Layers upon layers here today, as my random readings of blog archives brings up a post from EoTAW brought up a 2007 article by Chuck Klosterman, “Things We Think We Know,” which basically argues that Europeans vastly overestimate how much the average American actually cares about cowboy culture:

And it slowly dawned on me that the creators of “I Like America” had made one critical error: While they had not necessarily misunderstood the historical relationship between Americans and cowboy iconography, they totally misinterpreted its magnitude. With the possible exception of Jon Bon Jovi, I can’t think of any modern American who gives a shit about cowboys, even metaphorically. Dramatic op-ed writers are wont to criticize warhawk politicians by comparing them to John Wayne, but no one really believes thatHondoaffects policy; it’s just a shorthand way to describe something we already understand. But European intellectuals use cowboy culture to understand American sociology, and that’s a specious relationship (even during moments when it almost makes sense). As it turns out, Germans care about cowboys way more than we do.

EoTAW was highly critical of this argument, and the post reminded me that I, too, had taken issue with this article back in the day. I made some stupid comment on the blog, but then at home I managed to find where I had actually written down my thoughts on the piece, which are much smarter. I present them here for your enjoyment (updated, of course, because it is no longer 2007 and a lot has changed):



Hello! I am back (I hope)! With an article I originally plunked out last year, true enough. Baby steps, people.

Anyway, this all started when I came across a June 2009 article in The Globe and Mail (now sadly behind a pay wall) on the Canadian government’s reaction to swine flu outbreaks on First Nations reserves (the Canadian version of reservations):

In the critical days after dozens of Manitoba aboriginals fell severely ill with swine flu, Health Canada hesitated in sending desperately needed hand sanitizer to native towns because of concerns that people would ingest the alcohol-based gel.


On Fridays, the A.V. Club has a feature called “A.V. Club Q&A,” where all the various contributors answer a question on pop culture. Sometimes I don’t care about the question at all, but sometimes I find the question – and the answers – quite intriguing. On these occasions, I’ll sometimes post my own response. So this week’s question: art that “hits close to home.”

One of the things that always amuses me is how often these questions hit close to something I’d been ruminating on myself. Just a couple weeks ago, after reading this post on Jezebel, a friend and I were discussing Reality Bites, a movie that I was completely obsessed with after I graduated from college.


I like music. I have a lot of music. And one of my specialties in life is making themed mixes for my friends. This activity allows me to play with juxtaposition, and get kind of nerdy about rare bands and off-the-wall themes, and proselytize about my favorite musicians. Occasionally I will post the mixes here and try to make some larger point about music and culture. But really, I’ll just be showing off (and, sure, trying to incite some conversation about your own suggestions for the theme).

Today this article appeared on SFGate. The headline intrigued me, so I clicked through and then became irate. Irate, I tell you! Partly because this list is terrible – “California Gurls”? SERIOUSLY? – and partly because my most recent masterpiece was a collection of songs about food, so I’ve been thinking about this topic a lot lately. So, herewith, my track listing for the two-volume collection “Gastromusica”: