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On free association - A little less than a happy high
komos
komos
On free association
I’ve been listening to Coltrane most of the day today. I suppose this is unremarkable in and of itself, but it got me thinking. Coltrane is irrevocably linked in my mind to Northern Exposure, and more specifically, to Chris, the over-educated ex-con dj at Cicely’s radio station, KBHR.

The disk I’m listening to belongs to my housemate. Unless you count picking up the "Romeo is Bleeding" soundtrack, Joe’s only just recently been exploring jazz. As a guide on this perilous journey, he’s relying on the knowledge of a coworker, who is himself something of an aficionado (runs an e-zine, and everything.) Coltrane was recommended after a discussion where Joe expressed a liking for jazz that doesn’t stray too far into the experimental. (I understand what he meant... generally, jazz that was meant for mere mortals, and is not some sort of musical joke that a professor at Berkelee would get off on.) He brought it home, popped it in the player and recognized it. He was a little disturbed because he couldn’t for the life of him remember why it seemed so familiar.

Joe used to watch Northern Exposure, too, and introduced it to me, in fact. He didn’t remember the Coltrane was Ed’s favorite musician, or that Chris played some for him at one point when Ed visited the station in a funk. He didn’t remember that Maggie had once made off with one of Chris’ Coltrane albums. The association just wasn’t there for him at all. The name had been part of the throwaway dialog for him.

But I digress.

I actually wanted to talk a little about Chris, if only because there have been a few people who have said Chris reminded them of me. I remember hearing this and being flattered, partly because these folks also said that of the denizens of Cicely, Chris and Ed would be their top choices for friends. Honestly, though, I thought that they were giving me too much credit.

I think where I stumble the most is in trying to fill Chris’ presence. Presence is an elusive quality that I’ve never truly cultivated in myself, in part because I seem more content being witness than being noticed. While I’ve never gotten the impression that Chris tries to be at the center of attention (he’s far too laid back), there is a way in which he is able to use his words to carve a place for himself. He is witty and charming in a way that only a talent for infinite digression can bring. I can draw connections between diverse ideas and often stray into the realm of the obscure, but not nearly so naturally, and certainly not with the same air of confidence. While I don’t always agree with the way he approaches things, he’s always made me think. He challenges perception, stretches you.

I’ve always envied his eloquence and his seemingly endless capacity to quote dead white men.

Chris is also a great deal more free than I am. It would never strike me to build a catapult just for the sake of making a statement. I am not an artist. I’m too logical. There is something very calculated and deliberate in most everything that I do. As much as I’d like to, I don’t live sensing poetry and music. I don’t know if it’s because I don’t have the background or just don’t have the right (heh) mind for it. Art seems to be a part of who he is. I tend to struggle to find it in my life.

He's flawed, too. I think Chris can be way too self-absorbed, and as a character is arguably a weak man. Still, he is well liked by the ladies...

Current Mood: Blow!
Current Music: John Coltrane, "Count Down"

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