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Zulu refresher

Saturday 8/6/22

A putrid, mephitic sludge oozed from my workout shorts this morning. This is a rare occurrence. There has to be sufficient sludge stored up beneath the surface for starters, but then only the most humid heat coaxes it out, when all of me becomes tantamount to pure moisture. It's quite disgusting. You can see the sludge-paste on the shorts. I ran 3000 stairs nonetheless. I do push-ups of course as well, and one time when I dropped to do a set I couldn't even do it, because my hands were so slick with the slime and they skidded away from my body. Running the 3000 stairs today was hard. I'm really battling out there. I hope it's just because of the intense heat that I'm struggling so much just to do 3000. I was admonished--in a friendly way--but an older woman this morning. "What are you trying to do? Give yourself sunstroke?"


I took yesterday off from both the stairs and push-ups, but did 3000 stairs and 100 push-ups on both Wednesday and Thursday. There's a heat advisory most days lately. Then at Haymarket--where I acquired peppers, green apples, strawberries, and grapes--a vendor asked, "Is it hot over there?" What? Like on the other side of the street? This is not a location thing. People say weird stuff. A guy with his wife maybe late fifties said to me on the stairs, "You can do it," like on a whim I decided to try this workout and went on a day when it's dangerous to do so if you're not used to it. As one would expect, he looked like someone who had not exercised in twenty-five years, if ever. The older woman had it right. That would certainly be the sensible approach, and if I was in a different life situation right now, I'd be far more likely to wait for another day.


But I am in a war and I am in hell, and this is part of how I battle to stay strong to beat these people. If I don't do it, I don't feel like I'm doing all I can, and that adds a stressor I don't need along with everything else. When the weather cools a bit, I need to see better numbers on these stairs. Facebook sent me one of those memory posts yesterday, and it was me in 2017 being all surprised that I had ran 3000 stairs in the Bunker Hill Monument. My tone was of incredulity, like I didn't know one could do that--or I could do that. And now that number is just ordinary, what I consider "average." If I do 3000, which is the minimum I usually do, that's fine. If I do 2000, that a disappointment. It's better than nothing, and believe me, in this heat, 1000 stairs is pretty hard. I petitioned the city to install a Zulu nozzle--a Zulu refresher was how I termed it--at the bottom of the stairs to dispense ice cold water so dutiful stair runners can douse their heads, but no response as of yet. That's a joke. It's just me. No one else is ever running those stairs. I have forty more push-ups to do today.


There are people who think I think certain things about them, when the truth is, I think the opposite. Other factors inform my choices and how and why I interact; why I interact at all. They have no idea how close to the vest I play things. My outward interfacing can simply be that.


I went to the dentist the other day, and I have to go back for a couple things. A filling needs to be done over. It's an old filling, and they come apart. The new kind doesn't. He said to me, "You are a young man, and you don't want problems when you are in your seventies." He's correct. My health has to be impeccable for a number of reasons. To withstand this hell, as I've said, and defeat these people. It's not enough just to be the best artist ever. This is a kind of punishment, abuse, and discrimination no has had to endure, and it impacts me bodily, or would if I let it. When I am past these people, I want to live long, richly, and happily, and I intend to be running those stairs--or some stairs--at ninety-something, and inventing yet another mode of narrative at ninety-five. This is not idle chatter or aimless wishing. It's part of why I do everything I do right now. And obviously I could live to be 8,079 and I'd still be creating works the likes of which no one has seen. This well is bottomless. I intend to be going hard and well. And I am going to enjoy myself, and my homes, and my peace, and my passions, and make the most of the impact I have in the world, when I know that the masterpiece I just made will be seen by millions and let's see what it does. Hopefully I'll be with someone amazing, and we'll have a long life together. So I took the dentist's words rather seriously.


Also, I need to be fitted for a mouthguard, because my stress is such that I'm grinding my teeth while I sleep, and wearing them down on the right side, which has caused me discomfort lately and the gums to recede. I need to halt this. I am a fastidious flosser. Multiple times a day, though usually I only eat once a day. I've read about there being a link between flossing and heart health. Mention something that helps heart health, and I'll pretty much do it, drink it, eat it. And a lot of it is pretty easy. Gum issues can also be pretty nasty, and I've tried to stay ahead of that. I like my dentist. People think he's kind of odd. He's just really into dentistry. He gets excited about it. I admire people who are into things. I respect them. I don't really anyone who is into anything, by what I mean by being into something. They're just kind of drifting along. They call it other things. I'm sure some of them would argue the point, but that would be less about reality and more about needing to think of themselves a certain way. Others would just say I'm right, though they probably wouldn't do anything about it. They never have. They know and they've told me as much, but that's as far as it goes.


I'm thinking of using this image as the basis for the cover of The Root of the Chord: Writings on Jazz's Essential Power and Artistry. It's Louis Armstrong at Carnegie Hall. The posture works. It's root-like, as in trees, which plays on that idea of the root of a chord, and there's a thematic power, of course, in that pose. The photo is in the public domain and is licensable through, I believe, the Library of Congress. I have to find a publisher for the book, obviously. First things first. But it is the best jazz book, hands down. I don't see how you could legitimately argue otherwise. It's art. Or, as my JazzTimes editor said, it's art about art, but the rank-pulling art is the book itself. There is no madness here, but always much method. So when I was writing jazz pieces over the years, I was taking on what I took on--pitching what I pitched--for this book. Those pieces were undertaken as more than pieces in magazines. They had this crucial other layer of utility. This jazz book would slay any other jazz book.