Monday, December 26, 2011


The word keeps following me. I can remember when other words made their best to get into my head, Embedded had its run and so did, narrative. My nominations for this year are occupy and cloud. Certain words sneak into sentences and self-promote until exhaustion sets in or my ears grow deaf to them. But jam hasn’t been rehabilitated by some techno-nerd; jam is just plain old jam.

Flaubert described a sunset as the color of red current jam. In his book, Flaubert’s Parrot, Julian Barnes has a character so obsessed with the Madame Bovary novel that he tracked down the manufacturer of that jam from Normandy still in business a century and a half later and still the same color, just as the sun still hemorrhages nightly before it dips.

This morning I learn that when the Americas discovered Columbus he was introduced to jam or at least sugared fruit, preserved, which he brought back to lay at the feet of Isabel and Ferdinand. That must have been a great time to be alive….unless you happened to be Jewish, Moslem or the Indigenous people about to be slaughtered. But for Christian Europeans their palate would be astonished by tomatoes, potatoes, tobacco, sugar, avocadoes and chocolate. God’s price was to be tooth decay, diabetes and acne...and collective guilt.

It must be jelly, cause jam don’t shake like that, was arranged and played by Glenn Miller and sung by Woody Herman on another label maybe while jammin all night… and the now jam won’t let go. To get in the spirit for the festival of lights I bought a Chanukah donut (swear-to-god) at the Jewish bakery. It had no hole and was filled with raspberry jam. Makes me wonder why they don’t call the jelly donut, a jam donut. The jelly/jam song, by the way, was written by someone named Chummy MacGregor, piano player for Glenn Miller. These are essential facts in case you are also followed by a jam shadow.

When the dairymaid was summoned for the King’s breakfast, his royal-ness requested, as is the monarch’s wont, a bit of butter to his royal slice of bread. Milne was given his due at our Christmas dinner last night. The table rocked.

What we call jam, was once called sweetmeats. One theory as to the origin is that some child, with his eye on posterity, exclaimed, j’aime, I love it. Doubtful provenance but, j’aime.

Now I will jam on the brakes with Jelly Roll Morton who started playing his piano in New Orleans’ brothels about the same time & place Satchmo blew his horn. Why he was called Jelly Roll may not be fit for print but it stuck and their fame spread as jelly/jam does.

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