Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Paper Cuts

No, this is not a post about how I have lacerated my fingers with student papers (although I did somehow manage to gouge a chunk out of my knuckle while peeling a garlic clove. ouch). Over at the New York Times online they have a set of blogs, most with rotating guest authors. The ones with a literary focus of some sort are collected under the umbrella Paper Cuts (because if it's online, it has to be cleverly named). One of the Paper Cuts offerings is "Living with Music" on Wednesdays.

In the Wednesday column, some book/publishing person gives a playlist of 10 songs - a desert island playlist, a currently-in-rotation playlist, an "I love the blues and you should too" playlist, whatever. I think the people chosen must all be very hip NY people that we in the Land InBetween don't get to hear too much about. But, their lists are still interesting, mainly because, of couse, it must be an annotated list, and the comments, stories, backgrounds, rationale is often entertaining.

And then there are the comments from the "Living with Music" readers, who seem mainly content to rip on the guests for being too studiously trendy or hip or arcane. And there is nothing worse - nothing more phony, as our friend Holden would say - than being these things studiously.

Well, come on, people! Don't you remember the dreaded question that begins around jr. high and never lets up? "So, who's your favorite group?" "What kind of music do you like?" And the stomach-grinding moment as you try to catalog every song you've ever listened to and rate its social acceptability to the person asking the question? The fine calculations required to answer correctly would make you dizzy.

When A.M. Holmes says she likes Johnny Cash's version of Depeche Mode's "Personal Jesus" I think two things. One, she probably really does like it (what's not to like?). And two, the sheer brillance! It's like ordering devil's food cake with seven-minute frosting flavored with pomegranate - retro, current, trendy, nostalgic, ordinary, innovative, quirky, and homey.

The other brillance of the blog is that it is an irresistable lure for writers, especially. Make a list, say a little something, sure, you can have a theme, you can make it a story, you can be all pomo or tell it straight, shape it how you like! So where's my playlist? Well, I'm thinking about it.

No comments: