Posts tagged ‘controversy’

January 12, 2014

Figure skating is a bitch


Some of the year’s best  television (it’s quite early, I know) happened last night during the U.S. women’s figure skating nationals. There was comedy . . . albeit slapstick . . . and tragedy. Pretty girls doing astounding things and pretty girls being bitches. Not quite Real Housewives, but definitely on par with the best girl v girl reality scenarios. And this one was very real. There was the awkward young up and comer  with perfect form; the unpredictable artist type, clearly an outcast; the likable champion whose star seems to be falling and her rival the queen bitch cheerleader from your worst  high school nightmare.

At first my vote was for the underdog, the champion: Ashley Wagner who supposedly tweeted that she was applying her war paint hours before the competition; Her rival, Gracie Gold lost me when she said this in an interview: “Yeah, my name is like a double edged sword. (Had her hair not been in a tight bun, she would have flipped it here.) You know, Gracie, fall from grace and Gold, grab the gold.” The awkward girl with perfect technique was a bit controlled for my taste (which means absolutely nothing outside the confines of my living room). Commentators’ discussion about the artist type’s volatility/fragility intrigued me, but it was her choice of music that got my attention.

The nationals determine the figure skating champion, which is, all by itself, kind of a big deal. But it also plays a humongous role in choosing who will be on the Olympic team. Here’s how it went down:

Wagner: fell twice and stumbled. It wasn’t pretty. It was sort of poetic, though. Especially, since she could be seen hugging and comforting another young skater who took a few tumbles right before her.

Edmunds: Eh…..(Where’s my jar of Trader Joe’s cookie butter swirl?)

Nagasu: The artist. The Christian Hosoi of women’s figure skating. Her choice of music: James Bond scores. To my uneducated eye, her form was stunning. She wowed me and the audience. Of course the commentators had mostly snotty remarks about her. Rock star all the way.

Gold: Well I’ll be damned if she didn’t go out there and destroy it. She stumbled once but that didn’t seem to matter as her score was the single highest long form skate score ever. Ever.  Her face melting ego came dangerously close to annihilating everything in a ten mile radius, but she did manage to pull off those damn triples, or whatever. Predictably, she gloated.

Gold, of course took first, Polina Edmunds the awkward nubile took second, Nagasu took third and Wagner 4th. This morning I eagerly jumped online to see who was chosen for the team, and I was disappointed to find that Wagner was chosen over Nagasu. As much as I wanted Wagner to bury Gold, I will always cast the rock n roll vote.

Here’s how I’d like to see this reality show end:

Mirai marries a wealthy, sexy and totally faithful rock star, then goes on to win the next nationals.

Ashley shrinks away from the public eye, marries a contractor and lives happily ever after in a warm climate.

Polina becomes the first openly gay female in figure skating and eventually wins a gold medal.

Gracie marries a cheating NFL quarterback and becomes an alcoholic which makes her retain massive amounts of water in her extremities.

September 20, 2012

VCReporter Best Of 2012: A few unfit for print and a couple others

Tabitha spits out her yogurt at Chill.

These are my personal picks. Categories not fit for the publication, but appropriate enough for this blog.

Best Remote Location For an Impromptu Punk Show
The End of Perkins Street in Port Hueneme
Punk rock has always been relegated to dark places on the outskirts of nowhere, so what could be better than a parking lot, across from a sewage filtration plant at the end of a very long street adjacent to a neighborhood you don’t want to find yourself in at night?

Best PR For Ventucky
 Tabitha Takes Over: The Chill Episode
Um, like, how are we supposed to keep the floor clean AND help customers AND text our friends at the same time?  What’s a  dry cappuccino? What are repeat customers? What’s market research?

Best Facebook Troll
Jody Lotus
Denied, reported, deleted.

Best Comeback From Bureaucratic Assault
Green Art People
Proof that organic tastes better and community works.

Best Place to Find an Obscure Used Tire in a Pinch
Avenue Tire
Nice people, fair prices, saved the day.

Best Pirate Radio Station
KSSR: The People’s Radio
The shit.

Best Phone Call From a Musician Pitching a Story About Himself
The man who insisted he was the “best oldest living legendary saxophone player with a regular gig at Rusty’s in Oxnard.
A phone call so good, I kept note of it on a post-it for six months.

Best Rapper to Put Santa Paula on the Map
He said it on the Internets so it must be true.

May 10, 2012

Free Pussy Riot!

The true spirit of punk rock is alive and well and living in Russia.  Three members of the Russian feminist collective Pussy Riot (though two of them deny the affiliation) remain in prison, charged with “hooliganism” for their acts of protest, including a performance inside a Russian Orthodox church where they prayed to the mother of Jesus to get rid of Putin.

The women face seven years for their acts of protest which usually include taking over public spaces, dressing like sexed up Teletubbies and cranking their amplifiers.

Anyone know where I can buy a brightly colored ski mask?

March 14, 2012

New crimes: moshing and other forms of “expressive dance”

Being old school, I still consider the term “mosh” the way I think of Ron Wood as the new Rolling Stone.  (That’s right, I was “moshing” before it was mainstream–call me a hipster.) Back when I was one small vein in the throbbing mass of meat and mischief that seemed to expand with each hardcore (again, refer to your old school punk rock glossary) show at the Olympic Auditorium, there was a certain code of conduct everyone followed. Today the pit seems a bit more, uh, energetic than in years past, or it’s just the change in perspective that comes with age and achy joints.

Anyway, it seems that aggressive moshing and  similar forms of “expressive dance” have gotten on the Boston PD’s last nerve, so it’s cracking down, vowing that “dance- floor mayhem will not be tolerated.” In the cops’ cross hairs is the House of Blues in advance of a Flogging Molly run for St. Patrick’s Day.  Yes, I too can imagine the possibilities when you add Flogging Molly fans to St. Paddy’s in BOSTON, but is all this enforcement really necessary?

What say you?

January 6, 2012

12 Habits the art world needs to ditch

Street art by Morley. Move along, nothing to obsess about here.

Great article in Huffington Post  by longtime L.A. art critic and Coagula art journal publisher Mat Gleason about the art world’s somewhat antiquated habits. Among other things he says, which I tend to agree with, are:

“Art is sensual. Academics are not.”

“Art is subjective. There inherently cannot be experts.”

Art should not be consigned. (As professional musicians should not generally play for free, says I.)

Street or graffiti art should be admired for its merit, not who painted it. (People tend to get obsessed with the “who” rather than the “what”.)

He also comes down pretty hard on what he calls the art advice industry (I wonder what Sylvia White would say).

Have a read and chime in!

October 1, 2011

Why Occupy?

Read this.

Watch this.

“To sin by silence when they should protest makes cowards of men.” Abraham Lincoln

June 24, 2010

Crimes and misconceptions: covering arts and entertainment in VC

In the past week a few prickly issues have become lodged in my gmail, so I figured I would address them here, if for no other reason than to stop the itching.

1. Coverage, or how one gets a piece of VCR’s valuable real estate:

It’s rumored that in order to get ink in our publication, one must be an advertiser. This is, of course, false and anyone who actually reads on a regular basis would know it. Why people insist on perpetuating this nonsense is beyond me, and the irony is, our advertisers are frequently miffed about not getting editorial love. So if advertisers aren’t getting it, and no one else is getting it, then who the heck is getting it? Answer: people, places, occurrences, creations that are interesting,  fresh, relevant and in some way impacting the county’s cultural  evolution. It never hurts to drop us a line if you’ve caught wind of such, as we are not omnipresent or telepathic (contrary to popular opinion.)

2. Locals only policy:

We are the only publication in Ventura County (or anywhere for that matter) that gives exclusive priority to locals. I cannot emphasize enough how rare this is. From what I can tell, no one else in the U.S. does this, especially for music. We will not (as long as I’m arts editor) ever review a CD by an artist living outside Ventura County. The only time you will read about someone or something not produced within the geographical boundaries of this county,  is if they are exhibiting or touring here. Sorry Santa Barbara, sorry SLO, sorry L.A.–someone needs to champion the talent here and if that’s a crime, then I stand accused! (insert appropriate emoticon) That said, if you feel we’re overlooking anything or anyone, drop us a line.

April 22, 2010

Heavy words from an angry metal fan (is there any other kind?)

Yesterday, I received a lengthy and bitter missive from a local headbanger about the absence of metal representation in our local music issue. While he was clearly uninformed and presumptuous  about most things relating to VCReporter’s music coverage, he was right about one thing: there was, indeed, no metal in the that issue.

In this letter, I will systematically highlight some of the “minor” points that your insular rag overlooked. Michael Cicero, Chris Jay, and Chris Mastrovita, I’m calling you out by name (*though I can’t spell your names) to pay close attention, because despite the fact that all three of you have been in music scene for years, perhaps age is getting the better of you and you require a wake up call.

In all fairness, were I some kid in a metal band, keyed up on energy drinks and guitar solos, thumbing through the weekly’s annual local music issue, I too would have been disappointed to find no trace of my beloved genre. Whoever you are, I feel your pain.

I mean, how could you know that from our very first discussions about the issue, I was all about the metal. I had every intention of doing a large piece on metal in VC. But, alas, the best laid plans of mice and men . . . in the end, due to resources, timing and other horrors inherent to publishing, it crumbled and at the last minute we replaced it with an ode to 805 hip-hop–a genre far less represented in our publication than metal.

I don’t have a problem with criticism, when it’s warranted and I’ll be glad to listen to anyone’s beefs about the section of the paper for which I’m responsible. What I do have a problem with is the assumptions people make about those of us who write for the paper and our editorial processes:

Despite the fact that the VC Reporter believes that the majority of it’s readers ane getting drunk at Bombay’s three nights a week, there still exists a thriving and growing all-ages scene.”

Gosh, we’re transparent. While there have been some great shows, metal and otherwise, for all-ages, most would say it’s a stretch to call that scene thriving.

“Perhaps you weren’t aware that the majority of Warbringer’s members are from Ventura , signed to Century Media, and recently opened up for bands like SLIPKNOT, and MEGADETH just to name a few.”

I confess, I did not know this.Would have been cool if someone clued me, like maybe even the band. It’s called public relations.

“The Oxnard Hardcore/Deathcore Scene:  it’s an atrocity that the VC Reporter neglected to at least pay some sort of mind to hundreds of kids continuing a tradition of hardcore music that has evolved into local bands with huge draws like GRAVESLUT.  Last time I check, Oxnard is Ventura County too.”

This only shows me that the writer doesn’t actually read our publication more than every so often. Criticism works better when it’s informed.

“As epic as the metal scene in Ventura County is and always will be, the only thing epic about your local music issue, is how it failed.”

Yes, we both saved the best for last. The letter writer and I had a mostly civil phone conversation, though he still plans to dedicate an entire 2-hour radio show to discuss the  Local Music Issue, “or the lack of local music rather. ( on Monday, April 26 at 6 p.m.,  on The Dungeon Awaits Podcast.

I think my wish for the music scene is that people involved with music would learn the basics of promotion, and would approach the press with a friendly, cooperative, rather than combative, attitude.

If you feel we’re missing something, egads, let us know. We’re only human and need to be loved too. 😉

December 10, 2009

The audacity of Morrissey

I know at least a few people who have forked over $100 per ticket to see Morrissey at the Ventura Theatre Friday night and while I understand paying top dollar to see an artist that deeply moves you, I don’t understand the need for the artist to command such from fans.

Do artists deserve to make a fair living for what they do? Yes. Are most artists horribly underpaid, especially given the time and money investment required to produce their art? Definitely. But.. isn’t there a symbiosis between artist and fan that makes price gouging seem counter intuitive? When I purchase music or see an artist perform, it’s not an emotionless transaction–money exchanged for goods and services. There is heart involved, a relationship forms, sometimes loyalty follows.

I’m not a fan of Morrissey, but let’s say Ryan Adams was coming to town and tickets were $100, I would be torn between my desire to see my beloved, my inability to justify the expense and the feeling that the artist will ultimately put his bank account above all else, which seems incongruous with the spirit of art.

Of course we are willing to pay for something dear to us,  but is it OK to ask people as dear as your fans to dig uncomfortably deep, especially in difficult times?

November 6, 2009

Daily paper turning yellow? (Not because it’s been on the doorstep for two weeks)

We’ve all noticed the changes, some of them quite severe, to the Ventura County Star in the past 6 months or so. Sections cut, thinner editions overall and to their credit, a reorganized Web site with a lot of fat trimmed away. But leaner, it seams has also turned meaner, and as an editor for the county’s only weekly–historically a venue with a sharper tongue than its daily counterparts–even I find myself wincing.

In her most recent “Cafe Society” column, Lisa McKinnon’s snarky commentary about Hush Lounge (For the record: we reported on Hush’s closing and possible reopening long before the folks at the Star got wind of it) makes me wonder what her intentions are.

Over the years, I’ve had my own epiphanies about this type of “journalism.” Occasionally it’s called for, but for for the most part I no longer find it necessary to wax bitchy in print.

When I was younger and VCReporter was only beginning to find its identity as something other than a vacant community throwaway, and we were finding our alt-weekly voice, it was tempting to approach EVERYTHING from a cynical perspective. We took no prisoners and everyone was fair game.

But time offers perspective and (hopefully) maturity. So a decade later, I’m no longer interested in negative portrayals, with one exception: When justice is served by fearless reporting. Chit chat about the politics and culture of local small business does not qualify.

I can’t help but wonder if the Star is resorting to unfortunate tactics to gain readership. It’s a tough time and I don’t envy the staff there, I empathize. But, it seems to me, in an increasingly hostile and competitive world, isn’t it better to be nice? Choosing kindness and compassion can only benefit everyone.

Ms. McKinnon: Lighten up sister, it’s not easy for anyone right now. Use the power of your pen for good. Everyone has a story and everyone you meet is fighting a great battle.

%d bloggers like this: