Highland Aire

I just finished a row. It’s about 99% humidity this morning, which, to credit Chris Wedge, reminds me of having just rowed inside someone’s mouth.

Chris and I used to ride our bikes together when we were at CGRG. That was back in my racing days, I was decidedly a mediocre racer1 but I had a lot of fun. That was right when Greg Lemond became the great hope, 7–11 flew the US flag, I met Norman Alvis from that team, Motorola, Postal, and Saturn, who, at 60, is about to try to regain the hour record, which he held for years.

Chris referred to Pat Metheny and Lyle Mays as “Dentist office jazz”. I suppose I respect his opinion and can understand. After all, he lived next door to Kathleen Brenan for a while.

Highland Aire from Lyle Mays just came on random. It reminded me2 of one day back in the late 80’s, I had to go to San Francisco for some reason and, on my way back up to Fairfax, there was a traffic jam on 101 that started at the bridge3. Since I used to ride over Mt. Tam I decided to just take the long, scenic way home.

Right when I hit the Panoramic Highway4 that tune came on. It was, in context, perfect. Pretty much a theme song for that stretch of road.

Which further reminded me — another old friend I miss from those days, Rich McKay, was working on a crew on the Panoramic as AC on a (newly introduced!) Miata commercial. Wilson Burrows, also CGRG / Marin alumni, once told me that, if you watch car commercials, every 3rd or 4th one is shot on that road. I remember having to ride through a shoot once, to the chagrin of the PAs because it was closed for the shoot.

Sorry man, if I was in a car, I’d turn around. But I’m on a bike and I’ve got places to be.

Anyway, the shot was of a wedding party celebrating. There was to be the release of birds and the Miata was to drive through the flock, forced perspective in depth, to give the birds safe clearance, etc. On the first take, apparently one of the birds wasn’t feeling very well and, when released, just sort of flew ‘down and toward’ the car as opposed to ‘up and away’. A greatly unintended collision occurred between the ill bird and the car.

The crew and actors were stunned and depressed. The grill was damaged. Shooting was called off for the day.

And that’s what I think about when I hear Highland Aire.

  1. I was never going to get out of Cat 3. Ever. ↩︎
  2. It also reminded me of when I had just discovered Bill Frisell w/ Jan Garbarek, and Stephen Spencer, also CGRG, who I told about. And how we bonded over it ever since. ↩︎
  3. I realize that is common now, and it happened frequently back then, but not always, like now. ↩︎
  4. Panoramic, but hardly a highway. ↩︎