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What Is Pop Culture

 I read a description of a Jules Pfeiffer cartoon in a book recently. I have tried to find the actual cartoon, but in vain. The description was a series of drawings of a boy growing into a young man and then aging into an old man. The caption for the boy read something along the lines of loving the popular songs on the radio, and going to see sci-fi and horror movies in the theater. Then the young man had a caption about loving jazz and seeing art films. The adult man's caption talked about listening to the old standards and watching serious drama. The old man's caption mentioned listening to oldies on the radio and watching "junk" movies in revival houses and being allowed to love pop culture again. And that line is what prompted this post. Because I thought to myself, "Wait, aren't all of those things pop culture?" So I thought it might be worth taking a look at what comprises pop culture. To begin, let's take the words pop culture. I have always t

Why Isn't Alex Lifeson More Famous?

 Rock and roll culture, at least since the late 60's, had revered it's guitar gods. I mean sure, we also love a great bassist or drummer or singer. But there is a special reverence given to a guitar player who is especially good at his craft. It is to the point where even someone who isn't a fan of the band the guitar player is in knows the guitarist's name and reputation. People who don't listen to Van Halen know that Eddie Van Halen is worshipped for his playing, for instance. But there are certain, shall we say, restrictions on this fame. One is you have to be in the right genre, and be the one in the posters for the band. That is why Glen Campbell doesn't get the same adoration Eddie Van Halen does. After all, Eddie wanted to take lessons from Glen after he was already famous for being a shredder, that's how good Glen is. But you never hear about how great Glen is from most people, for two reasons. When he was playing rock, he was doing it as a studio mu

How Pop Culture Made Me Kinky

Fetishes seem much more prevalent these days than they were in the past. Of course moralists will say it is because our society is rotting in decadence. Others will say it is because we are more open and free to express ourselves. Maybe both are true to an extent. But I believe that pop culture has played a part in whatever the reasons are. I believe I can personally trace some of my fetishes back to pop culture, specifically t.v. and movies.  I think everyone knows that there was a bondage element built into Wonder Woman by the creator William Moulton Marston. Well, my very first crush was on Lynda Carter, the actress who played Wonder Woman in the 70's t.v. show. I was too young to watch in first run, but I saw reruns, and it was true love. It may have been in part die to her charm and her wholesomeness, but it also had no little part due to her almost spilling out the top of her red white and blue bustier. Batgirl on the Adam West Batman show had a similar if less strong effect

The Link Between Country and Punk

  At first glance there might not be much that country music and punk rock have in common. Country's audience tends to be more rural while punk is a mostly urban art form. Country tends to more old fashioned sounds and sentiments, while punk likes to be edgy both in it's aural assault and in it's offensive content. Country music developed as a tradition over several generations, while punk is a relatively new upstart in the musical genre menagerie. And while country music fans might see punks as social degenerates and punk rock fans might see country music lovers as backward hillbillies, the two styles of music might have more in common than one might assume. The main connection lies in a phrase that was used repeatedly in the Ken Burns documentary on country music. It is also the name of Duff McKagan's podcast. (While Duff is known for being a member of hard rock band Guns N Roses, his roots are in the Seattle punk scene.) This phrase is "Three chords and the trut

Movies That Really Changed My Life

I have talked about a couple of early movies that changed my life, like  Star Wars  and  The Rocky Horror Picture Show , but I didn't go into detail about how they did so. Star Wars, of course, changed everyone's lives. It was one of those things that made us rethink how we could tell stories and how movies could be made. It nerdified an entire generation and can be said to have led to the culture we have now, dominated by comic book movies and video games. The Rocky Horror Picture Show opened my mind up to different ways of life and expressing sexuality while also promoting messages of positivity and courage in life. (This may not be what people think of when they see that movie, but it's in there. Don't dream it, be it.)  Another movie that really hit me was Almost Famous, Cameron Crowe's not-quite-biographical movie about a kid working as a reporter for Rolling Stone magazine in the early 70's. The Tiny Dancer scene made me think of times when music had helpe

Sing Me Those Memories

There are many opinions about what makes a song great. Sometimes a song makes you move your body, and sometimes a song moves your soul. It can make you happy or sad. Sometimes what makes a song great can change over time. You'll notice complexities you overlooked before. Or just the passage of time itself can lend layers of greatness to a song. It can be just a silly little love song (to quote someone who wrote more than his fair share of great songs) when you first hear it, but after the years have gone by it has become more. The song has become a time machine of sorts, taking you back to a specific time and place. When you hear the song you can see where you were when you listened to it in bygone days. More, you can hear other sounds that were in the background, smell whatever aromas permeated the air, taste whatever you may have been ingesting at the time. Most importantly, you feel what you were feeling. That's what makes this particular brand of time machine so powerful. H

Devil Music

I grew up in the Bible belt. Furthermore I grew up in the Bible belt during the time known as the "Satanic Panic" during the late 80's and early 90's. In fact, if you are familiar with the West Memphis Three, I am around the same age as them and could drive there in in a day. I had parents who sent me to a Christian school for the first 6 years of my education. So you can imagine the consternation when I started playing  Dungeons and Dragons  and listening to  heavy metal .  I had a friend who gave me Motley Crue's Shout At The Devil album on vinyl. The tape just had a picture of the four members of the band in their faux Road Warrior outfits, and probably wouldn't have caused that much of a fuss. But the record was a gatefold cover, with the front being a black on black pentagram. My mom saw that and had a conniption fit. She took the record and the song titles God Bless the Children of the Beast and Bastard convinced her that this record was not only satanic