My current favorite blogger is Dave Portnoy at Barstool Sports. (Not safe for work.) His topic, as far as I can tell, is smut and snobbery. I think that even though my blog is pointed at the intersection of life and work, I wish it were at the intersection of smut and snobbery. Because I am an aficionado of smut, and I could use a place to show off.
This is my favorite blog post ever by Dave: The Thong is Dead. (Maybe not safe for work.) He does so many great things in that post. He has genuine social commentary about who decides what is fashionable underwear. He shows us a glimpse into his personal life because he has an underwear discussion with his wife. And he provides a great photo of a girls's ass, in boyshorts. All this in 500 words.
For me to get all of that into one post would take about 1000 words. Seth Godin writes posts like that—dependably dense: really short but packed with value—but never as scintillatingly smutty as Dave. Where Seth makes a living as a high-paid speaker by republishing a compendium of blog posts every two years, Dave can make a living as the intelligentsia by repackaging other peoples' soft porn.
Do you know the Approval Matrix in New York magazine? No? You have to look at it. New York magazine has perfected a way to showcase the thrill that is behind the brilliance of low-brow culture. Recent example:
Highbrow and despicable: Franco Zefferellis says the soprano in his opera is too fat.
Highbrow and brilliant: When the production goes to Rome, she quits.
Brilliant and highbrow: The book titled Benefits of Looking Up, which is a series of photographs of balloons that got stuck in trees.
Brilliant and lowbrow: An online video of some guys jumping off Burj Khalifa, the world's tallest building.
I am obsessed with the meshing of lowbrow and highbrow. I'm convinced that if you understand high brow well, then you are also a great judge of low brow, and you can get even more pleasure out of that.
This reminds me of when I used to hang out with a woman who was a Ralph Lauren model. Neither of us had very much money because I was playing professional beach volleyball which meant I was living off sponsors (I spent my days in a bagel shop that sponsored me with free food), and she used to be a Ralph Lauren model, but she cut off her hair because she thought she might be gay and she was living off residuals (checks that comes in when ads run months or years later).
So we'd hang out in my bagel shop, usually with way too much food on our plates because I was bulimic and she was a hoarder, and the food was free. My friend's clothes were always a little raggedy because she decided it was cheaper to get ten-cent shirts from the thrift shop than to pay to clean clothes at the laundromat. And I always had a little too much sand in my hair, and it fell onto the table, and since the only new clothes I had were from sponsors, I always looked like I was at the beach even when I was at the bagel shop.
We always sat in a corner because it was too much trouble to try to pass for regular. But still guys would come up to us and they would look at her and feel like they just discovered America. They were Christopher Columbus and she was the untouched new nation (and I was a native they might have to kill.) The guys loved thinking they discovered a street person who looks like a model. They thought they had an eye for lowbrow.
They were morons, of course, because every guy in the whole world was attracted to my friend, and every guy thought he was the only one. “Here's my card. I could do so much for you,” guys would tell her. As if she wasn't already under contract with a modeling agency, violating it with short hair.
My point here: there is a little-acknowledged thrill in uncovering low brow while seeing the high brow in it. It's why I love Barstool Sports. It's also why I know that every job is creative. There are ideas that people dismiss as not right. Not intellectual enough. Not how we think. But there are gems. The creativity, in any job, is finding the gems among the discards. It's thrilling to do. Even if you're wrong sometimes. And the rewards are huge. After all, Barstool Sports is making hundreds of thousands of dollars a year.