One of my favorite bands in high school was Oingo Boingo, an East Los Angeles New Wave/avant garde band that combined punk, ska, rock, reggae, Latin, Afrro-pop, and even twentieth-century classical. Band founders, Danny and Richard Elfman spent several years after high school in Europe with a French circus (pre-Cirque du Soliel) before Danny traveled aimlessly in Africa for a couple years. They met back up in LA to start their own odd musical odyssey. Danny Elfman has gone on to score dozens of Hollywood films and has been Tim Burton’s composer of choice since Edward Scissorhands. One of their hit songs, the closing track of their debut album, has the dubious title, “Nasty Habits,” a kind of Libertarian paean to privacy, that includes the line, “Nasty habits I must condone / No one knows what I do / When I’m all alone.”
Today, when I peeked in on Eleventh Stack, an off-beat blog on librarianship, I found a fun post, “What’s Your Vanity Read?”, about those books you read simply to be seen reading them. It made me think about this Boingo song, about those little reading habits you don’t want to admit to. Specifically…those books you read to show that you are really smart. I flashed back to the time when I was a freshman in high school and my English teacher told us to bring something to read in class, so like the little smart ass I can be, I brought in Selections from Plato’s Dialogues from my father’s bookshelf. I tried to read “Euthyphro” in class and was immediately lost. My teacher gave me a bemused smile. I think the next class period, I brought in a Stephen King novel. Sometimes, I’ve wondered about trying to track down Mr. Hoagland and tell him I finally did read some of Plato’s Dialogues…in a college philosophy class…including “Euthyphro.”
So, what vanity reads have you tried to flash on the world?