Posted in NYC | industry | music on August 31, 2006

Robert Christgau

------ Forwarded Message Dear Friends and Colleagues,

If this comes completely out of the blue, I apologize.

It is now official--Village Voice Media fired me today, "for
taste," which means (among other things) slightly sweeter
severance. This despite the support of new music editor RobHarvilla, who I like as a person and a writer. We both believed I
had won myself some kind of niche as gray eminence. So I was
surprised Tuesday when I was among the eight Voice employees
(five editorial, three art) who were instructed to bring their
union reps to a meeting with upper management today. But I
certainly wasn't shocked--my approach to music coverage has never
been much like that of the New Times papers,

Bless the union, my severance is substantial enough to give me
time to figure out what I'm doing next. In fact, having finished
all my freelance reviews yesterday, I don't have a single
assignment pending. So, since I have no intention of giving up
rock criticism, all reasonable offers entertained; my phone
number is in the book, as they used to say when there were books.
What I don't need is a vacation--the three of us just had a great
two and a half weeks, and Nina matriculated at BMCC yesterday.

No need to respond. Forward to whoever you will.

Love,

Bob Christgau

The letter is via Gawker who also lists everyone fired: "On the editorial side: Darren Reidy, Ed Park, Jorge Morales, Elizabeth Zimmer, and - gasp -- Bob Christgau. On the art side: Minh Uong, LD Beghtol, Tina Zimmer."

Previously
Chuck Eddy's farewell | "Terminated for reasons of taste"
Nick Sylvester Quits Pitchfork over Voice Scandal
Christgau likes Cocorosie's costumes | Voice cover story
Robert Christgau on CBGB & New Orleans & History
30 days of shows w/ 65 year old Robert Christgau
Christgau calls Antony the "Dud of the Month"
Christgau loves Sonic Youth
Village Voice Music Editor Chuck Eddy Fired

---

      

Comments (44)

Wow. I mean wow. He will get snatched up for sure by someone else.

Posted by Anonymous | August 31, 2006 4:48 PM

the voice joins spin in the race to music-journalism meaninglessness. Awesome. More fallout boy & MCR articles.

Posted by cw | August 31, 2006 4:49 PM

as much as i generally disagree with his taste lately... this is kind of shocking. how long was he there, like 50 years or something?

Posted by Anonymous | August 31, 2006 5:00 PM

I don't always agree with him either, but how ridiculous to let go of someone like that, and Chuck Eddy too. I especially liked Christgau's recent 32 bands in 30 days article.

Posted by sewster | August 31, 2006 5:04 PM

yeah. letting Chuck Eddy and Bob go just doesn't really compute..wtf? yeah, Bob's 30 bands in 30 days piece was stellar! My hero.

Posted by Anonymous | August 31, 2006 5:43 PM

that 30 bands in 30 days bullshit got him fired. nobody in the building agreed with him, and the voice received bags of hatemail for it.

that being said, he was still too good to fire and i will miss working with him.

Posted by village voice employee | August 31, 2006 5:49 PM

maybe he'll start a blog. nyuk nyuk

Posted by Anonymous | August 31, 2006 5:54 PM

the voiceless village.

Posted by ::._.:: | August 31, 2006 5:55 PM

poor LD beghtol.

Posted by Anonymous | August 31, 2006 5:56 PM

hes the only reason i open the voice

Posted by Anonymous | August 31, 2006 5:58 PM

the village voice has being going down the drain slowly but surely over the years. i don't read it anymore. and.... can anyone explain this to me? i've always wondered about this... why does the village voice cost money in every magazine store in penn station????????????? i know it's not free outside of nyc, but hello, penn station is in nyc.

Posted by Anonymous | August 31, 2006 6:00 PM

The 30 bands in 30 days was a fine piece of gonzo journalism even if you hated the conclusions.

Posted by Anonymous | August 31, 2006 6:01 PM

Too bad. He was the perfect music writer for a piece of shit magazine like Village Voice. I hope he makes a good living doing anything but writing about music.

Posted by Anonymous | August 31, 2006 6:08 PM

Ed Park? Is he the same Ed Park that edits The Believer? All those writers who do books and music and stuff for both Voice and Believer (Stosuy, Caramanica, Xgau) -- damn. Maybe we'll see more of them in The Believer now. Best Voice piece that could have run in McSweeney's too: http://www.villagevoice.com/music/0152,sotc,31036,22.html
Hey, Village Voice, add that one to your Best Of NY Issue!

Posted by RAD | August 31, 2006 6:46 PM

His kid just entered a community college? I guess the Voice didn't pay him much, even with his seniority.

Posted by Anonymous | August 31, 2006 10:25 PM

Hope he takes that daft 31st-or-32nd (ha. ha.)Pazz and Jop thing with him.
One of the things I like about Bob, he never gave up on African Pop - continuing to give it equal time with rock, rap, etc. in his consumer guide as if anybody else cared!
He'll do fine somewhere else, don't weep for him.

Posted by steve | September 1, 2006 7:56 AM

Hope he takes that daft 31st-or-32nd (ha. ha.)Pazz and Jop thing with him.
One of the things I like about Bob, he never gave up on African Pop - continuing to give it equal time with rock, rap, etc. in his consumer guide as if anybody else cared!
He'll do fine somewhere else, don't weep for him.

Posted by steve | September 1, 2006 7:56 AM

Hope he takes that daft 31st-or-32nd (ha. ha.)Pazz and Jop thing with him.
One of the things I like about Bob, he never gave up on African Pop - continuing to give it equal time with rock, rap, etc. in his consumer guide as if anybody else cared!
He'll do fine somewhere else, don't weep for him.

Posted by steve | September 1, 2006 7:57 AM

I've been enjoying Rob's columns lately, especially his spot-on takedown of the Pipettes, so for the first time in years I'd had something to look at in the Voice other than concert listings, Christgau's column and J Hoberman's reviews. The paper's been boring, predictable crap for some time now, so I'm actually fairly happy that New Times is at least trying to revive it and move away from commentary and toward reporting(I know, I know, I'm giving them the benefit of the doubt, we'll see if they deserve it, and, yes, Wayne Barrett has always been a reporter), but this is a really bad sign. He was one of the few original and insteresting voices left in music criticism, and the Voice at least gave him a fairly visible platform. As others said, I may not have agreed with him all the time, but he always had something insightful to say, and he always got me to look at bands a little differently. A true shame.

Oh, and to the Voice staffer who posted about the 30 Bands in 30 Days "bullshit" leading to his firing, my friend, that was the best thing your increasingly irrelevant paper's published about msuic in a long, long time. If he was fired for that, wow, you really have some idiots running that place.

Posted by Matt | September 1, 2006 9:44 AM

I've been enjoying Rob's columns lately, especially his spot-on takedown of the Pipettes, so for the first time in years I'd had something to look at in the Voice other than concert listings, Christgau's column and J Hoberman's reviews. The paper's been boring, predictable crap for some time now, so I'm actually fairly happy that New Times is at least trying to revive it and move away from commentary and toward reporting(I know, I know, I'm giving them the benefit of the doubt, we'll see if they deserve it, and, yes, Wayne Barrett has always been a reporter), but this is a really bad sign. He was one of the few original and insteresting voices left in music criticism, and the Voice at least gave him a fairly visible platform. As others said, I may not have agreed with him all the time, but he always had something insightful to say, and he always got me to look at bands a little differently. A true shame.

Oh, and to the Voice staffer who posted about the 30 Bands in 30 Days "bullshit" leading to his firing, my friend, that was the best thing your increasingly irrelevant paper's published about msuic in a long, long time. If he was fired for that, wow, you really have some idiots running that place.

Posted by Matt | September 1, 2006 9:46 AM

Pipette piece wasn't Harvilla's.

I find it odd that the Voice would go so far as to fire someone whose name they were pushing as Cover Story material only a month ago. What was the draw of Christgau's concert story except that it was Christgau's?

In five years, we'll have to explain to New Yorkers what the Village Voice was. Not that it was once great, but that it once existed.

Posted by J | September 1, 2006 10:09 AM

well-said Matt. I relied on christgau's articles to broaden my musical palette beyond western white contemporary indie guitar bands -- I owe a lot of my discoveries to him. He frustrated me sometimes, as he probably frustrated many, with his stubbornness, his tone, some of the curmudgeonly shit he pulled (getting to antony's 'i am a bird now' like a year late), & the occasional opacity of his prose.

But I'll take him over just about anyone else writing serious music journalism right now -- because he stirs shit up, he has a fierce voice, a well-developed aesthetic philosophy, a real sniper's sense of language, and most importantly he has, like Bangs had, an unmistakable passion and hunger for finding the good in music.

In a journalistic landscape increasingly plagued by cheap sensationalist pap, christgau's writing is a reminder of how to write seriously, with integrity, about music that matters.

and for all you underfed hipster pussies whining about his 30 concerts in 30 days piece, offended that your precious idols-of-the-month were skewered, grow a fucking dick, go to more concerts, write your own reviews, and *you* tell *us* why we should give a shit about your slandered sacred indie cows. and do it with an ounce of christgau's wit and acuity.

Posted by cw | September 1, 2006 11:35 AM

Amen CW.

Posted by Stan | September 1, 2006 1:27 PM

"and for all you underfed hipster pussies whining about his 30 concerts in 30 days piece, offended that your precious idols-of-the-month were skewered, grow a fucking dick, go to more concerts, write your own reviews, and *you* tell *us* why we should give a shit about your slandered sacred indie cows. and do it with an ounce of christgau's wit and acuity"

There's this thing called "The Internet." You should totally check it out! It rocks!

Posted by J | September 1, 2006 2:44 PM

Hey people — things change, and so should the Voice and its music section. In my 15 years as a New Yorker, I "read" the VV music pages every week, and got to know Bob Christgau socially. As much as I personally like and respect him and — now being an ex-New Yorker — thanks to email alerts, continued to read his Consumer Guides, he inspired reams of pseudo-academic, pretentious, head-up-the-butt music writing that was notable mainly for its obfuscatory and obtuse style in covering one of the most direct and emotional art forms out there. Lots of showing off for "The Dean" rather than giving readers something they can read much less appreciate. My key was to skip to the next to the last graf of a Voice review and you'd usually find out what the writer may have thought about the music.

Despite that, Xgau remains one of the great founding fathers of rock criticism and a still very interesting (if also at times confounding if not even astoundingly off-base) and valid — pardon the pun — voice opining on popular and not so popular music. But this far into his run, his relevence has faded, and time for a change (repeat after me: change is good).

I'm a music crit jerk too, and for my money, Rob Harvilla has written some of the most insightful, imaginative, pungent and amusing pieces of music journalism that I've read in years — stuff so good that this old fart (but not quite so old as Xgau) is envious. Yeah, the new Voice should have bitten the bullet and kept Xgau on as an eminence grise, but I'm at least one who is anxious to see what sort of new life Harvilla can stir up in the music journo game, which is in a sorry state indeed these days.

Posted by Another Music Critic | September 1, 2006 5:29 PM

"...also at times confounding if not even astoundingly off-base..."

Like in a recent Consumer Guide piece in which he relegated Neko Case's "Fox Confessor Brings the Flood" to the "Choice Cuts" section and then listed two tracks as the choice cuts, neither of them being "Hold On, Hold On." WTF?

Posted by Neko Case stalker | September 1, 2006 8:58 PM

Have to agree that this is yet one more bullet in the Voice's head...gotta figure Hoberman's not long for this world, right?

Nice that Christgau was so gracious to Harvila, but come on -- that guy makes a big deal about quoting Talking Heads lyrics!?! To a readership that's primarily NYC-based? I'm sure he's a nice enough guy, but he needs to step up the critical abilities beyond the freshman college level...

Posted by Another Music Critic | September 3, 2006 1:59 PM

"Nice that Christgau was so gracious to Harvila..."

Why wouldn't he be gracious if, in fact, he had "the support of new music editor RobHarvilla, who I like as a person and a writer"? Christgau then goes on to write, "We [Harvilla and I] both believed I had won myself some kind of niche as gray eminence."

Posted by Reading Is Fundamental | September 3, 2006 7:59 PM

"I'm a music crit jerk too, and for my money, Rob Harvilla has written some-- "

Wow, what an obvious New Times sock puppet.

Posted by dave | September 5, 2006 1:52 AM

all her vapid fans will let loose the hate mail, but here goes...

the voice could have done everyone a favor and canned trish romano, the ultimate poseur/wannabe/name-dropper-without-justification/pretentious arriviste, and most of all, bad writer.
[yah, been part of the alt/indie music/club/party scene for a while in this city and know what it is/was/could be/should be, despite fads, and sorry if my trish comment pisses off some in the scene, but alot agree with me]
there's simply sooo much better source material out there for the scene, including, of course, the vegan.

Posted by patrick | September 5, 2006 7:03 PM

patrick i agree!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Posted by Anonymous | September 5, 2006 8:34 PM

Agree: Christgau is THE eminent music critic (popular/world/rock/hip hop music).

Agree: C'gau is one of the very few reasons I read (past tense) the Voice.

Agree: That said, he's out of touch w/quality unconventional music and his taste has aged badly when it comes to avant-rock (Liars last two records duds? Sonic Youth's latest "unprecedentedly hooky" and "the best band in the world"? Jeez man, come on.)

Agree: Christgau's mighty pen has spawned infinite inferior copycats (not his fault, though).

Agree: The Voice has sucked shit eggs for a while.

AGREE: TRICIA R. IS A WASTE OF SPACE!!!

Posted by ille | September 6, 2006 12:35 PM

Strange to say, I think it's just as well that the Village Voice has been in decline, and that Christgau has to find another place to work, although I am sympathetic to any writer who is out of work.

However much or little any of us liked his criticism, he sure had some nerve to assume the mantle of "dean." He made a lot of terrific insights over the years, but they were always buried in self-important in-crowd lingo. Reading him, you get the impression that listening to music is some kind of fashion statement, and that he's the fashion arbiter. Screw that attitude. I've always felt the job of a good critic--or music, literature, art, whatever--is to help guide audiences into experiencing new art, not to puff up their own persona as being more insightful than the artists themselves. In its heyday, the Village Voice, despite the excitement many people got from its politics, was an all-too-perfect example of in-crowd fashion emporium. Similarly, Christgau's effect on artists was to make them pay attention to HIM to see if he thought they were hip enough--an abuse of power, it seems to me. In the end, the best solution to such abuses is to remove the source of power from which the abuser derives his position of centralized control. Hence I rejoice in the decline of the Village Voice, and I get some amusement from Christgau's need to find a new post at some less famous publication.

I write this as a music fan who likes a lot of Christgau insights, but who thinks critics made a bad mkstake imitating his self-important style. I like art a lot better than critics, and I like critics most when they speak more personally and emotionally than Christgau ever did.

Posted by JL | September 6, 2006 7:18 PM

Strange to say, I think it's just as well that the Village Voice has been in decline, and that Christgau has to find another place to work, although I am sympathetic to any writer who is out of work.

However much or little any of us liked his criticism, he sure had some nerve to assume the mantle of "dean." He made a lot of terrific insights over the years, but they were always buried in self-important in-crowd lingo. Reading him, you get the impression that listening to music is some kind of fashion statement, and that he's the fashion arbiter. Screw that attitude. I've always felt the job of a good critic--or music, literature, art, whatever--is to help guide audiences into experiencing new art, not to puff up their own persona as being more insightful than the artists themselves. In its heyday, the Village Voice, despite the excitement many people got from its politics, was an all-too-perfect example of in-crowd fashion emporium. Similarly, Christgau's effect on artists was to make them pay attention to HIM to see if he thought they were hip enough--an abuse of power, it seems to me. In the end, the best solution to such abuses is to remove the source of power from which the abuser derives his position of centralized control. Hence I rejoice in the decline of the Village Voice, and I get some amusement from Christgau's need to find a new post at some less famous publication.

I write this as a music fan who likes a lot of Christgau insights, but who thinks critics made a bad mkstake imitating his self-important style. I like art a lot better than critics, and I like critics most when they speak more personally and emotionally than Christgau ever did. Viva decentralization and the proliferation of art without a poo-bah fashion arbiter!

Posted by JL | September 6, 2006 7:19 PM

Paraphrasing le tigre "i'll die if you ever stop" shocked and pissed dude you are the best

Posted by frank | September 9, 2006 2:53 PM

Paraphrasing le tigre "i'll die if you ever stop" shocked and pissed dude you are the best

Posted by frank | September 9, 2006 2:54 PM

this is like Rolling Stone firing Hunter S. thompson....not possible...


Posted by Anonymous | January 10, 2007 2:11 AM

Good riddance.

He was a terrible music critic. The amount of times he has given amazing albums bad reviews and visa versa is unbelievable. All his reviews are absolute nonsense, why can't he just get to the point instead of rambling on all the time?

Posted by Anonymous | June 17, 2007 3:58 PM

R. Christgau Couldn't review his way out of a paper bag. Possibly worst critic of all time. I haven't read VV because of him. Good Riddddddance!

Posted by Anonymous | September 11, 2007 9:34 PM

Think of all the great music people would have missed out on if they had listened to his meaningless reviews!

Posted by Anonymous | September 11, 2007 9:53 PM

Am an (very)old friend of Bob's wife Carolla. Am looking for an email address for either of them to send greetings. Any ideas?

thanks Tina H Meshberg

Posted by Anonymous | October 26, 2007 11:12 AM

I can't stand his reviews. I'm astounded that he ever got such a following in the Village Voice. Just goes to show how one pretentious prick can spawn many more pretentious followers.

Posted by Anonymous | October 13, 2009 10:08 PM

What I don't need is a vacation

Posted by AVC CONVERTER | January 28, 2010 3:35 AM

There coverage has been much more relevant since Christgau was axed. It's always amusing to look back at his old reviews to see just how off the mark he was...or in some cases - despite his condescension - pandering.

Posted by jefferson | July 12, 2010 8:33 PM

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