Jim Henley passes me the talking stick on this question:
Behold, the Caesar’s Bath meme! List five things that people in your circle of friends or peer group are wild about, but you can’t really understand the fuss over. To use the words of Caesar (from History of the World Part I), “Nice. Nice. Not thrilling–but nice.”
Ok, I can do that:
- Interpol: Best thing about these guys is the black-red-black suit uniform and that one dude’s uncanny resemblance to Crispin Glover. They don’t quite suck out loud, but I find their buzz level totally inexplicable. After relentless hyping, I picked up Turn On the Bright Lights, gave it about three spins, and haven’t had any particular desire to listen to it since. Given the number of great bands doing things in this ballpark, there’s some cosmic injustice in the amount of recognition granted a generic sound that evokes nothing so much as gnawing on a wet sock.
- Wonderland Ballroom: Apparently now it’s elitist not to dig this place, because large crowds of annoying people shouldn’t count as a mark in the negative column for someone overflowing with the proper amount of agape for his fellow human beings. But for me, it’s actually not some nostalgia for pre–Orange Line crowd days that’s driving the inclusion of Wonderland here; I didn’t particularly care for it in the non-mobbed incarnation either. It always just felt as though it was trying a little too hard, like an exhibit in some Hipsterland theme park.
- Deadwood: No real argument here; I’ve seen it a couple times, and it seemed OK, but never really grabbed me.
- Channel Zero: I will never in a million years understand how Warren Ellis, creator of the brilliant Transmetropolitan, found it in himself to praise this pabulum. It’s a graphic novel updating of Nineteen Eighty-Four as it might be executed by a 13-year-old who’s spent too much time on Indymedia. I don’t especially care that the politics are lefty, but it’s such a cartoonish overdose of self-satisfied Marxist cool-kid bullshit that you flip through initially convinced it’s a parody, until gradually it dawns on you that the author is, in fact, grotesquely in earnest. Doubly disappointing because the art, though derivative in its own way, is actually pretty decent.
- Ernest Hemingway: I keep waiting for some secret cabal of critics and English profs to announce that his inclusion in the canon is some kind of awful prank that’s shaggy-dogged on far too long. Some folk evidently find writing in the style of a Dick and Jane primer raw or authentic or some such thing. I’ve always thought it was the greatest naked emperor scam in modern literature.