We Read The Voice’s Profile Of Ultragrrrl So You Don’t Have To

Mar 13th, 2007 // 42 Comments

ultra.jpgTomorrow’s Village Voice has a lengthy defense of Sarah “Ultragrrrl” Lewitinn, the “top banana” of Island Records subsidiary Stolen Transmission and girl-about-town who, depending on who you ask, is either a brilliant predictor of musical talent or the beneficiary of some dumb luck whose real skill lies in promoting her brand. (To those people, she says, “I don’t need to have talent. I got this far without it.”) After the click-through, we break down the piece’s major points.

· She’s a kosher vegetarian, but she isn’t afraid to eat fried food at T.G.I. Friday’s now and then.
· Her eyeliner is always smeared, and it’s not an affectation.
· The reporter, Tricia Romano, repeatedly quotes from Idolator’s comments section, but never approached either of the site’s editors for a quote. Nor does she mention that we plugged the Oohlas.
· She’s not a trust-fund baby, but she did start interning at ABC News at 16.
· She doesn’t understand why she was ever given an editorial job, either. (“I never was a rock critic. I was a rock fan that had a pen,” she tells Romano.)
· If you mention Stolen Transmission’s soft sales totals, the word “incubator” will be thrown back at you faster than you can say “Louis XIV.”
· Her nickname is “Buckets” because of an unidentified incident involving a DJ night and a lot of alcohol.
· She thinks she’s psychic. (Tell that to Stellastarr*.)
· She didn’t get any money from My Chemical Romance. But they’re super guys!
· Marc Spitz, who profiled Lewitinn for Vanity Fair, is still a fan. (A quote: “She’s the most gifted, natural, organic listening machine that probably ever existed. She’s just scary good at what she does. I’m sort of in awe of her.”)
· One of her brothers maintains her Wikipedia entry for her.
· She’s working on a movie script based loosely upon her life.
· She doesn’t care what mean anonymous people write about her on the Internet, because they’re just jealous, anyway.

In Defense of Ultragrrrl [Village Voice]

P.S. Oh, and in the spirit of full disclosure, we should also point out that the story notes that Ultra is currenty writing a book about karaoke, as is one of your Idolators.

idolator

  1. valet_of_the_dolls

    @lawrence:
    @LVLweitinn:

    So which one of you is the sock puppet?

  2. Catty Is Cumbersome

    I believe the reason Sarah never landed an editorial job is because she is a mediocre (if not sometimes poor) writer. This doesn’t mean that she is talentless in other areas, so don’t try to pin me as jealous.

  3. monicathemusical

    I believe an “organic listening machine” is any mammal with ears.

  4. Lawrence

    LVLweitinn. I typed my log-in name too fast and the page didn’t reload, so I retyped it. Hey, rewriting the same exact thing isn’t easy when you’re multitasking. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to go on Curbed, the only Gawker site I read religiously.

  5. Catty Is Cumbersome

    My apologies, I misread the quote. Rather, Sarah fully accepts the fact that she isn’t a great writer, which makes her pretty cool and pretty damn unpretentious.

  6. katie_a_princess

    ooo lawrence you maaaad

  7. HotChocolate

    Wow, that was a fun read.

    (Apparently her brother can get people kicked off message boards, so watch what you say.)

  8. JupiterPluvius

    @lawrence: What are you, six? “StupiderPluvius”?

    Yeah, so Ultrafem filed for bankruptcy in 1997. As did many other companies that are operating today. They’re still in business, and the Instead’s in every drugstore in the US. OH SNAP!

    And people wonder why there’s so much hate for i-bankers out there.

  9. Maulleigh

    Last I heard the curly-haired Pepsi girl was working on a screen play too.

    And yes I’m jealous.

  10. The HZA. [member of the zombie nation]

    Something about Sarah doesn’t make me like her.

    Maybe because I have always assumed that in, I forget which book now, Chuck Klosterman makes fun of her.

  11. Catty Is Cumbersome

    heathermylove: Maybe it’s the multiple pictures of a sweaty, wasted-looking Sarah that have turned you off. Every time I see one, I swear I catch a whiff of armpit sweat and ass cheese.

  12. The Mozfather

    Dude, that article was so long. Mein Gott. Why does anyone care? She’s repping bands I couldn’t give a big dump about and she’s thoroughly boring. I’d rather argue about Fergie.

  13. dollywould

    “I used to be that girl, up in the front row, jumping up and down,” Lewitinn says a little wistfully. “Now I’m in the back.”

    The writer forgot to add, “as a solitary tear rolled down her mascara-stained cheek.”

    Honestly, who says that? Ever?

  14. Lawrence

    @JupiterPluvius: Read up top, ninny. The part where I said, “My guess is that the woman who created the product ultimately got back the rights to it (don’t quote me on that).”

    There is no longer a company called “Ultrafem”.

    According to the Austin Business Journal (Feb 7, 2003):

    “The Austin test is the first Instead marketing initiative since the company acquired the rights to the product in 1998, the news release states.

    Instead Softcups were introduced in 1996 by San Diego-based women’s health care company Ultrafem Inc. and were distributed nationally. But Ultrafem filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in 1998, and the company’s assets were sold, according to the news release.”

    So, there. There’s no company called Ultrafem. It went bankrupt after it was delisted from the NASDAQ. Its assets were sold. The successor company revived the product. It sells a paltry $3.5m/yr, a fraction of what Ultrafem’s initial projections were (the company’s market cap was at $250 million at one point, before going bankrupt).

    What’s the bottom line? It’s funny that you’re a douchebag talking about a feminine hygeine product.

  15. janine

    Oh man, I’m going to give her a day-long pass, even though I thought I’d never forgive her for Louis XIV. If either of my brothers ever went around to message boards starting flame wars in my name, I’d be mortified.

  16. Catty Is Cumbersome

    Lawrence seems very involved in his sister’s life. You know, beyond that healthy point.

  17. Catbirdseat

    Wha??? So now that’s *TWO* gushing-praise articles written about her by her friends?

    Message to my writer friends: you guys suck. *I* want a 10,000 word defense written about me! I’ll pick up the tab for our interview meal at Clinton St. Baking (but be a pal and give me a bite of your french toast, yeh?)

  18. lasertronic

    hey, im just hapy to see a girl from tenafly, nj do something other than spend daddy’s money.

  19. the earl grey

    she’s the new millenium dawn eden

  20. musicquizking

    None of the bands she has signed to Island are selling. I predict that Rob Stevenson and Island will pull the plug on that “incubator” within the next year or so.

  21. johndavidson

    So, the Voice has fallen far enough that the editor thinks that Spitz is a good source for this story. That’s fucking rich. As if the very idea of a story on her (after one ran in…Vanity Fair) and her unsuccessful signings is newsworthy to begin with.

    The skill in A&R is not discovering talent, it’s developing talent. And so far, Sara hasn’t shown any of that.

  22. NickEddy

    Plus, Mark Spitz? That Smiths novel thing…I actually threw it across the room in the midst of reading. Just couldn’t take it any more. Hadn’t ever done that with a book before, and I’ve read all the Bret Easton Ellis books.

    And I believe he must be older than 15, so by “scary good” I *think* he means either “scarily good” or “frighteningly good.”

  23. superba

    @JupiterPluvius: And people wonder why there’s so much hate for i-bankers out there.

    There’s so many reasons.

  24. SteveHy

    Attention music journalists: Beginning your celebrity profile with a detailed description of what the subject is eating and the restaurant he/she is eating in is a TIRED CLICHE. Please stop!

    Also, I liked the well-placed “perhaps” in the following passage: “There’s also the “groupie” label, perhaps not helped by the title “Making Out With Ultragrrrl” or blog posts like this one: “OK. My lunch with Cappa [Cappadonna of Wu-Tang Clan] went really well. We had pasta, talked about how you don’t need drugs or alcohol to have fun, and he said I had a good aura. Then I sat on his lap for a picture.”

    Also, Chuck Klosterman is (probably) making fun of ultragrrl in “Killing Yourself to Live” when he talks about the Interpol/cocaine people vs. the CCR/pot people in the Spin office.

  25. HotChocolate

    “If either of my brothers ever went around to message boards starting flame wars in my name, I’d be mortified.”

    I ever so innocently clicked back on the Ultragrrrl link, and found this gem of a thread:

    http://idolator.com/tunes/top/if-an-ultragrrrl-comment-fal

    Larry, dude, you are such a prick. Are you seriously arguing over douche? Are you seriously getting people executed for repeating a comment someone else posted about your sister’s looks? Are you seriously accusing people of not having a life as you argue ever-so-seriously about douche on a music message board?

    To quote the man himself: “Yo, Lock and Mahoney: I think we have a candidate for execution.”

    Get. Over. Yourself.

  26. Nicolars

    Bro Goes Captain Save A Ho.

  27. janine

    Well, now I’ve seen the cover. Burning at the stake? Is that really the equivalent to not being universally loved? After a little more time to think, particularly about the music writers I’ve met and all, I think the problem is that people sometimes forget that not everyone is a member of the tastemakers’ club. Many people live entire lives without being a music writer, A&R, or DJ, or whatever. Your job is to get enthused and excited and find new things and hype them.

    My only job, more of a hobby really, is to find music that I like now and believe I’ll like in 5 years. This also means quite a bit of weeding out and postponing some listening until later. It also means that I spend quite a bit of time identifying things that I’m UNenthused about in order to save myself time and focus on listening closely to stuff I like.

    What does this have to do with this story? Well, I can not like Ultragrrl’s stable of bands or tastes and that doesn’t mean there’s anything wrong with me or her, as this article tries to imply. That fact gets lost nowadays, since all I see is a huge echo chamber sometimes.

  28. Audif Jackson Winters III

    Jesus wept.

  29. mike a

    I am almost charmed by the frank no-talent admission – so very Half Japanese. But then I remembered the difference between Ultragrrrl and Half Japanese.

    When the Fair brothers make hyperbolic statements about their music, they’re pushing a sophisticated point about individuality. They know they’re not skilled players or singers: they’d be laughed out of the American Idol auditions or David Geffen’s office. But they also know it doesn’t matter; they don’t need six tuned guitar strings to blow other bands off the stage.

    Ultra, OTOH, is trying to directly engage with mainstream culture. No art statement or proud incompetence here; just a whole lot of self-promo. And it’s worked, but what kind of recognition is it? Were I Ultra, I’d be mortified by a Village Voice cover story titled “In Defense Of…” complete with a cover story portraying me as Satan. Reading the article and the various quotes, you realize that it’s not serious recognition she’s getting; rather, it’s Paris Hilton in miniature.

    I don’t know Ultra. I’ve never met her. I was on a mailing list with her once, and she seemed nice – certainly not the publicity monster she’s portrayed as and, to an extent, feeds into. But then maybe there’s a separation between “Sarah Lewitinn” and “Ultragrrrl.”

  30. tankboy

    I was going to say leave Sarah alone, but then I read this much better response.

    I’ll just add that while i don’t dig every, or even most, bands she champions, I honestly can’t see anything wrong with someone doing something they totally love doing. How is she hurting anyone there?

  31. The Mozfather

    Guys, we do know that even talking about Ultragrrrl is so inside baseball? I know many intelligent, cultured people who do not know who she is, do not care to know who she is, and will never know she is. Why do we even bother? So she’s got an A&R job. Big deal. So do a lot of people. So she’s mildly annoying and self-admittedly talentless and yet still successful. So are a lot of other people.

    Someone compared her to Paris Hilton and I agree. She’s definitely the Paris Hilton of the music blog world: there is nothing to stare at and yet we all keep staring. I recommend we all stop staring. I call a Dohertorium on Ultragrrrl!

  32. mike a

    I would like to hear more about the Orthodox Jewish thing. As someone who tried keeping Shabbat for a few years – and who missed a lot of shows as a result – I’m curious to know how that works for her.

  33. HeatherNumber1

    The Mozfather is right. I really have no idea who she is, and I’m just more confused now that I’ve read 12 posts about feminine hygiene products (Instead verdict: great while you’re waiting!).

  34. Fly Life

    dear catbird:
    I’m not friends with sarah in the sense that i do more than exchange air kisses in clubs when i see her. I don’t and haven’t ever hung out with her alone outside of writing this article.

  35. Wicked Zoot

    Cheers to Mozfather. You said it. Even people who supposedly care about this woman care more about flame wars best reserved for yahoo stock chat rooms.

  36. The HZA. [member of the zombie nation]

    @shuffler: YOu are having flashes of Papa Joe Simpson, yes?

  37. Christopher R. Weingarten

    If more people believe in her taste than don’t, why do we need an “In Defense of” story? She’s already winning!

  38. Audif Jackson Winters III

    I’m surprised no one has mentioned that she ruined her tastemaking reputation by championing mall punk, Good Charlotte and Hillary Duff for a good 18 months, just because she became pals with some third banana Madden brother.

  39. IamnotStarJones

    What’s funny about the article is the pretense that Sarah isn’t as corporate as the many people who pursue careers at Goldman Sachs, the Department of Justice, Halliburton et al.

    She’s very mainstream and corny in her pursuit of fulfilling her American Dream.

    Even if it is as a DJ and the music industry mogul.

    Sigh.

    Actually the article should have been titled:
    In Defense of Pretending Your Cutting Edge When You’re Not.

  40. katie_a_princess

    @mike a: “Goddamn you Half Japanese Ultragrrrls…”

  41. byebyepride

    Attention music journalists: Beginning your celebrity profile with a detailed description of what the subject is eating and the restaurant he/she is eating in is a TIRED CLICHE. Please stop!

    Something bugging me about this…

    Attention music journalists: [...] Please stop!

    Fixed!

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