So rewind to about 1994. I'm 14, spending the week with my friends in Orange County before sending my nerdy ass back to Music Camp. We're watching MTV, as all the cool kids do, and suddenly a synthesizer loop blares on the speakers. On the T.V. is a light bulb flanked by two hands, the fingers fluttering in time with the song along with some moths for good measure.
Then straight into some dance beats, silly lyrics about vacationing Brits and the catchy "Girls! Boys! Boys! Girls!" for a chorus. I was hooked. Love at first sight I tell you. Moody pop stars with their catchy songs. Blur was/is one of my favorite bands. We all rank band members the way we do John, Paul, George and Ringo (in precisely that order).
But for me, it was hands all about Alex James. That's him on the very far right sporting the fine early '90s do and the hungover moody artist look.
And unlike many aging pop stars, he's still styling, still oh so attractive and most importantly to me, still the coolest.
Case in point: He's retired to the countryside with his family, lives on a working farm and makes cheese for a living. Bad. Ass.
Again, on the right is Alex James. Older, wiser and a lover of cheese (though still loving music apparently). English cheese to be specific.
Oh sure, you say. He's a pop star with loads of money, farming is more leisure to him than anything. True, the pop star salary stash would be nice. But in my view the fact that he's springing his dough on that lifestyle versus a McMansion with an on-site Starbucks next door to Paris Hilton and worthy of a spot on a shitty MTV show is the higher road a music star could take.
Another point about the new Mr. James: He writes about his life.
Every so often, I browse my bookmark folder and remember that I've got a link to the Times Online in the U.K. and their food section. There, Mr. James has a column, detailing his adventures in cheesemaking and rural life and the intersting characters he meets along the way. His column, Foodie Boy, is a consistent read, one of many I browse in the Times' section.
You should check it out, too. Or any column featuring a farmer, rancher, food artisan at the pen. Because Alex James is onto something. These guys, who spend their lives crafting good food for us to taste, enjoy, crave and remember are to me, the biggest rock stars in the universe.