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February 2010

Mr. P.C. By

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Dear Mr. P.C.:

So, like, sometimes I hang out with my friends and listen to jazz at this happy hour thing where the waiters are really cute, and my friends can, you know, come up with all these cool songs to call out when the band asks for requests.

I feel so totally insecure and stuff 'cause I can never request anything that will impress the band AND the cute waiters. I mean, come on, when you listen to real music, it has words and stuff so you can figure out what the title is, but at this club, it's only instruments, so the title is like something they just slapped on and doesn't really have anything to do with anything, but it's the way the musicians remember what they're playing, I guess.

Anyway, I have a couple of songs I learned the title to, but I always seem to request them at the wrong time. I mean, I yelled out "Linus and Lucy" to a guitarist and the cutest waiter laughed at me. And then inside I'm all like, hello, Schroeder, he totally played the organ or piano or whatever, right? Wow, was that humiliating! I felt so bad about myself that the next time I went there I wore my red 4-inch heels. I look really hot in those, LOL.

So, I was wondering, since you're so old and wise and all, if you could give me some song titles AND the instrument they've got to have in the band to play it and stuff. Theater Girl, Atlanta

Dear Theater Girl:

So these waiters are "cute," and that makes you wear red four-inch heels to look "hot" to them. But Theater Girl: Why are you trying to please the very people who laugh at you? That seems so sad to me, like you're buying into the most toxic messages of our superficial culture. Have you considered broadening your standards to include men who actually like you the way you are? Maybe they're not as cute on the outside, but spiritually speaking, they're plenty hot inside. The kind of guys who would rather see you in sensible shoeware than risking a fall from ill-advised heights. Guys who would console you, rather than laugh at you, if you were to inelegantly topple and be impaled by those spiky heels. And here's the best news, Theater Girl: I'll bet you could find one of those guys—a sensitive artist—right there on the bandstand. Up until now he may have just served as incidental soundtrack music for your shallow life story, but he'd happily be your personal escort to a more meaningful and nuanced existence.

With all that in mind, if you really prefer the view from four inches up, consider z-coil shoes like these: They absorb shock, reduce pain, and protect your spine. More importantly, when you wear them you show that you really care about yourself —not as a sexual object, but in a more holistic way. Seeing your self-respect, the kind of man you really deserve will be uncontrollably attracted to you. That's assuming you really are at least a little bit "hot," of course. Height and weight proportional, a few curves in strategic places and a reasonably flat midriff would do, I'm sure.

If the stars align, you might even pair up with another zcoil fan, and—suffice to say—enjoy recreational pogo-enhanced activities unknown to earthbound couples.

Dear Mr. P.C.:

What's with the joke, "More cowbell?" I got to watch a jazz recording session, and the musicians kept saying it to the engineer, then everyone would laugh. Does jazz even use a cowbell? David T., New Orleans

Dear David:

Not all jazz is bucolic, but certainly much of the music on the ECM label fits that description. So, while you might not hear a cowbell in the music of, say, John Coltrane's Impulse years, it would be entirely appropriate in the more pastoral music of Keith Jarrett. For me, his standards trio often evokes imagery of a cow leisurely chewing its cud on a lush green field, its bell gently tolling with the mastication. I've often wondered why Jack DeJohnette doesn't lay down a cowbell groove on some of their tunes, or why Jarrett doesn't expand the group to a quartet, with a dedicated cowbellist. Or cowbeller. Or whatever. He probably just hasn't thought of it, so I'll bet he'd love it if you brought a cowbell to one of his concerts and started jamming along with his solos.

Dear Mr. P.C.:

Does it worry the band when the audience applauds wildly when the band STOPS playing? I'm only 13 years old... please explain this to me! Alicia Nordal

Dear Alicia:

What an amazing insight for a 13-year-old, already able to put yourself in the shoes of grown-up, professional performers! But, really, it's not so surprising that an adolescent can empathize. Many jazz musicians never successfully negotiated puberty, and jazz has provided them a means to continue the fight through their adult life.


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