“Tee Hicks was the master of jazz fusion,” said Arringer. “Not just the usual sax and percussion, he had a goddamn synthesizer on stage that he would modulate with a foot pedal to do everything from a Moog pipe organ to just wild static.”

“That sounds…deeply unpleasant,” said the stranger, swirling his liquor. “Don’t people usually try to avoid static?”

“If you do it right, though…perfectly timed and perfectly executed…it’s just another part of the improvisation.” Arringer took a pull from his cup and wiped his lips. “This stuff, your losers on stage playing at being jazz stars? They’re not fit to serve Tee Hicks’ drinks.”

“Sounds like you’ve got a powerful grudge against my boys,” said the stranger. “You think your static-y jazzman was any better?”

Arringer set his jaw. “At the show in ’77, Tee Hicks used static as a duet with his alto sax improv. Blew my goddamn mind.”

“Counterpoint,” the old stranger said.


“It was counterpoint, not a duet, when I played the Orpheum in ’77.” A raised eyebrow. “I should know. I dropped out of Juliard.”

Inspired by the song ‘T’ by Hiroki Kikuta, released under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International license.

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The downtown unemployment office was the one most often frequented by white-collar workers freshly laid off by the latest terrible economic news that politicians hastened to blame on their opponents or predecessors. The fact that most of the employees passed it on the way to work before their Hummers were repossessed, and the fact that it was in a very gentrified part of town without visible street crime helped too.

Next door was one of the few businesses that are often recession-proof: a bar.

“So,” a man in a rumpled and creased $2,000 dollar suit said to his neighbor barside. “What are you in here for? Saw you in the office next door.”

“I worked for the city newspaper,” the man, wearing a pressed and ironed but stained shirt said. “Copy editor. We’re always the first ones to go. ‘Spellcheck is good enough,’ they say. Damn owners think a homonym is two dudes in love. What about you?”

The first man shrugged. “I wrote copy for the novelty company across the plaza. Bumper stickers, greeting cards, that kind of thing. I debuted a bumper sticker that cost the company $250,000 after they had to recall and destroy them all.”

“Ouch. What happened?”

Expensive suit man shrugged. “You know those ‘I heart NY’ bumper stickers? I had the idea that we could do one of those for dog lovers, you know, because people who are nutty about their dogs are always buying novelty stuff for them. So I changed it to ‘I heart my dog’ but that wasn’t quite doggy enough. So I replaced the heart with a cartoon dogbone. The company loved the idea and made three million of them in anticipation of demand.”

“That sounds nice enough,” stained shirt man said. “Why’d they recall and destroy them?”

His drinking companion sighed. “Turns out that people don’t want a bumper sticker that says ‘I bone my dog.'”

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