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Genius Guide to Jazz

Holiday Gift Guide 2001

By Published: August 29, 2004
What a year its been, eh, kids? It seems like only yesterday, I came bursting onto the pages of AAJ a fresh-faced young Genius trying to prove that jazz could be funny even when Kenny G didn't have anything to do with it. Now, all these long, trying months later, here I sit as the dean of American jazz humorists. How can I claim such a lofty position, you ask? Because I called dibs.

In any event.

For those die-hard Geniusheads out there who want to combine your love of the Genius Guide, jazz, and displays of inappropriate behavior, I have a few recommendations that all bear my personal seal of approval. The links provided lead to some of these sites are ones that just happened to turn up on a Google search, and are neither affiliated nor endorsed by AAJ. To my knowledge, none of these sites provides inappropriate content. Or, at least, any less appropriate than this column.

That said.

Bullet Bra: Referenced in the very first Guide ( Prelude ), beloved by Geniuses everywhere, available at .

Hershey's: Referenced first in the May Guide, Rondo , this corporate confectionery giant still hasn't come through with a fat corporate sponsorship so that I can leave my workaday worries behind and concentrate on some serious drinking. No, wait. I meant writing. Still, I'm cutting them a mention because you never know. Their fine products make excellent gifts, and I'm not being paid a dime (yet) to say that. .

Cracker Barrel: Referenced in a fleeting parenthetical aside in the June Guide, Revenge of the Return of the Son of Ken Burn's Jazz , it is actually one of my favorite restaurants. My parents were from the Appalachian mountains of West Virginia, and Cracker Barrel serves the kind of country home cooking on which I was raised. A visit there is like going back to Grandma's house, except without the constant sound of gunfire. Gift certificates available, as well as unique items from their country store. .

Coca Cola: Mentioned in the July Guide, Bix, Bubber, and the Giant Lollipop of the Apocalypse , I am rarely at work on this column without a nice, cold, glass of Coke (well, it's mostly Coke) on my desk. Have a Coke and a smile, teach the world to sing, and tell them you heard it here first. And if you think I'm still shilling for that corporate sponsorship, well, you've spotted the trend.

Ray Bans: The August Guide, Terror in G Sharp (or, How to Attract Readers with Needlessly Sensational Headlines ), was about the saxophone. Few things are cooler in jazz than the warm, raspy sound of the sax. And few things are cooler than Ray Bans. Miles Davis wore Ray Bans. Just the picture of that image in my head is so cool I had to go put on a toboggan .

Pabst Blue Ribbon: I wrote September's Guide, Ebony and Ivory and Ted and Alice , in the dead of August, listening to Art Tatum and trying to capture the spirit of the age by consuming life-changing amounts of his favorite beverage. I learned two important lessons: 1) Cheap beer is cheap for a reason. 2) It is probably no coincidence that Art Tatum is dead now. But that's no reason why you can't give copious amounts of PBR to your friends and loved ones this year. Give them an Art Tatum CD and a copy of the September Guide by way of explanation. .

There was no October column, you understand, given the fact that my Herculean writing schedule (three words a day, like clockwork) sometimes requires more of me than events of the world allow. In the wake of the September tragedies, even your own personal Genius had to pause and absorb the cold facts of the new world in which we all now live. This Christmas, take a moment to remember what is important in this life. Take a break from the shopping and the hectic rush of the season to treasure home and family. Draw those you love close to you, put on some good jazz, and take stock of the gifts you already have. (But that doesn't mean you still shouldn't go out and buy stuff. Some of us still have a living to make.)

I'd like to thank you for reading the Guide over the past several months, and wish you and yours a warm, safe, happy, and blessed Christmas. Peace be with you.

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