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Who are they?

Steely Dan are Donald Fagen and Walter Becker.

Why are they underrated?

When I was in high school, I was extremely fortunate to have teachers that gave a crap. My favorite of those teachers was Dr. Coleman, who was my English teacher in both the 11th and 12th grade. He paused at inappropriate times while reading poetry or Shakespeare and he was married to one of the drama teachers. He was always very candid about things that were going on in his life. He pushed us to expand the boundaries of our experience, whether it was in the writing that we did or music that we listened to, or going to check out a play or an exhibit in a museum. He never wrote off the things that we were interested in. He called himself a huge Harvey Keitel fan and didn't laugh at the idea of us playing Sonic Youth records in his class. In a not very interesting coincidence, he and I shared a birthday. In a horrible circumstance, he died of a massive heart attack at the age of 48. He helped shape the kind of person and writer that I am today.

The world that he inhabited seemed like a world that was stuck in the 1970s. He seemed bookish in a Woody Allen way and earthy in a John Denver way. And dear god, did he love Steely Dan.

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If you know Mark Mothersbaugh at all, you know him as one of the founders and lead singer of Devo. Devo's one of those bands that everyone always talks about as being ahead of its time, but never really quite gets. They were doing synth when the rest of the nation was doing the hustle and the 1980s were just a gleam in Ivan Boesky's eyes. And like every other band like them, Devo's worst song ("Whip It") became their most popular song.

In addition to being just about the strangest guy you'll ever meet, he's prolific as hell. Mark Mothersbaugh is credited on just about every song that Devo produced (excluding their covers). He has also contributed or fully written over 100 movie, TV and video game soundtracks, including just about every Wes Anderson flick. Evidently, really fucking weird people like to collaborate with other really fucking weird people. And oddly enough, he also hosts a painting/drawing segment on a children's show on PBS called Yo Gabba Gabba!.

You've been listening to (and loving) his music for years, without even knowing it. And even worse, you don't even know his name.

Shame on you.

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What Is It?
A bald, bespectacled, scrawny little twerp who makes electronic music. UR: -18

Why is it underrated?
O.K., look—Moby is not cool. He never was, even during those few years when he was the coolest thing around. (If you remember, geeky was in that summer.) Moby is that dorky, whiny kid with allergies and Coke-bottle glasses who gets picked last for kickball. And on the celebrity scale of annoying, he ranks right up there with Gilbert Gottfried. He’s a socio-political activist, which earns him two demerits automatically just for quietly judging and criticizing our slothful, wasteful lifestyles. He’s ballsy and pretentious enough to stuff his albums’ liner notes with ranty screeds about religion and meat and government. He’s a vegan (yuck) who owned a now defunct tea shop (oy) in New York’s East Village with the adorably aggravating name TeaNY (gag). And also he’s the most overexposed sell out in the history of the music industry.

At this point, you may be asking: So how and why is this skinny bald asshole underrated?

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The Book


The Yankee Pot Roast Book of Awesome Underappreciated Stuff
by Geoff Wolinetz,
Nick Jezarian,
and Josh Abraham

Published by
Citadel/Kensington Books.
On sale June 24, 2008.

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