Hi, I am drunk and my finger hurts. I will try my best. Rock criticism is hard work, even harder for those who do it for a living because they have to live in the space of people who tell them what they are supposed to feel, and then make you feel crazy and tell you they are saving you from yourself. Oh blech.
I have to take my hair out of a towel and go to my boring real estate job, but after reading JoJo Dancer’s thing a couple of times and sleeping on it and dreaming about it, the one thing that strikes me is that he doesn’t offer any real solutions as to why rock criticism sucks and how to make it better. As an insider, he should explain what the newspaper-magazine environment is like, all its built-in hypocrisies and hierarchies and political crap, what it does to people, how it ultimately drains the life out of writing.
If you’re a freelancer, your ideas are vulnerable and dispensable, and so are you. You agree to “lifestyle” or you don’t get published, at least not in national commercial publications. So you put up or shut up. If you don’t have these pressures against you, you have your own pressures, like when is my estimated tax payment due and how will I pay it when I am still making installments dating back to the second Ace of Base record?
If you are a staff writer, you have more ground to stand on, you have a cushy expense account, health benefits even. But even then, I suspect the glib cynicism comes crashing down on you at some point. Of course, having only worked as a freelancer, I am probably talking out of my ASS about working in an office of any publication. I’m also just talking off the top of my head. Which has a towel on it at the moment.
Then there’s that debate about if rock writing should be useful. And who you’re writing for in the first place. Or something. But I am late for work. I still have a towel on my head.