Please Forward—If Possible

As part and parcel of taking on the publication of The Syncopated Times, I find that I’ve acquired a community. I wouldn’t describe us as a family. Nor would I consider us a club. But it is lovely to find others who love what we love. I wouldn’t call us a support group—in some ways we’re more a mutual aid society. Maybe (to use a word I’ve heard thrown about by those slightly younger than myself) we’re a tribe. As a far-flung association of musicians and fans, we are united in sympathy and concern for one another as we are for the music. Let us call ourselves Syncopation Nation.

Let me say at this point that this issue is one of the most difficult I have ever had to put together. I have to admit that I’ve been slowed in my task by a preoccupation with events taking place on the other side of the continent. My concern and my debilitating grief is borne of sympathy with other members of our syncopated tribe who are enduring that which I can hardly begin to imagine.

Hot Jazz Jubile

This paper originated on the West Coast, and when I took it over and dragged it three thousand miles across the country, there was some fear that I would abandon the Pacific states. I did not and could not do so, of course. The Syncopated Times began with a quest for inclusion, to represent and serve those who love ragtime and early jazz, across the country and around the world. California, Oregon, and Washington State remain central to this community.

When I began to fathom the seriousness of the devastation of the Camp Fire and the Woolsey Fire, I realized also that I have subscribers there. I looked up names on my subscription list to see who lived in the affected areas. I found a handful of names in Malibu and one in Paradise. With each name, the fire was brought home to me.

Sometimes we can’t wrap our minds around natural disasters and other mass tragedies; we hear numbers and go on about our business. We can’t empathize with ten thousand. When we see a name, particularly the name of one with whom we’ve communicated and with whom we have a common interest, we feel the sorrow and loss.

Evergreen

I understand that people whose homes have been destroyed or rendered uninhabitable may have no interest in reading my happy little jazz paper. Even with that in mind, I’m sending first-class copies to those who I know have had to evacuate. That way, I’ll know that some attempt has been made to forward the papers, if possible. What I hope is to hear that everyone made it out all right. I mean to include stamped postcards that may be sent back to me with a short message. (Perhaps the message will be, “I’m fine. Please hold my subscription to TST until I find someplace to live.”)

I don’t really know where to go with this. Even as we are a community, offering mutual support and assistance to one another, I’m feeling rather inept and useless at the moment. The best I can do is to keep editing and publishing this paper, and to crack a joke occasionally. The problem with that plan is that there’s very little to joke about at the moment.

The best thing and the worst thing about the internet is that you can find anything that you’re looking for. Within days after the Camp Fire began to destroy the town of Paradise, I was able to go on the Butte County website and find photographs of the devastated properties by address. I was easily able to locate an image of the home of my subscriber there.1007 Buschmann Rd

What words could I possibly offer for that kind of loss? All I can do is hope that she made it out okay. (I have been checking the list of those missing—also published online—scanning the hundreds of names, and am relieved to find none that match.) The photograph of her ruined apartment building is above. Wherever you live, whatever your circumstances, reflect: one of our community—one of our tribe—lived there.

Andy Senior is the Publisher of The Syncopated Times and on occasion he still gets out a Radiola! podcast for our listening pleasure.

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