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Wednesday, January 08, 2003
The Queenan of Air and Darkness
Man, so many idiots, so little time! There's a crop of four today, but some will have to wait. We'll start with this one:
Den Beste wants to know who Joe Queenan is (as JQ was interviewed for this more-than-usually vacuous excuse for a BBC article).
I'll tell you who Queenan is. He is the Unspoken One, Gozer the Destructor, the Defiler, the Perverter of all that is good and holy and fun. Once his smoking hoof was set upon the land, innocence and kindness died. He sits at the right hand of Ahriman, and at the appointed time will cleanse Cthulhu's long-unwashed hindquarters with his sandpapery tongue.
In other words, he's the author of this book, Red Lobster, White Trash, and the Blue Lagoon: Joe Queenan's America. This is a book filled with such bile that not even that sneering and supercilious Brit, Niles, liked it. Queenan suspects that American culture sucks, and he climbs down from his Olympian throne to disport among the common man and have his suspicions confirmed.
To give him his due, he does find things he likes, and says so; and he finds things that don't suck near as badly as he thought they would. Most of the time, however, he just emits long lists of things that "suck" (constantly using "suck"; perhaps he has a sucky thesaurus). He usually doesn't explain why they suck, or why one thing sucked compared to a similar thing. I suppose if he did that he might have to actually analyze what he was doing, and come to the dread realization that "suck" had no more meaning than "I didn't like it". And what would a New York critic do if it was discovered that taste was all a matter of...well...taste? That means people could use their own, and not depend on critics! Quelle horreur!
But what moved Queenan from the ranks of your ordinary snotty Culture Critic to Third Assistant Vice-President in Charge of Darkness was this account of his one visit to Red Lobster:
(Sea shanty? An attempt at a clever witticism, or a tin ear? You decide!)
I detect the truculent chagrin of an East Coast bubba who thought that, since they were not going to Chez Snoot (ten cents for the coffee, five dollars for the ahmbeeahnce), they could turn up in any old clam-digging gear and it would be OK. After all, this is where the proles eat, right? They don't have any concept of dignity. (What would the Queenans have worn to McDonalds? Perhaps if they ever have the misfortune to fall into a sewer right before dinner they'll think, "Well, we'll just go to McDonalds! That way we won't have to go home and change first!")
But it turns out that people whose luxury clothing consists of fine polyester and unripped windbreakers do have some rudimentary notion of appropriate attire, and Mr. Hot Shot New York Nabob was embarrassed to find these rubes staring down their noses at him. It's supposed to be the other way around!
From the BBC article:
Den Beste responds, quite correctly
Read the rest.
But at least Queenan's not as BAD as Paul Fussell.