14 May 2007

Dept. of Things I'll Never Buy Again

Quick post, unrelated to The New Yorker, just to get it out of my system. This man—Jann Wenner, the publisher of Rolling Stone—is an appalling dork.

I was at the newsstand to pick up a copy of PrintEmdashes's day job—and, instead, something made me take the fortieth-anniversary RS to the counter. It was the shiny silver cover, I think, with the sticker advertising interviews with Bob Dylan, Norman Mailer, Tom Wolfe, Mick Jagger—interesting people I'm slightly too young to comprehend fully.

Wenner's lead interview with Bob Dylan—a Q&A, reprinted line for line—is a master stroke of shoddy, sappy journalism. It serves as a forum for the publishing icon, whom Salon calls "the star-fucker who traded up," to 1) coo over and scold Dylan, 2) speak nearly as much as him, and 3) induce the singer to speak about Wenner's contribution to the culture.

An excerpt:
Do you think it's gloomy on the horizon?
In what sense do you mean?
Bob, come on.
No, you come on. In what sense do you mean that? If you're talking about in a political sense...
In a general political, spiritual, historical sense. You're talking about the end of times on this record, you've got a very gloomy vision of the world, you're saying, "I'm facing the end of my life and looking at all this..."
Aren't we all always doing that?
No, some people are trying to avoid it. But I'm trying to interview you, and you're not being very helpful with this.
Jann, have I ever been helpful?
What can I do to get you to get you to take this seriously?
I'm taking it seriously.
You're not.
Of course I am. You're the one who's here to be celebrated. Forty years...forty years with a magazine that obviously now has intellectual recognition. [Gulp.—Ed.] Did you ever think that would happen when you started?
I was taking it seriously.
Look how far you've come. You're the one to be interviewed. I want to know just as much from you as you want to know from me.
* * *

It goes on for another two pages. He makes Dylan look like a mumbling old man, collecting pop tins on the beach. Seriously—do they not have editors? The Kwantlen College Beacon could have done better.

On the positive side, we now have something to say whenever anyone is giving us a hard time. Try it with me:

"Jann..." [Pause, purse lips, hold the 'n.'] "Have I ever been helpful?"

(Extra: Idolator pans the anniversary issue.)


David said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
JJB said...

Maybe that's what's wrong with my writing—I don't strangle myself with my belt enough.

I haven't read anything by Wenner except that article—and it hardly recommends verturing further—but I don't want to place him in the same category as Hitchens, who, however tilting and wacky, is fun. I must confess, I'm excited to see him go neocon on organized religion in his new book.

And Black: pure ponce. I was much more impressed with him ten years ago, when I thought using 'sesquipedalian' in a sentence was a mark of refinement and not dementia.

Stephen Connolly said...

I bought that issue too - 30% off at Costco. I play magazine poker with my wife. Bon Appetit? I'll raise you a Vanity Fair. Cook's Illustrated? Well that ups the ante to Rolling Stone.

I used to read it religiously in the 70s and had a moldering pile of back issues in my bedroom closet. I got a freebie subscription last year with my Salon membership. Bad choice. The issue with Snoop Dogg as "America's Pimp" went straight from the mailbox into the trash.

Wenner's been coasting on self-congratultion for decades. There's certainly no loss in ignoring him.

JJB said...

I don't know who RS is writing for. Not me or you, obviously, but not for the kids either. (I have a 17-year-old sister who regards it at a cultural artifact.) So, what, all that's left is some vague ooh-the-sixties-were-when-it-all-went -down with a more modern (but just as hackneyed) dash of bling? Throw in a Beyonce on the front and you've got it covered.

JJB said...

Too bad that first guy deleted his comment: it had something about Wenner, Christopher Hitchens, and Conrad Black all writing as though in a state of erotic auto-asphyxiation.

zp said...

That is too bad.

"Jann..." [Pause, purse lips, hold the 'n.'] "Have I ever been helpful?"

I've been practicing that in front of the mirror.

JJB said...

ZP, you rule!