Thursday, January 22, 2015

WXRT's cowbell "dog whistle," plus more French wine

Slice of life: I am at work, and the radio station playing all over the store is Chicago's own hoary, too cool for words "classic rock" WXRT. I distinctly remember being confused, as a child of seven, about what "classic rock" meant. (The station went live in 1972.) I thought that " 'XRT" was going to play both classical music and rock, which struck me as a strange but good idea: imagine hearing something of Mozart or Beethoven, followed by the Rolling Stones or Iggy Pop's "Real Wild Child" from the same station. Nobody seemed able to elucidate matters for me, back in the Nixon era. And 'XRT never played any Mozart.

Fast forward to 2015. The same staff are on the payroll. The pushing-seventy-year-old Terri Hemmert was in her glory, two days ago, remembering Doctor Martin Luther King Junior, and how she was in college at the time, and those were dark days, my friends. Then she played John Lennon's "Imagine."

Yesterday, a different host played a brief sound bite of Senator Ted Cruz reacting to the previous night's State of the Union speech. The senator from Texas said that the President's tax-and-spend proposals reminded him of an old skit from Saturday Night Live starring Christopher Walken, "where, if you remember, there is a band playing and his solution to every problem is ‘more cowbell,’ ‘more cowbell.’ Well, for President Obama, ‘more cowbell,’ is ‘more taxes, more government,’ ‘more taxes, more government.'”

After playing this bit, 'XRT seguéd immediately into the Rolling Stones' "Honky Tonk Women" (1969), a song which begins with a cowbell. And that, my fatheads, was all the comment our own hoary, too cool for words classic rock station needed to make, to reassure its listeners that Ted Cruz, conservative, is an uncool moron trying to prove his chops by quoting the always-cool Saturday Night Live -- with Christopher Walken, icon of The Deer Hunter Russian roulette scene, thrown in! -- and therefore failing miserably. That Cruz looks like a young Bill Murray playing a dopey senator from Texas only hilariously closes the circle of uncoolness.

Anyone who has pointed out in the last few years that Republicans have a branding problem, at least with the cool people if not with voters, hasn't gone far enough. Republicans and conservatives together have a "branding problem" with the cool people in the way the Jews of 1930s Germany had a branding problem with Nazis. Another political minority, as it happened. At the heart of it, know this. Dear Senator: and others: you are never going to be allowed to define yourself with this aggressive and beatifically smug minority; they will define you. That's brand failure, surely. You'll recall that the brand of the European Jew only recovered, a little, after considerable violence.

Anyway all this is no reason we can't have a glass of wine. You'll recall also that we have decided to drink more French wines in the new year. Such as 2010 Château des Arnauds (the producer), Cuvée des Capucins (the blend in this bottle); from Lalande de Pomerol, the A.O.C. or, is it now the A.O.P. (the region of Bordeaux the wine comes from)? In sum, a four-year-old merlot blend, inexpensive, good. Retail, about $13, possibly half that on sale.

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