In the early evening of March 29, 1960, I walked into Beefsteak Charlie’s, a midtown Manhattan bar frequented by jazz musicians. With some surprise, I spotted a familiar figure at the bar – familiar, but not at Beefsteak’s.
Pee Wee Russell, who’d turned fifty-four two days before, didn’t hang out there – or in any other bar, for that matter. He’d done his share of that sort of thing – more than his share – but after his miraculous recovery from a near-fatal illness some years before, he had stopped.
But here he was, by himself, having a quiet drink. I didn’t yet know Pee Wee well in those days, though I’d been