Saturday, November 8, 2014

A Love Letter to Jam

Dear jam,

In no particular order, here is a list of things consisting of or relating to jam:

Stephen Colbert

It's the connected versatility of jam that really, really makes me love it. But my favorite jam-related rendition is the verb. Not because I like the idea of things being crushed, crammed, or hinged, but because it sounds so aggressive and resourceful. Just the sound of it. JAM.

In physics, jamming is the process where particles harden due to increased density and take on the behavior of a solid, like when sand becomes glass. Traffic jams when the space between cars decreases, and then no motherfucker is driving anywhere until it cracks. Jamming a radio frequency disrupts a transmission. Jamming is tenacious and resolute. Fruit gets jammed for preservation purposes, machinery jams when it breaks, and sometimes we get ourselves into a jam and we can't move forward. Jam-packed. Shit, I hate crowds.

But then again, jam is a freedom. Musical notes jam into one another to create an improvised wall of sound, but the wall ebbs and flows with mood, ever-changing and evolving. It's living in the moment and allowing things to happen. It means something sweet and excellent, like blackberries. That shit is my jam. Michael Jackson jams because he's Michael Fucking Jackson, and that dude can goddamn jam.

Culture jamming, which is, you know, the subversion of mass media and popular culture messages designed to expose flaws or hypocrisy in whatever system is under fire, is usually obnoxious. Seriously. Stop changing "FedEx" to "FedUp" because it's stupid. We get it, you're jamming corporate communication. You're sooooo rebellious and interesting.

But when it's done well, like in the case of Banksy or Stephen Colbert, it makes us question and dissect an idea, and I'm all for that. Especially when it's unexpected, when it sheds light on something I've never thought about before. Like anything awesome, it takes skill to do that shit right, and sometimes it's so, so good.

Jam is diverse. It works as both offense and defense, control and release, a means to either make something happen or to prevent it. You, jam, you sound like anger and bliss, you can slam into us unexpectedly or creep onto us slowly. You're the convergence of particles and ideas. Jam, your dichotomy makes me love you. All of your parts.


1 comment:

Kono said...

Gulfboot Johnson, remember him? once met Paul Weller outside a take-away in South London, got a photo and chatted, said he was a sound bloke. Gulfboot made a move called Pubmonkey as well that i believe you'd dig, believe you can see the trailer online.