Utopian Turtletop. Monsieur Croche's Bête Noire. Contact: turtletop [at] hotmail [dot] com

Thursday, August 31, 2006

Robert Christgau and the late Geoffrey Stokes, a long long time ago

[addendum below, 9:32 pm.]

Via Zoilus, news that the new owners of the “Village Voice” fired Robert Christgau for “taste.”

As Carl says, “wow.”

I don’t know enough to know whether the motivation is,

“we’re doing this because we can and we wanna show who’s the man”,


“we don’t care about his eminence, the additional readership he attracts does not justify his salary.”

Well, I’m going to stop reading it. Not as a protest, but just because he was the main reason I read it.

The “Voice” owned the “Seattle Weekly” too, and now the “Voice”'s new owner does. The “Weekly” has taken a huge hit. Four really distinctive writers quit, they axed the indispensible political endorsements, and worst of all they added a truly ugly syndicated column from So. Cal. called “Ask the Mexican.”

“Let’s insult our readership and McDonald-ize whatever is distinctive about local culture.”

That’s capitalism -- surprise surprise. Capitalism as Loss -- what is gained? I mean besides the centralization of capital.

Same thing happened with our local AM “pre-rock-pop” station. A national chain bought it, replaced all the local DJs with national syndicated shows; and the distinctive local flavor is gone. The songs are pretty much the same, but instead of a bunch of friendly enthusiastic corny male DJs with almost effeminate speech melodies, we got stiff-backed middle-aged waspish-sounding men intoning portentously about “the music of your life,” and no local references. I hardly listen to it any more, but it doesn’t matter, because even if audience share and ad revenue decrease, the decrease in costs no doubt outruns it.

The “Weekly” has gotten a raft of letters complaining about the gross and offensive stereotyping in the new syndicated column. I’m sure the take-over artists in charge count on that. “We’re being provocative.” Ask any boy in 7th grade, it’s the easiest thing in the world to do.

Best wishes in finding new digs, Mr. Christgau.

* * *

Addendum. If had not been on a blogging hiatus when these came out, I probably would have linked to them then: 2 New York music critics in a display of extreme-sport criticism.

Christgau saw 32 shows in 30 days and had sharp things to say about the experience. And Alex Ross of the “New Yorker” topped him by listening to all 180 CDs of the complete Mozart.

Mozart died at age 35. I know he started composing at age 3 or 5 or something; so, think of someone who started at 20 and lived to be 52.

180 CDs?!?!? Almost a CD every two months. For 32 years.

Robert Christgau and Alex Ross both earned gold medals in our imaginary crit-Olympic super-marathon.

The Mexican says: Gracias for the plug. But leave a link, wontcha?

the questions you answer seem edited to evoke maximum offensiveness. Your answers are not devoid of sense or humanity, and I understand the strategy of defusing stereotypes by embracing them with a twist. Dan Savage went that way for a while with his "Savage Love" column, in which he used to print all queries to him with the salutation "Hey Faggot." But he didn't accompany his column with a degrading 1940s-era Warner Bros.-style cartoon of a homosexual. And I'm glad, and I wish you wouldn't do the equivalent.

I didn't provide a link because I don't like your column, but since you have provided one for yourself, all I can say is, Bienvenidos, big guy, and good luck.
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