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AT HOME IN BAR OR BALLROOM 


100 Years Ago This Week 

 

San Francisco Bulletin

What's Not In The News

By Ernest J Hopkins

 

April 5, 1913 — In Praise of “Jazz,” a Futurist Word Which Has Just Joined the Language.

 

This column is entitled “What’s not in the news,” but occasionally a few things that are in the news leak in. We have been trying for some time to keep one of these things out, but hereby acknowledge ourselves powerless and surrender.

 

This thing is a word. It has recently become current in the Bulletin office, through some means which we cannot discover but would stop up if we could. There should be every precaution taken to avoid the possibility of any more such words leaking in to disturb our vocabularies.

 

This word is “Jaz.” It is also spelt “Jazz,” and as they both sound the same and mean the same, there seems to be no way of settling the controversy. 

 

The office staff is divided into two sharp factions, one of which upholds the single z and the other the double z. To keep them from coming to blows, much Christianity is required.

 

“Jazz” (we change the spelling each time so as not to offend either faction) can be defined, but it cannot be synonymized. If there were another word that exactly expressed the meaning of “jaz,” “jazz” would never have been born. A new word, like a new muscle, only comes into being when it has long been needed.

 

This remarkable and satisfactory-sounding word, however, means something like life, vigor, energy, effervescence of spirit, joy, pep, magnetism, verve, virility, ebulliency, courage, happiness—oh, what’s the use?—JAZZ.

 

Nothing else can express it.

 

When you smile at the office-boy (time: 7:30 a.m.) as though you thought him nice, that is “jaz.” When you hit the waiter for serving you cold waffles, that is “jaz.” When you work until midnight, then get up and work until midnight again without cursing your boss, that is “jaz.” When you look upon a girl and she loves you, that is “jazz.”

 

Some of the utter usefulness and power of this wonderful word now begins to appear.

 

You can go on flinging the new word all over the world, like a boy with a new jack-knife. It is “jazz” when you run for your train; “jazz” when you sock the umpire; “jazz” when you demand a raise; “jaz” when you hike thirty-five miles of a Sunday; “jazz” when you simply sit around and beam so that all who look beam on you. Anything that takes manliness or effort or energy or activity or strength of soul is “jaz.”

 

We would not have you apprehend that this new word is slang. It is merely futurist language, which as everybody knows is more than mere cartooning.

 

“Jazz” is a nice word, a classic word, easy on the tongue and pleasant to the ears, profoundly expressive of the idea it conveys—as when you say a home-run hitter is “full of the old jaz.” (Credit Scoop [Gleeson].) There is, and always has been, an art of genial strength; to this art we now victoriously give the splendid title of “jazz.”

 

The sheer musical quality of the word, that delightful sound like the crackling of a brisk electric spark, commends it. It belongs to the class of onomatopoeia. It was important that this vacancy in our language should have been filled with a word of proper sound, because “jaz” is a quality often celebrated in epic poetry, in prize-fight stories, in the tale of action of the meditative sonnet; it is a universal word, and must appear well to all society.

 

That is why “pep,” which tried to mean the same but never could, failed; it was roughneck from the first, and could not wear evening clothes. “Jazz” is at home in bar or ballroom; it is a true American.

 

To conclude, just a few examples of its use.

 

“Miss Eugenia Jefferson-Lord, was clad in a pink pongee creation suitable for a rainy day, and of great jaz.” (Society Notes.)

 

“Our Harry, sighting true for once, swung the willow against the pill with all his jazz.” (Baseball account.)

 

“Though fatally shot, the unfortunate captain still had sufficient jaz to murmur ‘He done it’ in the ears of the police.” (Murder story.)

 

“All the worl’ am done gone crazy.
Yassah, sure it has;
How mah brain am reeling dazy,
Sighin’ for the ol’, ol’ jazz!” (Plantation melody.)

“And Saturn strode athwart the cedarn grove,
Filled with the jaz that makes Creation move!” (Paradise Lost.)

IMPRESSIONABLE 



When I was young and asking the big questions, I learned most of what I still believe about loyalty, bravery and morality from the Silver Age superheroes in my comic book collection.

 

For real.

 

In later years I would travel internationally, study world religions, read classic works of philosophy and ethics, and even pay attention to my father's many lectures. I went to private school, public school, boarding school and the school of hard knocks. I'm an educated cat.

 

But to this day, when the world tests my mettle or challenges my sense of right and wrong, it's not Spinoza but my inner Green Lantern who shows up for the fight.

 

I've always been impressionable in this way. 

 

For example, I'm pretty sure I have a goatee because of the way Spock looked in "Mirror, Mirror." I know I started wearing dashikis in high school because of a picture I saw of Elvin Jones in Downbeat. I sport a beret on stage because Dizzy did.

 

Today, while watching Highlander for the godzillionth time, I noticed something about Christopher Lambert's home. Like so many characters in films of the 1980s and '90s, The Highlander lived in a loft.

 

It now occurs to me that my interior design preferences and bone-deep love of warehouse loft spaces and mid-century modern furniture are not based on anywhere I've lived or anything I've seen or studied. They don't reflect some sophisticated notion about the aesthetic requirements of an artist's life. They aren't because I need space to rehearse and create.

 

Nope. I learned about loft living from the movies. Dig: 

 

William Sanderson in Blade Runner (1982). Jennifer Beals in Flashdance (83). Lambert in Highlander (86). Barbara Hershey in Hannah and Her Sisters (86). Mickey Rourke in 9-1/2 Weeks (86). Tom Hanks in Big (88). Billy Crystal in When Harry Met Sally (89). Rosanna Arquette in New York Stories (89). Nancy Travis in So I Married An Axe Murderer (93). James Caan in Bottle Rocket (96). Ethan Hawke in Great Expectations (98). Julianne Moore in The Big Lebowski (98). Adam Sandler in Big Daddy (99). Christian Bale in American Psycho (00). Owen Wilson in Zoolander (01). Olivier Martinez in Unfaithful (02).

 

I want their cribs!

 

Thanks, Hollywood.

 

(Sure hope this flugelhorn thing works out.)

WESTWARD HO 

Across the plaza from Civic Space Park (where guitarist Stan Sorenson and I played a noontime concert today) stands one of the most interesting and historic buildings in downtown Phoenix: the Westward Ho.


 

Upon its grand opening in 1928, the neo-Renaissance Westward Ho was the tallest structure in the area (16 stories!) and one of the most elegant hotels in the west, with vaulted ceilings, stained glass windows and beautiful tiled floors.


 

Over the years, the hotel accumulated its share of fame.


 

Jack Benny broadcast radio shows from the Westward Ho during World War II.


 

Elizabeth Taylor kept a suite at the hotel and dined in its restaurant, Top of the Ho.


 

Paul Newman filmed a scene for the 1972 movie Pocket Money there.


 

Robert Wagner married Natalie Wood on the hotel patio.


 

Marilyn Monroe filmed the parade scene in Bus Stop (1956) on Central Avenue in front of the Westward Ho and is said to have gone for a moonlight swim (without a suit!) in the hotel pool.


 

Some of the Ho's other famous guests include John F. Kennedy, Martin Luther King Jr., Roy Rogers, Jackie Gleason, Myrna Loy, Amelia Earhart, Esther Williams, Danny Thomas, Gary Cooper, Lucille Ball, Clark Gable, Henry Fonda, Bob Hope, Liberace, Lee Marvin, Tyrone Power, Eleanor Roosevelt, Shirley Temple, Al Capone, Spencer Tracy and John Wayne.


 

Contrary to popular belief, the Westward Ho does not appear in the opening sequence of the 1960 Alfred Hitchcock film Psycho, but is featured in the 1998 Gus Van Sant remake.


 

A 280-foot television broadcast antenna, added to the hotel's rooftop in 1949, is now used as a cell phone tower.


 

In 1980, after 52 years, the Westward Ho hotel closed for business and was converted to subsidized housing for the elderly and mobility impaired. 


The building is now recognized on the National Register of Historic Places.

ON MONEY 


"Las Vegas is the only place I know 

where money really talks. It says Goodbye."

—Frank Sinatra

 

"For what? For a little bit of money. 

There's more to life than a little money, you know. 

Don'tchya know that? And here ya are, and it's a beautiful day. 

Well, I just don't understand it." 

—Marge Gunderson

 

"Getting money is easy, but changing an 

impoverished mindset is next to impossible."

—Nicholas Payton

THIRD EYE 

Hard to believe my high school senior recital was 29 years ago this week. So long ago that I still had a third eye ("i"). John Redmer on bass, a very talented young man, now gone but not forgotten. And I wonder what Eric, Tibor and Norm are up to these days? Maybe we should do a reunion tour. I remember our faculty advisor said we were too young—hadn't experienced enough of life's ups and downs—to play "A Remark You Made" with the requisite feeling.

Are we old enough now, Mr. Lindenau?



FROM THE ARCHIVES 

On This Day

 

March 13, 1997

Dmitri Matheny Group

Voices & Images of California Art Launch

San Francisco Museum of Modern Art

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Design by Brad Rickman

 

March 13, 1999

Dmitri Matheny Group

In-Store Appearance

Borders Books & Music

Emeryville, California

 

March 13, 2008

Interview with Melanie Berzon

KCSM Jazz 91.1 FM

San Mateo, California

 
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