Good citizens of Shoreline gathered in gobs. Trills and riffs tickled August evening breezes. Dixieland reigned. North City strutted proud sidewalks, flower baskets, and sassy small businesses. Five venues, five flavors of jazz, a new street, a fresh event. Neighbors cruised the bands, strolled at leisure, knitted by shared joys. Airy sax, nimble keyboard, brooding bass, pungent cabernet, summery chardonnay, witty desserts. A setting sun raked pink through cloud wisps. Despite themselves, city council foes tapped their feet in unison, obeying imperative cadences of New Orleans. Duke Ellington (American, 20th century A.D.) once snickered: “By and large, jazz has always been like the kind of man you wouldn’t want your daughter to associate with.” Not so in North City. Yes, the music piped hot from Bourbon Street. But the sidewalks and venues were pure Americana: wholesome, strapping, bursting with vivacity.
People, possessed of Ragtime, seized Fifteenth Avenue. Judge Michael Trickey (what a name for an attorney…) warmed the street, handsome and smart as ever. Charlotte Haines and Sally Granger shouldered backstage labors, as is their habit, greasing event gears. (We must thank them more.) Gary Batch rustled more tickets; Jazz Walk ran out in the welter of popularity. Keith McClelland teased his keyboard to utter mirth and joy and rhapsodic blues. Keith is a gifted man. Pierced, tattooed teens shuffled amid business wonks and snow-capped seniors. Councilman McGlashan beamed, savoring respite from poker-faced politics. Harry Weidenaar, a local pastor fresh from summer South African service projects, introduced his lovely wife, Grace. Cell phones, perhaps, receded. No televisions blared. Robin McClelland charmed the avenue with North Carolina inflection. Jazz and a belle’s smile—forces of nature for which to thank the South. Fifteenth Avenue teemed with jazzophiles.
Shoreline’s election cycle dysphoria swooned in a boogie-woogie spell. North City’s blood-driving timbre and rhythm convinced us walkers, if only for a time, that our disputes lie in that great shadow cast by what we share: affection for children and commitment to their nurture, exuberant green of summer grass, lilting laughter, tickle of a good joke, salty wet of tough workouts, gustatory glee of summer fare, evening breezes, sunsets at Richmond Beach, jazz. We knew, if fleetingly, that we must abandon Mark Twain’s (American, 20th century A.D.) epithet about political practice: “In all matters of opinion our adversaries are insane” (1907). With Dwight Eisenhower (American, 20th century A.D.), we should decline to “confuse honest dissent with disloyal subversion” (1954). Make good faith dissent safe. Such civility ennobles American governance. Besides, life exceeds our disputes.
Louis Armstrong (20th century A.D.), America’s most famous trumpeter and jazzer, said: “You blows who you is.” North City’s Jazz Walk, a piece of “who we is.” Well done, Shoreline.