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February 5, 2009 / Brittany Hendrick

‘The road to Hell is paved with adverbs’: Pitchfork needs to stick itself and be done

The continuation to my Charlie Brown story, AKA “the ovulating blog,” must be interrupted again.  That means this entry is “the ‘folliculating’ blog,” right?
Hahahahaha!
And the entry after the ovulating one will be “the luteinizing blog,” right?
HAHAHAHAHA!

Haha!

Ah ha…

Ah.

Ahhhh…

*crickets*

This wouldn’t be happening if Pitchfork wasn’t so piss-poor.  I can explain.

When I logged onto MySpace earlier today, I noticed Criminal Records’ status update:

Criminal Records RIP Lux Interior. 1 minute ago
Mood: sad

Oh, no!  How terrible.  I had to find the story on what happened.
Cramps MySpace: no mention.
Lux Interior MySpace: no mention.
Cramps official website: negative.
Associated Press: nothing.
CNN: nope.
Various, other band websites/message boards: nada.
NME: sleeping.
Pitchfork: failed.

Okaaay.  Maybe the AP was writing the news release at that moment, so no other media had it to publish yet.  I typed “‘Lux Interior’ dead” into Google.  Surely there is chatter elsewhere.

NOTHING.

By that point, my confusion grew.  I thought Criminal was playing a joke.  How is it, I couldn’t find ANY news on Lux Interior’s supposed death?  Not even too-cool-for-school Pitchfork had anything.  Man, you’d think they’d at least publish the headline– just to say they knew it first– and fill in the rest later.

 

Forty-five minutes later, I did another run-though of the aformentioned websites.  Still, nothing.  It was getting ridiculous.  Another Google search revealed a trickling blog or two with the news.  So, it was true– Lux Interior died.  Eric Levin, or someone else at Criminal, must have some intel.

Later that night, I re-visited Pitchfork for a reason I’ll get to in a bit.  First, some background: I do not read Pitchfork… or any music press for that matter unless I’m looking for something specific or tipped-off about a subject of interest.  I think I first came across the website in 2005– someone told me about it.  After just one perusal I was able to determine: the writing was elementary.  But that’s to be expected from solely web-based, uh, publications.  The bigger problem I had with Pitchfork was the now-infamous airy attitude that went along with its Journalism 101 diffusions.  Perhaps I don’t have the patience for Pitchfork because I am not in the 18-24 year old age demographic.

Later that night, the Lux Interior story was posted on Pitchfork.  And I was reminded why that website is not my primary news source.

Lux Interior, the awesomely ghoulish frontman for sleazed-up New York rockabilly OGs The Cramps, died today…

I have a couple problems with this sentence:
1) “awesomely ghoulish.”  I assume (or hope) the author assigns “awesomely” its proper definition and not Bill & Ted slang.  Hmmm.  Regardless, “awesomely” should not be there.  Norman Mailer said to stay away from adverbs.  William Strunk and E.B. White said, in The Elements of Style (I actually own this book): “Write with nouns and verbs, not with adjectives and adverbs.”  This is supposed to be a straight news piece, not an editorial.  So, in this context, it appears that adverbs are insincere, cumbersome and filling a minimum word quota.

2) “rockabilly OGs.”  I get what the author is implying.  I get it.  I think.  Is he saying The Cramps were rockabilly music’s original gangsters?  Early rockabilly and Teddy Boy subculture are arguments against that.  The Cramps were rockabilly gangsters, but not OGs.

Although the band played CBGB a lot and was a part of the whole NYC birth-of-punk thing, but they didn’t really fit in with pummelers like the Ramones and the Dictators or art-school types like Television and Blondie.

Huh?  This has either a comma splice or a sentence fragment, or it was written in a different language and passed though Babelfish, into English.  Whatever the issue, this poor sentence needs help.  Something needs to go: “although” or “but.”  The band played CBGB “a lot”?!  What is this, sixth grade Language Arts class?  I’m now questioning the semantics of “awesomely.”

Before even the Misfits, the Cramps jammed their songs full of allusions to trash culture and long-forgotten B-movies.

Congratulations!  When has is ever been argued that The Misfits preceded The Cramps?  We could just as easily say that The Cramps used these allusions before even Rob Zombie and Marilyn Manson.  Furthermore, we could easily say that many other blues/garage bands referenced trash culture before even The Cramps (and The Misfits, Rob Zombie, etc).

The Cramps even coined the term “psychobilly.”

No, they didn’t.  That’s like saying Kurt Cobain came up with “grunge.”  The word “psychobilly” was first used in a Johnny Cash song.  Cash coined it (Wayne Kemp actually wrote the song, but I wanted to say ‘Cash coined’); The Cramps characterized it.

 

Their 1981 sophomore album Psychedelic Jungle is a very serious must-have.

“Dude, it’s a really actually very serious essential necessary crucial important must-have desert disc.  It made my Top 10 list in 1981– and I wasn’t even born yet.”
If “very serious must-have” is acceptable phrasing in an arena that is highly regarded in the music world, then I must be doing something wrong as a writer.  Because I’d never say that.  So, I shouldn’t be surprised if the book proposal I wrote will be rejected for its highbrow language.

Onstage, Interior was always a proud member of the Iggy Pop school of self-sacrificing showman: climbing all over the stage, stripping down, rolling on the ground, generally showing no regard for his physical well-being.

Self-sacrificing?  Or self-mutilating.  Good to know Interior was “always” a “proud” member.  If he were a part-time, shameful member, I’d have told him, “I thought I KNEW you, man!”

But he also had absolutely nuts timing and some truly great, theatrical facial expressions.

Enough with the abverbs!  Or at least come up with weightier ones.  While you’re at it, find an adjective better than “great.”  Jesus fuckingly Christ.

He was a showman…

Said that already.

 

And no less an authority than Ian MacKaye has often named a late-70s Cramps gig at a DC college as a hugely formative influence on the DC hardcore scene, even though those bands really couldn’t have sounded more different than the Cramps’ greasy throb.

Awk  (that’s my red pen and proofing mark)

Over the Cramps’ three decades years of existence…

The Cramps existed for three decades years weeks millennia seconds… stuff…!

Against all odds, the band remained active up until very recently, though they weren’t playing live shows too often anymore.

The otherwise overwrought article ends weirdly with this sentence.  I’m imagining some kid standing at the front of his his sixth grade Language Arts class, reading this aloud.  Take away “up” and “very.”  “Against all odds” is the 438th cliche that appeared in this story.  And I hear Phil Collins in my head.

The REAL reason I dropped by Pitchfork was to read an article about Super Furry Animals’ upcoming album.  This one is just as bad.

Eccentric…

Stop.  God, we can’t even make it past the first word.  I’m tired of seeing SFA described this way.  Is there one journalist who can articulate just what it is that makes SFA so eccentric (or odd, bizarre, anomalous, freakish, etc)?  Is it because they’re Welsh and/or some of their songs are are sung in Welsh?  So, the band is normal in Wales but eccentric everywhere else?  Is it because they sometimes wear funny suits onstage?  So does Rihanna– no one says she’s eccentric.  Is it because they are an alternative rock band?  That would mean every alt-rock band in the world is eccentric, too.  I’m having a hard time coming up with something eccentric about the band.

I’ve written articles about SFA in the past.  The worst word I used was “goofballs,” which is not the same as eccentric.  And I said something about Gruff Rhys’s “kooky mind” as an artist, which refers to an individual and not the whole, and not how Rhys may live his life– and still, not eccentric.

To me, if someone is eccentric he is not understood or practiced by the majority of people; and it suggests a socio-psychological aberration, though not necessarily dangerous to society.  SFA’s music, and what they do, is pretty straightforward.  Just because SFA aren’t on the SoundScan Top 200 doesn’t mean people wouldn’t understand the band.  Even my seven year old niece gets them.

Even if SFA are eccentric, they aren’t hardcore.  I know this because I accidentally out-eccentricked the bassist, and I have a feeling the result is me being blacklisted for an eternity.   Oooooh, well.

Look– eccentric is just the wrong word, OK?  It’s pejorative and connotes one of these (DO NOT CLICK ON THAT!).  But I could be wrong, and using “eccentric” is not a disparaging term because people’s minds generally don’t jump to these (Fine, fine.  Just don’t get Med Student Syndrome.).  So, are SFA eccentric?  I don’t think so.

< /rant >

…with track titles like “‘The Very Best of Neil Diamond'” and “Crazy Naked Girls”, this one may be deemed wonky even by SFA standards.

Oh, my God, that is just so… crazy!  I don’t think I can handle that kind of wonkiness.  I don’t know what’s crazier: having “crazy” or “naked” in a song title.  I am not used to this.  “The Very Best of Neil Diamond” is such an unusual combination of words– what are these guys thinking?!  How can they sleep at night knowing they’ve exceeded their wonky standards?  Do they know what they’re getting themselves into?  Are they prepared for this?  Crazy, man!

I’ve skipped over a bunch of stuff from the middle of the article, but it may as well have looked like this:

Το καινούργιο άλμπουμ των Super Furry Animals κυκλοφορεί στις 16 Μαρτίου μέσω του site τους, www.superfurry.com. Πρόκειται για το 9ο άλμπουμ του οποίου ο τίτλος όμως δεν έχει ανακοινωθεί ακόμα. Σε ανακοίνωσή τους εξηγούν πως μουσικά το άλμπουμ κινείται γύρω από riffs και grooves με τα οποία πειραματίζονταν εδώ και αρκετό καιρό. Αν και αρκετά μελωδικό, αποφάσισαν να αφήσουν εκτός τις ακουστικές μπαλάντες.

Fans of the band’s mellower side may want to sit this one out.

Oh, good.  I’m glad I’ve been warned.  I am thankful that the smart people at Pitchfork know everything and are looking out for me.  Mwng (mellow) is one of my favorite albums.  Aw, shit, so is Radiator (not mellow).  Oh, no… what do I do?  Do I buy SFA’s new album or not?  Fuck!

Anyone who’s seen SFA live and in person knows this band can shred– even while wearing Power Ranger helmets.

HAHAHAHA!  “Shred.”  HAHAHAHA!  Yeah, the author must know as well as I do– the band really tear it up while every member’s head is ensconced in a Power Ranger helmet.  HAHAHAHAHA!  That’s what I’ll have to tell my friends who aren’t very familiar with the band:

“I don’t know, Brittany… Super Furry Animals… they’re kind of eccentric.”
“Yeah, but they can shred!”

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