No Mo' Blamin' Mo
We must have been doing something right to have lasted four and a half years in this swamp where couch potatoes are the major crop -- not only to survive, but to be voted Best Jazz Club three times by two major publications and be given a full-page epitaph in New Times ("MoJazz No Mo'," September 4). The epitaph, unfortunately, is not up to the quality of the music we presented.
The writer, Georgina Cardenas, missed what could have been a truly interesting piece by neglecting to interview a cross section of the musicians who played at MoJazz and a sampling of regular patrons who attended our final event. Instead she filled the piece with quotes from me about why the place closed, with me always described as "insisting" or "contending," as if I were on trial. She cast me in the role of defendant against two musicians who said MoJazz's "failure" was due to "Morgen's own management." One of them said that not having "just one cover ... ruined the place." This genius ignored the fact that we operated for four years with a multilevel cover. He is also paraphrased as saying that "Morgen ... didn't pay his bands but made them play for the take from the door."
Ms. Cardenas says I responded by saying, "Even in New York, musicians work during the week for nothing...." This is journalism at its lowest, an attempt to smear for shock value. Ms. Cardenas knew the allegation was untrue because I told her before publication that everyone always got paid at least the standard. Since the switch to Latin jazz in May, however, the weeknight bands were larger and worked off the door, but almost always with a minimum guarantee. If she doubted me, she could have called other musicians for verification. What I told her about New York was that on big-band Monday nights at many clubs, musicians work for carfare because there are too many guys to pay on an off-night. She ignored the truth to cast me as a callous exploiter.
To make things worse, she quotes an "off the record" source (has she no respect for the request "off the record"?) who allegedly says I'm "hard to work with" and "not a world-class musician" -- so "hey, Mo, give it a rest." If the coward actually said that, what a crappy thing to print! If you're conservative, there are perhaps four or five world-class jazz men here. If you're liberal, maybe eight or nine. Should the rest of us "give it a rest"? I'm a respected vocalist/saxman among my peers, and many have paid to see me perform with or without the company of the "world-classers." Look for me soon at a club near you!
It doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure out that a street "improvement" project scheduled for a four-month completion becomes a siege when it tears up your area for twenty months and still has at least four months to go. That's why we had to sell. Blame the City of Miami Beach for making a bad deal. Blame the North Beach Development Corporation for switching the master plan at the last minute to move Ocean Terrace to top priority and the Normandy fountain to the bottom. Most of all, blame the contractor from hell whose name should live in infamy among jazz fans -- up there with Kenny G's.
And blame yourselves for sitting home every time it rains or there's some overhyped TV sports event. But as the song goes, "Don't blame me." Shall I sing it for you?
Smoke Gets in Mo's Eyes
To all the reasons given for the shutdown of MoJazz Cafe -- construction, inconsistent cover charges, weather -- let me add one that caused my lack of attendance and I'm sure others' as well: smoke. Mo himself confessed, "I gotta go soak my eyeballs" after enduring the burning haze permeating his place.
The classic song "Smoke Gets in Your Eyes" tells only part of the story. It also gets in your hair, throat, lungs, clothes, and food. Too bad the same is true of Jazid and most other jazz venues. Must we forgo breathable air and health for live jazz indoors? I suggest the future operators of Mo's site and other music clubs begin a policy of smoke-free nights. A real "Sophisticated Lady" (and man) no longer puffs. It's time to recognize and separate the fans from the blowers, the breathers from the butt-heads!
Sweet Crybaby Michele: In Defense of Simps!
Why trash James Taylor? John Floyd's article "Sickly Sweet Baby James," (September 4) only proves, by his own pompous admission, that his "articulations" "reflect" only his "reality" in his exceedingly exciting part of the world -- a world I suppose all the millions of us boring and banal James Taylor lovers aren't fortunate enough to be a part of.
Floyd seems to be missing much of the gist of Taylor's music. I agree that his lyrics and melodies may not reflect the deepest of the deep, but then we can't all relate to the incredible angst and psychological twists of Bob Dylan or Eddie Vedder -- two artists who have worked quite diligently to position themselves as outcasts in a world that has wronged them (according to their lyrics) while somehow remaining in the public eye.