Stacey and I walked down Sixth Avenue in the sunlight feeling good. At Housing Works, one of the great thrift stores de nos jours, I paid $25 for a beautiful Paul Stuart jacket that must have cost its owner thirty times more. Of course it needs revisions, I mean alterations, but some days are like that -- full of chance rhymes and serendipitous encounters, like a poem. Like finding the right silk tie to link the jacket to the red tennis shirt I was wearing, and I had just the right costume for date night, our date night, which also turns out to be the Obamas' date night, and the reason there are so many cops along Sixth Avenue is that the Obamas are here -- they're eating at Blue Hill on Washington Place, a "Greenmarket haven" featuring food that star chef Dan Barber grows on his upstate farm. We ate dinner there ourselves once.
The cops were cracking wise but keeping a straight face. The crowds were gathering on the avenue -- though it was now six o'clock and the Obama motorcade would not be moving up Sixth for another hour and a half. Turning left on West Third Street we stepped into the Blue Note, where Frank Sinatra Junior was going to sing some of his papa's tunes with an excellent band at around the same time that the curtain would go up at the Belasco, where the Obamas were going to see "Joe Turner's Come and Gone," August Wilson's play about black sharecroppers migrating to the industrial north.
Stacey managed to get us the two best seats at the Blue Note bar, and the next person to sit down wore a white jacket and a black shirt. If I ever write a spy novel, I can promise him a part. Stacey and I can recommend the concoction prepared by the bartender -- Vladimir by name, Serbia by origin -- consisting of tequila, agave, fresh lime and Grand Marnier, shaken vigorously with ice, then strained into a cold martini glass. Almost as much fun to make as to sip.
Sinatra Jr. called his father "Sinatra" and sang "Here's to the Losers" unexpectedly, and a song I hadn't heard before, said to be Johnny Mercer's last lyric, circa 1976. The music was undoubtedly Jimmy Van Heusen's, but what was the song called? "Empty Tables," maybe. Among the more predictable choices, Porter's "I've Got you Under My Skin," Arlen's "One for My Baby," and Gershwin's "A Foggy Day in London Town" showed that Nelson Riddle's peerless arrangements remain impreccable. From the Count Basie sessions, "Summer Wind" has weathered well; less so the bigger hit that was on the flip side of "Summer Wind" back in the summer of 1966: "Strangers in the Night." Each instrumentalist had his moment in the sun: the piano in "One for My Baby," the trombone in "Skin," the whole horn section in "Luck Be a Lady." Sinatra quoted his "uncle, Milton Berle" about how audiences used to be full of middle-aged men and their daughters. Tony Bennett was in the audience and took a bow. It was a lovely way to spend an evening.