Wednesday, October 22, 2014

goodbye, village voice

I don't remember when I first read the Village Voice, let alone when I first saw it. But growing up in New York it was ubiquitous. I remember buying copies when I could find them upstate from the mid-70s through the 80s, and for a time when I lived in New Paltz, I had a subscription that, I remember, promised--and made good on--delivery by Saturday after new issues came out on Tuesday.

Here's what I remember best about it. There was a sense that, by cracking open the pages, you were plugging into a source, if not of Truth, then of Questing. I learned about new things, new outrages, new music, new movies, new books, new ideas that I couldn't locate anywhere else. It's the reason why if I'm in any new town I look for the local cultural weekly. And while I couldn't always take part in them--rarely did films like The Little Theif make it upstate--sometimes I could. I took the trip down to The City (and reading the Voice you always thought of it as The City) to see that Truffaut, and somehow Stranger Than Paradise made it up there. When it did I knew I was seeing a movie by a new talent with absolutely new ideas about filmmaking and what constituted a story. By age 24 I'd seen enough explosions and guns going off. I was ready for nuance.

I read all the greats in the Voice: Mailer, Christgau, Sarris, Hentoff, Bastone, Feiffer, Stamaty, Mack, Willis, Goldstein, Johnson, Plachy (okay, I looked at her stuff, but I drank it in like it was written), Barry, Rall, Barrett, Hoberman, Brown, Indiana. Listen how those names trip off my tongue! I knew I was part of a special constituency. I read Ellen Frankfort's histrionic The Voice and Kevin McAuliffe's Great American Newspaper (which was already sounding the Voice's death knell in 78). I stuck with it through the Murdoch years and when it was funded by the sales of flea collars. I stuck with it through the disgraceful firings of Eddy, Christgau, Goldstein, Hentoff, Feingold and Musto. I even stuck with it through the painful constrictions online as it became a watered-down spacewaster where, at best, one could mine it for little nuggets of tough observation.

But no more. The final sole reason I've continued to read it online, Roy Edroso's weekly Exploring the Right Wing Blogosphere, has departed, vanished, disincorporated. It is a late column. Runnin' Scared, the blog where Edroso's column appeared, is still there, and one can read archived columns. But it's not the same. I'll continue to occasionally skim Runnin' Scared, because I like seeing what the miscreants back in The City are doing. But as a regular weekly destination, as a place where I will wait up til 10 on a Sunday night because 11 east is when he updated, it will no longer exist for me. Village Voice, I shake the dust of you from my shoes.

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