e-mail me at billdeg@umich.edu


top ten pop culture artifacts or events that don't appeal to me whatsoever

10. The Olympics. The events strike me as boring. Guys swimming laps? Teen-agers doing gymnastic routines? Really? I'm a big fan of both The Human Spirit and Wheaties, but I can't get into "the games."

9. Pink Floyd. I've never owned a Pink Floyd record. Even their fast songs seem too slow. I can't explain why I like The Who's Tommy but have no interest in this band's output.

8. TV shows about judges. Judge Judy. Judge Wopner. Judget Mathis. Yawn. It's hard to make small-claims cases matter to anybody other than 1) the person who's out the hundred bucks, and 2) my dad.

7. The Woodward Avenue Dream Cruise. This is a local pick. The annual weekend when baby boomers drive gas guzzling cars up and down the Detroit area's main north-south artery and fans set up lawn chairs on sidewalks and parking lots so their kids can breathe the fumes from as close to the road as possible. The "Cruise" is a great weekend for anybody who appreciates classic cars, littering, port-o-potties, oil company profits, and gridlocked traffic.

6. Nick Cave. This guy's critical acclaim makes The Sopranos look like a Pauly Shore vehicle and he's down right iconic among indie rock fans. He played at one of the Lollapalloozas I attended during college and, I swear, he sounded like a frog. A very sad frog. I don't have anything against melancholy in music per se, but, for me, Cave saps rock and roll of its adventure and sense of play.

5. Bright Eyes. A couple of years ago, my students couldn't stop talking about Bright Eyes. How does a teen-aged boy decide to perform rock music under the name "Bright Eyes"? I'd love to know the backstory. I appreciate his politics (he toured with the anti-Bush Vote for Change tour in 2004, which is how I came to see a Bright Eyes live performance) but, like Mr. Cave, Mr. Eyes takes himself way too seriously.

4. Hockey. This is *almost* a local pick. In Detroit, hockey's as popular as any of pro sports' big three. My five-paragraph essay about why hockey doesn't appeal to me would contain body paragraphs that address the following three ideas. First, I don't understand a lot of the rules (What beef, for instance, do the officials have with players who commit "icing"--which I think means hitting the puck too far down the ice--especially given that it's okay to hit players from the other team?). Which brings me to my second hypothetical body paragraph, I don't like to watch people fight. Third, those Red Wings flags that Detroiters fly from their car windows...way tacky. Postscript number one: my first two reasons could also fit in a five-paragraph essay about why rugby doesn't appeal to me. Postscript number two: from a Freudian point-of-view, my lack of affinity for fighting (and much of my political ideology) might originate in my grandma's insistence, circa 1978, that we call the card game "war" by the more benign name "steal-a-pile." Postscript number three: if you're going to doctor up the name of the game to exclude things that are bad, why condone stealing?! Postscript number four: I think car dealerships in Detroit affixed those Red Wings flags to all SUVs in the 1990s.

3. The Big Lebowski. --Insert sound effect of needle being abruptly pulled off a record-- What? How can you not love this movie? Dude, give it another shot. I love most Coen Brothers films (especially Blood Simple and Fargo), but the Lebowski movie totally and utterly eludes me. Including this choice feels risky. I mean, this is like a pop culture litmus test. Sorry, just being honest.

2. The 'His Dark Materials' trilogy. I know people who absolutely rave about these books and respond to my dislike of it with shock and awe. I couldn't get through the first installment. I love the Harry Potter books. I love most things that piss off conservative Catholics. But I don't dig on Golden Compass.

1. Divas who hit high notes simply because they can. I'm talking to you, Mariah Carey. I'm talking to you, every female singer who ever appeared on American Idol. Not every song needs to explore a half a dozen octaves. Aretha Franklin, Beyonce, Big Mama Thorton all have/had tremendous range and one of the reasons why all three equal awesome is that none feel/felt obligated to show that range constantly.

...so how about you? what would your top ten look like?


Anonymous said...

hockey, good. vocal historonics, very bad. why does pink floyd suck? just listen to "wish you were here." the album could have been a masterpiece of space jams if roger waters had kept his mouth shut. that guy has been riding a bummer since he was a small child.

bdegenaro said...

Anonymous: I don't think P.F. sucked--I'm just saying that for some reason *I* could never dig on them. Obviously they boasted brilliant instrumentation and they knew how to push at the narrative potential of rock music. They just don't appeal to me.

Mike @ Vitia said...

I dunno, Bill. While I agree with some of your non-appeals, I'm kinda worried you're getting a little close to "Your Favorite Band Sucks" territory here.



OK, you're right. I can't stand Mariah Carey, for exactly the same reason. And I'll say it loud and proud. Please, give me Leontyne Price or Kathleen Battle any day.