: physical therapists, social therapists, nurses, and, if needed, respiratory therapists. For me, the social events included visits to the movies, Atlanta Braves baseball games (at Fulton County Stadium), restaurants, as well as trips to botanical gardens, museums, and shopping malls. Each event was designed to help me better understand how the world was going to react to my paralysis in a number of differing circumstances, how I was going to view life from areola level, how I was going to react to the incredulous staring from ignorant fear as it passes me without making eye contact. For me these events showed me how to better manage the spotlight that had been thrust upon me, but really, how hard could that be? I am by definition a ham.

My first visit to the mall was a test adhering to a curriculum defined by the wonderful staff of Shepherd, and, as such, I had to successfully complete a few tasks before returning to the rehab facility. As I recall, I had to purchase something, use an elevator, and perform other similar sundry tasks designed to not only help me better understand my place as a quadriplegic on the stage of Life, but my completing these tasks also gave birth to my reluctant acceptance that I was beginning a lifestyle wherein I was to be dependent on someone, anyone, for the rest of my life. Fortunately, I was with my nurse-friend Jill, so I had a blast.

"Oh," said Jill. "And you've also got to ask for help from a complete stranger."

"Help with what?" I queried.

"I don't know. Help making a phone call or something."

"Jill, you know that if I need help I'm going to ask for it. Let's just say I completed this task and not bother these folks with a fake emergency."

"Rusty?" Jill's eyes were imploring me to cooperate with the program, but she knew I had a point and that I would have no problem asking a blind man to drive me to the Emergency Room if I had to. But at that very moment, I had a fairly violent spasm and my head and torso fell too far forward into my lap, my arms were like white, rubbery dangling-dancing branches waving at my toes, and I couldn't sit myself back up.

"You're gonna need help now, you smart ass! See ya'!"

"Jill!... Jill!" I hoarsely whispered, but I knew she was gone, and I could picture her scurrying little weasel-ass coquettishly jigglin' down the hall a safe distance before coyly turning around to watch, her smile as dazzling and seductive as Las Vegas.

As you might imagine, all I could see from my vantage point were blur-streaked shoes racing past me in the flurry of Capitalistic frenzy, shimmering training footware that bore the world's greatest athletes of commerce towards their greatest materialistic victories. I was surrounded by an endless network of sad and lonely people who were thinking that somewhere within the Cathedral of Commerce, hiding in plain sight, there exists among the supernumerary objects de purchase, a single, exclusive, tangible, purchasable item that promises to guide each shopper toward euphoria.

I was actually going to out-wait Jill, try to make her feel guilty about leaving a poor, innocent crippled boy to the prodigal wolf pack scurrying by in frenetic materialistic rapture. (Actually, I wasn't uncomfortable, and you should remember that I had dropped forty-five pounds during the first few weeks of my paralysis, and I was still a bit skinny at this time, so out-waiting Jill would've been no problem at all. Her will against mine.) However, I saw Aunt Bee's shoes hesitate then stop just in front of me, and I knew that the somewhat dangle-socked pair of knees I was looking at belonged to an older, concerned lady, and that she was probably confused about my condition, my torso flopped onto itself in a seeming bibulous somnolent grace.

"Excuse me, ma'am. Can you help me, please?" I softly implored to the drooping stockings.

"Whutzuh mattuh, boy? Wah you down dair lak dat?"

"Yes'm. I've fallen too far forward, and I can't sit back up."

"I doan un'erstan', but... "

She helped me sit back up in my wheelchair, and she stared at me hard with her sparkling gray eyes. "You okay, son?" She asked.

"Yes'm. I broke my neck about two months ago, and I'm here with Shepherd... "

I could see her apathy waxing into a more physical manifestation of disinterest as she slowly walked away, not totally understanding what I had been saying, and probably thinkin' "it a shame dat dat po' youn' cripple' boy got sotch a sad sorter laf dat he gots into drankin' likkwid perzun. Po' po' wret-chidd boy."

Of course, when I regained my focus, I saw Jill slowly sauntering towards me, her irresistible smile smacking my emotional center around like a Three Stooges donnybrook. I was having a blast, but I had to portray the pitiable victim for a little while, nurse that sympathy...

On another Shepherd outing (sorry, but I can't remember where), one of the chaperones was sitting in a manual wheelchair that was safely strapped in the cargo bay of the van Shepherd owned for such excursions. A group of us were going somewhere; again, I don't remember where, and the wheelchair belonged to a paraplegic patient who had safely transferred herself to a regular seat in the van. (She had full use of her hands and arms.) As previously stated, one of the male chaperones was sitting in her wheelchair as we rode to our newest adventure. As we arrived at our destination (I forgot! What do you want from me?), the chaperone lithely jumped out of the female patient's wheelchair to unhook my wheelchair from the straps that secured it to the van's floor, and I yelled, "It's a miracle!"

The joke didn't register at first, but as the chaperone reached for the second wheelchair strap, I saw the sudden recognition in his laser-eyes, the realization that I had just made a joke about his sudden but lithely springing from a wheelchair and how that must've looked to anyone who might've just been passing by. His eyes sparkled with fulgurous understanding that although my body was pretty much useless, I still possessed a rapier wit... or a slightly abrasive understanding of Life's little drama. He smiled wickedly.

Really, every outing had it's little adventure. On one of my mall journeys, this time at the Cumberland Mall, another nurse was helping me do a weight-shift in my electric wheelchair. A weight-shift is exactly what it sounds like: a shifting of one's body so that the blood will circulate better. If the blood flow stops and pools in the derriere, skin breaks down, the accompanying decay spreads rapidly, and a life-altering bedsore will almost immediately develop and fester. To help prevent skin breakdown, I have an electric wheelchair that reclines, a chair that allows me to shift my weight.

Again, we were at the mall having a gay ol' time when it was time for my scheduled weight-shift. The mall was fairly empty, so we just pulled to the side, and she helped me recline my wheelchair. Something happened. A wire possibly kinked or something. What am I? A mechanic? No, I don't know nothin' 'bout no 'chinery, but something happened and my wheelchair started moving backwards.

Keep in mind, I'm reclined, nearly parallel with the floor, and I'm a bit disoriented because I'm moving backwards in my wheelchair and the accompanying nurse is freaking like a contestant on Family Feud. The next thing I know, I'm stopped, but my motor is still running, desperately trying to push me through whatever I had hit that stopped me cold. Fortunately, my parents were with me, and my father quickly found the switch to turn off my wheelchair's motors. Also fortunately, the switch that controlled my chair's raising and lowering back support (for my weight-shifts) still worked, so I was raised back to sitting position. Dad took me out of gear, then turned on the motor, which raged like a feral hamster and corroborated the general opinion that there was something amiss with my wheelchair. It was broke.

My father now had to push me, but it was near the end of the evening, so we decided to head on back to Shepherd. As dad wheeled me around to face the wall that had stopped my backward progress, I noticed that we were on the second floor of the mall, and what had stopped me was a waist-high Plexiglas barrier between where I was sitting and a twenty-foot drop. Dad pulled alongside the wall, and the mall spread out below me. I noticed that if the Plexiglas had failed to stop me, I would've landed in some bushes on the first floor of Cumberland Mall, a crumpled mass of humanity. No wonder the nurse freaked.

These social outings were usually group outings, and there was a group of us that hung around together a lot. We were the Quad Squad, and we had a pretty groovy time together. On yet another outing, we went to the Fernbank Museum. It was a balmy summer's evening, and the leaves were hanging heavily from massive hardwoods, drooping with lethargy as we gracefully wheeled below. The Quad Squad was always hyped when we went on these outings, like grade school students with a confidence lacking substitute teacher, and since we were going to the museum, we spastically wheeled around and gave fake scientific appellations to everything we saw in exactly the same way Chuck Jones gave artificial genus species names to Wile E. Coyote and the Road Runner. You remember: Idioticus famishus or Supersonicus boomerus? As we rolled beneath the sagging oak that lined the parking lot, one of us said as if we had just made an important scientific discovery, "Observe! Greenus leafus hanging downus."

I'm not sure now why that was so funny at the time, but it was one of the magical times in my life that I hope to remember forever, a time when a few very caring families came together for their respective sons who had shared separate life-altering accidents and made an enchanting evening that, despite the obvious temptation toward self-indulgent depression, shouted to the universe just how lucky we truly are.

P.S. - Don't read this month's blog while listening to The Carpenters; I cannot be responsible for the resulting emotional squall.



Peace Through Music


Read CD reviews of Southern Standard Time or other band-related articles in the following:
   All About Jazz
   The Morning Coffee Mix
   Improvijazzation Nation Magazine page down to see article
   Georgia Music Magazine written by Candice Dyer

Blog XXII

by Rusty Taylor on 02/01/12

Southern Standard Time
Click on photo to buy CD


SST Blog
February 2012


Greetings fellow Jazzonians,

As this is a more or less monthly blog created to chronicle my personal journey into the realm of live jazz music (with the illimitable connotations that accompany all aspects of taking a song, finding the key in which I sing comfortably, writing lyrics and scatting (if needed), arranging, finding accompanying musicians who feel as passionately as I about the music, etc.), it may seem to anyone of you readers out there that I haven't recorded any of my down time, time during which I'm less than stellar, times of my life wherein I feel like I've been eaten by a wolf and shit over a cliff. That's the nature of the beast, I suppose. I have thus far thoroughly enjoyed the incipience of my journey into the nebulous world of live music, and it is a dream of mine to not only continue the journey but to succeed, to appeal to a mass audience, to amass as many fans as possible (and, in all seriousness, it still amazes me beyond my very limited understanding that there are a few of you folks out there beyond the screen of my word processor who actually dig whatever it is I'm doing, whether you are a fan of my singing or you dig my quirky writing style (or both)... and the population of this limited group of you groovy people is actually growing... insidiously, yes, but growing nonetheless), so it's not very likely that I'm going to write anything that conveys any negativity. I realize all too well that no one wants to read about my minor problems, problems that plague the most uninspiring times during every life... everyone belches a little acerbic bile onto her tongue every now and then but no one else wants to read about it. Regardless of how much you may dig my writing or singing style, you don't want to hear about my life's banalities; however, I have no desire for any of you to falsely believe that I am always as happy as a prepubescent child contently playing inside the cardboard box that contained an expensive gift from the child's distant relative, so...

I had a gig on the 23rd of December during which I had to sit out a couple songs because of a few million microbes that took advantage of their stealth and number to render me as helpless as a slug surrounded by a moat of sodium chloride. (There may have been billions of microbes, or even trillions. How am I supposed to know? I can't even see the dad-burn things.) This malady lasted about a fortnight and was quickened by a urinary tract infection, a blood sugar-level that was too high, and the common cold that left my lungs rattling like a skeletal square dance on a tin roof and left me wondering why the hell anybody might think that a cold is common. I felt just slightly better for a couple days, but I was then violently assaulted by another group of microbes... maybe they were a different group or maybe they were the same; I just don't know. Furthermore, and I don't want to get too detailed, but I re-gurged more than the contents of my glistening, pliable, dull pink and grey-veined stomach. And this happened on four separate occasions! (I'm talking Linda Blair trajectory! (...with a wink and a nod to Elaine Newman in a very personal yet obscure tribute to her parody on SNL with the original cast of not-quite ready for prime time players and guest-host Richard Pryor.)) Picture if you will me, a quadriplegic, as I vomit a comparable Niagara Falls of gastro-juices violently exploding from my oral orifice with Vesuvian intensity, and my father, who is holding the basin into which I am retching, himself dry-retching as the stench of abdominal effluvium permeates us like napalm firebombing. Luckily, the only liquid that escaped my father's body were the tears that streamed from his eyes as he courageously fought to retain his intestinal contents.

I write this so that you know that for the most part of January, I was disinterested in practically everything... well, except for, of course, the moral dilemmas facing carnivorous butterflies, but then who isn't concerned about that? (Actually, I have no idea where any of this stuff comes from either.)

Many of you already know that live jazz music now has a weekly home in my home town Columbus, Georgia, the Fountain City. Every Friday evening from 6 to 9 pm, The Loft presents live jazz music. It's been going on for a bit more than a year, and it's catching on. We're now starting to draw acts out of Atlanta. (If we're not careful, Columbus will become the hotspot for jazz in the South, rivaling Savannah and New Orleans... OK. But it's my dream.) On January 20, the Snakebite Six performed Dixieland. I can't tell you how happy the music made me. It was so... contrapuntal: the clarinet's notes hoovering above the stage like an emerald hummingbird while the trumpet's weft and warp danced with more melodic emphasis and the gregarious trombone's sliding baritone easiness as smooth and embryonic as a nocturnal lullaby sung by lunar-beam drenched fairies; the music had everyone in the audience smiling and moving to the groove like butterflies trained in ballet.

During the break between sets, I was asked to sing "St. James Infirmary Blues," an iconic Dixieland tune. Of course I hesitated; each musician on stage had decades of musical experience on me, and, quite frankly, I really didn't want to be the low-spot of the show, but none of the musicians is a singer, so I sequaciously acquiesced. (Who writes like this?) Actually, it went over well, and I think I've discovered a new philosophy: never fear the blues.

I mention this solely to let you know (and to reaffirm in my still disbelieving mind) that there are professional musicians who look beyond my obvious physical challenges and recognize something within my being that allows me to express through singing my interpretation of Life... and they dig it. Plus, you readers of my blog and listeners of my song: Thank you for your support. (Incidentally, if you dig my singing or writing and have not signed my guest book, please visit my webpage at www.Southern-Standard-Time.com... read my poetry and my blog, and electronically sign my guest book.)

And as a final highlight for the month of January 2012: a high school buddy of mine is to be promoted to Lieutenant Colonel on February 3, and she, Peggy Masterson (Pacelli High School's class of 1981) asked me to sing the National Anthem at her promotion ceremony. Is that not cooler than a baby seal's abdomen? In all honesty, I'm digging this singing scene even though I'm quickly approaching an existence of a half-century on this planet. Am I too old for celebrity? Maybe, but I don't want to be a singing star... never have; I just want to be a singer. To this end, I've begun talking to my arranger/producer about recording songs for a second CD. We've got some really groovy ideas that I'll be delineating as we progress, and I hope you dig the idea of this recording. Maybe with your help, we can get more people to check out my style. One day I might get to sing for Jon Stewart.

And so draws a close to yet another in an almost infinite line of superfluous blog entries. I do this because I truly dig writing. Hopefully, that's as obvious as I truly dig singing. My hope is that a few of you actually dig this in return. If you do, thanks. I love you, too.



Peace Through Music


Read CD reviews of Southern Standard Time or other band-related articles in the following:
   All About Jazz
   The Morning Coffee Mix
   Improvijazzation Nation Magazine page down to see article
   Spinal Column Magazine

Blog XXI

by Rusty Taylor on 01/05/12

Southern Standard Time
Click on photo to buy CD


SST Blog
New Year's 2012


Greetings fellow Jazzonians,

Attendants


I've been paralyzed since 1986, and, admittedly, I've sometimes made it look easy, but that has much more to do with the loving support I receive from friends and family and less from any morally quickened inner resolve that might have usurped common sense into fantasizing that any success I may experience is due to ineffable thaumaturgy accessed through some ill-defined, self-aggrandizing divine intervention parading itself within the intricate structure of my complex baroque moral architecture, that illusively limned metaphor of feigned moral supremacy greatly prized by politicians, still I often wonder how many people truly understand what it's like to be a sentient piece of meat; not able to turn in bed; not even able to sit up; having people look over your unattractive, naked, crumpled body for sores or other less serious maladies; having someone else not only help you remove your fecal waste but wipe your hairy ass afterwards; having anyone dress you, trying to assure that the belt-line isn't under your armpits or that your zipper isn't where your left pocket should be; making sure that your crotch is not wadded in a misguided twisted wardrobe torture; having somebody care enough to bathe you, to wash between your toes, to assure there's no funk on your scrotum; having friends pick boogers from your mustache; having someone tell you good-night every single evening and to have to trust that she won't leave for Uzbekistan in the middle of the night.

Unless you're a quadriplegic or similarly disabled, there's no reason for you to have ever wondered just how vulnerable any quadriplegic is; to have ever wondered how anybody with a creatively active mind chooses another in front of which he'll be exposed in his most perfectly vulnerable corporeal form, helpless, hopefully trusting that this assistant won't harm him even slightly. King Lear couldn't even trust his family; how could he have effectively chosen a trustworthy attendant to care for his most prized possession, his very Life? Hell, he doffed the love and loyalty both of Kent and Cordelia for a mere trifle! But I digress...

There are many wonderful people on our planet, especially people who help other people, regardless of actual profession. These are some of the most cherished citizens of my society, and they deserve much more respect and gross pay than that associated with professional athletics or the kitsch of anything in contemporary popular entertainment. Very many of the people I've met who help the physically disabled are the most hard-working, loving, caring human beings on the planet, and yes, this includes homosexuals as well as sympathetic citizens from any country on the planet, any religious affiliation or cultural association. People who care for other people are earthly angels and deserve the highest apartment in Heaven's most exclusive penthouse, above the pope, above some angels, above the politician, above the benevolent leader. Of course, I don't believe in the idea of a gold-laden heaven, but I almost wish it did exist as a reward for these selfless people.

The first attendant who ever cared for me was Flora, and she, indeed, was an angel. She was a little black woman, about forty-five, and she had an indomitable spirit encouraged by her irrevocable belief in God's goodness. She was a wonderful cook, a seamstress, doctor, nurse, and counselor. I have no desire to get rich for myself (Hell, I've got everything I need), but it sure would be nice to look up Ms. Lowe and hand her an ungodly amount of money or even send her on a cruise. She deserves much more than even that. (And it sure would be nice to give my current attendants much more money.)

Flora's services were paid for by our government and my respect, and although the remuneration was scant, it was fairly reliable, and much more than I could afford. Then I started working in 1992, making $19,500 a year! Once I became a full-time employee, the government stopped paying me the Social Security Disability check I had been receiving, and I was instantly, unsympathetically released from the shackles of governmental concern, left alone to carry on the burden of paying attendant care out-of-pocket.

Fortunately, my cousin Johnny was living with me at the time, and he stayed with me at night, fed me, cathed me, and helped keep the house relatively clean. Grandma Alice would send over food nightly to feed us both, so his staying with me was a blessing. All I needed was someone to come a few hours in the morning and a few hours at night to get me washed, dressed, and in-and-out of bed. As you might've guessed, I either got attendants who really cared for me or some really whacked-out individuals. (And I still can't tell the difference between the two when I interview potential helpers for the job of taking care of me!)

I can't remember his name, but one of my attendants was certifiably nuts. He was the choral director for an Episcopal church, and he was a bit effeminate, but that didn't bother me; homosexual's have been taking very good care of me throughout my paralysis, but this guy was bonkers. His work became so incompetent that I had to fire him. Not three months later, I saw his picture plastered on the local television news. He had called the White House and threatened President Clinton. When agents arrived at his house, he had the gun pointed at his head swearing he'd blow it off. After a while, he acquiesced to the authorities like a three-year-old who had been caught with her hand in the cookie jar, huge-pupils, lightening-red-lined sclera, dreary-teared true remorse and contrition. He is probably still residing in the pleasant township of Milledgeville, where it's rumored that they still employ electric shock therapy.

My next attendant was very good, but she soon got married and needed insurance, so she had to leave me. Unfortunately (for me), Cousin Johnny graduated from high school and was returning to Savannah, so I then got the idea to offer room and board for attendant care; one does what one must. The first roommate I had was a wonderfully sweet girl named Maria. She was in her early twenties, about ten years my junior, and she was from Manchester, Georgia. It was her desire to leave the small township (where everybody knew everybody) for the big city, so she left her mama to come live with me for a year. She was a cute girl, although her voice was a bit too high-pitched and cartoonish. Still she had a vernal body and perfect breasts, and she tasted like a peach. I'm still not sure how I attracted her, but we became lovers, and I was very content for about a year. She then wanted to move back in with her mother, and we parted.

From 1992 until the change in the millennium, I had to pay for attendant care out of pocket, so I had to save where I could, and that was not always to my advantage. During that time, I was left home alone in bed twice (desperately wondering if anyone was ever going to find me), but, at the time, I worked with good people, and if I didn't show up at work and nobody had heard anything from me, my friend Jeff would drive to my house, attend to my more immediate needs (thirst, body temperature (whether or not I needed a blanket, sheet, pillow), music selection, et al.), then he'd phone in someone to help me with my more intimate needs (bathing, dressing, grooming, et al.) before he hastily returned to work.

I had one attendant run up a two-thousand dollar phone bill before he left unannounced during the night; I had one attendant who claimed to be a CNA (a Certified Nursing Assistant) but who got physically sick while trying to help me with my bowel program. Needless to say, she didn't last a day; I had one interviewee walk into my house and, without so much as a salutation, begin immediately to tell me what she was not going to do for me. She then asked how much she was getting paid. I calmly showed her the door and reassured her that there would be no second interview. For about eight years, I had an attendant come in at nine p.m. to get me ready for bed (brush my teeth, brush my hair, transfer me to bed, get me undressed and washed), then she'd leave until five the following morning when she'd return to get me ready for work.

Solitude is laying totally in the dark for an eternity, wondering if my attendant will have an accident and leave me in bed for God only knows how long. Or it's that eternity during a severe thunderstorm when I lay in bed wondering what death is going to be like when lightening hits my wooden house before slowly over-roasting my body into unrecognizable ashes. Or it's that fear that a nocturnal tornado will destroy my house and leave me naked on a high tree limb, mooning my destroyed abode and the EMTs who'd be gathered and wondering which of their manuals describes solving this particular situation.

Don't get me wrong, I'm not incompatible with everyone. Margrit was the best attendant that I had ever hired without an agency, and she was a housewife, married to a retired military man and mother of four, who just happened to answer my add in the paper because she was looking for something interesting to do in her spare time now that her children were young adults. Other than being a mother, she had no formal training in any health field, but she was the best, bar none. What better training is there than motherhood?

Right at the turn of the century (just before the impending Y2K scare), the company for which I work negotiated a contract for a new, internal insurance corporation, and as a result, through some loophole discovered by someone in HR, I was allowed to sign up for a program that would pay for my attendant care for ten years. Unfortunately, the policy stated that it would only pay a CNA or higher certified nursing professional to help me. Sadly, Margrit had never been licensed even though she knew more about nursing than almost everyone else I had ever met, and I did not want to lose Margrit's services, so I paid for her to go to CNA school, and she was the best student in the class, graduating with honors. In fact, she did show the other students, as well as the professor, a better way to use the Hoyer Lift to transfer patients, the same technique my mother taught her to use with me. I will always be very grateful for everything that Margrit did for me, but I did get to return the favor by, in a small sense, saving her life one night.

I was watching a movie when she came in, and she went to my kitchen to do laundry. (Yes, my washer and dryer are in my kitchen; I live in a small, charming house, so small even the mice are hunchbacked.) During a commercial she came in to where I was sitting and mentioned that she had had terrible heartburn the previous Saturday night. When my program resumed, she went back into the kitchen, but she came back into the television room looking very pale, her hand over her heart, and she laid down on the couch. I thought it was the heartburn of which she had been complaining, but I told her that if she didn't answer me coherently, I was going to dial 911. She couldn't, so I did. (Well, I say I dialed 911, but I have trouble dialing even three consecutive numbers with my contracted fingers. I very rarely hit the right buttons, so I dialed 0 and asked the operator to dial 911 for me. The operators are generally nice and courteous; however, when I asked the operator to dial 911, I sensed a bit more sober urgency in his actions.)

I then called my aunt Lorrie, who lived right behind me, so that she could open the front door for the paramedics. I then called Margrit's husband Al. Lorrie, of course, came running around, and I was going to the back door to let her in when I had a fairly raucous spasm that sent me leaning too far forward so that I couldn't straighten up in my wheelchair. (I have absolutely no balance... zero to the bone.) Lorrie hadn't heard clearly what I had told her over the phone, so she was unaware that the emergency was Margrit's; she did, however, ascertain through the tone of my voice, that something was seriously amiss, and she was freaking out on the other side of my kitchen door because I was using a more vulgar vernacular, cussing my spasm that had made me comparatively more useless than normal. However, I finally wiggled and jiggled my hand to my wheelchair's steering handle, and I navigated my wheelchair close enough to the door where I could thrust my hand on the door's horizontal handle just enough to crack it; Lorrie was then able to push it wide open.

By the time Lorrie and I got to the front door, both the ambulance and Al had driven up. The funny thing is that the EMT was the nephew of one of my coworkers, and as he came in through the front door, he said as he saw me sitting in my chair in no apparent danger, "Rusty! How are you? I thought that this was your house."

"I'm fine," I answered, "but you might want to take a look at the lady passed out on the floor."

Margrit was doubled over on the floor where she had just thrown up... and, mostly incoherently, she was trying to clean up the little mess she made!

She was immediately rushed to the hospital, and she had her heart attack while she was in the Emergency Room. Thankfully, there was minimal damage to her heart.

She had to quit after that. For those of you too young to know, a heart attack not only weakens an individual immeasurably, but it produces psychological side effects that has its victim questioning whether or not to move at all, preferring immobility to the possible beginnings of another heart attack.

After Margrit, I had a few losers (the phone bandit and the queasy CNA), but I have a couple of really good ones now. I never know, however, when something will come up that'll cause one or both of my current attendants to leave. I will, once again, have to don a more serious facade and try to weed out the truly divine life-givers from the wretchedly disinterested. Oh well, the Buddhists have always known that Life is difficult. Giving up is easy.



Peace Through Music


Read CD reviews of Southern Standard Time or other band-related articles in the following:
   All About Jazz
   The Morning Coffee Mix
   Improvijazzation Nation Magazine page down to see article
   Spinal Column Magazine

Blog XX

by Rusty Taylor on 11/30/11

SST Blog
December 1, 2011


Greetings fellow Jazzonians,

December is a special month on so many levels but this December just happens to be the first anniversary of the actual duplication of my inaugural recording of jazz vocals entitled Southern Standard Time.

Southern Standard Time
Click on CD cover art to buy CD


I must confess that the whole process of recording the CD was the most fun I've ever had, especially juxtaposed against the self-induced servitude to which I allowed myself to be shackled, the personally approved enslaving of myself to corporate cupidity. Making the CD was more fun by at least infinity to the infinite power. The main thrill for me was that I got to play with musicians I hadn't played with for far too long: Jeff Smith, my bassist friend who taught me the structure of jazz, and Mark Parker, drummer extaordinaire. Both, still, indentured to the corporation into which I was incarcerated for sixteen years. Reuniting with these two very talented friends of mine has been worth the total price of the ticket I owe for participating in this terrestrial segment of my personal universal manifestation. I truly dig playing with these two; however...

Mark is taking a leave of absence from playing with the band (Southern Standard Time) for personal reasons but mostly to compose original music and work on his fundamentals. This does not mean that we will never play again together. Oh no. Mark, Jeff, and I are woven together by celestial synapses so spiritually solid that our collective synergy maintains illimitable more power than the sum of our most puissant individual energy-surges. Yes, we will play again, and when that day comes, our music will accompany the next millennial Bacchanalian celebration on Mount Olympus.

On another sad note, a much more sad note, Fred Ezekiel has cancer, and he's not expected to survive the year. Fred plays tenor sax on my CD... he's part of the trio of horns on our version of George Shearing's "Lullaby On Birdland," and he plays the wonderfully energetic sax solo on our version of "I'll Remember April." I really love Fred's playing. Actually, Fred recorded a wonderful solo on our version of "You Are Too Beautiful"; however, something happened during mixing that made it impossible to include it on the CD itself. I'm hoping that for my second recording of jazz vocals (tentatively entitled Southern Standard Time II), the engineer and arranger can salvage Fred's solo and the rest of us can re-record around it. Wishful thinking, I know, but wouldn't that be an awesome tribute to Fred and his mad skills? Fortunately, Fred recorded with Solar Quintet, and you can visit that web site by clicking here.

December will probably be a slow month for me musically, especially since I've got to replace Mark, and he's close to impossible to replace. (You should've heard how Mark and I began the Duke Ellington tune "Caravan"... just percussion and vocals!) However, I will be playing The Loft on December 23. Band members and set list TBA.

OK. Y'all know that I was president of the Columbus Jazz Society from 2002 to 2004, and I'm still an active member... rarely miss a monthly jam. Anyway, last month's guest vocalist was Annie Sellick... out of Nashville... Tennessee! First of all, she brought as her pianist Tyrone Jackson, who is worth at least ten or twenty times more than the $10 admission to our monthly jam/meeting (unless, of course, you are a member... seriously, you should strongly consider becoming a member). The trio played the first tune... impeccably! Then Miss Annie Sellick sauntered on stage, and the magic began. (At this point, I must alert my readers that Miss Annie is married... three years to a jazz musician who tours with Country acts because that's where the money is. I am from the South... cain't he'p it. I'm more than likely to call a woman Miss regardless of age or stature. It's not disrespect. Honest! It's just the way I was raised. In fact, I still have a hard time wearing one of my signature 'peace hats' if I'm inside... even when I'm on stage. I can still feel my high school coach (Nathan E. Rustin, Jr.) dope slap me from beyond about wearing my hat indoors. Anyway, if I call you Miss or Ma'am, it's just my way; I mean no offense. Although, if you request that I not call you by the aforementioned appellations, I will give it my best shot... just remember: it is a lifelong habit.)

Annie strutted on stage, a lilliputian, energetically playful yet intelligently mischievous sprite, about twice the height of the golden Oscar statuette, a thin, wisp-sultry, smoke-streaming woman sibilantly grace-slithering in a sensually accentuating tiny black dress that emphasized her playful coquettish coltishness with black stockings and black boots. Her reggae-influenced blackened dreds, with a hint of cayenne pepper, added about a third to her elfin height, a beautiful diminutive creature toward which one's heart instinctually reached, but when she lighted onstage on nearly imperceptible kaleidoscopic wings, and she began to sing, everyone in the audience, with a collective indiscernible gasp, immediately realized Annie's redoubtable spiritual manifestation. Her songs were playful, warm, fun... hypnotizing like a raging fire in a huge fireplace crackling with beneficent energy while squalls batter the solidly centurion doors and windows of a stone castle, moist-heavy snow bending barren branches, wind howling like a weather-weary banshee, and we, the audience, embryonically nestled, amber-glowing, within the sanctuary of Miss Annie's soulful singing.

Yes, I was smitten, but what really took me aback was the fact that this rare jewel came to our fair city at all. You see, Annie travels a lot. She and her agent were sweet enough to book the Liberty Theater as a little Sunday jaunt from Atlanta where she had scheduled shows for Friday and Saturday evening. You guessed it. The shows in Atlanta were canceled. But did Miss Annie back out? It would've been understandable... disappointing certainly, but understandable, and yet Miss Annie decided to drive down from Nashville just to make our li'l ol' show. Seven billion miles... or thereabouts, give or take many billion miles. She's such a kind, classy talent, and I know she'll soon surpass the height of the most distant star even though our universe is expanding increasingly faster. I, personally, have become a big fan of Miss Annie Sellick.

I hope all of you had a wonderful Thanksgiving. I know that I've got so much for which to be grateful, despite certain set backs. Really good musicians dig my style. Tyrone Jackson encourages me and Miss Annie said that I sing like an angel... OK. She wasn't commenting on my sad lack of morality... and she only heard me sing one tune during the jam section of our monthly program, but still... she seemed to like it, and to say that the intimate jazz community in Columbus, Georgia likes Miss Annie Sellick would be an understatement.

If January is as slow as December, I'm working on revising another chapter from my autobiographical manuscript that emphasizes the lighter side of paralysis; although, the particular set of stories I'm thinking about adding to my monthly blog is almost as heart-tugging as November's blog entry. Such is life; everyday we have an opportunity to laugh or to cry, and sometimes, crying is salubriously comforting.

Peace Through Music


Read CD reviews of Southern Standard Time or other band-related articles in the following:
   All About Jazz
   The Morning Coffee Mix
   Improvijazzation Nation Magazine page down to see article
   Spinal Column

Blog XIX

by Rusty Taylor on 10/28/11

Twelve Second Angels



   And then he drew a dial from his poke,
   And looking on it, with lack-luster eye,
   Says very wisely, "It is ten a' clock.
   Thus we may see," quoth he, "how the world wags.
   'Tis but an hour ago since it was nine,
   And after one hour more 'twill be eleven,
   And so from hour to hour, we ripe and ripe,
   And then from hour to hour, we rot and rot;
   And thereby hangs a tale."

   Richard II
   III.iii.147-54



I broke my neck in a single car accident on April 18, 1986, and I stayed at Shepherd Spinal Center in Atlanta with a blooming pink mimosa greeting me every morning from my window until September of that same year when I left the security of rehab to try out my new life as a quadriplegic in Byron, Georgia, where, at the time, my parents lived. That was the same year that Atlanta set a record for consecutive days with temperatures 100 degrees or higher. 1986 saw many events of interest, but the most memorable event was the space shuttle Challenger's explosion. I remember walking from the cafeteria to my dorm-room at Georgia Southwestern College and wondering why the flag was at half mast; it wasn't long before I realized the significance of the mid-raised banner. In 1986, the Chicago Bears won the Super Bowl (for the '85 season); L. Ron Hubbard and Georgia O'Keefe died; Clint Eastwood became mayor of Carmel, California; the infamous explosion of the nuclear reactor in Chernobyl stunned the world; and I broke my neck.

Of course, the transition to home life was an anxious adjustment, as is, I suppose, any new relationship (and this was the larval stage of my paralysis); at times it was awkward, most of the time loving and warm, embryonic (you can say), very nurturing; the biggest problem, and nothing in the least major, came from numerous family members trying to help me too much, incessantly asking me if there was anything that I wanted. This was, of course, overcome with relative ease, and, in retrospect, I am very fortunate to have had a very strong, caring family unit without which I would've become stagnant, both physically as well as cerebrally, very quickly.

It would be a sin against my Muse to describe my family tree without beginning with my paternal grandmother; she is, after all, the grand matriarch. Alice Jackson was raised in Muncie, Indiana, where she saw William Taylor for the very first time and told her mother, "That's the man I'm going to marry." Alice's parents, Arthur and Emma Jackson (maiden name Faux) had twelve more children; Alice was the eldest, and she helped very much in raising her younger siblings. Alice was ten when The Great Depression smashed its shadowless fist into the glass jaw of the world's economy, AKA Black Tuesday. Her father Arthur did anything he could to provide for his family, a small-boned, wiry, proud man about five-foot five, maybe 120 pounds, who did hazardous work for the nearby hospital because few would condescend to do it; he had thirteen children to feed.

Alice (my grandmother) was in her early twenties when WWII broke out, and her husband William was sent overseas to fight in a real war against a real enemy. The funny thing about William (irony, that is) is that he survived WWII and Korea only to be fatally crushed by a Volkswagen Beetle that was driven by a bibulous driver on a military base in Germany. He died in 1965, but not before he fathered ten children: Bill, Bob, Michael, Nancy, Gary and Mary (twins), David, Kathy, Timothy, and Lorrie; although, Timothy didn't live long after childbirth. He had been baptized, however, which was very important to Alice, who was irrevocably Catholic.

Bob, the second child of William and Alice, is my father, and all of his brothers and sisters, my aunts and uncles, are as diverse as snowflakes, and they're really funny, willing to laugh and cry with the easiness of Sunday morning. I don't want to delve too deeply into each character because that's an effort that needs much more detailed consideration for a more distant project in the future; however, all my aunts and uncles, my brother, my sister, and my parents showed up often for support while I was rehabbing at Shepherd Center, a rehabilitation hospital in Atlanta, Georgia that specializes in spinal cord- and brain-injuries.

Although dead now, my maternal grandparents were still around in 1986, and they, too, lived in Columbus. They also extended their love and support for me but in a much less emotive way. I have a feeling that this stemmed from their rearing in South Carolina. My grandfather was a second-generation mill worker (indentured servant) when WWII broke out, and although he was too young, he lied about his age and enlisted in the army. Initially, I'm sure it was exciting to get away from the Protestant-puritan propaganda promulgated by South Carolinian ecclesiastical tyranny, but Milton Charles Banister had been assigned to The Big Red One, and I'm sure he saw atrocities that he wished he'd have never seen, atrocities that grinned with the condescending easy-lust for death as written in the Old Testament, as violently preached from the fiery pulpit. He had been in three wars: WWII, Korea, and Vietnam, but he said that 'Nam was the worst because you never knew who your enemy was.

Needless to say, my grandfather was a tacit, somber fellow; and he was an alcoholic. I never realized it as a youngster, and if my mother hadn't have told me, I would have never known. For my grandmother, his wife, Milton refrained from drinking from Mother's Day until Christmas, which was a decent gift, but every other day of the year found him buzzing with a beer-drone heard only through his inner ears.

He seemed serious all the time to me, and he frightened me as a child, although unintentionally. He loved golf (he even made a hole-in-one on a golf course in Fort Benning, for which he received a small trophy that he proudly displayed on the coffee table beside his over-stuffed lounge chair, Command Central of his universe...), and it seemed like every time my family went to visit him and Grandma, he was watching golf on the television; although, he also enjoyed Hogan's Heroes, Petticoat Junction, The Andy Griffith Show, Gomer Pyle, Gilligan's Island, and Hee Haw. It seemed to me, however, that after golf his favorite shows were The Grand Ol' Opry and The Lawrence Welk Show. OK. Maybe they were Grandma's favorites.

When I became more of an adult, and I don't remember when it was (although it was after I grew to be taller than my maternal grandfather), he would tell me the raciest jokes I had ever heard... definite Army-humor mentality with the accompanying false bravado, the Charles Bronson, hard-sergeant, nothing's sacred, insouciant, masculine hardness associated with infantry WWII militarism. He told me once that he loved me, and that was after my Grandma Banister died in a tragic car accident. And I think I wore heavily on his heart because of my paralysis, which must've sent him back to the horrific images of war he had experienced, to once again witness the barbaric cruelty of really young men being literally torn into web-like, sinewy shreds of red-raw meat by highly volatile militant energies. Although silent, I know that he loved me.

My maternal grandmother died in '93, a year after I got a full-time job as a computer programmer and two years after I had graduated from Mercer University, so she at least got to witness those achievements of mine and, hopefully, she realized that my life would invariably be much more fulfilling than the life of the ill-fated quad who returned home from the wars that she experienced as the wife of a soldier.

Obviously, quadriplegia was nearly always fatal during my grandmother's vernal years. (In fact, I was told at Shepherd that had I broken my neck just ten years earlier, the doctors might not have revived me when I went into respiratory arrest.) Be that as it may, I know she realized how content I have been with my life as a quad, and as unconventional as it may seem to anyone else, I wouldn't trade my paralysis even if I could go back in time to prevent the accident that caused it. I've been given a gift to view life from a fairly unique prospective, one that is unavailable to nearly everybody else on the planet, and it has helped me to grow in places that would never have seen the light of understanding had I not become so positively influenced through my paralysis. If I were, now, the physical presence I was before I broke my neck, I'd probably be the most shallow human on the planet. My mother's mother would have never guessed my current exuberance for life, but I believe she understood my contentment.

Speaking of my mother's mother, she had a really simple recipe for chili dogs that would make Lieutenant proud:1 basically, you put mustard on both sides of a warmed bun, place the weenie ever so delicately in the bun, add diced onions, then top it off with the chili, which is nothing more than ground beef boiled in minimal water in a frying pan on the stove with cayenne pepper added to taste.

Anyway, after I got my job in January of '92, my grandmother would drive over to my house every Saturday, and she'd bring me two of these hotdogs, some potato chips, and some sweet iced tea. I enjoyed this ritual every weekend for a little over a year. After I had consumed the dogs in question, we'd sit on the front porch, and we'd talk. Although not formally educated, I believe my grandmother knew everything about plants. Her maternal grandparents were Cherokee, and I believe that Grandma could grow anything because of some long forgotten American aboriginal power that was once familiar to indigenous nomadic tribes. Her stories were fascinating jewels of history, and she was beginning to tell me stories about her childhood when a car accident ripped her out of my life. Just think of all I'll never know but what had been so readily available.

Although my grandmother has passed, my mother has taken the torch, and she creates a comparable chili dog. I'm not saying that it's World Famous, but intelligent beings from planets millions of light years away have visited Hamilton, Georgia just to get a chili dog made by my ma. In fact, I was told by a very reliable source, and if my translation is correct it is my understanding that my mother's chili dogs have recently prevented a major intergalactic war between a planet whose major export is potato salad and another planet whose major import is tuna salad. I'm not sure how, but marching bands performing Sousa's songs were also involved.

Pardon me, but I'm not sure how I got off on the subject of my mother's chili dogs. Seems to me like we were moving along rather quickly through an overview of my wonderful family when I was suddenly affected by a tangential thought that derailed my cohesive rhetoric, and I went athwart into a bayou of different images. From a description of my family to aliens' fighting over my mama's second-generation chili dog recipe. How did that happen?

However, I've really nothing more to write about my immediate family, so this concludes a rough draft portrait of them, and I have a few friends that are included in my family circle that seems ever-widening, so it's very easy to see, I hope, that it would have been a sin against all these people had I totally abandoned hope after I broke my neck and had allowed myself to decay in self-pity.

So there I was... a crippled boy with barely twenty-two years of living under my belt, living in my parents' home with nothing to do and the rest of my life to do it. I thought back to when I first arrived at Shepherd Spinal Center a few weeks after the car accident that left me a level C-5 quadriplegic. (I've repressed all that occurred starting from some hours before the actual accident and including the time I spent at the Medical Center in Columbus, Georgia, the Fountain City.) I was laying in bed staring at the ceiling and counting the holes in the tile when I decided that I needed to figure out what I was to do with the rest of my life.

Actually, I had been crying. I won't lie; I did cry a few times, but these were excursions into a depression that was so incredibly anticipated, slightly desired. Sometimes self-pity will lure you into a yearned-for emotional abyss from which your return is questionable. I fought hard for the most part, focusing on the positive, and I was meeting special people at Shepherd who were the most diverse, creative, incredibly warm human beings I'd ever met, but on about a handful of occasions, I did allow myself to wallow in the pitying of my crippled body, the body I had until just up to that point in time, worked so hard to build into a temple of egoistic idolatry. It was a call from a banal, nasal narrator of harlequin romance:

"My poor, pitiable son. Your life has become irrevocably changed. You have a formidable obstacle to overcome before you find emotional equilibrium, and although you will ultimately find solace, you must first histrionically portray Human Sadness; you must emotively and, yes, vociferously descant to your god the unfairness of the burden you must now bear; you must become visibly upset, both emotionally and physically (well...as much as physically possible; you are crippled after all; you know what I mean: you can still control the crying, yelling, cursing, breathing... you know, those kind of things). Ha!

"You now realize that you are totally paralyzed for the rest of your life. There's a pre-prescribed amount of time for denial, anger, and depression, but then you'll be encouraged to finally accept the fact of your paralysis as well as everything emotionally and physically associated with living the rest of your life with the inability to perform even the most rudimentary acts of daily living."

I cried.

I had been laying for an eternity in a too-sterile, achromatic hospital bed, a bed that had been harboring vengeance for a crime I had committed, quite possibly against it's mother (a crime for which I still remain ignorant); it was while I lay in that cowardly, yet malicious dark-gray and lifeless bed in a frown-ridden, leaden-weary spinal cord rehabilitation center, smack dab in the middle of the South's Renaissance City, and I dropped my stoic character (actually felt it's brittle fracturing into illimitable shards); I so flaccidly slid into embryonic depression, crying about my bad luck and my unanswered prayers, when a couple of paraplegics wheeled into my room.

I am very sorry that I don't remember their names because they were benevolent, celestially luminous powers that vouchsafed my first experience into spirituality: the unknown ethereal, intangible, enchanting aspect of terrestrial existence that had been hitherto hidden from me. All I remember is that the couple were young, attractive, healthy, and happy, and they were only a part of my life for about twelve seconds, but their existence in my life was perfect. What else could they have been but a collective ethereal entity whose existence I will never fully understand? my two personal advisers who had helped me to see that focusing on the negative was not helpful to my life's quest, whatever path that may be.

This bicipital duality was not the only celestial adviser I was to meet throughout my four months of rehab. I witnessed myriad glowing angels effortlessly floating just above a communal expression that bordered sanctification. It was like listening to Bach, or the letters written by the really young men who fought in the Civil War: sober, emotional, sacrosanct, hallowed... inspiring. How could I ever fail to achieve my most important goals? I saw a peaceful serenity that was steadily increasing in power, a spiritual landmark that I've never equaled before or since, a tranquility that grew increasingly more hungry the more it had consumed, and the energy was fed by complete tolerance of everyone's neighbor. A communal acceptance of the positive energy that exists in every person... regardless... of... anything.

It was the first time that I had been introduced to a small community that included homosexuals, who were the most giving, caring, loving, nourishing people I have ever met, men and women who showed me personally that homosexuals in our society are grossly misunderstood, and as such are mistreated. In my personal experience, every homosexual I've met, without fail, has loved me for who I am. I have strictly heterosexual yet irrevocably shallow acquaintances who won't help me tuck my shirt into my pants because their fingernails might scrape my scrotum and thereby threaten their anthropocentric, male-dominated ego with insidious seeds of homosexuality that will invariably grow into a tangible temptation, invading their emotionally hardened resolves not to ever think that Val Kilmer is a truly attractive man! And it goes on beyond that!

It's so ridiculous to think that many of the people with whom I am acquainted, sadly a vast majority, are myopic when it comes to observing mankind, and these comically impassioned idolaters of infallible musings are unable to see how foolish it is to think that the human being could possibly be compared to God? that the human being is the nexus to God? even made in Its image? Humanity doesn't come close to reaching Its lofty definition as characterized by kindness, mercy, and compassion; how could any human possibly be compared alongside perfection?

Why do we have laws except for the fact that we are unable to govern ourselves? It seems to me that we've got a long way to go before we can claim to have been created by a god in his own image, and promoted by him to the rank of Rulers Over Everything? It's so incredibly ludicrous to think that an incomprehensible powerful energy put us in charge of the vast universe, and we can't even take care of our own planet, which is like an ant's begging and pleading to the sun's rays to allow him to be the guardian of the entire continent of Australia... and not even praying to the sun, but to the sun's rays.

Humanity is not made in God's image, a power we could never begin to understand on even the most rudimentary level. We are so infinitesimal and incredibly insignificant... and slow... and dim-witted. We actually think that we can control light merely because we have a switch on the wall that, when clicked, can immediately eliminate darkness. (Sound like the book of Genesis?).

Sure some really smart women and men have harnessed electrical power that enables a luminous glowing from an electrically charged filament inside a glass encased vacuum, and other smart people tell us that the actual light we see is merely a reflection from the light's rays and that these rays are actually waves and still other really intelligent scientists tell us that there's a power that comes from an electrically charged filament that can be used by plants to create derivative energy that allows the plants to somehow grow, but what is this power? Sure a plant grows because of soil and solar energy, but why?

There are really brilliant women and men who have measured the sun's weight, composition, energy level, and many other things I'm not creative enough to understand, and they tell us that ultimately the burning sun will consume its energy and collapse upon itself. Obviously, the human race will be imperiled at that point, but it's so ridiculously in the future that it is impossible to contemplate. Humanity will either have destroyed itself by then or its technology will seem like magic to our mind-boggled sensibilities. However, at our current level of immaturity, if the sun were to extinguish in, say, ten years, we'd have to blindly sail away from earth. We'd have to randomly select a direction and hope to find a sun similar to ours, which is small and insignificant when considering the vastness of the universe. Even with regards to the comparably imperceptible part of the universe open to our current understanding, our sun is mid-sized.

And we're entrusted by a deity that looks an awful lot like we do and that this deity has allowed us to become the guardians of this incredible vastness?


   Stonewalled Meteor

   Spiraling slowly through the cold void of space,
   a pitted fragment from a once volatile star
   dances past unimaginable images of grace
   and chaos with home-woven dreams of a vast galaxy far
   from whence it came. The gray meteor gleams
   in vivid reddish hues as it brilliantly blazes by
   a fiery orange orb as perfect as celestial dreams
   dreamt by those of us not allowed to fly.

   Approaching a planet blue, green, and white,
   the dead star again flames to life as it flies
   into the dense atmosphere. From the surface, its fall
   becomes a beautiful silver string of light.
   Years later, a smooth stone from distant skies
   becomes part of Frost's New England stone wall.


The only thing I can know from all this is that I'm universally insignificant, but I've friends and family who think me a rare, precious jewel, people whom I equally adore... and that Twelve Second Angels are perfect.

Peace Through Music

1 Lieutenant is, arguably, the gastronome who created the Scrambled Dog, and his original recipe is still sold at Dinglewood Pharmacy on Wynton Road in my hometown Columbus, Georgia across the street from the headquarters of AFLAC.

Blog XVIII

by Rusty Taylor on 10/01/11

Southern Standard Time
Click on photo to buy CD


SST Blog
October 1, 2011


Greetings fellow Jazzonians,

The first thing I must do for this month's blog is to make a correction. Last month I wrote how Dallas Smith and his wife Susan Mazer use their wonderful musical talents in conjunction with hospitals to help promote healing in patients. Unfortunately, I wrote down the wrong web site, so to set things right: Dallas and Susan's musical web site is MazerandSmith.com. At This site, you can find out about their professional music careers, touring, recordings, etc. Their business web site that describes their work is at healinghealth.com. From the site:

Healing Healthcare Systems was founded in 1992 by Susan Mazer and Dallas Smith, two acknowledged pioneers in the use of music as environmental design for healthcare facilities.

Trained as classical musicians, we are a husband and wife team that spent the first 20 years of our careers as full-time performing and recording artists. After being approached by several hospitals and becoming aware of the need for television programming specific to the needs of patients and staff, we decided to refocus our efforts on creating healing environments.

Since 1984, in making the transition from performing to consulting and creating products for clinical environments, we have deepened our understanding of the capacity of sound in the form of either music or noise, to impact the quality of the patient experience.

In more recent years, our involvement with hospitals has necessarily expanded to include what we call the dynamic components of the environment, those that are non-fixed, changeable, and affected by patients, families, and staff. Therefore, we are concerned with issues such as hospital noise, clutter, communications, and patient-provider relationship outcomes.


Philosophy

We believe that music, in its highest form, transforms the perception of time and place, which affect how patients experience their illness. Rather than relying solely on the aesthetic quality or the artist's intention of the music that people choose, we go further in concentrating on the environmental outcome that music can produce.

We acknowledge that there are many theories about the power of music, but consider the use of music as a context for the recovery process to provide the most comprehensive means of supporting patients, families, and caregivers.

Therefore, the focus of our work at Healing HealthCare Systems (HHS) is on developing tools that use music as environmental design in the healthcare setting, and providing technical and educational support based on its implications for the patient experience.


October will be an exciting month for Rusty Taylor and Friends (AKA Rusty Taylor and The Wheels and soon to be re-branded Southern Standard Time). We will be the host band for this month's jazz jam sponsored by the Columbus Jazz Society on Sunday, October 9th from 6 to 9 p.m. at the historic Liberty Theater. We will be playing songs from our inaugural CD of jazz vocals entitled Southern Standard Time; however, we'll be playing, time permitting, other very interesting songs that probably won't be heard anywhere else in the tri-city area... ever! The tune we're most proud of is Pat Metheny's "James" for which I wrote the following lyrics (Keep in mind that Pat Metheny wrote this song as a tribute to James Taylor, ergo all the allusions from the songwriter's many songs.):

James

In my mind I'm going to Mexican beaches, sun-bathed sweetness,
and my mind sees silver suns, geese in flight, dogs that bite,
broken fears, fallen tears, messages from a friend...
all in my mind.

In my mind I see Karen's sun glowingly reaching, kindly teaching,
a tender stretch for a sign: sky's ablaze, fire and rain,
scattered schemes, church bell rings, shattered wings, diamond rings
stoking my dreams.

Senorita with her eyes on fire
drinks sweet red wine by ember-fire...
slow times when the sun's sinking low,
tumbling waves smile for yesterday.

In your mind you've shared your dreams, steam-rolling mem'ry mind-blowin' free
way down where the sun's so hot you forgot to go home...
time to go dream alone... on the line... hours of time-
broken pieces.


We'll also be singing other songs for which I've added lyrics, again, time permitting. And we're also thinking very seriously about my rapping a condensed version of Hamlet's "To be or not to be" soliloquy over the chord changes of Charlie Parker's iconic be bop tune Donna Lee. We're thinking about calling it Donna Lee or Not To Be. Obviously, you will never know if we actually performed the tune unless you come out and hear for yourself. Again, it's at the Liberty Theater. $10 per person unless, of course, you're already a member. (And if you're not a member of the Columbus Jazz Society, I'd like to strongly encourage you to join. For more info about our non-profit organization, visit our web site at Columbus Jazz Society). The venue is conducive to jazz: our savvy members actually listen to the music, and the musicians respond by playing at their best. If you get a chance, listen to jazz at The Liberty; if you're seriously into jazz, you will be entertained... I promise.

On Friday evening October 14th from 7 'til 9 p.m., we'll be playing the uptown series entitled Jazz at The Loft. Admission is free! No cover. Plus, it's a smoke-free environment, and there is no age restriction. Bring your whole family. You can also order food from a wonderful menu. The band and I will be playing many of the songs that we'll play at The Liberty, but we'll change 'em up a bit: ballads will be restricted to the first set because the crowd becomes noticeably more boisterous during the second set. We've got some really groovin' up-tempo, scatting songs for the second set. Hope to see you there.

October 21st and 22nd, I will be volunteering my singing for a private party in Pine Mountain, Georgia... a benefit for the Harris County Humane Society. It'll be at the Rose Cottage, a quaint coffee, tea, and pastry shop that makes me strongly desire to actually learn etiquette. Sure I'll be hobnobbin' with the socially refined, but I won't let it go to my head. I will, however, refrain from employing my more aggressively vulgar vernacular for a more dulcet idiom.

That's all I've got planned for this month, but if anything changes, I'll definitely let you know. For next month's blog, I'll submit a chapter of my autobiographical manuscript entitled "Twelve Second Angels," which details some of the diverse angels who helped me during the incipience of my paralysis. Warning: it's emotionally stirring. Plus, the interview I had for Spinal Column should be published. If it is, I'll be crowing like a kaleidoscopic rooster/peacock.

And finally, I didn't think that anyone actually read my blog until last month when three of my friends commented. Thanks to Connie Van Meter-Wilkes (PHS Class of '81... yes, I did graduate... summa or later!), Carole Barfield Roberts, and my great-aunt Rose. I appreciate your kind words and wish you happiness.



Peace Through Music


Read CD reviews of Southern Standard Time or other band-related articles in the following:
   All About Jazz
   The Morning Coffee Mix
   Improvijazzation Nation Magazine page down to see article

Blog XVII

by Rusty Taylor on 09/13/11

SST Blog
September 13, 2011


Jazz Musings

This past weekend was one of the best weekends I've ever experienced, and I hope its memory inspires me for the rest of my terrestrial existence... and beyond (September 9 - 11). The irony of it is that for the past month or so I've been battling a series of infections that've left me more incapacitated than I normally am, which is my not-too-subtle way of apologizing for my lack of blog-writing; however, about four weeks ago, I came down with a UTI (urinary tract infection). Not to get too descriptive, but my urine was sanguinary. 'nough said. This was followed immediately (possibly concurrently) with cellulitus, which, as I understand it, is a volatile mixture of effluvium and caustic chemicals pooled between the cells of my leg. Again, not to get too descriptive, but my right thigh swelled to a little more than twice its normal size... just a bit disconcerting to say the least. To combat this, my doctor strongly suggested that I raise my leg above my heart as often as possible. The alternative was (and still is) hospitalization, which is a royal painus in the anus if you know what I mean. (I see my doctor this Friday, so I'll let you know if I am to be medically incarcerated; however, my family and I have rigged a way to raise my leg while I'm in my wheelchair, and the swelling in my leg has gone down considerably, so it looks good that I might avoid the hospital.) Compound all this with the fact that I have also developed a sore on my right heel and have been sweating like anyone who has taken a vow of celibacy and has planned to spend next year's Mardi Gras in New Orleans, and I believe you can understand how the past few weeks have been less than groovy. And yet, this weekend was wonderful.

Dallas Smith is originally from Columbus, Georgia but currently lives in Reno, Nevada with his wife Susan Mazer; both are amazing musicians, Dallas on flute and woodwinds, Susan plays harp. Once or twice a year, Dallas returns home to visit family and friends, and when he does, nearly all the local jazz musicians come to hear his inimitable improvisational skills combined with world music influence, especially Eastern Indian classical music. With his band Mynta, Dallas travels Europe and Asia, and he, along with his wife, are heavily into using their collective musical synergy to promote healing through musical therapy. I, personally, don't know enough to give the appropriate encomium for their salubrious music, but I know how music affects me in the most positive ways, and I can't but help to accept that music assists the body in the healing process, both physically and mentally. If you're into learning more about what Dallas and Susan do, I strongly encourage you to visit their web site at www.MazerAndSmith.com.

The reason I give this very brief bio for Dallas is because he and his charming wife Susan were in town this past weekend. Dallas and his quartet of local, lifetime friends played at The Loft on Friday night and they hosted the monthly jazz jam sponsored by the Columbus Jazz Society at the historical Liberty Theater on Sunday night (www.ColumbusJazzSociety.com). Now here's where maximum grooviness comes in: Dallas asked me to sit in for a few tunes! Now I realize that this is all probably as banal to everyone else on the planet as reading Playboy in braille (Miss September's hobbies include reading Dr. Seuss while walking the beach at sunset hoping to find an unemployed, average man who still lives in his parents' basement and who can build a web site as an ode to their eternal passion...), but to me it's as exciting as it gets... like a third-grader's meeting Santa, the Easter Bunny, the tooth fairy, and a leprechaun with a pot full of skittles all in one day--a professional musician asked me to share music with him... on stage!

Most of y'all know that almost a year ago, I recorded a CD of jazz vocals entitled Southern Standard Time with a few friends of mine (www.Southern-Standard-Time.com). While on stage, both at The Loft and the Liberty Theater, Dallas told the story about how he was traveling back and forth from Reno to Lake Tahoe (I think) on business and how he listened to my CD over and over again. He also said (on stage in front of, collectively, around 200 people or more) that when he heard "Take Five" (as arranged by local musician Tom Chadwick) he wanted to perform that with me when he came to town. He also wanted to perform "I'll Remember April" (which is also on my CD). Can you dig it? A real-time, bona-fide, grade-A, top choice, prime-time professional musician who tours the world actually likes my singing style!

And this ain't the kicker.

Last Sunday was the tenth anniversary of the series of horrific events that gave our nation pause. Anticipating the significance of the date, Dallas asked me to sing Horace Silver's "Peace," a song with which I was unfamiliar but is now one of my favorite pieces to sing. I wrote lyrics to the music, which I share at the end this blog, but I must recapitulate: this past weekend was one of my best weekends ever... and, hopefully, there'll be more grooviness to come.


     Peace

     When the wind starts to howl,
     violent thunder-clouds growl,
     earth-riven fear looms too near;
     when the sun's tears are shed,
     each bright blossom bows its head,
     and Death calls out for all to hear,
     Peace forges through the fear.

     The bright sun meekly hides
     as the silver moon glides
     through nightfall that's Heaven sent.
     When the sun hides her rays
     at the end of ev'ry day,
     when all energy has been spent,
     Peace will guide our planet.

     by Russell (Rusty) Allen Taylor
     Sept. 2010


Peace Through Music

Blog XVI

by Rusty Taylor on 07/26/11

SST Blog
July 26, 2011


Another Pythagorean Theorem Made Tangible

As a young adult, I remember the excitement I felt during my incipient journey into the biography of sixth century B.C. Grecian philosopher Pythagoras the Samian. I was, of course, familiar with, arguably, his most famous theorem that states that the sum of the squares of the distances of the adjacent angels of a right triangle is equal to the square of the distance of the hypotenuse, provided, of course, that all distances are recorded in the same units. I remember agreeing with his idea that exercising one's physical manifestation is as important as exercising one's mind, but the most interesting of Pythagoras' philosophies of life, at least to my musical sensibilities, has been his theory of the Harmony of Spheres. In a nutshell, the theory suggests that since everything in the universe moves according to mathematical equations that correspond to musical notes, these celestial bodies produce sound waves that can, thereby, produce music. Together, these corresponding sound waves produce a symphony. This concept still intrigues me.

We all have had good days, some, in fact, very good... almost perfect. We've also had days wherein we've felt like we've been eaten by a wolf and regurgitated over a cliff from the most remote regions of the feral canine's rancid digestive tract. Earth itself has similar tension, as anyone in Kansas' Tornado Alley can attest. One moment the sky is harmoniously blue, the next, a raging grey tornado plows through a small town laying waste everything in its mile-wide path. The unmitigated fury is then followed by birdsong, a concept that is easily demonstrable in the complex music of jazz and classical. A really good jazz improvisor (as well as a classical composer) begins her extemporaneous musical journey slowly and builds up to a climax, using dissonance to create tension that is then resolved before the next soloist begins his journey or the ensemble journeys toward the coda. It's one of the many things I love about music to which I must actively listen: it can express the gamut of human emotion.

If you're not cognizant of the jazz scene in Columbus, Georgia, and you're seriously into jazz, then you must earnestly check out what our wonderful city has in store for your musical edification. And I'm not confabbing to fans of Kenny G who think his soporific style epitomizes improvisational virtuosity; if you think that his "song bird" ranks as high in the jazz hierarchy as anything Thelonius Monk may have written in his prepubescence, then I invite you to hang out in the elevator at the Government Center and calculate how long it takes security to arrest you for just not getting it. However, if you're into any of the divers styles of jazz, be it be bop, swing, Latin, Cool, West Coast, Afro-Cuban, Dixieland, or even jazz based on twelve-bar blues, then I'd first like to turn your attention to the Columbus Jazz Society, a non-profit organization extant since about 1988, an organization with an expressed, written mission to support live jazz music, its promotion and education. Since making its home at the Historical Liberty Theater, CJS has grown into a respectable organization with wonderful acts hosting our monthly jams. Next month's core band will feature Tyrone Jackson, and he's a monster player, so come and check him out. I guarantee you won't be disappointed. And since CSU's Schwob School of Music has moved downtown, Dr. Alex Pershounin, director of jazz studies, has made it his mission to encourage his students and fellow faculty members to play live jazz music as often as possible, and the jazz keeps getting better.

Since October, The Loft (uptown Columbus, Georgia) has sponsored Friday Jazz from 7 'til 9 p.m., and not only is its popularity increasing, but the music is becoming increasingly more complex and interesting for those of us who enjoy the weft and warp of serious musicians who not only listen to one another but who become increasingly more energized as the night, and the music, progresses. The Loft has showcased some serious jazz talent. This past Friday highlighted the Alex Pershounin Project, and the musicianship of the band sent my musical sensibilities soaring to heights it hasn't experienced since I saw the Pat Metheny Trio at The Rialto in Atlanta a few years back. No lying. Their energy was contagious, and I haven't been this excited about the jazz scene in our fair city since, well... ever!

During the evening's performance, the crowd's drone seemed to be in the same key as each song the quartet played, matching the intensity, the complexity, and the ebb and flow of the total musical discourse, which seemed to extend beyond the brick walls of the building into the cosmos. As I sat before Alex Pershounin, Amy Griffith, Trey Wright, and Paul Vaillancourt, I was transported to beyond my existential boundaries and for a very brief moment in time, I was an integral element within a tangible experiment of the hitherto theoretic concept called the Harmony of Spheres... I even touched the hem of Pythagoras' cloak.

If you're in the Columbus, Phenix City, Fort Benning tri-city area, then I invite you to navigate your conscious energies to Columbus Jazz Society and discover not only who is playing each Friday night at The Loft, but you can become a member of CJS and take part in our monthly efforts to keep live jazz music alive for all of us. The Columbus Jazz Society is growing. Maybe you and your friends can help make it the biggest jazz attraction in the South. Wouldn't that be groovy?



Peace Through Music

Blog XV

by Rusty Taylor on 06/05/11

SST Blog
June 3, 2011


Greetings fellow Jazzonians,

June already! and here in my hometown of Columbus, Georgia, the Fountain City, it's already hotter than a politician's extramarital sex life. May, however, was a very groovy month for me, interesting on so many levels. I reckon that the most buzz-worthy event of the past month was that I was interviewed by Guy Zinger (www.GuyZinger.com) of Adore Jazz, an online radio program of jazz vocals out of Amsterdam. Amsterdam! in the Netherlands! That's Dutch country! Windmills, wooden shoes, tulips, and a mystique that overwhelms my simple, southern sensibilities. The interview appears in All About Jazz magazine (www.AllAboutJazz.com). At the time of this writing, the article that contains my interview, Rusty Taylor: Jazz + Country = Southern Comfort, has reached the magazine's number 3 in articles recommended and number 5 in articles read. I can't effectively express how groovy it is for this endomorphic, Georgia-residin', peace-lovin', jazz-stokin', love-tokin dude like myself (who is as socially refined as a glass of tepid tap water) to get this kind of support. If you haven't read the article and would like to, cut-n-paste the following address into your browser: http://www.allaboutjazz.com./php/article.php?id=39423. If you dig it, please like it and recommend it.

Guy Zinger (the dude who interviewed me for All About Jazz magazine) also asked me to record a few Station IDs, those ten to fifteen second announcements that broadcast information about a radio station. After you read the blog, I invite you to listen to them by clicking the Radio IDs link above. Kinda cheesy but lots of fun; I got to use my radio announcer's voice.

Check this out: on the same web page as my interview are different links associated with me. One is to my personal home page at www.Southern-Standard-Time.com; one's to my mySpace page (on which I once blogged, but no longer; however, if one is a glutton for banal musings, one can deliberate entirely too much about my Life's philosophy by reading it... typos and all); another link leads to wikipedia; however, my biography, or anything else about me for that matter, is not detailed anywhere in the free encyclopedia; and one link is to youTube. I didn't think I was on youTube; nobody's ever videoed me to my knowledge, but I clicked on the link nonetheless, and guess what I found?

But first, some hometown history.

Columbus, Georgia, my hometown, has been home to minor league baseball teams since 1926 but is not currently home to any professional team. However, from 1991 to 2002, Columbus' Golden Park was home to the Cleveland Indians' farm club in the South Atlantic League (affectionately called the Sally League). Save its inaugural year, the team was named the Columbus Redstixx. A few times a year, I would sing the national anthem at the beginning of a game. (Incidentally, I once sang the national anthem for the Columbus Cottonmouths, our city's professional hockey team, which is still extant at the time of this writing.) Somebody obviously video-taped me on one of those occasions, and if you want to see/hear it, copy and paste the following link www.youtube.com/watch?v=t7A6GPa_mes. The video is fuzzy, but you can make out my wheelchair. Also, my father is holding the microphone for me. Of course, it is a bit disconcerting to realize that I have been surreptitiously video-taped. Fortunately, nobody knows about the time I... well, no one currently knows. Hope a video doesn't show up later. Incidentally, I do have a baseball autographed by Cy Young Award winner C. C. Sabathia who, at the time, played for the Redstixx.

I hope I didn't lose you when I took the tangential side-route through Golden Park, but I think that I brought the narrative back on course.

And now, back to my blog...

Tom Chadwick, the arranger, producer, and pianist of my inaugural CD Southern Standard Time has recently had surgery and is recouping well. In the interim, I've been practicing with pianist Don Tipton. He and I are playing at The Loft in Columbus, Georgia on Friday, July 29th, and we've been working on jazz-influenced interpretations of songs by, among others, Led Zeppelin and the Beatles. I truly dig Zeppelin and am excited by the possibilities. Hopefully, the rest of my rhythm section will want to get involved. Don't get me wrong, jazz ballads are still my favorite genre, but it will be fun branching out a little. Beside, when Tom finally recoups, we're going to meet and discuss my second recording project, Southern Standard Time II which will hopefully include my interpretation of the jazz ballad "You Are Too Beautiful." Things are looking groovy.

And now for something completely different...

The last few months have been emotionally draining, especially for my parents who have had to travel back and fourth from Hamilton to Atlanta, Georgia for my father's chemo therapy at Emory University every other week. My father's last chemo infusion was May 18, and he's slowly recovering from its cumulative effects, but things are looking really groovy. We expect a full recovery although the doctor has informed us that he will no longer be able to play the piano professionally, which is ok; he never knew how in the first place. Many thanks to all of you who've been sending positive energy to my folks. I know they appreciate it as well.

Thanks again for your support of my musical endeavors. I've gotta run, figuratively of course, but before I go...

Life sometimes throws things at you that are unexpected and for which you are totally unprepared. When this happens, don't rage against the soul-embracing madness like King Lear when he realizes his errors... none of that helps. Instead, look at the capricious misfortune as a challenge. Everyone can overcome adversity with the right frame of mind; power, however, is much more difficult to salubriously master, and can easily tempt you toward madness, to effortlessly relieve you of any inner peace you may once have possessed in abundance. Incidentally, I'm totally at peace with myself the majority of the time. Please don't ask me about my spirituality if your intention is to convert me to yours. You may have self-aggrandizing intentions that could reflect on me negatively. In the long run, your attempted preemptive intrusions into my spiritual destiny merely quicken trivial acts of self-perceived generosity intended, whether or not you're aware, to camouflage your many imperfections. Salvation is exclusively Boolean, a one-on-one relationship between one's post-terrestrial existence and the omniscience that presides therein. If it makes you feel better, you may send me your positive energy, call it prayer if you like, but do it silently and with no fanfare, although you may want to first get your own house in order; after all, you are not so beloved by even demigods to have received deified gifts to influence my ultimate post-terrestrial destination, a destination that will be exclusively revealed through my relationship with the omniscient director of my post-terrestrial existence and no one else... especially you. If you believe in a gold-laden heaven and you need to save me in order to get in, you won't.



Peace Through Music

Blog XIV

by Rusty Taylor on 05/07/11

SST Blog
May 7, 2011


Greetings fellow Jazzonians,

I just watched an interesting show on Link Television that had as guests a monk and a rabbi, both are mystics. They civilly discussed many topics worthy of rumination during the half hour program, and I'll try to highlight the themes that struck me most.

We live in dangerous times. I suppose that that statement is as obvious as the disconcerting images that are ubiquitously presented to an eager public and proffered by too many twenty-four hour news corporations. The monk, a soft-spoken septuagenarian man, said that when we, as human beings, are afraid, we cling. An infant, when frightened, clings to her mother. People falling from very high places, he claimed, often grab their own arm. It is reflexive. It is instinctual. Similarly, people grasp onto fundamental aspects of their spiritual ideology when threatened. Reason is compromised by a more malleable public and fear is manipulated by leaders.

Another image presented by the rabbi is one of the ocean, which is a metaphor for everything. The ocean is a powerful entity onto itself, but it has waves that are individual, solitary, and illusory autonomy. Individual humanity is symbolized by the wave, yet it remains irrevocably part of the ocean.

This, to me, can also be illustrated by our planet. We, the global citizens, are individual illusory autonomy, yet we are irrevocably part of the living illusory autonomy that is our planet.

Another metaphor mentioned by the rabbi employs a mountain with a base so vast and large that it spans many geographic regions. The highest peak of the mountain is the symbol for singular spiritual unity... the ultimate truth; the mountain climbers represent religious ideologies and their journeys toward this unity, and all religious ideologies have at least one path to the summit. The religious institutions represented by mountain climbers who begin their journey from colder regions are heavily clothed and must soon return to base camp when they realize that the weather patterns change as they delve into the various rain forests, deserts, and valleys along the way to the mountain's apex; their preparations are not initially solid enough to continue so they must return and begin again with better preparation. This process takes more iterations than many people are prepared to make, and they begin choosing paths that are more easily assessable but with stopping points that, although lofty and hidden within clouds, are not the true summit. The religious institutions represented by mountain climbers who begin their journeys from different climates find themselves ill-prepared to continue their journeys when they encounter similar problems. Very few mountain climbers reach the ultimate destination, but everyone who makes it are clothed similarly perfectly for the exclusive climate that exists at the summit.

Problems arise when mountain climbers journey from base camp to base camp without ever reaching the summit and they attempt to tell others how they should begin their journey.


Peace Through Music

Blog XIII

by Rusty Taylor on 04/18/11

SST Blog
April 18, 2011


Greetings fellow Jazzonians,

Today is the 25th anniversary of the single car accident that left me a quadriplegic. That's right. I've been unable to perform even the most rudimentary acts of daily living for a quarter of a century! But I can sing, and as far as I know, my brain was unaffected. What's been mind-blowing about this incredible journey is that it's been a really groovy ride. Sure, there are days when I am feeling like Life has been unfair; who doesn't have similar days? But the good times have far outnumbered the bad times, and even if I could go back in time to prevent the accident that left me paralyzed, I wouldn't do it. I've been granted a priceless gift to view the world from a perspective unavailable to most of humankind. And I've been groovin' ever since.

Here's a Reader's Digest condensed version of my biography: I was born in Wurtzburg, Germany on February 1, 1964. Graduated from Pacelli High School in 1981. Broke my neck in a single-car accident on April 18, 1986. Graduated from Mercer University in the Summer of 1991 with a BA in English and a minor in Computer Science. Became employed as a computer programmer for TSYS on January 6, 1992. Received from Mayor Bobby Peters of Columbus, Georgia an award for Handicapped Employee of the Year in 1996. I worked as a computer programmer for sixteen years until I was fired in April of 2008. (The details of my firing are for another fireside chat.) I've been a member of the Columbus Jazz Society (CJS) since 1992 and was its president from 2002-2004 (www.ColumbusJazzSociety.com). During the year of 2009, my friends and I practiced for a CD recording of jazz vocals which came out in December of 2010; it's entitled Southern Standard Time and can be purchased from this commercial-free site. Since then, I've been shamelessly promoting my CD, which has been played on GPR (Masani's program called The Jazz Spot), on James L. Smith's online program The Morning Coffee Mix (www.TheMorningCoffeeMix.com), and Guy Zinger's Adore Jazz (www.AdoreJazz.com).

Since the year 2000, I've been a volunteer reader for Downtown Elementary Magnet Academy in Columbus, Georgia, the last four years for Mrs. Telsa Jones' third grade class; although, I've recently taken a small hiatus because I've been spending more time with my father as he undergoes chemo therapy. I should confess that ours is a symbiotic relationship. While my mother goes off to work every weekday, dad and I are there for each other; it's both reassuring and necessary. I also still sing for the residents of Magnolia Manor nursing home on the last Friday of every month.

Currently, I'm thinking about suing the Catholic Church because I was an alter boy who was never molested.

Just kidding.

Throughout my life, I've always written: Poems, short stories, novels, children's stories, and an autobiographical manuscript that highlights the lighter side of paralysis. Only one of my novels is ready for a professional critique, but the others aren't too far behind, and when I get a few months free time, I'll complete the other manuscripts. I'm not into euphemisms (which are created by them who can't handle the bitterness that reality can sometimes create), and I prefer to call myself crippled than something as banal as physically challenged.

So, here it is: the 25th year of an accident that changed my life for the positive. I am now in a band that plays wonderfully complex tunes, earning the respect of local jazz musicians, and my music is heard by a small group of people who truly dig what I'm doing. Life is good, but it's on the brink of becoming great. I sang at a Jazz Vespers program that was held April 17 at St. Thomas Episcopal Church off of Hilton Road. I'll play my next gig at The Loft (downtown Columbus, Georgia) on April 22, and I'll sing for Muscogee Manor nursing home's Employee Appreciation Week on May 7. World renowned musician (and Columbus, Georgia native) Dallas Smith will host the Columbus Jazz Society sponsored monthly jazz jam this September 11 (the ten-year anniversary of the tragedy that destroyed the iconic towers of New York City), and he's graciously asked me to sing Horace Silver's Peace, for which I've written additional lyrics. And my band Rusty Taylor and Friends will host CJS's monthly jam in October. Hopefully, more gigs will come, and I'll definitely let you know by posting the venues on my web site.

Thanks for taking an interest in my story. And there's more to come, so come back and visit often.


Peace Through Music

Blog XII

by Rusty Taylor on 03/28/11

SST Blog
April 1, 2011


Greetings fellow Jazzonians,

The Universe Is Redundantly Infinite

Sometimes... during that wonderfully unique part of my nocturnal festival when I'm in my bed between magically comfortable sheets and listening to the random, eclectic music with which my capricious ipod serenades me, hypnagogic thought-webs weave colorfully auricular tapestries of pre-slumber theater, and I try to get lost in infinity: the weft and warp of time... space... matter... dark matter... apex... nadir... malleable... solid... warping... turgid... flaccid... tumescent... distending... contracting... birth... death... redundant... static... circular... square... triangle... spherical... cubed... pyramidal... et cetera... et cetera to the infinite power of redundant infinity... but infinitely linked... together in an ever-widening sea of omni-directional, undulating cycle-sphere-tubes until I've exhausted my brain's maximum capacity.

But it has yet to happen.

What has yet to happen is my completely overwhelming my brain's maximum capacity. (Which is just a euphemistic way to express my Death.) My dying hasn't happened yet. At least not at the time of this writing exercise. A few times previously I strongly believe I've come close... to dying, that is, but then I jerk myself back into my personal terrestrial manifestation. I get nervous every time but then I wonder why.

Death is the ultimate of each and every one of us terrestrial animals. It's unimpeachable. Thank you for participating. There are no door prizes. Everybody will die... so why should I be so concerned with my not returning to my corporeal manifestation just as I'm about to lose myself in infinity?

The answer is easy.

Our terrestrial lives are the composite experiences we collect from the moment we arrive on this planet Earth until the moment we depart it. From whatever time that marks the beginning to whatever indicates our final moment. (By whomever or whatever controls the creation, distribution, administration, and enforcement of these superficial anxieties.) We are born with our bodies, which is just an easy way to accept that our bodies are enclosed carapaces (although our carapaces, our skin, is very often vulnerable) through which we can interpret some of the light and sound waves from the sun that seems to give us life. Without the carapace, our spiritual energies would escape what, to their sensibilities, must be a prison. But to me, this planet is beautiful. It's such a wonderful gift, and we've been given the tools to enjoy it. And that's what I want to do: experience all the pleasure and pain that this terrestrial gift has to offer before I take this collection of experiences to whatever exists beyond the completion of our post-terrestrial journey. It's like earning patches for Life.

I believe that when I actually completely lose myself in infinity is when I completely lose what little control I have over this corporeal shell, my body. At that point, I will either be unable to return to this terrestrial realm, or I will be disinterested.

Why?

Love is the most powerful expression we, as humans, can experience. To me, it's the closest thing to perfection we, as humans, can produce terrestrially, and in that sense, Love is truly deistic. It's the closest thing to any god we've got. However, very few post-terrestrial expressions of one's being return to this terrestrial milieu to reconnect with the pinnacle of humanity... few of our ancestors, regardless of how distant, have ever returned to this planet to reconnect with the awesome power of Love.

The existence of spectral apparitions on our planet is irrelevant. If they do exist, one would have to admit that the number of actual ghost sightings that have ever been reported, even in prehistoric cave drawings, whether or not they're valid, is an insignificant number compared to the supernumerary number of people who have died since humanity has populated the Earth (and, again, regardless of whom or what is in charge of such superfluity). The point I'm trying to make: My feeling is that Love is the pinnacle of humanity, yet it isn't powerful enough to encourage more return visits from whatever lies beyond our terrestrial existence.

This does not sadden me. If the power of Love isn't strong enough to encourage a visit from our spiritual energies after we have shuffled of these mortal coils, then there exists something more powerful than Love. We only discover the secret after we free our non-tangible energies from our terrestrial carapaces.

These are the things about which I think just before I slip off to explore Morpheus' shrine... (Keep in mind, Morpheus is, in this particular epistle, a metaphor for sleep, good, ol' fashioned sleep. If I were to have wanted a more accurate metaphor to express the condition of my mind just before I surrender to the sweet nourishment of sleep, I would have acknowledged my slipping off to indulge in the metaphysical shrine of Mary Jane.)


Peace Through Music

Blog XI

by Rusty Taylor on 03/20/11

SST Blog
March 21, 2011


Greetings fellow Jazzonians,

I've another gig scheduled for April 22 at The Loft in Columbus, Georgia from 7 'til 9 p.m. Unfortunately, the musicians I used to help me record my inaugural CD (Southern Standard Time) are unable to make the gig, so I'll have a different trio; however, Columbus, Georgia has a growing jazz base, and I'll have quality musicians accompanying me on stage. I'll still be singing many songs from the CD, but I haven't worked out the complete set list yet.

As mentioned earlier, Columbus is slowly growing its jazz base; hopefully, it'll one day rival Savannah as Georgia's hot spot for live jazz music. Since Columbus State University's Schwob School of Music has moved downtown, the area has revitalized into a festive atmosphere reminiscent of its past when Duke Ellington, Fletcher Henderson, Bessie Smith, and Columbus' own Ma Rainey performed regularly at The Liberty Theater, current home to the Columbus Jazz Society (www.ColumbusJazzSociety.com). Dr. Alex Pershounin is the relatively new head of jazz studies at CSU, and he is active in encouraging his students to perform live, which is giving downtown Columbus a hip and youthful vibe.

The Loft's owner Buddy Nelms is currently featuring Friday Night Jazz at The Loft. Every Friday evening a jazz ensemble will play live jazz music in an atmosphere conducive to actively listening to America's music... jazz. Recently, the Columbus State University Jazz Combo played, and Dr. Pershounin asked me to sit in on the last tunes. I sang "My Romance" and I scatted on a blues tune, trading measures with a student named Michael Johnson, which was a blast. At this point in time, it looks like the Friday evening of jazz is bringing in a good crowd, but it'd sure be nice if jazz could be featured for the entire evening. Unfortunately, jazz doesn't fill in the seats as does Country music, but it's getting better.


Peace Through Music

Blog X

by Rusty Taylor on 03/03/11

SST Blog
March 4, 2011


Greetings fellow Jazzonians,

I'd like to take this opportunity to thank all of y'all for your support in my vocal endeavors; it's really groovy to think that there are a few people on this planet who kinda dig what I'm trying to do and that these same people so openly encourage me to continue my quest to express myself in some meaningful way. Sometimes, singing takes me on a journey that rejects my bodily manifestation and embraces the most peaceful mind-surf imaginable. It's so copacetic to think that others might feel a bit of my passion for whatever it is I'm searching to express, a gentle reminder to find the answers to questions I'm not smart enough to ask. Again, I appreciate your support and hope I don't let you down.

I've had a blast with everything that has accompanied making Southern Standard Time, the name of the CD of jazz vocals the band and I recorded this past year. Some of the tunes have been played by DJs who host online jazz programs (visit www.TheMorningCoffeeMix.com) and on Georgia Public Radio's The Jazz Spot hosted by Masani. (If you get a moment, email Masani at jazz@gpb.org and request "A Nightingale Sang In Berkley Square" by Rusty Taylor and Friends from their debut CD entitled Southern Standard Time.) It's kind of groovy thinking that a small group of unrelated people (most of whom don't know me from Adam's house cat) are listening to my singing during that period of time when my voice waves dance through the air... and that my musician friends are, at that very moment, reliving a very special time when we were actually in the studio. It truly was one of the fondest memories of my life, and I can so easily relive those precious moments any time I desire the quintessence of the memory simply by listening to the recording. It's been so life affirming.

It would certainly be groovy to get to know you cats better, but that won't happen unless you email me or, better yet, go to my web site and sign my guest book. You can then make a comment to share with others. Of course, if you email me, you'll get a more personal response. Although of no real consequence, other than an almost negligible jab to my oversensitive ego, I haven't had many people sign my guest book. Yes, this is a shameless solicitation, but it would be groovy to get a bunch of folks to sign my guest book. I've added this blog, but it doesn't seem to have drawn many visitors. So I've added poetry to my web site, poetry that I've written; although, I may, in the future, add the poetry that I dig at a later time. (I'm especially fond of, among others, Elizabeth Bishop.)

Yes, I'm trying to get noticed, but it's probably for reasons one might not ever consider. I am a quadriplegic... and it would be way cool to overpay the people that help me, yet it doesn't look like that'll happen any time soon. Southern Standard Time is a really groovy first recording, and we took on some very challenging songs, but I'm not interested in making money. Not only do I not know how, but in all honesty, I really don't care to. I've got everything I need for a while... I'm working to make enough money to give my family a break from always helping me; I'd like to overpay the people who help me. I am, after all, unable to perform even the most rudimentary acts of daily living. However, I can sing, and sooner or later you'll know my name. I do think that the CD will ultimately sell, but it'll take time, and I've got a lifetime for that.

So why reveal that I'm a quadriplegic?

Easy. It's kinda hard to keep secret; besides, I've got a story that may inspire another person with a spinal cord injury to do something outrageously rewarding, also... I might add another piece to the overly complex jigsaw puzzle that is our nation's health care system. But I've got a lifetime to fill in the many unknowns to the strange and wacky trip that has been my paralysis. It would be gleefully exciting to sing in front of a fairly large group of people gathered together in peace. That's what jazz is all about. That is my goal, and I invite you to join me in my journey. Hopefully, the good times will outnumber the bad.


Peace Through Music

Blog IX

by Rusty Taylor on 02/17/11

SST Blog
February 18, 2011


Greetings fellow Jazzonians,

Our CD Release Party earlier this month at The Loft was a success. About fifty people crowded the stage and a quite a few people gathered at the divider to peek into what we were doing. We played all the songs on our CD Southern Standard Time, and the crowd was really receptive. I really hope we're asked back.

Our shameless promotion of the CD continues. The following was sent to me via email. Guy Zinger is the programming manager of Adore Jazz out of the Netherlands:

Dear Rusty,

Programming manager of Adore Jazz here. I would love to playlist tracks of your CD on Adore Jazz, I like your style. Could you send me the CD electronically (via www.wetransfer.com for example?).

On another note, I write for AllAboutJazz.com, so if you wish your CD to be considered for a review. Please let me know and I will see if my limited time allows for it. You can also send me the real CD if you wish to my home address (but I live in the Netherlands... so electronically will work faster). Thanks for your email; Keep on spreading the word (on vocal jazz that is),

Best

Guy Zinger,

Being technologically inept, I was unable to send Guy my music electronically, but I mailed him the CD on Friday the 4th. I'll keep y'all abreast. That's all for now...



Peace Through Music

Blog VIII

by Rusty Taylor on 02/01/11

SST Blog
February 1, 2011


Greetings fellow Jazzonians,

Our CD Southern Standard Time is out, and I've been shamelessly promoting it like the cult~aggressive mother of a girl scout's callously selling addictively delicious cookies without an accompanying weight~loss program. So I'm sitting in my room wondering what to do next when it hits me like a Great Dane puppy: A blog!

The idea of a blog has hit me before, and I've written a few trial blogs in my inimitable style, but I couldn't get a symmetric look to my blogs on my website... until now. Without going into too much technical jargon, I finally got a look with which I am comfortable, and the SST webpage now has a blog. Hopefully, I'll write a monthly electronic epistle delineating the absurdities that tangentially cross my mind. It'll be a lot nonsense, but, hopefully, it will be fun.

I also surf the web, and guess what? I found Southern Standard Time on Amazon.com! I'd be a bit more excited, but they haven't received any of our CDs yet, so one may only download our music digitally. But still, we're on Amazon.com!

I also did a web search for the title of the CD, the CD's name, and the band's name, and I found this link:

http://www.cduniverse.com/productinfo.asp?pid=8433850.

It's a site named CD Universe, and in their "Other Ideas" section, they've listed our CD; although, they're selling it for $13.69. They've also posted the essay I wrote for DiGSTATION.com, so I believe that the info is recycled. Still, it's pretty exciting to see our CD listed for sale in a bunch of places. I believe that we'll be on itunes soon.

Through my shameless promotion, "A Nightingale Sang In Barkley Square" is on the rotation for The Morning Coffee Mix," an online light jazz/adult top 40 radio program out of the Houston/Galveston area hosted by James L. Smith. He reviewed our CD o his blog, and here's what he had to say:

If you like vocal/instrumental jazz standards, you will enjoy this CD by Rusty Taylor & Friends called "Southern Standard Time." Not only will you enjoy Rusty's solid mid range voice, but the musicianship is excellent. I found this to be a solid recording. The CD starts with my favorite song, "A Nightingale Sang In Barkley Square," which is one of my favorite songs of all time. I kinda wish it would not have started a capella (not an a capella fan), but you can't have everything in life. I'm most impressed with the piano accompanying this tune, and the whole project by means of Tom Chadwick. Rusty's voice really shines on "My One And Only Love" and "When I Look In Your Eyes." If you like a little jazz B3 organ, listen to "He'll Have To Go", again with Tom Chadwick. "God Bless The Child" and the trumpet interlude from Charlie Parsons, which turned into one of my favorite tunes on the CD (I'm a trumpet player, lol). So overall, this is a great CD, I really enjoyed it! You can get the CD from this link, and you can hear selections in rotation on The Morning Coffee Mix. Enjoy!

Also, Masani played "God Bless The Child" on her public radio program The Jazz Spot, which airs on WJSP 88.1 every Friday night from 8 til midnight. Things are really going well for us now, but the most exciting news is that we'll be performing live at The Loft this Friday, February 4 for our CD Release Party. We'll be performing most, if not all, of the songs listed on CD, but we're really excited about debuting our interpretation of Pat Metheny's song entitled "James," for which I've written lyrics. If you're in the neighborhood, check us out; it'll be a blast.

That's about it until next time.



Peace Through Music

Blog VII

by Rusty Taylor on 01/25/11

SST Blog
January 21, 2011


Greetings fellow Jazzonians,

Our CD is out! Oh frabjuos day! Calloo! Callay! Southern Standard Time is now available through CDBaby.com and DiGSTATION.com. Our CD Release party will be held at The Loft (downtown Columbus, Georgia) on Friday, February 4 from 7 to 9 p.m. This is the beginning.

Now it's time to shamelessly promote the CD... and I am.

I did a search on on-line jazz radio stations, and I found a link with about thirty listed. Here's what I did:

I clicked on each link. (Some of the stations were in Europe... Canada... Chicago!) I checked out each webpage and found the jazz show host and emailed the person. My email went a little like this:

Dear DJ,

My name is Rusty Taylor, from Columbus, Georgia. After 16 years of incarceration, I threw away the shackles of indentured servitude to corporate cupidity and recorded a CD of jazz vocals entitled Southern Standard Time with some really groovy musician friends of mine. I invite you to learn a bit more about us and to sample our inimitable style at our website www.Southern-Standard-Time.com. If you dig what you hear, I will gladly mail you a copy for you to review on your on-line jazz program. I realize that this may be an unconventional approach to promotion, but I've never done anything like this before, and I could use the exposure as I am from the deep South and will never usurp the power of what down here is the only two types of legitimate music: Country and Western! I sincerely appreciate your time, and I look forward to hearing from you soon.

Rusty Taylor
4708 Rosemont Drive
Columbus, Georgia 31904
706-321-9270


If the site had a corresponding facebook page, I went there and posted in the few words I was allowed:

My name is Rusty Taylor, from Columbus, Georgia. I recently recorded a CD of jazz vocals entitled Southern Standard Time with some really groovy musician friends of mine. I invite you to learn a bit more about us and to sample our inimitable style at our website www.Southern-Standard-Time.com. Forgive my shameless promotion, but I'm fighting Country music down here... and losing.


Shameless? Of course! But it's the internet. One can very easily disregard each email (or facebook comment) with the insouciant click of a button. The most common reaction, so far, has been silence a.k.a. the Delete Syndrome. And I've received, so far, one denial, but it was very nicely worded:

Hi Rusty,

Thanks for the info. KRTU is incredibly selective when it comes to the jazz we play, especially vocal jazz. However, your renegade style of promotion is something to be envied and respected, so don't give it up. Thanks again for the music and good luck.

**** ****


However, there may be one or two who actually take a chance and listen. The following email is from James L. Smith from Baytown, Texas who hosts The Morning Coffee Mix (http://www.themorningcoffeemix.com):

Hi, Rusty

Nice recording, by far my fav is A Nightingale Sang In Berkley Square. Would love to play it on my show. Are you ASCAP/BMI?


I replied:

James, I truly appreciate your positive comments and would love for you to play any of the tunes on your show. I am just a dude who recorded a CD at a local studio (The Loft Studio in Columbus, Georgia), and I did it with the support of family and friends. I'm not part of any major label. I hope that's not a problem. Is there anything special that I have to do on my side to make this happen? Again, I appreciate your positive comments. Thanks a ka-trillion.

Peace Through Music

Rusty Taylor


To which he, again, replied:

Hi Rusty,

Just need a simple email that gives "The Morning Coffee Mix" permission to play your music, which you've done below. BMI/ASCAP are performance royalty groups that help songwriters get their royalties for songs they have written. I am a legal station so I have to report what I play. As long as I have permission not a big problem. "A Nightingale Sang In Berkley Square" is one of my all time favorite songs, so you got me, lol. If you can send me an mp3 version that would be great. Otherwise my mailing address is on the website, and I can put you in 24/7 rotation plus that song on air. We get about 10,000 unique listeners a month, and the live show reaches about 200+ each day. I did an embed from your website too. Great recording!


Isn't that awesome! There's a dude in Baytown, Texas who digs my style! And it's all because of shameless promotion. Oh well. Reckon I'll shamelessly promote some more.



Peace Through Music