Friday, January 18, 2008

Fishing For Bobby Searcher

Another icon from my youth has passed away. Bobby Fischer, World Champion chess player died in Reykjavik, aged 64. His later years were troubled, with mental problems and paranoia keeping Fischer out of the limelight. Breitbart covers it here.

Fischer started a chess boom in America, bringing it out of nerd-dom and into more homes than before -or since - I'd imagine. In an era of sports heroes like Mark Spitz, Fischer was the "brain over brawn" cultural Cold Warrior. His defeat of Soviet Union master Boris Spassky, and successful defense of that title, was a very big deal at the time.

Saint Patrick's grade school in Mauston, Wisconsin offered it's students a chance to purchase paperback books. Scholastic Books, if I recall correctly, had a book called 'Bobby Fischer Teaches Chess", which I got on my big brother's recommendation.

I learned enough moves to put up a decent game with the adults, but apart from my early college days, I ended up playing more cribbage than chess. I was saddened and surprised to hear about his rather militant stances at the end of his life, but I suppose that every real genius is firstly a world-class acrobat, walking and sometimes running, down the sanity wire.

So long, Bobby Fischer. Thanks.

Friday, January 11, 2008

Great Gig In The Sky

"Excruciating". That's what she said when I asked her how the gig felt. We'd just played at a locally owned bookstore for two of our friends and not too many more. We set up in front of a fake fireplace that was not turned on, next to the periodicals, in front of the cafe. Nothing says "buy me" like two people playing mostly original music, with two acoustic guitars trying to suggest an entire band - fiddle, pedal steel and accordion included.

I guess some people liked it, a few sat down for a minute or two, and a young girl who works at the cafe, where -all night long - she could only hear us and never saw us. When she ran up to me as we were hauling our gear (upstairs to the parking lot)in order to buy a CD before we left, I was glad to tell her it was available for sale in the music section. I hope she was not disappointed. With either surprise.

The last gig was also in a bookstore, also in front of two (different) friends and no one else - except this one guy for a few tunes. Much better, being more prepared for that kind of turn out. We had fun with it, went home and had the friends over for wine and booze and cheese and chicken/apple sausages.

Music City, USA.