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How foolish I have been. As Washington City Paper writers passed the Dischord torch from one decade, and one staff, to another, I made rash accusations, implying nepotism and payola. Now I realize that the City Paper’s commitment to keeping the rest of D.C.’s best music off its pages was for its own welfare. I apologize. I see it more clearly now.
You create the underground. City Paper staffers catapult new music, songwriters, and scenes to the national spotlight by means that can only be described as ingenious. Of course, down here in the actual underground, it gets pretty ugly after a while—and, well, sometimes we just wonder if anyone gives a hoot. Thus a dull whine of starving musicians exists from your view, probably, only because they can’t see beyond Fugazi to your higher goals.
Although it has taken me a while to notice, it is plain to me now that your dedication to Dischord is actually a music-community service. As in the Kennedy Center’s unwavering commitment to Leonard Slatkin, when one institution bonds with another, the unintended consequence is to cause people to search for an alternative. The difference here, I believe, is that finding those alternatives is precisely the effect your paper wants. Sly dogs, how stupid could I be?
Your latest Dischord/Fugazi massage (“Dischord Progression,” 10/4) was yet another testament to this touching concern for D.C. music’s survival. Lacking any current relevancy, Ian MacKaye makes references in the article to the police having crashed his party 20 years ago. Yikes! “But this one goes to 11, officer.”
Such a clever strategy the City Paper has chosen: Focus on one thing and that which you ignore will become the found treasure of others. While a smaller brand of music journalism might have hung out with Terrence Greenwood at some open mikes, your music coverage ignored him completely. A lesser paper might have offered the dejected Citizen Cope some consolation after the kids booed him at Iota, looked beyond the absence of a “scene” to recognize a gemstone in the making. Not the City Paper. You all knew better. None of that would have helped DreamWorks spirit him away to polish him their way. Rags to riches baby, come on. Clever, patient folks, you are.
Sometimes I worry that maybe you’ve given up on this one band/one label approach to music in D.C. Please don’t. It’s a small piece of genius. I see a little one-inch column that takes fleeting glances at broader music coverage and think…No, not when it’s just starting to really work! But then, lo and behold, the annual Fugazi-for-life article comes out and I sink happily back into my fancy ditch.
Please, let’s hear more about the Dischord staff’s vacation and benefits.