This will all sound horribly pretentious, but I kind of hope that
your list does, too. My favorites include lots of classics, but I
am not some tight-ass cultural elitist, terribly serious about the
canon--I've always been enthralled by the arts, and I just had the
good fortune to live for years in a European capital where I could
go one or two nights a week to the art-house cinema run by the
national film archive. And I still love Steve Miller's "Fly Like an
Eagle." Stop cringing. And there's so much more to see, so I'm
looking for someone who wants to go to FilmBar and Valley Art and
I read mostly nonfiction now, but I still get really excited for
new books by Ian McEwan, Amin Maalouf, and Jonathan Franzen. If you
get excited by Grisham, The Alchemist, and Eat, Pray, Love, we're
probably not going to have much to chat about. I love Maugham,
William S. Burroughs, Huxley, Orwell, Milan Kundera, Hunter S.
Thompson, Tom Wolfe's nonfiction, Nate Silver, Evgeny Morozov,
Sherry Turkle, Debord, Bourdieu, Habermas, Samuel Huntington (not
the neo-cons' misreading of him), and Michael Lewis.
As for movies, yes, yes, all the artsy cliches--my favorites are
Tarkovsky and Bergman. I love Fritz Lang, film noir, Billy Wilder;
Godard & Truffaut; Coppola, Scorsese, and Woody Allen; and all
the great films being made today: the Coen Brothers, Werner
Herzog's documentaries (lots of documentaries, actually...),
"Goodbye, Solo"--basically anything intelligent but not pretentious
bores ("Tree of Life"...). Beyond the artsy bits, I enjoy escapist
entertainment, too--"Tropic Thunder," "Anchorman," "South Park,"
"Team America," and "Ted" all made me laugh until my face hurt.
However, if your favorite films typically include titles with the
words "wedding" or "love," that would be an inauspicious omen (do I
In music, jazz is my nerdy passion (Mingus, Dolphy, Tyner, Lee
Morgan, the Esbjorn Svensson Trio), but I love everything from
classic rock (Led Zeppelin) to hip-hop (The Roots, Sharon Jones and
the Dap-Kings) to grunge (Alice in Chains, Smashing Pumpkins,
Soundgarden) to classical (Beethoven; I should probably listen to
more Bach...) to funk (The Meters!) to electronica (Stereolab, Jazz
con Bazz) to far-out-there stuff (Tool, Soul Coughing, System of a
Down, Rage Against the Machine, and, yes, the Grateful Dead). No
Top-40, please, and never got into punk, typical 80s music (that
decade sucked enough the first time through; I blame Reagan for
everything), or "indie"--white people with angst? No, thank
you--I'll just listen to musicians who can play their instruments
I'm quite impressed with the depth and seriousness of the lists
people come up with for their music favorites. I'm sure that we'd
find some common ground--although jazz is pretty crucial...--but
differences of opinion are fine. Many fascinating people seem to
really be into indie/alternative stuff; no, I don't dig Radiohead
(well, OK, "The Bends" was some good rock'n'roll) or Arcade Fire
(The White Stripes, however, are an absolute revelation), but there
are obviously a lot of new things that I have missed by being out
of the country--and I always want to hear new stuff. It's music,
not a fascistic dogma. If you rock out to Zeppelin, we're going to
get along well.
Without being even more pretentious and listing favorite artists,
I'll just say that when I travel, the art museum is often the first
sight I want to see.
As for food, I love Thai, Indian, Arab, French, sushi, what gets
labeled Mediterranean, anything spicy, fresh vegetables and fruits,
and I have a weakness for the grill and seafood. I love to eat; I
also love to cook, even though I'm still far from an expert.