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All That JazzThe Life and Times of the Musical Chicago$
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Ethan Mordden

Print publication date: 2018

Print ISBN-13: 9780190651794

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: February 2018

DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780190651794.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM OXFORD SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (oxford.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright Oxford University Press, 2021. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in OSO for personal use. date: 27 November 2021

The Era

The Era

“Be Nonchalant … Light a Murad”

(p.25) 2 The Era
All That Jazz

Ethan Mordden

Oxford University Press

This chapter examines the 1920s as an era, specifically as the Prohibition era, and looks at how certain aspects of the decade famously came to define the character of the city of Chicago. After all, Chicago, literally the world’s capital of saloon culture, was where the battle of the wets and the drys was most conspicuously fought during the thirteen years till Repeal. Democracy trains people to choose their lives, for good or ill, and a sumptuary law virtually forces a free people to rebel. The 1920s was a rebellion decade generally. Moreover, there was jazz, the greatest portmanteau concept in the history of the American language. “Jazz” meant everything that was new, dangerous, delicious, and liberating. Jazz was the opposite of the ice-cream social and the sermon. Yes, it was music, but, even more, it appeared to be anything community leaders warned would bring down society.

Keywords:   jazz, Prohibition, 1920s, rebellion, wisecrack, salesman, sheik, flapper, babbitt, wanton killer

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