Category Archives: Culture

Adding Fuel To The Fire…. Let’s Burn Paris!

On this All-American of holidays, how much more of an appropriate article to link to than this one about the Paris Hilton Phenomenon.  I hate Paris Hilton as much as anyone AND I don’t find her attractive, so the article really resonated with me personally, and I’m sure it will with others.

I think that one interesting fall-out of Paris Hilton doing… um… whatever it is she does is that I think that there’s a definite backlash against the "hot chick.’  I find myself doing it, assuming that if a woman is good looking and made-up, she’s probably dumb, selfish, self-centered, and/or slutty.  Paris is doing a real disservice to her fellow females and any woman who obsesses about her goings-ons should be aware of that.

Oh, Canada!

On September 22nd, my girlfriend (The Pop Culture Gangsteress) and I headed for Toronto to go watch the Boston Red Sox play the Toronto Blue Jays at Rogers Center.  Back in May when we bought these tickets, we thought that this series of games was going to be an important one.  The Red Sox were in first place and the Jays were predicted to be contenders for the division championships.  This was the last away series of the year and we figured it could be a division-clinching set of games.

Five months later, things had taken an ugly turn, and the series turned into a battle to stay out of third place.  But, being dutiful Red Sox fans and always up for a road trip, we embarked on our journey anyway, determined to make the best of it.

Outside_rogersWe spent the night in Syracuse and then moved onto Buffalo, NY, where we tried the original buffalo wings at the Anchor Bar.  We crossed the border into Canada via the Peace Bridge in Buffalo, with a laughable border patrol effort.  We didn’t even have to show our passports – we told them we were going to the baseball game and they let us through.  Apparently its a good thing terrorists aren’t baseball fans.

Our first impression of Toronto is that traffic SUCKS there.  I mean, really sucks.  We were driving into the city in the very early afternoon on a Saturday and it felt like Friday rush hour in Boston.   Every time we looked out on the highway, we saw some traffic virtually stopped in some direction.  Perhaps they are trying to encourage mass transit or bicycling by not improving things.

Inside_rogersOnce in the city, we managed to wind our way to the hotel (note to mapmakers: if a street isn’t really a street, but a pedestrian walkway, for the love of god, please mark it as such!), which was a great Holiday Inn just a short walk from the stadium.

The Rogers Centre was made world-famous by its retractable roof, and inside it, the stadium reflects the landscape of the city around it.  It is impeccably clean and modern, with clean lines and sleek touches everywhere.  It is the opposite of the newer stadiums which are usually retro in their design, tying into the the rehabilitated areas of the city they usually inhabit (such as Baltimore’s Camden Yards and Denver’s Coors Field) with lots of brick, exposed metal beams and natural landscaping, matching the converted old industrial buildings that surround those parks.  In contrast, the area surrounding the Rogers Centre is clean and sleek with lots of concrete and the futuristic CN Tower standing tall next to it.

I won’t even get into the games – the Sox lost both games we saw, one by an embarrassingly large number of runs.  We took advantage of the lack of pressure to see the games in order to see more of the city.  We had the opportunity to see a comedy show, a major attraction in the city thanks to some top-notch comedy clubs.  Cn_tower

We also met up with a colleague of mine who lives in the city and was kind enough to show us around Chinatown and Kensington Market.  Chinatowns are always interesting, especially with an experienced guide and Kensington Market was the perfect little funky neighborhood that makes cities unique, with independent stores selling unique wares such as fresh whole spices, independent music, and specialty cuisines.

For the second time, I tried Dim Sum.  This was my attempt at really trying to like it, but unfortunately, while I LOVE a lot of Chinese food, I’m not crazy about the steamed texture that the dumplings take on.  I can say I’ve honestly tried it, gave it a true try, but alas, I shall not be participating again by my own free will.

Glass_floor_2We also traveled to the top of the CN Tower, the tallest structure in the world (but not the tallest building… whatever), which was awesome.  In one of the most clever ideas I’ve ever seen, they have a "glass floor" which allows you to look straight down underneath you.

  On the trip back, we enjoyed two pleasurable stops at Niagara area wineries, picking up some excellent ice wines while there.  Then we spent a few hours at Niagara Falls, a natural phenomenon that no photo can do justice.   I went about 15 years ago, but unfortunately a malfunctioning camera left me with a bunch of half photo frames.  This time I got a chance to take some dramatic photos from the sidewalk and from the Maid of the Mist. Niagara_falls

The ride home was a long one, broken up with a stop in Syracuse again for some Dinosaur Barbecue, which was worth the hassle of getting there.  We got home late, but it was a great trip with a lot of great memories – we plan on going next year.  You know, when the Sox clinch the pennant next year….


Contrary to a previous post, there is some good human decency left.  Last week, I misplaced my wallet on the way to tennis (yeah, I know good thing the season is over), which I didn’t discover until almost to the courts.  A thorough search of my car didn’t locate it, so I figured I either left it in my office or possibly dropped it in the parking lot.  Considering my wallet has keycards to get inside a building filled with expensive office equipment, I wanted to go find it.

On the way there, a series of phone calls led to the discovery that someone had actually found my wallet on the side of the road and was returning it.  Apparently while putting everything in my car and putting my handfuls of stuff on the roof of the truck, it had fallen out onto the roof and I drove away with it on there.  Luckily, everything was intact, and nothing but a few bucks and some coupons missing.  I was very fortunate and I’m very grateful that there are some honest, decent people still out there.

Brokefoot Mountain

I went camping for the first time this past weekend.  Yes, for the first time – some people are shocked by that, others not so much.  I just didn’t grow up in a family that went camping, and neither did either of my parents.  However, I’m dating someone who’s practically a professional camper, and therefore, I am going camping.

It was an enjoyable experience, even taking into account the injury I sustained (an embarrassing one that I achieved by losing balance while putting on my shoes in the tent which was on slightly uneven ground.  Go me!) and the extra evening we lost due to unforeseen circumstances (memo to all my readers: never plan anything on a Friday night after traveling through Dulles airport on a Friday afternoon.  You’re not getting home on time.).  It was a fair amount of work doing this trip – we borrowed the basic camping equipment, but we had cobble together the rest and I was attempting to figure and learn what was needed along the way.  It took me a few trips to each store to get it all right, but now that I know, next time it’ll be much easier.

One thing I have to say is that every couple should be forced to camp before committing to each other long-term.  Especially if they have to put up a tent in the dark while trying to be quiet.  Which is exactly what we did and we managed to survive and still be talking by the next morning, though I was probably pushing my luck with my over-zealous flashlight control.  My attempts to keep the light in the right place led to a few blinding "right-in-the-eye" moments, which quickly got less funny after the fourth, fifth and sixth time.  It really wasn’t my fault, I swear – I was just trying to do a good job!!

Anyway – we got the tent up and the basics of what we needed in the tent.  Then at three in the morning a car alarm went off, and yours truly went into a panic trying to find my keys and shut it off.  Turned out that it was the strange elderly woman next to us who was sleeping IN the car.

Anyway – after that first night’s worth of mis-adventures, we enjoyed a great day of playing Monopoly, reading, cooking, and relaxing by the camp fire.  It was nice to be able to relax with just me and my woman – there’s usually always something going on with other people and it was nice to just spend time with just the two of us.   

There is definitely a certain charm to camping – it is quiet (almost eerily so at our campground), elemental (basically sleeping on the ground and depending on fire to keep you warm and cook your food), and forces you to relax.  I’m still a city boy at heart, but once in a while its nice to get away.

News Of the Week

A few interesting items for you:

Apparently those people who are too good for the rest of us are too good for the famous people as well; rich people don’t care about celebrity endorsements.

I have been on  I’ve poked around.  I think there’s some neat stuff there, but there’s still too many people with way too much time on their hands based on all the activity surrounding it.   Not to mention that as it becomes part of the mainstream media, what’s real and what isn’t will get tougher to determine.

Speaking of advertising, my fellow marketers have found yet another way to inundate us all with advertising – on school buses.  I don’t know about this – I haven’t been on a school bus in a while, but if my memory serves me correctly, the kids who don’t have headphones on are too loud to hear anything anyway.

Its almost as if they’ve been doing Cocaine – the energy drink.

Everybody who has filled up their iPod with iTunes purchased music, raise there hand.  *crickets chirps*  I thought so too.

Back in the "people with too much time worrying about stupid things" department, some people are concerned about the skinniness of models.  Others are saying you can’t regulate it.  The rest of us are saying "who cares!?!??!"

Happy birthday Play-Doh!  I’m gonna go grind some putty into a carpet in your honor.

The music industry must be in a sad state when the Naked Cowboy gets a record deal.  It’ll be even sadder if the record sells well.  It be downright depressing if its actually better than most of the stuff out there – which it easily could be actually…

OK, so this article is a bit over the top, but I have to admit… while they are comfortable, I do find Crocs to be disturbing looking.  They look like standard issue in a jailhouse – no metal, no sharp edges and lightweight. 

What Caught My Eye

A few things that have popped up on my radar screen in the last week….

This isn’t really a ground breaking article: it basically says that teens are comfortable with technology.  But its worth mentioning and reading.

There’s a niche for everything, and here’s your proof: an airline for smokers.

Paris Hilton gets caught up in a CD altering prank.  Couldn’t have happened to a nicer bitchy rich heiress.

Netflix is now producing movies, which could be one of those small industry "tremors" that turns into a major earth-moving shake-up.   Home theater systems have liberated people from the movie theater, so why not by-pass it all-together?

I watched the VMAs the other night and I have to admit I was feeling a little bit old.  I recognized nearly every single performer and knew the majority of the songs, but it doesn’t mean I liked them. But for the youngin’s, its their Superbowl according to this article.

Last, but not least, the mystery of lonelygirl15.  People have way too much time on their hands if all they have to do is dissect videos this bad.  Well, the production is about 10 times better than anything else on there, but that just makes me thinkt hat lonelygirl is simply a hoax of some sort.

American Sub Cultures

As noted in my previous post, I’ve been doing quite a bit of traveling.  It has been exhausting and I look forward to being home, but one thing that just about any kind of travel gives you is a different perspective and exposure to different cultures.  Even in this "United" country of ours, a short plane ride can land you in the middle of somewhere that can be as different as a foreign country. 

One interesting observations I’ve made over the last few weeks is the number of "sub cultures" that exist and make up the threads of our larger cultural tapestry.  Some examples:

Bikers – a dinner at Quaker Steak & Lube happened on bike night and it was interesting to see the various people who are into the biking "thing" and the wide spectrum of people that it attracts.  There are people who are clearly into the biker image – the stereotype that probably a lot of non-bikers have: tattoos, leather, lots of drinking and partying and kind of a crude attitude.  However, most people there were clearly not full-time bike gang members, but rather people who lead rather quiet normal lives but love the freedom of the open road that is afforded only on a bike.  Then there were the "crotch rocket" fans, juiced by the speed.

Iced Tea Drinkers – Yeah, I know this is weird one, but bear with me: while in the Harrisburg, PA area, I found out just how fanatical people are about their iced tea: at a local Wal-Mart Supercenter, they had THIRTEEN DOORS of prepared iced tea in the refrigerated section.  That is thirteen refrigerator doors full of gallons, half-gallons and single serves of prepared iced tea, with all sorts of flavors, from traditional lemon flavored to my new favorite, southern style sweet tea, which is a new addiction of mine.

Business travelers – While staying at a Holiday Inn Express in the middle of the Poconos (the nicest Holiday Inn I’ve ever stayed at, BTW), they had a complimentary "Manager’s Reception" with an open bar and grilled hamburgers and hot dogs.  As I looked around I saw that I was surrounded by road warriors, with their cell phones, Palm Treos and/or Blackberry hand-helds attached to their belts.  They wore clothes that were easy to press in the hotel rooms – no button down Oxfords here – and exchanged bad jokes and travel war stories.  I’m starting to identify with them…

BBQ fanatics – I’m one of them and at the Harpoon New England BBQ Championships, I was exposed again to them.  Its not just the competitors, but the general public as well.  The response I typically get when I say that I’m a certified BBQ judge is remarkable.  People love barbecue and are quite passionate about it. 

Sports car fanatics – Two weekends ago I was with Meghan visiting some friends of hers and bore witness to someone going to a "Trans Am Meeting" and saw first-hand the gathering of Corvette enthusiasts.  I know that people were fans of such sports cars, but until you see someone’s house with dozens of trophies won for their show car and dozens of cars gathered in one spot driven by people wearing Corvette-themed shirts and hats, you don’t really get how passionate they can be.

That is all I can think of now, though I’m sure I’m missing some. 

Hopefully they will come to me as I start to get back into keeping this blog up-to-date again!

Pop Culture News

Not an awful lot to link to – apparently pop culture took the week of the 4th off.  But I do have a few very interesting things.

First of all, apparently Japanese  adults are addicted to coloring.  I’m jealous.

This whole Cristal controversy thing is a really interesting case study in culture and class clashes.

Every year, the new dictionary entries are announced and its one of my favorite pieces of corporate PR of the year.

Ads on hooker’s thighs – if only it had been real.  Would have been better if the ads were in braille though.

I’ve mentioned the gradually increasing presence that China has in business and culture before and now they are taking matters into their own hands.

This one is for Meghan, who helps me so much with my research: a person was shot at a shoe sale in Turkey.  Best line in the article: "Shooting guns into the air is a not-uncommon method for dealing with emotional situations in Turkey, including weddings, soccer games, demonstrations and deals on shoes that are almost too good to be true."

And last but not least, two articles on the changing face of popular culture:

The Extinction of Mass Culture

The Rise and Fall of the Hit

These are probably two of the most important and interesting articles related to popular culture that you could read this year.  They really sum up the changing world of culture and how the internet has spread the control of culture among the masses.   I can now easily find more garage rock bands than I know what to do with and there’s all sorts of tools to help me find new music similar to what I already like and to help me discover new stuff.  Top 40 radio is probably far from dead, but it is definitely starting to write its own obituary.

I’m sure that if you examine your own habits, you’ll find that you’ve changed the way you watch, read, or listen to various media over the last few years, whether it be downloading music or satellite radio or frequenting a web site that caters to some obscure taste.