Autism and the quasi-music man

Jeff Katz


At dinner, over a plate of spaghetti and meatballs, Nate pored through the new Rolling Stone. He likes reading it as soon as it arrives, pulling out loose subscription cards which he ends up drawing on. Then, later, he goes over the pages again, more slowly. I think he reads some of the articles. I caught him intently focused on a review of The Doors’ LA Woman reissue a few weeks ago.

“Who’s this old guy?” Nate asked, checking out the photos in “Random Notes.” I glanced over.

“It’s Warren Buffay,” Nate answered himself. And it was. The uber-tycoon was chatting with Jay-Z.

“Warren Buffett,” I corrected.

“Is he the father of singer Jimmy Buffay?” I hadn’t made a pronunciation impact.

“No, he’s not,” I corrected, again. “Jimmy Buffett.“

Nate always seems to know more than we think about pop culture. As readers know, he’s encyclopedic on cartoons, movies and toilets, but he ends up surprising me with his musical knowledge. I’m not sure where it comes from. He does always check out the artist info on Sirius Radio, and he’s always listened, intently and sneakily, to what’s being said around him.

While driving, I asked Nate if he knew who was singing “I Can’t Explain.” My intention was to give him a little lesson in rock history, but he didn’t need it.

“The Who does,” he replied matter-of-factly.

And there was the time he overheard Oscar Pettiford’s “Blues in the Closet,” rushed over to my computer to check out what was playing, and said, “This is a jazzy version of the Violent Femmes’ “Blister in the Sun.” And it very much is. I never made that connection; he did immediately.

I’d like Nate to listen to more music. It’s a very important part of our lives in the Katz’ household. He tends to shut off iTunes, or Spotify, when I’m working. In the car he always needs the radio on. That I can’t figure out, but Nate has always had a sense that certain things are only for specific places. Maybe computers and music don’t mix. Perhaps he’s a man out of time, better suited to cruising in a T-bird listening to AM radio.

I wonder if he’s seen American Graffiti?

Courtesy of Mission of Complex


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