Because they rarely pass up the opportunity to savage their (often deserving) targets in this “essential lexicon of rockological knowledge”—Zimmy fans are “shut-in Dylanologists,” Gram Parsons is a “trustafarian pretty-boy,” Paul McCartney deserves your hatred “for not being John Lennon”—I’ll give snark-mad Vanity Fair scribes David Kamp and Steven Daly the bad news in its sugar-free variety: Guys, you’re facing down obsolescence like a stack of unplayed Soup Dragons LPs.
To be sure, many of the entries in the writers’ breezy compendium of would-be hipster totems, an outgrowth of a recurring
VF feature, are spot-on. They’re good at crystallizing the thrusts of various rock movements in a few lines—their description of the late-’70s New York No Wave scene: “droll”—and enthusiastic enough as listeners that they’ll get as hot and bothered about Jack Nitzsche’s score for An Officer and a Gentleman as gay glam-rocker Jobriath’s “overwrought, trash-operatic pop songs.” Yet Kamp and Daly are unapologetic rockists at a moment when the good-taste ideology—albums, authenticity, paying one’s dues: yea; singles, artificiality, selling out: nay—receives a splashy dismantling in The New York Times. As a result, they fill The Rock Snob*s Dictionary with so many scruffy roots-conscious folkies and bratty garage punks that it’s easy to wonder if a rock snob not born before 1980 would even recognize himself in their middlebrow menagerie.