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Brooklyn Roberts  

He called himself Brooklyn Roberts. I got curious about him because he wanted to remain hidden. Then I heard he was shot and killed for almost 1) ______________. When I was 23 I got involved in a non-profit cooperative coffee house that served home-baked goods, coffee and tea. It was also the land of the eternal open mike. The only 2) ______________ about playing there was that the music had to be acoustic. Eventually we would be run out of the house where we had set up shop because the 3) ______________ association didn't like the hippie types hanging around. That was New Orlean in 1975. Things got there a little late.

But when the coffee house was still thriving, Brooklyn Roberts used to sign up for the open mike now and then. He was thin, fine-boned, losing his dirty blond hair too soon. I guessed that he was a little 4) ______________ than I was. He always came looking like a laborer from the early 1900s, dressed in 5) ______________ working class, Saturday evening clothes. His performances on the guitar and piano were polished. He played rootsy blues, Robert Johnson tunes, that sort of thing. He'd 6) ______________ his set, collect whatever tips he'd made, pack up his things and leave. No, he'd disappear, always.

I once asked him to play at a benefit for the coffee house that was going to be held in a local park. He arrived, spiffily dressed as usual, carrying a little 7) ______________ in addition to his guitar. The path to our tiny stage crossed an area where the children's railroad track ran. As he approached our gathering, he deliberately 8) ______________ walking between the rails of the miniature track. He looked up at me and smiled. He was in his persona, walking on a 9) ______________ track like a Depression-era wanderer. He played a great set of old-time blues that day, interjecting an occasional sleight of hand trick. At one point he flipped a silver dollar in the air and bounced it off the heel of his shoe, back up in the air into his hand. When he 10) ______________ it, he appeared as amazed as the audience. He finished his set and disappeared. Lots of people wanted to talk to him, but he just vanished.

Later that year, I attended an early incarnation of the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival. I was waiting for Muddy Waters to play his set when I spied Brooklyn Roberts near the edge of the 11) ______________ talking to a stage hand or manager. I turned away to talk to some friends. Minutes later when I looked back, Brooklyn Roberts was at the piano playing some12)  ______________ ragtime and jelly-roll blues. He played for about five minutes. I guessed that he had talked the stage manager into letting him play until Muddy was 13) ______________ for his set. He'd had no introduction, nothing. Brooklyn Roberts just got up there and played, and then he 14) ______________.

The next year I helped organize a benefit for New Orleans street musicians. My group 15) ______________ at it and so did Brooklyn Roberts. Again, he played a terrific set of old-time blues on the piano. Again, he disappeared at the end of the set. He had come dressed in his usual period attire. But later when I spotted him sitting in the 16) ______________ a few rows away from me, he had changed into modern clothes and was wearing a floppy Gilligan style rag hat. I called to him, wanting to congratulate him on his great set. He 17) ______________ where he was and smiled in acknowledgement. Then he just turned away and pulled 18) ______________ his hat a little farther.

Years later, after I'd left New Orleans, I asked a friend about him. She told me that he had been 19) ______________ and killed for his money and his jacket. My friend told me she'd heard that he'd said to his assailants, "You wouldn't 20) ______________ me for my jacket, would you?" And they did. I made some other inquiries. All I ever found out was that he had been a well-liked coach, Coach Bob at the local Jewish 21) ______________ center. I still have his business card. In the four corners are floral ironwork designs and his name appears in capital letters in the center, Brooklyn Roberts. This is all I know about him.'

 (--written by Adolf Lopez in New Orleans and read by Paul Auster for the National Story Project. )


1. What kind of music did Brooklyn Roberts play? ______________________________________________________________________


2. What did he always do after he finished playing his music?



3. What kind of man was he? What happened to him finally?



Check your answers here 


non-profit cooperative coffee house: a coffee shop that is managed by a group of people, not for money but for the community; non-profit = 非営利の; cooperative = 協同組合店

the eternal open mike: mike = microphone; the microphone is free for anyone to use, to play music or recite poetry; eternal = always

acoustic: not electric

be run out of: made to leave; be evicted; 立ち退かせさせる

hippie: young people in the 1960s and 70s who had long hair, wore colorful clothes and used marijuana and other drugs. ヒッピー(族)

hanging around: sit or stand, doing nothing; ぶらぶらする, 時間を浪費する

Things got there a little late: "things" means new things; fashions; the sentence means that New Orleans was behind times; old-fashioned

thriving: doing well; busy; have many customers; 栄えている

laborer: working person; worker, like in a factory; 労働者

polished: professional-like; not rough; 完ぺきな

rootsy: in the style of the original blues men; (特にアフリカ系米国人の)文化的伝統意識に根ざした

Robert Johnson tunes: songs from Robert Johnson; Robert Johnson was an African American blues player from the Mississippi Delta region of the south; very famous for his original style of blues

disappear: vanish; 見なくなる; here, the speaker means he would leave quickly without talking to anyone

benefit: a performance for no pay and all ticket sales' income goes to a charity

spiffily: fashionably