A lot of my life is lived as a reaction to something else that preceded it.
I spent the first 20-plus years of my life with nary a hair anywhere but the top of my head, and so, as soon as I could, I grew a beard. Pitiful as it might be, it’s still a beard.
My high school years flew by in a rush with little attention paid to academics. Once college arrived on my doorstep, I became a book nerd and graduated with high honors.
Throughout college I avoided most of what passed for pop culture and have since spent that time catching up, reading classics I never read in high school, listening to all the “cool bands” I missed out on in college, watching all the “seminal” movies I didn’t get to watch.
But in all this catching up, I neglected keeping up with a bunch of stuff I had knowledge of previously. Mostly, I refer to bands, which fit neatly into any desired hipsterness I might have clung to, as I could just claim the bands I listened to in high school had “sold out,” and “only their early stuff was good.”
As you can maybe tell by my last few blog posts, I’m coming around on this way of thinking, specifically, by invoking two bands I can’t believe I’ve even attached my name to in recent weeks: Phish and Pearl Jam.
Nothing against those two bands, they’re surely talented and write decent to good songs. But for most of this decade I’d have rather listened to TV on the Radio or My Morning Jacket or The White Stripes — bands that seemed to be creating something new, even if it was a borrowing of the past in some ways.
But what’s so great about the new, besides its cultural currency? Sure, I can claim to be cool and in the know and up-to-date on the latest happenings. But how will I fully understand what’s knew and what’s happening, if I don’t understand the past?
Give me the tried and true. Give me that which has been tested by fire and yet still stands tall and strong.
And yet … I have many other holes to fill in my pop culture education.
For the life of me, I can’t figure out why the only Rolling Stones album I’ve listened to is Exile on Main Street, and even that only a few times. Or why I’m not more familiar with the Talking Heads or the Band or Fugazi and Minor Threat.
So, what about you? What’s the one pop culture movement — whether it’s a movie, band, book, etc — that you’ve neglected over the years and why?