As I said to a choir friend, on revealing that I had no idea who or what the Blues Brothers were, there is no limit to the depths of my ignorance when it comes to pop culture. Today I experienced Exhibit B, in a way strange enough to be worth reporting.

The first thing I saw on my Facebook feed this morning was a short post by a friend. It said, simply,

JFK blown away what else do I have to say?

The next thing I did was run to Google News, more than half expecting to read about a new terror attack on New York City.

I found nothing of the sort. And no one else on Facebook was talking about it, so I concluded it was a joke or a comment meant for other eyes than mine, and forgot about it.

Then this afternoon, I got a haircut.

One thing that annoys me about Supercuts (but it's true almost anywhere) is the incessant music in the background: music I don't know with a pounding drumbeat I can't stand and incomprehensible words. I view it as part of the expense of a haircut. At least the volume is acceptable.

But today, as I was sitting in the chair getting trimmed, they played a song with kind of a catchy melody, and I managed to make out a few words, notably a refrain of "we didn't start the fire." That was intriguing, and that line sounded familiar even if the music did not.

If you know me, you know it's hard for me to let a mystery rest, so as soon as I was back in the car and before turning the key, I pulled out my phone and queried on that phrase. Then I knew what nearly all the rest of you know: That's the title of a song by Billy Joel. (For the record, I have heard of Billy Joel. I couldn't tell you anything about his music, but I have heard of him.)

And then it got weird. I started reading the lyrics, noting that they actually made some sense of the apparently garbled words I had heard. And somewhere in the middle I read this:

JFK blown away what else do I have to say?

I still don't know what Don was trying to say on Facebook, but now I know where it came from. What were the odds against solving that problem, on the same day, at Supercuts?

Posted by sursumcorda on Friday, May 17, 2019 at 3:22 pm | Edit
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I was already pretty clueless about pop culture, but 9 years in Gambia made it completely hopeless.

Posted by Kathy Lewis on Friday, May 17, 2019 at 4:19 pm

"Ignorance is bliss"?

Posted by Diane Villafane on Friday, May 17, 2019 at 5:27 pm

Many places used to have common cultures that allowed them to make intelligent references with one another. Think the UK in the time of universal education in Shakespeare, Shelley and the Bible. In this modern world of fractionalism (a.k.a. diversity, a.k.a. cultural chaos) it is more and more the case that one person's culture is another's wasteland. So, yes, ignorance is often bliss. I am thinking more and more that our current lack of shared cultural experience and understanding is the second coming of the Tower of Babel.

Posted by Dad-o on Friday, May 17, 2019 at 7:48 pm
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