Archive for the ‘rants’ Category

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bacon of the world

May 26, 2009

self explanatory:

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  • Albanian- proshutë
  • Arabic- لحم الخنزير المقدد
  • Bulgarian, Ukrainian- becon
  • Catalan- cansalada
  • Chinese (simplified) – 熏猪肉;咸猪肉
  • Chinese (traditional)- 燻豬肉;鹹豬肉
  • Croatian, Serbian- slanine
  • Czech, Slovak- slanina
  • English, Filipino, French- bacon
  • Estonian- peekon
  • Finish- pekoni
  • German- schinkenspeck
  • Greek- μπέικον
  • Hebrew- בייקון
  • Hindi- बेकन
  • Hungarian- szalonna
  • Italian- pancetta affumicata
  • Japanese- ベーコン
  • Korean- 경찰
  • Latvian- bekons
  • Lithuanian- šoninė
  • Polish- boczek
  • Romanian- kaizer
  • Russian- копченая свиная грудинка
  • Spanish- tocino
  • Thai- เบคอน
  • Turkish- domuz pastırması

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Happy Birthday, Jerry Seinfeld

April 29, 2009

I wrote this essay for my Symbols and Conceptual Systems: Artifacts of Self-Regard class. Seeing as it’s Seinfeld’s birthday, thought I might as well share. Still kinda working on it, even though I’ve turned it in… Enjoy.

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“So you’re saying I go in to NBC and tell them I got this idea for a show about nothing…” (“The Pitch”)
-Jerry Seinfeld

The hit 90’s television show Seinfeld has simultaneously been called the greatest television show of all time (“TV Guide”) and “a show about nothing.” This show about a fictionalized version of stand-up comedian Jerry Seinfeld details his entertainingly mundane life, and the lives of his best friend George Costanza, ex-girlfriend Elaine Benes, and kooky neighbor Cosmo Kramer. It is about the minutiae the everyday, and often its finest are the observations made by the main characters about the world around them. In other words, the show was about nothing– so much so that the fourth season is practically about the show itself. In it, Jerry and George write a television show about themselves, humorously undermining the whole impression of these characters being real by reminding viewers about the inner workings of television. Paradoxically, it also reaffirms that they are not merely characters, as they creating something of their own.

The fourth season begins with Kramer in Los Angeles, pursuing an acting career despite his inability to act. Jerry and George, his friends back home in New York, and aware of Kramer’s incapability, are stunned to hear that Kramer has had any success in Hollywood. When he hears the news, George asks Jerry “Kramer was on Murphy Brown?” in disbelief. When Jerry responds that he was, George shouts, “Are you sure?” needing a second confirmation. Even after Jerry answers him yet again, George repeats, “Murphy Brown, the TV show?” requiring a third clarification (“The Trip: Part 1”). George’s lasting disbelief is exaggerated by his repetition. Additionally, in mentioning another situational comedy, his incredulous remarks serve as a reminder that both he and Jerry are merely characters on a popular sit-com themselves. This realization makes the unlikely story of Kramer’s success in Hollywood seem more plausible as well. Kramer can be an actor on the television show Murphy Brown, just as the real Jerry Seinfeld and Jason Alexander, playing Jerry and George onscreen, are actors on the television show Seinfeld. This irony also serves in a comedic sense. It is doubly funny that George cannot believe that Kramer is on a television show because not only is the character Kramer on Murphy Brown, but his character, portrayed by the actor Michael Richards, is on television on Seinfeld itself.

A following scene shows Kramer backstage of a Hollywood set, smoking a pipe, with other aspirant actors listening almost dreamily to Kramer’s made up “methods.” The set-up of the scene itself poses several questions to viewers of the scene. The set may in fact be the actual backstage area of the show Seinfeld, comically undermining the concept that Seinfeld is a realistic show about the lives of four friends, and reminding the viewers that these are not real people, but actors. Kramer’s mannerisms as he acts out the part of the actor also are self-reflexive and humorously self-deprecating. He sits in a director’s chair with his legs crossed, saying through his teeth, which are clenched down on the pipe he is smoking: “my personal acting technique is working with color, imagining color, then finding the emotional vibrational mood connected to the color… you’ll see that all my lines have a special color, so I don’t memorize language, I memorize color” (“The Trip: Part 1”). Kramer appears to be making this up, particularly because he mediocre actor, but everyone who is backstage with him clings to every word and thinks he is a genius, merely because of his confidence and body language. His actions characterize the Hollywood crowd as gullible and drawn to falseness. In this sense, Michael Richards as Kramer is an actor who is merely acting the part of an actor.

Later, Kramer returns to his apartment in Hollywood to find his neighbor Helena, an older Hollywood actress who is attracted to him, come out of her apartment to speak to him. She tries to convince Kramer that the acting business will kill him, and when he tries to ignore her she overdramatically shouts at him “Kramer, they’ll hurt you, they’ll destroy you! You’ll never make it in this town, you’re too sensitive like me!” (“The Trip: Part 1”) Helena’s obvious overacting paints her as an actress of a past era, when dramatics in acting were the norm. It too reminds the viewers that, even within the show, she is merely acting. Again, attention is drawn to the concept of the falseness of playing a role. She wants Kramer to listen to and stay with her, but he recognizes that she is intensifying her emotions to get what she wants. The fact that she is an actress, however, reminds the viewer that Helena is not just putting on a façade within the show, but that an actress also portrays Helena.

Around this time, Kramer’s friends Jerry and George happen to be visiting L.A. because Jerry is appearing on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno. When they arrive at the NBC studio George exclaims “This is very exciting! You’re on the Tonight Show, NBC, who else is on the show?” His excitement is particularly humorous because his animation stems from the fact that his friend is going to be on television when, to the audience, it is clear that all of these characters, including George Costanza, are on television. The show is even on the same network: NBC. Jerry replies to George that he doesn’t know who else is going to be on the show with him, to which George replies quite eagerly that he “Might meet a celebrity!” (“The Trip: Part 1”) There is humor in George’s excitement, considering that Jason Alexander and the real Jerry Seinfeld, playing George and Jerry, are celebrities themselves. George’s enthusiasm reminds the viewers of this distinction and makes the situation all the more comical.

Later in the season, an NBC executive approaches Jerry with the notion that he should create a television show of his own. The life of the character Seinfeld closely imitates that of the real Seinfeld, in that both are stand-up comedians who are offered television shows on NBC. Clearly, the real Seinfeld has already done so, and the season’s primarily plotline becomes the development of this television show that Jerry writes. George is with him when he gets the news, and Jerry expresses that he isn’t entirely sure of his abilities when he states “they want me to come up with an idea… I don’t have any ideas” to which George immediately responds with “Come on, how hard is that? Look at all the junk that’s on TV!”  (“The Pitch”) He humorously denounces the quality of contemporary television shows, including the one in which he is a character. Later, when George insists that he should be a co-writer of Jerry’s show, he deflects Jerry’s reluctance to let him, because he isn’t a comedy writer, by scoffing and saying “Writer? We’re talking about a sit-com!” (“The Pitch”). When George later tries to use the fact that he is a writer for a sit-com to impress a woman in a bar, she shoos him away and tells her friend, quite derisively, “A sit-com. Can you imagine? And he actually tried to use it to hit on me!”(“The Virgin”). The attitude of the characters toward situational comedies, despite the fact that they are in one, has a humorous effect. The self-reflexive nature of his statements is somewhat humbling of the writers of the show, and also asserts that they are self-aware.

Eventually, Kramer also gets involved in the idea-generating process. He suggests that the show should be about Jerry as the manager of a circus, with the show centering around the circus’s freaks. Jerry voices his reservations immediately, but Kramer attempts to change his mind by telling him that “the show isn’t about the circus, it’s about watching freaks.” Kramer’s idea focuses around the concept that it is not always necessarily what a show is about that draws in viewers, but the characters. While Seinfeld’s four protagonists are certainly not circus freaks, Kramer’s mention of the predisposition of viewers to want to watch freaks does draw attention to their quirky idiosyncrasies. When Jerry again insists that he’s “not pitching a show about freaks,” Kramer buts in with “People… want to watch freaks. This is a ‘can’t miss’ (“The Pitch”). Kramer’s statements draw attention particularly to himself. Out of his group of friends, he is arguably the most “freaky,” due to his spastic personality and gawky appearance. Seinfeld is a show about friends and their interactions, rather than an overarching plot. Perhaps it is this focus on stories about people that make Seinfeld so popular. Later in the season, for example, when an executive from NBC tells George how important it is that people care about a show’s characters, he responds promptly with “Care? Forget about care. Love. They have to love the characters. Otherwise, why would they keep tuning in?” (“The Ticket”). In this way, it is funny that Jerry refuses to consider Kramer’s idea because it is the concept of the “show about freaks” that is really the basis of the success of Seinfeld.

After a silly, but for some reason hilarious, discussion that Jerry and George have over lunch about the similarity between the words “seltzer” and “salsa,” George comes to a realization. “See, this should be a show. This is the show… This, just talking,” he says smiling, but Jerry dismisses the idea. Ironically, as viewers watch this conversation unfold, this chat between friends has already been televised nationwide. What Jerry sees as an impossible premise for a television scene already is one, and he is a part of it. When Jerry asks George what the show will be about, George replies, quite smugly “It’s about nothing.” Similarly to when Kramer said that Jerry’s show about the circus wouldn’t be about the circus per se, it seems that the premise of the show itself is not what makes the show. In fact, in George’s mind, a show does not need a premise at all. Jerry, still in disbelief, goes over their plans again: “I go in to NBC, and tell them I got this idea for a show about nothing” (“The Pitch”).  In fact, when the show’s creators, Larry David and the real-life Jerry Seinfeld pitched the show Seinfeld, they did precisely that (Popik). The show that George Costanza suggests that he and Jerry create, therefore, is basically Seinfeld.

Their conversation continues with Jerry’s insistence that their show needs a plot. George replies by asking “Who says you gotta have a story? Remember when we were waiting for–
for that table in that Chinese restaurant that time? That could be a TV show” (“The Pitch”). Though George Costanza does not know it, he is blatantly referencing an episode from the second season of Seinfeld, aptly titled “The Chinese Restaurant,” whose plot goes precisely as George describes it here (IMDb). Like many episodes of the show, the story of “The Chinese Restaurant” is plainly understandable without knowing what happens in the surrounding episodes, and is not integral to the rest of the season. In the broader scheme of things, it accomplishes “nothing” besides being a very funny episode of a television show.

The parallels between the life of the real and the fictional Jerry Seinfelds are furthered by the inclusion of the eccentric next-door neighbor Kramer as a character. When Jerry tells Kramer about his new concept for what the show will be and that he intends to base a character on Kramer, Kramer says he will let Jerry do it one on condition: he gets to play Kramer (“The Pitch”). Interestingly enough, the character of Cosmo Kramer is based upon the real-life neighbor of co-creator Larry David named Kenny Kramer.  Like Cosmo, Kenny Kramer insisted upon being cast as his namesake on Seinfeld, but was turned down in favor of Michael Richards, just as Kramer’s role is given to an actor on the show (“Kramer vs. Kramer”). Just like the characters within Seinfeld, who plan to interject the daily occurrences of their lives into their television show, the creators of Seinfeld take real life events and place them within the frame of the television show. The inclusion of this detail may also serve almost as an apology to Kenny Kramer. Within the show, the viewers’ sympathies are with Kramer to get the part, which he does not. The self-reflexive nature of the incident reveals that both Kramers are denied the roles as themselves, not for personal reasons, but for the sake of the show itself.

After a first unsuccessful meeting with NBC concerning the show, Jerry gets a phone call from the executives saying that they would like another meeting with him. George is ecstatic, shouting “We’re gonna be rich! What are we gonna get for this? Fifty, sixty thousand dollars!” (“The Ticket”) The mention of salary raises the question within the viewers of how much the actors playing the characters within Seinfeld made, especially considering that Jerry Seinfeld is known to have been paid extremely well. In fact, in 2004, six years after the show had finished its nine-year run, Jerry Seinfeld still made $264 million, making him the highest paid celebrity of that year, though the show was only in syndication. George also repeatedly brings up Ted Danson from Cheers, which was on right before Seinfeld on the same network and therefore a comparable show, to which Jerry responds, quite ironically viewers, “How are you comparing us to Ted Danson?” (“The Ticket”) In fact, Seinfeld outrated Cheers before its third season (“Suddenly Something”). George’s comparison is apt. George even says later that “Ted Danson makes eight hundred thousand dollars an episode,” (“The Ticket”), which next to the comparatively meager thirteen thousand that George and Jerry are jointly offered per episode seems quite hefty, but compared to the actual salary of Jerry Seinfeld pales in comparison.

The second meeting with the executives of NBC goes over more smoothly, with George having abandoned the notion that the show should lack any kind of premise or plot. In fact, he changes his stance completely about the idea, stating “The story is the foundation of all entertainment. You must have a good story otherwise it’s just masturbation” (“The Ticket”). George’s statement hints that, like the real show Seinfeld, the show that George and Jerry are writing will not function unless it has some kind of underlying premise. Though Seinfeld has been heralded as “the show about nothing,” it does have a basic plotline, centering around stand-up comedian Jerry and his three friends who frequently find themselves in unfortunate and comedic situations. The fourth season, specifically, focuses on Jerry’s developing show. The line reminds viewers that coherence and cohesiveness are necessary to for this type of comedy to be enjoyable. The show’s “nothing” is the everyday and mundane, rather than actual nothingness. George’s statement that a show without a show is “just masturbation” is provocative but not necessarily insightful. He just means that plotless television can be enjoyable, but it is not substantial, and even looked down upon. Just as Jerry Seinfeld and Larry David had to eventually pitch their show not as the show about nothing but “all about how Jerry came up with his material for his standup” (Interview), the fictional Jerry and George must change their pitch in order to get their show deal.

At points, it is almost as if Seinfeld is imitating the show that Jerry and George are attempting to write, rather than vice-versa. In one instance, for example, Elaine tries to convince the two of them to include a character based on her in the script: “suppose the Elaine character comes in wearing… a low-cut dress. And the butler is very distracted, and can’t work” (“The Shoes”). Jerry and George write it off, but later in the same episode, they have her actually act out the plan with Russell Dalrymple, an NBC executive, wearing a low-cut dress so that Dalrymple will be distracted by her breasts and accept her desire for Jerry and George’s show to be put on television. Rather than Seinfeld being influenced by the real lives of the actors and writers, or the show within the show Seinfeld being influenced by the characters who write it, it appears that the show twice removed from the real world is influencing the reality that exists within Seinfeld. A viewer must remember, however, that both shows, the fiction and the fiction within the fiction, are just fiction, and that neither is really influencing the other because neither is real life.

When the characters finally get around to filming the pilot of their show, which they call Jerry, mirroring the actual show being called Seinfeld, casting decisions have to be made. When Kramer is refused the role of himself on the show Jerry, he insists on coaching Tom Pepper, the actor who will play hum, how to be just like him. Kramer insists on filling him in on his techniques for eating spaghetti and having sex when Tom replies “This stuff doesn’t matter to me. See, I’m gonna do the character like me, not like you” (“The Pilot”). This plot point mirrors the real life interaction between Kenny Kramer, the man upon whom the character of Kramer is based, and Michael Richards, who plays Cosmo Kramer on Seinfeld. Kenny Kramer has said that “People will ask me if Michael met to study and the answer is no. He did not want to have anything to do with knowing about me… Larry wrote the words, you know, and he just interpreted it himself” (Kramer Vs. Kramer). This mimicking of real life serves as a humorous homage, or a kind of inside joke, to those who know the history of the development of the character of Kramer.

By being doubly self-reflexive, with Seinfeld being an imitation of the life of Jerry Seinfeld and with Jerry being an imitation of Seinfeld, the show humorously represents everyone involved with the show as not really knowing what they are doing. Actors are depicted, for the most part, as extremely self-involved and fake, while writers are portrayed as people who haphazardly throw scripts together, get looked down upon, and are not original enough to base what they write on anything that is not basically a true story. The fact that the writers of Seinfeld are aware of these ideas, and are willing to but them up on display by parodying them, suggest that they are different. Viewer recognition of this, and the show’s other suggestions at reality, just make the show funnier.

Works Cited

  • Cerone, Daniel. “Seinfeld’ Is Suddenly Something.” ProQuest Archiver. 4 Mar. 1993. 27 Apr. 2009. <http://pqasb.pqarchiver.com/latimes/access/60203201.html >.
  • Charles, Larry. “The Trip: Part 1.” Seinfeld. Dir. Tom Cherones. NBC. New York, New York. 12 Aug. 1992.
  • Cosgrove-Mather, Bootie. “TV Guide Names Top 50 Shows.” CBSNews.com. 26 Apr. 2002. CBS News. 26 Apr. 2009. <http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2002/04/26/entertainment /main507388.shtml>
  • David, Larry. “The Pilot.” Seinfeld. Dir. Tom Cherones. NBC. New York, New York. 20 May. 1993.
  • David, Larry. “The Pitch.” Seinfeld. Dir. Tom Cherones. NBC. New York, New York. 9 Sept. 1992.
  • David, Larry. “The Ticket.” Seinfeld. Dir. Tom Cherones. NBC. New York, New York. 16 Sept. 1992.
  • David, Larry, and Jerry Seinfeld. “The Shoes.” Seinfeld. Dir. Tom Cherones. NBC. New York, New York. 4 Feb. 1993.
  • Farrelly, Bobby, Peter Farrelly, and Peter Mehlman. “The Virgin.” Seinfeld. Dir. Tom Cherones. NBC. New York, New York. 11 Nov. 1992.
  • “Forbes Celebrity 100- 2004.” Forbes.com. 20 Apr. 2009 <http://www.forbes.com/lists/home. jhtml?passListId=53&passYear=1999&passListType=Person>.
  • “Kramer vs Kramer: Kenny to Cosmo.” Seinfeld- Season 3. DVD. NBC, 2004.
  • “Model for character talks about ‘Kramer.’” USATODAY.com. 24 Nov. 2006. USA Today. 20 Apr. 2009 <http://www.usatoday.com/life/people/2006-11-24-kramer_x.htm&gt;.
  • Seinfeld, Jerry. “Jerry Seinfeld Interview.” Interview with Jon Stewart. The Daily Show. Comedy Central. New York, New York. 5 Apr. 2004.
  • Popik, Barry. “Seinfeld Session.” The Big Apple. 30 May 2008. 20 Apr. 2009 <http://www. barrypopik.com/index.php/new_york_city/entry/seinfeld_session/>.
  • “Seinfeld (1990) – Episode list.” The Internet Movie Database (IMDb). 20 Apr. 2009 <http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0098904/episodes#season-2&gt;.
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The Life and Legacy of Django Reinhardt

April 24, 2009

You know who kind of kicked a lot of ass? Django Reinhardt. Let me explain.

Django Reinhardt was a Gypsy born Jean-Baptiste Reinhardt on the 23rd of January in 1910 in Belgium (Vernon, 1). Though he was born in Germany, he spent much of his life in France, where he married at about the age of 17, and within the next couple of years formed played banjo on numerous recordings, usually accompanied by accordion player Jean Visage. He also played the violin and guitar (Britannica). In Paris in 1928, it is alleged that an English bandleader named Jack Hylton saw him play in a club called “La Java” and, impressed with Reinhardt’s virtuosity, offered the young Gypsy a contract to play in his orchestra (Vernon, 5).

Soon afterward, an accident that would redefine Reinhardt’s style and change his life forever occurred. Coming home to the caravan that Django and his wife shared, he accidentally set fire to a bunch of cellophane flowers that his wife had made. She made her living by selling these paper flowers, but the material was highly flammable, and their home was full of them. The caravan was ablaze in a matter of seconds. Though the couple escaped, Django was not left completely unharmed. Most noticeably, his invaluable left hand, which he used to finger the strings on the various instruments he played so masterfully, was badly burned. Realizing that he could still potentially retain movement in some of his fingers, he refused to have them amputated, despite the suggestion of doctors. He had almost completely lost movement in his pinkie and ring fingers. They were now nearly useless. Still, he would not give up music. Rather than playing as he had before, he had to reteach himself how to play instruments with his remaining mobile fingers. The result was a completely new method of playing that required only these the middle and index fingers. His new style was ready for audiences within a few months, and they were astounded with it. While eventually he would manage to use the damaged fingers to hold down strings, he was never again able to use them in solos (Coats).

Just as he coped with the loss of the use of his fingers, Django Reinhardt managed to find success despite the hardships inherent in being both a Gypsy and a jazz musician during his time. During the Holocaust, the Gypsies, like the Jews, were chosen to be completely wiped out based upon nothing more than the fact that they were racially different and were supposedly “inferior” to the Germans. While the Nazis would look back into a person’s familial history four generations for Jewish blood to determine whether or not someone should be sent to the concentration camps, they were even harsher on those who may have had Gypsy blood, going back eight generations for any trace of Gypsy heritage. Hitler saw the Gypsies as a “degenerate” race that needed to be eliminated. Alongside the Jewish people who were rounded up and sent to concentration camps, the Gypsies were also taken to camps, where they were kept in separate facilities from the Jews and political dissidents. About half of a million Gypsies were killed during the Holocaust. Nearly the entire Eastern European population was killed (Schwartz).

Not only was Reinhardt prejudiced against due to his race, but the Nazis also discriminated against his music. After the Second World War’s Battle of France of 1840 in which France had lost, the country became occupied by Germany. Jazz music was quite popular in France at the time and was becoming part of the country’s culture, but under Nazi control it became illegal. Jazz musicians were forced to flee. Hitler saw jazz as “degenerate music” because it had originated with African-Americans, whom Hitler saw as members of an inferior race. For Hitler, music that was not of the “master race” was impure. He also saw it as a way of taking over each and every aspect of French culture during his invasion, because jazz had become such a big part of the cultural identity of France. By stomping out jazz, Hitler also managed to exert his power (Whisenant).

Given the circumstances of his birth and the music that he played, Django Reinhardt was only kept safe because of the amazing respect he garnered for his great musical prowess. One story, in particular, is of a Luftwaffe Overleutnant named Dietrich Schulz-Koehn. Though he was a Nazi officer, he was a lover of jazz, even earning him the nickname of Doktor Jazz. Schulz-Koehn was such a fan of Reinhardt that he allegedly protected the Gypsy musician on multiple occasions. Though they had numerous grounds to detain Reinhardt, the Nazis never managed to capture him because Schulz-Koehn would protect him. One photograph even shows the Nazi soldier outside a jazz club in Paris called La Cigale alongside the Gypsy Django Reinhardt, four other musicians of African descent, and a Jewish man standing next to another Nazi officer, smiling. All of these men would have been captured and sent to concentration camps under other circumstances, whether it was because of their race or because of the music that they played despite the fact that it was illegal. Because of Schulz-Koehn, however, they remained out of harm’s way (Morton). Some Gypsies, hearing about the special treatment that Django Reinhardt was receiving, would claim to be him when they were placed in concentration camps, hoping that it would get them released. The Nazi soldiers would sometimes give these claimants a guitar and tell them to play, but no one could play like Django and lying did not help them. Arguably, had it not been for his virtuosity with the guitar, he would not have attracted the attention and protection of Schulz-Koehn, and probably would have been killed during the Holocaust.

On the contrary, his musical career continued to flourish despite everything that was happening in France. Years before the invasion of France in 1940, his first public appearance was on February 4th, 1934 at the Salle Lafayette, where his style garnered much appreciation. Jacques Bureau, a journalist for Jazz-Tango-Dancing who was at the event, described Reinhardt as “the revelation of the evening. He is a very strange musician, whose style is like no other that I know. This hasn’t prevented the public from understanding him very well and applauding his solos,” (Vernon,18-19). A year later, at a show in February of 1935, Reinhardt was lauded again in the publication as a “truly exceptional guitarist, as much for his technique as for his style.” The writer notes that, while usually the guitar is reserved for rhythm in a jazz ensemble, Reinhardt managed to turn it into an intense and melodic instrument incredibly suited for his improvised solos (Vernon, 32). Guitar solos usually consisted of chords, and Reinhardt had managed to invent a whole new style for the instrument. His success in Paris continued right into the invasion of France in May of 1940.

By chance, Django Reinhardt left Paris for the south of France just two days before the “Battle of France” began. Before he returned in mid-August, the city had fallen to the German army (Vernon, 168-169). Even though Paris had been taken over, Reinhardt managed to perform at various Paris clubs despite the ban on jazz music. His status as a jazz musician was also widely known. In 1942, for example, Down Beat magazine in Chicago erroneously published  a story that Django Reinhardt had died. The story was reprinted in England, and soon both countries’ offices were swarmed with letters saying that it could not be true because people had heard him broadcasting recently (Vernon, 185-186). The rumors of the death caused an uproar with fans who refused to believe that Reinhardt was dead. Soon, these rumors were cleared. In November of 1946, Django Reinhardt began to do numerous shows in both the United States and Canada, appearing with such American jazz legends as Duke Ellington. His popularity was becoming more and more apparent in November of that year with an article published about him in Time magazine as well as an article of Down Beat magazine, whose cover he also graced (Vernon, 203-204). In February of 1947 he returned to Paris. He continued to play in Paris and to tour in such countries as Belgium and Switzerland until he passed away on May 16, 1953 at the age of 43.

Though his music was popular more than sixty years ago, Django Reinhardt’s legacy as a musician lives on. Reinhardt’s unique and innovative style, stemming not only from skill but also coming out of a fire that was completely an accident, proved to not only revolutionize jazz guitar but also to inspire those who heard his music and of the consequences of his playing. His musical stylings have “inspire[d] musicians as varied as Yehudi Menuhin, Julian Bream, Les Paul, Barney Kessel, Chet Atkins, Joe Pass, and Carlos Santana” (Ferran). His style has reached classical, jazz, country, and rock guitarists all the same. Reinhardt is even mentioned in the 1993 film “Swing Kids,” which takes place during Hitler’s power in Germany in a time in which swing and jazz music are banned, but the rebellious youth listen to it anyway. When Arvid, a virtuosic young swing guitarist, loses the function of two of his fingers after being beaten up by two members of the Hitler Youth, he finds himself in a very similar position to Reinhardt after the fire. Using Django Reinhardt as a source of inspiration, Arvid manages to teach himself how to play with his remaining good fingers (Swing Kids). Though Django Reinhardt might not be a household name, his style and influence still permeate popular culture. Whether people know it or not, they have likely heard music that was at one point inspired by Django Reinhardt’s brilliant improvisational jazz solos of the 1930’s and 40’s. In this way, Reinhardt’s influence will continue to be a part of music as long as guitarists look to the past at other styles for inspiration.

Works Cited