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Clip: Post-Pazz & Jop

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  • Carl Z.
    Meaty, Beaty, Big and Bloggy: An Online Poll Covets the Territory Once Owned by Pazz & Jop By BEN
    Message 1 of 5 , Nov 30, 2006
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      <http://www.nytimes.com/2006/11/30/arts/music/30idol.html>

      Meaty, Beaty, Big and Bloggy: An Online Poll Covets the Territory Once
      Owned by Pazz & Jop

      By BEN SISARIO
      Published: November 30, 2006

      If the rock critics of the world have a clubhouse, it has long been
      the annual Pazz & Jop poll in The Village Voice.

      For more than 30 years, critics at magazines, newspapers and Web sites
      have contributed their Top 10 lists of albums and singles. Along with
      those lists came voluminous insidery commentary, all digested and
      analyzed in one monstrous essay by Robert Christgau, organizing the
      pop universe into an intellectually cohesive narrative. ("It's Kanye
      West's World, Franz Ferdinand Just Live In It," ran the cover line for
      the 2005 Pazz & Jop issue.)

      But in the wake of the takeover late last year of Village Voice Media,
      the weekly paper's parent company, by the New Times Media chain, and
      the departure of dozens of Voice employees — including Mr. Christgau,
      64, who oversaw the Pazz & Jop coverage and was fired in August — a
      rival clubhouse poll has emerged. And of course it is on a blog.

      This week Idolator, a newish music blog owned by Gawker Media, seized
      on the outrage and disappointment felt by critics around the country
      who saw Mr. Christgau — and Chuck Eddy, the Voice music editor, who
      was dismissed in April — as a force of credibility and journalistic
      continuity, by announcing its own poll, Jackin' Pop.

      "For those who had long turned to The Voice to help guide them through
      the realm of pop, rock and hip-hop," the announcement read, "the
      51-year-old alt-weekly now had about as much musical credibility as,
      say, a three-month-old blog."

      The new survey will be organized by Michaelangelo Matos, a well
      regarded freelance writer who has served as music editor at the
      Voice-owned Seattle Weekly. (When New Times Media acquired Village
      Voice Media, it also took its name.) Jackin' Pop will have some new
      technological bells and whistles, like demographic breakdowns of
      ballots, but will largely be modeled after Pazz & Jop. Mr. Matos, 31,
      said it was as much a homage to that model as a protest against the
      new Voice.

      "Pazz & Jop has always been about intellectual music coverage," he
      said. "There are people at The Voice doing good, smart work, but the
      overall culture does not smile upon it being particularly thoughtful."

      Rob Harvilla, The Voice's new music editor, who will oversee the
      continuation of Pazz & Jop, disagrees with that assessment. "I
      understand the consternation regarding" Mr. Christgau, he said. "And
      we're going to have to prove ourselves to the critical world at large.
      But I think it's worth doing."

      Ballots for the two polls are to begin going out this week.

      The Pazz & Jop model, with easily aggregated rankings and spunky,
      personal, bite-size commentary, is ideally suited to an online update;
      The Voice itself has a Web version of the poll (villagevoice.com), in
      which each ballot can be viewed and cross-referenced.

      "Pazz & Jop was kind of a bloggy idea before the Internet," said
      Michael Hirschorn, an executive vice president at VH1 and a former
      editor of Spin. "That kind of obsessive narrow fanaticism has been
      democratized and spread throughout hundreds of blogs."

      Though the Idolator poll (idolator.com) will be open to some bloggers
      — Mr. Matos said that anyone who writes regularly about music will be
      eligible — its main constituency will be professional music critics,
      the same old-fashioned, old-media elite who contribute to Pazz & Jop.
      This suggests Idolator is betting that readers are still interested in
      the idea of professional rock critics and their opinions.

      "This speaks to the credibility of The Voice," said Joe Hagan, a
      contributing editor at New York magazine who writes about the media.
      "The Voice really did have such an incredible run as a purveyor of
      rock criticism, and that credibility is gone with Christgau's exit.
      It's there for the taking."

      To nab that credibility, Idolator first offered the job of putting
      Jackin' Pop together to Mr. Christgau. He declined, but said he would
      contribute to both Jackin' Pop and Pazz & Jop.

      While in other fields there are multiple critics' polls, Pazz & Jop
      has enjoyed an almost unchallenged run since it began in 1974. (An
      earlier version was published in 1971, leading to the hedge of calling
      it the "31st or 32nd annual" poll, and so on.)

      But based on an unscientific survey of far fewer rock critics than the
      800 or so who usually contribute to Pazz & Jop — Mr. Matos said he was
      shooting for 1,200 — the presence of a rival is less likely to cause a
      rift among critics than a shrug, because of doubts about Idolator's
      ability to match the quality and breadth of Mr. Christgau's work and
      about the future of rock criticism itself.

      "What critics used to do was catch the black holes of culture, things
      that are not adequately distributed or whatever," said Alec Hanley
      Bemis, a columnist for L.A. Weekly, a Village Voice Media paper.
      "These days they get caught by bloggers far before those critics'
      lists come out."

      As for Mr. Christgau, who now contributes reviews to National Public
      Radio and to Rolling Stone and other publications, he said he was glad
      to be relieved of the yearly burden of Pazz & Jop, which took weeks of
      laborious work.

      "My wife was not happy that I was fired," Mr. Christgau wrote in an
      e-mail message. "But she was overjoyed that Pazz & Jop was out of our
      lives. We hope to go to Puerto Rico in early January."
    • Barry Mazor
      A lot of people are simply not going to contribute to Pazz and Jop any more. Whether this Idolator thing is a place to go instead, I m not so sure. Nor
      Message 2 of 5 , Nov 30, 2006
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        A lot of people are simply not going to contribute to Pazz and Jop any more. Whether this
        Idolator thing is a place to go instead, I'm not so sure. Nor exactly how many people care--
        always a question.
      • Wilson, Carl
        I started agitating for a boycott of P&J after Christgau was fired and calling for someone to step up to replace it. Pitchfork, who were kind of the obvious
        Message 3 of 5 , Nov 30, 2006
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          I started agitating for a boycott of P&J after Christgau was fired and
          calling for someone to step up to replace it. Pitchfork, who were kind
          of the obvious place, declined to do so (and I was just as happy about
          that), as have a few other potential alternative venues. My ideal
          website to do it would have been the new paperthinwalls.com, where
          several of the ex-Voice people and other recently redundancied critics
          have shown up, but they didn't raise their hand.

          I'm so-so on the Idolator site, but what makes its poll credible is that
          it's being run by Michaelangelo Matos, the former Seattle Weekly and
          emusic.com music editor, who's established himself very well as a smart,
          dedicated, caring member of the critical community over the past decade.
          (His 33 1/3 volume on Prince's Sign of the Times is one of my faves in
          the series.)

          If Idolator were doing it on its own, I'd be wary, but with Matos in
          charge, I'm happily in.

          carl w

          =================
          Carl Wilson
          The Globe & Mail, Toronto
          http://www.zoilus.com <http://www.zoilus.com/>




          ________________________________

          From: fearnwhiskey@yahoogroups.com [mailto:fearnwhiskey@yahoogroups.com]
          On Behalf Of Barry Mazor
          Sent: Thursday, November 30, 2006 3:09 PM
          To: fearnwhiskey@yahoogroups.com
          Subject: [fearnwhiskey] Re: Clip: Post-Pazz & Jop



          A lot of people are simply not going to contribute to Pazz and Jop any
          more. Whether this
          Idolator thing is a place to go instead, I'm not so sure. Nor exactly
          how many people care--
          always a question.






          [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
        • Dave Purcell
          Carl, did you see Christgau s firing as a bad thing? I thought the guy was so awful and irrelevant that it was hard to argue with their decision. But I also
          Message 4 of 5 , Dec 1, 2006
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            Carl, did you see Christgau's firing as a bad thing? I thought the guy was
            so awful and irrelevant that it was hard to argue with their decision. But I
            also don't follow music criticism nearly as closely as you probably do, so
            I'm curious to hear what you (and others) think.

            dp

            _____

            From: fearnwhiskey@yahoogroups.com [mailto:fearnwhiskey@yahoogroups.com] On
            Behalf Of Wilson, Carl
            Sent: Thursday, November 30, 2006 8:08 PM
            To: fearnwhiskey@yahoogroups.com
            Subject: RE: [fearnwhiskey] Re: Clip: Post-Pazz & Jop



            I started agitating for a boycott of P&J after Christgau was fired and
            calling for someone to step up to replace it. Pitchfork, who were kind
            of the obvious place, declined to do so (and I was just as happy about
            that), as have a few other potential alternative venues. My ideal
            website to do it would have been the new paperthinwalls.com, where
            several of the ex-Voice people and other recently redundancied critics
            have shown up, but they didn't raise their hand.

            I'm so-so on the Idolator site, but what makes its poll credible is that
            it's being run by Michaelangelo Matos, the former Seattle Weekly and
            emusic.com music editor, who's established himself very well as a smart,
            dedicated, caring member of the critical community over the past decade.
            (His 33 1/3 volume on Prince's Sign of the Times is one of my faves in
            the series.)

            If Idolator were doing it on its own, I'd be wary, but with Matos in
            charge, I'm happily in.

            carl w

            =================
            Carl Wilson
            The Globe & Mail, Toronto
            http://www.zoilus <http://www.zoilus.com> com <http://www.zoilus
            <http://www.zoilus.com/> com/>

            ________________________________

            From: fearnwhiskey@ <mailto:fearnwhiskey%40yahoogroups.com> yahoogroups.com
            [mailto:fearnwhiskey@ <mailto:fearnwhiskey%40yahoogroups.com>
            yahoogroups.com]
            On Behalf Of Barry Mazor
            Sent: Thursday, November 30, 2006 3:09 PM
            To: fearnwhiskey@ <mailto:fearnwhiskey%40yahoogroups.com> yahoogroups.com
            Subject: [fearnwhiskey] Re: Clip: Post-Pazz & Jop

            A lot of people are simply not going to contribute to Pazz and Jop any
            more. Whether this
            Idolator thing is a place to go instead, I'm not so sure. Nor exactly
            how many people care--
            always a question.

            [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]






            [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
          • Wilson, Carl
            Dave wrote: Carl, did you see Christgau s firing as a bad thing? I thought the guy was so awful and irrelevant that it was hard to argue with their decision.
            Message 5 of 5 , Dec 6, 2006
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              Dave wrote: "Carl, did you see Christgau's firing as a bad thing? I
              thought the guy was
              so awful and irrelevant that it was hard to argue with their decision.
              But I
              also don't follow music criticism nearly as closely as you probably do,
              so
              I'm curious to hear what you (and others) think."

              He wrote that almost a week ago but I'm behind in my list-reading. But I
              hate not to respond to a direct question so I'll say quickly: I think
              Christgau gets a bum rap because his writing style can be a bit
              convoluted. But imho, his actual opinions are nowhere near irrelevant,
              and he carries the can for an engaged, intellectual and politically
              minded music criticism that is exactly what the Voice's new management
              is coming out against going after him. The guy is far from out of touch
              - he might not agree with you about a lot of stuff, but he keeps up with
              the kind of hip-hop that a guy like him wouldn't at all be expected to
              keep up with (and always has), while still championing a lot of indie
              rock etc., and brings a passionate perspective to it all. He's the
              opposite of glib - which you might not think if all you read are the
              Consumer Guides, but I've always thought that's the least interesting
              thing that he does.

              And on top of that, he created the Voice's music section, he brought in
              Chuck Eddy who was an excellent music editor and pushed them out of
              their indie-underground ghetto (covering among other things, country,
              which has gone a long way to revise rock crit's old anti-Nashville bias)
              and who was also fired. The people who fired them, all evidence seems
              clear, knew little and cared less about what made these people good or
              valuable contributors to criticism. They only cared that they weren't
              young and glib-snappy, which is what they think works in weeklies, and
              they wanted the coverage to get more ghettoized to indie and dance music
              and celebrity sniping that the educated young demographic they're after
              is presumed to want.

              So in short, yeah, I think it was a bad thing, and it sets a terrible
              precedent for those of us who imagine this as a field that (1) you might
              make a living (life) in; and (2) actually means a little bit of
              something. Which is why protesting it seems worthwhile.

              carl w.


              [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
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