The writings of bestselling humorist Wade Rouse – called “wise, witty and wicked” by USA Today and the lovechild of Erma Bombeck and David Sedaris – have been featured multiple times on NBC’s Today Show as well as on Chelsea Lately on E! and People.com. His latest memoir, "It’s All Relative: 2 Families, 3 Dogs, 34 Holidays and 50 Boxes of Wine," just launched in paperback February 1st from Broadway, and he is creator and editor of the humorous dog anthology, "I’m Not the Biggest Bitch in This Relationship: Hilarious, Heartwarming Tales about Man’s Best from America’s Favorite Humorists" (NAL). The book features a Foreword by Chelsea Handler’s dog, Chunk, essays by such beloved chick lit authors as Jane Green, and 50 percent of the book’s net royalties go to the Humane Society of the United States. His first memoir, "America's Boy," has been re-published by Magnus Books for paperback and Kindle. For more, visit his website, or friend him on Facebook or Twitter.
“I Want My MTV!”
If Michael Jackson were the King of Pop, then I am the King of Pop Culture.
When I write a book, I typically make hundreds of pop references, ranging from Pop-Tarts to Sheena Easton. I tend to love all things current, be it Giuliana or Julia Roberts.
That fascination – as many things do – stems from my childhood. Growing up in the 1970s and coming of age in the 1980s, I was obsessed – as most of us were – with pop culture. It was nearly impossible not to be: We were the generation of Farrah and feathers, perms and Pretty in Pink. We didn’t have cell phones, or laptops, we didn’t have Skype or iTunes. We didn’t get tattoos or piercings, we permed our hair.
We were force-fed entertainment, and we hungrily feasted on what we were given: Happy Meals, Raiders of the Lost Ark and Olivia Newton-John.
As a disciple of MTV, I was obsessed with music and music videos: Wham!, Bruce Springsteen, Madonna, Whitney, Flock of Seagulls, Huey Lewis: These artists changed my life.
Even today, I have an unquenchable desire to stay current, in style, entertainment and music. I love Gaga and Katy Perry, Maroon 5 and Adele. I even have a soft spot for the “Biebs.” My friends joke that I shouldn’t shop at Banana Republic, I should shop at Claire’s.
And then something changed. Gary and I began to escape Michigan’s winters and head to Palm Springs. A couple of years ago, a friend asked us to dinner at a local restaurant. “They have a great, live band,” he said. “And a great singer who does all the old standards.”
Old standards, I thought. You mean, like Kelly Clarkson?
The live band featured some crusty old musicians playing trumpet, trombone, piano, drums. The singer, dressed in a tux, sang Frank Sinatra and Dean Martin.
I sat that night, enjoying a lovely meal and some great wine, and watched couples dance. Actually dance, not just gyrate, like I did, but engage in an artful, beautiful patter.
I listened to talented musicians play instruments, actually play, rather than pump a beat or play a pre-recorded background.
And that singer sang. Actually sang, without Autotune, from his heart, lyrics that told a story.
I thought of many things that night: I remembered the way my grandparents and parents danced, the music they listened to, the trombone I played throughout high school and into college.
|Gary and "Dean"|
I realized that I loved both types of music: The classics and the current. Just like with books, I love many different genres and styles. I may appreciate the literary depth of one book, but I may be vastly entertained by another. Same way with music.
I know I’m getting older. In fact, some days, I worry that I’m a Wal-Mart prescription card from becoming my father. But I relish that: Age brings perspective. It gives us clarity. We are able to appreciate many things – especially the arts – more fully than we could when we were young.
Though my friends joke I should shop at Claire’s, I take that as a compliment. I know what’s hip, and I know that everything eventually comes back into style. It’s important to respect the past and value the present.
Which is why I can wear my skinny ties again, and why I can rotate happily between Rosemary Clooney and Beyonce on my stereo.
But I do know when not to cross the line: I wisely kept my leg warmers and my mother’s poodle skirt in the basement.
Thanks always to Wade for entertaining us and to Gary for getting Wade's essays into our hands.