Exile on Pretentious Street PT. 2 (Mediocre Media, or me write pretty one day!)
June 25, 2010
“The public have an insatiable curiosity to know everything. Except what is worth knowing. Journalism, conscious of this, and having tradesman-like habits, supplies their demands.”- Oscar Wilde
So glad you came back.Where were we? Ah yes.
(In booming 1930’s type announcer voice)
“When we last left him, our creative hero had safely arrived in Tucson after barely escaping the artistic tar pit known as the PHX art scene.”
(Cue Heroic music! End Scene.)
I always tell myself that I won’t cry… but I always do. *SNIFFLE!* A marshmallow to the core is I. But despite being such an obvious softy, it won’t prevent me from unsheathing my claws- I am the Artbitch after all, and I do have a previously established reputation to uphold. So, who do I lay my well honed bitch slap of snark on next?
How about our local news media? Awesome. I’m so glad you agree.
Now for those of you reading this outside AZ, we most likely have the same type of news you do: thinly disguised infotainment [think TMZ] topped with a smattering of right wing or leftist politics, depending on the corporation that owns them. Our local TV news operates primarily in two modes: Fear or Fluff.
Fear mode dispenses stories about illegal immigrants, vague terror threats, unsubstantiated pandemics, child kidnappings, crime alerts, there’s a black President and everything is his fault, the foods that may kill you- although you have to wait till the 10pm newscast to find out what those foods are, things that essentially make you want to join the NRA, listen to Sarah Palin, fortify your house with extra ammo, food and water, purchase a nuclear weapon, and vote Republican.
Just in case.
Fluff mode on the other hand, feeds you cotton candy- celebutards tweeting, kittens rescued from trees, charity stories, who Madonna is currently sleeping with, or pretty much anything involving Model / Whore / Bad Singer / Bad Actress / Waste of Skin / Paris Hilton. Too much and your brain rots. Think Keanu Reeves.
And speaking of brain rot- why does our local news keep testifying to their slobbering masses that they transmit in “Hi Def”? Who gives a rat’s ass? It’s not that important for me to see the mindless 6 and 10 PM Technigore, especially on a $250.00 TV set.
Also: “Hi Def” is not, shall we say… kind? To the on-air talent.
The first time I saw CH. 3’s morning anchor Patti Kirkpatrick in “Hi Def”, I was instantly reminded of my car’s interior- but only because they’re both constructed out of overworked leather. And TV 12’s Mark Curtis? For the love of God, lose the pornstache.
I’m begging you.
One small question for The “Lupus of News” FOX affiliate on CH.10? Ron Hoon.
Seriously? He’s the male Katie Couric. Ron, I will pay you $1000.00 to stop “doing” the incredulously sad face every time you read something off your teleprompter that you think we all should be disgusted by. And speaking of disgust, a very special thanks to all of you for ramming this feast of over hyped horror down our throats when we’re trying to have dinner with our families.
Just show us the weather, sports, and traffic tie ups- and get the fuck off the air. Also, stop trying to link EVERYTHING THAT HAPPENS back to AZ. would ya? When 9/11 happened, I saw an interview with a PHX native who was talking about how close he had come to dying in the abominable attack. What’s wrong with telling that kind of story? Nothing- it is always enlightening to hear the tale of a survivor, except in this particular case.
Why, you ask? He had been sightseeing in NYC 5 months BEFORE it happened. But he was from PHX, so that counts for something. At least that’s what every news director thinks. I can hear their thoughts now…….
“There’s been a school shooting at [INSERT NAME OF SCHOOL HERE]
QUICK- Find me a Phoenician who once flew over [INSERT NAME OF TOWN HERE]”
For us artsy types, local TV is a pathetic joke at best. After all, we generally don’t offer anything that our local news finds interesting enough to devote even the smallest amount of coverage to- like a sex scandal or cockfighting, for instance. When you do manage to entice the rare TV crew to show up at your opening, you usually have to look forward to having your so called “interview “done by one of two types:
1) Art Bimbo Barbie: Cute, vapid. Bonus! Comes with the kneepads that got her the job.
Possesses a one syllable name like a stripper and as an additional extra, will look like one.
She will ask you questions about your jewelry rather than the charity you’ve arranged the event for, will mispronounce your name no less than five times, tells way too many asinine jokes with “Wayne’s World” as the punch line, and wraps it up by saying how awesome it is to be someone who “can be artsy”.
2) Wacky Sports / Weather Guy: Not cute, denser than lead. Bonus! Comes with a catchphrase.
This former High School jock acts like a ferret on crack, implies he and the anchorman hang out off camera, [they don’t and we all know it] makes sexist unfunny puns, keeps dropping his catchphrase like it’s hot, and off camera keeps asking if you can set him up with models, and how many women you’ve seen naked.
Your answers? No. And it’s none of your fucking business, Gunga Dim.
(TRUE STORIES ALL)
> I have a great one involving TV 3’s Ross Shimbuku trying to pick up one of my female friends at a Goth Bar and how I handed him his balls back in a cigarette pack – ask me about it when you see me, it’s funny as Hell.<
So it should come as no surprise that with such stellar coverage of our local art scene by the electronic media, that the print media in this town also blows- not like a Catholic priest at a Boy Scout Jamboree, but close enough to win a rosary.
Possibly two. In PHX you’ve really only got two choices: The Arizona Republic or New Times. Since The Arizona Republic (AKA: The Arizona Republican, The Arizona Repulsive) rarely covers the art scene competently, due to the stick up its ass consisting of an entire forest, I will cast them by the wayside.
Besides, they really are white bread mayonnaise, and I can’t wring comedy gems out of something so boringly bland, no matter how I try. New Times on the other hand? Way different story. It is the so-called voice of PHX’s counterculture, and it is ripe for the mocking. In their own words, from the New Times website:
The following paragraph was and remains the intellectual property of Village Voice Media Inc., all rights reserved under the applicable laws of The United States of America.
[Not valid in Narnia, OZ, Wonderland, Neverland, Neverland Ranch.]
“New Times was founded in 1970 and grew to become the largest alternative chain in the country prior to its merger with the Voice. The company started with Phoenix New Times, whose writers have won the Arizona Press Club’s Journalist of the Year award eight out of the past eleven years.
In 1983, the company began expanding, first acquiring Westword in Denver and ultimately growing to include Miami New Times, the Dallas Observer, the Houston Press, SF Weekly in San Francisco, Cleveland Scene, the Riverfront Times in St. Louis, The Pitch in Kansas City, and New Times Broward-Palm Beach in Ft. Lauderdale.
In 2006, New Times, Inc merged with Village Voice Media, Inc, taking on the name Village Voice Media and six newspapers: Village Voice, LA Weekly, OC Weekly, Minneapolis City Pages, and Nashville Scene. Village Voice Media continues in the footsteps of both companies, by providing its readers with solid journalism and in-depth stories.”
Pretty Impressive sounding. Until we really look at it.
[For clarity, New Times will be hereafter referred to as “NT”]
There are some amazing journalists who work at NT and produce an incredible body of work- Niki D’Andrea, Benjamin Leatherman, and Robert Pela to name just a few, and let’s not forget Michelle Laudig’s awesome food reviews which have (literally) saved my bacon more than once. However-they are not the only writers at NT, nor are their stories the main bulk of what NT produces on a weekly basis.
In fact, the majority of NT’s stories are a little less noble than their award winning ones, I dare say. When you have to be fresh every week, material can be a little lacking and hard to find, hence the inevitable fact that not all of NT’s poetic scratchings are going to be award winners. Plus, as an added curse, it’s a free rag, so they have to take ad revenue from pretty much anybody who’s got the green.
So on one level, I DO feel for them. But on another, I’m pretty much okay for setting all their kiosks on fire, turning a chosen few of their writing staff into human piñatas, and converting their offices into an awesome roller disco.
Why such venom, you ask? Well, it’s bad enough that the general population of PHX doesn’t give a damn about the arts, but when the so called “voice of the alternative” can’t get it right either, it just makes you want to go on a smiting spree. With a really, really, really dull flaming sword.
As I was saying- because of the lack of material, NT can be sometimes almost painful to read. You need an example, my loyal blogiteers? How about the original inspiration for this blog, a sophomoric article in the music section written and I use that term loosely, by one Craig Outhier titled: “Who will punch Jordin’s V-card?”
I’ll Let that sink in for a minute, and let you read it again. Care to surmise what this waste of ink was about? Need a hint? Ok. American Idol. Did you guess it?
That’s right- the article was dedicated to determining who will take American Idol’s Jordin Sparks virginity. Classy title- I guess they thought “Pop goes the star cherry” was a little too subtle. Unfortunate readers of this tripe were subjected to a list of six celebutards who were possible “contenders” and their respective “impurity” odds.
Now I do get the point that this incredibly unfunny article was intended to be a comedy piece. At least I hope it was, because if it wasn’t, then things at NT are even worse than I originally thought. Since I’m not a betting man, I can only assume Craig burned the midnight oil doing some serious research on how to pitch this vapid vulgarity to his boss.
But how could I possibly show the NT creative process? I’ve got it. I will use the power of theater! In a simple one act play titled: “How to Succeed in Mediocrity Without Even Trying.”
[Music cue:” Dirty Laundry” by Don Henley plays, lights go up.]
Curtain rises to reveal a newspaper editor’s office, there are two men: one standing, one seated behind an Ikea desk decorated with defaced Sheriff Joe bobble head dolls. The desk has a brass plaque that says “The Muck starts here.”
Craig: (excitedly) I’ve got a great idea for an article Chief!
Chief: What have you got Craig- gay politicians? Child abuse? Pedophile circus clowns who have a spanking fetish and kidnap monkeys?
Craig: We did that story last week remember, Chief?
Chief: Oh yeah, you’re right. I loved your title too: “Show me the Monkey” So what’s next?
Craig: Something even classier, Chief!
Chief: Will it win us another Arizona Press Club’s Journalist of the Year award? The men’s bathroom does need a doorstop you know, plus the one I use to crush walnuts is starting to look a little dinged up.
Craig: I think it just might, Chief- I’ve got an angle on some local talent.
Chief: (speaking solemnly) Craig, as you already know, New Times is the voice of the counterculture here in PHX, and we’re all about promoting the local talented blah, blah, blah, but first- they gotta have a hook. (excitedly) Do they have any Daddy issues?
Craig: (thinking) You could say that.
Chief: That’s a start- but we have to sell it to the masses. Talent is just not that interesting to the average New Times reader- was this person ever a porn star? New Times readers love porn stars!
Craig: Not yet. It’s still pretty early in her career, boss.
Chief: (sadly) Damn.
Craig: Don’t look so down Chief, I think we still can use the sex angle anyway.
Chief: Great- but it has to be classy, Craig. Here at New Times, we’re all about being classy. Remember when we interviewed adult film star Taryn Thomas? Not once did we ask her if there was any tread left, or was it like throwing a hot dog down a hallway- why? Because we’re a class act, Craig- never forget that.
Craig: I won’t, and don’t worry boss- I’ve even got a clever title, plus in keeping with established New Times policy, I’ll devote an amazing amount of space to not one, but six really uninteresting “D” list celebutards. It practically writes itself!
Chief: I gotta agree. And just think- other papers would probably take all that space and devote it to something actually worth reading, Craig. (chuckles) That’s why New Times stands alone in the world of free papers that you pick up at a Circle K.
Craig: It’s all about sticking to what we know best- right Chief?
Chief: (smiling warmly) That’s right son- if I had to make an analogy, I’d say that a New Times article is kind of like a KFC managed by Jenna Jameson- mediocrity wrapped in titillation. And that’s the way we like it.
(Music cue: “Every Day I write the book” by Elvis Costello. Lights Down. End Scene.)
Now I don’t know about you, but after reading this article I have a small hunch that Craig doesn’t have a girlfriend. I take that back- like me he probably does, the only difference being that mine doesn’t come with an air pump and a patch kit.
[It’s an old joke I know, but I like it.]
Also- I’m a little put off by the title, so I can only imagine the reaction from the women who work at New Times. Nothing like working blue to liven up the workplace, eh Craig? I might be a guy, but I’m not into locker room talk. Oh sure, I use “fuck’ as a noun, verb, adverb, adjective, and at times a modifier- but I tend to watch my mouth around women. I’m pretty sure if I approached my girl and said “Honey, I will punch your V card”, she’d probably knock my teeth so far down my throat, I’d have to shove food up my ass to eat.
And she LOVES me.
Some advice in relation to your vinyl girl, Craig? Sleep on your stomach. It might just save your best [and only] friend. Sadly, he was probably paid for this craptacular piece of literary flotsam, which just has to be a crime somewhere. Even I write better than this De Vry dropout, and I’m the Dean Koontz of the Interweb. Plus- I’m pretty sure I have that whole grizzled forty something sexy vibe going on, which trumps whatever he’s got.
Unless he’s rich, which then explains why his writing seems more like a hobby than a craft. So how to deal with my disgust in a more mature adult fashion? Well, if I were to actually read Dear Abby, she would probably suggest a letter to the Editor. You know- if I actually read her. I don’t. Seriously. She’s next to the comics, and I never even casually glance in that direction.
But if I did?
Some advice for “Heartbroken in Wyoming”? You need to leave him- he never was any good for you. Um. Yeah- let’s move on, shall we?
AN OPEN LETTER TO NEW TIMES.
To whom it may concern:
For several years now, your weekly paper has tirelessly campaigned against political corruption, Sheriff Joke and his ilk, betrayers of public trust, con artist companies, and the like- and has won many honors doing so.
But in reality, those issues are boring compared to your past cover stories on grown men who wear diapers, one time only amateur porn star barmaids, daddy issue saddled performance artists, talent less bands, and independent film makers whom no one has ever heard of before or since.
And to be fair, who doesn’t appreciate the dozens of tasteful ads located appropriately in the back of your newspaper that promotes strip clubs, escort services, DUI lawyers, and other such fine pillars of the community?
You know- the pillars that actually prop up your shaky house of Journalism?
But I digress.
Thank you New Times for doing what I once thought was impossible- you’ve managed (yet again) to scoop your journalistic trowel in the creative garden of PHX and come up with a huge pile of steaming mediocrity.
As someone who has been a working artist in the scene since 1999, I’ve been quoted in New Times more than a few times, [hey that rhymes!] provided free photography for your” Wrecking Phoenix” article, and was happily cast as the bad guy in your story [Ben Leatherman again!] detailing the feud between myself and performance artist Ryan Avery.
[This was later made into a quirky documentary film called “Hi My Name Is Ryan.”, coming to DVD.]
And as someone who has been around for a while, I have witnessed your unusually dedicated glorification of useless nitwits and second rate artists. Fitting, since the majority of our so called art patrons are mostly poseur hipsters, who think showing up, getting drunk, asking rude questions, and smoking cigarettes while not buying anything, counts as “supporting the art scene”.
So when I saw your “Big Brains” issue a few weeks ago honoring the creative community of PHX, I was actually intrigued, hopeful even, that you would pick talented artists who were you know, talented?
And in the beginning, my childlike optimism was rewarded- you nailed it as far as the Design, Film, and Online categories, and by that point I was almost certain that at least one (if not more) of the VERY talented artists I know [none of whom by the way, has ever seen a drop of ink in NT] would finally get some well earned respect.
Turning the page, I came to the Performing & Visual Arts section and the hamster in my head said, “WTF!?” had a shot of Tequila, and then hung himself with his own tongue.
But before I get to that, I need to say this: for clarity and less for fear of reprisal, I will quote Montgomery Burns:
“I don’t know anything about art, but I know what I hate, and I don’t hate this.”
The following few fall into that category, so I shall briefly touch upon each:
Tricia Moore: She spins fire, she holds it in her hands- I am not messing with her. No way, no how.
Marcello Quinonez: His work is amazing- may somebody actually have the good sense to fund him.
Spencer Hibert: Awesomeness personified; he gets extra points for good hair. Plus- he’s also on my FB page so obviously- he has no idea who I am.
That leaves just three head scratching choices, so I shall snark in my customary style by deconstructing the published word into what it actually means:
But before I do, there are a few things I have to address to my loyal blogiteers who are reading along:
1) No whining from the peanut gallery.
The people I am about to snark on may be really nice people; they may even be your friends- that’s great. Loyalty is a really underrated quality these days, but it has no place here- if they get annoyed, they can deal with it (or not) by themselves, so zip the lip, please. Understand that I’m not bagging on their good qualities; I’m slamming them on their art skills (or lack thereof) so don’t get your art supplies in a twist- we’re all adults here, so please act like it.
Criticism is a fact of life that all artists’ face, whether harsh or constructive- it’s all part of the package, and you are more than welcome to throw my opinion back at me. I’m a big boy, so bring it. But if you do, I also insist you bring Ding Dongs- it’s really the only way you can hold my attention these days.
2) No “I’m going to” threats.
For those who know me very well, you know how well I deal with threats- if you don’t, I would definitely ask around. If you’re that much of a thin skinned “friend dropping” candy ass, we’re probably not real friends anyway, so you go right ahead and make room on that FaceBook friend list of yours. I don’t mind. Cuts the Xmas card reply list way down, and that’s always a good thing.
Do it now- I’ll still be here when you get back. Now for those who may be offended at what I have written, you do have three choices:
– Stop reading. But since you are in this far, why would you bail now?
– Write your own blog as a response. If I can do it, trust me- so can you.
– Agree to disagree and say rude things about me over your overpriced latte.
And speaking of overpriced, this from the Artbitch legal department:
The preceding excerpts were taken from New Times Weekly Magazine and remain the intellectual property of Village Voice Media Inc. [Once again- Not valid in Narnia, OZ, Wonderland, Neverland, Neverland Ranch.]
Excerpts were originally published the week of May 20-26, 2010 and excised out of context from articles written by [in order of blog appearance] Robert L. Pela and Wynter Holden. Article excerpts were used for the purpose of parody and no profit usage is intended or implied. No permission was granted by New Times, nor Village Voice Media Inc. who retains all rights reserved under the applicable laws of The United States of America.
Phew. I think that should cover the bases- if not, I’m banking on that whole 1st amendment thing to cover my butt, because when I woke up this morning, I thought I was in America- but I haven’t checked my pile of Sheriff Joe’s press releases yet. So NT- if you do want to sue me for copyright infringement, may I remind you that as an artist I have nothing of value but my talent, and you’ve never really shown any interest in that, have you?
Well, except for that one time when you got it for free by pleading poverty. So, my loyal Blogiteers, the snarking will commence shortly after this commercial break.
[Crap. I don’t actually have any sponsors, do I? I’ll have to work on that.]
So on that upbeat note, I think it’s time to take five. Smoke em’ if you got em, New Times.
Just make sure you’re twenty feet away from the laptop. Not because it’s the law, or anything.I just want you to stop writing.
“Media is just a word that has come to mean bad journalism.”- Graham Greene