Sitting at a bar Tuesday night with a couple of girlfriends, the following conversation ensued about our relative ages:
Friend I’ll name Sally for reasons that have everything to do with her never being able to order off the menu: “I’m ten years older than you,” looking at me. “And, you’re just a baby.” She said to our other friend.
Me: “No you’re not. You’re only a year older than me.”
Sally: “Yes but I still listen to all this amazing music playing on the jukebox. I feel ten years older than you.” She took another swig of her drink and then sighed. “Tell me who we’re listening to.”
Me: “Not sure, but since you took twenty minutes to pick out ten songs I’m sure you’ll tell me.”
Sally: “How can you not know this?” She looked at me in mock disbelief. “It’s Gregg Allman.”Then she chirped a little too loudly to no one in particular, “Who picked this great song?” After a couple of gin and tonics, this would become her catch phrase for the evening.
I give Sally grief to no end. She is one of the funniest and intelligent people I know but also one of the most unplugged. Her knowledge of popular culture expired somewhere around the time Jerry Garcia did. This means that making reference to almost anything in conversation that includes but is not limited to current films, celebrities, television, music, or the Internet requires a detailed exegesis of its origin on my part. This is why I make a point to leave stray copies of People and Us magazines laying around her house whenever I can remember.
It’s also why I waited until Sally went back up to the electronic jukebox to ask our much younger friend what she thought about the singer, Lana Del Rey.
“Who’s Lana Del Rey?” my other friend asked me.
Feeling more than a little perplexed at my greater knowledge base of this particular brand of music, I gave her the abridged version. I told her that Lana Del Rey is a twenty something indie music artist that found success through Youtube. Her videos have that angst ridden hipster, living in an Instagram photo kind of vibe that leaves most everyone who’s not considering jumping off a bridge feeling grated upon. She considers herself a “gangster Nancy Sinatra.” And, now the Internet “hates” her.
After giving her the lowdown on young Lana, we were interrupted. When I finally thought about reviving our discussion, I forgot why I had brought the singer up in the first place. Before I could remember, two awful realizations occurred to me.
Retro never felt so wrong.
I might be a little too plugged in to the American media’s collective consciousness in all its aberrant forms to know these kind of details.
There is relevant information storage and then there’s knowing things just for the sake of knowing them. Jeremy Lin, Tim Tebow, Lana Del Rey, they are all Google search items that had their fifteen minutes of trending on Twitter. The world deemed them interesting for a moment and then moved on to the next best thing. I’ve allowed them to become a loose string of cultural references that litter my head and sit waiting to be used at the end of a punch line.
Sometimes I’m left wondering why. That is, until I remember Sally saying to me that I’d be able to get at least five blog posts out of our evening out. I think I’ll keep it to one and stop trying to figure out a way to link together Lindsay Lohan, ironic mustaches, and the season premiere of Mad Men. I’m starting to get a headache.