All things must change, sooner or later, and this venerable granddaddy of alt-weeklies, founded in the mid-’50s by no less than novelist Norman Mailer, has consistently managed to reinvent itself through the years. As a teen growing up on un-hip Long Island, I read and devoured critics like Andrew Sarris — whom I ended up having as a professor at Columbia Film School — Richard Goldstein and, of course, the so-called Dean of American Rock Critics Robert Christgau himself, whose painfully twisted boho-leftist analyses of pop music practically defined the genre.
My first full-time journalism gig was at the old Soho Weekly News, the feisty Avis to the Voice’s Hertz back then, championing the emerging New York new wave of Patti Smith, the Ramones, Talking Heads, Blondie, Television, et al. So, it’s with no small degree of irony that I view the current tumult, as the New Times begins cleaning house after acquiring controlling interest in both the Voice and its L.A. counterpart, the Weekly.
I’ve never been a huge Chuck Eddy fan — whom I’ve often viewed as contrary for contrary’s sake — but there should always be a place for Christgau’s ravings. Maybe the N.Y. Observer, current home of a doddering, but still absorbing Sarris, may have room for him.
New editorial chief Michael Lacey has made it clear he wants “investigative reporting” and local stories, not “think” pieces or national coverage, which still doesn’t explain him getting rid of James Ridgeway. Still, the place for “analysis” and “opinion” may well be the traditional mainstream hard-copy dailies, whose breaking news function has basically been co-opted by the Net-driven 24/7 information cycle. Still, it’s a sad day indeed when both rock critic Bobs — Christgau and Hilburn — are deemed expendable.
XM vs. Sirius
So I made the switch and I’ve been listening to Howard Stern around the clock - that is when I can hear him between the alarmingly frequent drop-offs, a lot more than XM, which is troubling.
As I’ve said, Stern’s new unfettered-by-the-FCC show takes a while to get used to, though Artie Lange, for one, has been let loose without the constraints, and the other Howard-related programming, which includes a surprisingly straight-forward news department, a daily round-up and an intern show, is pretty good, even if a mite heavy on the self-indulgent naval-gazing. Haven’t quite cottoned to either Bubba the Love Sponge or Scott Farrell, both of whom seem to have died and gone to heaven on satellite, but Howard’s also been given new life, and that’s enough for me.