Two Ferns Discussing Smooth Jazz

I once knew two ferns named David and Glen. I first met them when I moved into the corner office of Dudley and Lowe Chartered Accountants located at the South Pointe Plaza on Gordon Road in the city of Regina. The year was 1992 and I was working as Assistant Office Manager with an up and coming firm. The strip mall where we were located had a few amenities like ‘The Brown Derby’ for an occasional luncheon, and across the strip was “Z’s” Confectionery for an odd pack of Juicy Fruit gum. I was drinking lots of sub-par office coffee, always black. In retrospect, I had mal-odorous coffee breath – I can say that with more clarity and insight now. Sometimes I think my moustache still smells like the coffee I was drinking during that crazy time. But I digress.

What I remember most about David and Glen, was their spirited, often controversial and sometimes oppositional discussions about the role of the fern in contemporary times. David would pontificate about how the fern played no real economic role of importance. He became embittered by his own fern-hood and self-invalidating tendencies. For David, life was just something to get through. Glen, on the other hand, was a proud fern, always offering positive insights and meditations on becoming fern, accepting fern, re-imagining fern. Glen’s self-actualized approach pushed against David’s heaviness. Glen would say things like: “Historically, ferns have played a significant role in mythology and art” or he would articulate some greater idea like: “The universe works in a vascular fashion – energy being transmitted from one psychic location to another. As ferns, we are vascular in nature... just imagine that the universe is one big nervous system and we are the connectors. Timelines are so rhizomatic. We matter! We are enough! David, you are enough…” Glen had embraced many alternative treatments and therapies for his anxiety disorder and therefore was attuned to some special rhetoric that David found hard to connect with.

I was on cup three of the standard office brew on a Tuesday morning in early December listening to my Z99 radio program when I was distracted by a very interesting conversation between David and Glen, and one that seemed to be quite a pleasant exchange. The two of them were discussing smooth jazz politics:

Glen: “I think it’s fine that more radio stations are featuring more adult contemporary artists into the programming alongside traditional smooth jazz music. The listeners of smooth jazz programs have declined, so naturally we have to move with the times instead of against the inevitable.”

David: “I agree with you 100 percent. I mean I am always down for some Paul Hardcastle or Phil Denny, but to attract the younger listeners, you need to throw in some Luther Vandross, Sade and maybe even some smooth jazz pop covers…Billy Jean, a little John Lennon Imagine.”

Glen enthused: “Jazz Café is such a great smooth jazz station!”

David: “Yeah, Dave Koz’s program is almost as solid as Lucas Gillain on 92.5.”

Glen: “Hey – I heard The Rippingtons are going to be in Winnipeg next weekend. You wanna go?”

David: “Are you kidding me? Of course I’ll go! I mean, I’ll have to run it by Stephanie, but I’m sure she’ll be cool with it. Imagine us -- just two ferns in the “Peg” takin’ in a smooth jazz concert. Golden.”

It was in that moment while listening to two ferns discussing smooth jazz in such an agreeable manner, that my own life changed. I decided to give smooth jazz another chance, because I too, like many others, had been disconnected from what was happening in the smooth jazz and adult contemporary world. I mean I went to school on it. Smooth jazz is a source man. It’ll change your life, I swear to God.