And away we go again.
In the weeks of our public existence, when once-binned emails now prompt half-serious replies, the question I’ve answered the most is, simply, “Why?,” prompting this gasbag reply during my morning ritual of cheese omelet, grapes, and Elvis Costello’s Hey Clockface.
Dumb as it sounds, I’ve always wanted something like this to exist here. It goes back to when I was an entertainment-famished kid; what did we have locally but a weekly tabloid slammed into the daily paper's ass. In this guide, then called the Weekender, one could find truncated Associated Press celebrity profiles amid television programming grids. The newspaper itself printed no entertainment news. When it did feature local bands, its tone seemed parentally condescending, a stifled guffaw: “Aw, you urchins and your cutie-pie buzzsaw metal pretending to be as good as the Beatles.”
For a boy more than cognizant of his weirdo stature — people made sure you knew — reveling in the strange pop intellectualism of Greil Marcus (every kid should cut his teeth on Lipstick Traces, In the Fascist Bathroom, or Mystery Train) and the fuck-you claymore artistry of the late Lester Bangs (plus Richard Meltzer, the last of the living Noise Boys), it further cemented my desire to take this shit seriously. When I did get to the paper in the early ‘90s, I wrote for the kid like me, hoping there were others.
It wasn’t always a joyful experience; my prose occasionally landed me in bigwig hot(dog) water (the “bucket of stool” line in an appraisal of The Rage: Carrie 2 a particular favorite — sportin’ chub in reminiscence), but, hey, man, fuck it. Sharp-tongued or whatever, I wasn’t auditioning for the clean-cuts. I wore my low class like a favorite pair of Keds.
Nearly 30 years later, I steadfastly believe I was never alone. I got high in downtown basements and guzzled dogshit beer with glorious wretches. Filled their zines with unchained profanities. Partied as their bands razed decrepit theaters and boonie-tuned grange halls. Newspapers needed more people like that. They wouldn’t be in this mess today.
My dream for Mid Valley Noise lands comfortably between the Detroit hellionism of the long-gone Barry Kramer’s long-gone Creem, where Lester Bangs thrummed the plaster off Ben Edmonds’ office walls with the first Black Sabbath album (Ben told me that story 100 years ago), and the late Paul Williams’ beautifully egg-headed Crawdaddy!. I want us to be both Richard Meltzers, the guy who wrote the impenetrable The Aesthetics of Rock and, later, compiled his best fire-eating yawps into A Whore Just Like the Rest, with a bit of Mad-magazine-built Rick “Reek” Johnson thrown in. Add a mix of biting, award-whore-hungry Oxford American/Believer long-form and we’re just about there: erudite cornponery, Will Rogers with a nose ring. Will we make it? I dunno.
My first order of business is to keep MVN afloat. I’m not sure whether advertising- or donation-based is the way to go. The first is difficult because of coronavirus-strained budgets and our relative youth/thus-far limited coverage. The second seems awfully hat-in-hand beggy, a Steinbeck novel on an empty stomach. Yet I’d like to reach a point where I can hire writers (two in particular, both familiar names aware of this undertaking and well-regarded in the arts community) — photographers and videographers too — and pay them, especially when this pandemic wanes and schedules refill.
Any insights? Drop me a line at email@example.com. One vision ain’t enough.
As always, keep the hits coming,