It was right about the third paragraph of his review of Total Recall in his superlative “A History of Violence” series on The A.V. Club, that Tom Breihan became my current favorite pop culture writer. Here’s that paragraph:
Judged as a straight-up ’80s action movie, Total Recall is, quite simply, one of the best. It has levels of body horror that must’ve seemed bracing even to the desensitized audiences of 1990. It has Sharon Stone as a future-noir femme fatale. It has one death via jackhammer and another via Martian-atmosphere face explosion. It has “consider that a divorce,” one of Schwarzenegger’s most iconic one-liners. It has neck-snap noises that are as loud as gunshots. It has great, brutal fights like the one where Schwarzenegger and Stone beat the absolute shit out of each other. It has an old lady cussing at Schwarzenegger. It has a prostitute with three boobs. If you happened to be, say, an 11-year-old boy in 1990, Total Recall was an absolute garden of delights.
I had read other “A History of Violence” columns from Tom Breihan, but Total Recall hooked me for good. I was sad when the column ended, thrilled when he returned with “Age of Heroes” (described as picking “the most important superhero movie of every year, starting with the genre’s early big-budget moments and moving onto the multiplex-crushing monsters of today. ), and delighted when his newest anthology project “The Popcorn Champs” (description: The Popcorn Champs looks back at the highest grossing movie in America from every year since 1960.)
I look forward to reading these columns every other Friday, and I haven’t even mentioned his work at Stereogum where he gave a blisteringly accurate appraisal of Eminem’s “The Marshall Mathers LP” 20 years later, and conducted an incredible interview with Violent J of Insane Clown Posse alongside wonderfully deft and incisive music writing.
So, on this week’s episode I not only ask him about his career and journey, how PR people can stand out against the hundreds of pitches he gets every day, and the usual fun “look through the keyhole” types of insights I like to discover in talking to anyone about their job, but we also unleash a staggering amount of pop culture references in this hour or so. I was so taken aback by just how many cascaded out of us over the course of this conversation, I started writing them down. And just so you’re prepared, he’s a not at all exhaustive list of some of the things that come up… [deep breath]
Total Recall, Rise Against, “My Sharona”by The Knack, Rollerball, The Killer Elite starring James Caan, The Cat from Outer Space, Hotel for Dogs, Godzilla, American Gladiators, 3 Men and a Baby, An Officer and a Gentleman, Chris Jericho, “Endess Love” by Diana Ross and Lionel Richie, The Mighty Mighty Bosstones, Parks and Recreation, Mad Caddies, Robocop, Rancid, No Limit Records music videos from the late 90s, The Monster Squad, CM Punk, Yellowcard, Sandman (from ECW), Irv Gotti, M*A*S*H, Violent J of Insane Clown Posse, Westworld, Game of Thrones, The Walking Dead, Lost, Chuck Klosterman, baseball writer Jeff Passan, The Big Bossman, Damian Abraham from Fucked Up, Colt Cabana, “Celebration” by Kool and the Gang, “I Gotta Feeling” by The Black Eyed Peas, and The Warriors.