In his Thursday Bleat, James Lileks makes fun of Rolling Stone's list of the greatest songs of all time and talks about taking his daughter Gnat to an old Minneapolis haunt after 15 years away--Annie's Ice Cream Parlour.
For me, there were even more resonating observations than is usual with Lileks' bleats.
First, Lileks on Annie's:
Originally, Annie's was called Greenstreets. Same owner as Annie's Parlour, which back then was a cramped & "funky" burger / malt shop on the West Bank. Then Greenstreets became Annie's. . . . This is important why? Because every date in college years always ended up Annie's, and because for most the early 80s I took my afternoon coffee at Greenstreets, after the lunch traffic thinned out. Smoked and read and wrote and played the jukebox and tried to look beguilingly literary. Hadn't been back in more tha[n] 15 years.
They haven't changed the tablecloths or the menu or the carpet. Or the view. (It looks out over the gates of the old Campus.) Walking in with Gnat felt marvelous. One of those moments where you realize that a certain place had an unclosed parenthesis. And now:
So I'm thankful for that;
Why is it that some cities have long had great ice cream (e.g., Boston) but lousy malteds, while some cities that are no better and probably a bit worse on ice cream have lots of places that make great malteds? In this latter category of great malted cities are Philadelphia--and particularly Minneapolis.
Annie's and its probably long-gone competitor, the Convention, have made ALL of the dozen best malteds I've had in my life. The hot fudge malted at Annie's is the best I've ever had (I usually ask for extra malt but it has plenty for most people just as it is). I don't make it to Minneapolis often, but when I do, I always go to Annie's. They have good burgers, too.
Second, Rolling Stone's list of the 500 best songs. Lileks attacks both the first and third choices: (1) Like a Rolling Stone (Dylan), and (3) Imagine (Lennon):
Anyway - "Like A Rolling Stone" is a rock song in the same sense that "Tommy" is an opera. A rock song rocks, and this is one instance where a tautology comes in handy. To name that tune a rock song, let alone the best, shows how much people have invested in the era, and why: because the music meant something, man. It was heavy, it was deep. Whatever. I remember when it came on the jukebox at the Valli, the air just left the room: oh great, six minutes of ORGAN music and nasally accusations. How did it feel? It felt boring, Bob.
"Satisfaction" is a good number two, and might even be a good number one; it has the simplest hook possible, and it rocks. Number three, "Imagine," is somnambulant tripe, and it does not rock. It nods off like a junkie and burns a hole on that nice white piano.
"Imagine" is an embarrassing song and a ridiculous choice. I remember my roommate in college being choked up by "Imagine" and I thought it was at best sappy, like bubble gum music ("Yummy, yummy, yummy, I have love in my tummy"). At worst, the world it imagined was depressingly totalitarian:
Imagine there's no heaven, It's easy if you try, No hell below us, Above us only sky, Imagine all the people living for today...
Imagine there's no countries, It isnt hard to do, Nothing to kill or die for, No religion too, Imagine all the people living life in peace...
Imagine no possesions, I wonder if you can, No need for greed or hunger, A brotherhood of man, Imagine all the people Sharing all the world...
You may say Im a dreamer, but Im not the only one, I hope some day you'll join us, And the world will live as one.
Even in my George McGovern days, I knew that abolishing "possessions" was a recipe for totalitarianism, tyranny, poverty, and death. Just the collectivization of agriculture alone is modestly estimated to have killed 50 million people in the 20th century.
And abolishing countries sounded like a nice idea until you thought about what that one world society was likely to be in practice. Imagine a world with the morals of the United Nations and the economics of Africa and the Middle East, run by the all-powerful Kofi. After all, in the early 1970s a large portion of the world's population already lived in one world/country--China--and they weren't faring too well, despite having taken extreme steps to "Imagine [that there were] no possessions."
Third, Lileks' choice for number 1 song is pretty lame, but not nearly as lame as "Imagine."
Fourth, I loved the crude words to a rock song that Lileks' group sang: "F*** the Sixties." While I remember the 60s with some fondness, I also consider Randy Barnett's comment that our boomer generation is the most irresponsible, self-regarding generation ever. For those a bit younger than Barnett and me, such as Lileks, the attitude of his friend's song is quite healthy--and it continued rock's tradition of crude, angry defiance of the common wisdom.