Dear John: Do you have any pointers for how I can keep my New Year’s resolution to lose 57 pounds? Thanks!
Roderick: Trevor, it’s funny you should bring this up because just tonight, on a lark, I weighed myself for the first time in several years, and I’m proud to say I’ve increased my total weight by over 20 percent! Now that I’ve attained a certain station in life, it’s my responsibility as the leader of my tribe to become fearsome and enormous. With my long grey beard and substantial bulk I shall dominate the council table, petrify brash young upstarts, and cause my rivals to tremble and pee themselves. Dare I say the fertile women will also not fail to notice my status, and the nubile slave girls will vie to have me as their master.
Now . . . I understand you to be resolving to lose weight. If you have been bested in combat and pressed into servitude by a mightier king, rest assured the weight will come off quickly enough without you trying. Secure what calories you can while you still draw breath. If you are some kind of trickster or magician endeavoring to fit through tight places, I say, “Curse your dark magic!” Otherwise, I can think of no good reason why an adult male would seek to become smaller.
Roderick! What is best in life?
Oh, God. Something in the way you phrase this question tells me you’re European. This is the type of question I only get asked on a Spanish beach at 5 a.m. by a red-faced Danish guy who smells like raspberry beer. The Danish guy knows before he asks the question that he’s going to contradict my half-assed, spiritual-sounding attempt at profundity that stems from having recently read Milan Kundera, and explain to me condescendingly that the problem with Americans is that we’re too serious and also boring. We’re also too religious, and we have no sense of history.
And I’ll sit there not really listening to his rap, because I’ll still be embarrassed about having bungled playing “Into the Mystic” 20 minutes earlier on some battered acoustic guitar, in an attempt to regain the attention of the dark-haired girl from Salzburg, who by that point will be over by the bonfire fascinated by the ethnic Hungarian from Bratislava who knows how to play “Enter Sandman,” of all ungodly things!
This will cause me to reflect on the simple truth that what is best in life is to be born rich and beautiful, have no ambition or capacity for self-reflection, maintain trite opinions about culture and politics, and spend your life getting drunk on foreign beaches smugly asking and answering unanswerable questions.
John: As a British music lover, I have never really found much to love in a lot of American alternative music. The American bands I’ve loved most have been the ones most obviously influenced by British bands.
I am prepared to accept that I am a music racist. But is there genuinely a cultural difference between British and American guitar music, and how do you see it? Cheers!
—Doug Burgess, Leicester, UK
To address this question we must first agree on the indisputable facts: Americans invented rock ‘n’ roll, soul, country, R&B, psychedelia, disco, punk, grunge, and indie. However, the British produced all the best bands in rock music from 1964 to 1989. Of these facts all right-minded people must agree, and there can be no argument.
The cultural differences you mention started in 1989, and I blame it all on drugs. You Brits were taking so much Ecstasy you thought the Happy Mondays were clever, while Americans were shooting enough heroin to make Courtney Love seem briefly interesting. Suddenly we couldn’t communicate anymore.
I don’t blame you for not liking the fake angst of Limp Bizkit, Creed, The Offspring, and Blink-182, but how could you reasonably think Oasis, Manic Street Preachers, and Supergrass were anything but short-dick Kinks cover bands? Incomprehensible.
Throughout the past decade, all British bands sounded like U2 in panties, while American bands lost even the remotest sense of melody until they collectively sounded like bees farting. The only hope I see for the future is for everyone in both countries to go back to smoking marijuana and listening to the blues, and just push the reset button on the whole thing.
Why are there never any shows in January?
If you’d ever tried to catch three hours of sleep—four guys in a Ford van—with your breath freezing in the air, parked in front of a Canadian television station in a minus-20-degree ice storm because you were playing two songs on Good Morning Winnipeg at 7 a.m. between the woman who made little animals out of deviled eggs and the couple who played “singing bowls” and slept under a copper pyramid, you would know the answer to this question.
Is there anything you can do to prohibit hippies from bringing dogs on tour this summer? It just seems cruel for Cheeseheads to treat their animals that way.
I don’t have any suggestions for you except the most obvious one, which is to point out that if you are attending shows, either as a fan or a performer, where there are enough incidences of hippie Cheeseheads touring with their dogs for you to notice it and become concerned, then you are already too deeply embedded in jam-band culture to make your escape.
Stop pretending that you are normal and embrace your destiny. May I suggest that you get a Siberian Husky puppy named “Denali” and start wearing a sheepskin vest with no shirt and calling yourself “Bear Weird,” if you’re not doing that already?