Chris Rock: "Black History Month is in the shortest month of the year, and the coldest‚ just in case we want to have a parade"
As we move through February I have been thinking a lot about Black History Month while I hide from the elements with pipe in mouth, something warming in a glass by my side and Jazz music taking me enough places to cure cabin fever. At this time of year I also frequently reflect back on people I've lost over the years and how each of them influenced me in ways I never would have imagined at the time. For as long as I can remember I have always been fascinated by pipes and pipe smoking. My paternal grandfather would sit every evening in his big arm chair (wearing a cardigan sweater and a tie) with the newspaper folded in quarters in front of him. He would also be puffing away on his pipe contentedly while I studied the entire ritual with rapt attention. By the time I was in my teens I had developed a voracious appetite for a broad range of music. Blues and Jazz became a life-long interest and passion and I, of course, noticed the players and singers who smoked pipes.
There are many. By the time I reached my early twenties I decided that the obvious coolness of John Coltrane or Albert King or many of my other heroes far outweighed the occasional snarky comments I was likely to receive and I bought my first pipe. It was in a wonderful smoke shop in Annapolis MD and I was patiently tutored there by the owner and patrons in the art of packing, smoking and cleaning my new prize. From that time on I have listened to my favorite music with pipe in mouth. So now that Black History Month is upon us again I want to send out thanks and praises to all of the artists, freedom fighters, visionaries and just plain hard working people who have given so enormously to our nation and our culture. I also want to tip my hat to my grandfather who was obviously cool in ways I could not imagine then and as I move toward the age where I must be looking something like he did to me all those years ago, I love the idea of him standing alongside these great musicians somewhere and trading favorite tobaccos.