September 5, 2007 12:33 PM Subscribe
We're drowning in quirk. It is the ruling sensibility of today’s Gen-X indie culture, defined territorially by the gentle ministrations of public radio’s This American Life; the strenuously odd (and now canceled) TV sitcom Arrested Development; the movies of Wes Anderson; Dave Eggers’s McSweeney’s Web site; the performance art, music, and writing of Miranda July; and the just-too-wacky-to-be-fully-believable memoirs of Augusten Burroughs. It’s been 20 years of beneficent, wide-eyed gazing upon the oddities of our fellow man. David Byrne probably birthed contemporary quirk around 1985— halfway between his “Psycho Killer” beginnings with the Talking Heads and his move to global pop—when he sang the song “Stay Up Late”: “Cute, cute, little baby / Little pee-pee, little toes.” (As it happens, Byrne appeared on July’s recent book tour.) Jon Cryer’s “Duckie” Dale in Pretty in Pink came a year later, and quirk was on its way.
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