Greg, of Course

Ahh, back to Arts Journal, the land of sanity, and I don’t even want to tell you what lunatic asylums I’ve spent my week in. My bright spot of the week was Greg Sandow’s very touching compliment to my blog. Thanking him for that strikes me as a private, not a public matter, and I have. But to give some idea what it means to me, picture me 17 years ago at 31, going into the Village Voice office on weekends and reading old Greg Sandow and Tom Johnson columns for hours on end, trying to figure out what they did, what I could learn from them, what the Voice audience was used to and would expect from me. Tom, of course, took a flatly descriptive, non-evaluative approach to a very new kind of music, highly auspicious for that historical moment because it allowed a lot of crazy ideas to float without getting shot down. Greg’s strength, I always felt, was connecting new music to the outer world, placing it in large social perspective, and I remember often having the experience of reading about some music he was describing and then him suddenly turning the world upside down, making me realize with a bracing shock where the little scene I was focussed on actually fit in. His writing wouldn’t allow me to kid myself, and it opened my eyes to a lot of things. I realized early that I can’t begin to compete with him on the sociology of music – his understanding of the pop music world and the classical music business is much more fleshed out than mine, and as he says, I’m much more focused on internal musical logic.

Of course, I had blown in from godforsaken CHICAGO, and for years everyone in the New York scene shook their heads because I was such a pitiful substitute for the great Greg Sandow. So to get such a sincere tribute from the critic I got so used to being unfavorably compared to was like – I made it into the club. Perhaps that’s enough to say.