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Jazz Night At The Oceanic Brew Pub, Oceanside, California, Part 1: I've Got A Crush On You

Jazz Night At The Oceanic Brew Pub, Oceanside, California, Part 1: I've Got A Crush On You
Dan McClenaghan By

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Nobody seemed to know how the python got into the piano. Or if anybody did know, they weren't talking. But the how of it didn't matter; this is what happened on that Jazz Night at the Oceanic, February 27, 2021.

The Oceanic Brew Pub seats sixty, but the current Covid-19 restrictions limit the house to twenty. In fact, only six people showed up to listen to the artistry of pianist Sinbad Rindowski and his vocalese accompanist, Sweetie Pie, the chihuahua, who howled whenever Rindowski's fingers roamed up into the higher notes. Which was often.

Mr. Rindowski entered The Jazz Spot from the back alley entrance with Sweetie Pie in his arms, and without prelude or introduction he sat down at the piano, placing his accompaniest beside him on the bench, to his right, where the audience could see her, this in consideration of the visuals of a little knobby-headed dog with its head thrown back, bug eyes close, howling at the stars—a big part of the success of Rindowski's show, videos of which are posted all over YouTube.

Pianist opened with a proposed two handed cluster of notes that should have created a ringing explosion, a sparklingly seismic introduction to "Stella By Starlight." The piano instead made a flat thud of a sound, the ten little hammers thumping against the cold reptilian flesh of five foot long ball python, a presumably wayward pet who had slithered in out of the alley and found refuge in house's ancient baby grand. The serpent—famished having not eaten since his (her?) escape three weeks earlier—rose from this assault, its head emerging from the interior of the piano to spot Sweetie Pie, who appeared to be of an appropriate size for a meal. So the snake lunged, bit onto the dog's scrawny neck and coiled himself (herself?) around the suddenly scared poopless (literally) little girl, as Sinbad Rindowski lurched backwards and fell off the piano stool before making a hands and knees scramble for the back door. He was not alone. The entire audience competed with the pianist in a collective attempt at an egress, cursing and wrestling into the doorway, creating a writhing, Keystone Cop-ian logjam.

The Oceanic's owner, Roy Leahy, took his snake phobia and himself—and his puckered posterior orifice—to an exit through the front door and out onto Highway 101, as elbows and fists flew at the back entrance, and the constrictor/chihuahua tango tightened, Sweetie Pie's eyes bulging, her tongue lolling out of her mouth. This left the Oceanic's waitress, Rafaela Diaz, in charge. She took the situation by the horns, pulling the pepper spray from her smock pocket and spritzing the snake with a stinging mist.

Mission accomplished. The predator released its prey and slithered away to a hole in the drywall beneath the sink behind the bar, and Rafaela picked up the gasping, shivering dog and strode to the back door to blister the air in the alley and a fusillade of torrid curses, directed at the pianist for the abandonment of his partner.

Sinbad Rindowski apologized to her, slunk back into the Oceanic and resumed his seat at the piano, and slipped into a diffident, minimalist version of Gershwin's "I've Got A Crush on You," leaving the shaken Sweetie Pie—in no shape to perform after her ordeal—in the arms of the beautiful Rafaela.

But the audience did not return, and the tip jar remained empty.

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