Saturday, February 21, 2004

The flyer Philip Sherburne discusses here is annoying the living shit out of me right now, because it's like my nightmare of Williamsburg/Olympia/wherever hipsterdom taken to its nth level. I mean, "White Out"?! Are these people REALLY living so far away from the rest of reality that they don't see how stupid they look by trying to meta- their way out of the fact that they refuse to engage any black music being made in the last 20 years, and even when that isn't the case they're doing it winky-winky ironically? It's not a crime to not like black music if you don't like it (though I'm probably not going to trust your tastes too much if you don't--I know, boo fucking hoo), but this approach is just idiocy. And it's doubly annoying when irony is used as a get-out-of-jail-free card.

This is on my mind anyway, in part because of something Jane Dark wrote a few days ago, about Nate's P&J tokenism thread on ILM. I have long found myself a little suspicious of Dark's writing even when I couldn't agree with him more, which happens frequently enough for me to keep my eyes open for his byline(s). I'm not sure any other music writer infuriates me and earns my respect in as equal measure; he's brilliant at words and brilliant at rhetoric. But even when he's getting his mitts dirty in pop he seems to be writing from a perch, and I don't mean there's anything particularly academic about his approach, either. I mean he's always a couple steps ahead of you, and doesn't mind you knowing it. This is irritating not because I feel left behind but because as a reader I constantly feel like he's patting me on the head. I learn a lot from his writing, but I distrust it a lot, too--as much as I think, "Geez, he's totally right, people are hedging on race in this discussion, myself included for not really even getting involved," seeing someone be called out for fundamental dishonesty by someone who writes under a pseudonym or ten seems a little too cute. (Like I ought to talk: Angelo is my middle name, Michael my first, so in a sense I'm faking it too.)

Nevertheless, he's not at all wrong when he says, "All too often, folks . . . will call down the lightning on alleged villains without quite saying who the villains are--a particularly noxious cowardice when it's obviously about protecting potentially profitable relationships ('All editors are jackasses! Except for everyone who might read this. I didn't mean you. Call me!')." I don't think that's specifically what Nate did on that thread, and I don't believe Dark thinks so, either. But I know what he's talking about, because I've done it quite enough myself. So getting back to the subject I started with--that flyer Sherburne wrings his hands over--let us ask: How many ways are there to step around "body fear," "submerged racism," "completely unearned snobbery," "total fucking cluelessness," "sheep," etc.? If anything, it reminds me of the year-end issue of XLR8R magazine, one of the most embarrassing things I read during a period and in a medium full of them. (Highlight: the dismissal of "disposable house music"--fair enough, sure, except it comes from, wait for it . . . a guy from the k-lame acid-jazz label Ubiquity Records!) update: Nate Patrin can defend his own damn self, thank you very much.