Bottom of the Barrel

by Jason Gross

13 January 2008

Confiscate their laptops: the worst writing of the year.

Jermaine Dupri: “A Good Album is More than Just a Collection of Singles
(Huffington Post, November 19, 2007)
He might know a lot about making records, but here he’s the hateful soul of the record industry, spewing on fans and Apple while taking no blame for its own problems. You don’t have to go any further than the article’s comment section to see everything that’s wrong with the article. An abject lesson of how the industry may still not get it and why they’re still slowly killing themselves off.

Sasha Frere-Jones: “A Paler Shade of White
(The New Yorker, October 22, 2007)
Carl Wilson sums up all the problems with this article pretty well (see the Superior Scribing section), but the main sticking point here is that while he managed to be as provocative as he hoped, Frere-Jones attack on indie rock also managed to be as reactionary and fact-challenged as the parent groups who take cheap shots at rap music. That’s pretty strange for a writer who puts a lot of grey matter and effort into his work otherwise, unless he really did want to take a hit-and-run shot here, let the fur fly and chalk this up on his resume as a win since it started so much conversation. If you’d like a reality check, in addition to Wilson’s article, see this New York Times article and this Los Angeles Times article and yet another Los Angeles Times article, plus this Guardian blog entry, all of which help to set the record straight. Even a heavy-handed Playboy blog entry has some worthwhile points). But he does deserve credit for onething: for stirring racial divides and conflict with flimsy rhetoric, I nominate him for the Reverend Al Sharpton Award. And a P.S. to Frere-Jones, you might want to check on the upper crust mascot for your own magazine before you go on about extreme whiteness next time.

Bob Lefsetz: “Patti Smith
(Lefsetz Letter, January 13, 2007)
Oh, the horror of letting Ms. Patti into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame! She obviously doesn’t deserve it because New York is too full of itself and she’s not as talented as Alice Cooper (or his producer). The only thing worse would be to let Television into the Hall. Or to let Lefsetz keep writing… As witnessed by her own Times editorial about the Hall (noted elsewhere in this round-up), Lefsetz proves that he’s the disgrace and not her (a runner-up would be his New Country article where he shows off not only his total ignorance of that genre but rap also).

John Harris: “Funk Did This
(The Guardian, January 3, 2007)
James Brown sucks. Funk sucks (it killed the blues). P-Funk sucks. The Ohio Players suck. Oh, and John Harris sucks. If it wasn’t so goddamn ignorant, you could laugh at the contrary ‘tude here. Shouldn’t the Guardian know better to print trash like this that belongs in a sleazy tabloid instead? Or shouldn’t they at least banish him back to the politico beat where he whines about the Labor government? 

Clive James: “Duke Ellington: The Supremacy of Swing
(Slate, February 14, 2007)
An amazingly idiotic piece of revisionist history that would make even Stanley Crouch blush: both Bird and Trane sucked and ruined jazz but Duke ruled supreme. Or more accurately, James is afraid and ignorant of any post-big-band jazz. Next in the series: both Muddy Waters and Howlin’ Wolf sucked and ruined blues but Charlie Patton ruled supreme.

Kevin Martin: “The Daily Show
(New York Times, November 13, 2007)
It was only under Senate testimony (where he was rightfully grilled harshly and rebuked) that this boot-licking GOP shill who heads the FCC had to admit that he had already written this article before he heard public testimony from dozens of people who told him that his plans to let media empires get bigger and control more terrain was not a good idea and would not serve the communities well. While that was going on, Martin, being the pig-headed ignoramus that he is, didn’t have any time or concern for the people he was appointed to serve, most likely taking the time to doodle and plot his post-government career as a corporate lobbyist instead. According to Dante’s Inferno, Martin should have his place secured in two sections of the Eighth circle of Hell, which is reserved for his fellow barraters and falsifiers. Had the great Italian poet know this preppy, corporate lackey, he would have been inspired to carve out yet another section for scumbags who sell out the public interest to corporations. If there’s any justice left, the courts will strike this down as they did with his predecessor (Michael “Son of Colin” Powell). Until then, f*** you Kevin.

Ted Nugent: “The Summer of Drugs
(Wall Street Journal, July 3, 2007)
A nice level-headed editorial from your lovable vegan bleeding-heart guitarist. My favorite line is about “random sex, life-destroying drugs and mostly soulless rock music.” Even if you want to believe that Nuge was always a teetotaler and a chaste virgin, one thing is for sure, he hasn’t put out a good album in three decades (or more), a.k.a. three-fourths of his career. And maybe it’s not too surprising that he’s ignorant of history… womanizing didn’t exactly destroy Mozart’s or Rossini’s gifts. I’d rather have to sit through a half-hour version of “Truckin’” than listen one of ol’ Theodore’s rants. Plus, Soul Asylum should kick his butt for stealing their song title for such crap. As Foghorn Leghorn once said, “that boy’s so dumb, he thinks a pig pen is something to write with…”

Matt Taibbi: “The Low Post: The Imus Sanction
(Rolling Stone, April 18, 2007)
Ah, white boy guilt. Accusing other people of making broad slurs and then doing it himself, Taibbi would like us to believe that hip-hop was always “real” when it started out (you know, they never bragged about money or women… wink wink) and now, it’s all exploitive crap. If you can get past his insane ranting fantasy about TV shows, you can then look in vain for any kind of critique of the sexism of his own publication which put two half-naked women on its cover at the time of this column.

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