Montclair Native Cashes in on Book for Dummies


I’VE ALWAYS BEEN partial to those books for dummies. It’s not so much a reflection of my IQ as proof of my extreme modesty. I’ve learned everything from how to surf the Internet to how to grow a lemon tree. And now I’ve learned that “Jazz for Dummies” is written by a homegrown musician from Montclair — Dirk Sutro.

Sutro got some of his earliest inspirations at Montclair Elementary School in the 1960s, where he played drums and idolized the Beatles.

“My parents bought me the same kind of drum set as Ringo played, only in silver sparkle, because Ringo’s blue oyster color wasn’t in stock at Sherman and Clay music on Broadway in downtown Oakland,” he remembers.

At Montera Middle School, Sutro was known for his rendition of “George of the Jungle” on the timpani, an offering that greatly annoyed his band director, Mr. Yob.

Sutro played in a jazz duo in high school with his friend Craig Huntington, who still lives in Montclair with his wife, Robin. As Sutro’s love for jazz grew, so did his skill at writing. English became his major at UC Berkeley and helped him develop the skills he needed to write several books, including “Jazz for Dummies.”

Sutro lives in Southern California now, but his folks still live in Montclair. And last year, he says his family reached a musical milestone.

“I took my Dad and Mom to see the Rolling Stones at AT&T Park, and they were blown away by the spectacle. I think my Dad is still bragging to his friends,” he said. I bet the Beatles aren’t the only thing Dad is bragging about. Keep up the good work, Dick!

CRIME UPDATE: The magazine scammers are back again, hitting on hills homeowners. A dialogue on the Montclair Safety & Improvement Web site alerts neighbors to the parade of people who have been dropped off on various streets to sell magazines.

Police warn against opening your door to these people, saying some may actually be casing your house for burglary. At the very least, their pitch is often peppered with lies, and in most cases your magazines never come.

DOG’S WORLD: Hills attorney Bob Stumpf has a leg up on every other dog owner in Oakland. His pooch, Milo, has just run his 500th lap around Lake Merritt. That, alone, would be enough to turn heads in the canine world, but this hound had to ham it up. He ran his record-setting lap in a tuxedo. It reminds me of that old joke: What do you get when you cross a dog with a penguin?

E-MAIL BAG: Reader Dave Blumgart has a beef with my recent piece on local baseball player Stephen Singleton being drafted by the Twins. I mistakenly wrote Minnesota had won two championships in the past 10 years (they were actually in 1987 and 1991) and Blumgart fired back: “Since the Twins have not even won the AL pennant since 1991 — and therefore have not in that time even appeared in the Series — it’s pretty hard to refer to any mention of their championship record over a 10-year span.”

Me thinks Dave is not a Twins fan.

BRITISH BASH: All the beautiful people were there to greet British Prime Minister Tony Blair in San Francisco the other night. Montclair’s Suzie Goodier said the Pimms was flowing at the home of George and Charlotte Schultz, and Blair looked dapper and much younger than his 53 years. There was one snafu with the food, she reports.

“The fish and chips came in paper cones, and the vinegar was dripping onto the white carpet,” she said. It was a colorful addition to the red wine that was spilled earlier in the evening. Oh — I say!

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