Mr. Brooks runs with the Hippies.
In addition to a captive audience of millions, the ear of presidents and kings, and a spacious, multi-million dollar mansion in an exclusive neighborhood, one of the perks of being America's Greatest Conservative Public Intellectual is that while you're killing time in Europe waiting the Euro to collapse, you get to follow Bruce Springsteen around:
They say you’ve never really seen a Bruce Springsteen concert until you’ve seen one in Europe, so some friends and I threw financial sanity to the winds and went to follow him around Spain and France. In Madrid, for example, we were rewarded with a show that lasted 3 hours and 48 minutes, possibly the longest Springsteen concert on record and one of the best. But what really fascinated me were the crowds.
One of the downsides of being America's Greatest Conservative Public Intellectual is that you feel compelled to masticate that exhilarating experience into a bucket of pseudo-intellectual tax-write-off spackle like this:
It makes you appreciate the tremendous power of particularity. If your identity is formed by hard boundaries, if you come from a specific place, if you embody a distinct musical tradition, if your concerns are expressed through a specific paracosm, you are going to have more depth and definition than you are if you grew up in the far-flung networks of pluralism and eclecticism, surfing from one spot to the next, sampling one style then the next, your identity formed by soft boundaries, or none at all.
UPDATES from around the Internet
Samir Chopra leads the pack in the "Best Titled Post about Mr. Brooks' latest 800-word embarrassment" category with, "David Brooks Went to a Springsteen Concert, And All I Got Was A Stupid Op-Ed":
...Matt Taibbi asks:
Brooks finds that audiences ‘in the middle of the Iberian Peninsula’–reaching which, I presume, requires three weeks of hard hiking from the nearest trailhead–’singing word for word about Highway 9 or Greasy Lake or some other exotic locale on the Jersey Shore.’ Amazing. In Europe? When did they get television, radio, newspapers, magazines, or the Internet? This is pretty mind-boggling stuff. Here is an American rock star, surely the most obscure type of cultural figure there could be, and folks in Europe, a land separated from the US by a BIG ocean, know the lyrics to his songs. Next thing you know, someone will tell me that kids in the US know the lyrics to songs sung by working-class kids from Liverpool!
"Has anyone ever said that even once? About Springsteen and Europe?"Matt Yglesias:
"Had higher taxes rendered David Brooks unable to afford this trip, he would have no incentive to work so hard"The Chronicle of Higher Education:
David Brooks Flies to Europe to Bash CosmopolitanismNigel E. Richardson
By Todd Gitlin
David Brooks, self-hating cosmopolitan, could visit Disneyland and report back that it goes to show that small town virtues are alive.
"They say you've never really read a David Brooks column until you've done so while Thomas Friedman is feeding you truffles."
Tengrain puts the boot in here:
And before we go too far down the rabbit hole, Brooks writes about Tupac. David Brooks drops Tupac’s name in a dependent clause like he is familiar with the subject. OK, before your head explodes in wonder, rest assured he gets the fundamentals of Tupac so wrong that it is absolutely laughable; I won’t spoil that for you but when you read it, if you know anything about Tupac’s life (or death) I promise you that your pants will wet themselves you will laugh so hard. Brooks–as usual–is skimming the culture.
Charles P. Pierce:
Of that "oft-repeated idiom," as Tupac once said to Biggie over a blunt, contains "Racing In The Street." There are six songs that reference either cars or driving, including the title track. You'd have to be deaf to call the sound of that record "spare." (Again, I think Brooks is thinking about Nebraska here, but who in hell knows?) And I know every lyric to "Ferry 'Cross The Mersey" and I've never been to Liverpool in my life. This has nothing to do with my creating a "paracosm" of Liverpool. It has to do with the fact I heard the damn song about 15 times a day back in 1965, and that I still enjoy hearing it today. This kind of thing turns nostalgia into an exercise for lab rats, which, I've long believed, is basically Brooks's take on all of his fellow humans.
The Rude One:
3. Responding to fans in Madrid, Spain, singing "Born in the U.S.A." Brooks writes, "Did it occur to them at that moment that, in fact, they were not born in the U.S.A.?" Did it occur to Brooks that this is a patently idiotic question? When Eminem fans sing "I'm the real Shady," does it occur to them that, in fact, they are not the real Slim Shady? Seriously, who does Brooks blow to get to keep writing this shit? 'Cause that man must be able to suck a dick.
We get it, Grandpa, you’re hip to Springsteen
Rich old conservatives love The Boss and they really, really want everyone to know it
The success of Springsteen is, apparently, some sort of object lesson in staying true to your (geographical?) roots, and not being too “eclectic,” or something, who the fuck knows. The column literally has this line in it: “Did it occur to them at that moment that, in fact, they were not born in the U.S.A.?” I don’t know, David, do Clash fans realize that London is not actually calling them?
Some days it is so clear that American political journalism is almost entirely driven by a secret wager made bettween David Brooks and Tom Friedman over who can write the column that most closely approximates standing on a pile of money throwing poo at passers-by while laughing at them and not get fired by the "New York Times".