Archive for July 26th, 2005

Guilty Pleasures

This one is just for fun.

What things musical, cultural or culinary do you enjoy, which have little or no redeeming value, or which run contrary to your principles?

I am not talking about things which are objectively sinful; those are matters for your confessor, only about junk food of the soul or body, things which, while not in themselves evil, do not contribute to your sanctification, do not nurture your theosis.

Let me start.

My guilty pleasures:

Burt Bacharach music. What the World Needs Now is Love Sweet Love can bring tears to my eyes, probably because the local Top 40 radio station played it over and over in 1968 when Bobby Kennedy was killed. Even the schlocky stuff conjures up images of the mellow world of the sophisticated 60’s square, martini in hand. I also like other easy listening music, like Nat King Cole after he went pop, and Mel Torme.

The handful of 60’s existentialist Rolling Stones tunes: Paint it Black, Satisfaction, Get Off of My Cloud, Mother’s Little Helper, Nineteenth Nervous Breakdown. I’ve never been much of a Stones fan since, but boy did they capture urban alienation in those songs.

60’s psychedelic music: The Dead, Jefferson Airplane, pre-Dark Side of the Moon Pink Floyd, Hendrix, The Byrds’ Notorious Byrds Brothers album, and the little known Millenium.

60’s hippie folk music: Donovan, the Incredible String Band, Nick Drake, Pearls Before Swine, Fairport Convention.

Post-punk 80’s music: Psychedelic Furs, X, early U2, Wire Train, Big Country.

90’s dreamy rock: the Cure, Catherine Wheel, Slowdive.

Wait, did I leave out the 70’s? You bet I did. Except for the early years of the decade, which really were still the 60’s, it was a musical wasteland.

Sentimental country music. Almost anything by Tom T. Hall, and about every song about betrayal or tragic death or one’s dear dead ma brings tears to my eyes.

Patriotic sentimental country music. There was a song out a year or so ago called Driving with Private Malone, I don’t know the artist, about a guy who buys an old classic car that was owned by a guy who died in Vietnam, and man, that song tears me up. (I am not counting the jingoistic country songs, ala America’s Gonna Kick Your Ass.)

Waitresses and nurses who call you "hon".

Heart-unfriendly Eastern European foods: Hungarian sausage, cabbage rolls, pierogis; a new taste acquired at Slavic church suppers. (Self interest dictates only occasional indulgence).

Cheese puffs. Hey, if I could afford the whole grain, organic parmesan ones, which must exist, I’d eat them. However I can’t, and the artificially orange ones make a great side dish to a turkey, sprout and avocado sandwich….

Cheap bourbon: Early Times, Heaven Hill, Evan Williams. I draw the line at Old Crow; can’t get past the name. I mean, what next?  Buzzard Pee?

Old TV shows from my childhood: Andy Griffith, Leave it to Beaver, the Rifleman, Bonanza.

Cowboy movies from the 40’s, 50’s, and early 60’s.

Dastardly Mash. What’s that, you say? Ben and Jerry’s sells several ice cream flavors in their stores that never make it to the grocery store. When I lived in Vermont, nearly twenty years ago, I would too regularly visit the original Ben and Jerry’s, in a converted gas station in downtown Burlington. There they sold Dastardly Mash: deep chocolate, raisins, pecans, almonds, chocolate chunks, and marshmallows. Thank God my time in Vermont was brief; if I had settled there I would be obese long ago.

Come to think of it, some of these pleasures are not so guilty. I can offer a pretty good defense for Nick Drake, Andy Griffith, and cabbage rolls.

Then there’s cheese puffs and Dastardly Mash….

So. What are your guilty pleasures?

Daniel Nichols

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