This is the first of a series devoted to the wonders created by Eddie Condon and his friends. Unfortunately, I cannot offer rare musical examples. That you will have to do for yourselves, and it is reassuring that so much of what Mr. Condon and his colleagues created was documented on disc so that we can now hear it.
What I have to offer you are snippets of print documentation — new to me at the time I discovered them, and I hope to you. Perhaps a decade ago, at work in the microfilm archives of my college’s library, I was searching the New York Times archives for something literary. On a whim, I typed in “Eddie Condon” and found perhaps thirty or forty mentions of him in that newspaper. I remember putting dimes into the printer and copying each page. The file folder with the copies turned up not long ago — reason to begin a series for JAZZ LIVES.
Eddie’s wife, Phyllis (born Smith) was an invaluable part of the D’Arcy advertising agency (she handled the Coca-Cola account, which should tell you something about her stature at the firm). Eddie was ambitious about getting the music heard — by people who might not come down to a night club where the clientele was drinking liquor and smoking — so Phyllis made connections. A New York Times advertisement from September 4, 1940, is one of my favorite Imagined Delights.
Today at 3 P.M.!
Cum Laude Clinic
(A line drawing of a guitarist, string bassist, trumpeter, clarinetist, trombonist)
Do you know what Bennington girls bowl in? what Smith seniors snooze in? what the Princeton stags think of black? of red? Do you know of what stuff Daisy chains are made–and what about knees? and prom-bees? Get the lowdown insight straight from the shoulders of our cum laude clinic–five brainy beauties from Sarah Lawrence, VAssar, Michigan State, Swarthmore, Mt. Holyoke. See big men from Virginia, Williams, Cornell, M.I.T., Stevens turkey-trot down the runway in tweeds and tails. Learn how pink-snuggle-bunnies can help you get an A-double-plus in Pol. Sci.; learn what clothes distract half-backs, shot-putters.
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Hear swing as swung by Bobby Hackett’s All Star Band from Nick’s-in-the-Village — hear jive experts Eddie Condon, Bobby Hackett, Pee Wee Russell, Brad Gowans, Artie Shapiro, Joe Sullivan, George Wettling. Come early and hear the music, today at 3! Fourth Floor, Fashion Store.
We could deconstruct this advertisement for all the obsolete assumptions about young women and young men, about college life, about materialism in the United States, but I’d rather think about the band.
If I had been twenty in September 1940, I’d be ninety-four now. Had I a Presto disc cutter or a 16 mm sound camera . . . that way sadness lies. Better to bask in the whimsy of one of the best bands ever playing hot those gorgeously and expensively-dressed young men and women.
And, yes, there was once a time when hot music was popular music.
May your happiness increase!