Sunday, February 10, 2008

Lost in the Supermarket, Part 2


I had the good fortune growing up to have a mother who was an enthusiastic gourmet cook. Every year, she gives my three siblings (all of whom are excellent cooks) and me (a merely decent one) a subscription to Bon Appétit magazine. I’ve asked her not to renew my subscription (to no avail), because I’m simply too busy to read my issues and not ambitious enough to cook from them, but I found a little time the other day to leaf through the latest while eating my breakfast, and I noticed an apparently regular column called “Playlist,” which suggests songs to put on one’s iPod (I don’t have an iPod, but that’s another story) that are food- and drink-related. This month’s playlist is called “Music to Shop By,” and is recommended for listening to while navigating “the long lines and crowded aisles at the market.” One of the songs is The Clash’s “Lost in the Supermarket,” about which Bon Appétit says:

From their masterwork album London Calling [1979], punk rockers The Clash recount the rigors of childhood and that all-too-familiar lost-in-a-supermarket feeling.

This made me do a double-take. First of all, “that all-too-familiar lost-in-a-supermarket feeling” is not really what the song’s about. And then there is the signally odd feeling of reading about The Clash in a gourmet cooking-and-lifestyle magazine. I remember my shock as a young soprano-slash-office-temp when I realized that the corporate lawyers whose documents I typed by night listened to The Clash. One right-libertarian-leaning lawyer whom I later dated even loved Woody Guthrie. This just didn’t make sense to me: I had a hard time wrapping my mind around the marriage of corporate law and music that can be described to varying degrees as dissident. I later decided that for many of the people I worked for, being a lawyer was a sort of day job like my temping was for me, but on a higher and much more lucrative level. They may have been the capitalist establishment, but they had rock-and-roll hearts. I still can’t get over the incongruity of The Clash and Bon Appétit, though.

8 comments:

SoccerNerdPunk said...

Simply wanted to let you know that you handled yourself very well in the midst of those opposed to your beliefs on the Feministe blog. I am Catholic Convert that actually lives out the NFP marriage, which I am extremely happy with as is my husband. I am not one of the mindless fools that the pro-choice would say I am as I am working towards my PhD in Physical Chemistry. I deal with pro-choice backlash all the time, even within my own family who thinks I am a radical for my beliefs. Thank-you again simply for being an inspiration and for being a rational arguer amongst the great amount of irrationality.

Pentimento said...

soccernerdpunk, thank you for these kind words; they really mean a lot to me. That was my first experiemce getting slimed by the pro-choice crowd, and it was pretty depressing, especially since I used to be one of them myself. Good luck with your doctorate -- I'm close to finished with mine now, yay! It's a challenge with little ones!

Tertium Quid said...

David Brooks has written extensively about "Bobos," i.e., Bourgeois Bohemians. They are now the ruling class of America. They run investment banks by day, listen to the Grateful Dead with a reefer at night, and give their money to causes their grandparents would never endorse.

Pentimento said...

TQ, I've read "Bobos in Paradise," but I always thought that the Bobos were sort of self-consciously leftward-leaning, which wasn't the case with the Woody Guthrie-loving fellow.

The Gtra1n said...

Hey, where's my subscription to Bon Appetit?!?!

That's okay, I prefer Gourmet. My take on this, and the winger lawyer digging Woody Guthrie, is similar to how I see the pop music tastes of a lot of people - very few who listen to pop music actually bother to hear the words, and even fewer of those bother to give the words any kind of evaluation. So a guy who favors social Darwinism can groove to Woody because to him, the Dough-Re-Mi is just a set of nice sounds.

Pentimento said...

Gtra1n, you knew this guy. He was a son of the working class and I think he actually did have a true populist streak.

Christopher Woods said...

I've reached that point in life where the soundtrack of my youth is now an ambient marketing ploy. Nothing can illustrate that fact better than this: I actually heard 'Lost in the Supermarket' while on an errand in the supermarket. Note well, that Nissan uses the Clash's version of 'Pressure Drop' to promote one of their SUVs. Few things are more alienating than pushing a cart through the supermarket aisle past a youth 20 years my junior stocking the shelves on whom the irony is, presumably, entirely lost. It makes me want to grab him by the shirt a yell: I USED TO...

At which point, I start to feel like a very silly grup.

Pentimento said...

Thanks for the comment. I think our generation has to be resigned to having our cultural artifacts recycled by ad executives who don't understand the concept of classical irony.