Friday, March 21, 2014

the last book I ever read (Stanley Crouch's Kansas City Lightning, excerpt fourteen)

from Kansas City Lightning: The Rise and Times of Charlie Parker by Stanley Crouch:

Though Charlie was the soul of attentiveness and manners when he was in Buster Smith’s presence, once the job was done he was more than ready to stay out all night long. Those long nights included running over to Fourth and Main, where an Italian woman known as “Moms” sold marijuana, four reefers for a quarter, a full red Prince Albert tobacco can measured into a paper bag for three or four dollars if you had it. Since the automobile accident, Charlie had learned how to clean out the seeds and the stems, pinch off the sometimes gummy marijuana into a cigarette paper, lick it, and inhale the smoke with the loud viper puff that was more a theatrical gesture among reefer smokers than a necessity. The smoke in his bloodstream slowed things down; it brightened the sound of music, the textures of voices, the songs of birds, the industrial noises of city life. He even put his digital virtuosity to work on the party trick of rolling a cigarette with one hand. He also started experimenting with the stimulant Benzedrine, which allowed him to go on and on, practicing, jamming, walking the streets and looking in windows, talking of his dreams with friends, and remaining out until those who’d gone off to bed hours before were awake again and ready to play.

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