The Saga of the San Felipe Taxi Cab

The band was in San Felipe, Mexico, in Baja California for the San Felipe, Carnival of jazz. The band’s last set on Sunday, February 13, was at a cantina called the “Gringo Loco.” My flight from San Felipe to Los Angeles was due to depart at 4:30 PM. In Los Angeles I had international connections to Mexico City and onto Cuba for the second annual course in Cuban music at the SQL national day art in Havana.

I had a bit of a time problem getting to the airport, so Jim, the owner of the Gringo Loco, kindly offered to drive me himself. After I was in Jim’s truck, I suggested he just drop me at a taxi stand in town, and I would go the rest of the way by cab. He agreed. When we reached the taxi stand, there was only one cab in site—an old beaten up 1948 Oldsmobile. There were three youthful occupants in the cab, but all were evidently quite drunk. The one behind the wheel was unconscious, but his friend shook him awake vigorously in view of his potential fair. Jim and I agreed this is not a good situation unless I could drive the cab myself. I told the three occupants in Spanish that I would drive the cab if they would direct me to the airport. They agreed, so I got in and began driving.

Red Wood Coast

They directed me out of town along the north road to Mexicali. As we drove, I began to doubt the directions, but every time I asked, they assured me we were going in the right direction. The time until flight departure was getting short. I was about to turn around and head south when I heard an explosion and the thump-thump of a blown tire. “We have a big problem,” I said, as I pulled off the road and onto the soft shoulder.

The car sank into the half dust. We got out of the cab. The left rear tire was in shreds and giving off clouds of bullish smoke. My three navigators stared at their flat and scratched their heads. Finally one suggestion we get the spare from the trunk. They opened the trunk only to find a spare as thoroughly shredded as the one on the left wheel. In disgust, they hurled the shredded spare off into the weeds.

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I now had 25 minutes until flight time. I told my acquaintances the cab was their problem, and I was going to hitchhike to the airport. I gathered my belongings, crossed the road, and stuck out my thumb while they stood about and stewed about what to do with their vehicle. Car after car whizzed by me. Finally, a cop arrived. At first, he was inclined to arrest the threesome, but they talked their way out of it. The cop asked me to get into the patrol car with him and asked me where I wanted to be taken. Now it was 4:30, my flight departure time. The next flight from San Felipe to Los Angeles was not until Thursday. I asked to be taken to the bus station. After a two hour wait, I took a bus across Baja California to Ensenada, changed to a bus to Tijuana, spent four hours from 2 AM to 6 AM in the Tijuana bus station, and got a Greyhound to Los Angeles arriving at the LA airport at noon on Monday. I had missed my international connection, and finally arrived in Havana on Wednesday two days late.

Hot Jazz Jubile

Moral: Don’t get into a cab unless your navigator is sober and there’s a good spare tire in the trunk.

– Bob Murphy, soprano sax, NGJB (Reprinted from the Gas Gazette, April, 1994)

Don’t Roll Over

This one may be hard to believe, but it really did happen– honest! All anecdotes and events appearing in this column did, indeed, occur, but this particular one was so “far out” that I felt special verification was advised.

The Gassers were enjoying a long break betweens sets at the 1994 San Diego Dixieland Jazz Festival when I encountered one of our band’s fans walking down the hallway of the hotel carrying a small white odiferous bundle. He explained to me that his infant daughter had “filled” her diaper and he was trying to find a dumpster or other suitable container for disposal of the smelly thing. As we continued down the hallway we came upon a room with the door wide open. Inside was the occupant who was sleeping soundly, spreadeagled on his back, in the middle of his bed. It just so happened that the sleeping occupant was a fellow member of the Natural Gas Jazz Band.

It was at this point that the fan who was carrying the offensive bundle made a devilish decision. He tip-toed into the room and very gently placed the full diaper on the stomach of the sleeping musician and then made his successful escape, undetected.


In the 30 years since this happened, I have never heard the diaper recipient mention a word about this incident. Also during those three decades, I have never revealed the details to anyone and therefore, to my knowledge, the victim has no idea who was involved . . . I intend to keep it that way.

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