"He instinctively can find the shining greatness of our American culture and does a good job of highlighting it (although he also does have those rare lapses when he writes about hockey, but that is something caused by impurities in the Eastern waters or something)." Erik Keilholtz
Under the patronage of St. Tammany
Mark C. N. Sullivan is an editor at a Massachusetts university. He is married and the father of three children. Email
...The bartender was pouring bottles of Pabst Blue Ribbon beer into a glass pitcher. When it was nearly brimful he handed it to Mr. Tatum. The pianist raised the pitcher to his mouth; he tilted his head, opened his gullet. Down the hatch in three or four stupendous swallows. Several of us were just starting to drink—glasses of beer and ale, swigs of Four Roses in back of the garage. But this was man’s work. What I had heard was true: he drank like he played, lustily, prodigiously. It was an auspicious introduction.
We followed him upstairs to a semi-dark two-thirds-filled room. He eased onto the bench, arms loose at his sides, head cocked as if sniffing something in the air. Only when the rustle and conversational hum subsided did he lift his hands. It was not a leisurely entry, no ruminative chording or testing-the-water arpeggio work. The hands plunged. And the music shouted and poured, wide as a river...
I asked a respected classical pianist-composer and critic for one of the Boston papers if he had listened to Tatum, and if he had an opinion.
“There’s a demonic, almost diabolical quality to his playing,” he said. “The Furies must have gathered around his crib at birth, something infernal slipped into his mother’s milk.”