Yeah, six month hiatus... can't say there's much of an excuse either.
I'm visiting my parents right now. They're unbelievably enthusiastic about my being here. It's kind of infantilizing in a way; eating dinner with them every night, going to movies, feeling embarassed. My girlfriend and I went to a downtown gallery opening and I found myself walking 10 steps behind them, pretending I was on my own.
In any case I went to a jazz festival last night. With my parents. I have only a passing knowledge of contemporary jazz, and my parents are even less interested. Given my inability to have a normal conversation with my parents about anything but the weather and maybe politics, this was the perfect chance for my mind to wander. These two ideas arose:
1. The possibility of creating a new patriotoism around the fact that our country invented blues, bluegrass, jazz, rock, and rap music. And still is the foremost world power at all of them. No, really, this is amazing. I can't say my ancestors had anything to do with it, but the strange mix of freedom and opression in this country has managed to create most of the great pop music in the western world. Maybe I'm just being Amerocentric, but most European and Asian pop music sounds manneristic and self-conscious. In a bad way, like they're playing by someone else's rules.
2. Most of the people there weren't actually hearing the music. Jazz is so prevalent, especially in its "lite" variety, that the basic tropes of improvisation have been internalized by most americans. When I actually bothered to think about what was being played, I was impressed by how good some of the stuff was, who it reminded me of. But if I stopped paying attention, it might as well have been coming out of an elevator. They might as well have put up a big sign that said "imagine soothing jazz music coming from here."
And boy do I hate the word jazz. Jazz. Most labels for music are a bit goofy. Blues. Rock and Roll. Hip Hop. Crunk. But jazz is the worst. Jazz. You have to enunciate until you spit the "j" and the tail rolls out on infinite sustain: JHazzzzzzzzzzzz. ugh.