Friday, August 17, 2012




 Sara Lautman likes music now. She plays guitar in the band Tight Little Ship.

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This sounds like the most horribly embarrassing thing to someone with even a passing appreciation for pop music. IT IS SILLY AND THEREFORE CHILDISH AND THEREFORE SHAMEFUL.


BRILLIANT I cant take my eyes off@j


Yess, I love this.


I was also a tweenage music snob. In fifth grade some kid made fun of me for listening to the "wrong" music station (i.e. not 99.1 WHFS) and then I went out and bought a CD of Franz Liszt piano concertos and sonatas and was like, fuck Bohemian Rhapsody, I'm listening to Hungarian Rhapsody no. 2.


@cuminafterall I got a great recording of Mahler 1 for my ninth birthday (by my own request, lest there be any doubt). Most of my friends got Britney Spears. There was something of a...cultural gap.

Cat named Virtute

@cuminafterall You are my people! One of the days I was most despised in elementary school was the day in grade four that I brought a cassette of classical music to share in music class and we had a substitute and she played it and lectured us about Mozart for the whole hour and afterward everyone was like "nice going" and I was shunned even more than usual.

It worked out okay. I now own a nice assortment of folk, rock, and classical music, and just went out for 25th birthday drinks with the Nice Going guy.

Cat named Virtute

@MademoiselleML Oh! And I had stickers with classical musicians on them that I tried to put in my locker in grade 7. My (new, tenuous) friends were very "what? no."


@cuminafterall My teenage years were spent listening to Charles Mingus and Bach. To be fair, my teenage years also overlapped with the early 2000s, where the vast majority of mainstream pop music *was* complete and utter shite, with very little evidence to the contrary. Of course, in college, when I was finally learning about pop music, this musical uncoolness perversely managed to ingratiate me with the indie music snobs in my film society, as I could loan them all sorts of Ornette Coleman and experimental jazz CDs.


@Cat named Virtute - Oh god - thanks for dredging up the repressed memory of the day we got to bring whatever record we wanted and I brought Glenn Miller because I was having a big band moment - in 4th grade - I don't know how eyeballs weren't falling out of people's heads they were rolling so hard. At least your teacher was supportive. Mine just shrugged and shook her head like, what did you expect, dork.


Listening to Kokomo still fills me with actual shame. But it's mainly directed at the Beach Boys for recording such a thing.


@Momster We all know it's really a Kermit the Frog song.


@Momster Brian Wilson wasn't involved so it doesn't count. At least that's what I tell myself.

Faintly Macabre

@Momster I think one of the day camps I went to (the worst one--my sister and I even made up a song about how much we hated it) had something similar to MTV day, and our song was actually Kokomo! I remember angrily having to listen to that song on repeat while we painted a big banner of palm trees for the show. I don't remember what happened after that, which means that I either successfully erased those memories or pulled the same trick as the author.


@Momster One year I went to the Bridge School benefit and Brian Wilson performed. When he started singing Ba ba ba, ba barbara-ann and literally every fucking person in the audience was singing along I was so uncomfortable that I wanted to either crawl under my seat or spontaneously combust. I think I sat there gripping the armrests for his entire performance.

maybe partying will help

The only pop music I heard until I was like thirteen was my mom's favorite tunes from the 70s. Then the Backstreet Boys happened. Then I read too much Azerrad and became a teenager with shatteringly pretentious musical taste and thought it was funny to ask people with guitars at church camp to play Mudhoney songs.

Also, Sara Lautman's mom wins the Mom Award for letting her stay home sick.


@maybe partying will help Mine loses for making me go to Bible Camp every summer until I was old enough to rebel openly.

maybe partying will help


I know that feel, bro.

Cat named Virtute

Seriously though, I loved this. I was (and kind of still am) such a pop music dummy and resent all attempts to make me feel shame for it. I do really love me some Lady Gaga though.


@Cat named Virtute In a twist of fate, dating a guy who is a complete and total music nerd has helped me get over a lot of my self-generated embarassment about it. It helps that he's super-nice in general, but the part where he will always know more than most human beings means it's easier to let go of him knowing more than me.

My shame has always been more about not knowing the classics than the current Top 40 stuff, though. Eg, I know Zeppelin and Guns+Roses are both bands that were popular before I was old enough to like them, and both featured guitars. I do not know which one I like better, though, nor could I name a single song either group is known for. Being late to the "Call me, maybe" party will never cause me any sort of shame (plus, the internet will quickly tune me in).

Cat named Virtute

@ThatWench I have the same problem. I know that Guns'n'Roses is the band with Axl Rose that does Paradise City. Zeppelin I usually accidentally confuse with Pink Floyd, which I have a suspicion is even more of a faux pas. I also never remember (except for Axl Rose apparently) which famous dude goes with which band, which gets embarrassing when they duet with lady folk/rock singers I like. St Vincent's project with David Byrne? He's the guy from the band that does Psycho Killer, right? Is Robert Plant who did that nice album with Alison Krauss the guy from Zeppelin? I am hopeless. My music geek friends (and also the general public who can here a song and actually remember which band it is) despair of me.

Reginal T. Squirge

It goes like this:


People argue about Floyd vs. Zeppelin and those arguments are totally valid but G&R doesn't even belong in the same universe.

And all the assumptions about band facts above are correct! Except those Robert Plant/ Alison Krauss albums are awful.

Lisa Frank

My parents only let us watch PBS, and they only listened to classical music and NPR. And then I had to go to school with the nascent cast of Jersey Shore. I still really hate house music.


@Lisa Frank I was the person who, when given access to the radio dial in our Prom Limo, turned the dial to NPR. I was then moved to a different seat.


@Lisa Frank I think we have the same parents. It was soooooo embarrassing in the carpool when other people's parents were listening to the hip radio stations and mine were rocking Morning Edition.

Judith Slutler

@stonefruit In senior year of high school, I drove 3 sophomore girls to school and we always rocked Morning Edition. THIS... IS BOB EDWARDS


True fact: I've always LOVED "I'm Too Sexy." It still cracks me up as much today as it did when I was 10.


@werewolfbarmitzvah The song cracks me up, too, but (like the author) my sister's camp group had to perform it. Complete with boas and sparkly sunglasses. When they were 7 years old. "Awkward" doesn't even begin to describe it.


Oh god, day camp. Why do you make people perform? Why do you make us sing and dance when we are young and awkward? I just want to stay here in the corner here making this clay pot or this paper-mache dinosaur. You want me to be social? Fine, let us go play an epic game of capture the flag or kick the can. Do NOT make me go sing My Girl and smile and pretend that I am enjoying it.

(The above also happened to me, and I too stayed home sick.)

(I have no regrets.)


@TheBourneApproximation OMG, my (sleepaway) camp would do an EPIC capture the flag game every 4th of July - "British" vs. "Americans" - they'd let the little kids play a smaller game on the sports field, but the older kids/counselors got to play a game that used the entire camp, and basically had no rules. It was amazing.

They probably aren't allowed to do that anymore, now that I think of it. Freaking liability.


@Ophelia I remember our counselors discussing games which spanned forests and fields, with no rules, with blood on occasion being drawn. It inspired my 8 year old brain with thoughts of GLORY.


@TheBourneApproximation Yup. No one was ever seriously injured, but there were definitely scrapes, sprained ankles, that sort of thing. It was AMAZING. There was even a swamp that was fair game.

Laughable Walrus

@Ophelia my camp did this too! It was a glorious, epic battle between four teams spanning the entire ranch (forests, stream, pond and all), and the fate of the camp-long Color Wars often hung in the balance. There was a lot of diving through fences, super serious reconnaissance missions with bird call signals, some underwater assaults and all-or-nothing last charges. Alliances and friendships were forged and broken.
I loved that camp.


I went to day camp for a few years ... to play in a children's classical string orchestra. The only music with lyrics to which we were exposed as children were contained on two cassettes: Don Mclean's "American Pie," and Anne Murray's greatest hits. To this day, my baby boomer mother hates the Beatles and says they are completely overrated. Did anyone else have those tapes of classical music stories? Mr. Beethoven Lives Upstairs? Vivaldi's Magic ... Something? THESE WERE MY JAMS!

maybe partying will help


I didn't have those, but I did have a read-along book of Who Framed Roger Rabbit?

Cat named Virtute

@charmcity OMG YES! Those were my jam too! Vivaldi's Ring of Mystery! Mozart and the Magic Flute! There's a Hallelujah, Handel! now, and it's really sad. It has grown-up Katerina from Vivaldi's Ring of Mystery in it, WHO, for CBC fans playing along at home, is voiced by Barbara Budd, longtime host of As It Happens.

Also to cement our new friendship, a friend's new girlfriend once burned me a copy of Vivaldi's RoM as a Christmas gift. It was incredibly touching.


@charmcity Vivaldi's Ring of Mystery? Beethoven Lives Upstairs? Also, Mr. Bach Comes to Call? ALL OF MY JAMS.


@Cat named Virtute I listened to the Magic Flute constantly when I was little! I think my parents were hoping it'd cultivate an appreciation for classical music, which did not happen at all, but it was still awesome.

Faintly Macabre

@marianlibrarian Cat named Virtute ALL OF THOSE! My sister and I watched Beethoven Lives Upstairs an obsessive number of times. I think we still have the VHS somewhere. I recently ushered a performance of Beethoven's 9th, complete with chorus and opera singers, and I thought of the end of the movie the whole time. While I don't play an instrument anymore, I think they gave me a greater love/appreciation for classical music than most of my peers have.

I think we also had My Name is Handel, if that's the one where they start out talking about sword-swallowers and barber-surgeons.


@charmcity Beethoven Lives Upstairs! I still cringe when remembering how excited I was that I owned a Beethoven movie when my bigger cousins were talking about them... Only to be shunned when I brought it over and it turned out they had been talking about Beethoven the dog.

Cat named Virtute

@Faintly Macabre I never saw the movies, but we definitely had allllll the tapes. My mom was absurdly proud of my childhood ability to identify the composers of particular pieces of classical music in the wild.

Faintly Macabre

@Cat named Virtute Oh, I don't know if there are movies for any of them but Beethoven Lives Upstairs. The movie is great, though! Really beautifully-shot and acted.

My sister has always been much more into classical music than I have. Throughout middle school, she'd be waiting with the classical music station playing on the radio when I got home from school and make me identify the period and probable composer. Unsurprisngly, she is now a teacher.


@marianlibrarian Mr. Bach Comes to Call, YESSSS. The capstone of my piano-playing career was learning that Fugue he plays for the little girl at the beginning of the tape. (Sorry - I know I'm a couple days late to this party, but this is the first I've heard of anyone listening to those tapes other than my siblings. Needless to say, I identify completely with the subject matter of this post.)

mine de rien

@charmcity I just about wore out my tape of Mr Bach in that bit where he does the upside-down Pop Goes The Weasel! Baby mine de rien was like "THAT IS GENIUS". I still love it when anybody does that.


I remember causing such confusion in a classmate in sixth grade when he asked me my favorite band and I said The Beatles. ("That's old people music!") Little did he know that when college arrived he and every other person we knew would claim the same thing! Muahahahaha.

(My favorite band is no longer The Beatles.)


@frigwiggin I do appreciate my parents for having pretty good musical taste and instilling a lot of that in me as a child. I grew up listening to Jethro Tull, The Grateful Dead, Joni Mitchell, Rimsky-Korsakov, Holst, Donovan, Roxy Music, and Talking Heads on the giant speakers at Dad's house and the little speakers at Mom's house. (Okay, okay, we also had the OST from Oklahoma! at Mom's house.) Dad has this story from when they were still married, when they were on their way to a wedding and my dad had just bought Speaking in Tongues, and he got very drunk and proceeded to play "Burning Down the House" over and over at the reception until he had to be forcibly restrained. Which probably wasn't so fun for the people at the wedding, in retrospect, but it's a funny story.


@frigwiggin It's funny how my brother and I went in different directions, though. He's a musician with painfully obscure taste in music (Van der Graaf Generator, anybody? Plus, his favorite Genesis album is The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway), and I think everything he likes is nigh-unlistenable, while he thinks that everything I like is generic, popular shit. Except for They Might Be Giants, for whom he has a grudging respect.

Coal Tar Epoxy

@frigwiggin Your dad sounds a lot like my dad, who apparently played "Short and Curlies" at their wedding reception. Mum has a sense of humor, her mother does not.

mine de rien

@frigwiggin Is your brother my brother? Shit, I worked at a record store and he could still come up with albums for his Christmas list that I had never heard of. Including at least one VDGG and I think everything by Genesis EXCEPT the ones I liked, of course. I always figured he did it just to piss me off.


@mine de rien Aw, our brothers should hang out and be pretentious together! (I know mine genuinely likes these bands, in the way that he genuinely likes Ulysses--he just has naturally pretentious tastes.)

mine de rien

@frigwiggin They should! For better or for worse, my bro is also perfectly genuine... whereas I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love Phil Collins. The only thing we agree on is Queen. I could cheerfully never hear another Deerhoof album.


My parent's didn't believe in having the internet, cable, or cell phones. (They eventually caved on the first and last, but cable has never darkened our door.)
I used to feel like such a little loser in mid and high school. (I went to a montessori elementary school, so we were a pretty accepting, unusual group.) Now I am so grateful that I spent my childhood outside, making up epic stories in the backyard, reading more books than I think most of my peers have even seen, and learning about which plants are edible and which will kill you. Thanks mom and dad!
But seriously. Ten years of alter-serving at church? That was excessive.

Lisa Frank

@The Kendragon I think I made myself really unhappy trying (and failing) to fit in at school. I wish I had believed in myself more to just be my own weirdo.

Cat named Virtute

@Lisa Frank I feel like that SO MUCH. If only I had realized how little it mattered! But easy for 25 year old me to say, she doesn't have to swim with those sharks anymore.


@Lisa Frank Yes yes yes. I wish I hadn't WANTED to fit in, because I sure as fuck didn't.


I loved this too.

Jeez, the memory of a day camp performance where everyone arranged themselves in groups and lip-synched to: Madonna's Open Your Heart (the girls, with a Sexy Dance) or the Beach Boys' Surfin' Safari (the boys, wearing Jams). I dressed up as a magician and cut out animals from pieces of paper. 25 years later, it still fills me with horror.


@AMS I have a similar memory, which instills a chill in the pit of my stomach, about a performance to "Walk Like an Egyptian." So many layers of confusion: why is everyone mean? Who are these children whose parents let them play the Bangles in the car? Why is this teenager instructing me in dance moves for grown women? Why does it all make me feel awful, awful?

As a lil tomboy, though, I was definitely in Jams. Jams sewn by my mother.


@PoBoyNation All the school kids are not sick of books! And maybe they don't like the punk and metal bands!

PS: Jams sewn by your mother?


@AMS When you think about it, fabric stores are just overflowing with offensively busy fabric. If you know how to sew shorts (and my mom knew how to sew some shorts), why pay brand name price?

I mean ... they didn't truly look like the other kids' Jams, but I get it.

Pocket Witch

I have a cold, dark place in my heart for people who insist that shy children do something with which they're really not comfortable.
I therefore have extremely mixed feelings about a middle school English teacher with whom I had many clashes, but who agreed without a single argument that I wouldn't have to sing in the class musical. I was shocked that I won so easily; I was expecting a real fight and detentions and all that jazz.

In retrospect, this teacher was one who did a lot to shape what a sort of person I am, but that doesn't mean she was a good teacher. I'll stop now, before I start sharing ALL the stories. I love talking about awful teachers because I'm vindictive.


Oh yeah, and is this a safe space for reminiscing about the time when, as a pudgy, bespectacled 11 year old, I incorporated an extended dance routine to "Night Fever" into a school project and it was viewed by many, many people? And that the dancing-to-"Night Fever" part is not actually the embarrassing part, but the fact that I included an egregious Michael-Jackson-esque crotch grab into my special dance was the embarrassing part? If I could turn back time and erase any moment from the past 30 years of my existence, it would be that crotch grab. The crotch grab haunts me still.

Cat named Virtute

@werewolfbarmitzvah I really want you to know how loudly that made me laugh aloud in my empty house. Seriously. Thank you. Amazing.


@werewolfbarmitzvah Late, but I am reading this on Monday at work and instead of laughing out loud, because I'm in a shared office, I'm laughing silently. Tears of laughter.


We had to do that as part of gym class in high school, and it was VIDEOTAPED!!!!


@punkahontas We had to do this in gym class in sixth grade. It was terrible. All the other girls took dance lessons at the competitive, dance line-y studio in town, and I took modern dance lessons at the tiny non-competitive studio where we had a lot of emphasis on individual creativity and exploration. I hated gym (way more than my usual mild dislike) for the three weeks that the dance unit took up.


I went to sleepaway camp so long ago that it was the Stone Age. No, but seriously, it wasn't the Stone Age...it was the Ice Age! No, really, it was the Stone Age.

Lisa Frank

@iknowright Was Jesus your counselor?


@Lisa Frank Was Jesus the shop teacher?


@Lisa Frank We used to make drawings... cave drawings! Which is my way of saying we were cave men.


@iknowwright And my best friend hadn't fully evolved yet! His name was Ug and he walked on all fours!


But folks, actually I went to Camp Makluden in the Pine Hills of Westchester, New York. And that was so long ago that for breakfast we had to eat scrambled pterodactyl eggs and raptor bacon.

Back then we didn't have cots - we had slabs. Instead of sleeping bags we had pelts.

When I was at camp, my favorite activity was arts and crafts. Or as we used to call it, arts and farts and crafts.

I went to camp so long ago that I can remember saying sticks and stones may break my bones and meaning it. I went to camp so long ago that fucking Jesus Christ was my counselor. There were two epidemics when I went to camp: head lice and the Plague, the Bubonic Plague.


This reminds me of the time at summer rec when me, my sister and our two neighbours thought it would be HILAAAARIOUS to sing Yankee Doodle and dance around a bit for the talent show. I think my sister was dressed up as Uncle Sam and some of us were horses?

I don't know why anyone let us do that. I think we ended up being very nervous, and singing very quietly and awkwardly. I just remember how silent the audience was, completely confused at what we were doing and just... why? It was not funny or adorable.


@cmcm My little neighbors and I decided to perform the exact routine of "Keep On Dancing" from The Brady Bunch for a talent show at an event. They were adorable, being 7 and 9. I was 14 and it is horrifying to recall.


Sara Lautman, I love your comics.


Ugh I once had to choreograph a dance to Kokomo, and perform it by myself, in front of my glassy-eyed 6th grade social studies class. Since I was going to be away on Scheduled Dance Day or whatever, my teacher made me perform in advance so it seemed extra awful that no one else had to embarrass themselves at the same time.


I worked as a sleepover camp counselor for longer than I care to admit and one amazing summer four DIFFERENT girls named Danielle (all slightly unhinged) lip synced alone to Killing Me Softly at four different talent shows. None of them attended camp at the same time so I don't know how it kept happening, but it was great.

Reginal T. Squirge

These Sara Lautman posts are quickly becoming my favorite part of The Hairpin. That MTV Day poster is the most badass thing I've ever seen in my life.

Also, true story: I had to go to day camp one summer. I hated it because arts and crafts are dumb and I didn't give a shit. I remember thinking that it was nice, though, to make friends with people I didn't know from school and stuff but then... On the very last day, this one (popular... well, day camp popular) dude was having a birthday party later in the summer. He brought invitations. And he gve them out. To every. single. boy. Except me. I think that's what you would call "the beginning of the end".


This article makes me want to go fondle some sweaters....I MEAN FONDUE WITH CHEDDAR!!!


@wee_ramekin Did you say dick cream?
No! I said next to my... stick... team, you know, stick team! Stickball! Go away, leave me alone!


"...That's right kids. I also smear mud on my ass."


My junior high separated boys into wrestling and girls into aerobics, and we had to get into groups and choreograph moves to a song and then teach it to the other girls. One year my group did Poison by Bel Biv Devoe (as opposed to the other Poison) but in 8th grade I was a pariah so I could only get into a group with the nice Mormon girls whose parents wouldn't let them listen to modern music so they chose this awful old song that had to have been recorded with a harpsicord or something, it was horrible.

I faked sick for the day that we had to perform.


Here is my best example of music cluelessness: I was 11 when Armageddon, and by extension, Aerosmith's Don't Wanna Miss a Thing came out. Young innocent that I was, I heard the song and liked it very much (may I remind you that I was 11). And so it came on the radio one day in the car with my parents, and I told them, "Stay on this station! I really like this song, it's by this great new band called Aerosmith."

And they laughed and laughed, and when we got home, Dad played me some of his Aerosmith records, because I didn't believe him when he said how old they were. (I also didn't believe him the time he told me that Lyndard Skynard was an actual band name)


@Inconceivable! Cause even when I DREEEEAAAAAAYYYM OF YAAAAOOOUUUU


Did anyone else actually love doing these things?? If there was an opportunity for a choreographed dance, I was ALL OVER it. Our dance to the MIB theme song in grade 5 probably was the best.

I still dream of everyone doing a dance in a club a la 90s teen movies.


@lora.bee I love it. This is why I was a camp counselor until age 22.

Judith Slutler

@lora.bee It was the kind of thing I loved in theory but hated in practice because I'm horrible at remembering dance steps.


@lora.bee YES. I took those things VERY seriously and probably ruled those other 5th grade girls with an iron fist and cried when they didn't listen and ruined the performance...I mean, probably...

apples and oranges

A high school outdoor ed trip had something like this, but luckily it was not serious and instead a bunch of high schoolers pretending not to care/be too cool, but who actually had way too much fun making up dance moves to Backstreet Boys and the Temptations. Plus, it eventually devolved into a big dance mob.


My old co-worker went to Catholic school. She's always loved cats and, as first-grader, thought that a virgin was a kind of cat. So for show and tell she brought in a Madonna tape and played "Like a Virgin" for the class. I think she had also prepared a dance.

The nuns were horrified and, for the next two weeks, she had to miss recess to pray before the Blessed Virgin for forgiveness. This ended only because she eventually told her parents, who yelled at the nuns and sent her to public school.

Betsy Murgatroyd

I loved old/early MTV but even before MTV there was Night Flight on USA Network and Video Jukebox on HBO and those were the shows I watched. Those were the shows that had Laurie Andersen and Nina Hagen and the B-52s. They were so much better than the pop music on the radio.
I also listened to a lot of classical on NPR because I was in band. My mother also had a very random record and 8-track tape collection because: Columbia House.

Summer Somewhere

I was also clueless to the hip music of my hometown! I saw the popular music there similarly, but never had the words to explain it. <3 Thanks for putting words and images to that feeling.

Lush Life

I have just joined to say: the dancing penises on the Jerry Lee's piano are spectacular. Thank you, Sara!

living internationally

This seems like an appropriate place to reminisce about writing an Irish language and setting adapted version of Time of Your Life while in Irish College. I still remember every word. It was awesome.

Also - an Irish language and setting adapted version of Barbie Girl - equally badass.


Wait, does the writer know that she's in a pop band _right now_? All I hear is blah blah blah, I'm a spoiled rich girl.


Hiii I'm from Livingston and I went to NO camp and therefore felt like a social outcast.

Veronica Lemmons

I loved this. Wasn't bred to hate pop music per se, but as another child of classical music lovers and a piano student since age 5 I certainly had my moments of seething disdain for certain pop songs, "I'm Too Sexy" being one of them. That said, I was always down -- and still am -- to choreograph the shit out of some jams. 7th grade's masterpiece was to "Sugar Sugar" by the Archies/Now and Then soundtrack.

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