What exactly is jazz? Got to thinking about art in the 20th Century this morning. Concluded jazz becomes central in this way. Jazz was a form of musical modernism, that is, jazz is musical cubism. John Coltrane — now if you think you're cool you should genuflect now because Coltrane was very very cool and a Philly boy besides — John Coltrane once covered, "My Favorite Things." Yeah, the queer song Julie Andrews did in The Sound of Music. By the way I don't think jazz is all that cool. It's good, but I think it's one of those things that most people think if they have any chance at cool they have to like jazz, when in fact they don't like jazz as much as they think. And then there's the folks who come to that realization that I just wrote about in the previous sentence and decide they're even cooler for realizing they like jazz and like cool but they're so cool now because they realize they're not afraid to admit now they don't like jazz as much as others think they should.
So I'm thinking about Coltrane's version and how it barely saved the song and how Coltrane is so cool that if he knew Julie Andrews was going to do the song he still would've done it because her anti-cool is still no match for his invincible cool ... do you hear what I'm saying, he's saying his cool can move mountains, even those in Switzerland. And since it's morning I'm also thinking I better shave before I get to work so I won't look like a bear. Once I went in that way and some folks threw a picnic basket at me and ran out the back door. Bunch of chicken sandwiches and some Cokes. Yum. Anyway, Coltrane's my favorite things is kind of plodding at first. Really friggin' earnest version of the melody the first time through. Then he does the cubism thing with it — one piece at a time is turned and twisted, and his sax part starts to go above, below, around and anything but the melody, all while sort of doing the melody. That is, it was jazz. And I liked it but I changed the station before it was through. Yeah, I shaved before I went to work but my razor was dull. Ouch. Didn't cut myself but ouch.
Anyway, so did Picasso listen to jazz and apply it to painting and call it cubism? Or did Picasso influence black musicians in the American South, and they musicified the perspective shifts? Or was it one of those convergence things, where both things happened at the same time? I don't know. I don't know the history of jazz. I just don't know. I'm just a small man, except when I eat.
But it seems regardless of who started what, that jazz is central because postmodern writers were deeply influenced by jazz. Kerouac and the Beats — all that comes out of WWII veterans, still too keyed up from the booms and splurts and exhilaration of not dying after being shot at to settle into middle class life — going into the jazz clubs in the cities and listening to a new kind of music to them and talking all night in laundromats. That was the beats, you see. The Beats embraced the music, rooted in cubism, but they reinterpreted it in their own way. And then postmodernism in a way came along on a parallel track.
Naahhhh. This is bullshit. This entry has gone off the rails. The Beats were their own movement. Hippies and their New Agey/Leftist successors were not the heirs of the Beats. Some went that way, yes. But mostly the Beats just died off. They were no longer necessary. They embraced black culture but reinterpreted that ... and jazz was part of that.
Oh hell. Never mind. I don't know what I'm getting at.
I used to just sit down and write, back when I thought I was going to be an artist. Can't seem to access that anymore. God used to love me before i got all crazy, and then my Aunt Mary took off for Brazil with my passport and $20,000 from my bank account leaving me high and dry for 40 weeks while I worked my ass off in the casinos. Had to cut the pockets out of 20 men a day and damn it, what's that noise. SHUDDUP OVER THERE. In South Philly a chick named Jessica used to do too much speed and her boyfriend kicked her out. She came to me and I told her to f--- off.
Yeah, like that. That stuff used to just flow out. I always meant to write my version of Robert Coover's The Babysitter. Tell the story and then just warp the technique. Shatter the point of view. Screw with the metaphors. Blow up the characterization. While telling something like Little Red Riding Hood. Except you know Donald Barthelme did that with Snow White. So that left me where?
My novel, well, I can't tell you about my novel. It's kind of a sad story about a young man whose knees are cut out from under him just as he's beginning his life. It's a coming of age story except a giant hammer comes down from the sky and goes WHAM! WHAM! WHAM! on all the important thing in his life ... and he's left going, "What the hell was that?"
Except he's still young and he lives near the beach and so he sits on the beach at sunset and the seabreezes make him feel good and he's got a buzz on and thinks it's gonna turn out all right somehow or it won't but won't that be so really tragic in a very cool kind of way, but you know we the reader know neither of those options are gonna happen. He's gonna end up selling out, cheap, because he's not foolish enough to persist in his own folly (thanks Blake) and not smart enough to make a bundle and hell he's just so shallow that you know and I know that he's not going to die young and he's not going to set the world on fire, either, and he's going to just forget and forget what he used to want. One day he's gonna look in the mirror and not ever remember the hammer from the sky going WHAM! WHAM! WHAM! on the drywall of his soul.
Hey, I did it. I got back there. Whew!
Have a good day, everyone.