The fine art of snobbery

A young man walks into a record store. “Excuse me,” he says to the clerk behind the counter. “Do you have the new Depeche Mode record?”

The clerk looks at him with disdain. “Yeah, it’s over there,” he replies, “but it sucks.”

The customer, jolted by this apathetic salesmanship, tries again. “Well, do you have the latest Pixies album?”

“Yeah, but it sucks.”

The conversation in this 1990 Kids in the Hall sketch continues in this vein, until the clerk shames the customer into buying what he considers the ultimate album, the Doors’ Waiting for the Sun. He must not only buy the album, but also steal a car, drive west, and get into a fight. “Then you’re gonna be a Doors fan,” the clerk promises.

Record-store clerks can guide us through the doors of perception. A knowledgeable clerk can lead us to music that lifts depression, inspires boldness, provides entry into an unknown culture and even forms our identities. But such wisdom is not easily won. Many have suffered the sting of record-store snobbery. Think of Jack Black in High Fidelity, refusing to sell a customer Stevie Wonder’s “I Just Called to Say I Love You” on principle and yelling, “Go to the mall!” until the man runs out of the store.

Fortunately, SN&R photojournalist Noel Neuburger bravely surveyed the most discriminating clerks in the Sacramento area about their musical tastes and published his findings in this week’s Feature Story (see “Clerks”) alongside some amazing portraits. Now the rest of us can benefit from musical advice sans snobbery.

Of course, SN&R couldn’t resist indulging in a little snobbery with our alternative Oscar coverage (see “Our baloney has a first name”). While other media outlets debate the merits of Brokeback Mountain over Walk the Line, we offer news you can use—like our Oscar drinking game. You’ll also find a list of history’s least-deserved Oscars, politically incorrect acceptance speeches and the best Oscar categories that never existed.

“But what about Oscar fashion and Jake Gyllenhaal interviews?” you ask.

“Well,” we say, “that tired Oscar coverage is out there … but it sucks.”