John McIntyre, whom James Wolcott calls "the Dave Brubeck of the art and craft of copy editing," writes on language, editing, journalism, and other manifestations of human frailty. Comments welcome. Identifying his errors relieves him of the burden of omniscience. Write to firstname.lastname@example.org, befriend at Facebook, or follow at Twitter: @johnemcintyre. Back 2009-2012 at the original site, http://weblogs.baltimoresun.com/news/mcintyre/blog/ and now at www.baltimoresun.com/news/language-blog/.
Monday, May 11, 2009
The world didn't end in 1970
You see, in the spring of 1970, my freshman year at Michigan State, one of my roommates, Michael Hyatte, suggested that the end of the world was imminent (Kent State, Nixon, etc.), that human beings were about to be divided between the freaks and the straights, and that I had better get my act together if I didn’t want to spend eternity with Lawrence Welk and Arthur Godfrey.
So I did due diligence. I acquired and listened to some albums. I sat for much of a day in a muddy field outside Lansing listening to Jefferson Airplane and a series of other bands. It was stupefyingly dull, perhaps because I was the only person in the audience not stoned. And then the world did not come to an end, which I understood to amount to a divine mandate to be as stuffy as I liked. I have not consciously attended to popular music since.
This attitude was reinforced a year later when Patricia Nedeau, whose advice was not to be disregarded, told me, “John, you are not a denim person; you are a tweeds and woolens person.” I have been faithful to her counsel.
Dr. Johnson said, “No man is a hypocrite in his pleasures,” and I have been listening contentedly to Bach and Handel and Haydn and Mozart ever since. (With occasional indulgence in 1920s jazz recorded by Vince Giordano and His Nighthawks Orchestra.) You may prefer Jimmy Buffett or Madonna or Nine Inch Nails or New Kids on the Block or any of those other performers of whose existence I am dimly aware; I don’t begrudge you your innocent pleasures, unfathomable as they are.
For my part, a wee dram and a Haydn string quartet make life as sweet as it gets.