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September 2006 Archives

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LILY ALLEN “GETS” ROCK SNOBBERY

At the beginning of her new video, for the song “LDN,” young Lily Allen, Britain’s new Chav princess and the offspring of Cool Britannia mascot Keith Allen, pokes fun at store-clerk Rock Snobs. Lily’s lots of fun–like a girl Chris Difford.

September 18, 2006 More Rock Snobbery »

IN OUR NEXT BOOK: “AIEEEEEE!”

Our friend Andrew Hearst of Panopticist and Vanity Fair alerts us to a term that should definitely be in the next edition of The Film Snob*s Dictionary: yes, we mean the Wilhelm scream.

September 06, 2006 More Film Snobbery »

PERSONALIZED SNOB SERVICE: DECRYPTING THE “BATJAC” REFERENCE

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A couple of weeks ago, we received this e-query from a reader named Kathy Carter: “I bought and love both books: Rock Snob and Film Snob. Question for you: Today Wolcott posted about Seven Men from Now and calls it a ‘Batjac’ Western. What is Batjac? It is not in the Film Snob book and I searched on your site and got no match. Illuminate, please. You are the only one I trust on such a question.”

We don’t usually do make-a-wish service work for our readers, but even we were stumped by this; our friend Jim Wolcott doesn’t normally speak in Snob code. So we got in touch with the man himself. “Batjac was the name of John Wayne’s production company,” Jim says, “and it was Wayne’s idea to cast Randolph Scott because, as Wayne put it, ‘He’s through,’ i.e., we can get him cheap. The movie revived Scott’s career, and he went off to make a batch of Westerns with Budd Boetticher, which came to be known as the ‘Ranown’ cycle. Anyway, the other Batjac Westerns from Wayne’s company include Hondo and Track of the Cat.”

Thanks Jim, and thanks for writing, Kathy.

September 03, 2006 More Film Snobbery »

TWILIGHT OF THE ROCK CRIT

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The turbulence and ructions bedeviling the Village Voice have finally resulted in the inevitable, the firing of Robert Christgau (above), or X-Gau, as he is known in Rock Snob circles. Yesterday, he sent this e-mail out to his faithful:

“It is now official–Village Voice Media fired me today, ‘for taste,’ which means (among other things) slightly sweeter severance. This despite the support of new music editor Rob Harvilla, who I like as a person and a writer. We both believed I had won myself some kind of niche as gray eminence. So I was surprised Tuesday when I was among the eight Voice employees (five editorial, three art) who were instructed to bring their union reps to a meeting with upper management today. But I certainly wasn't shocked–my approach to music coverage has never been much like that of the New Times papers.

“Bless the union, my severance is substantial enough to give me time to figure out what I’m doing next. In fact, having finished all my freelance reviews yesterday, I don’t have a single assignment pending. So, since I have no intention of giving up rock criticism, all reasonable offers entertained; my phone number is in the book, as they used to say when there were books. What I don’t need is a vacation–the three of us just had a great two and a half weeks, and Nina matriculated at BMCC yesterday.”

There’s no gloating to be done over this man’s dismissal from the paper he’s worked at for almost four decades, but, as folks like Jim Wolcott have said, X-Gau should have diversified his portfolio a long time ago; there should be more to his professional life than grading records in the Voice’s Consumer Guide and reviewing concerts and such. Maybe X-Gau will catch on at Mojo, or maybe he’ll surprise us with some thoughtful memoirist articles like this one, a lovely career retrospective published by the Los Angeles Times’s Robert Hilburn in July.

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Hilburn (pictured above, with Keef), now semi-retired, has been at it even longer than X-Gau, and yet he’s aged more gracefully, coming across less as a relic clinging to a dying constituency and more like a man for whom age has not dimmed his ardor for an abiding passion, rock music. The antithesis of the exclusionary Crit Snob, Hilburn is an enthusiast who never let his writing become cryptic and impenetrable; he takes pleasure in turning on non-Snob civilians to the music he likes.

With Hilburn and X-Gau fading out of the picture, we must now reckon that the twilight of the major American rock critic is upon us. (Lester Bangs flamed out early and got all the glory for doing so.) Greil Marcus has moved on to bigger subjects, and Dave Marsh is more of a curator these days, keeping busy at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. All the serious action is online now, so visit the sites listed in the Snobroll at right.

September 01, 2006 More Rock Snobbery »

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