Under review

22 February 2012: DC Exile Day 29

Regular and irregular readers of this blog will soon discover a new, recurring feature. Beginning this Friday, 24 February, I will launch a review section. In this section, I will review books, movies, music and more. Some of the reviews will be of current items, some will not. I do promise to do my best and offer productive and useful reviews. If I absolutely hate something, I will try to find a bit of positive and not rely upon overly clever put-downs.

When I lived in Salt Lake City a couple of years ago, I had a brief stint as a reviewer at Salt Lake Underground Magazine, SLUG. (The editor eventually fired me from this volunteer position when I refused to provide my mobile phone number even though they already had my home phone number. Consequently, the last several reviews I wrote never saw the light of day.) A friend suggested I apply for the position, so I did. I took a break from my day job to go down to the SLUG offices and interview with the staff. As I was going to the interview from work, I was formally dressed. I immediately felt out of place entering the high-ceilinged hip haven. The staff sported several tattoos and piercings and a superior air as to their role as arbiters of cool in a state that, for all intents and purposes, is extremely uncool.

Following the interview, I was to submit a couple of sample reviews so the SLUG higher-ups could judge my skill. I reviewed Let It Die by Feist and Masquerade by Fort Collins, CO band, Slow Crash. Somehow, I got the gig.

In my time with SLUG, I reviewed books, live shows, compact discs and DVDs. The biggest problem with my reviews? They absolutely suck.

My reviews were the worst kind of reviewing: clever (in my opinion at the time), vitriolic misuses of power. The best reviews point out the good and bad and take the art in question on its own terms, not necessarily as one dreadful consequence of dismal hipster culture. Unfortunately, my reviews reflected my desire to be clever in print and to denigrate perfectly good artists because I was overly disgusted with the “alternative” culture in Salt Lake City. So, I took out my anger in the magazine and tried to be cool by tearing down the work of others.

[But don’t take my word for it. For you, oh lovely reader of this blog, I offer up my published reviews for you to judge. Eventually, I may get around to posting the reviews I wrote that went unpublished when the editor fired me.]

I do not apologize, nor do I seek to vindicate my previous style. However, it is time for me to try again and see if I can’t learn a bit while I am at it. Cringingly Personal’s first review will appear this Friday and will cover the book Nation of Rebels: Why Counterculture Became Consumer Culture.  

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