Your Own Personal Genius is living proof of the efficacy of music education at the public school level. Here I am at the tender young age of 35, already the Dean of American Jazz Humorists© and a candidate for the highest office in the nation. It is music that is responsible for my staggering American success story. If this were the Genius Guide to Algebra, do you think I could have ascended to these dizzying heights? Is it even possible to make fun of higher mathematics? Let’s see:
True or False: If X=Y and Y=Z, then X=Z. False. In his dreams is X ever going to be half the man Z is. X is a twice-divorced drunkard, while Z coaches Little League and has been married to the same beautiful woman since he graduated from college. And Y, where does he get off comparing himself to Z? He and Z started with the same company ten years ago and Z is already a vice-president while Y is still in packaging.
There you have it. Jazz it is.
4. Improve jazz’s image from within. Part of jazz’s problem is its current image, the perception of the music and the musicians by the general public. Remember the days when jazz was an irreproachable pantheon of cool? When jazz musicians were among the coolest individuals on the face of the planet, and even their slang was the de facto lexicon of all that was hip and happening?
Well neither do I. I’m only 35. By the time I was born, jazz was virtually the exclusive province of the Fusion set, garage bands with liberal arts degrees. It has lived through an era of designer sweaters and wine-and-cheese soirées, and now acts as the go-to selection for when the NPR fundraisers need a little kick. Elitism, even fake elitism where people like something because it seems like something people like them should like, has no place in the Genius Administration. Hipness (and its close cousin, Coolness), unlike elitism, is not disclusive. It is a pinnacle to be achieved, and can be achieved by careful application of certain principles. To be hip is neither to follow trends, nor to rebel against them. Hipness is above mere group identification manifested in cliquishness. Hipness is about style, which George Carlin defined as going to the bathroom, realizing that your underwear is on backwards, and leaving them that way. Hipness transcends the juvenile desire to color outside the lines just to be different, or worse, to be different the same as everyone else. Thus, the truly hip don’t have tattoos or pierced anything. Hip men do not wear ponytails, or socks with sandals. Hip women do not wear potato-sack dresses or jewelry made by unfortunate minorities they feel great empathy for but have never met personally.
With a Genius in the White House, jazz musicians will be required to wear suits, ties, sunglasses, and cool hats. Women will be allowed the cocktail dress option; or my personal favorite ensemble of fishnet hose, bullet bras, sleeveless black turtlenecks, cat-eyes sunglasses and white lipstick (beret optional).
5. “It’s all about the music, man.” Music is the tangible expression of intangible humanity. Properly, it should be a tri-faceted amalgam of brain, heart and groin. All groin, and it is vulgar pop music that has become too stupid to even try to come up with yet another euphemism for the act of human procreation. All heart, and it is sugary love songs that make liberal use of the terms “always” and “forever” but rarely mention “grad school” or “venereal disease.” All brain and, well, let’s be frank...it’s 94.75% of the jazz out there right now. It is a common mistake among the intelligentsia to regard emotion as a leash with which to jerk dumb people around (particularly around election time), and to treat the primordial need to go bangity-bangity as little more than a bodily function to be indulged whenever and however the need arises. Thus, jazz has lost much of the visceral inertia that catapulted it from a regional novelty to the representative example of the American experiment’s success.
As President, I would be involved in returning balance to jazz. To this end, I would appoint a panel of experts from both within and without jazz to craft a set of guidelines for the music. I’m still debating several appointees for the panel, but first and foremost would be funkmaster George Clinton, who summed up my argument with the brilliant pronouncement, “Free your ass and your mind will follow.” I would also appoint actress Thora Birch, because she appeals to my own personal tri-faceted amalgam. Make of that what you will.
So there you have it, my official announcement. It’s a long way to November, 2004, kids, so we’ll deal with such matters as running mates and First Ladies as the need arises. Till next month, exit to your right and enjoy the rest of AAJ.