Today, January 23rd, 2021 is Django Reinhardt’s 111th birthday. On Bilbo Baggins’s 111th birthday he threw a big party and vanished. Having just finished editing my latest novel, which involves a fair amount of analysis, letters and discussion of The Lord of the Rings, I couldn’t help but wonder about the coincidence of these two Eleventy-first birthdays. LOTR is a book about magic in some sense, as is the book I just wrote, A Year in the Life of a Poet, a sequel to its predecessor The Magic Typer.
Django Reinhardt was magic too, if you appreciate anything about the guitar. Where this magic came from is impossible to explain, but to accept that there are things we cannot understand.
I leave you with a paragraph excerpted from my latest novel – a few words from the renowned philosopher AF Schlitzenberger, author of The Wisdom of Gandalf:
It happened to me, so I’m telling you – there are things we do not know and powers we cannot understand at work here, right now, on this planet. If they are good or bad I cannot say, but I am sure they exist. And as sure as I am of that, I am also sure that The Lord of the Rings must have been influenced at the very least by some power that is trying to communicate with us.
Last night we watched CALIFORNIA TYPEWRITER on DVD which we found at our library. Needless to say it was riveting. Even my wife thought it was outstanding! Imagine a documentary starring Tom Hanks – what’s not to love? I really dig Tom, too, just as a regular guy. I was thrilled when he talked about his favorite Smith Corona Silent, knowing that I have the same model. It was like we were brothers, briefly. This is not to ignore all the other wonderful characters in the movie. I loved them all! Dr. Polt was magnificent! So ad lib, so cool, so hip, and how he typed the manifesto flawlessly (right Richard?). I could hardly sleep afterwards and even woke up in the middle of the night thinking about Smith Coronas. I have to point out another crazy coincidence, the opening scene in which a Royal 10 gets tossed from a car. My last novel is all about a Royal 10 with magic powers! Here am I looking to find one for myself and there they were casually throwing one out the window to it’s destruction. Ouch!!
So of course the challenge of the day is to try to combine all the things I love into a blog post. One must of course acknowledge this day as the birthday of the incomparable Django Reinhardt, first and foremost. Good thing tomorrow is nothing special, because Thursday is Robbie Burns’ Day, another incomparable character. I can hardly stand the excitement! I have come up with this – an excerpt from the first draft of my novel – An Engineer’s Guide to Paris, (available above from Createspace and Amazon) that was, of course, drafted on a typewriter. It features a scene whereby I imagined my protagonist discovering a letter inside the lining of an old guitar case…
January 23rd, 1910 – birthdate of Django Reinhardt
Here he is with his famous Selmer guitar. Here is my latest version of the same:
It has the same dimensions as the Selmer-Macaferri body, but I’ve modified the bracing of the top, just for fun. This top has an X-brace. The sound, however, is much like the trademark “quack” of the Selmer. Selmer did make some round soundholes like this one. They are rare, but since Selmer did make some, I am comfortable in believing that I’m not desecrating the design intent!