By Jared Chausow
By Katie Toth
By Elizabeth Flock
By Albert Samaha
By Anna Merlan
By Jon Campbell
By Jon Campbell
By Albert Samaha
Let it first be a given: Eminem is a fine storyteller who rhymes with conviction. In a few years he'll be a writer or a movie star. But Christgau shouldn't let his "progressive" liberal prejudice ease him into deemphasizing the role whiteness plays in Eminem's success. The "audience everyone knew was there" is full of angst-ridden white boys who've been blowing shit up for years. Eminem became an MTV wet dream, taught and legitimized by one of music's most talented producers, Dr. Dre. Might this have something to do with his "layered levels of meaning" being "so fully exploited"?
Please. White rage conflicted with the guilt that most times accompanies white privilege is ugly. Niggas with attitudes have been expressing rage for years; thing is, there's just so many niggas with attitudes. OutKast was talking that same bullshit back in 1993 (perhaps not so violently). They did not "benefit" from "polite liberal prejudice." They didn't give a shit.
Christgau's cantankerous comments made clear what OutKast was talking about in "Rosa Parks" back in 1998, in which Andre rhymed: "When all's said and done and we got a new Joe in town/When the record player get to skippin and slowin down/All yawl can say is them niggas earned that crown but until then . . . Uh huh, hush that fuss, everybody move to the back of thebus. . . . The emperor is butt-assed naked."
Robert Christgau replies: Please let me note that "most momentous" does not mean "best" before suggesting that while Eminem's whiteness is obviously a precondition of his eminence in a predominantly white culture, without his levels of meaning he'd be as meaningless if not as awful as Vanilla Ice. Let me also note that I did not indulge in the stupidly one-dimensional defense of Eminem's "rage," that only a few Southern chauvinists think OutKast were as brilliant in 1993 as they became by 1998, and that while the far more sexist Dr. Dre certainly "legitimized" Eminem, he did not produce "Criminal," "Stan," "Kim," "97' Bonnie & Clyde," or "My Fault," all of which encompass levels of meaning that OutKast have yet to attempt.
Francine Russo's out-of-control, ultraharsh online review of Tory Vazquez's The Florida Project ["Life in the Projects," is nearly comic in its vituperation. As a longtime collaborator and friend of Tory's, I was chagrined to see her first full-length show (!) get torn a new asshole with such vitriolic disdain. I believe in Tory Vazquez's talent. She is a true gem of the downtown theater community, as anyone who has seen her short pieces and/or her work with ERS, Collapsable Giraffe, and Rich Maxwell can attest. I wouldn't wish a review like Russo's on my worst enemy. FR, the show was supposed to be funny and touching, which it was. You didn't get it, and you shouldn't have been so ridiculous in your judgment. People, you knowactual human beingsmake theater. Let us live.
Lower East Side
Francine Russo replies: I feel distressed that my review was misunderstood. When I said that the "premise" of the show was "bad art, badly done in deadly earnest," I meant to be describing the piece as a parody of the bad art in many TV soaps, theme parks, etc., and I did mention the subject matter as low-taste Americana. Perhaps I should have said "bad art, well done." I thought I was indicating that the awfulness of the acting and choreography was deliberate and meant to be funny, which it often was. I did summarize by sayingThe Florida Project had a "droll charm," and I want to say that I had a smile on my face much of the time. I'm sorry if my expression of this was confusing.
As a former resident of Jamaica, I found Michael Deibert's interview with Coxsone Dodd ["From Kingston to Brooklyn," March 13] to be the clearest reading of the Jamaican music scene I've seen in the U.S. media to date. Usually the American media collude with those who killed Jamaican music by continuing to call so-called "dancehall" reggae when it is neither "dancehall" nor "reggae" in the Jamaican sense. In fact, there's been very little dancing in Jamaica for years . . . and very little music. Shame!
In Ward Harkavy's attempt to expose Bill Clinton's refusal to pardon convicted rapist Wayne DuMond while Clinton was the governor of Arkansas ["The Castration of Wayne DuMond," March 13], he defames a small town and dismisses what DuMond allegedly did to a popular teenage girl. I am a former resident of Forrest City, Arkansas.
Harkavy points out that DuMond was embarrassed by having his testicles shown to several people. He fails, however, to point out that the victim's panties were held up in the courtroom. I agree that some of Forrest City's leaders left a dubious legacy and that a lot of bad things used to go on in that small Delta town. Sheriff Coolidge Conlee was a questionable figure, and power was (and still is, to some extent) concentrated in too few hands. But the community should not be judged by this incident.