You can’t judge a book by its cover. And not always people by their jackets. He was wearing the kind of leather jacket with many, many zippers. It looked of the quality that came from a store that had a sign out front: “No Coat More Than $99.” I could see tattoos on the back of his hands and on his neck. His woman companion’s leather jacket looked even less expensive, but her tattoos were just as extensive. I had seen the equivalent of this couple many times before at road stops all over America. But there they were in front of me to see a John Guare play at Manhattan’s Lincoln Center. I heard him say, “I’ve missed a lot here that I wanted to see.” I could not hear her reply, but he continued, “I wanted to see the King and I when it was at Lincoln Center.” He explained, “It was just about my favorite movie growing up.” And I realized yet again how many prejudices I have.
“Great visionaries and poets see everything in the same way—for the first time.” Nikos Kazantakis, Zorba the Greek.
The piano was parked in a spacious, high-ceilinged lobby. The space partitioned the hospital’s ground floor. A man was plunked on the piano bench. He played the piano. People paraded from doctors’ offices to imaging rooms, from patients’ rooms to revolving doors. No one was poised around the piano. No one paused to listen to the American playbook the piano player was playing. At first, I thought that his must be a terrible job, but then I considered that any job that paid must be a good one for a musician, and this one concluded before night giving him the opportunity for other work. This made me think of Jane Jarvis. I heard her keyboard work hundreds, probably thousands of time. Don’t know her? Well, many of you heard her at least as much as I did. Jarvis was a well-regarded jazz pianist, but I never heard her play jazz. More important to me was the fact that she was the organist for my boyhood team, the Milwaukee Braves, and I heard her playing the one time a year when the family went to Milwaukee County Stadium and countless more times over radio and TV. After eight or ten years, I realized, however, that the announcers were giving someone else’s name as the organist, but I hardly gave a thought as to what had happened to Jane Jarvis. Then I went East and heard a New York Mets broadcast and was told that at the organ was Jane Jarvis. I knew that ballplayers got traded; I didn’t think organists did, but for some reason, there she was. For about twenty-five years she played at baseball games. Perhaps it was not the most satisfying musical work, but as with the hospital lobby pianist, it was musical, and it was work. And even if you never heard a baseball broadcast or attended a game, you probably heard Jane Jarvis’s work. She became an executive with Muzak who selected much of what it played. Jane Jarvis: baseball organist; elevator music programmer; and jazz pianist.
In the this-was-so-obvious-they-didn’t-need-to-do-the-research department, a recent survey found that dog owners are much happier than cat owners. Dog owners are slightly happier than those without pets while those with cats are significantly less happy than the dogless and catless.