Saxophonist John Doheny was born in Seattle Washington in 1953 but has spent much of his adult life in Canada, primarily in Vancouver and Toronto. After early experiences accompanying strippers in bars and cabarets he became a professional R&B sideman in the late 1970s, touring and recording with artists both prominent and obscure. In 1991 he returned to Vancouver and began a program of intense musical study, both in academe (Vancouver Community College, the University of British Columbia) and in the more informal area of performance. He asserts that "all human intercourse is either an opportunity to learn or to teach. Everything that I know about jazz performance (to the extent that I know anything at all) I owe to those players, teachers and students who have suffered to share the bandstand and the teaching studio with me." Since 2003, Mr. Doheny has been a permanent resident of New Orleans, Louisiana, but makes every effort to spend summers in Canada because "it's too damn hot down here then."

Friday, May 15, 2009

Oblique New Orleans Encounter #971.

I take my bike to Tulane about two or three days a week, as Darlene and I split one car between us and she works way out on Veterans Highway in Metairie. It's about a five mile ride from Saint Philip Street to my office, through all kinds of interesting and diverse neighborhoods. Things start out quasi-ghetto in the 6th Ward, then go a little more upscale as I pass Bayou St. John. There's a bike path on the neutral ground on Jefferson Davis Parkway and I stay on that from Toulous St., past the Boulevard Club just before Canal Street, and all the way past Tulane Avenue and over the freeway as far as the Washington Avenue canal. Then I cut behind the wreckage of the Blue Plate Mayonaise factory and straight down Audubon Street, across South Claiborne and onto the Tulane campus.

Back behind the Blue Plate factory is a scruffy little neighborhood that's only about half re-populated since Katrina. There's a couple of bars that are still wrecked (Leroy's Place and the Gert-town Lounge) and a bunch of churches. There's an old guy I see everytime I pass by, looks like he's 90 if he's a day, sitting on his porch. There's a trailer in his yard so I suspect he's still living in that and just sits up on his porch in an attempt at some sort of pre-Katrina normalcy. I'm such a familiar sight, grinding slowly by on my $50 Walmart bike, his dog doesn't even bark at me anymore.

Me: "Good morning sir."

Him: "Oh you don't hafta call me 'sir,' young fella."

Me:" Well, you know how it is. I was raised to respect my elders."

Him: "Well looka here, youngblood," (at this point I'm off my bike and it's become an official conversation)"just be glad you have elders. At my age, everbody older than me is dead."
Hard to argue with that.

A few blocks later, a woman I'd never met before called me 'baby.' "Good morning baby," she hollered.

Of course she was about 60 and standing in front of the House Of Refuge Ministries, but still, it was nice, you know?

Getting ready to go on the road this summer for a bit, and I'm really going to miss this kind of stuff while I'm Gone.

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