Yesterday marked the death of soul music great, Mr. Isasc Hayes. Most will remember him as the guy who's only talkin' 'bout Shaft, Southpark's Chef, a crazy Scientologist, or Chris Rock's rib joint nemesis in "I'm Gonna Git You Sucka". For me, Mr. Hayes also provided the soundtrack for a particularly outstanding moment of cycling in the Bull City. Several years ago, Hayes was playing a late-summer nighttime show at the Durham Athletic Park, home of the film "Bull Durham" and many infamous World Beer Festivals. I was not in attendance, but was across town, enjoying beers on a friend's porch. It was one of those great September nights; low humidity, about 80 degrees, few mosquitoes, not much traffic. There was also a strange pulse to the night air. We could hear music, dimly in the distance. We couldn't quite tell what it was, but it sounded different from a house party or a car's subwoofer. As I rode home, I remembered that Hayes was playing outdoors, and as I neared my place the music became louder and clearer. On certain nights, atmospheric conditions are just right and sound carries clearly for long distances. In Durham, this was just one of those nights, and soul music wafted down the streets, like the smell of fresh pie in cartoons. It was undoubtedly a perfect night for cycling. The streets were free of cars. The air temperature was in equilibrium with my body. The soundtrack was impossibly smooth. The few people out walking around or sitting on their porches, also feeling the magic of the evening, waved and waved back. People were in great spirits and I'm willing to bet that there are quite a few four-year-old children walking around Durham today who were conceived that night. There is a special feeling about being a kid out after curfew. But I realized that, as an adult, this feeling had a greater significance: I felt like I felt like when I was a kid out after curfew. It was one of those moments, like in literature, when cosmic forces align. And it moved to the beat of Isaac Hayes.
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