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Red Lobster, White Trash, & the Blue Lagoon: Joe Queenan's America

Red Lobster, White Trash, & the Blue Lagoon: Joe Queenan's America


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"How bad could it be?" With this simple question, Joe Queenan embarks on a nightmare journey through the depths of American pop culture, subjecting himself to Broadway musicals, Red Lobster Captains' Feasts, and John Tesh concerts: "With his shopworn, lounge-lizard stage gestures, eviscerated salsa compositions, and studied reveries, Tesh was a human Cuisinart of every hack musical stunt, effecting a strange synthesis of various mongrel styles where half the songs sounded like generic background music for promotional videos ... and the other half sounded like retreads of Mason Williams's sixties hit Classical Gas." Queenan sets out to find music, movies, books, and TV that transcend awful, and the most remarkable thing about this book is that one never doubts for a moment that he actually subjected himself to all of the horrors he describes (including the literary efforts of Joan Collins). In an era where references to Burt Reynolds movies are used as hipster currency by people who have never endured Cannonball Run II, Queenan mocks nothing without experiencing it first. His odyssey throws up a few surprises--including the discovery that Barry Manilow is actually pretty good, and that most of the junk that clogs the arteries of popular culture never reaches the stratospheric level of badness achieved by someone like Michael Bolton. This leads Queenan to coin the term scheissenbedauern ("shit regret") to describe "the disappointment one feels when exposed to something that is not nearly as bad as one hoped it would be." But generally, the answer to the question posed at the beginning of the book is "Really, really bad." Making fun of bad middlebrow entertainment may seem like a no-brainer, but when a writer as sharp as Queenan gets his claws into something like the collected works of Billy Joel, the results are hilarious. Like Jonathan Swift with a remote control, he gleefully shoots every fish in the pop-culture barrel. --Simon Leake

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Queenan Sharpens His Skewer

Joe Queenan's pen has always had a large amount of poison in it and in Red Lobster, White Trash & the Blue Lagoon, it spills out in buckets. The premise of the book is that Mr. Queenan is immersing himself in pop culture phenomenon like Cats to find out why something so bad is loved by millions. He goes to Andrew Lloyd Weber plays, listens to music like Michael Bolton, goes to Red Lobsters and heads out to the entertainment wasteland in Branson, Missouri. The description of his journey out to Branson is priceless and classic Queenan. He eventually becomes addicted to these things and he tries to climb out of this entertainment death pit. If you enjoy a cynical writer and someone not afraid to offend, then Joe Queenan is your man.

Bravo to those who speak what others fear to say!

It takes someone with balls to come out against musicals like 'Cats' and 'Phantom'. Three cheers for supercynic Joe Queenan who has those guts, and plenty to spare, as his poisoned pen appropriately lashes out at the worst of the mediocre, making for the best reflection on the last century I have heard of or could have even imagined. I was in tears numerous times laughing and relishing numerous Queenan insights, most of which offered me solace that my own pecular, singular, and admittedly UNpopular personal taste isn't at all unwarranted. This book is the truth spoken by one who voices the feelings of many who might(as myself) run the risk of excommunication for voicing opinions contrary to those of a highly defensive public. True, Queenan does peck off the so-called 'talents' of easy targets like musicians John Tesh and Kenny G, author Robert James Waller, and car-accident-of-a-TV-talk-show-host Geraldo Rivera. But there are hidden whoppers of philosophical revelation between the covers of this light reader as well which are sure to delight anyone who grew up thinking for themselves. If you, like me, have always had a problem being subjected to the folks in our society who walk around preening and gushing about having seen the latest Andrew Lloyd Weber extravaganza, buy this book NOW! After I read it I felt a hundred times better for having risked public humiliation in voicing my severe dislike of the film 'Titanic' (utter blasphemy to DeCaprio fans let alone anyone in Hollywood who has sold out his/her integrity to the machine that makes such monstrosities). Queenan ingeniously relates his own corruption-by-self-exposure to a Jekyll/Hyde tragedy. As he is absorbed into this world of trash and cultural squalor he can only want more. And his excursions as Hyde can be called nothing less than deliciously decadent. I'd happily toast Queenan with one of his very own "Suck Cocktails" for this hilarious effort. WARNING: Anyone offended by this book should calm down and try to realize the simple truth that just because something is popular doesn't EVER mean it is actually Any Good.

Hilarious! A Great Read!

This book is great! Joe abuses/makes fun of everybody and everything, but he is right on the money with it all! What a riot! I think it is a wonderful book, although some people may not think so. If you are easily offended, love Mary Higgins Clark and the Broadway play "Cats", then this book is NOT for you! For others who need a good laugh at the end of a long, stressful day, then this book is for you!

Absolutely hilarious

Queenan delivers one of the best critiques of American garbage I have ever read. More than once I was reading his book while sipping a drink and I found myself spraying drink all over the room while trying to stifle a laugh.Queenan is one of the absolute funniest writers around, and has a vast knowledge of twaddle. Read it, and laugh, unless you are a complete chucklehead.

An insignificant book by an insignificant writer...

but side-splittingly, bowel-pinchingly funny nonetheless. Queenan's ability to skewer people --his sheer power to just _unload_-- is what drives this book. It's page after page of vitriolic commentary on Americana, and although the tone never changes (he writes like a frustrated pop culture critic...oh, wait...that's because he is one), it's still an absolute thrill. Just a laff-riut.Sure, there are times when he strikes close to home, and you feel like unloading on the author himself. ("Hey, Queenan! Hop on down from yer little East Coast throne of self-indulgence and chat with the mortals! Maybe we read pop novels because WE ENJOY THEM! How's that intellectually taxing job at TV Guide going, by the way?") But as long as you engage that third brain cell, and have the ability to laugh at yourself, then this book is a must-read. It's a real peach.

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