Glory Era of Glossy

Good to recall a time when print was the powerhouse it has never been since. I was young and foolish, being shaped into a professional, so I went along with the upbeat mood: print was invincible! tech could makes pages more gorgeous than ever before! ultimately, big follies like: we don’t need no steenking subscriptions, ad revenue will never go down! online publications and social media are mere fads!

I resemble the remark that Vanity Fair was improperly revived. however — they hired me as a freelancer to do short reviews that paid the most serious scratch I had received until then. I managed a couple and a kill fee for a third when the shakeup came and the new brass shoved us out the windows. I never accepted Tina Brown’s “famous for being famous is as good as famous for accomplishments,” but I will admit that a lot of those first features in the Vanity Fair before her were a boring mess.

Day of the Doddering Dodo

This morning I think, “Hell’s smells, the last print issue of the Village Voice will hit town today, so why don’t I cruise over to Harvard Square — and specifically Out of Town News — where I grabbed acres of publications when I first moved here — and pick up a copy if any are left.”

So I get there and look around and no nuthin’ nowhere. Adding to my flightless and   clueless condition I ask: “Has the Village Voice sold out already?” Manager looks at me like I’m wearing paisley shorts with hair down to my butt and says “We haven’t got the Voice for four or five years!” “Well, the last print edition was yesterday.” “Ended for us a long time ago.”

So I go to the still-prime Newbury Comics and buy a couple CDs.

I attend an excellent free class on digital marketing of your brand. I am informed that Twitter analytics exists, which is serious news to me. Now I can see what’s going on over there a lot more. Might help me ask question to improve blog traffic,even.

 

 

 

Dem Old Debble Critics

Very odd article. I would have guessed Hollywood had wretched attendance this past summer, for the reason that everybody knows: addiction to exhausted franchises and remakes. The spread of Rotten Tomatoes is nothing to cheer but I can’t get worked up about it one way or the other: nothing is forcing anyone to pay any attention to the ratings. And I agree with commenters who said some sort of comparison with Metacritic would have been a useful addition to the discussion.

The Decline and Fall of Heroic Journalism

Charlie Pierce is saying what absolutely has to be said here.

I spent 1978 at BU’s Graduate School of Journalism. A lot of the program was what we would now call “networking” — making sure you had the basics down and getting set up for a job. The stupidest remarks I heard all year were from these two guys “joking” about becoming the next Woodward and Bernstein — because on some level they were dead serious. “Well, sure won’t be you two clowns,” I thought. They were poor researchers and writers. What disturbed me then, and even more in retrospect, is how widespread was the shallowest TV-movie version of the Watergate exposure. It was an adventure. There were few serious barriers or setbacks.

Of course this was false. Ridiculous, even. But far more toxic was the evil flip side of this myth. That instead of a triumph for truth, Watergate was a disaster that must never be allowed to happen again. And all that rested on the foundation that of course nobody as twisted and unfit as Nixon would ever be elected President. That’s why kids should have been taught more about Warren Harding.

Charlie is certainly right about the freakish increase in POTUS power. I hold on to the slim hope that he’s also correct enough sinking ships will desert the rat that he will be out of office. Journalists who insist on telling the cold truth rather than offering soft whimpers would help.

Triumph of the Tabloids

While operations at tabloids have gotten more frantic and data-driven, a lot of their routines are not news to me and I remember how they were a source of astonishment and mild amusement. Headlines could offer timeless example of wiseass/jackass brilliance. And on occasion deathless pop-Surrealism. The astonishment came from the fact that the tabloids relied on impulse purchases at checkout counters. Having one of these printed cooties around the house was beyond my comprehension. And it has got to mean an aging audience these days.

But with a tyrant in charge, the tabloids are enjoying a power grab that no halfway normal person could imagine, let alone desire.

Print Without a Point

By accident, have received the local big paper on Sunday for two weeks now. Key point for me is that The Boston Globe Magazine that I was so proud to write for about Gen. Nelson A. Miles, the UFO phenomenon, the Roches, etc. was … a different publication … than the current edition. Noting it would have no interest in such articles now doesn’t even begin to touch on the transformation.

Guess I could get closer by saying that the Sunday funnies — bloodless skins hanging from tree limbs for the most part — seem to be doing a bit better job at surviving.

Journalism/Criticism/Literature Bucket List Check-Off

My first published review was of Tom Robbins’s debut novel, Another Roadside Attraction. I am proud to say I got it pretty much right, claimed the guy would become wildly popular and have a flashy career.

So when I read that Robbins stated he found his voice when he wrote a 1967 review of a Doors concert for the alternative paper in Seattle, I had to track it down and read it. I mean, a favorite part of my career was spent doing the exact same sort of piece for the exact same sort of outlet!

So this afternoon there it was, in Wild Ducks Flying Backward: The Short Writings of Tom Robbins.

Yes, that would be doors. But, my God, what doors are these? Imagine jewel glass panels, knobs that resemble spitting phalluses, mail slots that glow like jack-o’-lantern lips — and not a welcome mat in sight. Enter if you dare, my children, exit if you can.

The Doors. Their style is early cunnilingual, late patricidal, lunchtime in the Everglades, Black Forest blood sausage on electrified bread, Jean Genet up a totem pole, artists at the barricades, Edgar Allen Poe drowning in his birdbath, Massacre of the Innocents, tarantella of the satyrs, bacchanalian, Dionysian, LA pagans drawing down the moon.

That’s that voice, alrighty.

I like to dream that, had I been Music Editor at the Helix in ’67, I would have had the insight to run that as is — evocative, funny, worthy of Jimbo and the Boys.