I haven’t been 35,000 feet in the air for many years, but I remember the captain handing me replica wings. He didn’t care that I was in my 20’s and he didn’t need to know that I ask every time and that I will always ask as an ode to Jimmy Hendrix; to thank him for the experience.
I have no problem removing my shoes, objects in my pocket when walking through airport metal detectors because the minimal sacrifice is a good deal with flying as a reward. I would never want my daydreaming interrupted by thoughts of who is who on the plane and what they might do. Buzz kill.
I like imagining it’s September 18, 1970 and I’ve just watched the Milwaukee Brewers edge the Kansas City Royals at County Stadium 4-3. The Brewers and Royals finished that inaugural Milwaukee season with identical 65-97 records; a long long way from the top.
I like imagining Jimmy Hendrix is the captain of the plane. It’s not that far fetched. He served a year in the army before being discharged for behavior judged to be “not treatable by hospitalization.” The army is not the air force and Hendrix passed away on September 18,1970 flat on his earth bound back, but 35,000 feet and a pressurized cabin fuels 3 hours of daydream.
Hendrix did to an electric guitar what no one had ever done before. He turned it into a synthesizer of distortion, but he controlled the sound and created a language and yet it was just the blues; the tangiest, dirtiest, most wicked and electric blues ever heard. I hear the gospel gang complaining about Jimmy’s self indulgence and I’m glad to be on board far away from the accusatory fingers.
I take a peak out the window as we bump through the turbulence in pursuit of a cruising altitude and there is County Stadium sitting like an imprint from a fallen meteor. The lights still flicker and the crowd is a caravan snaking out the stadium exits like rivers to the ocean. I don’t want it to end.
We reach 35,000 feet and I find out a few strange things about the guy sitting next to me.He secretly likes football, lives at a house with a 5-pillar porch and his three closest friends are all named Dave. My eyes are closed. I’m waiting for captain Hendrix to make another announcement on the PA system.
He’s only said four words so far. They came when the nose of the plane lifted into the sky and we all felt a whiplash boost up our suddenly electric spines and a tangible feeling of triumph. “So, we meet again,” said Hendrix.
He had flown the same route a half dozen times; mostly in foul weather when the regular pilot was too wasted to stay awake. Jimmy had no experience flying, but he took a look at the dials and throttle and was ready to dance up another fret board and soar.
He knew the routine like a kid walking blindfolded into the woods; getting by on dreams, visions and sensations and reaching a destination if you hung around through the thunder storm..
The birds must have mixed into Hendrix-the captain’s mind. He wasn’t really in a cockpit. He became the bird, relieved to be done with earth and webbed feet and wobbling around. Hendrix headed straight for the sun and that guy sitting next to me got scared and finally shut up.
I could feel Hendrix in my mind. He was a child in Mr. Vandenovan’s Earth Science classroom; staring into the microscope light until his eyes burned and he couldn’t see.
But he could see all kinds of colors he’d never seen before and so he defied the teacher and school nurse and his parents and the blues and brothers and he kept staring at the light and let his freak flag fly and we kept soaring towards the sun. The plane went down somewhere in the Appalachians.
There were no survivors; just the black box, but the authorities couldn’t make heads or tails of it. There were no words; just Hendrix hums; see sawing to the top and bottom of the Jericho scale; throwing his mind, teeth, and soul all over creation. He didn’t just pass away.
And Jean Segura doesn’t just field a ground ball either. In these baseball days of never before seen shortstop range, Segura is a fret board with no beginning or end. The Brewers had Monday off. They’re in New York to take on the Mets.
The rest gave me a chance to watch Sunday’s game. I missed the 1-0 Brewer’s win. I was walking with my friend and her mom in the old port of Montreal. We arrived home in time for the ninth inning and I caught the last few outs on game day scoreboard screen.
When Travis Snider hit into a fielder’s choice with the tying and potential winning run on base, the banner on the screen said “fielder’s choice.” There were no details, no vital signs, no temperature readings, just the cold facts. James Marshall “Jimi” Hendrix (born Johnny Allen Hendrix; November 27, 1942 – September 18, 1970)
I had no idea what really happened, but didn’t give it much thought. An out is an out. I was satisfied. I logged into mlb.tv Monday and replayed that ninth inning.
Snider hit a frozen ground ball rope up the middle. Segura came into view at the top of the screen parallel with the ground; fully extended. He snared the ball and while in motion flipped the little planet to second baseman Rickie Weeks for the second out of the inning. It was totally unexpected or not really. It was Jean Segura.