I'm a writer, researcher, editor and activist. You can read a recent article of mine here.
I was born in 1969 when my father was 41. From about age 18 to age 36 (1945-1963) he was directly involved in many of the political struggles that shaped the American left—labor, disarmament, civil rights. From about age 14 to age 41(1941-1969), my father had close relationships with some of the finest jazz musicians of the swing era—Pee Wee Russell, Max Kaminsky, Rex Stewart and, especially, Frankie Newton. In the years following my birth, my father continued to be active politically and remained a passionate jazz listener, but the formative experiences that he felt defined him were moving further into the past.
By the time I was growing up and could hear about my father's earlier, exciting experiences, they had an air of unreality about them. In the suburbs of Albany, NY, talk about Minton's and the Cafe Society or about labor or nuclear arms or civil rights activism seemed exotic. People Dad knew and worked with were names in History. At my public high school there was just the smallest handful of African-American students. At home, just a mile away from school, the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was simply Martin, my dad's old boss. My father also was not one for keeping track of details or keeping chronologies straight. His memories were all in soft focus, warmed in the glow of his nostalgia.
After my father died in 1997 I started trying to learn more about the music and then about the politics that had been so central to him. These casual pursuits gradually became obsessions, and I realized I was really researching a book.
In the meantime, I got married and became a father and the demands of family life and my Ph.D. work in English often pushed research about my father onto the back burner.
I started HungryBlues as a way to pursue this project about my father's life and times.
(The text of this biography is adapted from my Inaugural post to HungryBlues.)