Before HARDBARNED! became a book in 2016, it was a blog I began in 2008. It still is, from time to time, and you have found its home. Scroll through it all here, or browse selected posts at Medium. In case you were wondering…none of this blog content appears in the book, which is its own separate thing and mostly about working for a living. The blog is usually about pop culture-type stuff. Cheers.

Pop Radio Curmudgeon

What's with the crotchburst, you rascals?

After more than a decade of lying in comfortable retreat from commercial radio with occasional and brief lapses due to desperation and lack of alternatives, I am now reminded several times a week of my undeniable status as a grumpy old curmudgeon when it comes to the subject of popular music.

Four out of five of my radio presets in the car are NPR, college radio, and local jazz stations. I keep the classic rock station preset, but the other stuff makes me see red. Constant commercials and DJ babble are not entertaining for me, and now I finally have an iPod. In the car I am master of my environment, but work is, of course, a different story.

You see, my customer service job in retail sporting goods involves the perpetual barrage of a dual-pronged assault: unceasing sports television on a jumbotronesque projection TV the size of a king size bed and a concurrent satellite radio program that plays a repetitive collection of blustery, whiny, corny, empty, overblown pop drivel, and these conflicting voices--sound bite sportscasters versus pitch-corrected entertainers--comprise the auditory milieu in which athletic shoe sales commence.

This particular satellite radio station is exceedingly fond of American Idol alums and former members of platinum-selling acts such as Matchbox Twenty and Bush, now selling solo records in the If You Thought My Last Band Sucked...Check This Out category.

Also popular on the station are teenage pop tarts and overstyled, frosty-haired men in cowboy shirts who sing a sugary concoction of country twang and earworm-inducing jingles, a striking percentage of which seem to be focused on romantic fantasies of, well, traditional marriage.

Ok, I’ll admit that perhaps once a day, I’ll hear a song I like. Maybe a 70s or even an 80s Billy Joel tune (yes, there are good Billy Joel songs) or perhaps an occasional 80s Police song, but if they’re playing Billy Joel, it’s usually from his final (and worst) album, River Of Dreams—usually that song that sounds like the theme from The Jungle Book—no wonder Billy stopped writing original material after that.

I couldn't even begin to hope for a Fugazi or an Iron Maiden tune in this uber-commercialized world of retail sales, so I take what I can get.

The babble on the sports network rambles on all day above the din of the satellite radio pop music:

“So, Jim, what do you think about the chances of Team X this year?”

“Well, Scott, I think they just have to play the game, you know, play it well.”

“Well what if they don’t play as well as they did last year, Jim?”

“Well Scott, they just have to get out there and really, you know, play that game.”

“Who do you think will play quarterback this time?”

“Well you know, it mostly depends on who, you know, throws the ball better.”

“Do you think the fans will show up this year after the fiasco with Player Z?”

“Well these fans, you know, they just love the game. They may not like what Player Z did, but they’ll, you know, they’ll show up and they may have a sign with them that says ‘Down With Player Z The Douchebag’ but they love the game, you know, so they’ll be there, and they’ll buy hotdogs.”

“What do you think about FAVRE and VICK and FAVRE and VICK and FAVRE?”

“Well, you know, Scott, FAVRE and VICK and FAVRE and VICK and FAVRE and VICK, you know, mostly FAVRE and VICK.”

Seriously though, am I the only person that thinks Jason Mraz and John Mayer should be forced to fight to the death in a televised chainsaw cage match? They should. Michael Vick could be the announcer: Two man enter! Two corpse leave! Brett Favre could take pictures of his junk and display them on the jumbotron.