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When I play out, a sax is either in my hands or in its case strapped to my back. I never leave it on the bandstand; never, never, never. It never leaves my sight. I take it with me into rest room stalls. Am I compulsive? Paranoid? Naah, just cautious. Still own the two saxes I started out with in the 1970s. They may not be irreplaceable, but I've customized them & we've shared some history.
 

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Why call it paranoia? It's caution, which costs me nothing. A place wouldn't need to be "crawling with criminals and thieves"; one thief would be sufficient.

Can I ever know for certain that my horns would have been stolen, had I not consistently taken extreme precautions? Of course not. I never had to find out. That's the point, isn't it?

I've still got my horns. If somebody had ripped 'em off, were you gonna replace them?
 

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A statistically more likely threat than thieves or armed assailants: inebriated a-holes who start manhandling your sax, either when it's on the stand or while you are playing it.

In my experience this tends to happen at weddings, seldom at clubs. The miscreant is invariably an adult male sporting a goofy grin. Haw, haw, look at me! I'm pretending to play a saxophone! One is tempted to kick his butt from here to North Dakota, but you never can, can you, 'coz he's probably the bride's uncle.

Children tend to cluster 'round, gazing in fascination at the horn, waiting respectfully for permission to touch it.

Women tend to ignore the horn & ask you what you do for a living.
 

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Came back to the dressing room one time after a concert set to find all our stuff trashed & flung around the room. (I suspect that one particularly annoying band member had pissed off somebody in the audience or tech crew.) Locked doors can be opened. Assume that no horn is safe unless you're blowing thru it.

And yeah, have serial numbers & photos in multiple locations. I'm gonna go do that right now.
 

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In Berkeley (where I came of age & started playing professionally), situational awareness became instinctual. People trying to raise cash to score drugs... folks who felt entitled to the possessions of others... you had to assume that anything out of your sight & not locked down would disappear in less than a minute.

Incessant vigilance was the price of living in an exciting, beautiful, forward-looking, creatively & culturally stimulating city.
 

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Speaking of deterrents... back in the day I read somewhere that robbers tended not to mess with crazy people. So when my saxes & I had to walk lonely city streets or ride subway trains in the midnight hours, I cultivated an intense wild-eyed gleefully manic demonic demeanor. Dunno how it looked to potential villains but it seems to have worked 'coz nobody ever came near me -- even in NYC & Miami during the coke era. One time in Chicago after I took an ill-advised shortcut through an unlit alleyway, a couple of sketchy guys came up from behind & started hassling me. No way could I outrun them, so I revealed my devil face & they scattered. (Plan B was to speak in tongues, but it never came to that.) Selfies didn't exist then; wish I had one!
 
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