Agony Shorthand

Wednesday, July 23, 2003
THE NUANCED, WELL-REASONED ARTHUR MAGAZINE….I had high hopes for ARTHUR MAGAZINE when it arrived a few months back, primarily because it was the forum by which Bryon Coley and Thurston Moore shared their recent sub-underground music and book discoveries, and secondarily because it looked like it might have some pretty intelligent thoughts on rock and roll & might hip me to a few new unheard bands. Early issues reminded me of the fine Portland-based newspaper SNIPE HUNT from the first half of the 1990s, with perhaps more of a deep-literary bent and a stronger nod to what’s left of the quote-unquote counterculture. Yet a glance at this month’s issue proves that the magazine has turned into a full-on lefty broadsheet, trapped in the delusion of being the Ramparts or The Nation of its day, albeit for rock and rollers and American anti-status quo culture experts. These guys – led by editor Jay Babcock – are locked and loaded and fully ready to storm the barricades of the 1968 Democratic convention. Babcock un-ironically compares himself to some writer in the 20s who warned the masses against Hitler – before it was too late!!! No ego there or anything, right? I’m glad to see that it’s a friggin’ rock critic who alone possesses the foresight to save us all from the terrors of the impending totalitarian police state. And the very funny DAVID CROSS becomes an instant party-ending bore as soon as he starts sharing his shrill paranoia of John Ashcroft hiding under his bed with a gag & blindfold. Yep, these are the guys you want on the front lines of the revolution. Pray for a little more rockin’ and a little less “look at me, I’m so much more than an entertainer” talkin’ next issue.