Based on how successfully this thump’n'lurch collection of jock-doofus standards (the CD is subtitled “19 of your favorite stadium pumping, crowd rocking hits” to which I must add Yee-hah) lives up to your expectations of what you’d expect this kind of thing to be, you might think a little contextualizing and a resulting higher rating is due. But: no. American culture has allowed grownups to act like adolescents in ways both good and bad—I’m checking the time on a Marvin the Martian desk clock at the very moment I’m watching this, and that’s a good thing indeed—and it’s about time to call some of the sweatier, hairier knuckle-draggers on this one.
So. A product like this—or like Stone Cold T-shirts or Varsity Blues or Pat Buchanan—relies on equal parts macho and cynicism to get off the shelves and into your house. The “ironic reading” such things require, if they are to get past a smart person like you or me (which is a roundabout way of saying that, yes, I was raising an ironic eyebrow and cheering for Ric Flair as recently as ‘94), is a simple-minded surrender to anti-intellectualism, a goof on the ironic double-vision that kept the twentieth century from devolving completely into superhorror, halfassed postmodernism done up as an excuse for digging Adam Sandler.
Look: I am not about to join a elitist friend of mine who considers the pop references in, say, Gravity’s Rainbow an example of Pynchon’s exposition of post-capitalist culture’s corrosive banality. But neither am I giving in to the fascist twaddle of this CD without a fight.
What’s here? Hip-hop (Puff Daddy, Ice Cube, Master P, Snoop Dogg), dance (The Prodigy, Crystal Method, Moby), and alternative lite (Smash Mouth, Sugar Ray), every second of it vaguely okay in the cuts’ original contexts, every second of it recontextualized here for hyperkinetic NFL highlights reels and guys-wearing-hats-backwards smackdowns. The presence of Blur’s “Song #2” is instructive. How many guys who overcompensate by lunging around bars or by going without shirts when it’s below zero Celsius have stuck with Blur since this prettydamnobvious speaker-shredder appeared? The violence that Blur celebrates/parodies is the point here, but without the parodic nudge: no doubling back for a satirical review.
There are also some halfway interesting (in the archeological sense of the word interesting) novelty deals: the TP2K Mix of the “FOX [sic] Sports Football Theme,” for example, as well as the pristine original (it’s still equally appropriate for broadcasting from Green Bay or invading Poland). And “Keep On Dancin’ (Let’s Go) (FOX Sports Highlight Reel)” (yes, two parentheses in one track title) (which may be a record) (or maybe not) which samples various FOX sportscasters to poor effect (Terry Bradshaw, who had little success singing country in the seventies, has no better time getting you up and onto the dance floor). And the snippet from John Madden, who speaks pure surrealism at least once a quarter on real game broadcasts, utterly lacks the weird American poetry of which he is capable; who chose this clip?
Parable: I’m in the vet’s office setting up an appointment for a cat named Noodles. I start talking to this guy who stocks groceries where my kid’s a bagger, B.L., who’s waiting for the vet to finish clipping the ears of his pit bull, Big Boy. We talk for a few minutes and he ends up telling me that Big Boy sometimes gets off his chain and goes next door where he bites the tires of the neighbor’s car and flattens all four. And, did I know it, Big Boy can get ahold of this tire B.L.‘s left in the back yard, one off an old Pontiac, and that damned dog can just pick his head up with that tire clamped hard in his jaws and hold it straight out for, shit man, couple minutes at least, it don’t mean nothing to him.
B.L., who would like Happy Gilmore, would adore this CD.
// Notes from the Road
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