A former Toronto
cabbie, who arrived from Croatia
in the late 60s
; he now lives in South Florida
, quite happily retired
. You can't miss him - he's the short, stubby-looking old guy, dressed in halfway-cool-in-1954
shorts, a straw fedora
, a loud-and-proud Hawaiian shirt,
-and-socks, and a pair of shades straight out of 1961 Jean-Paul Belmondo. He'll probably have some Ray Charles
("iz god, I tell yoo!"
) or Horace Silver
on his Walkman
His real name is Arno Heretic, with one of those upside-down circumflexes over the "c" in his
last name. So you don't really pronounce his name "heretic" - unless, of course, you're referring to his nickname: Professor Heretic, the world's second-foremost authority (since Professor Irwin Corey was already The
World's Foremost). We call him "Fess" for short.
He still speaks English with a very thick accent; one night, I had to provide simultaneous translation as he tried to heckle Archie Shepp - Shepp ended up with a fit of the giggles (not Fess' intention) and went on with his rather lackluster
This man from Eastern Europe was my initiator into the Mystic Knights of the Blues, taking me out of the dry academic training under which I had been hexed for so long ("Yoo cannot taste magic out of textbooks! It's like
eating cookbooks!", he'd always say). His record collection is amazing - many of my jazz nodes come from having, once, basically lived under his stereo, taping this or that rare gem. If I can get him to understand FTP and
MP3, maybe I can replace my damaged cassette of Sonny Simmons' Manhattan Egos.
Good people. His lengthy, goofy missives (somehow tying together such diverse topix as quantum mechanics, electric violins, the Infield Fly Rule, and the three-martini lunch) are the reason God made snail mail.