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I am sick to death of reading Jason Cherkis’ overwrought crap in this paper. I don’t understand what kind of editorial process allows a writer to use this paper as his personal diary and subjects readers, most of whom I assume are trying in earnest to use the paper as a reliable resource guide, to the personal ranting and under-researched opinions of someone with such an obvious ax to grind.
Somehow from reading this paper I know that Cherkis had to jerk off in bed with his now ex-girlfriend when they were no longer intimate, that Sarah McLachlan’s arm flab grosses him out, and that childhood hero Ian MacKaye is “pitiful” for having struggles with celebrity and everyday life issues. What I usually don’t come away with is the content or context on the art or artist I read the articles for in the first place.
The first problem is that Cherkis has heroes. The second problem is that he is no longer 14, so his heroes are causing him great pain. With my Cracker Jack pop-psychology diploma in hand, I have to assert that Cherkis seems to have a problem seeing his heroes as humans, who, rather than being divinely inspired and above the mundane daily experience of life (paying rent, buying foodyou know, that crap), struggle to maintain a balance with their ideology and their actual lives.
But the real problem is that Cherkis is allowed to use this paper to show his extreme displeasure when his heroes have the audacity to live their lives and express themselves in ways that he didn’t count on when he was 14 and still prone to seeing them as flatly rendered cartoon figures.
The latest subject of Cherkis’ disapproval is Jenny Toomey, who had the audacity to assert that there are issues beyond “It’s free; therefore it’s cool” in the dialogue concerning the quickly changing landscape that Napster represents in the distribution of music (Artifacts, “Napping on Napster,” 9/29). Toomey, whom he describes as coming off as having a “profound sense of entitlement,” is a local musician who founded the much-respected independent label Simple Machines with Tsunami bandmate Kristin Thomson and is spearheading a group called the Future of Music. The Goal of FOM is not to shut down Napster but to represent the voices and concerns of independent bands and labels, already being left out of the dialogue, in the government’s rush to redefine the boundaries of copyrights with the advent of digital downloading on personal computers.
Perhaps if you agree with the idea that music should be a free treat for visiting the Pepsi Web site and should be supported by corporate sponsors and not by listeners, then you will agree with Cherkis that it is better to wait “until you find the next revolution” to get involved. Somehow, Cherkis has managed to equate free shit (not to be mistaken for freedom) and being passive with independence.
Well, Cherkis, I’m sure your parents told you there was no free lunchand they were right. Yes, it must be depressing to realize that independent labels and musicians rely on the income from their sales to pay rent and make records and don’t just create them out of thin air. But I think the rest of us recognize the value in supporting the people who offer not just an independent message but a medium as well, much like, say, PBS. If music has to count on corporate sponsorship so that you can continue your free downloads, you can expect the same variety and independent thought that “Must-See TV” contributes to the culture every Thursday night.
No one knows what form the independent music community will take in the new technology, but Toomey should be applauded for recognizing that if we are not willing to define our roles and our place at the table ourselves, we will be defined by others. The Washington City Paper, on the other hand, should recognize its editorial responsibility and give Cherkis a column or some other medium to vent the opinions that, for the most part, belong here in the letters section and not anywhere they might be mistaken for factual or even reasonably objective observation.