Okay, so I feel like I should have something coherent to contribute to vegetarianism discussion, seeing as how I’ve been a vegetarian since I was twelve (although I do eat fish, making my claim to vegetarianism shaky in many eyes). I’ve dealt with and contemplated many of those issues, including the strange hostility that merely saying “No thanks, I don’t eat meat,” tends to produce. However, I feel like I need to take a little more time before saying something…which segues nicely into my theme for the post, which is that I often find myself behind the times, pop-culture or literary-culture wise. I feel like my response-time functions just a little too slowly for this culture of ours sometimes.
Perhaps it’s my disinclination to seem like a bandwagon jumper, or simply laziness, or a superstitious tendency to let books and bands and movies and TV shows drift into my life, rather than taking a more pro-active approach, but I often find myself enthusing about something long after the cultural moment has peaked. Someone once pointed out that my bookshelf by my bed was full of “big books” from the 90s, as apparently I can only enjoy the literary bestsellers of 1998 in 2007.
It’s the same with music. Albums I just bought: Kanye West’s “Graduation Day”; Modest Mouse’s “We Were Dead Before the Ship Even Sank”; Wilco’s “Sky Blue Sky”; Blonde Redhead’s “23.” Good choices all, according to me, but these albums have been out for awhile, and it’s long past the point where everyone was discussing and enthusing over them.
This means that when I’m in the stage of “Oh my god, have you listened to this album/read this book/seen this movie/watched this TV show it’s amazing” I often have no one to gush with, as everyone else is kind of over it. The reaction tends to be, “Oh yeah. Duh.” I just watched all of last years Oscar movies last year. I finally got around to watching the show “Extras” — a show I first heard of when it was nominated for a bunch of awards and I was like, “Extras? What the fuck is that show?”
And the truth is, the joke is more often than not on me, because the thing that everyone raves about often ends up being quite good. Sure, there’s are plenty of books/movies/albums etc. that get puffed up by hype, but my passive inclination to distrust anything that “everyone else likes” often amounts to cutting off my nose to spite my face. And weird as it sounds, I’ve decided I need to be a more active consumer of culture. Instead of reading about stuff, thinking “that sounds interesting, but I don’t want to buy it just to be up on things,” and making no further effort, I’m going to go out and track it down. More contemporary books, more live shows, more movies, more interesting television.
Oh wait…all that stuff costs money. Another factor is my cultural apathy.
But how does this tie back to Radiohead? I’ll wrap it altogether for you. As everyone else in the world knows by now, Radiohead originally released “In Rainbows” over the internet, and anyone could pay what they pleased. But this had mixed results and they released it as an album. Right? We all know this. Old news.
My dad was one of those people who downloaded the album for free and he gave me a copy for Christmas. I’ve never liked Radiohead much, so I didn’t get around to listening to it until today. Bored with all my music, I wanted something new to listen to while writing/tooling around on the internet, pretending to write.
Hey, guess what? It’s really good, guys!
What’s changed? Have I changed, and suddenly am the kind of person who likes Radiohead? Or (as has been suggested) is this album more accessible than previous efforts? I once listened to “OK Computer” while being driven through the mist on a mountain, probably the most atmospherically appropriate way to listen to that album you could get, and I still thought it was boring and grating and overwrought. Is it Radiohead that’s different, or me?
I know you all got over this album months and months ago, but any feedback would be much appreciated.