In a world of near-constant commercial imperatives, the library’s very existence is something of a miracle. It’s easy to forget just how rare it is to simply exist in a space where you aren’t expected to purchase something until you’re standing in one.
Unlike my pal Rick Kelley—who once told me, on the record, that “jazz sucks”—I actually like jazz music quite a bit, but I’m not great at just listening to it with full concentration. When my mind wanders, I sometimes play a game: “How would a rock music critic write about this?” You know the kind of awful prose I’m talking about, the kind written by people completely out of their depth and end up falling into the same clichés, something like:
Ahmed Jamal never plays a note he doesn’t want to.
Jim Jarmusch’s films are all about textures and surfaces. Down By Law is emblematic.
It sometimes feels like he’s hinting at wellsprings of deeper meaning or emotion, but everything is held at a remove – cold, observing, often ironic. This probably contributes to the love-it-or-hate-it reactions his films seem to inspire, especially the early ones: are they studies in the carefully calibrated hipsterism of people who cloak their authentic selves in the trappings of cool, or particularly egregious examples of it?