Pop Culture Outsider

This conference in Los Angeles that I'm going to later this year is
just the sort of thing I enjoy: meeting new people, exploring new
ideas, gaining new perspective from the whole experience. I have to
confess, though, that I'm a little worried that I won't have much to
contribute. After all, the overall topic is "pop culture," and I've
never felt more distanced from the subject. Consider, for example,
the following general categories that one might associate with popular

• TV. We don't have cable, so out goes most of what gets watched
nowadays. And I don't even watch what's on the networks; the last
non-sports TV I watched even remotely regularly was "Scrubs" and
"CSI," circa 2005.

• Music. I haven't listened to the radio, except for short bursts in
the car, for years. The last non-classical CD I bought was the Wu
Tang Clan's "Wu Tang Forever," in 1997.

• Movies. Not counting animated kids' movies, the last movie of any
kind that I watched was a flurry of old Bond movies with my wife last
year. The last movie I saw in the theaters was the third and final
Matrix movie, in 2003.

• Technology. In our electronics-soaked society, this counts as pop
culture nowadays. And the last cutting-edge piece of technology I
bought was a PDA, in 1999, which I proceeded to use for eight long
years. I've never owned a laptop, portable mp3 player, camera phone,
or video game console.

To be sure, there are a lot of ways in which business, politics, and
sports intersect with pop culture, and I feel pretty in touch in those
three categories. Still, if the conference kicks off with a
Jeopardy!-style quiz, it's not likely I'll leave a very favorable
impression on my fellow attendees.

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