Which is likely to go down as one of the weirder blog post titles in the 4488 history …
But, there is in fact a point.
Which is this; I was very recently scrolling & strolling through the search engine referral metrics that WordPress very kindly provides (please click here for compendiums of some of the rather more strange and wonderful items that have appeared in past queues), and I couldn’t help but notice the almost laughable omnipresence of The Muppet’s saxophone player, Zoot. I quite literally referenced him once, in a long ago post (found here), and ever since, he’s proven to be an unlikely evangelical inadvertantly proselytizing the gospel of Ridge. Blowing our tune, as it were …
So I was sitting here thinking about Zoot, and The Muppets. Which inevitably led me to thinking about Elmo. Which reminded me that today is Elmo Hope’s birthday! June 27, 1923!
I have great affection for people like Elmo Hope. Not only because he was a great artist, player, performer, and composer, but because he’s a tad unsung; he labored years under the shadows of giants like Bud Powell and Thelonious Monk, and I am not sure he’s that well-known outside of — to borrow a quote from Bob Dylan — a small circle of friends.
Which leads me to think about Ridge. It’s a funny thing; amongst a small but admirably devoted cadre of loyalists, I think Ridge is fortunate to enjoy a rather exalted reputation. But conversely, I could probably stand up on our knoll and throw rocks at Cupertino for weeks on end, and probably not hit more than 5-6 folks who have any idea who we are, where we are, or what we do.
(disclaimer: i don’t actually throw rocks off the knoll.)
Which is kind of like being Elmo Hope. He could have probably thrown rocks at Manhattan all day, every day, and not have hit more than a few folks who knew just what a great player he really was.
So today, I am celebrating lives under the radar; the unsung artists of our times, those whose talents and contributions far exceed their recognitions. Do I include Ridge in these categories? Hard to say. On one hand, I certainly don’t wish to disparage those who do know us, and I certainly wouldn’t wish to sound ungrateful for whatever awarenesses and praises we’ve accrued over the years. But on the other hand, being on the “public” side of the Ridge enterprise, I am also acutely aware of just how short our shadow is often cast.
And speaking of shadows, I believe it was the very astonishingly great Michelangelo who is credited with stating that, “The true work of art is but a shadow of the divine perfection.”
And it was the very great poet Li-Po who wrote the following (translation by David Hinton):
Among the blossoms, a single jar of wine.
No one else here, I ladle it out myself.
Raising my cup, I toast the bright moon,
and facing my shadow makes friends three,
though moon has never understood wine,
and shadow only trails along behind me.
Kindred a moment with moon and shadow,
I’ve found a joy that must infuse spring:
I sing, and moon rocks back and forth;
I dance, and shadow tumbles into pieces.
Sober, we’re together and happy. Drunk,
we scatter away into our own directions:
intimates forever, we’ll wander carefree
and meet again in Milky Way distances.
And it is me who says, here’s to you Elmo, or should I say Hope, and to you, shadows, and to all who wander carefree amongst ye … I raise you a toast; a Syrah dark as a shadow …