Starting as a pop tempo and rhythm, jive has become its own vocabulary, as changeable as steps on a dance floor. All the rage from the forties, not until the fifties did jive become— as cool cats say– kick ass. During the war even Japanese American kids in the internment center high school in Manzanar, Calif, wiggled to the boogie woogie beat. And best of all, those kids who were possibly related to suicide kamikaze flyers— why they were detained in the first place— called their band “The Jive Bombers.”
Those particular youngsters, enemies of the state by suspicion, formed a high school band playing off “jive” and “dive bombers.” Why they would make that association with the jihadists of the time suggests at least two possibilities. The first and most likely reason would be that high school age people, at their most imitative jarghead stage, would naturally glom onto the latest jive.
So getting bombed with jive was cool. Another reading of The Jive Bombers could signify a middle finger defiantly upraised at the powers that be. This would be in the spirit of the aforementioned jihadists, only with a little more subtlety. We stick with the first reason because the Japanese people revere jazz to this day, and the Jive Bombers were already in that tradition. Moreover, The Jive Bombers make a good intro to our featured subject for the Crying Out Loud Times. The different ways in which Jive Bombers could be read illustrates the inherent twists of jive itself.
Although Jive has many rhythms and tempos, its main attraction is spin. Observe a jitterbugging couple. The way they twirl and twist and scoot around and under and over each other, it’s easy to see how spin is an essential part of jiving.
Jive doesn’t even require feet. There’s also hand jive. Songs like “Willie and the Hand Jive” celebrate it. Guys on the street did that crazy hand jive, matching each other’s lightning moves, shoulders shaking and hands clapping, mindful of seated minstrels waving tambourines.
But the central feature of jive resides in neither hand nor foot. The coolest jive is played with palate and diaphragm and tongue and lips, and it comes out the mouth. And don’t think it’s only the slick scatting of Louis and Ella, the be-bop, the re-bop and scooby-doo. You can even hear it in Jesse Jackson speeches, all that rap alliteration.
But because it’s been used by so many for so many questionable purposes, jive has suffered. Sadly, it has lost much of its happy flavor and means mostly nothing more than ear stuffing. “Are you jiving me, brother?”— the question has come to imply that someone is not being straight. Your roving reporter first heard it in Chicago-land where Black Panthers held talks railing against the honky power structure. They railed against all the muthafuggen “jive ass bullshit,” which got to be stock-in-trade lingo.
Jive-Ass-Bullshit, JAB, seems an apt acronym as the first part of jabber, or jabberwocky. Double read for meaning, and you got jabber jive. Anyone can play. Take a jab. That’s the fun of it. Like poetry. Like Emily Dickinson advising readers to “Tell all the Truth but tell it Slant.” Jive’s slanted already, and the task is to sift the jab out of the jabber.
So we offer this little excursion into the land of jive-ass jabberwocky as a tour of appreciation. Since jive has even achieved the status of national policy, this tour might also be considered, with all those jive bombers diving down upon our heads, a lesson in survival. So snap on your goggles and belt up. We’re heading for Part Two of our tribute to that most typical of American art forms which informs much business and most politics.
The beat goes on…
YAHOO DOOFUS JIVE, or is it DOOFUS YAHOO?
Jive started out hep, then it got hip. So after a while, if you were hep it was obvious you weren’t cool enough to be hip. Such double talk reminds us of the jive in play when the banished CEO at Yahoo branded her colleagues on the board “doofuses.”
Talk about embarrassingly unhip! We can see at a glance how slippery is jabberwocky jive. When Carol Bartz called her colleagues doofuses (Or is it doofi?), she was not only being redundant, but silly as well, because they were already Yahoos.
When Jerry Wang and his fellows tagged their internet operation with a name that for nearly three hundred years had been defined in the dictionary as a “brutish and degraded creature having the form and all the vices of man,” they did indeed leave the tracks of a Yahoo.
Originating in Jonathan Swift’s satirical novel Gulliver’s Travels, Yahoos have been around since the book’s instant success in 1726. It is still popular in this non-literate age as a children’s book, presumably because the first two episodes are about Gulliver meeting little six-inch people and then big sixty-foot people.
But the fourth book is the killer wherein Gulliver goes to the land of the horse people, the Houyhnhnms. These very wise horse folks reverse expectations about wisdom. The equine philosophers contrast sharply with the crudely formed and hairy human-like bipeds who occupy the same island: Yahoos .
Gulliver has to defend himself fiercely in order not to be confused with the Yahoos running around (a dilemma surviving to our own time). Hearing them described, the Houyhnhnms were inclined to judge Englishmen as animals who possessed “some small pittance of reason.” The horse master
was even more confused because Englishmen like Gulliver resemble yahoos by walking on their “hinder parts.”
… I went on by assuring him, that the Ship was made by Creatures like myself, who in all Countries I had travelled, as well as in my own, were the only governing rational Animals; and that upon my Arrival hither, I was as much astonished to see the Houyhnhnms act like rational Beings, as he or his Friends could be in finding some Marks of Reason in a Creature he was pleased to call a Yahoo; to which I owned my Resemblance in every Part, but could not account for their degenerate and brutal Nature. [Gulliver’s Travels, Book III.]
In creating creatures of wisdom as horses, Swift played up a reversal similar to Pierre Boule’s Planet of the Apes wherein apes rule men. Like Gulliver’s Travels, Planet of the Apes has been reduced as well to children’s tales because of its fable (fabulous) structure. But the same ridicule of human foible resides. In Boule’s satire apes inherit the earth because humans got lazy. Swift’s yahoos suggest the ape within man.
There was also another Kind of Root very juicy, but something rare and difficult to be found, which the Yahoos fought for with much Eagerness, and would suck it with great Delight: It produced the same Effects that Wind hath upon us. It would make them sometimes hug, and sometimes tear one another apart; they would howl, and grin, and chatter, and reel, and tumble, and then fall asleep in the Mud. [Gulliver’s Travels, Book VII]
For the nearly three hundred years following the publication of Gulliver’s Travels, the term yahoo had always indicated a bestial and ignorant individual requiring a revisit to the swamp for further development— until the advent of internet wit.
And the net.wit, the dot.commie, the self-avowed yahoo has inherited his or her title justly as one who has mucked up an ingenious communication system. The internet is indeed a rather miraculous creation, given that it speaks down to us from the heavens. And it makes communication almost heavenly when you consider how a life-saving surgical procedure could be conducted across the ether.
Then, like space junk is littered among the satellites, yahoos work feverishly to dump into that vast ethereal net the most inanely dangerous crap an infantile marketeering mind could conjure. Due to such busy doodling on billboards blocking the information highway, the view is littered and obstructed by inane ads and kiddy porn, the road itself rife with digital detours and perilous potholes.
These would be the same type of folks who turned the telephone into a torture device, who aid an army of yahoo sales wallas across the seas to screw up your day and your privacy. Creatures who converted the mail box into a crapper, they have taken an electronic digital device intricately wired into a fabulous new dimension and crammed it full of spam and cookies and pop-ups and Trojans and donkeys and baboons— not to mention stealing your loot and your identity. And they actually call themselves yahoos.
My Master continuing his Discourse, said, There was nothing that rendered the Yahoos more odious than their undistinguished Appetite to devour every thing that came in their Way. [Gulliver’s Travels, Book VII.]
Guess hep can’t ever be hip, especially with a CEO dot commie who overlooks the meaning in her firm’s title and pulls out of her lobes a piece of shopworn jive: “Doofus.” But it’s really just another peek at jarghead jabberwocky jive seeking to hide behind names.
So which is hep and which hip? Does yahoo trump doofus? If it’s cooler to be a yahoo like the CEO over a doofus like her colleagues, then how cool is a yahoo?
I remember in frequent Discourses with my Master concerning the Nature of Manhood, in other parts of the world; having occasion to talk of Lying and false Representation, it was with much difficulty that he Comprehended what I meant; although he had otherwise a most acute Judgement. For he argued thus; That the Use of Speech was to make us understand one another, and to receive information of Facts; now if any one said the Thing which was not, these Ends were defeated; because I cannot properly be said to understand him; and I am so far from receiving Information, that he leaves me worse than in ignorance; for I am led to believe a Thing Black when it is White, and Short when it is Long.
[Gulliver’s Travels, Book IV].
Ape or yahoo, beast comparisons are really moot. They are so old millennium. The new Man-Beast flick should really be about humanoid insects. Insectification— getting more comfortable in the hive is what it’s all about. Hives buzz with yahoo choices. That’s how narrow circles of acceptance or information among dot commies are maintained. Circuitry merely supports circles of connections offering two options: go or no-go. That’s yes or no, never a maybe.
Of course Hollywood already tried that insect theme with The Fly in which a guy gets mixed in the gene blender with a housefly. In our new version a bee takes over and he gives the New Man the lowdown on how to really be hip to the Hive: keep your head down, and twitch while you buzz and hustle and replicate.
We reserve the extraction of twit from twitter for a later edition.
And the beat does certainly goes on.
CORPSE MEN, UNITE!
In our analysis… Oh, pardon the error. That’s not the proper jive. Let’s begin again…
In our conversation about jive, it’s been recognized that words themselves, the building blocks of jive, are not enough. Like its musical counterpart, lingo jive needs a beat. Bearing that principle in mind, we must recognize the reigning Jive Meister, Barack Obama.
Proof of his worth as Jive Meister was lit in neon by his attainment of the presidency on three words: hope and change— and one of them a conjunction! But a lot of passionate rap was wrapped around those three little words. Sure, he’d revert from time-to-time to the old formal jive like “work across the aisle,” or some such blather. But soon after, he’d turn right around and get down and funky and lament some blues over a single mother of six in Hoboken who has to feed her children old shoe leather just to survive. Now that’s jiving.
But words by themselves are not enough. Remember, jiving starts as a jitterbug proposition: band swinging and hips popping. Jive works all the joints. Hands as well— waving, gesturing. Then it finally shows up in the jivest joint of the body: the tongue.
How else can it be told of hope for change to a better life for that little girl in Ohio with leukemia? Her parents can’t afford health care and all the little girl is asking for is a doll to play with while she’s waiting for the ambulance to come and take her away. But the ambulance can’t even make it because it got stuck in George Bush’s economic ditch.
So you got the words, but the sayin is in the swayin. When you ask flat out— “What’s all this muthafuggen jive-ass bullshit?”— the words are there, but not the rhythm, not the way the Panthers do it. Proper rap starts out slow and cool. What’s all (pause) this (pause) etc etc. Then a dramatic break between mutha and fuggen, and slow it way down for the final coup of jive-ass and bull shit. All together now:
Wh-a-at’s /all/ this/// (pause, slow tempo) mutha//fug//gen jive/// ass (double slow) boooool//// sheee// (upbeat on final syllable) it!
So we can begin to understand how jive is a tricky proposition by seeing the importance of swaying as well as the saying— and the saying is already suspect. Tricky words are reason enough for jiving’s bad rap. You know, the way jive-ass is linked up with bullshit.
One example from the Jive Meister himself jumps out: “Shovel ready.”
In defense of the JM it should be pointed out that he and his crew aren’t exactly rural folks. They didn’t even know what a cattle guard was, so they were going around checking to see if they could “cut the cattle guard jobs.” It’s therefore likely that none of the crew was aware of the primary function of a shovel in the barnyard, how it’s closely linked with boool shee-it.
As we have seen, when jive ain’t hip, it reveals one who’s only hep, a cat who hasn’t made it around the geo-political block. For example, not many in the White House seem to be military guys packing loads of combat experience, so it’s understandable that they wouldn’t have had very much to do with a corpsman.
Now when George Bush mispronounciated nukular for nuclear, it was a clear example of a president who was “misunderestimated.” But we understood that Bush did not bear the same lofty academic credentials of his replacement, the Jive Meister. So then, how could the highly intellectual JM mispronounciate corpsman? And he did it while presiding at the ceremony held to honor a heroic corpsman! He pronounciated the letters ps mid-word, and by doing so the JM turned a core-man into a corpse-man. The exquisite part of this jive wreck is that a corpsman’s duty is, ironically, to help prevent a soldier struck in battle from turning into a corpse.
But even more exquisite is how the JM has recruited his own “corpse-men,” a corp of green personnel. And he named that new national institution, not the Jive Bombers, but the ObamaCorp.
Or is it the ObamaCorpse?
It certainly is a still-born idea, the ObamaCorpse. But it’s cranking for green jobs, shoring up our— What was that word always coming up? Oh, yeah, “infrastructure.”
So in order to create a whole passel of “green jobs” to jive up the infrastructure, it takes more jive to make them shovel-ready. But come to think of it, isn’t bullshit kind of green? We know that $s are.
And Infrastructure? What’s that jive-ass manure supposed to mean? Could infrastructure mean what any government should maintain as a matter of course? Something that automatically happens, or doesn’t happen, with bridges and roads. Some historians trace the decline of the Roman empire by the breakdown of its road system. We have a head-start on that. But for the moment infrastructure is cool jive. And green is coolest of all.
Pictures taken at the Arches Monument in Moab, Utah, catch how the infrastructure is being jived up, serious-like. Seeing the number of CorpseMen messing with a piece of infrastructure brings up another question: How many CorpseMen does it take to fix a fence?
In Japan, similar boondoggles are staples. The Japanese have been at it longer, surely by necessity, because their hive is traditionally cramped. A picture of workaday shovel-ready Samurai electrical workers shows them paving the way, literally, to the future. They belong to an enterprise which is not really an electric corporation nor a nationalized power company, but a sukiyaki of both, bearing the ambiguous title of a group, or grupu. We detect our own US leadership, ever casting overseas for better ideas, creating similarly unidentifiable groups. Whether corporate or government, sandbagging alliances are difficult to identify. You can’t tell if they’re doing the Jitterbug or Be Bop; you just somehow get the feeling it’s all related to the Twist.
But whoever is in charge of infrastructure, the samurai art of sandbagging rivals the most industrious insect hive. This supports our own view that goes beyond apes and horses to dramatize instead insectified lives passionately dedicated to the hive.
The uncomfortable part is how scurrilous green hive jive insects are as they eat out the infrastructure right down to the core. Or is it Corp? Scurrilous is really the word, too. It’s a jumping jive word because part of the definition of scurrilous is to jump or scurry— what insects do when the light comes on.