In my recent ruminations on how to take jazz to the people more effectively, I pondered several possible avenues of delivery. One of them was Melrose Avenue, which I use to get to the ballpark in Salem during baseball season and avoid the afternoon drive time traffic on 581. I figured, hey, two birds with one stone. Jazz gets to the people and I get to the game and everyone's happy.
Then it was pointed out to me that Melrose Ave. runs mostly through commercially zoned areas, which may not be the best place to reach the maximum number of people. Particularly with all those "no soliciting" signs everywhere. The people at Krispy Kreme didn't seem to mind, but let's be honest, how many people can we reach in an average day at even the busiest donut shop? Certainly not enough to return jazz to its rightful prominence.
So I went back to the drawing board (which I made myself out of an old sounding post, which itself came from a recycled soap box) and decided to combine my passion for furthering jazz with America's passion for dubious weight loss schemes. It was either that or lurid sex scandals, and try as I might I just could not seem to get Paris Hilton and Brad Mehldau in the same place at the same time.
Few nations on earth are as obsessed with its weight as Americans, except perhaps the Japanese. They have to balance out all those Sumo wrestlers to keep their island floating level, or else the whole country would tip like a canoe. Why they haven't thought about using Taiwan as an outrigger is beyond me, but that's an article for another time.
As I was saying.
Americans are obsessed with weight loss. Every time one turns around, there seems to be another diet plan being foisted as the key to rapid, significant, permanent weight loss. I just turned around a second ago in the interest of factual correctness and sure enough, my parakeet was hawking his own diet of seed millet and an exercise regiment that consists of pecking obsessively at anything shiny. He claims it as a safe, natural way to drop from my current weight of 255 pounds down to his ideal weight of 4.2 ounces, and is filming an infomercial as I write this starring his diet's representative success story, Calista Flockhart, who went from a size .7 to a size .025 in just six weeks and is now no longer visible to the naked eye.
So why not take advantage? With a little bit of the same American ingenuity that created jazz, your Own Personal Genius can certainly cobble together a themed diet regiment that won't be any dumber or more dangerous than anything else out there. The only important thing is to make sure it is counterintuitive. The only real way to lose weight safely and permanently is to eat properly and exercise more, but we as Americans are distrustful of anything that sounds too simple. We need something so complicated it can't possibly work so that we have a reasonable excuse when it inevitably fails, which also goes a long way towards explaining Social Security and the BCS but let's not get me started.
The place to begin with any diet plan is with extravagant promises of a new and better self. The Jazz Diet will make you thinner, taller, smarter, richer, happier, hipper, leaner, meaner, keener, more attractive to members of every sex, and able to do those newspaper cryptoquote puzzles in one go. Your hat will fit better. When you order eggs in a restaurant, they will be cooked exactly the way you requested them. Your cousin will finally pay you back that eight bucks he borrowed in 1986. Monkeys in the zoo will not throw their dung at you, nor will your elected officials.
No respectable diet plan can be without representative success stories. We must also have testimonials to accompany our grandiose claims. Weight Watchers has Fergie, Subway has Jared, and Cocaine has Mary Kate Olsen. I pondered several candidates, from Aunt Jemima to our own Senator Ricci, before finally deciding to take one for the team and be the face of the Jazz Diet my damned self.
Inheriting the thick-boned DNA of a long line of stocky mountain folks, and raised on the deep-fried-and-gravy-smothered diet of the Appalachian South, I have always been a big boy. I haven't been under 200 pounds since I was 15, and have soared to over 300 as recently as July of 2003 as a result of my heroic defense of Southwest Virginia from a Biblical-scale plague of beer and chicken wings. Down to a more manageable 255, and still losing, I credit the amazing Jazz Diet.
But is the Jazz Diet for me, you ask, or does it only work for the erudite, the cultural elite? Do I have to be a latte-swilling liberal arts grad to reap the benefits of this plan? Not at all, Paco. The Jazz Diet is, like jazz itself, for everyone from hillbillies to housewives to hermits (well, hip hermits. Happenin' hermits). The plan embraces the entire purview of American cuisine, from sports-bar chicken wings to four-star restaurant grilled Chilean sea bass with mango salsa and then back to the chicken wings because man do I likes me them wings.
Which brings us to the first tenant of the Jazz Diet; namely, what you can and cannot eat. Unlike Weight Watchers, which has a complex system of points and nonsensical limitations like "don't drink more than a gallon of beer in a single sitting" and "use fat-free bleu cheese dressing when eating your own weight in Buffalo wings," the menu choices are virtually unlimited. The rule is simple: Only eat cool foods.
This doesn't mean you can't eat heated food, not at all. It means you can't eat food that isn't hip, or that places you in a position that could be construed as uncool. For instance, the Jazz Diet would include the Wendy's Triple, but not the Burger King Whopper. Why? Because no self-respecting adult can walk up to a fast food counter and say the word "whopper" without looking like a dink. Likewise, Denny's Moons Over My Hammy® and IHOP's Rooty Tooty Fresh and Fruity®. Forget about Ho-Ho's and Ding Dongs, cross Funyuns off your list, and say goodbye to Poppycock or Fiddle Faddle. And sweet merciful lord help you if you're caught with a Goo Goo Cluster.
It isn't just foods with silly or embarrassing names that are verboten on the Jazz Diet. Though corn dogs would otherwise be acceptable, it is impossible to look cool eating any food that comes on a stick. Also, anything pretentious or trendy is off the list. No matter how deep your personal convictions, it is virtually impossible to order organic free-range chicken without coming off like a complete git.
It goes without saying that, since a myriad of foods are allowed, portion control becomes very important. Here is where the Jazz Diet sets itself apart from every other plan. Instead of carefully measuring each and every meal, the Jazz Diet allows you to load your plate till your heart's content. But, you must eat while listening to jazz and you can only eat at certain, prescribed moments. For instance, if you're listening to Free Jazz, you can only eat when they play a recognizable melody. If you're listening to anything but Fusion, you can only eat during the bass solo. If you're listening to Smooth Jazz, the overwhelming nausea should be sufficient to keep you from eating much of anything and keeping it down.
Jazz also plays a significant role in the exercise portion of the Diet, as well. Kinetic and propulsive, yet appealing to the intellect, it is possible to train both mind and body while listening to jazz. A jazz-themed workout both burns more calories and heightens intellectual prowess, equivalent to reading Shakespeare while running a triathlon but with far less chance of riding your bike into a 7-11 in the middle of a soliloquy. In contrast, the same workout conducted while listening to a Britney Spears CD has been shown not only to lower overall intelligence, but increases general skankiness and boosts the chances of an ill-advised quickie marriage by an order of magnitude.
Sound good, kids? Of course it does. But what if it isn't working for you? What if you're eating only the hippest foods while listening to jazz and the pounds still aren't coming off? Well, every diet must have a contingency for just such a possibility. The Jazz Diet is no different, and there will certainly be some difficulties along the way. Sales of Dave Koz CD's will skyrocket among bulimic teens, while Charles Mingus will become a favorite among wily cheaters. So if all else fails, I recommend the Miles Davis Method; just turn your back to the table and be cool.
So there you have it, the entire plan. The beauty is in the simplicity. America gets a new diet craze and jazz finds a new audience, albeit in a roundabout way. And can you imagine the marketing possibilities? Jazz CD's included with specially-prepared foods in grocery stores, restaurants offering jazz-friendly entrees, the outlets are virtually unlimited. Take a look around at the current landscape, then substitute the word carb with the word jazz. This is why I am a Genius.
Till next month, kids, exit to your right and enjoy the rest of AAJ.