Jazz music and tough guy fiction

Discussion in 'TV & Media' started by JoeZhang, Jan 6, 2013.

  1. JoeZhang

    JoeZhang Vice Admiral Admiral

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    I read a lot of American 'tough guy' fiction (recently finishing the Joe Kurtz series) and it occurs to me - why do so many authors have their tough guy character (be they a PI or a cop) like Jazz music?

    What's the significance of it?
     
  2. ITL

    ITL Vice Admiral Admiral

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    The sleaze of the saxamophone?
     
  3. The Mirrorball Man

    The Mirrorball Man Vice Admiral Admiral

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    It's a cheap and easy way to indicate that a character is more sophisticated than he appears, without resorting to opera or abstract art, things that may be perceived as lessening his "though guy" aura.
     
  4. Gov Kodos

    Gov Kodos Admiral Admiral

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    I'm guessing with it's roots in the 20's and 30's it was associated with speak easies, bootleggers, and the folks who go up against the establishment. The term hard-boiled for tough guys originated in the jazz age, seemingly. Here's a neat dictionary of jazz age slang, which sounds like every detective cliche ever used in hard-boiled detective novels http://home.earthlink.net/~dlarkins/slang-pg.htm and a short article on jazz age slang is to be found here... http://www.mookychick.co.uk/how-to/how-to-guides/jazz_age_slang.php
     
  5. gblews

    gblews Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    Don't know that I'de call it "cheap", but I agree that having the tough guy like jazz is meant to convey to the audience that the character has a certain sophistication. It also allows the character the ability to maintain an aura of "coolness".

    I've done a lot of listening to and reading about jazz and it's history and that is the strangest list of so called "jazz slang", I've ever seen. I didn't even see the word "cat" listed under the "C" category. Weird list.
     
  6. The Mirrorball Man

    The Mirrorball Man Vice Admiral Admiral

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    I said it was cheap because it's become a cliché at this point. It's a stock character trait for stock characters.
     
  7. M'Sharak

    M'Sharak Definitely Herbert. Maybe. Moderator

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    List looks OK to me for the period in question (1920s and 30s.) Wouldn't "cat" have come a bit later on, though - mid- and post-WWII, with bebop, the jump bands, and cool?
     
  8. gblews

    gblews Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    No, "cat" was a term Louie Armstrong is generally credited with popularizing and he was huge in the '20s.

    But I do note that the list is called "Jazz Era Slang" which I suppose might mean that the slang didn't necessarily originate with jazz musicians. But if that is the case I wonder why the list wasn't just called "Popular Slang from the '20s and the '30s". Calling it Jazz Era Slang to me, implies that this slang originated with jazz music or with jazz musicians. I'm aware that I'm knitpicking.

    And BTW, the period you refer to, the '40s, post WWII -- it seems to me could also be called the jazz era since the music was SO popular during those years.
     
  9. Gaith

    Gaith Vice Admiral Admiral

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    Most film noir scores are fairly jazzy, no? The sax in particular evoking the loneliness of a cold, rainy night in a city that keeps its secrets.

    So it only makes sense to have gumshoe types appreciate jazz. If the tail was smarter than the dog...
     
  10. M'Sharak

    M'Sharak Definitely Herbert. Maybe. Moderator

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    Even though jazz continued to be popular in various forms, the capitalized "Jazz Age" typically refers to the 1920s up until the onset of the Depression, and did not apply exclusively to jazz and jazz musicians but also to the surrounding scene and culture - dance, fashion, art, attitudes toward establishment and tradition. (The slang list appears to more loosely apply the term to encompass the pre-swing years of the 1930s as well, but that's more an editorial choice than anything.)
     
  11. Australis

    Australis Writer Admiral

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    It was raining, a dirty night in a dirty city. Somewhere downtown, a guy was beating someone. Somewhere downtown, a woman was putting a gat in her purse on her way to one last date. Somewhere across the city. a guy was pulling out a flick knife, and another guy was shoving drugs into the boot of his car to make that big score.

    Me? I was sipping a long Jack Daniels while listening to Bix Beidferbecke on the electric victrola. I remember my granddad having one of the old windup ones and the wax cylinders. The shellac discs were much cleaner, and I could hear Bix's notes vibrating cleanly. One clean thing in a dirty city. I toasted Bix. Wherever he was.
     
  12. lurok

    lurok Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    [yt]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XfnFbBt1e0U[/yt]

    She came at me in sections. More curves than a scenic railway.

    (actually, I bet board denizens could prob do a great 5-words-a-time gumshoe pastiche :) )
     
    Last edited: Jan 9, 2013
  13. The Mirrorball Man

    The Mirrorball Man Vice Admiral Admiral

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    Fred Astaire really was a smooth criminal.
     
  14. Gaith

    Gaith Vice Admiral Admiral

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    This seems as good a time as any to quote those immortal words of Raymond Chandler:

    "She was a blonde. A blonde to make a bishop kick a whole in a stained-glass window."
     
  15. Australis

    Australis Writer Admiral

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    That's Cyd Charisse. Classy

    "She was a dame with gams that never quit."
     
  16. scotpens

    scotpens Vice Admiral Admiral

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    [yt]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Hb9UF_sQVhw[/yt]

    I've read that Elvis Presley described his G.I. Blues co-star, the leggy dancer Juliet Prowse, as having "a body that could make a bishop stamp his foot through a stained-glass window." Well, I guess he stole the line from Raymond Chandler.