Week of Wonders: September 4

September 4, mid-evening

I have left the festival bubble and entered the travel bubble.

The festival bubble is a great one. Artificial in its way or perhaps more real than real if we allow the artistry of expression to outrank the ordinary. But that is of no consequence now because that bubble has popped and I find myself now in the travel bubble, which can be a weird one.

After last year's expedition, I should know better than to go somewhere further than I can walk. Nevertheless, at the airport in Prague this morning I accepted an offer to take a later flight in exchange for a travel voucher. It would put me into New York about six hours later and would also give me a free ticket to get to this conference where I'm invited to speak on a panel but there's no stipend for travel. I also got an upgrade to business class, which is nice when crossing oceans (which you shouldn't really do unless you're walking).

It seemed like a perfect plan, so I should have known it wouldn't work. (Who was that guy whose heels would melt when he got too close to the sun? It's like that.) The flight to Paris, where I should have connected to NYC, was delayed, leaving me with about six hours in the Paris airport and with about 10CKZ (roughly 65 cents) in my pocket. Of course I could have gone to an ATM, and I did have American money with me, but I also had something else: a business class ticket which I was pretty sure would get me into the Sky Lounge which I didn't really know what meant but it had to mean something.

I'd been up about 20 hours, and wasn't going on much sleep the night before, and the fourth dimension was starting to distort. The Sky Lounge, however, had everything, or at least some things. Sandwiches, snacks, espresso, Scotch and computers. I fixed a little plate of food, made a double espresso, sent some emails and then headed back down to check on my plane. Another delay, so I headedback up and was glad to see Johnny Walker was still hanging around the lounge as well.

I'm not a daytime drinker by any stretch, but here's the thing. Inside the travel bubble, there is no day or night. In fact, I wasn't even in Prague any more than I was in Paris now because airports (and airport hotels) aren't cities. They are islands, they are – what was it they used to call Tangier? An international zone? They are just earthly holding points. Espresso or Scotch, day or night, it doesn't matter.

I got food vouchers at this hotel in the bubble. One for dinner and one for a quick 6 a.m. breakfast before I go back to my home planet. And a glass of wine with dinner, of course, this being “Paris” and all. I go to the lobby and put on my headphones (they do a good job of drowning out “Time of the Season” on the P.A.) and order a beer (€6?).

It's another ballad. I suppose this record might not step up. I suppose that's appropriate enough for September. This one is all full of Eskelin tenor phrases, jumping register so easily (actually reminds me of David Murray in spots, which is unexpected). There's a nice angularity to this one, though. It's not really a ballad so much as you can tell it could be, even wants to be, but there's too many curves in the road and they can't quite relax or speed up too much. Ah, they are picking up the pace a bit, though, even more Murrayesque. Is this something that's always been in Eskelin's playing? No, I don't think so. He's not usually this liquid. I wonder if Eisenstadt pushed him this direction. Funny, I haven't checked for composer credits yet. Yep, all by Eisenstadt. Oops! Song's over.

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