Because there are so many hours in the day: A really long interview with me via Skype for the Hootenanny Podcast
Watch/listen to me being interviewed on my couch with my favorite stuffed talisman sitting behind my right shoulder. It’s my Xmas gift to my readers. I lost the receipt. You have to keep it or pass it along to someone else. Now go watch or listen to this thing!
…was quitting this:
FIRST AND FOREMOST:
My reference to Patrick Smith’s “Ask the Pilot” as a “blog hosted by Salon.com” was not accurate, and the truth is much scarier and INSANE. I had failed to read the “About Patrick Smith” mini-bio section to the right of the feature. Read for yourself. “Ask the Pilot” is a COLUMN on Salon.com, not a “sponsored blog” as I had initially assumed. As such, this speaks to the editorial ethics at Salon.com in a much less flattering manner.
Regarding my previous post, I must offer some clarification. I am fully aware that, in the event a reader actually knows anything about my past and present body of work, my last post may seem hypocritical upon first (or second, or third) glance. My byline is attached to a fair amount of negative reviews, and I want to point out that my reaction to Patrick Smith’s “review” of the Husker Du bio I wrote, plus my closing quip concerning Smith’s ridiculous commentary about Bob Mould’s memoir, is NOT a “I can dish it out but can’t handle criticism of my own work” situation.
A major development in the last 1.5 years, having a book out there exacted an immense impact on how I now write criticism of other people’s creative endeavors. It is simple stuff: The writing of my Husker Du biography took 2.5 years, and it scrambled the shit out of my eggs in many ways. Also, I busted my ass trying write that book, or rather, trying to keep it from hitting the shelves as a total catastrophe…a total catastrophe with my name on it. So, it was quite an experience to read reviewers dismissing my book behind poorly-conceived assumptions, unnecessarily-mean jabs, mistakes I had no control over, etc. Then there was the criticism that I deserved; that was no picnic, either. But at the end of the day, I knew that I had only two reactions at my disposal: 1. Use this stuff as an educational tool towards the writing of my second book, 2. Ignore the short-sighted nonsense.
With this in mind, I have never responded to any written criticism of my book…until now, because Patrick Smith wrote something that is not criticism. If it has any place in our world, the content of Smith’s entry shouldn’t transcend the boundaries of party conversation or verbal couch-griping. It doesn’t even belong in someone else’s comments section.
My integrity as a writer is questioned in the piece. It’s been questioned before, and I’m sure there are things I have never read. But Salon.com is not, say, the Terminal Boredom message board or a, once again, a comments section. I do not pay attention to comments sections, as they are the domain of mouth-breathing, sub-literate, knuckle-dragging halfwits as well as unstable maniacs who fancy themselves as “thinkers” or “writers” when no breathing, walking or more-than-partially cognitive editor would allow them a public forum.
People read Salon.com….a lot of people. And people read the air-travel industry column that Salon.com allows to be referred to as “a long-running feature” in Patrick Smith’s bio section. It is my belief that when something is so saturated with charlatan-identifying red-flags, among other troubling attributes, it devolves into a type of text that exists outside of “criticism” or “journalism” or “essay” and should not have the influence or readership that Patrick Smith’s outlet automatically amasses as A LONG-RUNNING FEATURE ON SALON.COM. Also, as I stated in the intro to the previous post, I am currently working very hard at putting the figurative pieces in place so that I can start a large-scale writing project. Therefore, I must defend myself against high-visibility claims about me and my writing when such claims are not accurate. I was not operating on opinion in my assessment of Patrick Smith’s feature. Even the statement contesting Smith’s claim that my book has no heart – this is something I can prove. Now, only I know exactly how much heart went into my book, but my book displays a natural proof of heart by fundemental design. Without opening the can of worms that is now begging for it, I will only direct readers to one thing about Patrick Smith’s writing on Husker Du (that occurs within his writing about the two books) and the members of said band (clue – the addressing of Bob’s personal life and writing decisions he made that made me write my final bolded comment): It is part of the huge problem to which I hope my book works as somewhat of a respite. I am referring to the entire entry, but here is an especially cringe-worthy section:
“And we wonder if Andrew Earles’ book might have been a more compelling read had Mould not “respectfully declined” an invitation to participate. What would the harm have been, seriously?
It would be one thing if Mould were merely resigned to estrangement from his former bandmates. He actually sounds proud of it.
As for the possibility of a Hüsker Dü reunion, which Bob predictably nullifies, he says: “I’ve left Hüsker Dü in the past. I’m not interested in diminishing whatever legacy exists just so people can say, ‘I saw Hüsker Dü.’”
Except, that’s not it. That wouldn’t be the point. This is what I mean about not understanding his own legacy.
This theoretical reunion wouldn’t be for the people who never saw the band. It would be those who did see the band. Nobody would expect, or even want, new songs or a new album. But a show or two, for old times’ sake? That’d be pretty cool.
Here’s the thing: When you’re a musician, you make a sacrifice. Music, like any art, is more than a simple commodity; it’s a part of you that you’ve given to your audience. And you can’t take it back. Once your music becomes important or meaningful to somebody, only that person, not you, can ever make it unimportant. It’s a deal with the devil of sorts, and there’s no getting out of it. Thus, when Bob Mould says these caustic things, and when he declines to take part in the only published biography, it’s not just Greg or Grant who feel the sting, but also the people who loved and supported the music they made together.”
So what is so wrong with this style of writing when applied to Husker Du? I sincerely hope the answer is an obvious one.
Most of the interviews I’ve answered about my book have posed the following question or one like it:
“So, do you think Bob has read your book? Do you want him to read it? What do you think his reaction would be?”
I did think about this at one point over the past year or year-and-a-half, and when I did think about it, I harbored no “wants” or “desires” when it came to the end result. But I have always had one desire, no matter what else sat next to it in my head, and it is as follows: I want Bob Mould to do what Bob Mould wants to do, and I deeply regret the fact that I was ever, then or now, a source of stress for him. Though I’m sure that this is impossible in terms of some content, I nonetheless worked very hard to make sure my book was the least stressful and most respectful it could possibly be, given the larger context in place. And the aforementioned hard work came naturally.