Five Seinfeld Episodes that Wouldn’t Work Today

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Even though I use at least a few Seinfeld-derived quotes a day, mostly without realizing it, I still feel the show’s influence slipping away from cultural significance. We nicknamed our house Serenity Now…only a handful of our friends get the reference. Ordering a Big Salad at the diner at lunch? The concept is totally lost on the server. And I said ‘these pretzels are making me thirsty’ at a party last weekend, holding a piece of popcorn, and people started checking my pupils.

I have to face it — I’m getting old. My only hope is that Seinfeld will somehow find a renaissance among hipsters searching for vintage cuts on hulu. Until then, here’s the start of what will probably be a growing list of Seinfeld episodes that simply couldn’t be reproduced today, either because smartphones would negate the plot before it even started or because someone would be offended enough to create a boycott hashtag after viewing the previews.

5. The Little Jerry, 1997 ~ Kramer buys a chicken, later finds out it’s actually a rooster, and proceeds to enter him into a basement cock-fight organized by the owner of a nearby Bodega. While this story line would draw outrage from any present-day animal activist, a quick wiki search actually proves that not only did this episode fly with viewers (sorry), it was one of the most well-received of the entire series. The Mets even had their own Little Jerry Seinfeld for a while. If that’s not enough — the reason Kramer enters the fight is to have one of Jerry’s bad checks removed from the Bodega’s wall. Even if that did happen to me today…would I feel shame?

4. The Phone Message, 1991 ~ George thinks his new GF is blowing him off, leaves nasty messages on her answering machine, then recruits Jerry to help him switch out the tape in the machine before she hears it when he realizes he’s wrong. Pull the ‘preemptive bitchy voicemail’ move today, and you’re out of luck — the recipient is probably listening to it before you’ve even pressed ‘end call.’

3. The Chinese Woman, 1994 ~ Jerry talks to a woman on the phone named Donna Chang when her line is crossed with George’s. After finding out she’s actually Jewish, Jerry embarks on a crusade to get her to admit she likes to pretend to be Asian. In the wake of racial appropriation scandals like those of Rachel Dolezal — not to mention the 2016 Oscars— the plot and a lot of the one-liners would be DOA today, even without the starting premise of crossed land lines.

2. The Package, 1996 ~ Among other mixed plot lines, George has Kramer take ‘seductive’ photos of him to woo the woman who works at the one-hour-photo place, only to succeed in wooing her gay coworker instead. According to PetaPixel.com, there are only about 190 one-hour-photo stores left in the U.S., rendering the ‘one sexy photo on the roll’ move all but obsolete. Now, we’re relegated to sexting with the possibility of life-long embarrassment on the Internet.

1. The Puerto Rican Day, 1998 ~ The episode from the ninth and final season actually was pulled from syndication for a while, due to its central controversy: Kramer accidentally burning and stomping on the Puerto Rican flag. The gag would be viewed as in even poorer taste today than it was in ’98 under any circumstances, but Michael Richards also relegated himself to permanent racial-joke purgatory eight years after the episode aired. Even without that moment, though, the whole episode has a slightly racist undertone and an ongoing joke about The Poseidon Adventure… a cultural obsession of my youth that’s even farther away than Seinfeld.

If people are starting to think ‘No Soup for You’ is just a nervous tick of mine, I’ve no hope for Shelly Winters references.

Top Ten Songs of 2012

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Bob Dylan by William Claxton 

Falling into the category of ‘Lists, for What They’re Worth’ this week: my top 10 songs of 2012.

In the past, I’ve listed my top ten albums — but digital music has gotten the best of me when it comes to adding new stuff to my collection. Full records on vinyl still spin at home regularly, but my iTunes panel is peppered with a slew of one, two, or three-year-old one-offs.

That said, I continue to find the majority of my new favorite jams through a handful of sources. Most often it’s WMVY, a terrestrial and online radio station based on Martha’s Vineyard*. I also find a lot of great music, and information about new music, on NPR … its journalists don’t get enough attention for being hip. Most recently, I’ve found great sounds via the Manchester, Vt.-based station WEQX, which is always playing new music and promoting indie musicians.

And so, in no particular order, the top 10 are:

Global Concepts, Robert DeLong. In perhaps the best defense of the one-song-at-time method of discovering and buying new music on this list, this tune isn’t attached to an album and is only available, as DeLong’s website says, at ‘fine digital retailers.’

Emmylou, First Aid Kit. From the album The Lion’s Roar, this song is almost too soothing to be played in the car. But it also seems appropriate in every season, unlike some songs; cozy in the winter, breezy in the summer.

That Wasn’t Me, Brandi Carlile. Unlike Emmylou, this song is best-played in the car because you’ll want to sing along — and you won’t be able to match Brandi Carlile’s range and it will sound awful. If you’re me, that is. That Wasn’t Me also only slightly edged out its Bear Creek album-mate Hard Way Home to make it onto this list. I think the tie-breakers were lyrics and structure – it’s hard to sing a great song with a wide range of notes, but it’s harder to write one.

Video Bonus: Kris Kristofferson.

The Tempest, Bob Dylan. The title song from Bob Dylan’s 35th studio album is 14-minutes long and chronicles the sinking of the Titanic in the style of an old sea shanty, alluding to both the actual event and the 1997 film. It’s weird and beautiful and signals a trend in this year’s list: new songs by seasoned singers.

Do It Anyway, Ben Folds Five. See? Didn’t I see there was a trend brewing? In the growing parade of veteran musicians releasing brand new tunes in 2012, Ben Folds Five reunited for the first time in 12 years with the album The Sound of the Life of the Mind. Do It Anyway urges: ‘It sucks… but do it anyway,’ seemingly directly to me. In addition, the title song is about writer and historian Sarah Vowell, and was written by writer Nick Hornby. Cool factor awesome.

Video Bonus: Fraggles.

One Lovely Day, Citizen Cope. The title song from CC’s latest album was my first introduction to his music, which has the Americana vibe that I like. It’s also a great song with which to ease into the day, and make it a lovely one.

Shake Your Hips, Joan Osbourne. Joan Osbourne is one of those artists who only seems to put music out into the ether once she’s satisfied that it rocks like a cradle in an earthquake. So far, I think she’s always been right. From the album Bring it on Home, Shake Your Hips makes you do just that.

Harder Before it Gets Easier, David Wax Museum. Boston-based band David Wax Museum is billed as Americana, but I think they’re more global than anything else. This song is on the 2012 album Knock Knock Get Up, which very quickly followed the 2011 album Everything is Saved. Songs from both recordings are playing concurrently on alt-radio stations everywhere right now.

Video Bonus: Bright Colors, Weird Faces.

We’re All Right Now, John Hiatt. Another veteran showing the world he’s got plenty of crunch left … John Hiatt’s latest has become one of my get-up-and-go anthems of the year.

Sexy and I Know It, Big Head Todd. Easily the best cover of the year if not the decade …currently unavailable for sale.

* – Learn more about what you can do to help this amazing music resource, currently raising funds to save its signal.