Earlier on this week I came to the realization that, hey, wait a second, I’m graduating this semester! Ergo, this will be my last issue ever as an employee of the Temple News, after four loyal years. But I’ve been way too busy with just about everything else — class work, part-time work, commute, weddings, the new Wilco album — to pay this bittersweet little drama any mind until now.
So here I am, sitting at my computer, trying to figure out what to write for my last column. I don’t want to just talk about events like I do every week, but I don’t want to detract into self-serving bullshit either. No, I think I’m going to talk about Life In Hell.
Last September, when TN picked up the weekly syndicated cartoon by The Simpsons creator Matt Groening, they sent us a 2001 calender as a gift of sorts. When the year was up, I snagged it, figuring I could use it for decorative purposes.
One panel really struck a chord with me: a biology textbook-esque diagram of a “Feisty Rock Critic.” I truly identified with it, not just because I’ve been peddling my music reviews to whoever will take them for the past six years, but because the descriptions fit me to a tee. Arrows pointed from text boxes to various parts of a slacker-looking bunny, indicating things such as “bad haircut,” “bags under eyes,” “empty wallet,” and “vague sense that career choice is ridiculous.”
The last one really hit me. Here I am, graduating after five years in college with a degree in journalism and a few freelance reviewing gigs, but zilch in the way of any full-time work prospects. What the hell have I done?
But then I heard something the other day that reminded me why I’ve dedicated so much of my time and effort to this ridiculous career. Flipping through radio stations in my car, I came across some DJ on WYSP proclaiming “Hey, Kid Rock is playing the Spectrum next week. He kicks ass! I hope he brings his bitch along!”
Now, forget the obvious gripes I have with the juvenile / misogynistic nature of this quip, and think about this: Music, film, entertainment, etc. is coming back to the start of another cycle, meaning pop culture is wacky right now. There are a lot of great, young, upstart artists emerging, and if all the critical masses were as fucking stupid as this redneck, they wouldn’t get any exposure. There would be no new movement, and we would all have to be content with an eternal culture of Britney Spears and Fred Durst: tits and ass. Wouldn’t that be grand?
So in to order write intelligently about burgeoning new faces in any field, and to give the 00s the sense of identity that previous decades have boasted so colorfully, rock journalists and entertainment critics —scum of the earth that we are — are a must. Thinking about that makes me feel a tad better.
OK, maybe that was a bit self-serving. Ah well.
Thank-yous are also a must: The current Temple News editors (see masthead, p. 2) and my writing staff for being so wonderful. M.J. Fine for hiring me, Nicolle Bratkovics for firing me, Michael Christopher for not letting me disappear from the staff. Neal Ramirez for being himself, Temple Grounds Crew for letting me drive the little white ice cream truck around campus, and all the record labels and publicists who show the esteemed college press love. And last, but not least, thanks to XTNX9900.
John Vettese can be reached at email@example.com