I’ve known Coat Cooke for about thirty years. Is “Coat” his real name? Let’s just say that he’s been “Coat” long enough for it to be as real as anything. Shortly after his second marriage blew up, about five years ago, he moved into an apartment three blocks away. We spent many hours that first year on a bench facing the bay and smoking cigarettes, trying to figure women out. That out of the way, we starting meeting once or twice a week for Japanese food at the Shima, where the chairs scrape against the tile floor driving me crazy. Once in a while we go to the shawarma joint in the next block for a change of pace.
Coat plays all the saxes, and flute. Well, not the contrabass sax. No one plays that. He leads a 17-piece (or so) band called the NOW Orchestra, which plays some pretty dangerous jazz-based improvised music. He also plays in the Night Train Revue, the band I went to hear but not dance to last night the Yale. I sat with his girlfriend who tried getting me on the dance floor. I said when I get back on the dance floor it’ll be with Barbara. Not to be rude, but I felt too out-of-shape and as it was Barbara that got me dancing again in the first place it just seemed the right thing to do for my own romantic peace of mind. As for the Night Train, I hadn’t seen them in forty years. God, that’s almost incomprehensible! Back then we got high and went dancing at the Pender Auditorium to a mix of rock and rhythm & blues bands. Kentish Steele, whom you see here, had his own band then – Kentish Steele and the Shantelles. He’s also a neighbour. I run into Kentish about once a week. He’s about my age but in about 100 times better shape than I ever was. You wouldn’t know it from Google Maps but my neighbourhood is a happenin’ place.