The Year In Rock-Critically Correct: Time To Put Together Our Own List

Apr 21st, 2008 // 4 Comments

bestofrock.jpgOnce again, we present Rock-Critically Correct, a feature in which the most recent issues of Rolling Stone, Blender, Vibe and Spin are given a once-over by an anonymous writer who’s contributed to several of those titles–or maybe even all of them!

When Anono-Prick began writing this column 51 weeks ago, he assumed a cloak of anonymity simply because that was the kind of job Idolator’s since-departed curator presented to him. And yet, when commenters suggested that the writer of this column did not have the courage of his convictions to use his given name, Anono-Prick had to admit that they had a point.

Prior to writing Rock-Critically Correct, Anono-Prick thought that the kind of “computer courage” that encompasses anonymous commentary fell well short of the real variety, but he still believed that writing a column that would find him critiquing the work of other people, some of whom are influential in AP’s sphere, was pretty risky. So he indeed compromised his principles. Although anonymous writing has a furtive, surreptitious appeal that may have accounted entirely for RCC’s popularity, AP has been feeling for some time that he should own up to what he’s written on Idolator. AP planned on blowing his own cover around the first anniversary of the first RCC column–that Idolator has been sold by Gawker Media to Buzznet had no bearing on this timing of this particular post.

Anyway, I think a lot of people have figured out that my name is Rob Kemp. I’ve been writing “professionally” since 1995, and have been a member of this band since 1999. (Come call me a pussy to my face at Rehab–formerly Club Midway–tomorrow night.)

What follows are full disclosures of the significant professional interactions I’ve had with individuals whose work has been critiqued or mentioned in this column.

From 1999 until about 2006, I wrote a bunch of album reviews for Rolling Stone. My editor there was Nathan Brackett, who hired me to work with him at Time Out New York in 1995. Nathan left for RS in 1996, and assigned me work for good pay (relative to the rates typically paid for music journalism) during the period indicated above. He also got me to assess the discographies of the likes of Shania Twain and Kylie Minogue for the most recent Rolling Stone Record Guide, which I consider an honor.

Nathan has been a good friend to me, so I will admit that I was relieved to learn in mid-2007 that he was not going to edit RS’ reviews section any longer and would be supervising the mag’s Web site (my understanding is that he resumed some of his duties for the reviews section recently). Pursuant to his new duties, Nathan assigned me some minor editing on a couple of features on Rollingstone.com last summer. Being that I was writing this column at the time, I shouldn’t have accepted that assignment. So by the time anyone reads this, a check for the same amount paid to me by Wenner Media in August of last year will be on its way to WM.

I’m reasonably sure I will never write for Rolling Stone again, but I hope that many of the people I know who have worked there would recognize that while I dislike a lot of Wenner Media’s institutional biases, I certainly begrudge no one a living that, like many if not most jobs, probably entails a lot of compromise.

From early 2002 to mid 2003, I was an associate editor at Blender, which functionally amounted to a “staff writer” job. While I wouldn’t be surprised if any reader noticed that my posts re: Blender tended to be fairly insightful, I should stress that this was easily the most unpleasant working experience of my professional life. Very shortly after I was hired, it became clear that my position was redundant, and I was never entrusted with assignments of any consequence (Jonah Weiner was hired shortly after I was, and he by contrast succeeded quickly at Blender).

My bosses at Blender were Andy Pemberton, Craig Marks and Rob Tannenbaum, all of whom I failed to befriend and to whom I otherwise failed to be useful. While I worked there, I became pretty disgusted with the mag’s raison d’etre, and found it very difficult to carry out certain tasks that Pemberton had charged me with. But he was my boss, and it was my responsibility to do as he asked effectively. So I was eventually fired (Victoria De Silverio was hired shortly) before my departure).

Marks became the editor of the mag in 2004; by the time I started this column, my resentment towards Blender as an institution had long passed, and I was pleased to see that Marks and Tannenbaum (who in my experience was Marks’ very savvy consigliere) had been producing what I consider the best publication regularly considered in this space–I guess I developed a taste for sausage after a few years away from the factory. I have no doubt that Marks will succeed in whatever turns out to be his next venture.

As for Spin: I became a casual acquaintance of Doug Brod‘s a few years ago. When he became Spin‘s editor in 2006, he suggested me as a freelancer for a few FOB items, two of which were edited by Melissa Maerz, and an album review, which was edited by Charles Aaron. Brod’s iteration of Spin is one I identify with a great deal more than those of his predecessors. Or it simply could be that I like the guy quite a bit, and cut him too much slack!

Michael Azerrad was the drummer in a band in the late ’90s. While at TONY, I wrote a listing regarding his band that was pretty unprofessional and regrettable.

Tom Beaujour assigned me an album review for the first issue of Revolver, which he declined to run.

I met Alan Light one evening to discuss employment opportunities at Tracks, the magazine he ran for a few years in the mid-2000s.

For a very short time, I supervised the Front of Book “Burner” section in Blender: I worked with Nick Duerden on a few items therein.

In 2006, I wrote a cover story for GuitarOne, which is one of the four magazines that publisher Future Networks shuttered last year.

There are a lot of folks mentioned in the column in the past year who I used to see at various spots in New York City from time to time several years ago; I don’t think these fleeting interactions merit a disclosure of the sort provided above.

Ultimately, I strived to call them as I saw them in this column; I don’t believe that there has been much in the way of ad hominem score-settling. I’ll just say that some people I dislike wrote some great shit and I said so. And some people I like wrote some shit that weren’t so good and I said so.

So! I thank anybody who has enjoyed reading this column, which will continue in a more candid but as yet undetermined fashion.

And to Jo Jo Dancer and Dirty Sanchez, who mined similar but often much more gratuitous territory (the former once called another writer, amusingly in light of his subsequent activities, a “dickless imp” in his Rock Critical List): It’s your move.

  1. Al Shipley

    This has always been a pretty consistently interesting and entertaining column (tedious Wenner-mania aside), so good on you for finally getting to take some credit for it. I’m actually a little disappointed that there turned out to be no discussion of the issue displayed at the top of this post.

  2. Chris Molanphy

    RK: our very own Anonymous.

    Hope this was cathartic. I certainly found it enlightening.

  3. C.R.E.A.M.

    Huh. I kinda assumed it was a well-known writer behind this column, otherwise why not use their name? Turns out it’s someone who’s already anonymous, unless i missed something! Does Robert Kemp even have a blog??? who is he?

  4. Anonymous

    Not really a secret that Dirty Sanchez was M. (now Mike) Doughty

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