Monday, November 15, 2004

Allow me to ramble...

Increasingly I find myself away from the bustling bars of Adams Morgan and Georgetown. That's not to say I'm out of competition with frat boys and people who imitate characters from Casablanca - I'm very much still in demand and I've got more game than the whole Notre Dame football team, or better yet, a drunk-driving Michael Phelps. But seriously, why would I want to walk into a bar where frat boys are screaming slurring lyrics to Bon Jovi's notorious "You Give Love a Bad Name?" Or worse, a cover band covering the same tune but with less panache. Oh how about a drunken Irish bar where everybody cheered and sang with the one-eyed fiddle player and his smelly dog? And honestly, where did people learn these songs? They didn't teach me them in 5th grade.

I was kind of the same in college - While everyone went to homecoming games or frat parties or bars that play either Billy Joel's "Piano Man" or Neil Diamond's "Sweet Caroline," (do good times ever seem so good?) I was tasting half-glasses of Pinot Noir from an Italian restaurant that had live jazz. I agree there's a certain time and place for drunken stupidity and obnoxiousness, but it comes down to the concept of "class." Maybe I'm indulged in self-righteousness or even self-worship, but what I do makes me happy, and I don't wake up the next morning with a hangover wondering why I am sleeping next to a trapezoid.

"Class" is what Americans lack these days. There's plenty of class in Paris, France and Vancouver, BC. Europeans and Japanese appreciate jazz more than Americans ever will. The ironic thing is, jazz is a superior art form created by Americans, and they are the ones who are discarding it. Instead, they nurture a mainstream culture that embraces the lip-synching Britney Spears, Ashlee Simpson, and undisputedly untalented John Mayer out of all people. Black people who invented jazz and blues have voluntarily switched to hip-hop. The cool hip-hop (i.e. Digable Planets, De La Soul, Tribe) is gone and what's left is just garbage. Not the band Garbage.

How many Americans can sit through a 3-hour long art house movie or sip Martini at a refined jazz club listening to the sublime McCoy Tyner chords or a Lee Morgan trumpet solo or a soulful ripping-your-heart-out Hammond B-3 solo by Dr. Lonnie Smith? Therefore, these days when I see young people at a jazz and blues club, in addition to giving my usual kudos, I buy them a drink because we need people like them to keep the "class" alive.

Think about it, it's all so simple. Yes, I am a snob and a self-righteous asshole, but I'd rather be called that than to soak myself in loud noise. I'll do anything in just to stay away from the whole Bon Jovi/Van Halen/Kiss/Metallica circuit. A peace of mind is all I ask.

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