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Friday, October 9, 2015

Bless Me Father

Unless someone makes a comment online or off, I'm never sure who reads these reflections regularly. At least for today that's good because of the confession herein. If I get lucky and several people close to me don't read this - or decide not to tell me they did - maybe they won't call me on my shit. Here goes.

Despite an occasional snobbish protestation to the contrary, I too am able to be influenced by pop culture. Two recent experiences brought this into sharp relief.

The first was an audio lecture at the Alamo museum. Among the many moving displays there was a rifle that Fess Parker used when he portrayed Davy Crockett on TV. Before my holier-than-thou persona had a chance to dismiss this pop ephemera, the lecturer whispered a convincing case about how this prop has served as an entree for people who might otherwise not have been interested in Davy Crockett's martyrdom or the Alamo at all. Strike one against Pat the snob.

Then, "The Secret History Of Wonder Woman" (2014) by Jill Lepore blew me away. This remarkable book is wrapped in a pop culture package of the highest order. But, isn't it wholly plausible someone would be drawn in by the comic book and then become enthralled by the way Lepore braids the history of feminism into her narrative? I can easily envision this book opening a whole new world for someone. If it takes fake guns or comic books for people to get hooked, who am I to gripe? Strike two.

But the batter wasn't out until these recent experiences reminded me how I was introduced to my all time favorite jazz composer, Thelonious Monk. That's right, pop goes the culture. While still in my jazz infancy in the early 80's, my brother bought a double album called "That's The Way I Feel Now". Many rock names familiar to me - Donald Fagen, Peter Frampton, Joe Jackson - were featured playing Monk's idiosyncratic compositions on that record. I was hooked and soon after searched for the originals. Care to join me in the booth? When in your life has a pop culture phenomenon taken you to the source?

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