Dance is Something to Write About – Potential Patron Trashes Reviews

 

Paul’s modern dance teacher Ruth Currier with Jose Limon

 

SOMETHING TO WRITE ABOUT

BY

DAVID ARTHUR WALTERS

 

Two weeks ago, Paul Bowman, the greatest aspiring author the world will ever or never know, had mailed his dance reviews to Senior, the wealthy Pittsburg industrialist who said he would sponsor Paul if he liked his work. Senior had told Paul to meet him two weeks hence back at the Peculiar Pub in Greenwich Village where Senior regularly held court with his son Junior and a motley court of drunkards. So Paul entered the pub with a fluttering heart to receive Senior’s verdict.

Sure enough, there sat Senior, and, as luck would have it, there was an empty stool next to him, upon which Paul sat down. Senior noticed him immediately, turning to greet him with beer stein in hand.

“That stuff you sent isn’t worth a shit! It’s nothing but shit!” Senior exclaimed to a stunned Paul. “I’m being honest, pal, it’s nothing but shit! Tell me, who would produce or publish such shit?”

Paul wiped the flecks of Senior’s spittle from his face, and replied, “I intended to write a few dance reviews….”

“But who would produce such shit? I don’t understand! You’re trying to be a critic….”

“I’m no critic,” Paul interjected, visibly affronted by the term. “I just wrote a series of articles about dance, my favorite subject, not as a professional expert, but from the broader perspective of an innocent member of the audience who….”

“That’s what I mean, you’re trying to be a critic. Darlene (he called to the bartender), set us up with tequila shots here and you have one yourself, sweetie. So you’re trying to be a critic….”

“Look here, sir, I am not a critic!” Paul was getting hot under the collar. “I hate critics!”

“Relax, pal, and have a drink,” Senior commanded, then tossed down a shot of tequila. “You sound like a critic. I read the first five articles you wrote about dancing, and I wondered what you were doing wasting your time writing about a bunch of peons and pansies. I’m just your average Joe, and I could care less about going to see people prancing around in pink tights, let alone read what some nitwit thought about them. Take a look around the bar here, and you tell me, who gives a shit about what you think about dancing?”

“I know the market is narrow,” answered Paul with a sunken heart. “But, but I believe I could expand it. I mean, well, you know there are lots of people who read about dance, so I….”

“Hold on there,” Senior interrupted, glaring at Paul. “Did you send that shit anywhere else?”

“Yes, I sent each review to the papers and the magazines.”

“Did you get a reply? Well, did you?” Senior challenged.

“No. But one editor wrote on the rejection slip that I….”

“There ‘ya go! Forget that! How much would you make on a best seller?”

“I don’t know, maybe fifty-thousand.”

“You stupid idiot! Try a half-million bucks for size!”

“Oh.”

“So, why are you screwing yourself short with that shit? Nobody wants to read about that sissy stuff. You’ve got to write about the right stuff to make it big. Hey, Junior (he called down the bar to his son) isn’t this guy’s writings shit?” Junior nodded his assent compliantly.

“As I said, I wanted to write about something…”

“Something? Something? What do you want for your work, ten bucks?”

“Well, no,” Paul answered wanly.

“Well, that’s what it looks like!” Senior concluded and turned to talk to his son, thus leaving Paul, the greatest aspiring writer the world will ever or never know, to his reflections and a full shot of tequila.

#

How Cool Are You?

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HOW COOL IS COOL?

By

David Arthur Walters

Do you think you are way cool?

The expression ‘cool’ has been around a long time, but its meaning has evolved to the point where many of us do not have a clear idea of its meaning. It seems that plain old “cool” is for know-nothing kids or for musicians who are no longer with it. But I don’t know for sure. I had a pretty good idea of what the word meant in the Sixties, when saying “Cool!” was cool for trustworthy People Under Thirty. I no longer try to be cool, but I still use the word once in a while.

And what brought this subject up? A critical reader recently took me to task for using the expression “Way cool” in my autobiographical account of my first trip. She insisted that I must have said “Far out!”, because “way cool” is a modern modification of cool – the phrase can only to be found in the most recently updated slang dictionaries. At first glance, it seemed that she had called into account the veracity of my entire account, wherefore I took up the subject of cool.

My critics and I are always right in our own ways – even when we disagree, we eventually arrive at the same absolute truth. After all, there are many paths to the truth. Yet some ways are so devious that it would take light years to get there, so I shall be brief. My statement, that I said “Way cool!” in 1969, is quite true. Having transcended time and space along with nine other a-priori categories, I presciently ejaculated, “Way cool!” Hence my inclusion of the phrase in my book, Sunshine, Window Pane, and Blue Cheer, was appropriate.

My critic was correct about “far out.” It was used as early as the Fifties, but came into vogue in the Sixties and Seventies, and still enjoyed some usage in the Eighties.

“Way out” was the fashion during the Thirties, replacing hep and cool. It was used by progressive jazz buffs to connote a certain loss of consciousness during way-out improvisations. Whether far out is farther out than way out or vice versa is a matter upon which I will not speculate on this trip.

Yes, jazz can be cool. But cool jazz is not hot jazz or sensational jazz. Of course intellectual jazz is cool; it is sophisticated jazz – in the Fifties that meant white jazz. In that sense of cool, bop was not cool, although boppers certainly thought they were cool. This cool stuff confuses me somewhat because I am not a jazz buff. I don’t even know whether bop differs from bebop or not, but I recall that bebop was not the swinging “black” New Orleans style jazz that whites got off on because they wanted to dance; I think bebop involved a highly skilled technique developed by black intellectuals. However that may be, I believe that all colors of jazz are really cool.

Furthermore, here is some cool history (all dates are circa):

(1820) A daring and insolent man was a cool fish, perhaps one who had served time in the cooler.

(1860) A self-controlled person was as cool as a cucumber.

(1900) An attractive girl was said to be cool.

(1918) A cool kid was shrewd, urban and suave.

(1930) The exciting, enjoyable drummer was a cool drummer.

(1950) A man who kept his composure knew how to keep cool.

(1950) A man who felt safe would say, “I’m cool.”

(1970) People on friendly terms were cool with each other.

Well, I suppose everybody knows that already. No doubt I have missed some really cool usage, so please be cool and add your own for my soft drive.

As for the meaning of “way cool”, I’ll make a wild guess and leave it to those who are more culturally astute than I am to correct me. I suppose that way cool is more cool than cool and is farther out than way out and far out, while being the coolest of cool. But wait a minute! Does anyone know how cool cool can be before it’s too cold to be cool?