Django Reinhardt would have been 113 today. Fact is, he died at 43. With his left hand badly burned at age 18, his chording ability was limited, but he taught us a lot about lead guitar playing and the ability to re-invent oneself when life gives one lemons.

His band with Stéphane Grappelli, le Quintette du Hot Club de France, was one of the best bands that ever played. The personnel at times included bassist Louis Vola (in whose band Reinhardt and Grappelli met in the 1930s), and rhythm guitarists Roger Chaput and Joseph Reinhardt (Django’s brother), along with Reinhardt on lead guitar and Grappelli on violin.

During WW II, with Grappelli in England, the band added clarinetist  Hubert Rostaing, along with drums. The French film “Django” (available on the Kanopy streaming service, which you may be able to use through your public library), released in 2019, deals with Reinhardt’s time in Occupied France, the round-up of the Romani people in France, and Django’s attempt to escape across the border to Switzerland. An estimate 0.5 to 1.5 million Romani were slaughtered by the Nazis. While the film is fictionalized, the genocide was real. Reviews of the film were mixed, and the music is by the Rosenberg Trio, not actual historical recordings.

I find lots of audio on YouTube. This is one of the few with video. Note the run from 2:52-2:54.
The Rosenberg Trio – starting with Concierto de Aranjuez but not staying there.
For a local angle. Check your area for your own local angle on this music.

More kids growing up

I went on a long ride Sunday – long mostly because of the 20+ mph headwind for the first 35 miles. I got home in time to see Joel Paterson and the Modern Sounds at the Pursuit of Joel PHappiness Festival. Joel is a phenomenal guitarist who can play anything. He has a number of bands to give him a chance to play multiple styles. The Modern Sounds play old jazz and swing with a little rockabilly, R&B, and blues in the mix. He started playing in these parts as a kid, then grew up and moved to Chicago. He also figures into my life in an indirect sort of way.

Those who know me in another part of my life know I work in health care. It was Joel’s mom who started me on that path. When I was 20 I injured my ankle. I was treated in an emergency room (after fashioning a crutch to get back down from the mountains, but that’s another story) while traveling but it didn’t get better. Walking was an interesting adventure. Running was out of the question. I went to my local free clinic (The Near East Side Community Health Center, which has merged into Access Community Health Centers, run by my friend Ken Loving – another story for another time).

In the free clinic, there was a volunteer position called “Patient Advocate”. The Advocate’s job was to act as a medical assistant (gathering health history and chief complaint) and more. It was the advocate’s job to be sure the patient’s needs were met. The advocate helped the patient formulate questions for the doctor, guided them with follow up questions as needed, and ensured that their needs were met before the doctor left the room.

Joel’s mom was my advocate. (She had also been my sister’s high school classmate.) Before I left the clinic that night, she extracted a promise that I would return as a patient advocate after I saw the orthopedic surgeon they referred me to.

I went back and volunteered as an advocate for a few years. Something must have stuck with me, as I became an Occupational Therapist about 25 years later. Patient advocacy is still an important part of my job.

Joel has a YouTube channel that can give you an idea of his range. Or you can look at what others have uploaded here. I’m not sure what to pick to just link to one or two things. Here’s a Scotty Moore tribute:

Here’s a bit of swing:

How about blues?

Now go listen to him live and buy his albums. A musician can’t make a living if all we do is watch his/her YouTube videos.

Back to bikes for a minute. A while back I posted a series on bike safety. I thought I was done but I left something out – and it’s something I’ve used the past few days.

It’s a baseball metaphor. For those of you who have played, you know what it means to “look the runner back”. You can skip the next paragraph. For those who don’t, read on.

If you’re playing shortstop and there’s a runner on second and a ground ball is hit to you, your natural play is to throw the batter out at first; but you don’t want the runner on second to go to third. You “look him/her back”. You make eye contact in a way that says, “If you break for third, you’re out. Better stay where you are.” When the runner turns back to second, you make your play at first.

It works with drivers. You’re at a four way stop. The car to your left was there first and has the right of way. You let her/him go. The car behind her/him decides to go at the same time. You look her/him back; making eye contact in a way that says, “wait your turn.” That driver know it’s your turn to go and was hoping you’d be cowed because their car is bigger than your bike. Most of the time, the driver will acquiesce, knowing they were trying to pull a fast one. If they go anyway, you let them. You both know what’s what.

In this way you can be an assertive, not aggressive, bicyclist.