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RAYMOND G. BROWN
Ray was a friend of mine who lived in the west village. Down the street from the Half Note, on Hudson and Spring. Ray lived on Spring in a loft like space. I think it was an apartment with many walls taken out to give a large room. His place was always open, if he was home.
A little older than me he was hip to an oldergeneration of jazz players and knew a lot about them and about jazz in general. We had some of the same records. Joe Turner on Atlantic with Pete Johnson is one I remember.He was an ex merchant seaman, an ex convict and a man who in various ways was involved in theater. He was more literate than me too. He also had a sometime problem with alcohol.
We would get together and smoke pot and play chess and dig jazz records. Sometimes we would take other psycho-active drugs and play chess and dig jazz.
He once said that he had just met an Arab from Haifa. Ray said that he used to smuggle diamonds from Capetown to Haifa and Hashish from Haifa to Capetown. The Arab said “Oh yeah? Maybe you know my uncle!” A man with a large nose who also had a psoriasis condition on his nose was sitting at the bar when Ray walked in. The man said, “Here's that half white motherfucker.” Ray said, “I'd rather be half white than half nose.”
At one point ray said that his unemployment was about to run out and he was going to have to get a job. I said that must be a drag. He said, “No man, I enjoy myself no matter where I am, including at work.” I was impressed with that attitude and have tried to emulate it.
He had two daughters and later I got to know one a little. I saw her once at the market and she said that her mother had liver problems and was very sick. I saw her again she was carrying shopping bags and seemed to be in a hurry I asked about her mother and she said that her mom had died. I expressed sympathy and she said that she had her mothers ashes with her in a container in the bag.