Jazz and the Modern Bachelor
“ Jazz represents the intellectual and creative apex of American music. More cerebral than classical music, more visceral than rock, more emotional than country, more romantic than all the saccharin pop music ever recorded, and more men named Thelonious than any other form of music. ”
If you were to visit the Geniusdome, providing you could work your way through the gauntlet of Rube Goldberg-esque booby traps, you would find an urbane oasis of culture and refinement (pay no attention to the empty Budweiser 12-pack boxes and my collection of eighties teen sex comedies on VHS). You would find a place of intellectual and spiritual solace, a refuge from a world gone stupid, specifically designed to place members of the opposite sex into a state of Zen-like relaxation (and later, hopefully, into several Yoga-like positions). In short, you would see a triumph of the modern classic archetype, the bachelor pad, revisited with the sort of panache only a true Genius can bring to it. Be sure and visit the gift shop on the way out.
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I'm a seemingly normal, healthy man of 34, although I read on a 36 year-old level. I'm a fully licensed, board-certified heterosexual. And thusfar, I have remained single (at least until redheaded, left-handed actress Nicole Kidman comes to her senses and makes an honest man out of me). Of all the things we have lost in this society over the past forty years or so, perhaps the most lamented is the concept of the bachelor. There was a time in this country when a man could be intelligent, cultured, witty and single without being automatically described with terms that get people in trouble with those GLAAD folks (no, not the ones who make the trash bags. Look it up). Gone are the days when full-grown adults could play the mating game without bringing a litany of emotional, social, and even political connotations to the simplest sport of slap-and-tickle.
We are being afforded an opportunity to remake ourselves, to strip away decades of convoluted interpersonal dynamics and go back to a time when men and women could commingle without being goaded into adversarial terms by a myriad of self-serving sorts who can't stand to see anyone have any real fun. Here in the new world, where our victim culture has been shattered and all our simpering complaints ring hollow in the face of real tragedy, we can once again return to the comfort of an unaffected self. "Let be be finale of seem," said poet Wallace Stevens, and what the hell that has to do with anything I'll never know.
The point being.
Do you remember the halcyon days when men wore smoking jackets and women wore bullet bras (what the hell is it with this guy and bullet bras? -Ed.) and when a man invited a woman up to see his etchings, by god, he actually had etchings? Those were the days when people knew how to live.
People drank martinis that didn't taste like some nouveau flavor of Kool-Aid, they drove Rhode Island-sized cars, they preferred actually having sex to just endlessly yapping about it, and most importantly they listened to jazz.
And it only took me half the damned article to get to the subject.
One of the great values of nostalgia is the fact that one can filter out the unpleasantness of the past and cast it anew filled with the promise of a lesson learned. To bring back the era of swinging bachelors and Cool jazz doesn't mean a return to flattop haircuts and those horrid Beach Party movies. We're much smarter (and, on average, taller) now. We're more able to separate the wheat from the chaff, and then keep the chaff (I've never been fond of wheat. I'm more of a corn man, myself).
So here we are, adventurers on the new frontier. With your own personal Genius to guide you (hence, the Genius Guide) we're going to spend much of 2002 concentrating not only on jazz, but the jazz lifestyle. And since I'm a bachelor, I'm going to do it from that perspective. If I accomplish nothing else this year (and right now, that looks like an even-money bet), I will define what the Modern Bachelor should embody. If women can have Ally McBeal to guide them on how to be an independent single woman, it's only fair that men should have a role model for the swinging bachelor. (AAJ would like to point out that they are not legally or morally responsible for what might happen when the Genius-inspired Modern Bachelor meets the Ally McBeal-model independent single woman. Particularly after a couple of Harvey Wallbangers and a Johnny Hartman record.)
The first requirement for being a Modern Bachelor is being single. I can't overstate the importance of that. If you're married, you can't be a bachelor no matter how appealing the lifestyle may seem to you. And it is no use getting a divorce. It's like trying to be a virgin again. Once you've done it, regardless of how poorly conceived or ill-advised your choice, there are no do-overs. So even if you have been married but are currently single, you are not eligible to join the ranks of the Modern Bachelor. You are, however, still welcome to join your local volunteer fire department. It probably won't improve your chances of getting any leg, but getting to tool around in a fire truck with a Dalmatian should certainly take your mind off your troubles.