Friday, June 11, 2004

I mentioned my favorite radio station, KHYI in Dallas, in the Comments section. KHYI is what I call "certified simulated authentic rootsy pop culture". It works like this.

When I go to London, I like to drink London Pride bitter. It's a real ale, they have to pump it out of the basement and the whole deal just like a traditional authentic ale. I think it's pretty good, and lots of pubs have it. Now, London Pride is no country ale made in small batches according to the same recipe since 1487 with a guaranteed pickled rat in every barrel--that's where it gets its authentic unmistakeable taste, as they say. It's made by a big company, one of those huge breweries that puts the stuff out in millions of gallons. And it's cheaper than some of the other, more exclusive brands--and I can't tell the difference in the flavor. When I can, I usually like London Pride better.

See, what London Pride is is real ale directed at the midscale mass market. It's simulated authenticity. I kind of like simulated authenticity.

For one thing, all those gorgeous castles and cathedrals and whatever all over Europe are simulated authentic; they got torched by the French or the Germans or the Americans or the local peasantry or proletariat. The ones that are still there either because extremely good care was taken of them or because, like Carcassonne and Poblet, they were completely rebuilt according to the old plans or the closest approximation they could find.

KHYI's music is simulated authentic. Real country folks like most of this stuff, but KHYI has filtered out most of the disagreeable elements of the kind of country music that real country folks listen to. No Oak Ridge Boys, no Shania Twain, no commercial-pop influenced stuff, nothing you'd see on the CMA. That's what real people in the real country like, not that sophisticated Dwight Yoakam stuff that appeals to 25-39 bourgeois bohemians. KHYI only plays "tasteful" music, either the classic stuff with all the mountain of crap Nashville has produced suppressed, or the new stuff that takes the quality old stuff as its model, even if it's by preppie college kids. See what I mean? They've taken real redneck music, extracted the part that urbanites will disdain, and replaced it with new music based on the quality old stuff. Thereby they keep the rednecks happy and please the new BoBos they're trying to appeal to.

So why would I want simulated authenticity? Because a lot of real authentic stuff is crap. Regular country radio is atrocious, full of the most retarded cheap sentimentalism, and that's what real country folks listen to. Real real ale often tastes like the sweat of the hop-pickers. Real authentic Spanish (and American, and English, and French) food means greasy slop in a cheap bar. Real down-and-dirty Spanish wine is undrinkably bad, which is why they have to turn it into sangria. What KHYI does for me is guarantees that I won't listen to the crap I'd have to put up with if I went searching for real authenticity.

And, hey, right now they're playing Ray Charles doing "Hey, Good Lookin'". Hard to beat that.

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