Friday, May 11, 2007

American Idle

As much as I aspire to be a cosmopolitan renaissance man-about-town, it’s clear I have fairly middle-brow tastes: my favorite beer is Rolling Rock; I like powerpop music better than opera, I think coffee ground a few days ago is just as flavorful as the stuff that comes right out of the grinder and, in the most embarrassing admission of all, I kind of enjoy American Idol.

Our little family has established a Tuesday night habit of taking dinner in front of the TV and watching the human drama of musical competition unfold before us onscreen. Like millions of our countrymen, we’ve followed the pathetic and overwrought stories of the performers as they vie each week to achieve their dreams of musical stardom in the most elaborate karaoke night anywhere on the planet.

And while I realize how cheesy the whole American Idol phenomenon is, I’ve been willing to come to terms with my inner cheeseball and accept it, even given the compelling point that people’s fascination with the show is not merely distasteful, but in light of the many problems in the world and the lack of attention they typically merit, downright obscene.

Today, though, the ridiculousness of the whole thing was really brought home to me. The suburban town of Bothell, where my community college is located, was hosting a parade for and mini-concert featuring Blake Lewis, the beat-boxing singer who’s one of the final three contestants.

The entire town was tarted up with balloons and banners and by 4:00, when I left school and the parade had begun, gridlock (except for those of us on bicycles) reigned. It occurred to me that someone (probably the taxpayers of Bothell) were paying through the nose in police and fire department overtime for the privilege of taking part in the Idol extravaganza.

If I were a non-American Idol-watching Bothellite, I’d be pretty annoyed; as it is, I was tickled to catch a glimpse of Blake himself, live.


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