Thursday, October 2, 2008

Out at the Anchor Bar

I am like a college student! I have been out every night.

My friend Melinda and I were talking lastnight at the Anchor Bar about how great Buffalo is and how cheap things are compared with other places. This was while I was eating a bowl of chili ($5) and a glass of Montepulciano ($5). I wish Leonard Pennario were around to pronounce "Montepulciano" for me. He always gave those Italian words this drawn-out, flirtatious lilt. He knew what he was doing. His eyes would smolder when he did it. Well, I have written about that.

Anyway, the $5 Montepulciano. It is not that cheap but in San Diego last winter, I sure as heck could not get near a glass of wine for that. I remember one of the first days I was back here, I took my mom for dinner in Snyder, at the Eagle House. I would like to pause here and tell out-of-towners about how the Eagle House goes back to the John Quincy Adams administration but the Eagle House gets crabby and mean whenever you write anything about them, so I won't.

When I am out to dinner with my mom I always try to pick up the check. Number one, because I am the Working Girl, and number two, because if I don't, she checks every little thing and kvetches about how much wine I ordered. I remember telling that to Pennario. He was a great audience for things like that, which I regret now that I keep thinking about things I wish I had talked to him about instead. Such as how he ended up finding the cadenza he did for Mozart's "Coronation" Concerto, and why the heck he didn't come up with his own when we all know he was perfectly capable of doing that.

So I picked up the check, anyway, at the ... shhhhh.... Eagle House. And I said, "I love this town." I thought that lastnight at the Anchor Bar too.

If you were an, ahem, tourist here, and you went looking for the Anchor Bar, you would not be disappointed. It feels like a real destination. The great 1940s ambience, the grand piano, the motorcycles, the license plates on the walls -- I think what works is it's all organic, grown up over time, like a forest. The smell of wings and beer that hits you when you walk in. The ghost of jazz musicians past.

There was that business about Carol McLaughlin's eyes following Jimmy Gomes. Does anyone else remember that? Jimmy Gomes took the gig away from Carol McLaughlin and right after that was when Carol's band got some big award, something like Best Jazz Band in Buffalo. And Jimmy demanded that Ivano, the manager, take Carol's picture down off the wall, because Carol's big Jamaican eyes were watching him. Jimmy said wherever he went, Carol's eyes followed him and it was driving him crazy, he couldn't stand it any more. Ivano obeyed because Gomes, he had himself a pair of scary eyes himself. Ivano put Carol's picture in the attic. It is probably still there.

Jimmy is gone now. He and his drums have gone to jazz heaven. But I just talked to Carol about a month ago and we still laugh about how his eyes followed Jimmy around.

It is October so every day I will try to tell a weird story.

After that my friend Melinda and I wandered across the street to catch the violinist Chee-Yun. She was playing a tremendous program: Mozart, Beethoven, then the second set was all, totally, completely, uninterruptedly Johannes Brahms. Let's say it again: We love this town!

Tonight just not to break my Olympic streak I might go out again. It will have to be an early night. I have to be home for the Biden/Palin debate.

Thank God John McCain didn't choose me! Imagine having to get up in front of the country and have to ask questions with the world watching. Prayers and good vibes going your way, Sarah!

Have a glass of Montepulciano first, is my advice.

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