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Friday, August 11, 2006


Is Lisping the New Black?

So the other day I was in Brattleboro, Vermont.

I was wandering through a store and the store was playing Richie Havens, of all people, over the speakers. I hadn't heard Richie Havens in years. It was his old hit "Follow".

So I stood there, digging the song for a few minutes, and then it struck me that Havens sings with a lisp. I can't say I'd ever really noticed it before. The woman working the counter told me Havens is suddenly enjoying a major comeback as younger kids are rediscovering his work.

Later that night, back home, I saw a new commercial on TV for one of the Yellow Pages companies. You may have seen this one. David Carradine is a mystic who pronounces the Yellow pages as the answer to all life's questions.

Now, Carradine has always been one of the most interesting characters in show business, and he's always had an unusual way of talking, but in the past ten years or so, he's developed a really noticable lisp. I believe, based on what I read in his autobiography, it's mostly due to the fake choppers he's had to wear for a while now.

The next day, I go to my computer and discover John Safran, of Australia's Triple J network, is one of the media's hottest rising stars. Safran does a Sunday night comedy-religion-politics show that's fast becoming a phenomenon.
He has such a pronounced lisp that one can't imagine him speaking without it, it's so integral to his inflection.

Add to all this the popularity of Sarah Vowell and David Sedaris.

So now I'm wondering if this is just a strange coincidence, or if, in a world that is flooded in a sea of audio data, something like a lisp is now an asset, making a person stand out from the ordinary.

Could it be the lisp could soon be ... trendy?

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