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  • Bill Silvers
    For Carl, apologies if previously sent: http://www.chicagomag.com/pressbox/pressbox_story.htm#more
    Message 1 of 6 , Dec 2, 2002
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      For Carl, apologies if previously sent:

      http://www.chicagomag.com/pressbox/pressbox_story.htm#more
    • Carl Abraham Zimring
      --On Monday, December 2, 2002 10:29 PM +0000 Bill Silvers ... It had not been, and thank you Bill for a valuable piece covering both the nature of a local
      Message 2 of 6 , Dec 2, 2002
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        --On Monday, December 2, 2002 10:29 PM +0000 Bill Silvers
        <wfsilvers@...> wrote:

        > For Carl, apologies if previously sent:
        >
        > http://www.chicagomag.com/pressbox/pressbox_story.htm#more

        It had not been, and thank you Bill for a valuable piece covering both the
        nature of a local music scene and the role of the music critic in that
        scene. There's a lot of grist for discussion in the transcript, but I'd
        like to focus on something that New City critic Dave Chamberlaine said:

        > Chamberlain: Eventually you just can't listen to another rock record, you
        > just can't listen to another hip hop record. [And then] everything that's
        > ever been out there will come under your horizon. You will have to learn
        > about jazz because suddenly that?s all you want to hear. You will get
        > into house music because suddenly you actually get it, and you want to
        > know everything about it. Over the course of time, there's so much music
        > out there, eventually you'll want to write about it, or you'll just
        > become obsessed by it.

        There's some truth to that; one gets sick of the 3,000th Uncle Tupelo
        clone, but when one is listening to new music constantly as a professional
        obligation, does that alter the sensibilities so that it makes
        communicating the experience of listening to the music to the reader more
        difficult? The critics at the roundtable discuss getting hate mail from
        fans who [quoting Greg Kot] "don't like to hear anything negative about the
        bands that they like" but dismiss such criticism by saying that those
        people don't like to be challenged. I'm not sure that that's entirely
        accurate; an alternate explanation is that most people aren't exposed to
        3,000 copies of the same damn thing and have less need to find something
        that's radically different for the sake of being different to one's own
        sensibilities. At what point is there a break in communication between the
        critic and his (I use the gendered pronoun because the entire roundtable
        was male) readers because their fundamental approach to the subject is
        different?

        I'd ruminate more on this, but I need to pull some records...
        Carl Z.
      • Barry Mazor
        ... subject is different? ... Oh, at about the point the critic is probably fired--or moves on to another publication where his sensibilities match the
        Message 3 of 6 , Dec 2, 2002
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          --- In fearnwhiskey@y..., Carl Abraham Zimring <cz28@a...> wrote:
          > At what point is there a break in communication between the
          > critic and his readers because their fundamental approach to the
          subject is different?
          >

          Oh, at about the point the critic is probably fired--or moves on to another
          publication where his sensibilities match the readers better!

          Over time, the only answer for ink-stained critical wretches is to stay, as
          much as possible, with areas that you care about..were you're a native
          speaker...Not everybody CAN write everything-well, and thats just
          life....And a certain amount of "this one is yours; it's due Tuesday" (though
          you DON'T care about it) will happen anyway, if you're, oh, paying rent and
          such via this route--and if it's a "report" not a critique, it doesn't hurt
          much.

          Barry
        • Carl Abraham Zimring
          --On Tuesday, December 3, 2002 2:40 AM +0000 Barry Mazor ... That s part of what I m getting at, the assembly-line nature of doing regular music criticism.
          Message 4 of 6 , Dec 2, 2002
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            --On Tuesday, December 3, 2002 2:40 AM +0000 Barry Mazor
            <brmaz@...> wrote:

            > Over time, the only answer for ink-stained critical wretches is to stay,
            > as much as possible, with areas that you care about..were you're a
            > native speaker...Not everybody CAN write everything-well, and thats just
            > life....And a certain amount of "this one is yours; it's due Tuesday"
            > (though you DON'T care about it) will happen anyway, if you're, oh,
            > paying rent and such via this route--and if it's a "report" not a
            > critique, it doesn't hurt much.

            That's part of what I'm getting at, the assembly-line nature of doing
            regular music criticism. J.D. Considine handled this by being especially
            snide in his old Short Takes column in Musician (where he famously reviewed
            GTR's album as "SHT"); he's an extreme (and Chuck Eddy's "do not take
            anything I say seriously" take is another) but hardly atypical example of
            this attitude.

            A while back on the flufflist, an article was posted about the variance of
            opinions on the film Punch Drunk Love by critics and patrons. Critics
            loved the film, gave it rave reviews and many paying customers absolutely
            loathed it. Critics passed off the customers' negative reaction as (much
            as the Chicago round table did) refusing to be challenged. The comments by
            the customers, however, told a different story. They didn't mind being
            challenged, but the critics had failed to convey what the film was like,
            other than to call it "refreshing" or "challenging" or just plain
            "different" and giving it a positive review on that basis. So I'm
            wondering if one must review 100 films or movies or books every year if the
            need to experience something outside of the norm puts blinders on many
            critics and make them unable to convey much of value to their readers. In
            short (ha!), I agree with the panel that there are very few music critics
            worth reading. Part of the problem, hoewver, is due to a problem of
            communication between reader and writer that the panel either doesn't see
            or doesn't value.

            Now that I've said that, I'll post my snobby list of my favorite records of
            2002. Y'all are welcome to pick 'em apart or post lists of your own.

            Carl Z.
          • Perfect Sound Forever
            I ve been having a lot of arguments with other writers about this- interesting split that half the
            Message 5 of 6 , Dec 3, 2002
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              <http://www.chicagomag.com/pressbox/pressbox_story.htm#more>


              I've been having a lot of arguments with other writers about this-
              interesting split that half the people think that these guys are full of
              themselves (and full of shit) while the other half think they're fine
              with what they're saying (with some exceptions).

              I'm leaning toward the former view (they're full of it), especially
              where they're asked "Does working in Chicago affect your writing?" and
              suddenly, their ugly sides come out. Even as a New York writer, I'm
              fine with admitting that Derogatis is right about a cultural writing
              elite here: I saw that in full force at a recent Spin/Blender
              battle-of-the-bands and it made me want to vomit. I think it's the same
              to some extent everywhere though (more in NY though since many major
              mags are HQ'd here) and the panel goes on to prove it by touting their
              own Chicago clique.

              I think that Chicago has a really interesting, thriving music scene (for
              a long time now actually) and they have a right to blow their own
              trumpet about it. My only problem is when they try to parade around
              like they're the best thing going- that's what they seem to be accusing
              NY of.

              Also, when they slam Jon Parales at the NY Times for not being a real NY
              writer, Derogatis and Kot fail to mention that a lot of what they cover
              is not Chicago music. Like Parales, they cover new releases and acts
              that happen to be rolling into town. Peter at the Chicago Reader does
              cover more local stuff but so do less national papers in NY.

              It's a shame because the rest of the time that they're talking there,
              they come across are the serious, committed writers that they are. I
              love Jim and respect Greg but I hope they get over themselves soon.

              I'd be really interested to hear what other people think of that
              round-table article.


              Best,
              Jason
              --
              Perfect Sound Forever
              online music magazine with warped perspectives
              perfect-sound@...
              http://www.perfectsoundforever.com
            • samchecker
              ... Hmm. I think it would have been nice if they expanded a bit on something they barely touched upon--the fact that it s not a critic s job to just report
              Message 6 of 6 , Dec 3, 2002
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                --- In fearnwhiskey@y..., Perfect Sound Forever <perfect-sound@f...>
                wrote:

                > I'd be really interested to hear what other people think of that
                > round-table article.

                Hmm. I think it would have been nice if they expanded a bit on
                something they barely touched upon--the fact that it's not a critic's
                job to just report what happened at a show. It's their job to give
                their *opinion* of it. I mean, 95% of the angry letters critics get
                are along the useless lines "How can you say (insert band here) suck?
                They're great! You're full of sh*t!". I just bang my head on the
                table every time I read one of these. Hopefully the critic's opinion
                is worth printing because it's informed by a deeper knowledge of music
                than the average reader has. And after a while of reading any given
                critic, you get a sense of what he/she likes vs what you like and
                gauge the opinion accordingly.

                I liked the fact that they brought up the notion that the restaurant
                reviewer doesn't have to review McDonald's, even though the music
                critic is expected to review that dump's audio equivalent. I also
                agree with you, Jason, that the unwarranted and cheap attacks on NYC
                writers and the town in general weakened the argument considerably.

                And maybe I missed it, but they didn't really address the magazine
                writer's initial assertion that music writers, in general, aren't very
                good *writers*. I just snagged the power pop issue of Magnet, and a
                have to say that a more comprehensive collection of tortured
                metaphors, clumsy sentence construction, and cliche masquerading as
                wit would be hard to find outside of a high school newspaper. I mean,
                here's a slick mag with tons of ads, and I know more than a few good
                underemployed writers. How could this happen? (Seeing rockcrit's
                most egregious example of the Peter Principle, Fred Mills, in the
                masthead gives me a clue, though.)

                But I digress. I was most impressed with DeRogatis' remarks about
                writing his reviews for a kid with $20 in his pocket. To me, the
                ability to make that kid want to run out and buy a CD after reading a
                review, convinced that the disc is going to kick his ass, is the mark
                of a really good critic.

                Mark
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