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Monday, March 17, 2008

Paste Magazine vs. Scott Towler

In this month's paste magazine, a silly review about the band moe. was written that got me going. The column, 'Dischord,' runs almost every month. Maybe's it does run every month. I'm not sure. I don't subscribe to the magazine, but I read it from time to time (most notably when my roommate gives me a copy he is done with). Anyway, in this section they launched a debate about moe's newest studio record Sticks and Stones (shown below) which really got me mad. Essentially, two critics write 200 word peices about the album. Maybe 20 people do. Then they pick 2 of them: 1 nice, and 1 not so nice, and run them side by side in the magazine.

In my tenure as a musician and music listener, I have never seen a more ridiculously written piece in my life. To be honest, it was so bad, I had to write to the editors of the magazine themselves to fully vent my frustration:

From: me (duh, ya jerk offs)
Subject: Issue #40, March 08

"In response to Dischord: 1 album, 2 opinions : moe. - Sticks and Stones by Kate Kiefer

I'm not sure who you let write 'No Mo' moe.' but they seem too ignorant to be a writer. Then again, I know how pompous most music writers are to begin with, so maybe this is an exercise in futility. But it's like they're the same as acting coaches: they couldn't act themselves, so they take time telling people what good acting is. In this case though, it's some failed musician who insists that moe. sucks because they can't be in the band themselves.

PASTE- you're a magazine. It's your job to hire writer's that aren't complete buffoons; ones that actually know how to write, not just bitch. Sure, maybe moe.'s lyrics aren't Shakespeare, and maybe they spell their name all funny lookin' (creating an editor's nightmare I'm sure), but you've got to give them better coverage than some intern/assistant's opinion about jam bands and how much they hate that their Microsoft word program always capitalizes the next letter after 'moe.'

I guess I'm just peeved cause this magazine always seems to present level-headed reviews (whether good or bad) of almost every artist under the sun. Why you let this blurb pass as 'acceptable' writing blows my mind. I encourage you to find one bit of writing Kate Kiefer has done that's better than this. Please. For me. For humanity. Cause the fact that she's made it as a writer and I haven't really makes me feel like this life is complete bull shit."

I closed with my name, so don't think I'm a total prick. Anyway, lo and behold, this afternoon I got an email back! And not just from anyone, but Kate herself! Read on while I sip this cognac...

"Hi Scott,

The purpose of the Dischord is to show two very different opinions--it's the part of the reviews section where we actually ask our writers to go a little over the top, and it probably wouldn't be very entertaining if one writer didn't love the record and the other didn't hate it. Jeff Leven certainly made some good points about moe.'s strengths. But I've listened to moe.'s studio recordings, and I've seen them perform live (they even played Paste's SXSW showcase last year), and I stand by my opinion that the band's name is ridiculous, its lyrics are cliched and trite, and its music is better live.

I'm sorry that the fact that I've made it as a writer makes you feel like this life is complete bullshit. That's very sad--for both of us. But I assign and edit the reviews section, so I'm going to take the part about the usually level-headed reviews of almost every artist under the sun as a compliment.

moe. is lucky to have a passionate fan like you.

Thanks for reading,


Anyway, I thought that was pretty bold of her. Good show. What I don't like, however, is that somehow this letter got into her hands, along with my email address. Now I understand if she's the editor in chief of this magazine. And if she is, bravo. But then are we to consider that this magazine is such a two bit operation that the EIC is reading letters to the editor? Or did someone simply pass this along to her, knowing she's as bull headed as I was, so that she'd write back? If that's the case, then what magazine allows their readers to pass along my info to someone so that they can then fire back/hunt me down and kill me?

So I implore you, Kate, please consider it a simple letter to the editor and don't come to my house and kill me! I mean, you can come over if you want, but it's not going to be all apples and merry-go-rounds. Cause while I may like apples, I get motion sickness.


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