It was impossible not to notice the grinning, bespectacled figure of the man that was Mickey Sherman.
He was the school’s oldest student at 89. He always wore his bomber jacket, Mickey Mouse watch, and a ball cap proudly advertising that Mickey had served in the second World War. I befriended Mickey at an Advocates of Peace meeting.
Mickey had been to war. He’d seen the destructive power of hatred. In the face of horrendous atrocity, Mickey had marched forth, grinned defiantly and did in the midst of war the thing that had always brought him such great joy. Mickey danced. He didn’t look like a dancer any more though. He wasn’t the type to brag.
Mickey brought me a gift once, a large paperback book. On its cover was some cat in a zoot suit, hip glasses and a skunk-striped beard doing the lindy hop with some high-flying woman. Inspecting the back cover though, I found this wild-eyed, skunk-bearded author to be Mickey himself.
The book’s become my most prized possession, genuinely for its content and not because I knew its author.
“A Swinging Affair from Savoy to Cyberspace” is the story of jazz and swing dancing as told not from a historical perspective but through the gaze of a man who lived as one of swing’s great innovators and continued to carry swing forward in his heart all his days.
Mickey’s book tells the stories of jazz’s greatest pioneers. It discusses the evolution of dance, transports readers to a bygone era and allows us to immerse ourselves into a guarded subculture of the past, teaching the history, and the lingo of the time alongside some dance steps.
The goal of his epic work is not to teach us about the history of swing but to make its readers absolutely jive. It undeniably succeeds.
The book is available through amazon.com and several other online retailers.
It’s a brilliant and interesting read from one of OCCC’s very own who died Dec. 7, 2011.
That cat Mickey may have chosen to cop a trot on us but his work remains and “A Swinging Affair” truly sends me, man.