Jeffrey Goldberg helps decipher the meaning of famous song lyrics.
A reader’s question:
Do you remember the scene in Meet the Parents in which Ben Stiller shocks Robert De Niro by telling him that “Puff, the Magic Dragon” is really about marijuana? Well, I’m that Robert De Niro character. For some reason, I don’t get the hidden references of important songs. For instance, I was shocked to learn that the Rolling Stones’ “Start Me Up” is about a vibrator. Could you tell me what else I’m missing in famous pop and rock songs?
B.F., Philadelphia, Pa.
You are missing quite a bit. While the lyrics of many songs are fairly straightforward–the AC/DC canon contains little in the way of ambiguity or poetic complexity, and 2Live Crew’s “Me So Horny” is about a man who is, in fact, very horny–I myself am continually surprised to learn the hidden meanings embedded in other works. For instance: Bob Dylan’s “Tambourine Man” is actually a Minnesota Vikings fight song. “Heart of Gold,” by Neil Young, is about the boutique allure of midget porn. The entire Justin Bieber oeuvre concerns the secret shame of knowing that he is a terrible musician and, never theless, fabulously wealthy. Van Morrison’s “Brown Eyed Girl” is about heroin. Pink Floyd’s “Comfortably Numb” is about heroin. The Beatles’ “Hey Jude” is about heroin. Lou Reed’s “Heroin” is about cocaine. Eric Clapton’s “Cocaine” is about the earned-income tax credit. If you play Queen’s “Bohemian Rhapsody” backward, it asks you to subscribe to The Atlantic. The Nirvana song “Smells Like Teen Spirit” is about carbohydrates (“Here we are now/ with potatoes/ with a Mars bar/ and potatoes”). “Stairway to Heaven” is not about anything.
There are two “Year in Review” articles that are must-reads each January. One of them is by Dave Barry, who always leaves me in stitches. (The other will be shared when it is published soon.)
This was a year in which journalism was pretty much completely replaced by tweeting. It was a year in which a significant earthquake struck Washington, D.C., yet failed to destroy a single federal agency. It was a year in which the nation was subjected to a seemingly endless barrage of highly publicized pronouncements from Charlie Sheen, a man who, where you have a central nervous system, has a Magic 8-Ball.This was a year in which the cast members of Jersey Shore went to Italy and then — in an inexcusable lapse of border security — were allowed to return.
Read the full thing here.
Key Technical Matters of emailing at work.
1. Ask yourself if you would CC yourself. Easy with the CC.
2. BCC says more about you than the person you’re BCC’ing.
3. BC: One of the all-time great comic strips.
4. Not only should you assume that every e-mail you send will get forwarded to someone else, you should assume that every e-mail you send will someday be read aloud in a court of law. Discretion.
5. If your message is less than seven words, put it in the subject line.
6. An e-mail signature should not involve words of wisdom. Not Aristotle. Not Gandhi. Not Hayley Williams of the chart-topping rock band Paramore.
7. Unless someone’s in grave danger, no exclamation points.
8. Related: Grave danger is best addressed via a medium other than e-mail.
9. ALL CAPS. No.
10. small caps. No.
11. wHaTeVeR YoU cAlL tHiS. Absolutely not.
12. When in need of a font that’s a little bit fun, a little bit earnest: look to Helvetica.
13. Verdana? Please.
Also in video form.