Monday, May 05, 2014

Many Things

It's been awhile since I posted to this blog so this is going to be a smorgasbord. First, the Osensei Revisited weekend in Occidental CA has come and gone, so I'd like to address this first. It was nice to see Nadeau sensei so deeply energetic laying out Osensei's process without the Japanese language barrier and the confusing Shinto symbology. Nadeau sensei was one of the few(maybe the only) person Osensei fielded questions from. So his work the last 50 years or so is based upon conversations he had with the founder of Aikido in the very early sixties. And it was wonderful to see Mary Heiny sensei there as well. I thought it was a statement that a teacher of her stature lent her presence to an event where she was not a featured instructor. It was fun interacting with her and we got a chance to train a little bit during the course of a class or two. So props to both Nadeau sensei and Mary sensei.

It was exactly seven years ago that I took up the trumpet again. I remember it was May 5th 2007. I rented a trumpet(that I would eventually buy) and went to the cottage I was staying in the hills of East San Jose(which I miss) and tried to make a sound. I had played middle school through high school but with a weird embrochure(upper lip with tongue part of the embrochure). I didn't realize I was doing something different until someone tried to teach me to double and triple tongue and I realized my tongue was doing something it should not. So upon my graduation from high school in 1966 I pretty much gave up playing.. I would try to play with a more conventional embrochure(both lips with the tongue spacing the notes) but never stayed with it. So I was intent on trying it and I found I could not make a sound after 41 years. So I thought this is going to be short. I had been inspired to play again because I had discovered the music of Chet Baker. So I put on a Chet cd and to my surprise while in the energy field of his music I could not only make a sound, but could also freeform to his playing. So I did that for awhile before I could make a sound on my own. And I find that after 7 years my whole sense of what am embrochure is has radically changed the last couple of months. I got some tips from Artt Frank, which are detailed in his wonderful memoir 'Chet Baker:The Missing Years' and after 7 years am still going and playing everyday. So thank you Chet. And Artt.

The Golden State Warriors' playoff run has ended after a very memorable season and first round playoff run. An undermanned and undersized Warrior team minus its top 3 centers finally succumbed to a much bigger Clipper team in a heartfelt 7th game.Their only championship in the Bay Area was 1975. I remember that vividly because my mom, battling cancer at that time, was a real Warrior fan. When I was in Japan she would stuff packages she sent me with Sports pages of Warrior games so I could follow the team while I was in Japan training. This was before satellite tv and ESPN. And when I got back in spring of 1975 I was able to follow the Warriors, led by hall of famer Rick Barry, on their run to an NBA championship. Often I would have to teach evening Aikido and would miss a playoff game. And I would return home to eat a late dinner she had prepared and she would leave the score on a notepad. In that run the Warriors had to overcome a punishing 7 game series in the Western Conference with the pre-Michael Jordan Chicago Bulls, then face what many people thought was an unbeatable Washington Bullets team led by Elvin Hayes and Wes Unseld. But the Warriors overcame double didgit deficits in most all those games to eventually win the title by sweeping the Bullets. And later that year when the cancer was very serious I would tell her to keep fighting, just like the Warriors. And when she did pass on later that year the Warriors were NBA champs. Even though this year's version was eliminated in spirit I feel they are the equal of the '75 team. Steph Curry is a superstar the likes of which this team hasn't seen since the Rick Barry day's.. He's the best shooter I have ever seen. I go to the Y and shoot baskets and work on moves I have seen him do. Not supremely gifted with size and freakish athleticism, he nonetheless creates a fascinating game that is incredible to watch. I know he won't win the MVP award, but I can't think of a single player who was more valuable to his team than Steph Curry was to the Warriors. Like many Warrior fans I watched Tuesday night's game hoping for a miracle, but was rewarded with an incredible show of spirit team wide. But watching Steph continue to dig in and fight, making shot after shot and free throw after freethrow was astounding. All the Clippers did was win. And they did play well. But their fans will never match Warrior fans who have rallied around that team when there was no outer reward yet continued to fight along with their team. And this goes all the way back to my mom, who unfortunately lost her battle with cancer. But  her spirit never died. So to Steph and Klay and Draymond especially, thank you.  Steph it moved me tremendously how you were able to hug and congratulate both Griffin and Paul.You taught me something important.

And here is the first Chet Baker song I ever heard and one of his most famous: