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The Annals of Rock Snobbery

September 2007 Archives

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In conjunction with the October 9 publication of The Food Snob’s Dictionary, Snobsite is taking on a new multiblog format. This way, Rock, Film, and Food Snobs visiting this site will now be able to avoid topics not to their liking, and there won’t be any ugly fistfights over the merits of Captain Beefheart versus Wagyu beef. On the other hand, the well-rounded Snob will have more time-wasting material than ever to peruse.

We are also adding a new section called the Snob Shop to expedite your purchase of the Snob books and (coming soon!) Snob t-shirts. And we’ll be reviving the moribund Nitpicker’s Corner, our section where readers are invited to write to us and take us to task for glaring omissions and factual slip-ups. Already, we’re rueing that we didn’t include the word “locavore” in Food Snob.

The Food Snob’s Dictionary is a necessary primer for those seeking to understand the growing scourge/phenomenon of Food Snobbery. And look, even Anthony Bourdain is weighing in on the subject! So let this silly little book into your life.

September 26, 2007 More Food Snobbery »



This clip of of “the Pink Floyd” from a May 14, 1967, appearance on the BBC2’s The Look of the Week program has been up on YouTube for a year. But somehow it had escaped the noticed of Snob HQ until now. And it’s extraordinary on so many counts. For one thing, it captures the band performing, rather than miming, “Astronomy Domine,” the effects-laden song that opens their debut album, The Piper at the Gates of Dawn, which is just now getting its lavish 40th-anniversary rerelease. For another, it captures Syd Barrett actually talking–and not just talking, but chatting thoughtfully, lucidly, and with remarkable equanimity given the hostile questions of his interviewer.

The segment’s presenter is Hans Keller, a prominent and controversial music critic and theorist of the era. In his introductory segment, he might as well be John Cleese. With his posh-Viennese accent, Murrowesque cigarette, and a pushbroom mustache that seems to have come from the prop department, he cocks his head contemptuously and asserts of the band, “Proportionately, they are a bit boring.” And then he allows, disingenuously, that “Perhaps it’s my fault that I don’t appreciate them.”

In the post-performance interview, which begins about five minutes into the clip, Keller kicks things off by asking Barrett and Roger Waters, “Why has it all got to be so terribly loud?” The two Floydians, well-brought-up boys from Cambridge, answer this and all of Keller’s questions with remarkable politeness. But Waters palpably seethes under his veneer of good manners, while Barrett remains unprovoked. (Though his occasional smiling glances at Waters hint that he finds Keller’s tone absurd.)

Keller clearly had a tin ear for rock music, but it would be reductive to say he was just some schmuck drawing-room fogey who had it in for the longhairs. A Jewish escapee from the Third Reich, he made his way to London in 1938 and established his name as something of an out-there figure himself, applying Freudian interpretation to classical compositions. He also had a silly streak and once fooled the classical-music firmament by soberly presenting a spoof documentary on BBC Radio 3 entitled The Strange Case of Piotr Zak, about an avant-garde Polish composer who didn’t actually exist.

So maybe, when he says at the end of the Floyd clip that “My verdict is that is is a little bit of a regression to childhood–but, after all, why not?,” Keller isn’t being altogether condemnatory.

September 22, 2007 More Rock Snobbery »


It’s been more than two years since Yacht Rock, J.D. Ryznar’s ebulliently inventive Channel 101 Web series about the late-’70s SoCal smooth-music scene, became a cultural phenomenon. But the aftershocks are still occurring, as the figures lovingly parodied in the show are getting hip to Yacht Rock, and, in some cases, meeting its creators. Last year, Ryznar reported that Steely Dan and Michael McDonald, for an encore at a concert they were doing together, returned to the stage wearing captain’s hats, the signature headgear of Yacht Rockers. And it was our pleasure, at a spring 2006 Beverly Hills party to celebrate the publication of The Film Snob*s Dictionary, to introduce the real Steve Porcaro of Toto (played by Sarah Silverman Show regular Steve Agee in Yacht Rock) to Hunter Stair, the handsome, bearded young fellow who played Kenny Loggins:


Now comes astonishing photographic evidence of good sports Daryl Hall and John Oates posing with the actors who portrayed them in Yacht Rock as short-fused fashion-crimers, Wade Randolph (in cap, far right), and Drew Hancock (in glasses, far left):

Hall Oates.tiff

September 13, 2007 More Rock Snobbery »


Overlooked in the Film Snob-beloved New York Times critic Dave Kehr’s roundup of upcoming fall movie releases was this casually tossed-off bit of Snob acidity about Todd Haynes’s unorthodox Zimmy flick, I’m Not There: “At each stage of his life, Bob Dylan is played by a different actor (Christian Bale, Cate Blanchett, Marcus Carl Franklin, Richard Gere, Heath Ledger, Ben Whishaw)—a highly original device that dates back at least to Sacha Guitry’s 1937 Pearls of the Crown.”

Oh, snap, Dave!

September 12, 2007 More Film Snobbery »



You know you’ve made it when the French are producing knockoffs of merch you’ve created. May we present a book that has only recently come to our attention, Le dictionnaire des destins brisés du rock, published in France late last year with a suspiciously familiar-looking cover (above) and premise. (The title translates, more or less, as “The Dictionary of Accursed Rock Destinies.”) One imagines that this book was thrown together in a shabby Paris workhouse filled with poorly paid immigrant rock satirists while an unforgiving sweatshop boss cracked the whip and screamed “Plus comme Daly! Plus comme Kamp!”

September 09, 2007 More Rock Snobbery »

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