Friday, September 04, 2009

THE REAL JIM ANCHOWER

To understand this one you'll have to recognize the name Jim Anchower -- a made-up columnist at the Onion.

Typically, Anchower introduced his columns with variations on this riff:

"Hola, amigos. How's by you? I know it's been a long time since I rapped at ya, but I been hassled by a s--- load of trouble [from fill in the blank]..."

And then you got the pot-damaged beer-smashed white trash dude in stocking cap shtick.

The Seattle Weekly, in the altie newspaper industry-wide directive to seek the most senseless and fit people for music journalism so that loads of dimwit comments may be collected on websites, has ace-in-the-hole Duff McKagan, the ex-but-original bass player for Guns 'n' Roses.

McKagan has appeared in the media in recent years as someone industriously gone back to college to earn a 'degree in business'. Along the way, he's picked up a career as a writer.

"And just to show he means business," wrote Rolling Stone in January, "McKagan even name-checks Adam Smith, 'the founder of capitalism.' 'I do find how money works rather fascinating ... I think part of my mission statement for Playboy may be to perhaps try and shed some light and maybe even bring down some of the criminals on Wall St. Wouldn’t that be cool?"

Paul Krugman look out!

So you've already guessed what this is at the core: lipstick on a very dull pig, a classic case of witless self-esteem in need of brush back.

Indeed, the entire bit about McKagan being a college student of some kind lends itself to vigorous debate since, as you'll see from his words, it's a coin toss yes-or-no decision on whether he could score acceptably on any entrance exams without a good propping up or get-out-of-jail-free card. To put a finer point on it, McKagan can be counted on for a regular plateful of stupid.

However, instead of the joke at The Onion, Duff McKagan is Jim Anchower, really. But without the intentional laughs.

So, without further ado, excerpts from his columns at The Seattle Weekly, where McKagan writes about his favorite records, interminably and without the slightest hint of self-awareness.

"All I knew, however, was that there was music I loved, some I didn't, and some I outright despised."

"ZZ Top, Tres Hombres: Kick-ass American blues from down Texas way. Yeah, I know that I've pimped these guys a lot lately . . . but I really can't say enough about just how great they were and are."

"Led Zeppelin, anything: These guys put a soundtrack to my life not only in the '70s, but also now and again to my life now."

"Thin Lizzy, Dedication (The Very Best of Thin Lizzy): Oh, Rosalie! I really, really love this band."


As you can see, for the Weekly, McKagan really gives the ol' brain cells and word processor quite the workouts.

To continue:

"Badfinger, anything: A magical band with a tragic ending. Some say that Badfinger was cursed."

"The Ramones, anything: Do I really have to say anything at all?"


No. Please.

"AC/DC, Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap: Along with the Saints and Radio Birdman, AC/DC kicked our asses from all the way Down Under!"

Duff McKagan's promise of quality is simple. He really is as slow as he looks.

Here's more. MORE!

"1999, Prince: Ah yes, the summer of '83 is when I finally realized that I was one sexy son of a bitch."

"It's Only Rock and Roll, the Rolling Stones: This cassette was the soundtrack to the summer I decided to move from Seattle to Hollywood."

"The Joshua Tree, U2: This record was by all means not just the soundtrack for my summer of '87."

"The Real Thing, Faith No More: The summer this record came out, I was sort of stuck in Chicago ..."

"Young, Loud, and Snotty, the Dead Boys: This must have been the summer of '79, when my young ears were just coming of age ..."

"Live at Budokan, Cheap Trick: Duh!"

"Music of course has so many genres and sub-genres that I could easily keep doing this type of column for the next few years, and we would still only be getting at the tip of the audible iceberg."


Threat or menace?

"So in the summer of '89, I was in Chicago with Slash."

"OK, now the table was being set. It was a foregone conclusion that bands like Warrant, Poison, and Brittany Fox [sic] had used up and abused their reign of substance-challenged and retarded pop-rock."

"Korn, self-titled: The first record by Korn was as groundbreaking as anything since Chuck Berry sang 'Maybelline.' "

"Faith No More, The Real Thing: Enough said."

"I have left out many here on purpose. Maybe some of you think my choices are crap. The beauty of music, though, is that we all find inspiration in different presentations and packages. Have fun this week. I've been having fun writing these."


The reader may have noticed any 'crap' accusation would not have to do with McKagan's taste.

"Mötorhead, Aces of Spades: Uh-huh."

"Judas Priest, British Steel: Yeah? Suck it..."

"Led Zeppelin: The Complete Led Zeppelin: I own the Zep catalogue on vinyl, cassette, and CD ..."


I would never have guessed it!

"Thin Lizzy, Dedication (the Very Best of Thin Lizzy): On this last tour we did in Europe in June, we had a Thin Lizzy concert DVD on ..."

"The Dead Boys, Young, Loud, and Snotty: "Down in flames, down in flames"!!!!!!!"

"The Beatles, anything: It almost goes without saying."


But McKagan won't spare readers. And neither will the editors of the Seattle Weekly, some of whom -- if DD knows copy editors -- must be grinding their teeth on a daily basis over these things.

And to cap it off:

"Summer is fast approaching, and parents everywhere are faced with the perennial dilemma: What are we going to do with the kids?"

"In an attempt to flesh out some stories that may one day become a gateway to a larger literary body of work, I'm going to write some short pieces of my own."


DD has some good ideas to rival the rebranding of Duff McKagan as a writer and financial adviser.

NFL football player Chad Ocho Cinco as a food columnist with a focus on how to order variations on three square meals/day at the McDonald's counter. Child, please!

Joe the Plumber as Joe the Plumber, international investigative journalist. Oops, been done.

Octomom as a family planning columnist in the Health section of the Los Angeles Times.

Craig Miller as a writer on constitutional issues and tyranny. BTW, this already exists here.




Crap is not the sole property of ninnies like Duff McKagan and his minders at the Seattle Weekly.

As a sort of alpha to his omega, you have mindless hagiography -- as practiced today on the front page of the Los Angeles Times' Calendar section.

Written by free-lancer Mikael Wood, you get a jump-on-the-grenade piece, an article in which someone produces the unbelievable on a 24-year old girl, Colbie Caillat, who produces piffle tunes with titles like "Bubbly," "Realize" and "The Little Things."

For the material before the runover, Caillat is 24 going on fourteen, jumping out of an airplane while attached to a skydiver.

"Dude, that wasn't scary at all," Caillat tells the newspaper.

"It turns out there's more to Colbie Caillat than first meets the eye," Wood continues.

Depends on your POV.

If the job is to adhere to reality, no. If the job is to furnish shuck for an entertainment section, yes.

Of course, I'm not so naive that I don't know this is the professional work code. Twenty years ago, at the Morning Call newspaper in the Lehigh Valley, reporters tried to hide from such assignments by playing the mute dummy at the pitch table. Mostly, they did not succeed, which left them with the task of finding interesting and amusing ways to warn off readers, save the dignity, and keep clips out of the star's scrapbook while still getting copy by editors.

Anyway, at some point Wood writes for the Times: "Though the new album hews closely to the vanilla bean vibe of [Caillat's] first, it also reveals a quietly maturing songwriter, one capable of capturing the everyday vicissitudes of romance in language that feels talky and true to life."

If you believe this, then you'll believe me when I tell you once a box turtle changed a flat tire when my car was stranded on the Blue Mountain outside Pine Grove in 1986.

While Duff McKagan could never manage "capable of capturing the everyday vicissitudes of romance" -- Wood, by contrast, is an experienced and excellent writer -- in practical terms it really doesn't matter. The s--- stinks in both places.

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