Tuesday, August 12, 2008


My eye was caught by this strung-together word on a bus-side ad for a TV show called Baisden After Dark. It struck me that the first word in this compound has, in our popular culture, become antithetical to the other two; that is, being intellectual implies being both uncool and un-funky. As to the connection between the other two, I'm sure it's possible to be funky without being cool, but not sure if one can be cool without being funky. Whether it's possible to be intellectual and cool but not funky might be called the "Barack Obama question".

If one could translate this compound word into French, it would probably not raise any eyebrows. (Do the French make compound words? It seems altogether too German.) There is a long tradition of Gallic intellectualfunkycoolness, going back at least to Rabelais. Even here, it was possible to be intellectual, funky and cool in the 1950s and 60s (think of the Beats). Who manages the trick today? Perhaps Mr. Baisden, if he lives up to his ad copy. One candidate I'll nominate is Joe Maddon.

Any other suggestions?

Update: Maybe Joe Maddon isn't so funky, after all:

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