Well, you can’t manufacture “Funky” | Street Jazz

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Well, you can’t manufacture “Funky”

Posted By on Thu, Sep 8, 2011 at 11:17 AM

There was a letter to the editor a week or so back from a gentleman objecting to the fact that the Northwest Arkansas Times used the word “quirky” in describing Fayetteville, almost expressing a form of buyer’s remorse, in that if he thought Fayetteville were quirky, he’d have never moved here in the first place.

I’m sorry the gentleman in question has a problem with Fayetteville’s reputation, such as it is, but it really isn’t the sort of thing that has been advertised over much in years past. Then again, the definition of funky from the TheFreeDictionary.com

1. a. Having a moldy or musty smell: funky cheese; funky cellars.

b. Having a strong, offensive, unwashed odor.

2. Music

a. Of or relating to music that has an earthy quality reminiscent of the blues.

b. Combining elements of jazz, blues, and soul and characterized by syncopated rhythm and a heavy, repetitive bass line.

3. Slang Earthy and uncomplicated; natural: "At the opposite end of Dallas's culinary spectrum is funky regional fare" (Jacqueline Friedrich).

4. Slang

a
. Characterized by originality and modishness; unconventional: "a bizarre, funky [hotel ] dressed up as a ship, with mock portholes and mirrored ceilings over the beds" (Ann Louise Bardach).

b. Outlandishly vulgar or eccentric in a humorous or tongue-in-cheek manner; campy: "funky caricatures of sexpot glamour" (Pauline Kael).

Which definition do you like best?

Funky, quirky or however you want to describe it, Fayetteville has long had a rich history to it, though never officially sanctioned. Indeed, it wasn’t that long ago that one downtown business owner wanted to get rid of “all the hippies on Dickson Street.”

Well, he’s gone, anyway, as well as most of the counter-culture folks on the street.

For a sad period of time Fayetteville was trying to promote itself as being just like any other city in Northwest Arkansas, with no trace of quirkiness or funkiness (blood pressure rising - need to stop using those stupid words) to be seen. Now, of course, “Fayetteville is Funky.”

Well, Eureka Springs is, well, not the F word, because unlike Fayetteville, their creative counter culture has survived and is part of why people come to the town. They just are.

In Fayetteville, lest we forget, what came with the F word was a set of values and a strong attitude. And that attitude wasn’t just wearing silly T-shirts proclaiming our funkitude, but our political, moral and social beliefs, as well. It gave us the Grapevine (and other alternative papers), programming on public access television, the Women’s Library, the Human Dignity Resolution, the fight against the incinerator, the battle to change the city manager form of government,

It gave us some of the best musicians around, and slam poetry, and city board and council meetings that lasted into the late hours of the night. It’s a thousand more things that I haven’t listed.

It was Free Camman playing her violin to the flowers on the Fayetteville square at midnight.

That is funky in the best sense of the word, and that is why it made so many in the power structure uncomfortable. It is uncontrollable. It is many things to many people, but so much more than silly clothes.

I’m glad that Fayetteville is finally honoring its heritage (even with the inane “Fayetteville is Funky”) but you can’t put an official stamp of approval on funkidom, because all you would be doing is honoring the outward trappings and not the soul.

You end up with a theme park.

You end up with - you saw this one coming a mile off - Funky Town.

You really want Fayetteville to be funky? Get out of funky’s way, and let funky be funky, in whatever form it takes.

You can’t control it, or mold it, or officially sanction it. Actually, true funk is something that officialdom should be a little afraid of.

It’s organic, natural. And if we get out of the way, then we’ll see what develops and evolves, and see what reputation Fayetteville creates for itself then.

But the really cool thing is - of all the cities in Northwest Arkansas, only Fayetteville can do this, and that’s pretty cool.

******

If I see the word funky one more time in the next 24 hours

Well, I’ve used up my allotment of “funky” for a lifetime, a word I find silly to begin with. If anyone dares to utter the word to me before I have had a chance to decompress I won’t be held responsible for my actions.

*****

Quote of the Day

All generalizations are dangerous, even this one. - Alexandre Dumas

rsdrake@cox.net

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