Thank you for the Tom Bissell essay, which I enjoyed. I spotted only two points of disagreement, one of which I hope you'll correct. The first is that his dilemma is so common that the haze of fascination with his specialness seems misplaced; every hipster in the New World always turns out, later in the party, to be secretly proud about his low taste, his love of ABBA, his Hello Kitty tattoos, his flawless knowledge of surfer movies, etc. It's charming because populist impulses are almost always charming. It's also predictable: Dude, flicks and pop music are mass culture forms invented for huge markets in the modern age, while literature, basically, ain't. That you should like populist entertainments in one and refined aesthetical stuff in the other is not remarkable -- it's just sort of, um, getting it.
-- Jane Dark
It sounds like Tom Bissell's problems might have more to do with his inflexibility in dealing with music and movies that are not speed metal and slasher flicks than with intransigent Yo La Tengo fans. My guess is that his friends aren't so much bothered by him listening to Megadeth so much as that he doesn't want to listen to anything else.
-- Ian Evans
Tom Bissell might have written the single most pathetic article that I have ever read on Salon. His entire self-image seems to be derived from the opinions of others.
By the time that most of us reach our late twenties, we have stopped trying to impress others with our choice of books, music, and films. Mr. Bissell, on the other hand, spends half of the article trying to convince the reader of his intelligence based upon his library, and the other half trying to convince the reader of his independence based upon his CD and DVD collections. Both efforts fail miserably.
At least I know of one travel guide that I should never buy.
-- Bryan Thompson
Dude, no need to apologize for liking Metallica. The real dunderheads are the "indie" music snobs too narrow-minded to appreciate '80s vintage Metallica.
I am surprised, however, by your dismissal of Mozart. His "Requiem" is one of the all time great heavy metal anthems -- almost, but not quite approaching the greatness of "Master of Puppets."
-- Aran Johnson
Thank you Tom Bissell. I've spent many hours enduring interminable performances by indie-rock bands uncomfortably aware that other people in the room are somehow finding enjoyment out of the music. Such soulless wankery and mindless noodling. Actually modern indie rock, or "white jazz" as I like to call it, is guilty of all the sins of heavy metal but without the entertainment value. Give me speed metal any day. Though of course my true shame is being a fan of science fiction.
-- Elijah Elder
Just a letter of kudos to Tom Bissell for writing such an enjoyable article in Salon today. I must admit I had a shit-faced grin firmly planted on my face upon reading this from the title to the last word.
I too enjoy many types of music currently deemed "unacceptable" by my peers. Like Tom, I am in a late-20s "Big City" environment, plus I worked as a producer for new media agencies, and as an audio engineer in Chicago for a while. I wear too much black and am a literary snob. I also hide my Queensryche albums in the far corners of my desk and currently "Children of the Corn" is in my DVD player. So shoot me.
I especially related to the type of Indie-Rock-expert hysteria that would permeate the young hipster agency parties I would attend in Seattle. I am familiar with the flicker of panic that would betray a MAC-coated YIPPY's face when an obscure Catherine Wheel reference would go unrecognized.
Reminds me of a quote I heard from Bruce Mau that would help me out when caught in such a tangle:
"Don't be cool. Cool is conservative fear dressed in black. Don't limit yourself in this way."
-- Jennifer Hoppenrath
Although I can hardly walk without tripping over the prestigious books that lie in every corner and crevice of my tasteful home, I hardly think that the credibility it lends me would somehow detract from an atrocious taste in music and film, which is purely hypothetical, as my tastes are impeccable. Tom knows what he likes, but he doesn't like what is good. In his article, Tom responds to the CONTENT of the work he enjoys -- not its artistry or aesthetic merits. To quote Veith, whom I tripped over yesterday, "to say we like something is to describe ourselves; to say something is good is to describe the object." I know that Tom is intelligent! He has hard books on his bookshelf! But for God's sake, Tom, put a little effort into either discovering something that is good, or defending the goodness of what you love. There is no excuse for bad taste. Taking subjective pleasure in what is objectively excellent is the definition of good taste which, I must admit, Tom sadly lacks.
-- Christian Alexander
I love Def Leppard's "Photograph." I also love the Replacements. As far as movies go, I love "Night of the Living Dead," and I also love "The Pianist." (For that matter, I like John Grisham). While I understand why people like Mr. Bissell are defensive about their tastes, what I don't understand is why people on his side, as well as the snobs he attacks, feel that liking both the highbrow and the lowbrow is mutually exclusive. Everybody can't have good taste, but everybody can have individual taste, and if Mr. Bissell and his counterparts can't understand that, they should get over themselves.
-- Sean Gallagher