Japan Is A Funny Place

Village/Vanguard folding bicycles

I can think of at least one Jazz Internet personality who would be happy if the American Village Vanguard were actually releasing a line of folding bikes. vdvg.jp hide caption

itoggle caption vdvg.jp

A recent swing through New York brought this author into the Village Vanguard — the famed jazz club where NPR Music and WBGO broadcasts monthly. Idly, I was searching Twitter to see if anyone other Internet-enabled fans made it in to see Guillermo Klein's rather amazing Base de Nave band last night, where I discovered that the Village Vanguard was releasing a colorful line of affordably-priced folding bicycles.

That would be Japanese novelty emporium Village/Vanguard, whose wonderfully Engrish motto is "Exciting Book Store." As of late 2009, the company appears to have 323 exciting bookstores. (!) Among their more bizarrely amusing offerings is this t-shirt, with the statement "Not Jazz!! But Pe'z!!" (UPDATE: Commenter Nanigashi Sato leaves us this: Pe'z is a fairly successful band in Japan, and that's a T-shirt they sell at their live shows. The slogan reflects the fact that they play a kind of high-energy instrumental music that draws from jazz, but isn't really jazz per se.) I wonder what club proprietor Lorraine Gordon would think if she knew Village/Vanguard was doing such business.

You may recall that there is a chain of clothing stores in Japan called Cecil McBee. There is, of course, also a fine veteran jazz bassist by that name who isn't terribly thrilled to see his name on bikinis and pink sweaters all throughout the trendy parts of Japan. (The 2004 Wall Street Journal article about this has surfaced here.) Ah, globalization.

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