How to Be “That Guy”

You may have noticed last month’s issue of Syncopated Times being perhaps a little lighter in weight. Perhaps you felt like the last edition had a little more journalistic substance than usual, or perhaps you just enjoyed it a little more than normal, without being about to put your finger on why.

Perhaps I can explain this phenomenon by directing your attention to this column, or more specifically, the lack of this column, which was missing from last month’s edition. That’s right, I forgot to write one.

Red Wood Coast

If Andy Senior had his wits about him, I would hope this vast void was filled with a half page ad of Professor Cunningham’s latest album, or perhaps a greatest hits of my funniest gags from previous columns (hmm…that might need some pictures to flesh it out a bit).

Nevertheless, I’m back. And I’m spending most of this month’s column telling you just that.

What was I doing that was so much more important than entertaining you with my prose?

Well, the short answer to your question: I was in Europe. On tour in fact. In Italy, Belgium, Netherlands, Denmark, and Germany. Not really a great excuse for forgetting to submit an article, considering this column is written on a smartphone and emailed in. I could have come up with something a little more excuse-like. The dog ate my column is a stalwart favorite (you gotta appreciate the classics), although somewhat rudimentary, and irrelevant considering this article is sent via email. A computer virus? More plausible. Or cyber attack. Yes, cyber attack. That’s got a cutting edge ring to it, and the idea that you don’t know the perpetrator’s identity adds an extra layer of intrigue (perhaps my column was stolen by foreign intelligence and is now a big hit in the Soviet States. But that’s just vanity talking.)

But as good as it is, a cutting edge excuse like cyber attack would rob me of the opportunity to tell you that I was in Europe. And if there’s one perk about having a trip to Europe, it’s being able to tell everyone that you went to Europe.

I get it—nobody likes “that guy.” You know, the guy at dinner parties you try and avoid; who one-ups everyone’s stories with “…this one time when I was in Europe…”

Or worse yet, he wants to show you photos on his phone. Ugh. Nobody wants to see your crappy holiday photos on your little six-inch phone screen. I can Google better pictures myself. Or better yet, watch any James Bond movie, which are pretty much all set in Europe. At least in a Bond film there’s something interesting going on, rather than your boring arse seated in front of yet another old bloody church. (“Really, this church has a little more rococo influence? Looks like the other five you just showed me. Shoot me now.”)

Yes indeed, nobody likes being stuck talking to “that guy.” But the one way to avoid such an awful situation, is to actually BE “that guy.” Then you can rest assured in your own confidence that they are all just jealous of your amazing stories and church selfies.

Oh, the joy of being able to tell my NY friends “everyone is so much more cultured in Europe,” or, “you know, people really know how to dress in Europe.” Or: “Oh you just have to try the beer in Belgium. It’s so much better than American beer.” Or one of my favorites: “ugh, this is not coffee. Coffee is so much better in Europe. The espresso in Milano is to die for.” That’s right—I don’t say Milan like a normal person. I say Milano like a complete idiot, while gesturing like a cartoon pizza chef.


I’m sure by now you’re asking: if it’s so good, why don’t you just move there? My dear reader, you’ve just learned the secret of success in jazz, and in fact the whole goal of moving to New York as a jazz musician, is being able to get the hell out of New York and then tell everyone how much better it is compared to New York.

I know, it doesn’t make any sense. But hey —neither does getting paid to play the clarinet. I try not to think about it. I mean hey, it’s got me this far. Even to Europe! That reminds me, did I tell you I just went to…

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Reedman extraordinaire Adrian Cunningham is the leader of Professor Cunningham and his Old School Jazz Band, based in New York City. Adrian Cunningham was voted in a 2017 Hot House Jazz Magazine readers’ poll the Best Alto Sax Player in New York. His most recent album is Duologue, issued on the Arbors Jazz label. Visit him on the world wide web:

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