Monday, September 26, 2005

This Bile's For You

Both read the Bible day and night
But thou read'st black where I read white.

- William Blake

Around the time that I was writing for Paul Blick’s music paper on a regular basis, I started trying to place articles in other publications, among them the weekly free papers in Philadelphia.

I had developed a little confidence from my column, The Wacky Victrola, appearing on a regular basis, but I was still very nervous about approaching strange editors out of the blue. Especially since the one paper in particular, the Philadelphia Doorbell, featured a column that invariably raised my blood pressure.

Jim Conniption’s column Blind Spot was probably the most controversial one to appear in the Doorbell, at least if you went by the amount of hate mail it generated. Jim’s hardboiled persona was supposed to be that of the cranky, alcoholic observer, Bukowski by way of Hunter S. Thompson. He championed just the sort of “outsiders” you would have expected, Joe Coleman, The Residents, sideshow freaks, serial killers, Aryan Youth groups, etc.

He wanted you to know he was “edgy.”

His column portrait was a cartoon of a fellow wearing a Stetson hat and trench coat, so you knew he was very “noir.” His weekly musings mostly consisted of the steady accumulation of misfortunes that fate saw fit to visit upon him, which he would brush off with a tough-guy witticism. There would be references to his brief stay in a mental institution and other calamities that you were made to understand created his unique and different worldview.

A typical outing would be entitled Why I Pray For Your Death or Why Hitler Was Cool or something similar. Then Conniption would be what I assumed he considered contrary for 8 or 9 paragraphs, doing his best to demonstrate that he had seen through the veil of normality and come out the other side. Every time I read his column, a column that intentionally tried to provoke the reader by defending all manner of stupidity, I thought to myself:

This is someone who is my exact opposite. His matter is my anti-matter. He is everything I would not want to be, not in a million lifetimes.

The simple-minded cynicism, the transparent borrowings, the desperate need to be considered strange and out of the mainstream all grated on me like nails on a chalkboard. I’d rather look at pictures of puppy dogs or babies in flower suits.

Anyway, it came to pass that I began to wonder whether or not I could write something that would be accepted at the paper. My first thought was that if Conniption’s column was the standard there, I didn’t stand a chance. But I sat down regardless and penned something that I sent off to the same editor, David Derricks, that championed Blind Spot.

I had written a stalwart defense of a recent horror film, declaring it to be a wise and subtle deconstruction of the slasher genre. It was so effective, I argued, that it would make it impossible for anyone to resurrect such films again. I was spared the embarrassment, at least for a few months, of the writer/director of the film stating in an interview that he had merely been trying to start up another franchise. In fact, as I write this, slasher films are healthier than ever.

All right. I never claimed to be Nostradamus.

To my astonishment, it was accepted. It was the lead in their Entertainment section and accompanied by a lively illustration. I was shocked.

So now what was I to think? If this Derricks guy approves of me, but also thinks Conniption’s good, doesn’t that mean I suck?

I had the sense that something terrible had been set in motion. Worlds were colliding, matter and anti-matter. At the end of the day, what would be left?

Next: A Conniption Fit

2 Comments:

Blogger Sngbrds7trumpets said...

Paul Blick? Well, ok, if you must, I suppose. F.Y.I., P.B. didn't own that publication . Chairman Of The Bored (sic), Staff Writer, Philly distribution, live show organizer/promoter and mechanical lay-out persona, maybe. Had Blick owned it he likely would've sold his shares for a song. Just the kinda music thirst some guys have. Here's a fresh antacid for ya: Mr.Blick(he-haw)might have a couple o' CD reviews in the upcoming debut streetside, 25k in-print manifestation (Black boxes & custom racks)of PhillyEDGE.com (9.28.05). It's something he hopes to able to accomplish with some regularity. Do I have to tell you that work-from-home rocks like crazy? Count Screwlooseum might be duly served by submitting an inquiry for whatever it is that floats the good count's gastric contents these days. Tell Editor Joe Student that um, well, just give my regards to Broad Street, I guess. Or E.mail Blick for JS's phone number. PS Somehow missed the month of September's posts via a desktop shortcut that took me to a land (8.31.05)in the early horror of Katrina. In my technical malfeasance it seemed as though Screwlooseum were forever frozen in time. Oh well. Whatever. Nevermind...

Tuesday, September 27, 2005 1:20:00 AM  
Blogger Count Screwloose said...

One isn't always sure if people would be wild about having their real names attached to this site's increasingly libelous content, so one errs on the side of courtesy. And, yes, the paper wasn't "Mr. Blick's," technically, but he were my boss there (and he seemed to do most of the work!), so I used to think of it as his. Certainly I would not have been there if not for him.

Congrats to P.B. on the upcoming reviews! I will be on the lookout for these. As for The Count, from what I understand success has turned him into a bored and jaded individual who rarely listens to new music, unless it involves some sort of payola. I think the last new record he bought was Rubber Soul and he didn't think much of that one.

Let me also suggest you have a peek at the Blog links on the side. All worth a regular look, I think. And we hope you caught our fuller tribute to Mr. Blick a few posts down ("Screwloose Saved From Drowning"). Look for the double-disc DVD documentary by Martin Scorsese soon!

RG

Tuesday, September 27, 2005 2:03:00 AM  

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