Louis Armstrong seemed a pathetic figure to me in the 50s and 60s. One of those retred performers they'd wheel out to memorialize a bygone era, and I bought the militiant Black bile that Satchmo was a Tom. That grin was too appeasing when we were at the barricades.

How much is in shadow when we are flaming bright. Louis Armstrong changed the whole texture of American Music, and grinned while he was doing it. He never played by the rules, until there were no rules.

I've been listening back into the American Music, and Louis had the first clear solo voice ringing out in ensemble playing. It's as if he created the jazz solo. Sure others were doing it, but Louis' call was so brilliant he changed the band dynamic.

Like all Trickery, the exaltation of the individual in the ensemble is disruptive. It creates a new order. Blow man.

Timeless music isn't trapped in an era. The schmaltzy drek they had Louis playing on TV in the 50s may be of an age, but the riffs on his recordings out of the 20s and 30s are always immediate.

This may be my best portrait likeness of an iconic personality. It has some of Louis' immediacy. I wish I had better control of the outcomes, but that wouldn't suit my resident shop diety: Coyote. Maybe this one came out so well because Satch has the Trickster's grin.

Watching the process of iconization in our own times should make us grin. Simple celebrity is one thing, driven as much by commercial motives as our desire to transcend the ordinary life. But those personalities who loom large in the cultural consciousness over time have to constellate aspects of our inner selves, or they fade with time. Louis is the solo voice in the group improvisation. He's always got something original to say.

Iconization is a type of ancestor worship, as is canonization, or the mythologizing of an Arthur. What starts as the honoring of memory, a way of connecting with the spirit of someone gone, transcends the individual. Some ancestors exemplify a type, or constellate inner images, and we can move from living memory into cultural myth. Then: are all icons Tricksters –– they cross that bounary between high and low? Inner and outer. Perhaps, perhaps, perhaps.