So I'm talking in e-mail about a bunch of stuff, and one thing gets me on the track of liking things that don't actually have artistic merit. And I unpacked the "Ice Ice Baby" thing for my correspondent, and I don't think I've ever really elaborated on it here, so here you go.
When I was 16, I was in a wilderness survival camp. Like Challenger. Remember those camps? The ones that kept getting shut down for bad seed teenagers dying of dehydration and the like? They're two-month programs; I was in for six, in two separate shifts.
So the first time, I just sat down after the first day and refused to hike. For a month. Which did not have the intended results of them giving up on me and sending me home; no, they just stuck me into the next group that cycled through.
And when the next group came in? The month I'd been sitting alone in the Utah desert was the month Vanilla Ice hit.
It was this cultural touchstone with all of the new kids that they shared, and I was the dirty tangle-haired desert rat who felt suddenly even more distant from the world.
They all sang it. And we sang while we hiked, because full-day hikes suck (maybe not for some of you, but for people who didn't want to be hiking and who were hauling crappily-tied tarp-wrapped "packs" that were over 30% of our body weight (this is why I have a torn disc), is not so fun), and you have to keep your spirits up. So we sang it, and everything else that has a beat you can hike to.
And 20 years later I still know it by heart, because of mountains and deserts and building my own fires and skinning rabbits and pulling a cart and trying to not feel even more disconnected from the world outside than I already was.
Which doesn't mean it's a good song. But it's engraved in me now. "Ice Ice Baby" is me fighting anyway and Jimmy dancing in the back of the pickup truck when they brought us cornmeal and Veg-All and rice and beans, Wendy working on her bow drill fire and Peter thumping out "dum dum dum da-da dum dum" on an empty bucket. It's a solidarity flash in a damn difficult time.
And it's catchy.
And it's pure cheese.
But it'll always be there.