Thursday, March 02, 2006

Air Supplies at Sea

Keeping with the postmodern/globilization motif...

It's no secret that these days the US's biggest export may well be it's pop culture- even countries that really hate us wear our blue jeans. But what was interesting to me on Cruise Ship X was exactly that, like anything I suppose, people, and peoples pick and choose what of the shmorgasborg of s**t we send them, and appropriate only certain bits of it. This is natural, even here- country music will never be as big in Massachusetts as it is in Arkansas, and I don't think techno makes the inroads in Montana that it does at the Roxy. But I digress...

It was interesting to see what exactly different peoples grabbed of the American pop world. I don't pretend to know what it means, but maybe you can enlighten me... (warning, the following is a series of overgeneralizations, I know. They're not intended to be all encomapsing, or any kind of character judgement just calling them as I see them. I'm sure there are many exceptions, but just like there is a better than fifty percent chance that your 15 year old sister was gaga over Usher or John Mayer last year, the odds work in my favor here)

The largest single ethnic subset on the boat was Filipino, and God do they love Air Supply. Yup, Air Supply, that bad haired drippy relic of the early eighties. My barber there is Filipino, and when I went to get a haircut the soundtrack was always heavy on Air Supply, with some Peter Cetera and boy band stuff thrown in for good measure. And apparently, it's very masculine there to sing that way; when we would have crew karaoke, they would turn out en masse, singing Backstreet Boys and the like (often better than the original, I would add), and the girls would go nuts, and the guys wouldn't cringe. Us gringos would cringe, and head for the doors, but oh well.

As anyone who went to BU can tell you, the Europeans on board- primarily former Soviet Sattelites, and Italians- love their techno. (Does that even qualify as an American export. God I hope not) And interestingly, the only music I heard in public places on board that wasn't in English or Spanish was some troubador-style ballads in I think it was Hungarian, but it might of been Czech. Big, and blustery. Speaking of Spanish, another surprise to me was how disproportionately big American death metal is in Mexico. It seemed like every block in Cozumel or Playa I would see at least one Mexican guy either going to or coming from work with a Metallica shirt on, or Slayer, etc. I still don't know quite what to make of that.

Why does any one group (again, I know I'm generalizing) grab any one, or that one, aspect of American pop crap? Beats me, but made for some interesting bar talk...

As for me, I'm back safely in my little Bostonian cacoon, listening to Bill Evans. I hadn't realized they'd released the complete Village Vanguard '61 sessions. (Originally on the LP Sunday at the Vanguard). Oh, is it good! And if I ever get nostalgic for the boat, I can always dig up my Air Supply's greatest hits.

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